Bah, English poker rigged imo.
Met Liam Flood in the airport on Friday evening and shared a cab into town. The Gentleman is someone I've always enjoyed the banter with since I first appeared on the Irish poker scene and we had a good natter/gossip.
Mick was waiting for me at the hotel and we headed out for something to eat and some lowkey cash. I nursed my stack through a few hours of card death to end down a whopping 20 quid. In my view, it's more important to lose the minimum when running bad than to win the maximum when running good.
Tourney next day ultimately came to nothing. I had immediate position on my occasional nemesis Ben Vinson. We've had a few interesting tussles in the past made all the more interesting by the fact that I'm a bit hazy on what my image is with him or whether he even knows who I am or remembers me from previous encounters. He's almost as silent as I am at the table and doesn't give much away at all so I've never been fully certain whether he buys into the "rocky randomer in a suit and tie" most of the young English whizkids do. I tried three betting him light early on and it didn't really work out for me: he min four betted and forced me to give up with a large bet on the ace high flop that missed me by a country mile. Was I just unlucky to run into a hand? I guess I'll never know. He also had the better of a few minor skirmishes before the highlight of my weekend, a pot that left him crippled.
A loose player made it 400 utg, Vinson called, as did I (JTs in the CO), the button and both blinds. Flop came TcTh4h, it's checked to me, I fired out a half pot bet (1200), folded back to Vinson who raises to 3K. What makes guys like Vinson difficult to play is he could be doing this with total air, a draw or a made hand. I can't fold obviously (my bet sizing was chosen partially to induce a move from him) and after some thought elected to call and await turn developments. The turn was an apparent blank (8c) and now Vinson unexpectedly made a large pot-sized bet that represented over three quarters of his remaining stack. I hate it now and my first instinct is that I have to fold as I'm really only beating a bluff now and he has apparently committed himself. However, the hand didn't add up in my mind: I felt he'd have raised a small or medium pocket pair pre, and the only 2 other occasions I'd seen him flop trips, he'd played it check call on the flop, check raise on the turn, so I didn't think he had the case T either. An over pair was a possibility as he plays his big pairs trappily, and total air was another definite possibility. While I was in the tank I studied him and he seemed very uncomfortable. Vinson's style is quite similar to Paul Coyle's, and I've seen Coyle put in 80%+ of his stack only to fold to a ship and this influenced my decision too. All this plus our history of him betting me off pots eventually convinced me my hand was more than likely to be good and at best he was on a draw so I shipped. He folded instantly.
Unfortunately I then went card dead before I picked up KK in the big blind. The tightest player at the table raised to 3.5x, which screams of TT-QQ or AK from that type of player. I had KK in the BB so I reraised, he shipped after some thought not looking too happy about developments, I call, he has QQ. The board ran out all diamonds and he had one and I didn't so that was that.
Mick had no luck either so we played some more cash sessions and I potted a bit online. Live cash tilts me like nobody's business, I always feel like I've died and gone to poker Hell, but it's good for the character and discipline to grind through it and I put in two small winning sessions. Last one should have been a big winning session but I got done twice by the table fish.
First hand, he limped, I flatted A2s behind (was desperately trying to play as many pots as possible with him). Flop came AK8 and he unexpectedly shipped for 20 times pot or something ridic. An obvious fold most of the time, but I was convinced he didn't have an ace, a king or a pocket pair as they were all 10x opening hands in his little book of retarded poker strategy, so I made the call convinced my ace was well good here. The board ran out a safe looking 66. Well, it looked safe anyway until he turned over a rather disgusting but hilarious 63o.
Shortly afterwards, the guy 10xed a couple of limpers on the button and I shipped AK from the SB. Not the kind of play I'd normally recommend but his range included almost any ace or king (he'd already done it with K4o) and he had no fold button so I was hoping for a dominated call and fearing a race at worst. As it happened, it was a race (55) and he held.
Thankfully I extracted most of it back by degrees and ended very marginally in profit. Funniest hand was when I isolated him with K7s on the button, the flop came K82 and he called my cbet, the turn was a J and he now bet 5 times pot leaving almost nothing behind, I shipped convinced my K was still good, and he elected to fold rather than put his last few quid in. I guess even he could see that you can't hit runner runner with only one card to come.
Good craic with Mick over the weekend. You have to respect a guy who has made a solid living from the game for almost 3 decades and I've learned a fair bit from Mick. You get a very different perspective from one of Ireland's equivalents of the old style road gamblers but it should be noted that these guys invented most of the moves now associated with the Internet generation, they just never got around to giving them fancy titles like four betting and repopping, or discussing them ad infinitum on blogs or forums. He taught me the secrets of a stud variant of his own invention that he plays in Dealers Choice game that I must try to do my best to popularise (Mick McCloskey's 8 or a Straight) while I taught him a couple of variants of Chinese poker that kept us amused for a few hours while we waited for a cash game to kick off. I'm also happy to report that he is getting the chainsaw/Exorcist snoring problem under control thanks to some nose clips.
I have to admit though that every time I come to England I become a little less enamoured with it as a live poker destination. I dislike the rather abrasive table manners of many English players. If you're going to be a knob at the table, at least be amusing as there are few things worse than enforced company with unfunny obnoxiousness. Anyone who listened to me on the pilot of the new Irish poker radio panel discussion programme on Sunday will know my views of reg fees and rake but those who feel ripped off in Ireland should look at some of the foreign alternatives. DTD has effectively 12% reg on their tournaments, and for that, you get no food and no drink. You pay for everything, a glass of Coke will set you back 2 quid, and a small plate of chili 7. Since it's stuck in the middle of nowhere (an industrial estate), your only alternatives are hunger and thirst. By the time you've factored in the costs of feeding and watering yourself, you're looking at an effective reg of well over 20%. The cash game rake goes beyond exorbitant, and all in all, it's a very expensive place to play poker that leaves you feeling more than a little ripped off by the time you leave.
Plan for this week is to take a break from this live poker mullarkey and get back to some serious grindage online.
Sounds like the first few heats of the Poker Stars RTE thing were good craic and very eventful. Obviously disappointed that my Personal Hero Nicky "No Pair No Draw No Cards Even" Power came a cropper at the hands of a slowrolling bollix. It sounds like RTE lubricated everyone to the point where high jinks were an AA v AK certainty, so I may decide to bring along someone to keep me focused on the job in hand when my heat rolls around. Apparently we're allowed to bring along entourage (I hear Johnny L won the biggest entourage award) so anyone who wants to come along give me a shout.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Bah, English poker rigged imo.