Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Nine nine nine

Well, some of you may have been following the deepstack blog updates in which case you'll know I went all the way to the final table again before ultimately crashing out in 9th.

Day one was reasonably uneventful. I got a rough enough table draw. Basically the way this tourney panned out, the degree of roughness was directly proportional to the number of Irish at the table. Many had just one, some had two, mine had four, the other three being Graham Masters, Adrian O'Donoghue and (I think) Brian O'Sullivan. Brian gave the most trouble of all, bluffing me off one big pot where I had top two pair, he floated me and shipped the river repping a flush. His river ship was so fast it smelt like a shiff (bluff ship) and I think deeper in the tourney I definitely call, but early on in deepstack slow structure tournaments I tend to err on the side of caution when my whole tournament is on the line so even though I felt I was still good more often than not, I let it go. He showed the bluff.

That knocked me back to 37K but my decision to wait for clearer spots was vindicated when I finished the day with 88K without taking any major risks.

Day 2 started very well for me. Early on I took out Jaye Renehan when Jaye overshipped AJ over my AQ and I held, then won a race (my 99 holding against AK) against a very good young Irish lad I'd not seen before, and then I got a donation from an Italian who limped in MP. The SB completed, I had little interest in the hand with J5o unless I flopped big, which I duly did, J53 with two spades. Check, check, the Italian now overbet the pot and I'm thinking lovely jubbly he's done the old limp-the-aces trick. I reraised figuring he wasn't getting away from his overpair and I'd get him in while I was ahead. Sure enough, he shipped, and I snapped. Only surprise was his hand: QJo.

Got another big infusion with KK (v KQ on a Q high flop) and was now chipleader in the whole tournament with 110 left. In the mean time I had the dubious privilege of sucking out on my good friend Joe O'Neill, someone I regard very highly both as a player, a character and a person. Joe had crippled himself with a three barrel bluff against Jason Tompkins previous hand when he shipped for less than 10 bigs on the button. Figuring his range was close enough to any 2, I made the call in the BB with A6s only to find Joe had KK. He stayed ahead till an ace from space on the river. Hopefully Joe will forgive me some time this side of Christmas.

Towards the end of the day I got moved tables and almost immediately lost most of my stack. A loose raiser raised to 35K, a guy who seemed to be playing scared flatted on the button. I had JJ in the SB. I figured the first guy had nothing much, the second guy had something like AQ/AK/KQ and was unwilling to commit all his chips pre. Any raise pot committed me against the stacks so I decided to just add the 100K in the middle to my stack without risking a showdown by shipping. Nice plan but unfortunately the BB woke up with KK (the Italian who went on to finish second). He took an age to call and admitted he'd have folded QQ. That hand crippled me back to 130K but I recovered to finish with 573K, the main hand being a well timed reship over John Keown with AJs. John called with KJo and I held.

I had a tough table on day 3 with Stephen Barrett (who got horrifically unlucky), future superstar Wayne Condron, Dave Masters and Mick McCloskey. Luckily for me the table got easier when Wayne, Dave and particularly Stephen got unlucky. Mick sucked out on me early on (he was short and shipped 76o into my A2s) and then kicked on to have a big stack. Other than him the table was playing scared and I moved from 500K to over two million without showdown when the next car wreck happened. I raised AA utg to 140K at 30/60, and the button repopped to 360K. I knew he had about 550K behind so I figured he was pot committed but I've seen people do some strange stuff live like put in half their stack pre and then fold to the ship so I figured I'd flat and get the rest in on the flop rather than let him off the hook. Rest went in on the Qc9c4x flop. I figured he had KK and had been coolered so I was pretty stunned to see 72s. Unfortunately the s was c and he rivered the flush.

That hand was a massive turning point for me. It was a pretty soft table (most of the good players were at the other table). If he doesn't river the flush, I have over 3 million and I think I pretty much always get to 6 million or so by the time the final table forms. Instead I was shortish with a horrible stack size that quickly became a ship/fold one.

That hand was the most upset I've ever been at a poker table. Don't get me wrong, I accept that suckouts are part and parcel of the game and I certainly never mind getting sucked out on if it's a good play (like someone open shipping a marginal when they're short), but getting 40% of your stack in pre with 72 when you're not short against an utg raiser doesn't qualify as "good play" imo. However, I think my emotional control and the fact that I never really tilt during a tournament (immediately after is a different matter) is my biggest strength as a tourament poker player and I managed to keep it together. As easy as it was to make a tilty call with A4o in the BB when the SB shipped next hand, I managed to restrain myself (he showed AQ).

I think I play push/fold optimally but in a slow structure like this that generally means treading water until you get lucky, either by being nearer the top of your shipping range than the bottom when you are eventually called, or sucking out. For me it was the latter, I got it in horrifically bad against Mick McCloskey's aces. I had AdJd and was already putting on my jacket when I spotted the first card on the flop was the queen of diamonds. Then dealer then spread the flop to reveal I'd flop the nuts, Broadway. Easy game.

Next time I got it in I had A9 v AJ and again I sucked out.

That allowed me to hit the final table with just under 2 million in chips. Below average but not short by any means and with a few shorter stacks I had every hope of a top 3 finish at least. Instead, my tournament unravelled in just two hands, both against the eventual winner. First he shipped for 7 bigs from the SB, I made the call with A5o. I'm pretty much always a 57/43 favourite here and given how fast the structure was at this point that's too big an edge to even consider passing at that stage. He had J9o and was one card away from elimination but a 9 on the river saved him. Two hands later he raised the CO, I shipped the button with JJ, and in a repeat of my EPT Deauville exit he called with AJ, turned a flush, and sent me to the rail.

To have played for three long days and have it come apart so fast was gut wrenching but I know I'll look back on pride at having made my second final table and third consecutive cash. If only all tournaments could be 50K starting stack slow structure events (or alternatively 3x turbos :)).

Well done to all involved with the tournament, especially JP and Christine who always run a great show. The room was very well set up (by Phil and Lorraine Baker I believe), and the dealers were all top notch. The hotel itself is not the best it has to be said - the "buffet" they hawked us for 10 Euro on the first day which consisted of prison food slop (officially chicken curry) was maybe the worst meal I've ever reluctantly downed. I decided not to dice with food poisoning more than once, which meant eating in the hotel restaurant the other two days, effectively adding €50 to the reg and making it a 22% effective reg. For the most part we've been lucky in Ireland with tourney organisers keeping live regs lower than elsewhere and therefore making live tournaments economically effective for the pro and good value for the recreational player, but of late there's been a slightly worrying trend of hidden extra reg in the form of food and drink costs. We as players need to remain vigilant to stop a slide towards the excessive regs you see in some other places, while tournament organisers would do well to look at the example of the Fitz which continues to thrive keeping regs down below 10% (sometimes below 5%) while supplying high quality complentary food and drink to players. It also has to be said that while it's all well and good attracting 400 foreigners to a tournament in Ireland, you should also look after the locals, and the sight of last year's runners up loitering in the lobby on the alternate's list waiting for people to get knocked out before he could get in was somewhat disconcerting. I suppose so long as you can keep filling your tournaments with foreign players you can get away with not worrying too much about the locals but otherwise it may come back to haunt. Atmospherically it often felt more like a French tournament than an Irish one, and the media intrusion was, well, quite intrusive at certain points. For example, after my big AA/72 hand I returned from a toilet break I hoped would also clear my head to find my seat obstructed by a French cameraman. He didn't respond to a verbal request to let me take my seat and it took a few firm taps on the shoulder to get him even to consider moving. In the mean time, the dealer was killing my hand.

Anyway, I was happy to at least make a brief appearance on another final table and continue a recent good run. As a bonus, Ian of IPR tells me the result provisionally moves me to the top of this year's Irish Poker Rankings. Very early days in the year obviously but it's nice to make a good start. In the latest Irish Poker Radio show (33, downloadable at Irish Poker Radio ), I spoke about the two entirely different approaches I took in the last two years to playing this tournament, and how I was somewhat uncertain as to the best approach this time around. In the end I went with a hybrid of the two, playing much more carefully than last year but less cautiously than the first year.

I took today off but it's back to work tomorrow, where the real highlight will be the bounty tournament for myself, Wally and Ger on Bruce. $150 in easy added money awaits whoever knocks me out. I'm hoping all my friends and foes will turn out. I'm not one for pressuring anyone, but let me just say to my friends that if they want me to ever speak to them again I expect to see them there, and to my foes that the same applies if they want me never to speak to them again :)

On Wednesday it's off to Manchester for the UKIPT and the slightly scary prospect of sharing a hotel room with Wally and Nicky Power. Arguments already raging over who gets the bed and who gets the floor. I'd have to say it's not looking good for Nicky with a Bruce to Boyle ratio of 2:1 in the room but we may take pity on the poor wretch.


Great result again Dara, looks like you were only a hairs breath away from another really big score


Nice report Dara, that 72 hand is horrendous!! I'll try make sure i'm not 2 outered more often to give you a better run next time ;)

Good luck in the UKIPT

Thanks Chris, these things swing on tiny margins at that point in a tournament. One minute the French guy is one card away from the door, then he rivers a 9. A few hands later he's outdrawing me again and sending me to the rail, and a few hours later he's won the whole thing.

Very ul Stephen. If I ever was tempted to feel sorry for myself, I had only to remind myself that others like yourself were even unluckier that day. Well done on going deep: you're doing that consistently now and it's only a matter of time before you get the breaks late on.

Jaysus times must be hard when you have to triple up with Wally and Nicky. Three sponsored players as well. Didn't you win enough packages to give all you guys about two rooms each??

Mick ya grumpy ol' fecker :)

I'm sorry for sucking out on you, honest! :)

Also, I'm hoping they don't snore as much as you do Mick :)

Great report Dara and, ultimately, unlucky in not going further.

Fantastic consistency in this tournament highlighting the strengths of your game.

Also liked the piece on the hidden reg fees etc: (I posted a comment on this re Killarney in Jules blog) hopefully this will not become the norm going forward.

Maybe we are spoiled in Ireland but when you play regularly in places where the 10% (or less) reg fee gets you a quality game and food (Sporting, Fitz, The Loft to name a few..) you come to expect the same level at the bigger events. I played the Paddy Power Winter game last year and the food was superb.

I'm not on Bruce yet but will sign up through your blog link and play the bounty game next week (can't play tonight).

GL in Manchester.

Cheers Thomas. I think the key to stopping an unnoticed slide upwards in reg fees is to make people more aware of if or when it happens. It's worth highlighting that it's the places like the Fitz and the Loft which really look after their players and provide value are the ones that thrive in the long term.

Nice report. Its know its hard to be neutral, but it seems like the 72s hand was played fine by your opponent. Unless you are never raise folding from utg (which is a leak anyway), he successfully convinced you he had a monster, he left himself enough chips to fold pre if you pushed. He just got unlucky to run into aces, and then you got unlucky the flush came.

Cheers Hector. While I'm obviously raise folding utg, I'm not doing it often enough for that raise to be profitable at that stack size imo. And 72s has very little equity against the range I continue with.

Given the stack sizes its very rare you are actually going to flat call and see a flop, and when you do its because you have aces or kings! Your continuing range is so strong it really makes no difference what hand he has.

Ive lost similar hands and been extremely annoyed, to be honest we are probably both in the same situation, where it is unprofitable for our opponent to make such a move (given our early position raise), but because we know that we give an enormous amount of credit to the three better. So its probably not as bad as it seems, (for him) and also points out a small weakness in our game.

Anyway sorry to go on about it, I just thought it was interesting. Well played

Interesting point Hector, it certainly did look like a monster

By the way, I hope you crack a few more big pairs in Manchester and get yours to hold up. Good luck.

Merci beaucoup pour votre réponse, meme si bien sur je ne partage pas votre avis sur tout, je vous ai répondu en commentaire sur mon blog.
J'ignorais que vous parliez français (parfaitement d'ailleurs)
Je vais changer immediatement sur mon post ce que j'ai ecrit sur votre victoire de 2008, car c'etait en effet inexact!
Comme je l'ecris j'espere qu'on pourra parler de tout ça autour d'un bon verre!

Great report as usual Dara, the 72s hand would have put me on mega-tilt! You handled it well, I must get pointers from you on this!

The dealer should not have mucked your hand because you were prevented from taking your seat by the cameraman. A ruling should have been called... IMO

Third cash in the same major event 3 years in a row is just jaw-dropping legendary stuff! Well played!

next time, i pay the Guiness!

Thx to spend time on my blog to explain u. It was really a 'malentendu'!

Thanks Julianne, I just about managed to keep it together.

Merci, Frederic mon ami, enjoy your victory and I look forward to sharing a Guinness next year in Dublin if not a glass of wine somewhere else before then :)

You and Fred are both very good player and it's obvious that we'll hear again from both of you in the future. I was behind Friend the whole final table and obviously was happy when he got lucky. Unfortunately iknow how hard it his to get a badbeat, and so does fred :-$ ... that's poker so they say ! very good game to you Dara for making it ITM 3 years in a row !
fabien aka mr4b.blogspot.com (un pauvre petit amateur ... )

Félicitation pour votre parcours ... comme je dis dans mon blog, c'est en regardant de grand joueur qu'on apprends, j'avoue j'ai beaucoup regarder Fred mais sans aucun doute vu vos résultats il y a beaucoup de talent...en esperant un jour faire un jolie ITM...GL

PS : premiere fois que j'allais en Irlande et j'ai été tout simplement impressioné par votre générosité.
Exemple avec mon ami on à pris le mauvais bus et le chauffeur à pris le temps de nous amener au bon endroit, chose impossible en France

Bonjour Dara, je vous doit quelque explications concernant la main AA/72. En fait j avais décidé de voler les blinds car le BB ne defendait jamais et ce peu importe mes cartes. Au moment ou vous relancer je suis distrait par un ami sur le coté et donc je ne vois pas votre raise !!! Malheureusement j'avais déja annoncé "RAISE" fièrement... Je me suis retrouvé obligé de relancer le relanceur utg, pas du tout mon plan de départ ! A ce moment je crois que mon image est assez serieuse et j espere vous voir folder si vous aviez QQ ou JJ. Votre call m a dérouté, je m attendais a un reraise de votre part. Flush draw au flop et check de votre part m ont encouragé a envoyer le tapis. La suite vous la connaissez... Tout ca pour vous dire qu il ne s agissait pas d un move de ma part, juste un moment de distraction que j ai essayé de corriger. J aurais préférer prendre vos jetons différemment mais je ne suis pas sur que cela soit possible pour moi sans un brin de chance. ;) Bonne continuation pour la suite de votre carrière.

Ginkgo, je suis heureux que vous ayez passé un bon moment à Dublin. A la prochaine

Merci pour l'explication Ali. Ca m'a donné un choc sur le moment mais je comprends maintenant. Felicitations pour le résultat

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