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Thursday, 29 September 2011

Swings & Roundabouts

Played another long session in the Loft in Naas last night but with not much success. I made a few bad mistakes, the worst one was when I bluffed not realizing I had a straight and mucked my cards when my opponent showed top two pair.

I also should have folded AK in a 3 bet flop on a K high board. The villain is pretty loose but not against me. He really only has AA, KK, QQ AK and when he fires the flop that rules out QQ 95% of the time. The flop was also 3 clubs so even if it was a chop he was free rolling for the flush a lot of the time. Anyway I called and he gave me the bad news, KK.

Other than those two hands I played pretty well, I got very unlucky in three big hands all of which were for about €1k each but still managed to only loose €500. Its a loss but it could have been a lot worse. I'm playing a lot more ABC in the Loft the last few weeks. Trying not to get in as many big pots pre flop as I used to and managing to put my opponents on hands a lot more accurately than I used to. The game is playing looser than it did in the past,I used to be the one building the pots pre but everyone seems to be willing to build the pots these days.

I'll be trying to put in some volume on line tonight as hopefully I'll be pretty busy all weekend. I have not been playing as much online as I want to and find it very hard to get motivated sometimes. With the live games they are only on once a week in a particular casino but the online mid stakes are always there when ever you switch the PC on. A few big winning sessions would be motivation enough, maybe that's the way forward.

Monday, 26 September 2011

London Bound

The last few weeks have been strange from a punting/poker point of view. My only problem last weekend was where was I going to get the cash to lump on Kerry. I have my “life” fund or roll as we call it in this game and I try not to touch it for various reasons from my wife going bananas to the simple fact that I should not have to because I’m supposed to be winning. Anyway after busting the Omaha tournament last week I jumped into what can only be described as a crazy cash game which only got crazier as the night wore on. It was a €1-€2 game with live straddles and with the average stack about €1500 people were managing to get €2k-€3k in the middle every second hand.

Then at about 8 am as I was getting phone calls reminding me that I had agreed to take the kids out that morning I get dealt AA92 with clubs. I flop a flush draw, turn the A and get it in for just under €5k with my opponent drawing dead. I can only presume he had two pair and a worse flush draw but I did not see his hand, all I was thinking was I’m sticking most of this on Kerry -2 and I’ll have €10k heading for London EPT next week.

Obviously that was not my best move as Kerry managed to fuck up a four point lead with seven minutes to go and loose to Dublin for the first time in my lifetime. The next few days were a bit manic I went punting horses and playing live and ended up winning back €5k most of it on a horse owned by a mate of mine called Ard Glen. I played live twice, in Naas on Wednesday and Ken Doherty’s place on Thursday, I would say I’ve not been to any games like them around Dublin. They both play like a game that can normally only be found with a few drunk lads at a festival. Naas was straddling to €40 sometimes on Wednesday which is nuts considering some of the players only have three or four hundred in front of them. The same crack in Ken’s place but without the Omaha it was a little more reserved. Some people seem to think that because Omaha is pot limit you have to bet the pot if your betting at all.

London EPT will be the biggest I have ever paid into a tournament, the other times I handed over 5k it was euro or dollars. It’s probably not the softest 5k buy in tournament around with the French & Italian events having a weaker field but I’m confident that I can do well over there. I suppose I would not be going over if I did not think I could win it but you need so much luck in these tournaments, everything from seat draw to avoiding coolers to the obvious getting your big hands to hold. Hopefully I’ll be doing a trip report in 10 days telling you all how I smashed up the final table.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Article for the Star

Final Table Nottingham
As the UK & Ireland poker tour reaches its finale I find my self third on the leader board. The last event in London has a £5,000 entry which is ten times bigger than the rest of them and as a result the prize money will be ten times bigger than the rest with the winner getting something in the region of one million sterling. Not a lot of the regular UKIPT players will be making the trip to London with the high buy in but the top five or six will all be there for sure. In the poker world we don't keep score with trophy's or player of the year points, its all down to the amount of cash won at the tables but its still nice to win a league especially such a well supported league with the numbers breaking records time and time again.

My first points on the leader board were from the record breaking £500 entry in Nottingham in February. At the time it was the largest number of players ever to enter a tournament in Britain with  1058 punters starting over the two day ones. Once we were down near the money I was up there with the chip leaders and managed to stay there all the way to the final table of eight. The tournament had gone very well for me up to that and when the seat draw was done I was happy to have the young German player Tim Bettingien directly on my right. Tim is a top player and I had had played a few pots with him the previous day and felt he was the strongest player left. Also on the table was the very colorful Romano Pizzo, he had played the whole tournament wearing two jackets three hats a scarf, and all while reading the same newspaper! I eventually exited the tournament in sixth after getting very unlucky when my Ace Queen was beaten by Brett Angell who also held Ace Queen. All the chips went in pre flop and Brett managed to fill a flush when four hearts came down. 

I constantly get asked about that hand and people comment about how unlucky I was but I don't see it like that myself. When you play as much poker as I do then you see that sort of situation over and over again. The unlucky part is that it happened in a tournament with over £100k for the winner with six left. As a poker player most of us play  a wide range of buy in tournaments and your always hoping that the poker Gods will look after you in the big ones when it really matters. Another "unlucky" side note from that tournament is that Pokerstars only accounted for 500 players in the tournament leader board points system even though there was twice that in Nottingham so I only got the same points as I would have got for finishing sixth in a smaller field. One odd thing was they did change the criteria at the bottom end so if you finished 64th to 128th in Nottingham they did give you points towards the leader board even though as the original system only allows for 500 players so you have to finish in the top 63 to get points. 

Another thing from Nottingham that I had never seen before was on the final table they removed some levels to speed up the play. This removed a lot of play from the game and effectively reduced it to a shove fest which was disappointing especially with so much money on the line. I'm not in any way taking away from the tour as I believe this was the only event this happened in but when you are playing for enough money to buy a house and the tournament director tells you the television crew need to finish up so we are removing levels then you have to ask yourself what is going on. As it turns out it made no difference to my exit as I probably would have got it in with Ace Queen even if we were a little deeper relative to the blinds.

After an early exit in Manchester I headed to Cork hoping that home advantage might give me a lift. I was short for most of the tournament and only really got going half way through day two finishing forth in chips with eleven left. Cork was a little less dramatic than Nottingham in so far as I just never had the best hand when it mattered. I would not say I played bad or got unlucky in Cork just one of those things, somebody has to have the better hand and every time I put a chip in the middle I was second. The hand that done the most damage was when I picked up Queen Queen and after some betting before me I re raised again only to end up all in versus the Ace Ace of David O Connor and he held. I then went out shoving over the eventually winner Sam Razzvi with pocket tens when he had pocket jacks.

I headed to Newcastle, Brighton and Edinburgh before coming back to the Dublin leg with no success, the high light being Fintan Gavin winning the Edinburgh leg. I got my worst bad beat of the whole tour in Edinburgh when after busting from the main event I changed my flight to the Sunday night and as a result I missed the party for Fintan's victory which I believe was pretty spectacular. One thing those west of Ireland lads do better than the rest of us is throw a party although the Dublin lads will give them a good run for their money when Eoghan O Dea takes down this WSOP in November.

To have any chance of winning the leader board I need to finish in the top fourty players in the last event and maybe higher depending how Sam Razzvi and Rupinder Bendi get on.
London has not been a profitable town for me personally over the years but the Irish have done well there, six Irish players cashed in this event last year out of about fifteen who entered which is a great return. I was with Martin Silk a few years ago when he took down the GPT main event for over £170,000 and Dave Callaghan final tabled a WSOPE event there the year before that. Hopefully I will get a bit of luck when I need it and add to the Irish players impressive results in London town.

Ireland is also picking up a European trophy at this year’s London EPT, we had the highest ratio of entries to cashes with 16 of the 74 entries making the money in events throughout the year. Tom Finneran was responsible for 3 of those cashes with a number of well know Irish players chipping in with the rest. One thing that has eluded an Irish player is an EPT win, Fintan Gavin has come closest with his second place finish in Barcelona a few years ago, with over 20 players heading there in 2 weeks time it has to our best chance of winning one in a long time.

Elsewhere the Winamax shorthanded game is in Dublin next weekend which brings loads of French players to the capital and in turn makes for some crazy cash action. They really like to gamble and the games play like they did in Ireland a few years ago. After that it’s the Ladbrokes festival in Killarney, another tournament which gets great numbers and is famous for its drunken cash games.  

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

UKIPT Dublin

The main event attracted over 700 players which is an increase of over 100 players from last years tournament and further emphasis's the dominance of the UKIPT poker tour in Ireland & Great Britain. There was also massive numbers for all the side events and good action on the cash tables through out the weekend. 

I decided to play day 1a and was rewarded with a pretty tough table draw for a €500 event. Everybody on the table seemed to know what they were doing with no obvious soft spots. I was going pretty well and picking up a few nice pots until I made a pretty big error. I flopped top set holding 99 on a 9,8,2 board with two diamonds. I fired and the the player on the big blind called. A blank looking 6 of clubs came on the turn and he check called another large bet from me. When the 7 of spades  came down on the river he checked again, I had about 22k in front of me and there was about  18k in the pot already. I figured if I bet now it will look like I'm bluffing and he might call me with any pair or 2 pair hands so I bet 7k. He thought about it for a while and went all in. Now I know he has it, he has to have it, but I convince myself he could not check the river with a straight there and after a long deliberation I cant find the fold button and he shows me 10,10 for the straight.

I was pretty disappointed with my call there, I spoke to a few of the lads after the hand while I was still steaming and got the usual "its not that bad" etc but Andrew Grimason summed it up best when he said "the bet is ok on the river as long as your good enough to fold to the re raise". That's the difference between running bad and playing bad. I ran bad because if the 7 does not come on the river then he probably pays me off with the 10,10 but playing bad I paid him off. Running bad is just part of the game but when you mix it with playing bad your going to loose money.

I decided to play the high roller on Saturday and got off to a bad start loosing a big flip with AK blind on blind v 10,10 then I rallied for a while until I was the chip leader on my table. There was not many flops been seen on my table with a lot of raising a re raising going on preflop. then with 20 people left I pick up KK on the button I raise and the other big stack on my table in the BB reraised.We had played a few pots together and I just min raised him back hoping he would shove and he did. Happy days...I call and he show's the mighty A 8. He manages to fill a straight with the 8 and I was left with one big blind....sigh.

I came back on Sunday for more pain in the charity tournament where I was a bounty. I did not play one hand for 90 minutes then get AA and its a miss deal!! Running well Chris!! after going really short I shove in after a few limpers a few times with out getting called then get moved to a new table where I double up twice with a AK v A10 & 88 v K 4. I now have a big stack and get involved in a big pot for pretty much the chip lead with KK again, this time versus 77, first card in the window was a 7....sigh again. Just as I was walking away from the table I see my friend from the high roller with the mighty A 8 picking up the trophy and a cheque for €19800. Ahh well maybe next time!!

The main event finished on Monday with a few notables on the table. Jason Tompkins was the chip leader starting play with last years champ Max Silver and 2010 Manchester champ Joeri Zandvliet also there. Jason ended up finishing 5th, Max 4th with Joeri winning his second title becoming the second player after Nick Abou Risk to win two UKIPT's.

I'll be over in Maynooth at some stage this week for the €50k (€100 entry fee) guaranteed tournament, its a new format with players allowed to buy in as often as they want on every starting day. It will be interesting to see how it goes and if this type of game becomes popular. My own opinion is that anything that gets more money in the prize fund is a good thing. There will be a large crowd over one way or the other and there is also a €400 Omaha side event on Friday which hopefully will get big numbers.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Unibet in Citywest

The Unibet Open made its inaugural appearance in Dublin last weekend and was a great success although it was very badly supported by the natives.  Only 36 Irish were among the 260 runner field and we had no representative on the final table. From my own point of view it was a pretty tame effort. I never really won a pot, got schooled a bit by Marty Smyth who was directly on my left and exited the tournament when I shoved my 7 9 suited over a small raise and call only to be called by AQ.

The rest of the weekend was up and down, I had a share in the Omaha winner Richie Lawlor which was great but I also had KK in my hand when involved in a massive pot in the cash game and my opponent had AA. I would not be one for folding KK but if I was ever going to fold it this could have been the time. They guy on my left had won a big pot against me earlier and had been minding his large stack since then. He had not re-raised once since getting his stack and was clearly not very comfortable playing big pots. I had re-bought to cover him and there was one other player on the table with a similar size amount of chips when this hand took place, the guy on the button raises and I re-raise with the cowboys only for my friend with the stack to re-raise me!! The pot was now getting big and I and I had a think about what he could have, I came to the conclusion he had AA,KK,QQ or AK. In hindsight he probably only ever raises me in that spot with AA or KK and when I have two of the Kings in  my hand then its more likely he has AA. 

I'm not playing any live poker this weekend although there are good games on all over the country starting tonight in Swords where there is a €130 freeze out followed by another €120 buy in in Naas on Sunday night. There is also a live satellite for the EMOP in Barcelona in Waterford tonight, there will be a big contingent of Irish at all the EMOP events with people qualifying live and online. Details of all these tournaments can be found on Irish Poker Boards which seems to be the place to follow whats going on in Irish poker these days.