Fresh off my omaha bubble and 7am bed time, I was ready to go again for the Main event at 2pm the next day. My starting table wasn't the easiest table in the room. There were a few players I recognised and it soon become apparent that the players I didn't recognise were well able to play. Peter 'knuckles' Higgins who won this event in 2009 and eventually final tabled it this year was two to my left and Cork legend Sean Coughlan was sitting across from me. Sean actually shared some genius strategic advice with me on the Satuday (I hope he doesn't mind too much if I repeat it). Sean has a rep as a bit of a rock amongst some of the local Cork players. Anytime he bets at a pot, they insta-fold with the remark "ah for fuck sake, sure you always have it". Armed with this reputation, Sean told me that he has started betting at more pots. "Sure I just smile at them saying 'ya I always have it but ye never pay me off!'"
The whole day seemed to be a bit of a grind from start to finish. I don't think I played a pot over 10k before the final hour. The first pot I played early on was when I was in the BB. Munster rounder "Muinteoir" was in the SB and was telling a story about about a hand where he had 82o. He limped in and I look down in the BB at......82o! I decide to fire every street. The board gets scarier and scarier and I keep firing. I convince myself that the board is getting scarier for him too and I could always have the ace of clubs. After my final stab on the river of the Jc9c4sKcTc board, Muinteoir calls and turns over the JxQc for the ole straight flush. It was early on so thankfully the bluff wasn't too damaging. I can also take pride that it wasn't the worst 8-2 loss this week!
Going into the last hour or so, I had managed to grind my stack up to 31k. It was a tough enough day as there weren't any great spots or card rushes to get me through. On the penultimate hand, I raise pre-flop and proceed to fire three bullets on a KhTh4cAh7h board. I think it made sense to make the bluffs though as I can easily represent the nuts on each street. My opponent made the crying call with the KT. I think it's one of those hands where I make the same play even if I can see his two hole cards. I'm now down to 19k and I pick up aces utg. I raise pf and get three callers. The flop is 2s5sTh. I lead out, knuckles calls behind me, and the button makes it 11k. It's one of those spots where if you do shove and run into a set, you're not surprised, but at the same time, it's very tough to justify folding the aces. If the board is 25T rainbow, I think then you can maybe make a case for folding (but not really), but given there's a flush draw out there, it's too often that one player has one pair and the other has a draw. Anyway, I shove, knuckles quickly reships for 45k total and the button dwells. Eventually the button mucks JJ and knuckles turns over 22. The turn is the 2 and the river is a J. A bit unfortunate but I really can't see how I can just give someone credit for a set and fold my aces on that flop.
This year, the main event was played as a re-entry tournament. This meant, should you bust, you would be allowed one re-entry to the tournament. This meant new starting stack and a new table (if you bust on Thursday, you could re-enter on Friday). There has been some debate whether this is a good or a bad thing. I know they got rid of the rebuy events from the WSOP a few years ago because it gave players with deeper pockets a better chance of winning the event, thus making it easier for richer players to win a bracelet. That being said though, players with deeper pockets will always have a better chance at winning at live tournaments (notice I said winning and not necessarily maximizing profit) because they'll be able to enter more of them. In theory, I think it's bad for poker, because it does give the players with bigger bankrolls a better shot at winning the tournament. However, in practice, anything that adds more money to the prize pool is a good thing for everyone. Especially in this specific format, if you don't want the hassle of thinking about a rebuy etc. you can just play the Friday instead of the Thursday.
I availed of the re-entry option and sat down again on Friday. It's also worth noting that rebuying for another €500 doesn't mean you have to have €1000 equity in the tournament to justify your rebuy. After you get knocked out, your rebuy becomes a separate entity entirely and you only need to have over €500 equity to justify it. (in fact, since the €50 reg fee is waivered, it makes even more sense to rebuy if you think you're +EV against the field). As I'm at the reg desk, I draw seat 10. I ask if there's any other seats available as I was in seat 10 all day yesterday. I manage to get seat 9 and proceed to my table. As I'm walking there, my superstition gets the better of me and I regret not just taking whatever table I was given. As I sit down, I start to regret my decision even more as Paul Carr is directly on my left, while Zeik is two to my right.
I sit down but thankfully, within a round, I'm moved to a newly formed table. Before moving, I do get to hear Carrie's accomodation experience in Cork that week. He rang me up on Monday night asking where I was staying for the week. I said, chances are, I'll be staying with a friend but I know Liam is staying in some student accommodation for €50 for the week if he wants to ring there. I'll be honest, inherently, I knew there was a decent chance that Paul Carr and student accomodation may not be the best match, but due to the potential comedy that could arise from the situation, I gave the Paul the number and let him work away.
So Paul arrives at Cork Student village at about 5am on Thursday morning. He goes to the accommodation "reception" and tries to check in. The receptionist tells him his apartment numer etc. and gives him the key to the room. After a bit of back and forth with directions, the receptionist decides to just bring Paul to the room. First problem when they enter the apartment block...the stairs. "Not a hope am I walking up them stairs everytime I go to my room". I'm not sure how they managed to solve the stairs problem but eventually they manage to get up to the room. At this point, your man from reception is carrying Paul's bags and acting more like a butler than a student accommodation rep. Paul is given a key and asks what door does this key open. He is told "that key opens every door in the whole place". "Are you fucking serious? So you're telling me that key will open every door? How am I supposed to leave my things here when anyone can just open my door?". At this point, living at Student Village Cork for the week is not looking a likely outcome for the Irish Open runner-up. The proverbial straw that broke the camel's back was when Paul finally got to see his room for the week. "So I walk into the room, and there's no blankets, pillows, sheets. Nothing on the bed! What do they expect me to do, sleep on the fucking mattress? I says to your man, 'look pal, gimme back my 100 quid and we'll leave it at that". 2 hours later, Paul was seen checking in at the Rochestown Park Hotel.
Back to the poker. This day 1 went a little better than the day before. I picked up a few hands and was on the right side of a few coolers. It did look like as history was about to repeat itself as I managed to play 4 big pots in the last level. Thankfully, I won 3 of the 4 (even though the 4th one was the biggest one) and managed to finish the day on 45k. I was happy with my play and felt confident heading into day two.
I manage to chip up and have over 60k at my peak. I play one hand quite badly where I pay off a river check raise. I can't remember how the hand played out exactly, but I remember thinking on the river, surely he wouldn't bother check raising with bare trips here (the flop was 99x), after all, he can hardly expect to be called with worse? Obviously I did call with my turned top pair and he showed up with Q9 (bare trips). It was a weird one, because I actually tried to squeeze out a thin value bet on the river, and then when I got raised, I got confused. That said, it should be a pretty easy fold. If I just checked back the river, I would've saved both the bet and the call.
At the 500-1000(100) level, I'm playing about 40k. I raise utg+2 to 2500 with AJo and a player behind me shoves for 19k. The BB then calls 2500 not seeing that there was an all-in, he then proceeds to fold (effectively meaning there's an extra 1500 in the pot). I need about 38% equity against his range here to call. I was quite active and knew he was a competent player so he could definitely be shoving somewhat light. That said he hadn't really gotten out of line too much so he deserves credit for some sort of decent hand. I end up calling and he shows up with JJ and it holds. I did the sums when I got home and against a very tight range of AJ+ and 77-KK (I decided to rule out aces since I hold one and also, if he did have AA, decent chance he doesn't shove) I have 35.5%. Against a loose range of 22+, AT+ and KJs+, I have 44% equity. His range probably lies somewhere in the middle so I'm pretty happy with my call. You also have to factor in the whole gigabet stack playability etc thing. If I call and lose, I'm down to 18k which is an easy enough stack to play. If I call and win, I'm over 60k, which I think is a big enough stack to really put pressure on opponents. If I fold, I'm left with 34k which is neither a reshoving stack nor a steamroller stack. I'd still be comfortable playing 34k as it's still enough to be able to play poker with, but I think taking a race at this point in the tourney is fine. The next hand I pick up AsKs. Fox raises utg to 3500 and I reship my 18k. I run into AhQh which makes a flush on the turn. Obviously nothing I can do, that's just poker.
Overall, it was a pretty bad week financially in Macau. I played an Omaha cash game on the Friday night which I won about a monkey in. I'd also won a ticket to the main event so it looked like I'd at least have my main event entries covered through that. However, I started playing a cash game on Saturday night. Long story short, come 7am Sunday morning, I have a 700 euro stack and manage to play a ~€2k with KT on a T42 flop. It's one of those cash games where I think only people that have experienced them know what the ranges are like. It ended up being 100 each 4way preflop. The flop came T42, and the SB lead out 200. The player to my right shoved for about 400 and after some deliberation, I reshoved for my stack. Then unfortunately the player behind me started to dwell and eventually called with T2. It was quite unfortunate to run into his two pair as I was ahead of both other players and I had no way of knowing if he was strong or not. I was only in for €400 in the game but winning that pot would have put me into profit for the week!
At 7am on Sunday morning I leave the casino to head towards the car to go home. Paul is sitting in reception with Tommy the doorman. Paul had been drinking and was a little worse for wear. Upon calling every hotel in the city, he couldn't find a place to stay. The only option was for me to drive him back to Limerick and he'd come down to collect his car the next day. He also could've stayed at student village but unfortunately he had no bed clothes with him.