Thursday, 15 August 2013

Scandals in Galway

Well I guess I better get the obligatory poker update out of the way. I played a total of 8 tournaments at the Full Tilt Poker Galway Festival and min-cashed in the smallest one. In 6 of the tournaments, I felt I played close to my best possible game. The 2 tournaments I wasn't quite happy with, also happened to be the two biggest.

The smaller of the two was bullet #2 of the €330 Saturday Showdown. I didn't play my A game, but I certainly didn't play my F game either. The accumulated tilt of generally running badly and playing terribly in the main probably started to show. I was probably opening a little too wide and not trusting myself in spots. Not playing your best at times is somewhat inevitable, so I guess I'm willing to somewhat excuse my slightly below-par performance.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the main. I genuinely cannot remember the last time I was more looking forward to a festival so to bust due to my own mistake was disheartening. It was just one hand played (very) poorly but a lot of the time, that's all it takes. It's difficult when you can't understand why you lost. It'd almost be easier if I just realised I wasn't good enough to know how to play the hand better, at least then you've less regrets. The saying is "Do your best, that's all you can do", so when you don't do your best, you wonder what might've happened if you had done your best.

It's a blunder in one of the bigger buy-in tournaments of the year, but life goes on and what doesn't kill you makes you stronger so we'll move on.

Aside from the poker, the Galway experience was pretty special. It wasn't perfect, but I think Nicky Power summed it up best when he said:  Rome wasn’t built in a day; I just hope the people who showed the vision to assemble this great event will not lose the willpower to see it through for the future. 

One of the issues people have pointed out have been the lack of decent tournaments in the first week. Personally, I would've have made the same decision as Full Tilt had for the schedule. Before hand, I would've thought the Galway races would have driven the cash games so that would have been the main attraction during week one. However, that didn't seem to be the case. Less foot traffic (I'm sure the casinos in the City still got their fair share of cash games going simply from people walking in after a night out) and less players travelling (possibly due to no decent scheduled tournaments) for the first week probably meant the cash action didn't quite kick off quite like the organisers would've liked.

Another small issue I would have had was the space at the tables. A lot of the tables were crammed together and this was compounded by most tournaments being 10 handed. If the organisers are worried about the customer experience, never go 10 handed. I know it might negatively affect the bottom line, but never underestimate the comfort difference between 9 and 10 handed tables.

Other than that, the festival was very enjoyable and there's plenty to build on for next year. I along with nearly all of the Irish poker community encourage and hope Full Tilt Poker see it as a good idea to return next year. 

So, other than the poker, what else happened in Galway? 

Well, plenty of fun was had by all off the tables, but I'd like to focus on some of the scandals that occurred off the tables that may go un-noted.

Scandal #1
The #GalwaySites competition fix

So Full Tilt decided to run a photo competition - take a pic in Galway with the hashtag #galwaysites, and the most retweeted/favourited entry wins an Ipad mini. Well the 'winner' of this competition received 29 retweets and 10 favourites for her entry. Chris Dowling also entered this competition. His entry? 

41 retweets and 34 favourites. 

Deceit of the highest order taking place at Full Tilt HQ.

So, without further ado, the real winner of the #GalwaySites competition 

Affectionately known as Jimmy, this man isn't one to not look after his fans. Producing what was considered to be "the greatest spectacle on earth", Jimmy ran a hundred meter dash and belly flopped onto the bean bags located in the entertainment area of the poker village. Unfortunately security didn't take too kindly to this spectacle...

Thankfully, it wasn't long before 'Daddy' (as he's also affectionately known) was permitted re-entry to the village.

Scandal #2
The Connect Four Fiasco

Late on Friday, day 14 of the festival, I entered into a friendly game of connect four with a certain newly appointed Full Tilt Poker ambassador. As we were approaching the end of the game, we realised there weren't enough counters to complete the game. We decided to make our last few moves and see what happened. By the time we ran out of counters, I was convinced I was in an unbeatable situation where my opponent would be forced to play some moves that meant victory for me was guaranteed. A connect four zugzwang, if you will. However, then started the controversy. 

My opponent argued it was actually my move (which meant the game would end in a draw), but I insisted it was his move. My opponent then insisted we count each counter already played to establish whose move it was. My opponent moved first. We counted 17 black counters played, and 17 white counters played. 

I think it was quite clear who won that game.

Full Tilt's new poker ambassador - The Irish Gus Hansen
Once voted one of Moyross's 50 sexiest people

Scandal #3
The Great Dane up to his usual tricks

Not a good day for Full Tilt's ambassadors it seems. Yet another case of a Full Tilt ambassador not playing by the rules.

The current forerunner for best blog post of 2013...

I personally think it's only a matter of time before the poker world descends into either "Gussies" or "Clarkies". I for one want to go on record as being an out-and-out Clarkie. 

Scandal #4 
Who did this to John O'Shea?

Well, I think the smart money is on Mick McCloskey...

Shot on location at 7am in Galway City...

Scandal #5 
Who is the IrishBaller? 

There's no point avoiding the elephant in the room, everyone is dying to know who this national man of mystery is. I met one person during the festival who claimed to know exactly who the baller was. He wouldn't reveal his name but as the night wore on I managed to get some revealing clues. 

So who is the Irish Poker Baller?

I think some mysteries are just best left unsolved....


So, one last video to end this blog: 
What makes the Full Tilt Poker Galway festival so different?


Monday, 3 June 2013

Vegas Predictions

My poker playing has been non-existent recently and instead I've been getting used to the 9-5 grind. I'm currently on placement as part of my degree so I'm getting a taste of the office lifestyle. In general, I think poker players are fairly anti-establishment but I'll reserve judgement for the moment - expect a blog further down the line though!

So like all other poker fans, I'll be eagerly keeping up to date with the happenings of the WSOP the next few weeks and especially the results of the Irish. The nature of these type of blogs are 'well who are you to say that?' so the disclaimer here is that no credence should be put into anything I say and I don't even know if all these players are going to Vegas, how long they'll be in Vegas, and what they plan on playing, so take it all with a pinch of salt! So, without further ado my Irish picks for the 2013 WSOP:

Dara O'Kearney
Prediction: to win a bracelet

I think there's very few poker players out there with a greater work ethic than Doke and as Thomas Jefferson once said "The harder I work, the luckier I get". I just have a feeling this could be the series where luck falls Dara's way and he comes home with a bracelet. 

Liam O'Donoghue
Prediction: to play in a PLO game where the big blind is $100
Another year older and wiser, I'm sure Liam will be going out to Vegas confident. Live cash is probably Liam's strongest game so I wouldn't be surprised if he gets off to a good start and eventually ends up in a really big PLO game. I think Liam's biggest strength is that he's relentless when he's winning. He'll never call it a day and quit a winner if he thinks he's in a good game. If he thinks he can, he'll try to win every chip on the table.

Sean Prendiville 
Prediction: to win another $198k in Vegas

If you're at any given Irish tournament and you ask the regulars for a top 5 of the best all-round Irish tournament players, there's a good chance Sean will feature in the answer, with many rating Sean as number one. Fresh off a $198k score in the SCOOPs, Sean has the talent, the bankroll and the form to have a very successful summer in Vegas.

John O'Shea
Prediction: to win the Powerball

What more can be said about John O'Shea? John has said that whatever happens, there's a good chance 2013 could be his last year as a 'professional gambler'. He's not one to shy away when he thinks he has an edge, so expect the World Series to be high variance for him. I'm opting for positive variance this year and a fairytale end to his career if this is indeed the end. 

Jason Tompkins
Prediction: to make the November Nine

Jason has proven time after time that he can perform on the big stage. Final tables in the WSOP, EPT, Sunday Million, UKIPT and High Rollers, Jason's done it all so I'm going to predict a deep run in the biggest one of all, the Main Event.

Daragh Davey
Pediction: to final table three events

My spidey senses tell me Daragh is going to make 3 final tables, I just don't know which ones. Daragh's a very well balanced player and excels in several games and several forms of poker ranging from online 2-7 cash games to live NLHE tournaments. This kind of versatility can only help when you settle into the grind of live poker. 

Fergal Nealon
Prediction: to win a bracelet

Well, I started this list with an Irish bracelet win, might as well end it with an Irish bracelet win. Fergal is a model pro and has put in the hours over the years. I'm hoping all those hours are going to pay off and he's going to use his experience, skill and that west of Ireland winning mentality to produce the goods and bring home the bacon!

Good luck to everybody lucky enough to playing poker in Las Vegas this summer!

(photos taken from various sources including Facebook, Twitter, PokerStars blog, Poker Listings, and IrishPokerBoards)

Monday, 8 April 2013

Irish Open and no more poker in Limerick

They say no one tournament should mean too much, but I, along with many other Irish players I'm sure, can't help but feel a little more pain than usual when getting knocked out of the Irish Open.

As poker players, you know you can't control luck, but Good Friday is the one day of the year you really hope for luck not to go against you. Unfortunately, the one day of the year you don't want to have bad luck, I got some, and was knocked out after 3 hours. I don't particularly want to relive the hands so suffice to say after losing some pots early on, my bustout hand involved getting 20% of my stack in pre, another 20% on the flop, and the remaining 60% in on the turn. I was roughly 80% to win pre-flop, 86% on the flop, 70% on the turn and 0% on the river.

The pot would only have brought me back to starting stack so equity wise it wasn't a ginormous pot but it still definitely hurt to lose it. The table was really good so I felt winning that hand would have put me back in the game.

This was my second Irish Open with the first being in 2011 having won my ticket via winning the Student Masters. I wrote a blog for Paddy Power after that tournament and I remember remarking "At this stage [having just busted], there’s really only two options, sleep for about 16 hours, or drink (and then probably sleep for 16 hours)". The craic in the Burlington bar is usually so good that drink is the automatic option, but this time I just wasn't in much of a mood for anything so sleep won out. When I woke up, I contemplated heading down to the poker room to play a side event. That really didn't sound appealing either though, so in the end I just bolted early and headed home.

In leaving early, I did end up missing PokerPalz' Shave or Dye in aid of the Irish Cancer Society (where I committed to getting my head shaved - apologies for missing this!). They ended up raising €7,500 for what is, needless to say, a great cause. The donations page is still open so any blog readers that feel charitable, you know what to do!

So, Irish Open specifics aside, the last few weeks (the Irish Open along with the Norwegian Championships) were a bit of a make-or-break for me. Unfortunately, it was break. The Norwegian Championships didn't get any better since the last post and obviously the Irish Open was a brick. I think that's pretty much the nail in the Las Vegas coffin so unfortunately it'll have to be Vegas 2014 I'll have to look forward to! 

The plan for the next while is pretty boring and doesn't look like it will feature much poker. Exams for college aren't too far away so I'll have to put some time into studying for them. Having finally waved the white flag for Vegas in the summer, the alternative is now co-op (i.e. working placement) which I have to do as part of my degree. (I don't need to point out the irony or the polar opposite nature of playing poker in Las Vegas and working in an office!)

Another reason for lack of live poker in the foreseeable future is due to the only card room in Limerick closing down. Funnily enough, this has probably been the longest stretch in the last 18 months that I haven't been in so I may not be up to date on all the details. First and foremost, it's definitely a shame that somewhere the size of Limerick has no card room. There's a thread on IPB with plenty of examples of poor management, poor decisions and total unfairness to players and lack of any business sense whatsoever. There's dozens of specific examples I could go into but I think the root of the problem is the lack of poker people involved in the running of the business*. Management see the poker room as an inconvenience, not as part of the business model as a whole (all imo of course). Obviously I don't know the ins and outs of the finances but I'd struggle to believe that, if managed properly, the card room couldn't, at worst, serve as a good loss-leader for the casino, and, at best, make enough money that it'd be foolish to close it down. I can only assume that the poker room closing also means some staff will be let go and for me that's the biggest shame. I actually really liked the club and the dealers (along with poker-man Jude) are some of the best in the country. I don't know if another club will open in Limerick any time soon, but I imagine it's more a case of when rather than if.
*(btw, for those unaware, the make-up of the club was a casino/card room all in the one building)

To finish this blog, there's just a couple of things that I think deserve to be mentioned. First is the 2013 Live Irish Poker Rankings. Ciaran Cooney (aka Dice75) is compiling this ranking system which includes all live events in Ireland with a minimum field of 25 and minimum buy-in of €200. Ciaran is doing this on a non-commercial basis and big credit is due for the effort he is putting in. 

The second thing is, I'd like to wish UL Poker Society the best of luck as they are nominated for the Best National Society Event for 2012. The event in question is the 2012 Student Masters. This event was run to top-notch standards (with a reg fee of just 10% may I add!) and gave students a proper taste of what a top class event is like. Best of luck to everyone involved, hope ye win it!

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Nordmennene er lyd gutter

To be honest, the title is completely google translated so I dunno if it actually makes sense in Norwegian.

It's roughly at the half-way point of the Norwegian Championships and it's been an absolutely phenomenal event. Tables and tables and tables of poker players playing poker.

The occurrence at pretty much every table I've sat at this week is the assumption that I'm Norwegian until I start speaking. When someone asks me a direct question though, the jig is usually up and I have to admit I'm Irish. When one player realised I was Irish, he asked me what I thought of Norwegian poker players. I replied that the Norwegians are very nice people (which they are). He chuckled and said: you are here to take Norwegian fish's money so? I replied "at least the Norwegians have money to lose, the Irish don't even have any money!"

And that in essence is why the Norwegian Championships is such a massive boost to the Irish poker calendar. It's not necessarily that Norwegians are bad poker players, it's more that there just isn't any money in Ireland these days. At any given festival (perhaps Irish Open excluded), generally, you'll find a few small 1/2 NLHE games and maybe a couple of decent sized PLO or 2/5 hold 'em games. At the Norwegian Championships, it's looking like 10 days of non-stop action with good cash games running around the clock. In addition to this, you've dozens of tournaments to choose from if you're so inclined.

My own results so far have been mixed with the bottom line being in the red. I've played 6 cash sessions and 5 tournaments so far. If you're to look at it from a strictly hourly-rate point of view, there's probably almost no point playing the tournaments. My reason for playing the tournaments is nothing more complicated than I like to play live tournaments.

I've made some mistakes in the tournaments so far and definitely am not happy with how I've been playing. I made a similar mistake in two omaha hands in two different tournaments. Simple advice like take your time and think is often the answer in a lot of cases and I think if I had done this, I wouldn't have made these mistakes. It's not been all bad as I did manage to chop the ROE turbo heads-up. This result has been just about the only saving grace this week!

I decided the bring back the lucky green Celtics top for St. Patricks Day

More worrying than perhaps playing below par in the tournies has been the cash games. I've played 6 cash sessions and only won once (and a small win at that). I haven't been running great but I'm always hesitant to blame losing on bad luck. I've got my money in twice this week drawing to one out (set over set in PLO). In both spots, I think it's tough to avoid to going broke, so do I just chalk it up to bad luck?

I'm not really sure tbh. I haven't felt I've been on top of my game at all times this week. Yesterday especially, I didn't feel great at all and decided to call it a day early and take today off. 
The festival is only heating up though, so there's plenty of time to get some money back yet! Day 1A of the Norwegian Championship main event was today so I expect today until Saturday to be the busiest days of the festival. There's a €350 8max tomorrow that I think I will play and we'll see from there. 

The title by the way translates to "The Norwegians are sound lads". I have to say, every Norwegian I've met this week without exception (and I've surely sat with 100 unique players so far this week) has been well mannered and nice. I'm also somewhat astounded that every Norwegian seems to have absolutely perfect English. There's been some funny conversations this week with the Norwegians. One Norwegian was talking to an Irish player and said to him "Bono, he has a great reputation in Norway", "Bono? He's a tosser", "You are not the first Irishman I hear to say that. Two taxi drivers, a delaer, the bar man, they all also say Bono is a c*nt!"

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Continuing from where we left off...

I meant to write a follow on from the last blog a bit sooner but didn't quite get around to it!

Well unfortunately, Cookie Jar Carr just fell short and finished in 36th place in the 7th Anniversary Sunday Million. For 36th, Carrie got $8800. A nice touch indeed, but with $1.2mil up top, you can't help but wonder what may have been. He went out on a flip for average stack as his AK couldn't outrun pocket fives. The flip must have been worth AT LEAST $100,000 in equity, so it was a pretty sick one to lose.

Afterward, Nicky Power remarked on Twitter "probably for the best, the 1.2 probably would've killed you".

Paul came 3rd for $2500 in a tournament the night after. I text him saying, "jesus, that $10k could cover a trip to Vegas for a week or two this summer". He text back saying "ya for most people, for me it would probably last about two hours!".

The week after Cork was the Super Poker Event. I wasn't aware till 3 levels in, but the Super was actually a re-entry. 11 minutes before re-entries closed, I picked up aces in the BB. DK Lappin's favourite poker player opened to 1100 from the HJ, the button flatted, I made it 4k. Both players called and the flop came TT4hh. I check, HJ bets 10400, button folds and I shove for 14k total. The HJ calls and I'm up against 89hh. The heart hits on the river forcing me to make the decision as to whether to re-enter or not.

I decided to re-enter but was bust again a few hours later. Playing 24k, I limp the button with K9dd and it's 5 way to AxJdTd flop. The BB leads for 2k followed by two calls. There's 11k in the pot, so I decide to (effectively) shove 20k. The BB calls and so does one more player! I knew when the 2nd player called it had the be the dreaded Ax of diamonds. It's an avoidable spot - you could argue the limp pf with 30BBs is bad - but I'm fine with how I played it.

After the Super Event I was back down to Limerick and back up to Belfast the next day. I was in Belfast for the week with UL soccer team in my role as assistant manager. Unfortunately, the tournament didn't go brilliantly and we had to settle for a place in the Plate final. That weekend I was back representing UL in poker at the Student Masters.

I won this event in 2011 but had a disaster last year after having come within 500 metres of the venue, and then managing to take a wrong turn and not arrive for another 2 hours. It was probably the most tilting drive of my life to date. So after last year's disaster I was determined to give it a good go this year. Unfortunately it wasn't to be and I ended coming 29th of 148 runners with 18 getting paid.

I'll leave it there for now. It's a really big two weeks for poker in Ireland with the JP/Norwegian Masters and the Irish Open taking place. I'm planning on writing another blog very soon looking forward to the next few weeks so hopefully I'll get that done over the next day or two. For now though, it's off to Dublin for the first session at the Norwegian Championships...hopefully I'll be a in good enough mood to write a blog when I get home :-)

Monday, 4 March 2013

Busy busy busy

I think I can safely say that the last few weeks has been the busiest I have been since I did the Leaving Cert. I'm sure on the grand scale of things, I'm still one of the less busy people in the world, but for me, it was a fairly hectic few weeks. Three treks up and down to Cork, two trips to Dublin and a week in Belfast with organising, college and a bit of cash action in between meant I didn't really get enough time to fit in a blog post. (And as I said at the start of the year, I think it's better to wait and make a proper post instead of rushing it or just making a post for the sake of it).

Going in chronological order, first up was UKIPT Cork. I played the main event in that and ended up busting the 2nd last hand of the day. I grinded the whole day but lack of hands and spots meant I could only do so much and eventually the blinds crept up. With a 15k starting stack, I had a low point of ~6k, and a peak of ~20k. As it happens, my last hand shove may have been a little light. It was one of those spots where I shoved the hand before and picked up A8s the very next hand. I hadn't quite worked out exactly how much taking down the blinds had increased my stack and how slightly it changed my shoving range. I looked at the numbers after and it looks like A8s is right on the edge of being +EV depending on exact calling ranges. Given that it was the last few hands of day 1, we'll say people didn't want to get involved and chalk it up as a +EV shove!

I busted the main on Thursday, played a cash session at home on Friday and went back down for the side event at 8pm on Saturday. Live tournies haven't been very fun so far this year so the only aim was to get 2x starting stack (for the first time in 2013) and go from there!

Neil Raine, who is currently lying top of the UKIPT leaderboard with one stop to go, was on my right for most of day 1. Neil's definitely one of the nicer guys around and it's always nice to see the good guys doing well. I did get lucky against him in one hand (well two, I won a race early on for my tournament life too!) where he flopped a set and I turned a set with my overpair. I'll admit, had I not turned my set, I was happily putting all my money in anyway so it was quite a fortunate turn card!

Overall, Day 1 was up and down but it was fun.  I made one really bad mistake when I somehow ended up calling a shove on the flop with 33. I opened, a player flatted, and had the BB just shoved, I probably would've just gotten it in pre with him. As it played out, the BB 3bet a large % of his stack and I should have just folded there. There was also another hand where I check-raised the river with air and ran into a house! I'm actually ok with hands like that. One of the new years resolutions was to go with my gut more, and well, sometimes your gut is wrong! I finished day 1 with 62k (50k ave) with 20 left and 12 getting paid.

Day 2 started really smoothly as I hit a few hands and built up to 170k by the time the bubble burst.

My chip stack around the bubble

The final table played out very slowly and it took a long time to lose players. Bar a retarded-looking (hey, it wouldn't be retarded if he folded!!) bluff, the final table played out standard enough. I was all-in with 8 left and hit a very important ace on the river for AQ>99. When we eventually got 4 handed, stacks were 110k (me), 140k, 140k and 610k. So basically, whoever ran the best was probably going to finish 2nd. I got my shot  but K2dd lost out to QJdd and that's all she wrote! 

€2550 was a very decent cash and I was happy with it, but there's been a few cashes in the €2k-€4k range over the last 12 months and despite it being a nice chunk of change, it's not going to really change much in terms of bankroll/life/games to play. First was €9600 and had I won that for example, it probably would've been enough to convince me to book the flights to Vegas. As it stands, I'd probably be wanting another semi-decent touch to be comfortable going over (as I said before, I don't want it to be a case of going over under-rolled, or risking more than I feel comfortable risking just for the sake of "being in Vegas"). 

On that note, I'd say the chances of Vegas at this point are less than 50-50. The JP Norweigan Masters is coming up, and I'm hoping to grind a lot of cash at that, so maybe if that week goes really well, I'll be in better shape. Other than that, you'd be relying on an MTT score, and as we know, you can never rely on MTTs! We'll keep the faith anyway and hope something pops up! (The online MTT grind route is an option, but tbh it's not in the plans right now)

Right, this blog is looking pretty long already so looks like we'll be making it a two part-er. 

I had a bit of an online session today also. I busted the Sunday 7 million at around 11pm. After doing a bit of college work, I started writing this post around 2am and since then have been railing any Irish going deep in the Sunday tournies. From the 49287 that started the PokerStars 7th Anniversary Sunday Million, there's only one Irishman left. With 182 players left, Paul Carr is 89/182 sitting on an about average stack. There's definitely another big one in Paul and with $1.2mil for first, this would be the one to do it in! No sleep now...Best of luck Paul!!

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Making up the hours

For those of you unfamiliar of how a cash league works, it's really quite simple. Your task is to play X amount of cash game hours in a certain time frame, for example, 60 hours in 3 months. During that 3 months, 1 euro is taken from every hand played. At the end of the 3 months, all those euros are added together, and whoever has played the 60 hours either gains a share of the money or has a freeroll in a tournament with the money collected as the prizepool.

Recently, a certain player who hadn't been seen for a few weeks appeared in the club with 6 days remaining in the cash league. With 27 hours to make up in 6 days, he knew it was going to be no easy task to reach the 60 hour quota.

In this particular 3 month span, the cash games in Limerick had been worse than I'd ever seen them. The games ran very seldom, and when they did run, they didn't last very long. The result of this was that there was just over €3,000 in the cash league prizepool when there would often be €10k plus in the pool. The only positive result of this was that only two of us managed to make the 60 hours in these 3 months. So as it worked out, €3,000 between two of us ended up being better than €10,000 split between 10 to 15 of us!

So this player with 27 hours to do in 6 days certainly saw the lucrative reward available if he was able to manage to get the required number of hours. With the games having picked up in recent weeks, he managed to get 25 hours done in 5 days. That meant with just one night to go, all he needed was 2 hours of a cash game to qualify and earn approximately €1,000 - and thus decrease my share by €500.

The final night was a Thursday and it was a pretty quiet night with not much happening. Our hero tried to round up some players for a cash game but he was struggling to convince anyone to play. Eventually, he managed to convince two others to sit down. Unfortunately, you need 4 to start a cash game.

As the other two players patience wore thin, our hero frantically searched for someone that would just sit down for 2 hours to enable him to reach the magical 60 hour mark. With no punters willing to sit down in site, our hero retreated outside for a cigarette to try to figure something out. If only there was some class of person that would do something you wanted for a set period of time in exchange for a nominal fee...

As luck would have it, such a person passed by as our hero was out having his cigarette. He approached this member of the oldest profession and began negotiating. I'm sure this girl has had many strange requests from many strange men but perhaps none quite like this...

After negotiating what he felt was a fair fee, our hero reappeared in the club, and finally with 4 players, they were able to start a cash game. After two hours of €1-€1 hold 'em and a lot of folding by the female player, our hero had finally earned his 60 hours and duly released the lady of her duties.

All told, those two hours effectively cost me €500. All I know is the next time a hooker costs me €500 for two hours of work, I'm going to make sure I get my money's worth!

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Sure if you don't chance it, you can't win

I can't complain. I've been finding myself saying that a lot lately when asked 'how is the poker going?'

It definitely hasn't been going swimmingly but at the same time it's not like I'm on a monster downswing that I feel I will never see the end of. So in short, I can't complain.

After some debate with myself, I decided to go with some high(er) variance decisions to start 2013 and decided to play three MTTs in February. Grinding and low variance is all well and good, but I'm at a stage where poker winnings are covering life expenses but there isn't an awful lot left over to add to the bankroll. With this in mind, I decided to play a package that included the Euro Deepstack, UKIPT Cork and the Super Poker Event. It's not really far off applying the gigabet block theory to bankroll management - taking a shot may theoretically be a bad idea with regard to variance etc. but it's not really going to impact my financial situation all that much, whereas if I bink, it could change it massively. Vegas would definitely be in the back of mind here too. Realistically, a medium-large MTT score will be needed if I want to carry out the Vegas assault that I would have envisaged.

I felt the three choosen tournaments were all such good value with such good prizes (I'd assume all with €40k+ for first, which, unfortunately, is becoming rarer and rarer in Ireland) that it was too good to turn down. I did sell 50% of myself, but even so, the prize pools are big enough to really have a chance at a decent touch.

Anyway, as a wise man once told me, business plans are all well and good but they're not worth a wank unless you can deliver!

Thus far in 2013, I've played 2 live tournaments. The first in Clane was largely uneventful. I didn't really pick up a hand in the first 6 levels on Friday and then bust out after 15 minutes on day 2 getting it in with AQ on a QhJx9x board versus Kh5h for a slightly above average stack.

The deepstack was also a struggle as I managed to bust day 1. I faced a tough decision in the second level and felt I had to play a very big pot which ended up costing me 40% of my stack. Due to the large starting stack, there was always the possibility of a recovery. I grinded a 20k-25k stack for the rest of the day but just never got any good hands or good spots. The day drew to a close when I lost half my remaining stack with a set vs a flush (I flopped the set in a multi-way pot and was sure this was going to be my oppurtunity to double and get back in the game!). Not long after, I shoved my remaining 17BBs into the pot with JT over an open and two flats. The last caller ended up flatting with AK and insta-called. The king in the window didn't leave much of a sweat and I was outa there.

I was disappointed to bust as it really is a great tournament to get a run in. I also feel bad when I have investors and can't get a result. Generally, I don't think my game changes too much whether I have investors or not (which is a good thing!), but I do feel worse when I bust. I guess it's only human nature to feel bad when you feel you're after letting someone down.

After getting home the Saturday after busting the deepstack, I saw my granny. She asked me 'How'd you get on?'. After letting her know it didn't quite go to plan she replied with 'Ah sure if you don't chance it, you can't win'

UKIPT Cork just around the corner. I'm gona chance it...and I'm gona win!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

2012 review/looking toward 2013

Where does all the time go, another year down. At the start of 2012 I didn't really have any concrete goals. I posted in this blog that "I just want to focus on improving the small things, because in time, that's what leads to the big things.". With such a general goal, I think it's impossible to say  whether it was a success or failure! Overall, I guess I'm pretty happy but not ecstatic with 2012. There was no one moment so big that it ensured it was a great year, but on the other hand, there wasn't too many bad moments either. It depends on what way you look at it I guess. Compared with 2011, I didn't win as much money. Compared to my expectations, it was probably a little below par in some areas. Compared to how bad it could have been, it was pretty good. Comparing my year to years of other people of similar age, demographic etc. I have to think I was pretty lucky. So I guess there's lots of ways of looking at things, but overall, I have to say I'm reasonably happy with my 2012. It's my third winning year in a row from poker so I guess that's the main thing!

Live Poker


I suppose the bread and butter game this year was live cash. All in all, over the course of a year, I have to be pretty happy. Of course there were times I wasn't playing at 100% or not absolutely focused, but I think on average, I was very happy with my play. The biggest difference with 2011 has to be the variance. This year, the graph is a lot straighter. It's only inevitable that you have losing nights in poker, but when I did, my aim was to minimize the losses those nights and hope to come back stronger the next night. 

I don't really like discussing specific € figures (esp in relation to cash games, tournies I feel are a bit different since there's more of a 'public' feel about them) but in 2012, I played 66 cash sessions in Limerick and only had 19 losing nights. My biggest 'losing streak' was 3 nights in a row which happened only once throughout the year and my biggest 'winning streak' was 7 nights in a row which happened on two separate occasions. With regard to €/hr, I was very happy with what I managed to average throughout the year. As I said, I don't like talking money, so here's my graph with the cash figures removed (I've decided to that with all the graphs in this blog. Money is obv on the Y-axis, just not labelled):


Bottom line, I won more money than I lost at live tournaments. However, my ROI left a lot to be desired. All told, I only played 21 live tournaments in 2012 - I cashed in 3 (1 heads-up chop and two 3rds) and had an ROI of 15%. My largest buy-in this year was €1100 and the average buy-in was €332

Statistically, it's very hard to draw any conclusions from such a small sample size but such is the way with live tournaments. The big changes from 2011 are that I didn't manage any 5-fig scores and my results all came in the slightly smaller buy-in tournaments. That's partly unlucky and partly natural. It's true, you can't choose the events to run good in, but it's also true that generally, the higher the buy-in, the tougher the field, the lower the ROI, so the higher the variance. 

Overall, I was reasonably happy with my play throughout the year. I certainly made a lot of mistakes, but I also feel I learned from a lot of those mistakes. You always have to be improving as a poker player and one thing I can say for certain is that I'm a better player now than I was at the start of 2012.

If I was to make some changes for 2013, they would be 1) to go into every single tournament with absolute focus and 2) go with my gut more. I did make a conscious effort to really focus for every tournament, but there's no denying that some days I just felt more on my game than others. It's a lot easier said than done, but for 2013, I want to replicate this kind of focus every time I sit down. Then on 2), I just think I should trust myself and my own judgement a bit more. The more you learn, the greater number of factors are at play in a hand. There's been times where I've 'felt' I should pull the trigger on a big bluff or make a big fold, but I thought about it, and based on other factors, I talked myself into not making the play. My gut wasn't right every time but on balance, I think it'd be a +EV move to listen to my gut more. I remember reading one of Doke's blogs where he said something to the effect of 'the standard spots (esp live) aren't always that standard'. This is definitely true, and there have been times where I've made what I thought was the automatic play, when my gut told me otherwise. 
And also, what's a poker player when he can't even trust himself!?!

Online Poker


Online cash is a leak and I may aswell play roulette any time I sit down to play cash. There have been times in the past where I've attempted to grind cash or take it seriously, but pretty much every session in memory this year was just 'ah I'm bored let's play cash'. Online cash seemed practically non-existant in my poker playing this year but that was of course until you see how much money you lost playing it. So as a reminder to my degeneracy, my 2012 cash graphs:



Obviously I'm taking solace in the fact I totally ran below expectation in NLHE. 

Seriously though, no comment. Analyzing this is about as much use as analyzing my roulette results. Aims for 2012: practically no online cash (or roulette for that matter). The only exception would be if I somehow decide that online cash is where the soft money's at and I put a lot of work into study, game selection, my hud etc. etc. But that's not going to happen, so...


Graph excluding Super Turbos

Graph including only Super Turbos
So should probably stay away from the super turbos.

In 2012, I played online tournaments pretty sporadically. According to SharkScope, I played 273 (everything included; SNGs, MTTs etc.) tournaments in 2012 with an ROI of 16.8%. I guess to be up money at the end of it is good so I'm happy with it.

Online MTTs aren't my main game, but unlike online cash, I feel some bit confident in my online tournament game (evidently though, I need to work on my super turbo strategy!). I never really went out of my way to play tournaments during the year and I can only really remember depositing to play the odd Sunday or satellite to a live event. 

Playing online consistently is something I've always wanted to do but never really succeeded at. I'm not sure what I want to achieve in online MTTs in 2013, but there's a lot worse results than playing sporadically and making a profit. In the few times I did play in 2012, I did learn a bit more about what structured games I prefer, what's softer etc. 

Looking toward 2013

Start of year goals, new year's resolutions etc are not something I fully believe in as things can change so much in a year that a lot of goals end up being defunct by the year's end. That said, I do enjoy the 'goals oriented-ness' of it all. Writing something down and coming back and saying 'yeah, I did that' is a good feeling. I think for the sake of a blog, it's better to have a tick-the-box type list of goals, so for the craic, my goals for 2013:

1. Maintain or improve on my hourly rate at cash games
I suppose you should always be looking to improve, but to be totally honest, if I got the same hourly rate next year that I did this year, I'd happily take it.

2. Have an ROI of 100% in live tournaments
Depending on what live tournaments you play, I think this is a very achievable ROI. I don't know how many tournaments I'm planning on playing though, so that's why I won't be making any volume goals etc. Also, the variance could be huge, so with that in mind...

3. Be totally focused in every tournament
As I said earlier, it's easier said than done, but it's in writing now so gonna give it my best!

4. Play 500 online MTTs, positive ROI, profit
I debated on this one, but I decided to go for having some sort of a goal. 500 is only a weeks worth of MTTs for some players, but again I'm not sure how much time I'll be able to spend at them. For profit and ROI, I decided anything above zero will be good enough for me. If things change, and I decide to dedicate more time to online MTTs, this goal will change.

5. Continue to study, improve etc.
I actually made the decision this year to focus less on the theory in poker and more on practical applications. I drew a parallel with chess here; In chess, you can study theory (opening theory, rook endings etc.) or you can study your own games, and analyze where YOU went wrong and what YOU can change to get better. Often it's the studying of your own games that improve you most. In poker, it's somewhat similar. For 2013, I hope to shift the focus back to theory a bit more and improve my overall game.

6. Vegas
I turn 21 in May so all roads hopefully lead to Vegas. If I end up going to Vegas underrrolled, lose everything I have, and come back with nothing but experience, how can I honestly say that's a goal achieved? I've heard plenty of stories of inexperienced people going to Vegas and basically having a good time but coming home with no money. I'm not going to totally over extend myself just to get to Vegas to 'say I did' but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't probably my number one goal for this year. I'm hoping to be in America one way or another this summer, either on a J1 or in Vegas. If I'm there on a J1, I'm sure we'll make our way to Vegas at some stage, but for the sake of this goal, I'm defining 'go to Vegas' as staying in Vegas for 1 week+ and grinding. I guess being able to make a bit of profit in Vegas would be nice too :-)

7. Win a live tournament
Beggars can't be choosers, I'll take any live tournament win.

8. 5 fig score
Beggars can't be choosers, I'll take any 5 figure score.

9. 6 fig score
Hey, you never know...

10. Continue this blog
Should be the easiest one on the list. I think the key to blog writing is to just write when you feel like it. For 2013, I'll think I'll follow that advice and just write when I feel like writing. It's often the posts that you write for the sake of it that end up being the worst. Sometimes, I do want to write straight after a tournament, whereas other times, I just can't bring myself to write anything decent. In these cases, I think it is better to wait (even if it is a few weeks) until the mood strikes to make a post.

I'd also like to thank everyone that does read this blog. Hopefully it manages to serve as a mild form entertainment to some people and I do appreciate it when people enjoy it!

Here's to 2013!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

December 2012

I probably should have written a blog in December but never quite got around to it. I played the Christmas events in both the Macau in Cork and Fitzpatricks in Limerick.

I won two live events in 2011 which meant I had two title defenses in 2012. The Student Masters title defense went horribly so I was determined not to let a similar thing happen again. The tournament only drew 45 players at 350 a pop (75 of which was a bounty, and 40 reg fee) which is obviously quite a bit down on the 96 players at 500+50 the tournament had last year. I managed to give a good account of myself and finished day 1 with the chip lead. I held 14% of the chips in play with 22 players remaining. Early on day 2, I made a big fold which ended up being completely wrong. I just moved to the table and UTG (who I'd never played with) opened, I flatted utg+2 with JJ, the player on my direct left reshipped, and UTG then shipped after some deliberation. I can't remember the exact stack sizes, but I think UTG had 25BBs and had the other player slightly covered (I think I had around 80BBs). Reading back on it, I'm actually ok with the fold. I think what's really important to note though, is the bounties worth 75euro each. Basically, I'm not just getting slightly over 50k to 25k on my 25k investment, I'm actually getting 150euro+50k to my 25k. Anyway, I ended up taking what I thought was the disciplined option and folded. Of course I was shown 77 and 99!

Following that, I ran into a few awkward spots where I contributed to a few CDUs. I actually think I played all the hands fine, and it was due to the €75 bounty I had to call it off a bit lighter than normal. (the bounty, esp one that accounts for almost 25% of the buy-in (when u exclude reg) drastically changes the game, and folding equity for short stacks tends to go out the window). I fell back as far as 70k when I could have had 180k had I called with the jacks. I grinded out the medium stack hovering around average most of the day. It wasn't until there was 8 left that I managed to get a double up and for the first time, have more than what I started the day with! I picked up aces in a fortunate position where it really looked like a good spot for a light 3-bet. Dion Burns opened and I 3-bet from the button. Nicky Power dwelled in the BB before folding. Nicky said after the hand that he was very, very close to shipping it in with 73o. The board ran out 73xxx so it definitely would have been a memorable way to bust!

When it got to 4 handed, all the stacks were getting short and it resulted in push-fold poker. The final hand, the button limped, I shoved with A4 in the SB, Bops called from the BB with KQ and the button (who had us both covered) insta-called also with AQ. In a vacuum, my shove may be a little on the big side (again, I can't remember exact numbers (the joys of writing a blog a month later), but I remember feeling this after the tournament), but I think I have enough folding equity against the button that it's certainly +EV. The AQ held up and both me and Bops were eliminated. I had more chips than Bops which meant I got 3rd place money.

Nicky went on to chop it heads up and win the trophy. Big well done and congratulations to Nicky. Also well done to Bops who final tabled this event last year and is on a streak of approximately 37 final tables in a row in the Macau!

My 2012 ended on a bit of a bad note as I played three times in Limerick. I played the Christmas Cracker tournament (250 buy-in) and two cash sessions. The night before the tournament I lost a decent chunk in what was a small-ish game. I ran badly and the big pots didn't go my way so shouldn't really be too disappointed. The night was summarized by a hand I played where I did the ole 'put him on exactly two cards'. I had A2, raised pre and c-bet the 348 flop into two opponents. One player made a big raise and I went with my read and shoved over the top. I was right with my read but unfortunately a 2 peeled off on the turn to give his 56 the nuts.

I wasn't the happiest after the session, and I think the reason was I hadn't played much recently. If you're playing every night, you take losses in your stride without problem. The cash games had really dried up (worst I've seen) in Limerick so that was only my second session in two months (I played once in Nov and this was my first cash session in Dec). So psychologically, I think my mind was maybe programmed back to real world money rather than poker money and I was just annoyed at losing money.

All that said, I was determined not to let that effect me in the tournament the next day. I played the tourney and it was "just one of those days". However, experience has taught me that if you're on top form and really in the zone, you can often navigate your way through "one of those days" and come out the other side, but if you're not on form, you inevitably bust. I don't think I did much wrong, but I definitely wasn't on my top game, and I busted quite early.

I was out with friends that night so missed what I presumed was a decent enough cash game. I did go in the next night however and booked a small win for €65 (99>JJ aipf being the turning point!). Even though it was a small win in a small game, I was very thankful for it! I had the feeling it could be the start of a bit of a bad run, so just logging any sort of a win felt good psychologically and hopefully ended the bad run before it even started.

I've played three times in 2013 with 2 winning sessions and 1 losing one. The 2 winning sessions were both bigger than the losing session so no complaints from me!

I didn't play the WPTN Dublin and didn't even head up to the Citywest for sides/cash. In 2012 I was a bit more selective about what tourneys I played and I expect 2013 to probably be even more selective. I absolutely love live tournaments but bar any type of staking deal or big bink, I think I'm just going to pick and choose what I play very carefully. Heading up to festivals to grind cash may also be an option I go for a lot more this year. So, next up is the 2012 review/2013 goals blog!