Thursday, 29 December 2011

Christmas laziness

I kept meaning to write a blog but never quite got around to it due to Christmas and it's associated events.
In my last post I said "The year isn't over yet though, and there is still some stuff to do between now and December 31st!". One of the those 'things' to do was win a tournament, and I'm happy to report that I can check that off the list. I was hoping it would be the $10mil guarenteed on Stars, but the 7 figure will  have to wait till 2012.

I took down the 2011 Macau Winter Festival Main Event. Obviously there was a lot of hands in this tournament, but since it takes me 5 paragraphs to discuss tournies that last 1 hour, God only knows how long it will take me to talk about three days worth of hands! I think I may write a separate blog solely on the tournament itself. Needless to say, it was a great way to end the year. We played the final table out without any deals etc. so to get the outright win is quite special to me as it's rare enough in tournaments these days. 

Coming into the tournament, I felt I had something to prove. I felt I had been playing very well the last few months but when it's approaching 20 NLHE tournaments in a row without a cash, it will affect your confidence. The tournament went pretty smoothly for me - it wasn't a case of running like God, but I did manage to avoid a lot of tough spots. Luck in poker tournaments is something I think a lot of people (even poker players) don't fully understand. The most obvious-to-see luck is winning races and sucking out. However, you need so much more than that to succeed in winning a tournament. I know talking about luck in poker is pretty irrelevant since it can't be controlled, but here's a simple example of the kind of luck needed to win a tournament. With 11 left, we were playing 6 handed and I min raise utg playing around 25BBs. Nicky Power shoves from the button for 19 bigs. I have TT, make the call and hold against Nicky's 33. I posted on twitter "big flip to win at crucial time". A friend text me saying "since when is TT v 33 a flip lol". Indeed it's true that TT v 33 is not a 50-50 race, but I still think the hand summarizes the type of luck you need to win a tournament. The roles could easily be reversed and I could be shoving my 33 over his min-raise and run into his TT. He could also be making this play with AJ or JJ and I could lose the showdown. I also get lucky to have the higher end of my range and get lucky for someone to make a move on me whilst holding the higher end of my range (and vice versa, plenty of hands where I held the lower end of my range and I didn't get shoved on). So now you can see all the external luck factors that impact what seems to be a 'standard' 80-20 hold!

The tournament was very much like that. When I got played back at, I had a hand, when I was light, it got through, when I needed a double up, I got one. I felt my focus was at an all-time high this tournament. When you get to know people at live tournaments, you'll often sit down at a table and chat away in between hands. Back in my 'early days' I'd sit down at a table and basically watch and digest every single hand. I needed to be more like this and I definitely 'worked' a lot harder when I wasn't in a hand during this tournament.

Since the live tourney bink, there's been plenty happening. I placed one of the biggest sports bets I've ever had on the Spurs-Shamrock Rovers match. I could not see how betting on Spurs at 4/9 was not printing money, I also lumped it on Spurs to be winning HT/FT. I nearly had a perfect bet as I had €100 on 3-0 at 9/1 too, but an irrelevant 91st minute goal cost me €1000! Oh well, I was still fairly happy with the day's work. That of course was until I played cash that night and pretty much dropped all of my winnings back. The cash games have Limerick have picked up even more and you're pretty much guaranteed a full ROE game now every night. It's great to see and hopefully it can last. I'm sure it'll last at least until the near future as I've been doing nothing but lose at the game recently. I'll attribute most of the losing to variance and running bad, but I definitely have not been taking it as professionally as I should be. 

I've also played two tournaments since Cork. I played Fitzpatricks Christmas Cracker and the cash league final. The Xmas Cracker was a disappointing one as I exited in 5th place. I was going well and at one point it looked like I could pull off the Munster-Xmas double. There's no denying that winning both the Cork and Limerick Xmas tournaments would've been absolutely unreal. It all came down to one hand 5 handed. I raised from the SB with Q8. Pat Coleman flatted from the BB. The flop came 852 and I c-bet. Pat called and the turn came another 8. I checked and he bet half his stack. At this point, he either has a set, or he's bluffing. There's not much point in shoving, as there's not really anything to protect against and marginal hands (stuff like 66) make up very little of his range. I flat and the river comes a 3. I check, he shoves and I call (I'm left with 3BBs, so we were both effectively all-in). Unfortunately, he turns over the A4. It's a bit sickening, because if I play it differently (shove the turn), he has to fold. However, I'm 100% happy with the play. He said he was shoving every river, so if I avoid the 4 outer, I win the huge pot. 5th place gave me €500 which was just over a min-cash. Pat went on to split it 3-handed for €2600 each. Pat would be a bit of a gambling legend in Irish circles, but wouldn't quite be known on the live MTT scene. Hopefully he can be convinced to play a few more tournaments in 2012!
The tournament got 52 runners which was down a bit on last year but still quite reasonable given that there was a few other tournaments on that weekend (the stars $10m no less). The only criticism I have (which a well known player from the club who will not be named (...again) insisted I put in the blog) is that there was a chinese buffet on the Saturday, but not the Sunday. Sort it out lads for God's sake!

I also played the cash league final. Nine qualified with €4,800 to play for. I came 4th after running pretty well early on. It was a ROE tournament, and my final hand occurred in omaha when we were pretty shallow stacked. I turned top two-pair with AJxx and got reraised. I pretty much ruled out him checking a set on the flop so given that I could beat any other two-pair and the fact I had bet 1/3 of my stack already, I called it off. He had JJxx and I was drawing to two outs. Can't complain too much, I got €500 for my efforts and I should have been eliminated 7th when my KJ got lucky versus AK.

There's been a lot of cash games over the Christmas period, but I haven't played since the cash league final on the 21st (I think there's been at least 4 good cash games since then). The main reason being I just wanted a break. A lot of my friends that had been abroad are home for Christmas so I've been spending most of my time relaxing and hanging out with them. My Christmas has pretty much consisted of doing nothing productive and enjoying every minute of it. I'm planning for a huge 2012, so right now, I'm happy to just chill and not worry about anything too much and just do whatever I feel like doing. Between now and the WPT, I hope to write one or two more blogs (the whole 2011 in review, goals for 2012 blog), maybe read a little bit about poker and just relax. 2012 is going to be big, and winning the inaugural WPT Dublin is going to be the perfect way to start it!

Happy Christmas everyone, and wishing you a prosperous New Year!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

As we approach the end of the year...

I won't quite do the full year review post just yet. I'll save that for a bit later in the month, coupled with the 'aims for 2012' post! Right now, I think it's just time for a brief update on how the poker has been going.

It's been pretty quiet the last month for me. There were two games in Dublin since my last post, JP's mini WSOP and the Fitzwilliam festival, but I ended up skipping both. It was a mixture of not wanting to embrace the variance of tournament poker whilst on a downswing and also having other things to do. Primarily though, I just felt it was better to stick to low variance options until I got a bit of confidence back and hopefully won a bit of money back.

Unfortunately, sticking to the slightly lower variance cash games has not worked out very well. It's quite annoying too, because the games in Limerick have been really good lately. It definitely goes in cycles, you'll have weeks at a time where the best game you'll get is a 6 handed NLHE game where the average stack is €150, then other times you'll get ROE games with waiting lists and huge action! The games have been good, but unfortunately my results have not been. I was involved in a lot of big pots and didn't really win any of them. Most of them were classic omaha hands where it's set vs wrap/flush draw. The biggest pot I played was a €1500 pot which I lost. I had 578T with a flush draw on a 489 board. The SB had potted it pre, and led for the pot (€175) on the flop. I decided I had to shove (approx €500 total) and the button woke up with 99xx behind me. After the button shoved I assumed I had to be in bad shape as my flush draw probably wasn't live, and hitting two pair was probably useless. As it happened, the SB had TJJQ with no flush draw and the button had 99xx and I was in decent shape (35% or so). The TJJQ got there and scooped the lot. I've played a few other bizarre hands the last few weeks (one where a guy called my pot bet on the turn with QQQx on a paired board and rivered a queen) but there's not much point in giving a run down of all the pots I lost!

Despite missing the two bigger MTTs this month, I did manage to play one - the €250 winter festival main event in The Poker Lounge in Waterford. The main event got 50 runners giving a first prize of €4500. I ended up busting in 16th losing a pot for double the average stack. The blinds were 1k-2k and Tommy Walsh made it 5k in MP. I 3bet the button to 13k with TT (playing ~50k, Tommy had me covered). Tommy called and shoved the 89x flop. I call and he turns up JT. The jack comes and I'm gone. Needless to say, if I win that pot I'm very confident of cashing and hopefully winning the tournament. Despite this being one of the smaller tournaments, that pot was still worth at least €1k in equity and it's still frustrating to lose. Sometimes it gets to a point where the amount doesn't even matter, you just get sick of losing and need to win one. I'm getting to that stage where I just need to break the cycle with some sort of decent win and hopefully kick on from there.

It's coming to the end of the year and I'm looking forward to 2012. 2011 has been an interesting year and I'm looking forward to giving my full review on it. The year isn't over yet though, and there is still some stuff to do between now and December 31st!