Saturday, 18 January 2014

2013 review

You kinda have to get these posts done in January, otherwise it's a bit too late...

So 2013 generally speaking was not a good year. I can sugar coat it whatever way I like, but in a word (two words) 2013 was: not fantastic.

Poker wise, I unfortunately had my first ever losing year. I was up money online and in live cash, but unfortunately had an extremely quiet year in live MTTs. The stats will add up to 3 cashes out of 26 tournaments in 2013, with 2 of those cashes being in €100 tournaments. Live cash was disappointing as the card room in Limerick closed about three months into the year, so that meant there was no consistent live games for me for most of the year. Travelling to Cork or Galway are both about 1.5hr trips and even if it's possible to justify it financially, adding 3hrs to what might only be a 4hr cash session never seemed too appealing. Online, I avoided online cash more or less completely, and managed to record a profit and positive ROI in MTTs. Across the board though, my volume was tiny.

In May, I moved to Dublin for work placement as part of my college course. I remember remarking prior to moving up that I don't think I'd been up before 9am four days in a row since I did my Leaving Cert (not to mind the 5 days in a row that is generally expected in a Monday-Friday working week). It was my first experience of the 'nine-to-five grind' and first experience of what most would class as a 'real job'.
All in all, I'm definitely glad of the experience. If you asked me before hand whether or not I'd like the 9-5 office lifestyle, I would've said 'probably not'. But you never really know whether you'd like something or not until you've tried it - so if nothing else, I'm very glad that I've tried the 9-5 office job and have experience of what it's like. I was also lucky in that the company I was working for and the people I was working with were top notch so that always helps.

When comparing making a living from a 9-5 job, and making a living from primarily playing poker, I think it can be summarized very easily: for a poker player, it's all about the freedom.

You can weigh up the pros and cons all you like -  the possibility of that one big score versus the consistency and security of a regular pay cheque - but if you were to look at all the people in the world who consider themselves 'poker professionals', I guarantee the trait most shared would be this 'desire' for freedom. 

Whilst in Dublin, I didn't frequent the casinos too much (getting up at 7am every day was tough enough for me) but I did play a bit online and the odd live festival. I'm back in Limerick now with a year and a half left before I hopefully, and finally, get my hands on a degree. I'm not sure where that leaves me with poker, but I did kinda make the decision that for the year or so that's in it, I may have to put poker on the back burner for a while. Given success in poker has been hard to come by for me lately, I suppose that makes it a bit easier! I'll see how things go over the next few months, but I'd be expecting another low enough volume year. That said you never know, and if the luck starts to change a bit I could easily see myself playing a decent bit, until the final year starts in September anyway. From September 2014, it'll be low enough volume win, lose or draw I'd imagine.

So, an end of year blog wouldn't be complete without graphs or goals, so the obligatory graphs and goals (as usual, I left specific money amounts out):

Online MTTs 2013 - yes my volume for a whole year was the same as what some people would play in a few days

A graphical breakdown of my 26 live MTTs in 2013 . A bad year - my biggest cash was about equal to my biggest buy-in.

2013 Goals Review - 

1. Maintain or improve on my hourly rate at cash games CHECK
In the live cash that I did play this year, I did manage to improve on last years hourly. It was only by a tiny bit (an extra €1.17/hr to be precise) but every little helps! 

2. Have an ROI of 100% in live tournaments FAIL
Nope. First losing year at live MTTs. Very disappointing results in the bigger buy-ins of the year and generally didn't get the luck at the right times throughout the year.

3. Be totally focused in every tournament FAIL
Hmmm...has to go down as a fail I think. I made a massive blunder in Galway and there was probably one or two tournaments I wasn't totally on form for. I think it probably was an improvement on the previous year, but still would like to have a more consistent level of focus and concentration than I showed in 2013. 

4. Play 500 online MTTs, positive ROI, profit FAIL/CHECK/CHECK
I did say I wasn't sure how much I'd play online in 2013 and as it happened, it wasn't very much at all (mainly satellites to live events). However, I did have a positive ROI and I did profit so I guess I'm not disappointed with that.

5. Continue to study, improve etc. FAIL
I'm not sure. I think I'd have to put it down as a fail. I think you have to be playing consistently to see the full benefit of study and that's something I didn't do.

6. Vegas FAIL
Possibly the biggest regret of the year...
I could've just said fuck it, thrown together whatever money I had and taken a stab at it but I made the conscious decision to only go if I was sufficiently bankrolled and wasn't just taking a shot. You miss 100% of the shots you don't take, but at the time I felt it was the 'mature' decision to make. 

7. Win a live tournament CHECK
A win's a win - a round-of-each turbo tournament at JP's Norwegian Championship.

8. 5 fig score FAIL

9. 6 fig score FAIL
Unfortunately not...

10. Continue this blog CHECK
Quite happy with 2013's blogging. I don't think there was any 'filler' blogs, and I only posted when I felt like writing, so hopefully nothing came across as too forced. And as I said last year, I hope this blog can serve as a mild form entertainment to some people and I do appreciate it when people enjoy it!

2014 Goals

Ah jesus where to begin...

Right let's keep it simple:

1. Positive ROI and Profit in Online MTTs
What it says on the tin. 
Don't know how much I'll be playing, so let's just hope when I do play, I win!

2. Improve or maintain hourly rate at cash games
Hopefully a club will be opening in Limerick soon and I'll be able to play live cash a bit more regularly. If so, hoping to achieve a decent hourly rate.

3. Play 5 tournaments with a €50k+ prizepool 
This is a bit of an unconventional one. I think when you're not playing for a living (which I'm not really), it's ok for your aims to differ. When playing for a living, risk of ruin and hourly rate have to be your number one concern. However, if you're not, there's nothing at all wrong with looking for that 'big score'. So I guess even with a limited playing schedule, if I can put myself in a position to get a decent score (we'll say 10k+ for the sake of discussion) a few times a year, that'll be a positive. I played 11 (live) tournaments with a €50k+ prizepool last year, so even if I play a lot less, I'd be really surprised if I didn't make an outing to at least 5 festivals in 2014! 

4. Continue this blog
Sure why not...
The blog went a bit quiet the last few months as I played practically zero, and there's a good chance the same could happen for parts of 2014...but sure if I've something to write about I might as well do it, so hopefully the blog will still be going for the new year! 

Best of luck to everyone for 2014 and let's hope it's a good one!

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Scandals in Galway

Well I guess I better get the obligatory poker update out of the way. I played a total of 8 tournaments at the Full Tilt Poker Galway Festival and min-cashed in the smallest one. In 6 of the tournaments, I felt I played close to my best possible game. The 2 tournaments I wasn't quite happy with, also happened to be the two biggest.

The smaller of the two was bullet #2 of the €330 Saturday Showdown. I didn't play my A game, but I certainly didn't play my F game either. The accumulated tilt of generally running badly and playing terribly in the main probably started to show. I was probably opening a little too wide and not trusting myself in spots. Not playing your best at times is somewhat inevitable, so I guess I'm willing to somewhat excuse my slightly below-par performance.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the main. I genuinely cannot remember the last time I was more looking forward to a festival so to bust due to my own mistake was disheartening. It was just one hand played (very) poorly but a lot of the time, that's all it takes. It's difficult when you can't understand why you lost. It'd almost be easier if I just realised I wasn't good enough to know how to play the hand better, at least then you've less regrets. The saying is "Do your best, that's all you can do", so when you don't do your best, you wonder what might've happened if you had done your best.

It's a blunder in one of the bigger buy-in tournaments of the year, but life goes on and what doesn't kill you makes you stronger so we'll move on.

Aside from the poker, the Galway experience was pretty special. It wasn't perfect, but I think Nicky Power summed it up best when he said:  Rome wasn’t built in a day; I just hope the people who showed the vision to assemble this great event will not lose the willpower to see it through for the future. 

One of the issues people have pointed out have been the lack of decent tournaments in the first week. Personally, I would've have made the same decision as Full Tilt had for the schedule. Before hand, I would've thought the Galway races would have driven the cash games so that would have been the main attraction during week one. However, that didn't seem to be the case. Less foot traffic (I'm sure the casinos in the City still got their fair share of cash games going simply from people walking in after a night out) and less players travelling (possibly due to no decent scheduled tournaments) for the first week probably meant the cash action didn't quite kick off quite like the organisers would've liked.

Another small issue I would have had was the space at the tables. A lot of the tables were crammed together and this was compounded by most tournaments being 10 handed. If the organisers are worried about the customer experience, never go 10 handed. I know it might negatively affect the bottom line, but never underestimate the comfort difference between 9 and 10 handed tables.

Other than that, the festival was very enjoyable and there's plenty to build on for next year. I along with nearly all of the Irish poker community encourage and hope Full Tilt Poker see it as a good idea to return next year. 

So, other than the poker, what else happened in Galway? 

Well, plenty of fun was had by all off the tables, but I'd like to focus on some of the scandals that occurred off the tables that may go un-noted.

Scandal #1
The #GalwaySites competition fix

So Full Tilt decided to run a photo competition - take a pic in Galway with the hashtag #galwaysites, and the most retweeted/favourited entry wins an Ipad mini. Well the 'winner' of this competition received 29 retweets and 10 favourites for her entry. Chris Dowling also entered this competition. His entry? 

41 retweets and 34 favourites. 

Deceit of the highest order taking place at Full Tilt HQ.

So, without further ado, the real winner of the #GalwaySites competition 

Affectionately known as Jimmy, this man isn't one to not look after his fans. Producing what was considered to be "the greatest spectacle on earth", Jimmy ran a hundred meter dash and belly flopped onto the bean bags located in the entertainment area of the poker village. Unfortunately security didn't take too kindly to this spectacle...

Thankfully, it wasn't long before 'Daddy' (as he's also affectionately known) was permitted re-entry to the village.

Scandal #2
The Connect Four Fiasco

Late on Friday, day 14 of the festival, I entered into a friendly game of connect four with a certain newly appointed Full Tilt Poker ambassador. As we were approaching the end of the game, we realised there weren't enough counters to complete the game. We decided to make our last few moves and see what happened. By the time we ran out of counters, I was convinced I was in an unbeatable situation where my opponent would be forced to play some moves that meant victory for me was guaranteed. A connect four zugzwang, if you will. However, then started the controversy. 

My opponent argued it was actually my move (which meant the game would end in a draw), but I insisted it was his move. My opponent then insisted we count each counter already played to establish whose move it was. My opponent moved first. We counted 17 black counters played, and 17 white counters played. 

I think it was quite clear who won that game.

Full Tilt's new poker ambassador - The Irish Gus Hansen
Once voted one of Moyross's 50 sexiest people

Scandal #3
The Great Dane up to his usual tricks

Not a good day for Full Tilt's ambassadors it seems. Yet another case of a Full Tilt ambassador not playing by the rules.

The current forerunner for best blog post of 2013...

I personally think it's only a matter of time before the poker world descends into either "Gussies" or "Clarkies". I for one want to go on record as being an out-and-out Clarkie. 

Scandal #4 
Who did this to John O'Shea?

Well, I think the smart money is on Mick McCloskey...

Shot on location at 7am in Galway City...

Scandal #5 
Who is the IrishBaller? 

There's no point avoiding the elephant in the room, everyone is dying to know who this national man of mystery is. I met one person during the festival who claimed to know exactly who the baller was. He wouldn't reveal his name but as the night wore on I managed to get some revealing clues. 

So who is the Irish Poker Baller?

I think some mysteries are just best left unsolved....


So, one last video to end this blog: 
What makes the Full Tilt Poker Galway festival so different?


Monday, 3 June 2013

Vegas Predictions

My poker playing has been non-existent recently and instead I've been getting used to the 9-5 grind. I'm currently on placement as part of my degree so I'm getting a taste of the office lifestyle. In general, I think poker players are fairly anti-establishment but I'll reserve judgement for the moment - expect a blog further down the line though!

So like all other poker fans, I'll be eagerly keeping up to date with the happenings of the WSOP the next few weeks and especially the results of the Irish. The nature of these type of blogs are 'well who are you to say that?' so the disclaimer here is that no credence should be put into anything I say and I don't even know if all these players are going to Vegas, how long they'll be in Vegas, and what they plan on playing, so take it all with a pinch of salt! So, without further ado my Irish picks for the 2013 WSOP:

Dara O'Kearney
Prediction: to win a bracelet

I think there's very few poker players out there with a greater work ethic than Doke and as Thomas Jefferson once said "The harder I work, the luckier I get". I just have a feeling this could be the series where luck falls Dara's way and he comes home with a bracelet. 

Liam O'Donoghue
Prediction: to play in a PLO game where the big blind is $100
Another year older and wiser, I'm sure Liam will be going out to Vegas confident. Live cash is probably Liam's strongest game so I wouldn't be surprised if he gets off to a good start and eventually ends up in a really big PLO game. I think Liam's biggest strength is that he's relentless when he's winning. He'll never call it a day and quit a winner if he thinks he's in a good game. If he thinks he can, he'll try to win every chip on the table.

Sean Prendiville 
Prediction: to win another $198k in Vegas

If you're at any given Irish tournament and you ask the regulars for a top 5 of the best all-round Irish tournament players, there's a good chance Sean will feature in the answer, with many rating Sean as number one. Fresh off a $198k score in the SCOOPs, Sean has the talent, the bankroll and the form to have a very successful summer in Vegas.

John O'Shea
Prediction: to win the Powerball

What more can be said about John O'Shea? John has said that whatever happens, there's a good chance 2013 could be his last year as a 'professional gambler'. He's not one to shy away when he thinks he has an edge, so expect the World Series to be high variance for him. I'm opting for positive variance this year and a fairytale end to his career if this is indeed the end. 

Jason Tompkins
Prediction: to make the November Nine

Jason has proven time after time that he can perform on the big stage. Final tables in the WSOP, EPT, Sunday Million, UKIPT and High Rollers, Jason's done it all so I'm going to predict a deep run in the biggest one of all, the Main Event.

Daragh Davey
Pediction: to final table three events

My spidey senses tell me Daragh is going to make 3 final tables, I just don't know which ones. Daragh's a very well balanced player and excels in several games and several forms of poker ranging from online 2-7 cash games to live NLHE tournaments. This kind of versatility can only help when you settle into the grind of live poker. 

Fergal Nealon
Prediction: to win a bracelet

Well, I started this list with an Irish bracelet win, might as well end it with an Irish bracelet win. Fergal is a model pro and has put in the hours over the years. I'm hoping all those hours are going to pay off and he's going to use his experience, skill and that west of Ireland winning mentality to produce the goods and bring home the bacon!

Good luck to everybody lucky enough to playing poker in Las Vegas this summer!

(photos taken from various sources including Facebook, Twitter, PokerStars blog, Poker Listings, and IrishPokerBoards)

Monday, 8 April 2013

Irish Open and no more poker in Limerick

They say no one tournament should mean too much, but I, along with many other Irish players I'm sure, can't help but feel a little more pain than usual when getting knocked out of the Irish Open.

As poker players, you know you can't control luck, but Good Friday is the one day of the year you really hope for luck not to go against you. Unfortunately, the one day of the year you don't want to have bad luck, I got some, and was knocked out after 3 hours. I don't particularly want to relive the hands so suffice to say after losing some pots early on, my bustout hand involved getting 20% of my stack in pre, another 20% on the flop, and the remaining 60% in on the turn. I was roughly 80% to win pre-flop, 86% on the flop, 70% on the turn and 0% on the river.

The pot would only have brought me back to starting stack so equity wise it wasn't a ginormous pot but it still definitely hurt to lose it. The table was really good so I felt winning that hand would have put me back in the game.

This was my second Irish Open with the first being in 2011 having won my ticket via winning the Student Masters. I wrote a blog for Paddy Power after that tournament and I remember remarking "At this stage [having just busted], there’s really only two options, sleep for about 16 hours, or drink (and then probably sleep for 16 hours)". The craic in the Burlington bar is usually so good that drink is the automatic option, but this time I just wasn't in much of a mood for anything so sleep won out. When I woke up, I contemplated heading down to the poker room to play a side event. That really didn't sound appealing either though, so in the end I just bolted early and headed home.

In leaving early, I did end up missing PokerPalz' Shave or Dye in aid of the Irish Cancer Society (where I committed to getting my head shaved - apologies for missing this!). They ended up raising €7,500 for what is, needless to say, a great cause. The donations page is still open so any blog readers that feel charitable, you know what to do!

So, Irish Open specifics aside, the last few weeks (the Irish Open along with the Norwegian Championships) were a bit of a make-or-break for me. Unfortunately, it was break. The Norwegian Championships didn't get any better since the last post and obviously the Irish Open was a brick. I think that's pretty much the nail in the Las Vegas coffin so unfortunately it'll have to be Vegas 2014 I'll have to look forward to! 

The plan for the next while is pretty boring and doesn't look like it will feature much poker. Exams for college aren't too far away so I'll have to put some time into studying for them. Having finally waved the white flag for Vegas in the summer, the alternative is now co-op (i.e. working placement) which I have to do as part of my degree. (I don't need to point out the irony or the polar opposite nature of playing poker in Las Vegas and working in an office!)

Another reason for lack of live poker in the foreseeable future is due to the only card room in Limerick closing down. Funnily enough, this has probably been the longest stretch in the last 18 months that I haven't been in so I may not be up to date on all the details. First and foremost, it's definitely a shame that somewhere the size of Limerick has no card room. There's a thread on IPB with plenty of examples of poor management, poor decisions and total unfairness to players and lack of any business sense whatsoever. There's dozens of specific examples I could go into but I think the root of the problem is the lack of poker people involved in the running of the business*. Management see the poker room as an inconvenience, not as part of the business model as a whole (all imo of course). Obviously I don't know the ins and outs of the finances but I'd struggle to believe that, if managed properly, the card room couldn't, at worst, serve as a good loss-leader for the casino, and, at best, make enough money that it'd be foolish to close it down. I can only assume that the poker room closing also means some staff will be let go and for me that's the biggest shame. I actually really liked the club and the dealers (along with poker-man Jude) are some of the best in the country. I don't know if another club will open in Limerick any time soon, but I imagine it's more a case of when rather than if.
*(btw, for those unaware, the make-up of the club was a casino/card room all in the one building)

To finish this blog, there's just a couple of things that I think deserve to be mentioned. First is the 2013 Live Irish Poker Rankings. Ciaran Cooney (aka Dice75) is compiling this ranking system which includes all live events in Ireland with a minimum field of 25 and minimum buy-in of €200. Ciaran is doing this on a non-commercial basis and big credit is due for the effort he is putting in. 

The second thing is, I'd like to wish UL Poker Society the best of luck as they are nominated for the Best National Society Event for 2012. The event in question is the 2012 Student Masters. This event was run to top-notch standards (with a reg fee of just 10% may I add!) and gave students a proper taste of what a top class event is like. Best of luck to everyone involved, hope ye win it!

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Nordmennene er lyd gutter

To be honest, the title is completely google translated so I dunno if it actually makes sense in Norwegian.

It's roughly at the half-way point of the Norwegian Championships and it's been an absolutely phenomenal event. Tables and tables and tables of poker players playing poker.

The occurrence at pretty much every table I've sat at this week is the assumption that I'm Norwegian until I start speaking. When someone asks me a direct question though, the jig is usually up and I have to admit I'm Irish. When one player realised I was Irish, he asked me what I thought of Norwegian poker players. I replied that the Norwegians are very nice people (which they are). He chuckled and said: you are here to take Norwegian fish's money so? I replied "at least the Norwegians have money to lose, the Irish don't even have any money!"

And that in essence is why the Norwegian Championships is such a massive boost to the Irish poker calendar. It's not necessarily that Norwegians are bad poker players, it's more that there just isn't any money in Ireland these days. At any given festival (perhaps Irish Open excluded), generally, you'll find a few small 1/2 NLHE games and maybe a couple of decent sized PLO or 2/5 hold 'em games. At the Norwegian Championships, it's looking like 10 days of non-stop action with good cash games running around the clock. In addition to this, you've dozens of tournaments to choose from if you're so inclined.

My own results so far have been mixed with the bottom line being in the red. I've played 6 cash sessions and 5 tournaments so far. If you're to look at it from a strictly hourly-rate point of view, there's probably almost no point playing the tournaments. My reason for playing the tournaments is nothing more complicated than I like to play live tournaments.

I've made some mistakes in the tournaments so far and definitely am not happy with how I've been playing. I made a similar mistake in two omaha hands in two different tournaments. Simple advice like take your time and think is often the answer in a lot of cases and I think if I had done this, I wouldn't have made these mistakes. It's not been all bad as I did manage to chop the ROE turbo heads-up. This result has been just about the only saving grace this week!

I decided the bring back the lucky green Celtics top for St. Patricks Day

More worrying than perhaps playing below par in the tournies has been the cash games. I've played 6 cash sessions and only won once (and a small win at that). I haven't been running great but I'm always hesitant to blame losing on bad luck. I've got my money in twice this week drawing to one out (set over set in PLO). In both spots, I think it's tough to avoid to going broke, so do I just chalk it up to bad luck?

I'm not really sure tbh. I haven't felt I've been on top of my game at all times this week. Yesterday especially, I didn't feel great at all and decided to call it a day early and take today off. 
The festival is only heating up though, so there's plenty of time to get some money back yet! Day 1A of the Norwegian Championship main event was today so I expect today until Saturday to be the busiest days of the festival. There's a €350 8max tomorrow that I think I will play and we'll see from there. 

The title by the way translates to "The Norwegians are sound lads". I have to say, every Norwegian I've met this week without exception (and I've surely sat with 100 unique players so far this week) has been well mannered and nice. I'm also somewhat astounded that every Norwegian seems to have absolutely perfect English. There's been some funny conversations this week with the Norwegians. One Norwegian was talking to an Irish player and said to him "Bono, he has a great reputation in Norway", "Bono? He's a tosser", "You are not the first Irishman I hear to say that. Two taxi drivers, a delaer, the bar man, they all also say Bono is a c*nt!"

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Continuing from where we left off...

I meant to write a follow on from the last blog a bit sooner but didn't quite get around to it!

Well unfortunately, Cookie Jar Carr just fell short and finished in 36th place in the 7th Anniversary Sunday Million. For 36th, Carrie got $8800. A nice touch indeed, but with $1.2mil up top, you can't help but wonder what may have been. He went out on a flip for average stack as his AK couldn't outrun pocket fives. The flip must have been worth AT LEAST $100,000 in equity, so it was a pretty sick one to lose.

Afterward, Nicky Power remarked on Twitter "probably for the best, the 1.2 probably would've killed you".

Paul came 3rd for $2500 in a tournament the night after. I text him saying, "jesus, that $10k could cover a trip to Vegas for a week or two this summer". He text back saying "ya for most people, for me it would probably last about two hours!".

The week after Cork was the Super Poker Event. I wasn't aware till 3 levels in, but the Super was actually a re-entry. 11 minutes before re-entries closed, I picked up aces in the BB. DK Lappin's favourite poker player opened to 1100 from the HJ, the button flatted, I made it 4k. Both players called and the flop came TT4hh. I check, HJ bets 10400, button folds and I shove for 14k total. The HJ calls and I'm up against 89hh. The heart hits on the river forcing me to make the decision as to whether to re-enter or not.

I decided to re-enter but was bust again a few hours later. Playing 24k, I limp the button with K9dd and it's 5 way to AxJdTd flop. The BB leads for 2k followed by two calls. There's 11k in the pot, so I decide to (effectively) shove 20k. The BB calls and so does one more player! I knew when the 2nd player called it had the be the dreaded Ax of diamonds. It's an avoidable spot - you could argue the limp pf with 30BBs is bad - but I'm fine with how I played it.

After the Super Event I was back down to Limerick and back up to Belfast the next day. I was in Belfast for the week with UL soccer team in my role as assistant manager. Unfortunately, the tournament didn't go brilliantly and we had to settle for a place in the Plate final. That weekend I was back representing UL in poker at the Student Masters.

I won this event in 2011 but had a disaster last year after having come within 500 metres of the venue, and then managing to take a wrong turn and not arrive for another 2 hours. It was probably the most tilting drive of my life to date. So after last year's disaster I was determined to give it a good go this year. Unfortunately it wasn't to be and I ended coming 29th of 148 runners with 18 getting paid.

I'll leave it there for now. It's a really big two weeks for poker in Ireland with the JP/Norwegian Masters and the Irish Open taking place. I'm planning on writing another blog very soon looking forward to the next few weeks so hopefully I'll get that done over the next day or two. For now though, it's off to Dublin for the first session at the Norwegian Championships...hopefully I'll be a in good enough mood to write a blog when I get home :-)

Monday, 4 March 2013

Busy busy busy

I think I can safely say that the last few weeks has been the busiest I have been since I did the Leaving Cert. I'm sure on the grand scale of things, I'm still one of the less busy people in the world, but for me, it was a fairly hectic few weeks. Three treks up and down to Cork, two trips to Dublin and a week in Belfast with organising, college and a bit of cash action in between meant I didn't really get enough time to fit in a blog post. (And as I said at the start of the year, I think it's better to wait and make a proper post instead of rushing it or just making a post for the sake of it).

Going in chronological order, first up was UKIPT Cork. I played the main event in that and ended up busting the 2nd last hand of the day. I grinded the whole day but lack of hands and spots meant I could only do so much and eventually the blinds crept up. With a 15k starting stack, I had a low point of ~6k, and a peak of ~20k. As it happens, my last hand shove may have been a little light. It was one of those spots where I shoved the hand before and picked up A8s the very next hand. I hadn't quite worked out exactly how much taking down the blinds had increased my stack and how slightly it changed my shoving range. I looked at the numbers after and it looks like A8s is right on the edge of being +EV depending on exact calling ranges. Given that it was the last few hands of day 1, we'll say people didn't want to get involved and chalk it up as a +EV shove!

I busted the main on Thursday, played a cash session at home on Friday and went back down for the side event at 8pm on Saturday. Live tournies haven't been very fun so far this year so the only aim was to get 2x starting stack (for the first time in 2013) and go from there!

Neil Raine, who is currently lying top of the UKIPT leaderboard with one stop to go, was on my right for most of day 1. Neil's definitely one of the nicer guys around and it's always nice to see the good guys doing well. I did get lucky against him in one hand (well two, I won a race early on for my tournament life too!) where he flopped a set and I turned a set with my overpair. I'll admit, had I not turned my set, I was happily putting all my money in anyway so it was quite a fortunate turn card!

Overall, Day 1 was up and down but it was fun.  I made one really bad mistake when I somehow ended up calling a shove on the flop with 33. I opened, a player flatted, and had the BB just shoved, I probably would've just gotten it in pre with him. As it played out, the BB 3bet a large % of his stack and I should have just folded there. There was also another hand where I check-raised the river with air and ran into a house! I'm actually ok with hands like that. One of the new years resolutions was to go with my gut more, and well, sometimes your gut is wrong! I finished day 1 with 62k (50k ave) with 20 left and 12 getting paid.

Day 2 started really smoothly as I hit a few hands and built up to 170k by the time the bubble burst.

My chip stack around the bubble

The final table played out very slowly and it took a long time to lose players. Bar a retarded-looking (hey, it wouldn't be retarded if he folded!!) bluff, the final table played out standard enough. I was all-in with 8 left and hit a very important ace on the river for AQ>99. When we eventually got 4 handed, stacks were 110k (me), 140k, 140k and 610k. So basically, whoever ran the best was probably going to finish 2nd. I got my shot  but K2dd lost out to QJdd and that's all she wrote! 

€2550 was a very decent cash and I was happy with it, but there's been a few cashes in the €2k-€4k range over the last 12 months and despite it being a nice chunk of change, it's not going to really change much in terms of bankroll/life/games to play. First was €9600 and had I won that for example, it probably would've been enough to convince me to book the flights to Vegas. As it stands, I'd probably be wanting another semi-decent touch to be comfortable going over (as I said before, I don't want it to be a case of going over under-rolled, or risking more than I feel comfortable risking just for the sake of "being in Vegas"). 

On that note, I'd say the chances of Vegas at this point are less than 50-50. The JP Norweigan Masters is coming up, and I'm hoping to grind a lot of cash at that, so maybe if that week goes really well, I'll be in better shape. Other than that, you'd be relying on an MTT score, and as we know, you can never rely on MTTs! We'll keep the faith anyway and hope something pops up! (The online MTT grind route is an option, but tbh it's not in the plans right now)

Right, this blog is looking pretty long already so looks like we'll be making it a two part-er. 

I had a bit of an online session today also. I busted the Sunday 7 million at around 11pm. After doing a bit of college work, I started writing this post around 2am and since then have been railing any Irish going deep in the Sunday tournies. From the 49287 that started the PokerStars 7th Anniversary Sunday Million, there's only one Irishman left. With 182 players left, Paul Carr is 89/182 sitting on an about average stack. There's definitely another big one in Paul and with $1.2mil for first, this would be the one to do it in! No sleep now...Best of luck Paul!!