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