Sunday, 18 November 2012

EMOP Dublin

I busted the EMOP Dublin a few hours ago coming 26th with 18 getting paid. I peaked at 170k and the average stack  when the bubble broke was 140k. There was a 178k stack at the final table, with two stacks shorter than that.

When stuff like that happens, you always tend to question yourself and wonder if you blew your stack. I keep thinking, and I honestly can't say I'm not happy with my play. I lost an 80k pot with 99 vs A3. That happened at a crucial enough  time and definitely cost me a lot of momentum. If I win that, I have 200k+ (2.5x average) and am chip leader with ~30 remaining. As it happened, I lose the pot but still have a very comfortable stack with 120k. I hovered around that for a while without any major confrontations.

I was relatively happy with my play in the small pots. Nick Abou Risk was on my left so I did play a tad tighter than normal. I didn't get out of line too much but I still won my share of pots. I guess if I final tabled I wouldn't even be thinking about it, but when you get knocked out you always try to see if you could have done anything at all different!

My bust out hand eventually came with me playing 110k. The blinds were 1200-2400(300) (blinds were due to increase in 5 minutes) with 26 remaining and 18 getting paid. I opened with JJ to 5k, Darragh Davey who was new to the table, playing a 110k stack also, 3bet me to 12900. Without being results oriented, I think this is a trivial enough 4 bet. I suppose I can flat call and take a flop in position. Anyway, I 3bet to 29k and Daragh shoves. It's about 80k to call and there's 143k in the middle. In cEV, that means I need 36% to call. Against a range that contains AA, KK, QQ and AK, I have 36% equity. I think QQ+, AK is a reasonable range. I haven't played enough with Daragh to be any more sure. There's a chance he's only shoving with aces or kings here, but what is he doing with QQ and AK? Hardly folding them or calling oop?

So if I do have almost exactly 36% equity, and need almost exactly 36% equity for it to be a breakeven cEV call, should I call? I suppose tournament strategy usually dictates that you need better than a cEV breakeven spot to risk your tournament life. If I call and win, I have 223k. This will be 75BBs when the blinds increase in 5 mins and would make me chip leader on the table. If I fold, I have 80k which will be 27 BBs when the blinds increase.

At the time, I felt it was a spot where it's better to gamble. Looking back now, I don't know. Maybe taking the hit and grinding the 27BB stack is better. With 75BBs approaching the bubble, it puts me in great shape to really have a shot at a big finish. With 27BBs, my options are limited and chances are I'll have to win a showdown before the bubble bursts. In a soft tournament, I probably take the lower variance option and fold. However, I felt in this tournament, I couldn't just 'wait for a better spot'.

The more I analyze it and think about, I can't logically say that I definitely should have folded or played it differently. However, there is something in the back of my mind saying I shouldn't be out...maybe it's just being results oriented. It's a bit like my 'head' is saying it was a standard hand and a bit of a cooler, but my heart is saying I should know better and that's not a spot where I should go broke. I don't know, maybe it will look clearer in the morning...

(Anyway, I can't really complain too much as I was freerolling the tournament from the start of day 2. I got it in with TT vs the JJ of Feargal Nealon and binked the ten on the turn)

Overall, I was very happy with my play. The last 3 or 4 live tournaments I played, I felt I was only playing at maybe 70%. Despite not cashing, it is encouraging to feel I played well and the hunger is most definitely there. It's coming towards the end of 2012 and chances are I'll only be playing one more live tournament (the Macau Xmas game) before the year finishes. Although it's been a year without a 5 figure cash and nothing hugely exciting has happened, I've been pretty happy. I think my attitude and discipline has improved a lot this year and that stuff has to be right for a poker player to have any longevity. I'll save all the nitty gritty for the official end of year post, but the basic idea has been to grind away in games I'm sure I'm +EV in, not over extend myself, and then if things are going well, take a shot at a tournament I know I'm definitely +EV in. With college and other things taking up some time, it also means I haven't had as much time as I maybe would have liked for poker. There's not really much I can do to change this for the time being, but I do know that there's 24 weeks of classes a year, 2 study weeks, and 4 weeks of exams. That means there's still 22 weeks free, so playing as much as feasible in the 30 weeks and then playing a lot in the 22 weeks still allows plenty of time to dedicate to poker.

In the foreseeable future, it looks like it's going to be more of the same. A bit of live cash here and there and hopefully the €500 Macau game in December (edit - sigh, was just checking Macau website, game is now a €350 game, (breakdown is €75 bounty and €40 reg). And blinds are only 45min as opposed to 60 going to 75 as it was last year, disappointing). Once I'm finished exams, thanks to the wonderful UL academic schedule, I have 5 and a half weeks off before semester 2 commences. It's easy to say now the plan is grind a lot, do this or that, but as I know, plans can change very easily so I won't hastily make any big plans! What I do know is, I'm really motivated and hungry to do well and get results at poker right now. So, as they say, onto the next one....

Monday, 1 October 2012

Better early than on the bubble

I played the CPT grand final over the weekend and it was quite a short affair - busting during the 150-300 level. I guess if you are going to bust outside the money in a tourney, busting early isn't the worst thing in the world.

My starting table wasn't incredibly tough or anything, but chips weren't flying either. It started out 10 handed and the first levels were very uneventful with pretty much no noteworthy hands. Just prior to the table break, I played two hands that could be considered minor coolers. In hindsight, I'm actually pretty happy with how I played the hands, so I guess I don't regret anything.

My bustout came at my new table playing a stack of 8500. I was at the table about an hour and hadn't played any hands to showdown yet. There was three limps around to my BB, and I make it 1300 with TT. The initial limper calls and the two players behind fold. The flop comes 8h9hJd. There's a few ways to play this but the end result is the money is going in. I decide to lead for 2500 giving the impression of maybe some fold equity. I get shoved on and we get it in. I'm up against the Ad8d and unfortunately the Ac peels off on the turn.

As I said, if you're going to bust, might aswell bust early instead of wasting time, energy and run good and getting knocked out on the bubble! I was happy with my play but early bustouts are an inevitable part of tournament poker sometimes.

Poker has been quiet enough the last while and I haven't really played too much. I went back to college at the start of the month and that's been taking up a bit more time than it did last year. Not sure if that's a good or a bad thing but it does mean there's less disposable time to dedicate to poker! I originally thought that with going back to college I'd have about 3 nights a week relatively free to log some online MTT sessions but that's proven not to be the case. For the time being, I think  the poker sessions will probably become semi-regular and I'd imagine it'll be mostly live sessions.

I also played the cash league final in Limerick about two weeks ago and ended up finishing 6/16. There was a bit of a bubble between 7th (250eur) and 6th (450eur) and along with the bonus I got for being in the top 3 in hours I was relatively happy though not ecstatic with the result. The tournament was ROE and I was happy with my play. Most of my lost chips just came from not being able to win any showdown/aipf/60-40 type hands.

To end this blog, I just want to give a few well deserved "congratulations" to a couple of players I've played with that have some pretty stellar results and scores lately. Sam Razavi, who won UKIPT Cork about 18 months ago, recently went on to win APPT Melbourne for a AUD$326,000 (€263k) pay-day. If this wasn't enough he also final tabled the LAPT Panama event to set up a chance at a 'PokerStars triple crown'. Winning three big events, literally all over the world would be some feat. Unfortunately he only managed 7th in Panama but still splendid results nonetheless.

The other big win was that of Johannes Meyer. I first met Johan this summer at the Caesars summer festival. We both managed to final table that event and he was definitely up there with the toughest players I've ever played against. I was in Galway 3 weeks later again for race week, and at the end-of-week main event, I was lucky enough to final table again - and wouldn't you know it, so was Johan. Johan also managed to final table one of the biggest events in world poker recently when he made it to the final 6 of the WCOOP Main Event. After an hour of deal-making, the final six eventually chopped it with Johan coming away with a mega $814k!!

Both Sam and Johan would definitely make my top 5 of toughest players I've played against and both definitely deserve their success. They're both top, top players and it is great to see them getting their rewards.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

The Nicky Power experience featuring T.I.T

I ended up playing The Irish Tour's (T.I.T) Southern Open event this weekend down in Macau. There were several other tournaments on this weekend but thanks to the promise of a huge overlay, I was tempted by the value down to Cork.

My starting table had to be the toughest table ever assembled under the roof of the Macau card club, and the table captain was none other than Irish poker legend, Nicky Power.

I remember the first time I ever played with Nicky, it was actually two tables away from where I sat with him today. For a young kid like me just coming up in the game, playing with the legendary man was a sheer honour. A few months later, I played with Nicky at the UKIPT Cork. I knocked him out towards the end of day 1 beating him in a race. I ended up finishing 4th in this event for my biggest live cash to date and Nicky touted me as "one to watch out for in the future". Nicky writes the most-read poker column in Europe for Bluff magazine, so needless to say, when Nicky Power speaks, all of the European poker scene listens.

Fast forward a few months to the airing of the UKIPT Cork final table. My bustout hand involved me miscounting my stack, and making a 4bet with 33 without any fold equity.

All of sudden, Nicky's opinion changed.

Now any time I entered a tournament hall, it would usually involve Nicky berating me for being late, followed by telling his table mates about the infamous 33 hand. Nicky stopped calling me "Jamie", and instead started calling me "brutal" at any opportunity. Now any time I'm at the table with Nicky, I feel the immense pressure to prove myself and show him how good I am at poker and counting.

I arrived today at about 4.15pm (the tournament started at 1pm) so stage one of the Nicky Power psychological trauma was easy - slag me about being late. (Incidentally, I had said the night before that I felt me arriving before 2pm was even money at worst). On a serious note, it should be noted that I had actually planned on playing the end of the month in Limerick that night at six, so didn't even plan to play in Cork, but when I heard of the huge overlay, I decided heading down despite being 3hrs late was still the +EV option.

The very first hand I sit down, I pick up KQ and raise utg to 600 (blinds 100-200). The SB flat calls and then check raises me on a KT7 flop. Having never played with this player before, I called the flop to see what developed. The turn came a jack and it went check-check. The river came a 2 and the SB bet 2k into a ~5800 pot. I'm not too confident in my hand, but I don't think there's any other option than to call. I call and he turns over T7 for a flopped two pair.

Immediately following this Nicky goes into a rendition of "Ohh I'm going to take you down to value-town".

This hand immediately brought from the 20k starting stack to 15k, so it was obviously a less than ideal start. My next notable hand occurred vs the same villain. Villain limped the button and the SB called and I checked the BB with K4. The flop came KT2 and I bet out. The btn calls and the turn comes an ace. I check and the btn also checks. The river comes another ace, and based on a previous hand where villain called a large river bet with a mediocre holding, I felt a chunky river bet was capable of getting paid off here. I led out for 1800, and much to my chagrin, I was raised an additional 5k. It's one of those spots where I just can't think of any hand that makes sense. When playing against unorthodox players, it can be tough to assign ranges accurately, and in my experience, if you're in doubt with a semi-decent hand, it's often just better to call, you never know what they may have convinced themselves of.

Needless to say it's this sort of logic that lead to Nicky calling me a total calling station after I called and was shown A2.

This left me very short on about 4k. The break was approaching and the tournament had an option of re-entry available till the break. I woke up with AdKd and shoved utg. I got two calls from two stacks that I covered (so even I lost hand, I couldn't even re-enter!). Thankfully, I was in about as good shape as I could hope for, up against K9 and 92. The board came king-high and I almost trebled up to just under 12k.

Finally I started to get some compliments from Nicky. "You're better off just getting it all-in pre-flop, that's the only way you'll win"

I took Nicky's advice, and coming back after the break, I raised to 1k playing 11k at 200-400 with AJ. Ken Ralph 3bet to 3k. I usually wouldn't be a fan of playing such big pots in spots like these, but I felt it was too likely my AJ was ahead here. I shoved in my 27BBs and ran into Ken's kings.

Nicky thought my play was so appalling that telling me and telling everyone else at our table wasn't enough, now he had to start shouting over to the other tables about how brutal I was. "Ken's only been showing down aces, quads and straights and Jamie decides it's a good idea to shove AJ into him!".

Needless to say, I played to my strengths and managed to bink the ace on the flop. This brought me up to 23k, the first time above starting stack all tournament. I managed to win another one of my specialties (get it all-in pre so you can't be outplayed post-flop) when I knocked out Tony Collins with 66 v AQ.

I was approaching 30k when I played what I'd consider a tough hand. Nicky would consider it me absolutely butchering a hand. I won't detail it here, but I'm going to put it up on IPB to get some feedback and opinions (thread). The result was that I managed to lose half my stack without showdown against Ken.

Nicky obviously pointed out to a passer-by "Ken lost with kings pre-flop when the luckbox hit his ace, but he got the chips back then coz he knew how to play him properly - just don't let him get it in pre-flop and outplay him post-flop".

There was no real coming back after this and I eventually shoved with 99 over an UTG open and a UTG+2 flat. I ran into a reshove and a insta-call (usually a bad sign). UTG had AQ and UTG+2 had KK. Unfortunately my luck ran out at this stage and I didn't manage to bink a nine.

After a day full of poker and abuse, my confidence is in shatters and I'm left wondering how I'll ever manage to win another pot again, not to mention another poker tournament. I got knocked out of the tournament about 9pm and headed home. About 3am, I felt my phone buzzing - a message from twitter letting me know someone had mentioned me in a tweet. I think this pretty much summarizes the day:

@Jam_Fly true to form, was fucking brutal in today's poker tournament

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Cork, Galway and why poker players should be more like Paddy Barnes

I've began writing a few posts over the last few weeks but have never got around to finishing them. I wouldn't say I've been super busy but I have been a bit busier than usual and anytime I sat down to write a post, I'd have to leave it half way through and would never get around to finishing it off. Anyway, I just got home from Cork after bubbling the IPC Macau main event so no better time to write a blog!

It was a funny ole tournament but tbh, it always felt I was more likely to bubble than win it. Day 1, I dropped as low as 6k and then went as high as 50k. I then dropped as low as 7k and finished the day with 57k. Lot of weird/strange/non-typical spots. Overall, I think I played ok bar one absolutely horrendous call. I value bet KK on the river of a AA544 board and got raised (I think I bet 3k and someone shoved for 8k total). It should be an easy fold as he has less than KK precisely 0% of the time, but having picked up AA, AA, KK in three consecutive hands (losing with two and winning a small pot the other), I tilt called off and obviously was against AJ. The other big hand of day 1 which brought me from 50k to 15k was when I raised pre with A4s and got called in two spots. The flop came J42 with two spades. I c-bet planning to get it in if needs be. The player to my left calls and the turn comes a 6c. I bet out 3.5k and he makes it 8.5k with 18k behind. It's a really weird spot and my read was that he doesn't call the flop with the set (I felt he was the type to always raise the flop with a set because there was a flush draw). I wasn't really sure what to do so followed the age old adage of "if in doubt...raise!". I shoved and he deliberated before eventually calling with 77 which held. The villian seemed tight enough and standard enough in the first few hours, but after the 77 hand, I witnessed some hands where he'd ch-raise all-in for double the pot with top pair (he lost his chips doing this a few times and running into over-pairs). Obviously if I had this info at the time, I would have played the A4s a bit differently!

Day 2 was up and down again and I always struggled to build momentum. I thought the tide was finally permanently turning when I doubled up with 14 players left (12 got paid). I got it in with AK v AT and doubled to ~220k (150k was average) and blinds were 1500-3000. It was the high point of the tournament and I was finally in a very comfortable position. A few hands later I pick up 22 and call a raise from utg (utg made it 6.5k, blinds 1500-3k). The BB also calls and the flop comes 359. It's checked around and I hit the magic deuce on the turn. It's checked around and I bet 14k. The BB ch-raises to 40k. I call and the river comes a jack. He bombs 80k.

I think the turn call is fine. On the river, I really think I should find a fold. I really didn't think he was bluffing here, the bet just looks too strong. It's definitely possible in theory that he's bluffing, and he is capable of getting creative and double barreling, but I just really didn't feel he was at this stage. 99, 55 and 33 all definitely make up part of his range, and I can't really see many bluffs in there or any hands worse than 22 that value-bet like this.

More importantly, it's a crucial stack size decision. I can fold, and be left with 170k on the bubble with blinds of 1500-3000, or call (and if wrong ) and be left with 90k. The difference between 170k and 90k is v big here, the damage of calling and being wrong is much greater than the reward of calling and being right in this spot imo. I ended up calling and being shown the nuts, 64.

It's not an easy fold to make, but if you're to win a tournament, you should be able to make the right decision in tough spots like that. After that, I was left with 90k and didn't really rise above that. The bubble went on for over 2hrs and no-one was really short stacked. I never really recovered and eventually shoved 10BBs from the button with 78o. The SB woke up with AQhh and held. That meant I bust in 13th place, missing out on a €750 pay-day for 12th.

I was obv disappointed to bubble, but I don't think I deserved much more. I've been a decent run in live NLHE tourneys having come 3rd and 1st in my last two NLHE 'main events' (Caesars €200 and Eglinton's €200 tourneys) and really wanted to keep that going. Obviously doing well is great, but the difference in prize money in €200 tournaemnts and €500 tournaments is obviously noticeable, and both first and second paid 5-figs in this tournament, so I really wanted to cap off a good few weeks with a tasty 5-figure score.

It was a weird tournament and maybe I'll be able to reflect a bit better tomorrow (I literally bust about 3hrs ago). I think I played well, but maybe my style was a little too high variance. I was playing lag enough most of the tournament, which there's nothing wrong with, but maybe there's a few spots where just relaxing and being patient would've been the better option. The 80k call on the river with the set of twos really was the pivotal hand and if I find a fold there, I like my chances. Needless to say though, it was my own fault for not being able to find the fold and I really can't complain or say I don't deserve what I got.

Other things that have been going on since the last post include race week in Galway and the Olympics. Race week got off  to a bad start but thankfully finished well. I went up Monday for the €110 PLO tourney and came 11th in that, losing a pot for 25% of the chips in play with AJQ9 vs KKJx on a Q97 board. After that I played a wild enough PLO cash game. I never really hit a hand or a flop and was just waiting all night. Eventually the opportunity arose and I managed to get my ~€600 stack in with AQJT one suit up against T952 rainbow. The flop came ace high but a nasty two on the river gave my opponent two-pair. I reloaded for about €250 (hoping for a bit of a spin-up and it was the last money I have in my pocket) and then lost a funny hand where I value bet AJT5 on 5587 board. The river came a 9. It was late and my first reaction was that this was a bad card for my A5 as now a lot of 6xxx hands make straights. Then I checked my cards again and realised I made the nut straight. There's obv the chance of houses beating me, but I was value betting the lone 5 on the turn so I figured I may as well value bet the straight on the river. I shoved and my opponent asked for a count before saying 'ah I have a house I'm calling'. He had K965 so as it happened, the river was an unfortunate one for me!

I came back up Wednesday night and sat into a 3 handed PLO game in the Eglinton waiting for things to pick up. I bought in for €100 as the game hadn't really 'started' yet. Whilst 3 handed, I lost 2 bullets and was down €200 before even getting going. Unfortunately, around this time, people starting pouring in from the pub and the demand for NLHE games was high. There weren't many PLO players around so they were forced to make our table a standard 1-2 hold 'em table. This meant the game now turned into a 1-2 drunken hold 'em game with about 7 of the 10 stacks at the table being €50. I stuck it out for a little while, but really the whole thing was just head wrecking so I decided to cut my losses and head home early. For some reason it didn't cross my mind to head to the 4 aces - this obv would have been a better plan.

I came up for the €225 main event on Friday and thankfully managed to put a nice gloss on the week. There were 56 runners with a €12k guarantee and I managed to chop this heads up for €3250. I could give a full analysis of the tournament, but tbh, I think I solved tournament poker this tournament. I wasn't once all-in, never got pocket aces, and only got dealt pocket kings once. So the secret? The secret to winning at tournament poker is........just always wake up with a hand in your big blind when somebody shoves. Simple as that! I woke up with hands in the BB an extraordinary amount of times and everytime it seemed someone was shoving. Waking up with hands, having the odd one hold up and playing reasonably decent is usually a good formula for doing well at tournaments.

So that was a nice end to race week. The cash games in Limerick have been going ok. We organised a 2-5 PLO €500 min game about 3 weeks and I managed to win some money in that. There's something about the action of a big cash game that I really love. Having constant action, non-stop possibilities of winning lots of money and also the constant possibility of losing all the money you have in front of you is definitely exciting and something that I do really enjoy. The game wasn't exactly a once off, but it wasn't planned to be a weekly game either. I'd say if we could manage to have it once every 5 or 6 weeks we'd be doing well. If anybody would be interested in playing a game like this, let me know and I'll pass your number on to the card room manager.

Since that game, things have been quiet enough and there hasn't been any big winning nights or big losing nights. Even nights that had a lot of potential ended up being tame enough for me personally as I wasn't involved in too many of the huge hands.

So, last thing I have to talk about is, the Olympics! The Olympics were abolsutely amazing and I really, really enjoyed them. I'd consider myself a fairly big soccer fan, but I have to say, the Olympics won hands down over the Euros in terms or entertainment and enjoyment. Waking up, rolling over and watching whatever was on RTE 2 became the pattern during the two weeks the games were on. I enjoyed watching all the different sports and genuinely was distraught when they were over. BBC's coverage was excellent and London really did host an excellent games.

I punted a bit during the Olympics and did well overall. There was a thread on IPB with plenty of Olympics betting discussion and I managed to get a few good tips from that. Along with those, I also had a Bolt 100m/200m double, and a Bolt/Felix/Pearson treble, who all won. I never really doubted Bolt and came very close to lumping a sizeable amount on him to win the 100m/200m, but the second day I went into the bookies, the odds dropped from 7/4 to 6/4 (I made the original bet at 7/4 and was going in to put more on) which was just enough to give me cold feet and just leave myself with the original stake on Bolt.

Team Ireland's performance was magnificent, and despite equaling our best Olympics of Melbourne in 1956, we also had two 4th places in the Sailing and the 50k walk, so 5 medals could very easily have been 7. Katie Taylor and Paddy Barnes had to be the stars of Team Ireland for me. Katie Taylor was just unbelieavble, you only realise how good she is when you are watching a fight between two world class male boxers, and then watch a Katie Taylor fight and you see how far and above she is. She did get a bit lucky against the Russian in the final, but on balance, there's no denying she deserved the gold medal. Paddy Barnes is an absolute legend too imo. He is what I'd consider a 'proper athlete'. A winner comes first and losers come everywhere else. I remember the contrast between Barnes and Sutherland (RIP) in Beijing. Sutherland was fighting DeGale who he had beaten something like 5 out of 7 times they fought, so basically, the silver (and more than likely gold) medal was there for the taking for Sutherland. Instead though, he was so happy having an Olympic medal in the bag, he didn't seem as hungry as DeGale and lost and was eliminated. Sutherland said after the fight he was delighted having won a medal at the Olympic games. When Barnes was asked after losing his semi-final, he responded with "I don't want it, they can keep it". This was in the immediate aftermath of the fight, and in the weeks following Paddy did say he was proud of winning a medal, but I think his attitude is the correct attitude. You have to want to win and not be happy or content with anything else. I think this type of attitude is very applicable to poker. You have to want to win and not be willing to settle for anything less than a win. It's very easy to do (both in cash games and tournaments), when you have €X locked up, to drop your guard a little bit and be 'happy' that you've already won x amount. You can't ever be happy with that, you have to want to win. Similar to Barnes, after the fight you can be proud of your achievement and happy with your performance, but you should never be happy to settle for less than 1st.

Thursday, 19 July 2012


I played my first live MTT (bar the EOM in Limerick in which I never got going and busted fairly early) in ages last weekend at Caesars Palace in Galway.

It had been a while since I played a live MTT and I was really looking forward to it. It was my first time up to Caesars but I had heard good things about it. The main event drew 122 players for a €22,000 prize pool with €6.2k up top.

The starting stack was 20k and I finished day 1A with 220k. That equated to 4.5x average, 280BBs, and almost 3x second place in chips! I chipped up fairly steadily on day 1 and can only remember losing one pot of note. Towards the end of the day, I picked up aces twice and won huge pots with them both times.

I came back for day 2 with a big chip lead and started out well. Won a few races and built up to 260k. Following this, I took a step back and ended up dropping back to 150k. The two hands that did most of the damage were: a big bluff that didn't get through, and folding QQ pre flop. I'm fine with how I played the bluff, but I still have doubts whether the QQ fold was right.

Thankfully the tide turned when I made a big call with AQ and managed to hold pf vs JT. Things went pretty well from there until the end of the day when I got moved right around bubble time (got moved with 18 left and 13 getting paid).

When I arrived at my new table, I had 450k in chips which was around chip leader. Things didn't go well and I just couldn't win a pot at my new table. Thankfully, like the previous day, I won a few hands towards the end of the night and managed to finish with 540k. Two players got knocked out on the last hand of the night meaning we were coming back to a final table of 9. I was 3rd in chips with 3 of us in the 540k-600k range and 4th place being back on 350k.

I was fairly happy with my play on the final table but just seemed to run out of momentum three handed. By the time it got three handed, the stacks were approximately: 1.8m, 600k (me), 200k. I dropped back to 400k and then managed to a win a big flip to keep me alive. I raised the button with 6c3c, the SB (chip leader) called and the flop came 96x with two clubs. I got check raised (the check raise was for about 50% of my chips) and obviously had to go with it. I was up against K9 with the king of clubs and got lucky to hit a club on the turn and avoid one on the river. After doubling up to 800k, it looked like it was going to be my day but unfortunately I didn't really win many hands after that. 3 handed went on for a long while and the blinds were getting progressively bigger.

I lost two big pots and a lot of medium sized pots meaning I was down to 10BB range. I shoved the button with the 6d3d and got called with QJo. Unfortuantely the magic of the suited 63 couldn't be performed again and I was gone in 3rd place.

As always, you're going to be disappointed when you don't win a tournament. At a few stages in 3 handed play, one player had 10BBs, so several times it looked like I was at least going to have a shot at heads-up. But the short stack managed to survive and doubled at the crucial times so I guess it just wasn't meant to be. Overall, I guess I have to happy with the performance and result. It was my first live MTT in a while and I must say, I genuinely missed playing. It was my first live cash of the year too, as the previous seven tournaments have all been bricks. The result covers those tourneys and takes me outa the red and into the black for live MTTs this year.

The next live event I hope to play is the Macau tournament at the end of August. It's a €500 tourney and with things going well, I hope to be able to play it. It's a great structure and obviously Cork has been pretty good to me so hopefully I'll be able to get another run in the rebel county!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Rules from a player's perspective

Rules in poker are something that seem to come up and play a part way too often when it comes to poker discussion. The club in Limerick are currently writing up new house rules so there's been a bit of discussion about rules lately. I also read about what's been called the worst ruling ever in poker. So rules and rulings have been on my mind so I decided to make this post. This is basically my advice and my thoughts on certain rules, rulings etc.

(Fwiw, I have never been a professional dealer or TD - the most I have done is run a few pub games. So these tips are largely from a player's point of view)

Before we start...

I) A tip to players
If you want to avoid ever having a ruling made involving you, just be totally clear and simple when acting. If everyone was totally clear and unambiguous with every action at the poker table, there would almost no need for a ruling ever. So make it easy on the dealer and make your actions clear!

1) Antes
Antes in a tournament structure should ideally be 1/8th of the big blind. If it is not possible to have antes 1/8th, it should be as close to 1/8th as possible. So this means, a 25 ante at the 200-400 level is BAD. Also, antes should be consistent throughout the tournament. The ante at 400-800 and 4000-8000 should be proportionally the same. This means, if the ante is 100 at 400-800, there is no reason why the ante should be 500 at 4000-8000 (it should be 1000 obviously).
This seems like such a simple thing, but then why do so many tournaments manage to get it wrong (the flagship tournament of the year The Irish Open, no less)?
So for all the TDs out there, really simple change to make.

2) Maximum amount of information should be available
The biggest reason for problems and rulings arising is that people are unaware and make mistakes based on lack of information. I remember when I first heard the rule that dealers were not allowed announce the size of a bet (they were simply supposed to say 'raise' - i.e. they could not say 'raise to 2700'). Why should dealers not be allowed say this? Obviously players should watch the action, but nothing slows up a game more than "Raise", "how much is it?", "500", "500?", "Yes", "more or altogether?", "total", "so 300 more", "Yes", "Oh, OK. I'll fold".

Obviously a bit of hyperbole there, but I don't understand why dealers cannot lead with all the free, open information that is out there. The all-in rule is one I never understood either. In some places, if a player is all -in, the dealer is only supposed to announce 'all-in' as opposed to 'all-in for 5750'. What's the reason for this? If the reason is "well if Johnny Badplayer in seat one hears raise to 5750, he might call coz it's such a small raise, but if he hears it's an all-in raise, he won't check how much it is and fold". If this is the justification for this rule, I ask, why? One could say that a reason like this for a rule is there to favour the 'better players'. Why? Surely the other way speeds up the game and is completely fair since all the dealer is doing is announcing free information that is there for all to see should one want to see it?

Also, it's worth noting, I don't mean the dealer has to count out every single all-in bet (I understand that part of the rule). What I mean is, someone shoves for around 50k. It folds to the BB. The dealer should announce "All-in raise of around 50k, would you like an exact count?". Most competent dealers can eyeball a stack correctly to around +/-10%.

3) Rules have to be fair to dealers
I have a specific rule in mind when I mention this, but first, I'll explain generally.
If there is a rule in place, it should be fairly black and white and should not have to rely on too much interpretation from the dealer.
The specific rule I'm thinking of is a house rule in the club in Limerick. The rule is basically, if you pull your current bet back without announcing raise, you can only call. E.g. you have 1euro in the SB, someone raises to €10, if you say nothing, pull back your €1, cut out €30 from your stack, and put that in the pot, it does not count as a raise, you can only call. Aside from the rule itself, the reason I take issure with a rule like this, is because it is unfair on the dealer. If you cut out €30 from your stack, put it in the pot first, and then take back out your €1, it is a raise. If you do it simultaneously, is it a raise? If you have €30 in your left hand, and  the €1 in your right, and do it all in one continuous instantaneous motion, is it a raise or only a call? It's unfair for the dealer to have a make a decision when it comes down to the milliseconds of actions. 

So when making rules, how easy it is for the dealer to handle and interpret the various scenarios  is important.

4) Most rules that are there to 'prevent collusion' are stupid
The most ridiculously used justification for rules are the 'it prevents collusion' rule. Two things, most of the these rules don't actually prevent collusion, and if people wanted to collude, they probably will.

5) Rulings have to be consistent
The validity or reasoning for rules are one thing, but all card rooms and tournaments have to make sure to enforce their rules on a consistent basis. Rules are usually there for a reason, but for them to be any use, they must be enforced. There's nothing worse than having rules that are enforced on a case-by-case basis or 'when it suits'. For example, if you are not allowed use a phone during a hand, then if you use your phone during the hand, your hand should be dead. Simple. No ambiguity, that's the rule. At the start of a hand, if a player is on the phone, the dealer should warn them that their hand will be dead if they continue to use it. If a player's phone begins to ring during a hand, the dealer should warn the player should he answer the phone, his hand will be dead. Having some player-dealer communication never hurts either.

Which brings me onto...

6) Player-Dealer communication never hurts
Here's a quick example of what I think is okay:
Blinds are 100-200, player A raises to 525. Player B puts in one 1000 chip and one 25 chip.
Rules say, this is a raise. However, in practice, many people see this as a call (the player puts out the extra one 25 chip to make it easier for the dealer to make change - ie the dealer must only give player B 500 not as opposed to 475).
So, should Player B be forced the raise?
The easiest solution to this imo, is, after putting out the 1025, the dealer should immediately ask 'Is that a call?'. Usually the player will immediately respond with 'Ya' and the game will continue.
Again this is such a small thing but something that would prevent a lot of headaches for dealers, players and TDs. With the dealer proactively managing the game, the dealer can prevent any confusion before it arises. If player B throws in the 1000 chip and the 25 chip, player C may then ask 'is that a raise', in which case the dealer can go back and ask player B, but now player C is fully entitled to insist that player B did make a raise. So basically, it opens up a whole can of worms of possible angleshoots, possible tells etc from player B and player C.

All this could be solved by a quick comment from the dealer. If the dealer immediately asks 'is that a call?', player C doesn't get a chance to give his reaction, gauge player B's reaction etc. and if player B was angling, the angle is very short lived as he has to declare his action before gaining any information.

7) There has to be a reason for having a rule
Again, this sounds so simple, but I often hear of rules that I simply cannot think of a reason for why they are there.

8) Common sense and intent
This is probably the most difficult part of making rulings. Common sense and intent do take some interpretation, which ideally, there would be no need for (in the perfect world, all rules and all actions would be black and white and an easy and correct ruling could be made everytime). However, that's not how life is!

Common sense is an absolute must. Intent may be pushing it according to some people. I've often seen players (esp in seat 1 and 10) say call and then put in the big blind. Then the dealer informs them there was actually an all-in shove (but obv they can't say how much the all-in is :P). Common sense and player's intent dictate here the player meant to call just the big blind. But what should the ruling be?

I think these are the most difficult decisions in poker. In the spirit of 'fairness', the player should only have to call the BB. But how far do we push it? Does this leave things too open to angleshooting? How can the dealer or floorperson really judge a person's intent? Should they be required to judge a person's intent and use common sense or should they just apply the ruling rigidly? Unfortunately, I can't come up with a right answer to all that. All I can say is, it probably is best to judge these on a case-by-case basis. There are no rules for common sense or intent, but they definitely should play a part in the ruling process. How big a part? Well, your common sense should be able to answer that question!

Thursday, 5 July 2012

If I had a million dollars...

As I'm sure all the poker world know, the Big One for One Drop, $1million buy-in tournament was held recently. A million dollar buy-in to a poker tournament is just so surreal. All the big stories from poker over the last 18months have all been negative, so to have an historic event that will positively benefit poker is huge.

I'm sure I'm not the only one, but a million dollars is something that really makes me take notice. There's nothing like lots and lots and lots of money. So here's some pictures...

(all pictures are stolen from Twitter, PokerNews and other outlets)

Justin "BoostedJ" Smith's million dollar buy-in

This was from Thomas Marchese 

That's only $810,000 in chips with $140,000 cash...

...the other $50,000 was wired.

This cost Eugene Katchalov a million bucks

Likewise for Negreanu

At least Trickett got back about $10mil

And Antonio,

...about $18.3million

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Poker update and some random ramblings

Definitely time for an ole update...

I did not post at all in May which was the first month I haven't posted since the inception of this blog - (which I just checked, is now officially a year old!). The reason for this was fairly simple, I had nothing to talk about. I can't remember playing at all in May. My last live cash session was 30th April and I don't think I played at all online. This has to be the first full month without a hand of poker in a very long time! 

So although no poker, the month of May was still relatively busy. Exams, moving, buying and selling a car meant I was kept fairly busy. Exams, I suppose, went about as well as could be expected. I've always been a big fan of a lot of the elements of formal education - increasing your knowledge, learning new skills, interacting with fellow students - but it's one of those things that sound good in theory and when it actually comes to following through - (you know, going to lectures, studying etc.) - I usually realise that it's more the ideas of college that I like. Still, I came to the conclusion about a year ago that the most +EV decision for me in the long run is to get some sort of degree, so the plan is to just stick it out and hopefully come out the other side with something. 

(Btw, for anyone else in a similar boat of being a poker player/college student, Olivier Busquet wrote a brilliant piece in his blog about it - ).

I also bought a new car. It's not exactly Ivey's SLR but I'm pretty happy with it. I sold my 02 Toyota Avensis, and bought a 00 Honda Civic. The Civic is in absolutely immaculate shape and has only 68000 miles on it. It was cheaper than I sold the Avensis for and is probably a better and longer lasting car. 

The main reason I mention this (no, it's not to accentuate my balla lifestle of buying 12 y/o cars) is because of what became of the DoneDeal ad after I sold my Avensis. I put the car up for sale and within about a week I had an interested party who ended up buying it. So now I had 2 months worth of a DoneDeal ad with no use for it. So the only natural thing to do...

The ad got featured on

So anyway, time for a bit of poker talk. After about a week into June, I started going at poker again. I was lucky in a sense as I got some money onto PokerStars almost by accident. I got a message from Alan Mc on facebook informing me he owed me €300. Alan posted a thread on IPB about 9 months ago about quitting smoking. He was giving 3-1 odds so I decided to take €100 worth of action for the craic.The bet was simply a gentlemen's bet, I was willing to accept Alan's word - if he told me in 3 months he hadn't smoked for a year, I was going to pay him €100. Obviously, it'd be a very easy bet to scam your way out of, but fair play to Alan for being honest about it - it's something that's, unfortunately, becoming rarer and rarer these days.

The plan was to solely play live cash for the time being, but having some money on PokerStars, I decided to play a few MTTs and see what happened. The first night wasn't too eventful with one cash for a small profit. The next night however was great as I managed to finish 2nd in a $100 Turbo for $6k! It's been the biggest cash of the year so far and definitely a much needed boost - both for bankroll and confidence. Since then, I've played a few nights and have been doing well generally. The plan is to continue grinding away online and hopefully make some money while the WSOP is on. I've decided that MTTs are my best bet online. For the last 6-12 months, I've really lacked direction when it's come to my online game. I've never felt 'right' playing, which I think is mainly because I've never been confident in what I should be playing. Even just having a few deep runs over the last week has reinvigorated my interest in online MTTs, so I'm going to be sticking to those for the next while and hopefully I'll be able to produce good consistent results.

I've played a bit online recently, but I've played a load live too. I went into Fitzpatricks thinking that it was the start of a new cash league season. Apparently it wasn't, there was a week left in the current cash league. I had only 23 hours from my previous play and it took 60 hours to qualify. So it seemed I would need 37 hours in a maximum of seven sessions to qualify. I was in the mood for something like this and was only too delighted to try to put the hours in. I managed to get 62.5 hours and I was even able to take the last night off. 39.5 hours of live poker in 6 days is tough going, but I was happy I managed it. Unfortunately, after the 39.5 hours, I was losing money (-€230) and I also had a poor performance in the cash league final. Typical! 

Ah still, I was actually quite happy with my play overall. It's always the pots you lose that you remember, but there was 2 €700-800 pots and 1 €1000 pot that I lost which obviously would have made a big difference to the bottom line.

The poker in Fitzpatricks (facebook page) has really picked up recently. There's been a few new promotions that have really got the poker games going. If you sit down between 12 and half 12, you get an extra €25 on top of your buy-in. This has definitely generated a lot more games and it's great to see. I always felt Limerick was too big a place to not have at least one cash game every night - you see multiple cash games going most nights in Cork and Galway - so hopefully this trend will continue. Getting a cash table started has always been key and this promotion usually ensures that there's at least a game going by 12.30 - once the game has started, there's always the possibility of it developing into a really good game.

The plan for the next few weeks is basically to just put a lot of hours in. Playing live cash in Limerick and tournaments online seems like quite a solid plan. There's no live tournaments for a while, and tbh I'm glad of that. Obviously, there's no feeling in poker like going deep in a big live tournament, but I'm definitely trying to refocus my mentality to that of grinding it out. I'll still hopefully hit up a few live tournaments this year, but they won't be the 'priority' if you want to put it that way.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Irish Open 2012 - part 4

Tourney #3
€150+50+25 NLHE Scalps
Mon afternoon 3pm

After doing the whole deja vu thing of checking out of a hotel room for the second day in a row, I eventually decided to just stay for the €225 scalps event. I wasn't really in the mood to play, but I convinced myself that live €225 tournaments aren't on every day in Ireland and I'd regret not playing a few days later when I was stuck at home craving a live tournament.

A few hours in, and I was definitely happy with my decision. A few hours after that, I hated my decision.

The tourney got off to a good start and my flopped set ran into aces for a nice double-up. I was doing well at a slightly tighter than average table when Tom Hanlon and Paul Carr got moved to our table. Chips started flying and the dynamic of the table changed. My AJ manged to hold on a JT9 flop when I ran into Tom's J8. Carrie managed to amass a huge stack, but such is the nature of the beast, was out a few rounds later. Things settled down and by the time there was 4 tables left, I was in pretty decent shape. I had about 40k when the average was about 16k. First I lost a race to Doke when his 99 held against my AK, which cost me about 10k. Then, a shorty shoved for 7BBs from the CO and the SB called. I was playing around 27BBs and woke up with QQ in the BB. I shoved over the SB flat and he obv insta-called with aces. He just about had me covered and knocked me out.

It was a pretty tilt-inducing end to the weekend. I think you almost feel violated when you go from big chip leader to out in just a few hands. It's just such a shock to the system, one minute you're eyeing up first prize and thinking about making the final table, the next minute you're counting out your chips and realising he has you covered and you're out. The guy who had the aces was a total spaz who was open shoving 40BB stacks earlier in the tourney. I had a hand earlier when I folded 88 to one of his 3bet shoves (I didn't open, I just folded behind his 3bet shove). I was in good chip position at the table and didn't really want to play a big pot. That said, I felt I was ahead of his range and you can't really wait around in these fast paced structures. He showed 55 that hand so I'm left to wonder what could have been.

So financially, the weekend was bad. As always though, the Irish Open lived up to it's expectations in being good craic. I decided to go down a different route with the blog covering the IO so I hope any readers enjoyed it. I started this blog almost a year ago at this stage, but I never really had a clear idea of what I wanted the blog to look like. At the start, I was worried about writing too much (in actual words; sometimes I felt I had to be mechanical in trip reports and cover every little detail) or writing too little (in hands and strategy, I was hesitant to give much analysis for fear of 'giving anything away'). Now, I've come to the conclusion that the best thing to do is just write whatever I feel is 'right'. First and foremost, this blog is for me. Talking about stuff definitely helps your mindset, and it's always nice to have a blog to look back on in a few years. So the main thing is that I enjoy what I'm writing, and hopefully some others will enjoy it too.

So anyway, enough of that nonsense, the blog is what it is! So the Irish Open for 2012 drew to a close. There was no main event for me this year, but I hope to be back in 2013. Looking forward, I'm not really sure what's on the cards for me. I have exams starting next week, so I guess I'll be half pre-occupied with them for a while. Following that, we're heading into the summer and I'm really not sure what I'll be doing. Committing to things in advance is something I really do not like doing, so that naturally means it's tough to predict what lies in the future. Poker wise, the next big one is UKIPT Dublin. As it stands, I'm not sure if I'm going to play it. I think I'm going to take a break from the festivals for a while as they're simply out of my bankroll. Life expenses are piling up, and when you're not grinding consistently, they unfortunately eat into your roll.
Today (well, yesterday, technically) is the 23rd of April. William Shakespeare was born on the 23rd April 1564 and died on the 23rd of April 1616. So, not for the first time, I'm going to end this blog with a Shakespearean quote:

"If you can look into the seeds of time,
And say which grain will grow, and which will not,

Irish Open 2012 - part 3

Cash Session #5
Sat night 6pm-9pm

Maximize my sleep I did and didn't wake till about 5pm the next day (it's actually only an 8hr sleep so really it's far from impressive). The PLO tourney started at 6pm but I decided to pass on playing it. Had I not pissed away €645 the night before, I may have considered playing, but having done so, I wasn't really in the mood to give the omaha a spin. Instead I decided to sit in a 1-2 PLO cash game with the plan of leaving at 9pm for the €335 turbo.

I didn't really have much luck and left €140 down after a short session. I actually forgot to record any of the hands, but from memory, I remember sticking it in with decent kings with one suit (something like KK9J). There was an utg raise followed by a few calls and I was able to get over half my stack in. I didn't think utg was messing around, but I still thought it was a decent spot. We ended up getting it in and he had double suited aces (with my suit) and held.

The mentality you have in an omaha cash game can make such a difference in your sessions. There's plenty of spots where you can effectively get the money in with a mediocre hand and dead money in the pot. You'd think this is all good because, 'sure isn't every hand in omaha 60-40', so getting your 300 stack in the middle with 100 quid dead money must be good. It's not. First of all, for it to be +EV to wager your 300 stack to win the 400 in the middle (ie the 100 dead money, plus the 300 of whoever you're getting it in with), you have to be 43%, and second of all, you're probably not 43% as much as you think! This may seem obvious and borderline simple to good omaha players, but you'd be surprised how many people think this way. Anyway, the point being that, most of the time, you shouldn't be going out of your way to get it in with the kings pf etc. That's not where your edges come from when playing PLO cash!

I can't really remember any other hands from this session. I think I won one decent hand and lost one decent hand aside from the above hand. Overall it wasn't a great session. Was still a bit tilted from the night before and probably not playing my best. I wasn't on mega tilt, but was probably playing my C-game. I left the game at 9pm to play the NLHE turbo tournament. The game was actually pretty good so I'm not sure if leaving was a good decision or a bad one.

Tourney #1
€300+35 Turbo NLHE
Sat night 9pm

So off I went to play my first tournament of the weekend. I got off to a less than stellar start when I flopped a set and let a gutshot get there on the turn. I was happy with how I played it but unfortunately was always losing some chips that hand. I managed to claw my way back to around the starting stack by the time our table broke. Things were quiet at my new table, and as is the nature of turbos, there weren't many hands of note.

My bustout hand occurred when I had 4000 chips at 300-600 [details are sketchy, but this is roughly correct]. I was in the SB and a player in MP opened to 1600. This got two calls behind and I decided to jam with QJo. The opener himself is playing ~11k so it's very likely that he will shove, thus getting a heads up pot with lots of dead money. If I'm correct that close to 100% of the time it will go: I shove, BB folds, opener re-shoves, callers fold; then I need about 32% against the openers range. Of course, it won't always play out like that. The two flatters aren't much of a worry, so aside from the BB waking up with queens, the worst case scenario is that the opener flats (tbf, this would be quite odd, even for a turbo at the Irish Open) as do the two callers, in which case I'm playing a four way pot for my tournament life with QJ.
As predicted however, the opener shoved and we got heads up, my QJ vs his JJ. His JJ held and I was out the gate. I'm 32% almost exactly against the JJ so I guess if I think I'm +EV in the field I should avoid the breakeven shove :D. I don't have pokerstove on this comp, but I'd be surprised if I'm less than 32% against his range as a lot of pairs and A9 type hands make up his range.

Following this bustout I hung around a bit and eventually retired to the room. I wasn't in the mood for poker and for some reason wasn't really in the mood for drink either. It was Saturday night at this stage and we were due to check out at noon on Sunday. I was down money and wasn't thrilled with my performance. I wasn't really 'feeling the vibe', so I guess, at the time anyway, heading home Sunday afternoon was the plan.

Tourney #2
€1000+125 NLHE
Sun afternoon 4pm

By 1.30pm on Sunday afternoon, I was checked out of the room and the bag was in the car. Munster kicked off against Ulster in the Heineken Cup quarter final at 1.45pm, so naturally I hung around the Burlington bar to watch that. The €1k NLHE side-event kicked off at 4pm but I didn't really have any plans to play that. If I'm going to play a €1k tourney, there's probably more prestigious and more +EV options than the IO side event (not that I think I'm -EV in it, but there's no internet qualifiers etc so it'd probably be a bit tougher than the average UKIPT, Winter Fest, EMOP etc.).

Some of my fellow match watchers were convincing me to play the tournament, and after some messing with percentages, I ended up playing it. Ideally, I would have rathered invest less than I was in an MTT, but I guess it was just that type of weekend!

I started out well and was really feeling in the zone. I felt my focus was probably the highest it had been at any point this year, so needless to say I was feeling really good. Then this happened...

UTG opens to 400 at 75-150. HJ flats, I make it like 1100 or so with KK from the CO. The original opener folds and the HJ flats. The flop comes 772 and he checks. I c-bet and he clicks it back. This guy was creative and was definitely one to try to play you off your hand (I'd seen him min-raise the river on a bluff among other things, so he was definitely the ultra-aggro, levelling, borderline spewy type of player). Basically, never in a million years was I ever folding kings against him. I make a 3-bet on the flop and he calls. The flat call on the flop is a little suspicious, but 22 and 77 are basically the only two hands that beat me. Bluffs and worse pairs still make up a lot of his range at this point. The turn comes a blank and he checks. I bet half my remaining stack and he shoves. I obviously call. He turns up the 72hh!

Given that he ends up with the 72hh, I think I'm justified in my thinking throughout the hand, this guy definitely was capable of taking a lot of 'creative' lines. When he just flats my flop 3-bet, then it does start to look like he might have a hand. Checking back the turn may be better but I think that's just being results orientated. The guy is capable of all sorts of crazy shit and I have near the top of my range so I think I have to go broke there. With regard to his flat of the 3bet pf, as Liam said to me after the tourney, "sure obviously he's flatting you there. He knows if he hits his hand against a donkey who can't fold kings he's always getting paid off!".

Definitely one of the weirder hands I've played but I honestly can't say I regret my play in the hand.

As I was getting up, I nearly headed straight for the car in disgust. However, I felt I probably should let my investors know that their horsey didn't run too well. They were in the bar and well, I'm sure you know where this story ends up.

It was my first time drinking all weekend, and as always, the craic was good. The US Masters was on TV and the PaddyPower Beer Pong championships also took place. The beer pong got off to a good start and we made it through the 1st round but unfortunately fell in the quarter finals. The Masters on TV also provided some entertainment. I was playing with a chap in the €1k tourney who was saying he had some decent sweats for the Masters. He was saying how he had a lump on McIlroy last year and it was just torture watching him throw it away. He mentioned a few players, but I'm pretty sure one of the bets he mentioned was having £2k e/w on Bubba Watson at 100/1! Pretty sick scoop if what I remember is correct!

The night ended with me going back out to the car to get my bag and checking back into the hotel at 4am on Sunday morning.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Irish Open 2012 - part 2

Cash Session #3
Fri night/Sat morn 12am-6am

After getting some food and having a bit of a break, I was back at midnight for some more action ready to plough right through to the wee hours. I first sat in a decent 2-5 NLHE game but didn't really play any hands of note. There was a few huge hands at the table but they didn't involve me. Following a few big bustout hands, the game broke. I moved to another 2-5 table in the room but this game was playing very differently. The average stack was around 1.5k and it wasn't all that soft. I moved fairly quickly from that table and sat in a decent 1-2 NLHE game. I sat in for 150 (I generally buy-in short initially to gauge what the table is like. Getting in tough spots early on 200BBs deep isn't fun. Once I establish what the table is like, then I'm happy to play a bit deeper. Also, you can get some weird games where a 400 stack, may play like 30BBs, so in those games, you're actually better off having either 150 or 1000, stacks in between are just awkward to play). So anyway I buy-in for 150 and ended up getting a double up pretty early. There's an open to 10 followed by a few calls and I decide to just stick in my 150 with AQ. The original raiser called me and I won (he didn't show). I win a few small hands following this and am generally running well.

I then pick up 77 in the BB and flat following raise and a call. The flop comes QQ7 and I check. The player utg bets out and the player behind calls. It's an interesting spot, but given the table dynamic, I think a call is best. It's likely one has a Q, so I could get it in on this flop, but that said, if someone has a queen we're getting it in anyway, so I'm happy to try to keep it 3 handed for as long as possible. The turn comes a blank and the same action occurs as on the flop (ch-bet-call-call). The river comes another blank. At this point, I feel the utg player has a queen, and the mp player doesn't. Utg has ~120 left and I probably have around ~350 which mp covers. I can't remember the action exactly, but I think it was 25 on the flop, and 75 on the turn meaning the pot is around 350 or so. If I shove, utg will call with the queen, but surely mp will realise what I have and fold. However, if I check and utg were to value bet his queen again, mp will surely call and then will have to call my ~230 reship to win a pot of ~950. I feel this is the best way to maximise my value but unfortunately it gets checked around. I show my house, utg had QT and mp has aces. It's a funny old hand but I'm happy enough with how I played it. If I shove river, I surely get the utg's ~120 but I really can't see the guy with the aces calling me. We had some history and he def wanted to beat me in a hand so maybe he'll convince himself to call out of spite, but I really can't see how he can call it off with aces there. Expecting the utg to value bet the queen is pretty reasonable too, there's not much beating him but I guess I'm not too surprised with his check. Overall, I'm happy with the check as opposed to the shove on the river (anything between checking and shoving is definitely bad).

Following that, I played a hand against the aces villain from above. I 3bet pre with kings. The flop came ace high and he checked to me. I checked behind and called his barrels on the turn and river and was good. I left the game a short while later as I didn't feel there was too much point in staying much longer. Overall I finished up €480 with the majority coming from the 1-2 NL game (I think I was a slight winner in the first 2-5 game and a slight loser in the second 2-5 game).

Cash Session #4
Sat morn 6am-9am

Following that game, I walked around the cash room a bit. There was only about 5 games going so I decided to sit in a lively enough PLO game. The plan was to play for an hour before BbB and maybe get a bit of a spin-up.

Going up to the Irish Open, I was willing to treat it a little bit like a holiday. What I mean by this is, the IO is the one tournament where I'm happy enough to spend a decent bit of money on expenses. Usually I try to keep expenses at a minimum (ie. stay the least number of nights needed in the hotel, try not to spend money on expensive hotel food etc.). However, the IO has such a good buzz that I'm willing to spend that little bit extra. Also, I didn't play the main event, I was up solely for cash games. Basically, my mentality was to go up, enjoy the weekend and have a good time, and hopefully make a bit of money.

With this in mind, I was willing to take a shot at a few bigger games in the hope of winning a decent chunk of change - especially if I got off to a winning start. Generally speaking, there's not too much wrong with this. You give yourself a chance to either have a big win or a small loss. Obviously it's not very conducive to grinding, but it is what it is.

There's two types of decisions you make in your poker career. On-the-table decisions, and off-the-table decisions. There can be times, when it's okay to make a 'bad' off-the-table decision, but there is NEVER a time when it's okay to make a bad on-the-table decision (possibly with the exception of: if you win this pot, the guy will stab you, but if you're playing in that game, you've already made a bad off-the-table decision). So there are times when it's okay to leave a really good game or take a shot at a game normally outside your bankroll, but that does not give you permission to make bad decisions on the table. There is never an excuse to not play the most +EV poker you can play. It's ok to take shots and put yourself in a position where if a game goes well, you make a lot of money, but it's not ok to play a game with the sole intention of getting the money in the pot and hoping for the best.

You can summarize it by saying this: game selecting in a kamikaze fashion is one thing, just don't play in kamikaze fashion.

Needless to say, I sat in this game, and played like a moron (there's other words I'd like to use here, but I generally try to avoid bad or derogatory language in this blog :P). There's almost no strategic value in discussing any of the hands as it was just a case of me deciding to give money away. The worst of it was punting a ~500 stack in preflop with a double suited two-pair. It was a four-way all-in but I deservedly lost.
The whole incident was just terrible and totally unacceptable. It wasn't a standard case of tilt, it was just a total brain spasm with regard to attitude. I think writing and talking about stuff like this helps, and hopefully if the scenario re-presents itself again, I will identify it and deal with it better. Also, I hope it might help any readers that may find themselves in a similar spot.

So after that disaster, I got some breakfast and went to bed. The €560 6-max was on at 3pm the next day and the €675 PLO at 6. I had half considered playing these, but after such a horrible session, I felt maximizing my sleep was the best option!

Irish Open 2012 - part 1

The Easter weekend of 2012 was spent like every Easter weekend should be spent, poker-ing it up.

I arrived up at the Burlington late Thursday night and ended up staying the full weekend till Monday evening. For the craic, I've decided to give an almost "session-by-session update" of my weekend, along with thoughts on the session. Unfortunately, since there were a good few sessions, I won't remember all the specifics from hands. I jotted down a few of the bigger hands following a session in my phone, so most of these are based on four-line summaries of 6 hour sessions.

The "calm" before the storm

The night before the festival began (ie Wednesday night) I played the €330 satellite on PPP. I got off to another good start but unfortunately lost a 3-way all-in with AAvAKsvQQ for the chip lead. If memory serves, the pot was for about 30k with about 80 left (13 got tickets with a 50k stack being a comfortable stack to guarantee a ticket). As it happened, I still won the side pot and was still left with an average stack. Nothing really went well after that though, and I ended up shoving 30BBs over a 3x open with AQ. I don't really like the shove but I don't really see any better options (flatting AQo oop is bad, and so is 3bet-folding. Open folding AQ is also surely a non-runner). He had KK and I was gone.

Cash Session #1
Thurs night/Fri morn 3am-7am

I arrived up to the Burlo about 2am and dropped the bags off. By 3am I was down in the poker room ready for my first session. I sat into a 1-2 NLHE game. My first hand of note I pick up aces and 3 bet a C/O open from the BB. The original opener folds but the SB hangs around. The flop comes perfect - A88. I play it slow and somehow don't manage to double up. He flats my bet on the river and shows an 8! Obviously if I bet the flop we prob get it in, but against his range, there's almost no point betting on that board. The board blanked out so even on the river I can't believe he's not willing to get it in! Anyway I couldn't believe I didn't win a bigger pot there but it was still nice to get off to a good start. That game broke fairly early so I decided to sit into a 1-2 PLO game.

I started off badly losing my first two bullets. The first went after I shoved pf with AKQ7ds and lost a race against a run-down hand (can't remember exactly J986 or something). There was dead money in the pot, and the way the game was playing, I was happy with my shove. The next bullet went when I check raised Q977 with a fd on a T83 flop. I check raised for something like 170 and had 120 behind. The player just flat called so I obviously shoved the blank turn. He ended up calling and the river came a blank. He said he missed but unfortunately his miss was better than my miss. He had J994 for a pocket pair of nines which beat my pocket pair of sevens! Thankfully, I managed to undo these two hands by having my aces hold in a 3 way pot. A short stack raised pf and got a few calls. I managed to get about 40% of my stack in with AA67ss and got the shove from the short stack and a flat call. The flop came 953 with a fd and I jammed. I got called and the board ran out pairing the board and completing the flush draw. Thankfully, the aces held against the KKJJ of the short stack and the other player mucked. Following this, things quietened down a little. A new player joined the game around 6am and the game started playing a bit bigger. One hand I bet-folded top two on a Q932 flop after the flop was checked. I wasn't sure I was making a good fold, but thankfully I was shown 33. Following that hand, I decided to call it a night. The game was still good, but I decided to take the lower variance route and just leave. The game was playing quite big at this stage so I decided I didn't want to risk doing half my tank in a good game, when there could be better games throughout the weekend. I finished the session, got the obligatory 'breakfast-before-bed' (I'm coining this, the BbB), and slept till about 4pm the next day.

Cash Session #2
Fri night 6pm-10pm

My second cash session of the trip started very well. My aces managed to hold again in a medium-sized pot and I won a few other decent hands I can't remember. I played a huge pot at one stage with KKJT on K79 flop. The turn came the 8 and I got check raised. I shoved and we got it in. We were both probably the deepest at the table so the pot was big. I was obviously hoping for the total freeroll but unfortunately was up against JT99 with a flush draw! Talk about two monster hands!

After doing some business, the flush draw filled on the river and I think I ended up losing about €100. The deal was we took back most of the money and played for what was in the pot. I'm not sure if the initial turn bet  was included in the pot, but after counting my stack after, I think it was roughly a net loss of €100. He probably would have accepted a total-split without seeing the river, so in one way I cost myself €100 but obviously no deal meant losing an almost 2k pot!

The session ended badly and I managed to lose a pot with a big wrap vs an OESD vs two pair. I can't remember the exact hands, but I think I had KJTx on a Q958 board. The shorter stack had the bare JT and the bigger stack had 85xx. The river came an 8 and I got slowrolled for the whole pot. It's kinda frustrating when you think you're probably freerolling on the turn, then seeing the board pair, then thinking you split the main pot and win the side, and then see that you actually lose it all! I decided to end the session shortly after that up €170.
The bottom line was similar to the session the previous night, but the proverbial graph was obviously a bit different. Either way, I was quite happy with my play in both sessions so was looking forward to the rest of the weekend.

little bit of cash action in Norway

Tried to fit this post in at the start of the Irish Open post but obviously waffled on for way too long so decided to put it in its own post. My time at the Norweigan Poker Championships:

I did play twice since my last post and the first day of the Irish Open. A few hours after my last post, I headed up to the City West for the final day of the Norweigan Poker Championships. Between college and some other commitments I was pretty tied up the previous 12 days so didn't make up it up during the peak of the festival. Still, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. My first hold 'em table wasn't exactly bad, but it definitely wasn't as crazy action filled as I had expected. The first few hours were swingy with several coolers. I got off lightly on the last cooler (A2 v TT on a T22 flop, thankfully the turn came a T also, so I managed to get away without losing my whole stack) and decided to switch it up and play some PLO. If the NLHE table lacked crazy action, the PLO was worse, it was 8 handed, and I wouldn't have been surprised to hear that 5 of them were pros. The game was very disciplined and there was definitely no easy money. Being somewhat in shock (I spent the entire week prior hearing about money and lunatics), I managed to run well after losing my first bullet and came out with a profit.

It was after 3am and the hold 'em table behind was starting to sound a bit rumbustious. I decided to give one last shot at playing with some crazy Norweigans and thankfully I found them. It was classic enough drunken play with players happy to gamble. Getting stacks in pre-flop with 87o etc wasn't exactly the norm, but it wasn't uncommon either. The game played very slowly (as is common with drunken games) as a few players were taking 5 minutes to make a decision every hand. Personally, I don't really mind this as it's a trade-off for the game you're in. If people are there and basically giving their money away, I'd rather 15  hands an hour in that game rather than 30 hands an hour in a much tougher game. I guess it's personal preference, but some people get very annoyed at drunk players. People acting slowly and generally being a mess isn't ideal obviously, but if it effects you that much, leave the game. Otherwise, suck it up and continue playing in the +EV game. The point at which I draw the line is if drunk people start getting abusive, either to dealers or other players. I can stand people acting slowly, loudly or messily, but being drunk is definitely no excuse for being abusive.

Anyway, that rant aside, I didn't pick up a card in the drunken hold 'em game and ending bleeding about €150 away. It was literally just blinds and calling pf (with hands such as KQ etc - ie hands not strong to just shove it all in pf with). I did get it in once with ATs but ran into the top of my opponents range (ATo).

When all was said and done, I came away €100 euro poorer, losing in the two softer games, and winning in by far the toughest game. It was a pity I couldn't make it up during the main festival but hopefully it'll be back in 2013.

Also, I was obviously confused for a Norweigan for most of the night. It reminded me of a few years ago playing cash at the Irish Open when I pretended to be a Swede who couldn't understand English. After playing with a Dubliner for much of the night, I put some bad beat on him. Following the hand (and believing I was a non-English speaking scandi) he started bitching and insulting me. The dealer (who had recently just arrived at the table) looked at him and told him to relax a little bit. He simply replied "Ah it doesn't matter what I say, he can't even fucking understand me!"

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Some cash action, throwing away €4600 and a tragic loss

I've been thinking about changing the style of this blog a bit. So far, it's mainly been tourney reports with a few other things thrown in. I've been thinking about spicing the blog up a bit and throwing in some more random stuff. This could be anything from more pictures and links within blog posts, to extra blog posts about stories that don't quite fit into any other one blog post. We'll see how it goes, but hopefully it'll make the blog a bit more interesting to read.

The Norweigan Poker Championships has been taking place over the last ~10 days in the City West in Dublin. The event kicked off with the JP Poker Masters last weekend. The tournament drew 88 players and the general consensus was it was probably the toughest field ever assembled in Ireland. My buddy Peter "Knuckles" Higgins managed to take it down so big well done to him.

Interview with Knuckles from about 1.15

The above video is the new UKI Poker Show presented by Iain Cheyne (forgot to say, short interview with me from 7.03 in episode 4!). I think the show is a fantastic idea and it's something that actually would encourage new players to play in bigger tournaments. It's professionally made with enough entertainment and information to appeal to the recreational players and the serious players. Huge credit to Iain, and hopefully the show and his other media projects continue to go from strength to strength.

I haven't made it up to the Norweigan Poker Championships myself yet, despite planning on heading up today. The plan was to leave around 6pm, arrive for the €150 ROE each tourney at 8pm, and then play cash for the rest of the night. A few pals, one of whom who has been out of the country for the last year, called round at about 4pm. They knew I was heading away at 6, but when the subject turned to football trivia, that pretty much finished the idea of leaving at 6pm. The question that stumped me was: Who is the only player to score a hat-trick in the FA Cup, the Premier League, and the Champions League, all with the same club?

By the time we finally got the answer to that question it was 7pm and the ROE tourney was no longer on the cards. Instead the plan changed to watching the Munster-Leinster match and the Barca-Ath Bilbao match. When all was said and done, it was almost midnight, so I decided to pass on heading up for some cash action.

Tomorrow is the last day of the festival but I think I'll head up then anyway. The action seems to be crazy so hopefully there's still some money floating about at the end of a long, and by all accounts extremely successful, 12-day festival.

Some tweets describing the cash action during the week:

Going to miss these vikings,1-2 game and guy decides to ship 750 blind til he busts it, then reloads and goes again!

It just went 2-5-10-20-40-80-160 and on to me and I shove for 2.2k lols... Awaiting results....
... A high scoops cha ching... Only got the short stack tho but all d dead money #yumyum

In a €1-€2 plo game in citywest battling the Vikings again. Avg stack €2k #normal #rungoodrequired

Since my last post, I've been playing a bit of poker and it's been going ok for the most part. I've been playing a bit of cash in Limerick and been running fairly well so hopefully things will continue like that. I also played the PPP super-sat for the Irish Open with 30 packages guaranteed. With 47 left I was coming 20/47. Playing 25BBs, I ended up calling off all my chips from the SB with AK following a C/O shove. The C/O had 33 and held. It was sick not to win the race as it was effectively a €4600 pot but I was pretty pissed off at my play in the hand (my tweets following this were evidence of that!). I realised I probably had to win at least one more decent pot to be guaranteed a package. That said, if I fold, I can probably win these pots without showdown (the table wasn't too tough, so I probably could pick a few spots to maintain my chip stack without much drama). However, by calling, I guarantee myself having to win a showdown if I want to win a ticket. It's a big mistake to make at such a crucial time in a tournament, and the simple advice I have for myself is to just slow down and think about everything before making big decisions deep in tournaments. One mistake really can ruin a whole tournament, so think long and hard before you put all your chips across the line when you're deep in a tournament.

Not winning that package was pretty sickening as it definitely was the best spot to grab an Irish Open ticket. As it stands now, I'll probably play the 10-seat guaranteed on Wednesday night on PPP and maybe the live satellite the night before the main event starts on Thursday. If I fail to bink a seat in either of those, I doubt I'll be playing the Irish Open this year. I still hope to be around the Burlington at some stage over the weekend, because as I've said before, the atmosphere is second to none.

I'm going to finish this blog on a sad note. News came in during the week that a regular member of Fitzpatrick Casino, Francis Kenny, died whilst on holiday in Las Vegas.
I didn't know Francis very well but I had played with him a few times in the club. Any time I played with him he seemed like a very pleasant and respectable type of guy, a gentleman. There's not much I can say other than my deepest sympathies to his friends and family. The following post was made by Alan Martin during the week on IPB:

Its being a surreal couple of days.
Francis arrived in the club not really knowing anyone. We got to know him quickly. Limp and call any raise, he was as likely to show up with aces as J3 sooted. You never knew where you were with him in the hand but he loved the game.
Francis was very quite for a long time. Before christmas he arrived down on the break for a pint (had never been before) and sat and listened with his pint and peanuts without ever saying a word. The next night he had a few comments and he grew confident in company and banter over the next couple of nights. It did however take him at least a couple of weeks before he bought a round .
When Vegas was suggested and around 15 punters declared an intrest, Francis asked could he go. 15 quickly turned to 4 and for the last couple of months its being brought up every night about the plans. He became a bigger part of the community. The slagging was great. "The Hangover part 3, with old guys"  Francis was our Alan.
A quick Francis story. He had got a 2nd passport (after losing the 1st one) but could not find it. He did however find the original lost one and entered all those details into the system for his Visa. As you can imagine he was refused. A 3rd passport and another application and letter and eventually he got his clearance.
I met him the day before he went. He excitedly told me he had x amount in Sterling (Manchester stop over), x dollars and that he was going to buy clothes but would be coming back with more than he had from the tables. He also promised a chip..
The lads will be coming back over the coming days god willing. 
Rip Francis, the most fearful limper I have met.

R.I.P. Francis Kenny