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Monday, 28 November 2011

Irish Daily Star 26/11/11

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.

Friday, 11 November 2011


While Eoghan O Dea was heading over to Vegas to play the the final table of the WSOP main event the rest of us mere mortals headed to sunny Tallaght for the third annual JP Mini WSOP. The event basically is designed to give players an opportunity to play really well structured tournaments for a very modest buy in with a few of the less popular forms of poker catered for.
I played the main event briefly, after getting off to a good start I got smashed up by Chris Cook who is becoming a bit of a thorn in my side when our paths cross. He won the first big pot from me when he had direct position on me, after our table broke we ended up on the same table again, this time I had direct position on him but the result was the same and he knocked me out after I went short and shoved 16 bb over his open with 9d10d and after some deliberation he managed to find a call with QQ.
There were a good few from France and Belgium playing and after I got knocked out I got in a tasty €1-€2-€5 round of each which became plo only after a few hours. If there was a softer table where you could win over €1k then I have never seen it. I got nearly double that which is good going when the majority of stacks are less that €300.
I came back up on Sunday night to play the heads up game but more importantly to watch Eoghan playing the Nov 9. It was a bit of a mess to be honest as the original connection failed and we ended up watching it without sound on a big screen. It was not ideal but was the best they could do, Eoghan never got going and lost most of his stack firing two bullets with AQ no clubs on a three club flop. His exit was pretty sick when he made a great call with A9 after Ben lamb had shoved with Q8.
Myself Sammy & Bomber.
I busted the heads up in the second round after beating John Gallagher in the first. No harm really as I jumped into the new super Hold'm tournament for a quick spin and then into a plo cash game with the same players from Friday night. The game was not as good as Friday but I managed to win a big pot against Phil Baker when we both flopped a set. Bomber Nolan joined the table and to say he had a few on board would be an understatement. Being Bomber, the luckiest player I know he only dropped a few quid before a French player gave him back some money he was after winning because he did not feel it was right to win money from such a drunk player!! Where are these nice guys when I'm steaming drunk firing money all over the shop?
I'm off the Riga on Thursday with a good crew, I'll be doing chip updates on twitter for myself and the lads on @ballymorechris. Hopefully one of us can get a Latvian flag up on the old Hendon Mob.

Friday, 4 November 2011

IWF 2011

IWF Final table 2011
I finished day 2 of the IWF third in chips and 4/1 favourite to win the tournament. Half an hour into day 3 I'm the shortest stack with 7.5 big blinds and probably 33/1 to win it out. Those are the joys of tournament poker.

I had a really good first table this year, just as it started to get a bit tougher with the arrival of some guy called Marty Smyth from northern Ireland and one of my old sparing partners Rory Rees Brennan it broke and I ended up on another good table. This was to be a theme throughout the whole tournament as I seemed to continually get a decent seat when a table broke.
I started to gather chips right from the start and had only minor hiccups along the way, not getting into too many tough spots then two hands in quick succession set me up for a deep run. The first was against Namir who I have played a good bit of cash with but never a tournament. I open UTG with QQ on his BB and everybody else folds. He leads a 2x3x3x flop I raise and he shoves with 4h5h I call and hold. The next hand was a little stranger and was a result of me 4-betting the guy twice already. I open with 10-10 and he 3-bets I call and get the magic 10x7x5x flop. I lead and he calls, Q on the turn and I lead again, he raises I rertaise and he shoves. Obviously he would play QQ this was but that would be seriously unlucky for me. I call and he shows 8,6 and again I hold. I finish the day with 57k which was a little above avg.
Day 2 started with the news that I was 66/1 to win which seemed a bit high. A good few of my mates backed me, the logic being that if I'm 80/1 at the start with avg stack and now two thirds of the field are gone and I'm above average then 66/1 is a good price. Anyway I did no bet my self and in hindsight I should have. I was on the featured table starting and lost a few pots then another table move saw me moving to a better seat and I ran my stack up easily enough with only one all in hand when I was at my shortest and my JJ held v AK. 
As the bubble approached I started to take control of my table which again was pretty good. Fergal Nealon arrived as did Niall Smyth and we had a few tussles but having direct position on Fergal and a bigger stack than Niall I managed to keep them both quiet. After the bubble broke the players fell away quite quickly and I finished third in chips with twelve left.
I started day 3 full of confidence but that was to change pretty quickly after I got in a massive pot blind on blind versus John Keown with Kd5d v KcJh on a KcJd5c flop. I was left with crumbs and folded the next hand but shoved eight or nine times out of the next ten getting called twice, first with A,10 versus my AJ and then with 77 v my Ah8h. I won both and when we got down to nine players I was right back in it.
With six left I was chip leader and running well. I was getting chips pretty easily with only John and eventual second place finisher Noel O Brien playing back at me at all. I lost a pot with Ac9c v 88 to go massive chip leader and then lost a big enough pot to Noel when I folded 10 10 on an 8 high flop.
With 4 left I made the most costly mistake of the tournament when I 4-bet John with A7 and he called with QQ. I was trying to put serious pressure on John as there were only two players left in the Sole Survivor €20k freeroll. The only other remaining player was short enough and John would need a serious hand to call me. Of course that's the same reason he would need a serious hand to 3-bet in the first place.... He had 3-bet me a few times before and every time I had air, anyway I don't think its the worst shove ever but defiantly a questionable one. 
The very next hand I shove my 10 odd big blinds in with Kh5h and get called by Matej Kokalj's AQ and I hit a four on the river to stay alive. He then get's knocked out pushing me €7k up the prize money. Two or three hands later I 3-bet shove Noel's open and he calls with K,J which flops two pair versus my A 7.
That pot was for 2.5m with 5.9m in play and would have given me every chance of winning. I can have no complaints really, Noel's call is questionable but you could certainly argue that he's unlucky that I show up with an A.
After I got knocked out I was delighted to see John winning, Noel is a gentleman and I wish him every success in the future but I know John for years and he is a great fella on the circuit. He was due a big touch at some stage.
I'm playing the JP series this weekend and off to Riga in a couple of weeks before the Christmas party season starts. Another score would cap what has been a good year for me.