Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Newcastle trip report

Up at the crack of dawn after a sleepless night. The previous evening I had a track meeting in Trinity College: not exactly ideal preparation for a poker tournament, but on the positive side, it was at least a confidence boost. Predictably distant 8th in the 800 metres, but won both the mile and the 3000m. Most surreally, the PA announcer insisted on repeating as often as possible that I was a "professional gambler", which made me feel like I should have a fag in one hand, a pint in the other, and a lackey holding the Racing Post open in front of me.
We met Rob Taylor and Ken Corkery on the plane and shared a cab into town. Chatted with Rob about his Vegas experiences. Our hotel wasn't ready to be checked into so the brother and me spent the morning wandering around Newcastle like homeless people. Homeless people shopping for gifts. Again, maybe not ideal preparation.
Got a tough enough opening table that featured Dave Colclough to my immediate left and legendary high stakes online cash game player The Mole two to my right. Ironically they were the first two out (the Mole was 1 outered in a set on set war, and Colclough pushed 9's into K's and A's). After that our table broke and I got moved to a much wilder table with Henning Granstad to my left, and a wild Welsh lag to my right. By now I'd noodled my 10K starting stack up to 13K despite utter utter card death by virtue of the fact that I was playing so few hands that when I did play, my bets and raises got respect.
Then I picked up 67s in the BB. Henning (playing AQs) raised to 2.5BB under the gun. A guy who was down to under 20 big blinds flat called in the cutoff (playing 88), and I called. Then the ultimate cooler flop given what we all have: 458 with two of Henning's suit. I quickly check, Henning bets just over pot, top set guy moves all in, I move all in over the top, and after a long dwell punctuated by a few wow's, Henning decides he's getting too good a price and calls. Although I'm sitting there with a made straight, they have so many outs between them I'm less than 50/50 to take the pot, but they both miss and I almost triple up.
Shortly after I got moved to Liam Flood's table. Liam is playing his usual game, open raising everything that gets passed around to him, folding after a long Hollywood dwell if reraised, and going "Whee!" if the raise gets through. I wasn't there long before I got moved again, this time to Rob Taylor's table, with Rob to my immediate right. I wasn't there long when I managed to lose a chunk of my stack with Anna Kournikova. Late position raiser, I duly reraised with AK in the SB, BB goes all in, I'm getting almost 2 to 1 so it's an automatic call. He's got Q10, hits his Queen on the flop after jumping up on his chair and exhorting it to come. His celebrations were certainly colourful. At the close of play, I'd drifted back from my peak of 40K to 28K, though that in itself was something of a recovery after being down to 22K after the allin.
By now I was so tired that after we'd trudged back to the hotel, I fell asleep as soon as I hit the bed. Got up around 11 and went for my run, after which it was time to head back. There'd been a total redraw but once again I found myself at Rob's table. The other notable was James Akenhead, one of the chip leaders. Very first pot of the day I raised in second position, he reraised, and being at the bottom of my range I had to fold. I was starting to think it wasn't to be my day when I picked up Anna Kournikova again in the SB, cutoff raised, I reraised, he ships, I call, he's got AQ, and for once Anna doesn't let me down.
Other hand of note at that table involved Ian, the bloke who ended up coming second overall. He was down to about 15 BBs when the cutoff raised his SB, I called on the button with 8's, and Ian shipped. After a longish dwell the cutoff calls. He's got almost as many chips as I have so I don't want to go to war with 8's and fold. If he folds, I call. As it is, Ian flips over 6's, cutoff has AK (she gets around!), neither of them hit, and Ian doubles up. I told him I'd folded 8's and he reminded me of it after his final table heroics.
Shortly thereafter I got moved to what was to be my final table. The best player there was Joey Lovelady, a Scouser LAG who was raising almost every pot. For long spells it looked like I was the only one at the table willing to take him on. Unfortunately, a couple of bad beats at the hands of others severely cramped my ability to tango: I had Aces cracked by AQ aipf, QQ by AQ, and AK by AQ, and KK by Ace rag. That pushed me back into the pack.
Just before the dinner break, I almost doubled up with 10's. I raised utg, it's folded around to the BB, who calls with apparent reluctance. Rob, who has been coolered by Akenhead by now, was watching and saw what he was calling with, QJ. Rob told me at dinner that his immediate reaction was "Not a hand you want to be calling a raise from Dara out of position". The flop came 10 high, I could see he'd missed, so when he checked I checked my set quick as I could. Q on the turn and from his reaction I knew he'd hit but didn't like it too much. so when he checked, I made a very small quarter pot bet, which he reluctantly called. Blank on the river, he checks, and I push a stack I know is equivalent to what he has left into the middle and he eventually calls. Rob ran over to tell the brother who was going well in the side event about the hand.
Went to dinner with Rob and met Mick McCloskey who was one of the chip leaders at this point. Rob's a great guy to talk poker with as his obvious love and appreciation for the game is infectious.
After dinner, I managed to administer a couple of bad beats of my own on the bubble. With 20 still in (18 getting paid), a frequent raiser made it 7K (blinds 1k/2k) in early position. I have 10's in the BB. Any raise pot commits us both so I donk push, figuring he'll fold anything below Q's and maybe AK. He dwells a little and then calls with Q's, but I hit a 10.
Shortly afterwards, my neighbour who I've been getting along with mightily despite him being the one to dog my aces with AQ moves all in. I have KQ and a very marginal decision. Most likely I'm up against either a lower pair, in which case I have the odds for the call (his push is only for 4 BBs), or Ax, where I don't quite. After a long think, I pass. This will sound strange but I think the fact that he was such a nice guy ultimately swayed me from calling. If he'd been an asshole, I'd probably have jumped at the chance of knocking him out on the bubble for just 20% of my stack. He told me later he had A9.
However, a few orbits later he moved all in on the button and nice guy or not I instacalled because I had AQ which figures to crush most of his range. Not on this occasion though: he's got AK, but the queen comes on the river to burst the bubble. ThaNutsTV were on hand to film both bad beats and I heard the commentator saying "He runs good, this Dublin lad". Where were they when I was the one on the receiving end of Bad Beat city?
Anyway, that leaves me in good shape with over 100K but I lose a few tangles with Joey. The one which did most of the damage involved my cunning plan to trap him backfiring when my straight was counterfeited on the river and I found myself unable to call an allin for a split when I was suddenly playing the board. He probably was too, so it was a good move by him.
That left me at the last break with just 57K, or less than 8 big blinds. I knew what I had to do and was lucky enough to find something in my pushing range straight away. No callers and now I'm up to 70K, when I find 9's in the SB, and Ganesh Rao pushes for 15 big blinds from the button. Easy call, he has 87s, and hits my 9 for a gutshot on the river. Incidentally, the hand has been misreported in some quarters to make it look like he button raised and then called my allin because he was priced in. Not how it happened. At the time I was reasonably philosophical about it and happy to have at least cashed, but it was harder to take when we came back the next day and saw them setting up the final table. Definitely "It should be me" feeling.
The brother went deep in the main side event but ultimately went out in 11th too. There was a deal done so at least he got his money back. We both played the last side event, making the final table, but ultimately coming up short. We hung around afterwards drinking with Mick McCloskey, Ganesh, Ian, Mark Dalimore and a few of the other final tableists before it was time to head to the airport for the early morning flight home.
Overall a successful trip and I have to say I do love Newcastle: it's my favourite place in England. It seems to have moved a bit upmarket since I was last there a few years ago for my friend Steve's stag, but it retains that unique warm Geordie feeling.


Nice report and tough luck on the exit. "Ooh nasty", as Tregar might say.

Thanks Snoopy, twas a bit nasty alright


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