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Saturday, 24 November 2012

Below is my piece for today's Irish Daily Star, I'm aware most of you guys don't need any explanation of a cooler however the average Star reader is not fully up to speed with the auld poker lingo....

I played every weekend last month which is unusual for me what was not unusual was I failed to make the money prizes in any tournament I played. It’s been the storey of my 2012 poker wise. When it matters I have done one of three things, 1. Made a silly mistake, 2 got very unlucky or 3 just had what we call in this business a “cooler”.

A cooler is when two players pick up hands that inevitability leads to all the chips going in the middle, the classic one is AA into KK late in a tournament but when you are playing on a very aggressive table where a lot of players are raising and re-raising with a wide range of hands these so called coolers will occur a lot more frequently.

For example if you are playing on a table and someone opens the betting and you look down at pocket tens you might choose to re-raise. If a very tight player still to act moves all in after your re-raise it’s probably an easy fold with the tens there. However if a really loose player makes the same move it’s probably an easy call and if that really loose player happens to have a good hand the time you look him up you could consider yourself a little unlucky.

This brings me on to a hand I played in Bristol at the recent UKIPT where late on Day Two with about ninety players left and seventy two getting money I find myself in a very tough seat. I have Jason Tompkins on my direct left, Ben Vinsion to his left, next is a very good player who’s name I did not know and finally the recent UKIPT online winner and eventual UKIPT Bristol winner Wojtek Barzantny  is the fourth player on my left.

I have gone a little short so I have been playing very tight when the following run of cards come my way, first I pick up pocket tens and after a raise in front of me I move all in and am not called. The very next hand I pick up pocket kings and I raise with everybody folding. The following hand I pick up pocket eights and raise again – this is where the trouble starts, after raising now for three hands in a row with no resistance form any of the good players still to act behind me I was expecting one of them to make a stand this time.

Sure enough Barzantny was on the big blind and he re-raised me, my stack is a size that I can’t really call his bet and fold if I miss the flop. I have been playing with him for a while now and I know he does not need a very strong hand to re-raise me.  My choices are very straight forward, I either move all in or I fold. I elect to move all in and after a very short dwell he calls and turns over pocket nines.
Is this a cooler? It’s very debatable there is an argument to be made for both sides. If you are always going to fold a hand a strong as pocket eights then a player like Barzantny is going to make your time at the table very difficult on the other hand if you are never going to fold a hand as weak as pocket eights then you are going to bust a lot of tournaments early.

I shared a flight home with two of Ireland’s best players and when discussing the hand they both had opposite views, I suppose that’s the beauty of poker. The two players in question were Mick Graydon and Jude Ainsworth, no prizes for guessing which player was on which side J

As our flight was delayed for a couple of hours the three of us got stuck into the new craze at poker tournaments – Open Face Chinese Poker – the rules are pretty simple, every player ends up with thirteen cards and has to make three poker hands out of all cards. Two five card hands and one three card hand you then win points and bonus points based on the strength of your hands compared to your opponents hands. Sounds easy right? Well no it’s far from easy and depending on how much cash value you assign to every point you can win or lose a lot of money.

It is on the other hand very addictive game which is easy to play with two or three players so I think it’s here to stay. If you follow any of the superstars of poker that often spend more time tweeting about Chinese Poker they played at night than they do about the actual tournament they have played that day. My advice to anybody playing the live circuit is get up to speed with it quick otherwise its might cost you a lot of money to learn.

As the party season gets into full flow I don’t see myself playing a lot of tournaments but I do hope to get in a good few hours at the cash tables, traditionally the games were always better around Christmas and the past few years I have done well in them.

There are small tournaments on all around the country with three notable ones being the Red Cow on the 8 of December, Macau in Cork on the 15th and the Kilkenny Christmas Cracker on the 22nd.  You’ll get full details of all these and other events on Irish Poker Boards.

Another date to add to your diary is next Saturday the 1st of December when poker player and all round hard man Ross Johnson will try to decapitate Boyle Poker Pro John O Shea.  Apparently the original argument was over some fake tan going missing on a recent trip to Vegas and after failed attempts by friends to mediate they decided to sort it out in the ring in Leopardstown race course.
It’s all for a good cause and full details can be found on the mycharity.ie website.