Monday, January 26, 2009

Catching up, coaching up, and when it's acceptable to brag

Back from New York obviously. Very enjoyable trip, probably too much so as I gained a whopping seven pounds in body weight to go with the seven I put on after Korea. Among the highlights of the trip were a trip to watch hip young Scottish band Glas Vegas (very memorable, even if I was 90% certain I was watching a group miming to backing tapes) and a visit to the Irish tenement museum. The guide was very good at pointing out contemporary relevancy to what's happening in the US at the moment.

First live outing was the Malahide Monthly. Apart from jacks early and aces on the second last table, I was card dead for the duration. My cause was greatly helped by the fact that when I did get two hands, guys donated their stacks to me. With the jacks, the guy slowplayed trips on the flop, stuck with the cunning plan when he boated up on the turn, then when I caught a better house on the river decided to shove. With the Aces, I raised utg and Eoin Olin shoved ATs from the blinds.

Those two strokes of fortune were sufficient to get me to the final table, which was a high quality affair with Dave Masters, Damo, Rob Taylor, Baz Hand and Sean Prenderville. A lack of cards and situations saw me shoving short from the sb with 4 left, getting called by Sean in the BB, and not sucking out. Still, happy enough with the result and the performance (and the 800 Euro). Felt I got more or less the maximum possible out of the tournament. Rob Taylor won it again - they really should just rename it to the Rob Taylor monthly beneficial fund at this stage, it's getting embarrassing. Rob showed the full range of his tournament skills in one night, from playing the short stack (and sucking out outrageously with it) to bringing his STT skills to bear on the FT before going up through the gears for the headsup battle with Sean. Obviously he ran great, but you need that to win a tournament. You also need the ability to capitalise on your luck, an ability Rob has in abundance. Rob's record in this event is pretty phenomenal - 2 outright wins and a chop in 5 outings (mine's not too bad either: 2 chops and a fourth).

Next up was a trip to Clonmel for the CPT. Very different stuff. Got reasonably deep in super sat thanks to two gift doubleups but the structure still made it a pushfest fast and I went out pushing AK into AA. Went deep in the main event too despite being card dead for the entire tournament and went out pushing JTs from the cutoff into AK not too far from the bubble. That's tournament poker, you can do everything right and still get nothing, but if you keep doing the right things, it'll come good.

Arrived back in Dublin just in time to play online Irish Open and GJP European Deepstack sats I'd qualified for from feeders. Was chipleader for a long time in IO sat until a lost AK v 66 crippled me. Finished third in Deepstack sat, TT running into KK in battle of blinds. Another near miss.

On Monday night, I played the Bad Beat Dream Team thing, Dave Masters having subbed me into his team. First tourney I had to play was PLO, not exactly my forte. Captain's instructions were to nit it up to ensure I made top 100 for team points purposes, which I just about managed without winning a pot. Still, looking forward to giving double chance Holdem a better crack tomorrow and make a more positive contribution.

Played Malahide again last Tuesday, mainly to get out of the house and away from the online grind for a while. I've been doing well recently online, mainly in STTs, but like anything else it can get to be a grind. Went out near the bubble but I love playing in Malahide: great dealers and locals, the guys who run the club have a genuine love for the game, and Tanya is the sweetest waitress in the northern hemisphere.

Played Damo's satellite in Dundalk for the Deepstack on Thursday and was first out!!! (KK into AA), and scalps in the Fitz on Friday when I went out just before the notorious 14 way chop! Bubbletastic. I called a three way allin with TT very short figuring I was probably slight favourite to triple up, and I was (up against A8 and QJ), but I didn't. Had I known chop was on cards, I might have hung around.

Was going to play headsup thing in Tallaght today but absentmindedly qualified for tonight's IO sat online so stayed in to play that. Barely lasted the first level after some early hits and then an attempted squeeze with KQ got called by AT. However, the better news is I also played the Deepstack satellite: 18 runners including Rob, John Keown, Albert Kenny, Mick McCloskey, and Smurph fighting it out for one seat, so soft. Not.

Anyway, I got the breaks I needed when I needed them: some slightly bigger hands when others had big hands, my hands held, hell I even won a race at one point just to show that everything is possible in life, and biggest slice of luck was getting headsup with probably the worst player in the tournament. He really hadn't a clue what to do headsup. Rob told me he was worst player on FT at the start (we were at different tables before), had been outrageously lucky, and was generally getting on people's goat giving them lectures on their play. John Keown made a great fold against Rob's KK and guy started banging on about how he couldn't fold "at that price" (Rob sneakily min raised John). Then 4 handed I raise KTs, he min raises me, I figure I can't fold for price, flop comes T high, I check ship and he calls with AK! Cue a rant about what a donkey I am calling with KT. I reminded him of his earlier pot odds lecture but he was having none of it. Apparently I am the biggest donkey he's ever seen (and he must have seen some in his short career, given that he's got a fishbowl icon beside him on Sharkscope and he's got an ROI of -35% at $2 STTs), there's also serious doubt over my parentage, and I should probably be sectioned under the Mental Health act.

John and Albert hung around after their exits to rail me and when John said "Go Doke" and I said "Thanks John" and he asked who I was, I saw an opportunity to pull a psych op. Normally I don't go for that sort of stuff but if a guy is being a real ass I give myself a bit more leeway, so I said "Rob's friend Dara, you know, the guy who on this event last year". Again, I'm not really that bragaddaccio by nature, but figured it could have useful intimidatory effect. I knew from Scope he was a small stakes fish so I figured the last thing he wants to hear is guy he thought was a donkey he's headsup with is defending champ.

When we did get headsup, I had a 3 to 1 deficit, which I would have settled for as I was pretty sure he'd be awful headsup. He folded down to 60/40, then got stubborn with A6 and called a ship when I showed monster strength pre. I had KK and held. Next hand, he limped his button (awful no matter what he has at that stack/blinds), and he was almost bad enough to fold second pair with half his stack in when I check shipped with an over and a double bellybuster. I hit one of my many outs on the river to take it down. A real boost and relief to have qualified as I'm trying to stick rigid to a policy of fiscal responsibility involving only playing major events if I sat in. The brother also took down a $15 freezeout on Ipoker tonight, so well done to him.

Despite having a great year pokerwise, my net worth has plummeted in the last 12 months thanks to an over exposure to bank shares. Most of my remaining money is not particularly liquid (tied up in property and pension funds) so for the first time in my short poker career, I have to seriously think about bankroll constraints.

Next up is Killarney (heading down on Thursday for the super sat), followed by the European Deepstack. What a year it's been, and what a different player will walk through the doors of the Red Cow in an attempt to defend the title I won last year as a virtual novice. Probably the only thing we both have in common is we see no reason why we can't win the whole thing.

Last tidbit is my new year's resolution was to try my hand at a bit of coaching to keep things fresh. Most coaches are specifically cash game coaches. That area doesn't interest me (and I don't have the qualifications for it) but I would like to coach 2 or 3 tournament players looking to improve their results. I've already been approached by one cash game player looking to make the transition, and may take on one or two more, but it's really something I intend purely as an interesting sideline, so mail me at if you want a totally unproven coach with zero experience.


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