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"Action" Dan Harrington
is a moderating force in today's world of loose, super aggressive
tournament play. He is known as one of the most solid and conservative players on the poker scene today, but donít mistake his
rock like discipline for weak play. He has an
uncanny ability to know exactly when to make his move (his ill timed
semi-bluff against David Williams' two pair during the
2004 World Series of Poker not withstanding).
The first time I met Dan was an embarrassing encounter for me. I was working at the Bicycle Casino and there
was a guy who was standing around in the section that looked just like Dan Harrington. One of the players at the table said,
"That guy looks like Dan Harrington" and I replied, "Yeah, I was thinking the same thing, but it's not."
The "Dan Harrington look-alike" eventually took the seat immediately to my left. He put $200 on the table and I told
him, "This is a $100 buy-in game." He put $100 back into his pocket and sat down and the people at the table started
telling him, "you look a lot like Dan Harrington". Somebody asked him if that happens a lot and he said, "Yes".
I made the comment that it is a good thing because people will give you a lot of respect at the table. The No Limit host started
telling us that Dan is coming out with a book soon and we all proceeded to talk about Mr. Harrington. My boss,
Robert Turner sat on an empty table behind me and
called my name. I turned around and he asked if that was Dan because it looks like him from behind. I told him, "It looks
like him from the side and front too, but it's not him." The guy turns around and says, "Hi, Bobby". Robert
replies, "Hi, Dan". I turned around and whispered to Robert, "Is that him?" and he starts laughing. He
thought I was kidding when I told him it wasn't him. He told me that is the funniest thing he has heard in a long time. Of course,
he had to go tell my big boss about what a fool I was. My big boss made fun of me too. Dan only stayed in our game for about
fifteen minutes, but it was enough to make me look like a clown. I should have been asking the world class player questions
to use for a profile, but I didn't want to open my mouth again.
Harrington was born in Boston, Massachusetts where he also attended both undergraduate and law school at Suffolk University.
It was in college that he took up poker Ė traveling to nearby Harvard to play in games frequented by the likes of Paul Allen
and Bill Gates. He then became a member of a group of poker players that played at the Mayfair Club in New York City
during the 1980ís. A group whose other esteemed members included
Howard Lederer, Steve Zolotow and
Erik Seidel. Dan began to travel to Las Vegas to play in poker
tournaments in the 1980's. He entered his first World Series of Poker main event tournament in 1987 and finished in an impressive 6th place.
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Arguably, Danís most famous hand in WSOP history occurred in 2004 against
David Williams. Dan called from the small
blind and David Williams checked in the big blind. With a 5-3-2-9 board, Dan moved all in with 8-6 which gave him a double
belly-buster straight draw. David
quickly called with two small pair. The river paired the board, giving David a full house and knocked Dan out of the tournament.
The hand was unfortunate considering the rock solid play that had gotten him so far, but in no way overshadows the significance
of his accomplishments. Danís success against such massive fields has earned him the respect of the entire poker community.
Dan has shared some of the secrets of his success by authoring
Harrington on Hold'em Expert Strategy for No Limit Tournaments: Strategic Play
(Vol. 1), Harrington on Hold'em Expert Strategy
for No Limit Tournaments Vol 2: The Endgame, and Harrington on Hold'em Expert Strategy for No-Limit Tournaments Vol. 3: The Workbook.
In these books he describes the different styles of tournament play (conservative, aggressive and super aggressive) and
explains the advantages and disadvantages of each play as well as tactics and strategies against each type. He also offers
advice on adjusting to different types of tournaments (small, medium and high stakes as well as online vs.
brick and mortar).
Harringtonís passions outside of poker are also game related. He has chess and backgammon championships to his name.
When not playing poker he dabbles in what he considers another form of game playing Ė investing. He owns a loan company
and enjoys investing in the stock market and real estate.
Both Dan Harrington and
Doyle Brunson have candidly discussed the effects
of aging on ones poker game. Harrington described the enormous amount of stamina required to compete in 7-day tournaments
and the fact that tournaments are tremendously draining to him. Doyle has similarly lamented the fact that the younger
players have far more physical energy. Its great to see that both these top players are continuing to hold their own
against the younger fields. I hope that we will continue to see more of both of them for years to come.
Dan has two World Series of Poker bracelets. In 1995, he won the $2,500 No Limit Holdem event and a few days later he won the
$10,000 Main Event. After his Championship win, he made two more final tables in the "big one" in 2003 (against a
field of 839) and fourth in 2004 (against a field of 2,576). Some of his other accomplishments include a first place finish in
the $2,500 Global Championship Cup and a second place finish in Doyle Brunsonís North American Poker Championship held at
the Bellagio in 2005. In 2007, Harrington won a World Poker Tour title at the Bicycle Casino's Legends of Poker.
Photo courtesy of Las Vegas Vegas