I finished day two of the Irish Winter Festival third in chips and 4/1 favourite with Paddy Power to win the tournament. Half an hour into day three I'm the shortest stack with 7.5 big blinds and probably 33/1 or more to win it out. Those are the joys of tournament poker.
I battled back well, held when I was ahead and got lucky when behind and with 6 players left I’m again the chip leader and in with a great chance of winning my first major title.
The tournament had gone pretty well for me on day one and day two. I managed to avoid too many tough spots along the way. I was the aggressor on most of my tables and when people played back at me I either had complete rubbish and it was an easy fold or I had the goods and won big pots.
When people talk about being lucky in tournaments they often go through hands when a player out draws another with a pair versus a pair or something similar but it’s just as lucky to have your opponents having strong hands when you have better ones. Anyway most of the time when a player got frustrated with me raising and re-raising I actually had it.
One particular hand was with a good English player who I had got the better of so far. He obviously decided that he had had enough and was making a stand on a ten high flop. I of course had flopped the nut trip tens and snap called his all in shove.
When play had finished on day two I felt confidant I could kick on and win the tournament there was obviously a few really good players left like Irish Open champ Niall Smyth but I was feeling good and thought I was playing good.
Like I said in the opening paragraph I started with a disaster on day three, losing a massive pot to eventual winner John Keown when we both flopped two pair blind on blind. I was then all in a number of times, mostly with the best hand but not always and when we got down to the final table of nine I was back to average stack.
The table was playing super tight so I opened a lot of pots and got a lot of easy chips and with six left I’m chip leader without having my tournament life at rick once. As each player got knocked out the game seemed to get looser even though we were now players for the big money.
With four left I made the first and only serious mistake of the tournament when I went all in with an Ace and got called by John’s pocket queens. He held and I was on life support. I got a few shoves through and then with players left I played a massive pot for the chip lead with A9 versus Noel O Brien’s KJ and he won. That pot was for the chip lead and would have left Noel very short however the poker Gods went against me at the most vital time again.
It’s hard to explain to people who don’t play poker that you are very disappointed when you win €35k because you finished third but the poker players understand. Eoin O Dea won $1,700,000 a week later and he was gutted. When you get close you want to win the trophy and also the massive money that comes with it.
A week later I played the Mini WSOP briefly before heading to Riga last week for the EMOP grand final. For anyone that has never been to Riga you should make it you business to get there, there is some value in the restaurants and bars and the cash games are ridiculously soft. Even Phil Baker managed to book a win in a cash game over there!! Actually Phil put up the best showing of all the Irish after he finished 14th out of a field of nearly three hundred.
My own tournament went pretty bad as I played pretty terrible, not sure why maybe it was the four liters of Captain Morgan's myself and Peter Barrable drank the night before. What ever it was I made a few school boy errors finishing with a very badly miss timed bluff. I did manage to win a good few quid at the cash tables so it was not all bad. Peter also woo a few quid at the cash tables and also finished second in the omaha to get a nice Latvian flag on his Hendon Mob file.There was a large contingent of Three Kings Poker qualifiers over there with Phil out lasting them all to win the inaugural TKPEMOP last longer. I believe the first one next year will be Prague so it should be another great trip. Qualifiers will start on Three Kings Poker in January.
I’m considering going to London to play the GUKPT final next week but with so much on at home it’s hard to justify it. The Fitzwilliam have their winter festival this weekend and in two weeks we have the Cork Christmas Festival. That coupled with a few parties and my schedule is pretty packed coming up to Christmas. I’ll be doing regular chip counts on twitter @ballymorechris and I’ll be trying to update my new site Chris Dowling Poker & Gambling as often as possible.