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!