Thursday, December 24, 2009

Finito...hail to King Wally

As predicted, the battle for the top spot in the Irish Poker Rankings came down to tonight's last ranking event in the Voodoo.

We both showed up in the Bank casino in Cork at the weekend but both drew a blank. I was crippled just before the final table, my AQ no match for A7 for almost 20% of the chips in play. Had I held there I'm pretty certain I'd have cashed and pulled ahead of Wally going into the last event. As it was, I went out first hand of the final table shoving KJ into QQ. While Wally and I ended up fiercest rivals towards the end, that we managed to keep it amicable is shown by the fact he rang me looking for directions (and somehow managed to get there before me, then rang me asking if I wanted him to reg me) and that he gave me a lift home afterwards to save me having to wait for the first train.

That left me needing to cash tonight to have any chance. If Wally didn't cash, I could claim the top spot with a min cash, but if he did, I needed to win the tournament outright. Things didn't exactly go to plan from the off: first hand I played I got set over setted (66 v 77 on an Ax7c6c board) for 80% of my stack. Normally I go bust there but some instinct told me to play the hand more weakly than I normally would in a standalone tournament and that the 2K I was left with at the end of the hand if behind was worth way more than the extra 2K if I was ahead.

To recover from there in what was a very fast structure I was obviously going to have to get lucky at some point, and I did on two separate occasions when I was in with the worst of it and sucked out. Apart from that, I waited patiently for my spots and got it in good the other 30-40 times, and most importantly of all, held in at least my fair share of them. Eventually as the bubble loomed I managed to put together a good final table stack, for the most part without showdowns.

The private battle with Wally toed and froed as he was stacked and I was short, then it switched around and I hit the FT second in chips. Wally had already come back from less than 2 big blinds a number of times, and would do so again. First hand of the final table he shoved 77 utg+1, got called by KQ in the blinds, and held. Then near the (points) bubble he shipped 77 into Breifne's KK, and pinged a 7 to stayalive. He ended up exitting in 5th, leaving me needing to win the tournament to claim the number one spot. I ended up headsup with Dave Kinane but with a chip deficit. Dave played brilliantly all night and it was quickly apparent I had no real edge against him headsup as he was playing optimally. The chips stacks toed and froed in small amounts, we never got it all in, and as the blinds marched up the point was quickly coming where we were going to have to flip for it.

In the end a deal was proposed and I agreed to it. Ian remarked that I looked devastated doing so and it's true there was a certain pang of regret at reliquishing the top spot without a fight having fought so hard all night and recovered from the floor a number of times, but while my heart said play on, my head knew that this was the most sensible outcome. While it may seem strange I would agree to a deal that consigned me to second place in the rankings, it was a good deal for me. I also genuinely felt that this was the fairest result as Wally deserves the number one spot both for hisconsistency and his results in the bigger events this year. If the system that will be in place for next year (weighting events by buyin and field sizes) were in use this year, it would not have been close (Wally would have been well clear). If the last event had not carried double points (an idea I disagree with in principle), Wally's 5th place finish tonight would have guaranteed him the top spot even if I won the tournament. I would have been more than a little uncomfortable claiming the top spot in those circumstances. At the end of the day (or year), I feel that Wally deserved to win this more than me this year, and he is a worthy champion, and a lovely guy. So well done Wally: you deserve it mate.

5 comments:

very gracious in defeat.well done to you both.

Nollaig Shona Dara. Enjoyed the blog in 09. Hope you keep it up next year. Good luck at the tables in 2010 be they virtuay or otherwise!
Athbhliain faoi mhaise, Joe.

Thanks Joe. Will definitely keep blogging into 2010 even if I never really have much of a notion where I'm going with it :)

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