Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Chatting and chopping with the Gentleman

First entry since this blog won Boards.Ie Blog of the Year, oh God the pressure, I should just jack it in right now.

OK, Cavan was different. I won my first ever road race in Cavan (Cavan to Arva), was a most memorable experience for me, even if Joanne Cantwell did her level best to get us both lynched by saying how great it was to see someone from Dublin coming down and beating all the locals when she was giving me the trophy. So happy memories of Cyavan.

Drive down courtesy of Rob was tilt inducing: my God how atrocious are those roads. But at least the company was good as Rob is always a most enjoyable and challenging poker chat companion.

I started the tournament badly (in terms of winning pots, my play was fine). It was well into the fourth level before I even won my first pot. By then I'd drifted back from the effective starting stack of 26K to about 12K, but patience was rewarded when a rush of cards and some non-believing calls saw me motor up to 55K. However, I was crippled late on Day 1 on the hand which probably played itself. Blinds were 600/1200, cutoff raised to 4800, I made it 13K on the button with AKs, SB shoved for 38K, original raiser folded after a dwell. Getting 5 to 2 I have no real choice but to make a crying call, even though the shover is one of the few tight solid players in the place so I know I'm behind. Just hoping for QQ but nooo, he had KK and I didn't suck out. Original raiser had AQ and would have called my raise so if SB doesn't wake up with KK I move up to 80K. I did actually briefly consider folding: that morning I'd reread the section in Chen's "Maths of Poker" where he shows that it's sometimes correct to make folds even though you're marginally getting the pot odds to call if you believe you have a significant edge over the field (and are therefore more likely to get better spots), but 5 to 2 was in no way marginal.

After being crippled, I was looking for a spot to get in or get out but one never came. Considered flinging them in anyway to save driving back the next day but couldn't bring myself to just throw my chips away.

Played some cash for a few hours, got almost no cards, played only three hands, one of them really badly (very overplayed overpair), and ended up almost 2 buyins down. I really detest live cash, and I can never play my A, B, C or even D game.

As I was cashing out, a local "character" suddenly materialised behind me muttering under his breath a string of comments that suggested that his clear and strongly held view was that I bear a close personal resemblance to male genitalia. Since I'd never seen him before, I couldn't really take it personally, which seemed to annoy him into switching to Plan B from the "Starting A Fight With Total Strangers" handbook: barging. Luckily he's quite a small little psycho and it was a bit like a fly trying to barge an elephant, so I decided to eschew the loose aggressive line of swiveling around and clocking him one in favour of the more tight passive one of pretending I didn't even notice him.

This unfortunately meant subjecting my better half to having to drive me back down the next morning (there were no rooms left at the Inn so I went back to Dublin with Rob and Cat, swapping between their cars in Virginia).

A two hours drive/skate and the poor woman had barely time to park the car and find where the poker was to make it just as I was announcing "Allin". I'd already shoved once (no call) when Jordy, a very good young Nordy that FTed JP's Blinkers festival with me in Citywest in July, raised for the third time in about 5 hands. Another shortie who barely covered me shoved. The only hand Jordy had shown down was KQ so my AK on the button figured to be ahead of his range and I was quite happy to gamble my 8 BBs with the other shortie with the likely overlay. Unfortunately Jordy had a legitimate hand this time KK, but with shortie having 99 it wasn't a bad spot for me to try to more than triple up and get back in the game. Flop was Q9x all spades, and with my K the only spade the hopes of the suckout rose, but I missed.

So one minute later Mireille and I were both on monkey tilt steaming back out to the car at the thought that we'd put ourselves through a dangerous 4 hour commute just for me to play 2 minutes of losing poker.

Fair play to Mick for pulling this together though: he's clearly done a lot to bring poker to the masses in Cavan and for the most part it was a fun tournament run in a very good spirit.

On the drive home I decided to play the SE Monthly game and got there just in time. Was a bit difficult to refocus and readjust to the very different type of poker being played here, but it helped that I took half Liam Flood's stack first hand in a bottom set v TPTK confrontation. Table broke shortly thereafter (not a bad break for me, as I found myself wedged between Danny "tylerdurden" Maxwell and Liam Flood at the first table, and Cat had position on me too), because the Chief had already claimed 3 victims in the first few minutes! Including Rob very first hand.

New table featured a very good female player who sounded American to my immediate right, Chief next to her. On the other side I had Paul Burke, another very good player, Finbarr Loughnane (ditto) and Vera and Sammy. Only the third time I played the Chief and I got most of my chips from him after finally figuring out a strategy to follow against him. Most interesting pots were against Sammy. First he raised in LP, I called with a pocket pair in SB, and checked a set to him. He made a big bet, twice pot, I raised, and he folded saying "Nice catch fish". He seemed to be on tilt next hand we played, calling me down for most of his stack when I think everyone else at the table knew I'd hit the nut flush.

Got to the FT with 37500, a bit above average. Cat had a bit less, Liam Flood had recovered too. With only 3 prizes, I was mindful of the fact that it was essentially an STT now, and played accordingly. I played very few hands early on, and got sucked out on in the two I did play, so I drifted back to under 20K. By the time it got 4 handed, myself and Cat were chronically short and gradually leaking equity as we could barely play a hand, something Liam in particular was taking advantage of. Rob suggested a bubble deal, and Liam graciously agreed, saying that although he never suggested deals, he was always happy to go along with them. I was pretty much card dead, Cat won a few good pots and it shifted to me with less than starting stack (10K), Cat and Vinnie with about 50K, and Liam with 100K. I obviously had no push power any more so decided there was no point shoving light. By judiciously picking my spots I got back up to a marginally more healthy 15K before Vinnie and Cat got it all in preflop (AK v QQ), Vinnie getting an ace from space on the river to knock Cat out. Another great performance by the Girl Wonder: she's running horrible at the moment but kept coming back from setback after setback in the tournament. And promptly marched off to tear up the cash tables.

That left Vinnie and Liam with about 100K and me with 15K. I decided to stick to my strategy of judicious shoving as Vinnie was complaining of tiredness and having to work in the morning so I reckoned it was possible the two big stacks would clash. And clash they did, getting it all in with KT v K9 on a K high flop blind on blind. Liam's KT held and suddenly after prolonged bubble clinging without doubling up even once, I was headsup.

Liam outchipped me 15 to 1 so the headsup didn't figure to last long. Normally I'd just be shoving anything half decent in that spot, but decided to keep the pots small if for no other reason than the experience of playing The Gentleman headsup. Early skirmishes went very well and I moved from 14K up to 46.5K. One hero call with K high seemed to genuinely flabbergast him, but I was actually pretty sure K high was good when I made the call, as I couldn't find a hand that beat me that Liam would play on all streets the way he did in my opinion. I suspected Liam was looking to deal, he'd already asked how much we were playing for a few times, and then asked for a cigarette break. I didn't really feel it was my place to offer a deal as he still outchipped me 4:1 and anyway I was enjoying the headsup battle, but when he came back from the break, notwithstanding his earlier comments about never offering deals, he offered me 1800 (leaving him 2300), which was about a 100 more than ICM would give me, so I was happy enough to accept. Although the headsup was going well for me, I figured that if it continued to do so Liam would just start shipping a lot pre, and then I'd have little or no edge. I also took it as something of a compliment that he offered a deal with such a big chiplead.

Liam's always a pleasure to be around, and we had good banter and interesting chitchat throughout the tournament. This tournament has been very kind to me: I've played it 5 times now, chopping twice and finishing second once. Whinge posts clearly work: since I whinged about running bad in the two recent winterfests I've chopped two tournaments in a week with the legends that are Rob Taylor and Liam Flood. Was also happy that I was able toget my A game going in the SE after the disappointment of Cavan and her roads. Overall, I think I played some of my best poker ever in the SE monthly game, not just in terms of the hands I played, but making read-based opponent specific plays and evaluating the correct strategy at different points based on table and tournament dynamics.

Plan for the rest of the week is Malahide tonight, Cheltenham races with Rob on Friday, and JP's IPT leg in the Red Cow at the weekend.

A big thank you to everyone who voted for me in the boardsies, and all who have supported me throughout the year with well timed kind comments and good wishes.


well done on winning the board list... I'm a secret lurker who enjoys your blog!

Thanks Susie, I'm a secret lurker on your blog too :)

N1 on winning both boards awards Dara, congratz and well deserved. catch up with you in the redcow.

follow that in 2009.

well done Doke, now stop deflecting.

Thanks lads.

And yup Willie: I just hope I won't be looking back at this blog sadly in a year wondering where it all went wrong.

Congrats from me too!

The one downside is that now there's an expectation that every post will live up to the award winning standard! I have no doubt you will deliver mind.


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