December started off with the Fitzwilliam Winter Festival which is one of the best run tournaments on the Irish live circuit. The field was pretty tough with every table in the room containing at least two or three well know “pro” players and as we got half way through the eighty runner field I knew pretty much everyone in the room. This is nearly always a bad sign especially when you find someone you don’t recognise and you get told his online name.
Also amongst the field was Andy Black, he told me that for various reasons but most importantly just because he enjoyed the general banter so much he would be making an effort to play more live tournaments in Ireland this year. It will certainly be good for Irish poker to have Andy back playing the domestic tournaments although I don’t fancy having him on my table too often.
Anyway the tournament was a tough grind for me, I never had chips but managed to get to day two with enough to do damage. Then just when we were getting near the money I got a little run of cards and picked up a few chips, at the right time you might think. With sixteen players left and ten getting paid I stole a few pots without a show down before picking up kings on the button.
There was a bit of action before it came to me and I made the same raise I had made previously to steel hoping someone would shove. It was one of those be careful what you wish for moments as Wes Farrell did indeed shove before giving me the bad news with pocket Aces. That was for a big pot and had I won it I would have had a decent stack to mount a serious challenge for the trophy.
The quality of the field was underlined by the final table line up, Irish Open seventh place finisher Rob Taylor finished second and two of the biggest online tournament winners Mick Graydon & Dara O Kearney were also there.
Next up was the Macau Christmas Poker Festival which was pretty short and sweet for me. I had pocket queens four times during the first three levels and lost four times. Then playing about sixteen big blinds I pick up Ace King suited and after some very strange betting I end up all in versus King Jack. Pretty good spot for me especially when the player beside me informs me he has also folded a Jack, happy days I’m thinking but there were two more Jacks in the deck and up pops one of them in the window and I get my jacket.
I played a good bit of cash after in the Macau and had one very interesting hand where I got “slow rolled” for the biggest pot of the night. Slow rolling is one of those things in poker that some players hate. Basically it’s when after the betting is finished you don’t declare you’re strongest hand and your opponent thinks he or she is going to win and then you give them the bad news and collect the chips. It’s a kind of slap in the face for players especially in a big pot. To be honest I thought it was quite funny (apart from losing the money but I was losing that anyway), you don’t get slow rolled too often by ladies old enough to be your granny, I hope when I’m her age I’m still playing poker and raking in the chips.
After Cork was the Dusk till Dawn “Monte Carlo” tournament in Nottingham. Only three Irish made the trip which is very low considering how many travel to the UKIPT’s, and none of us made a significant mark on the tournament. Only thing I might be remembered for is getting wheeled out in an ambulance after busting from the main event with a reoccurrence of a medical problem I have been having problems with. I’m going in for tests in the New Year to get to the bottom of it, if I was a greyhound I might have got the bullet by now.
January sees the first running of a WPT in Ireland in Citywest, with a €2500 entry fee it’s out of reach for a lot of players but there are a number of ways to qualify with most clubs running satellites for it. If the organisers get close to the projected numbers it will be the second biggest tournament in Ireland next year with the winner getting a nice six figure cheque. It’s like a home leg for me living being so close to home; I’d love to kick the year off with a deep run in it.
After that we have the second IPPF in Clane, this tournament attracted over four hundred players last year. With a much more modest €250 entry fee most regular players will fancy their chances of going deep the possibility of a large score. Glen McCabe took home over €16k when he finished top of the pile in this event last January