Monday, March 1, 2010

Best of times, worst of times

A long barren run in the Fitz End of Month tournament came to an end for me with a late night, deep run and (min) cash last Thursday. I hit a few flops early on and for once got a bit of a stack together before the push/fold section. Is it a sign of the recession that the number of top class players playing this tourney continues to rise and rise? Jason Tompkins was at my first table, and my second table was particularly sick, featuring Paul Leckey, my friend and fellow Wexfordman Andrew Dwyer (great young player with tremendous attitude and ethic and a lovely guy), Marty McCabe, Donal O'Connor, Scott Gray, Jaye Renehan and later Joe O'Donaill. My stack grew steadily without major incident until, well, a major incident near the bubble. My Irish Poker Radio colleague, Manus Burke (or mad Manus) raised utg. Folded to me in the BB and I find myself looking at the Big Chick (AQ). Mad Manus is nothing if not an ace rag merchant, and has also been known to raise a lot of other hands that can't stand the heat of a reraise, so I decided to put him to the ultimate test. Unfortunately he had the kings this time, I failed to suck out, and was crippled.

I managed to navigate the short stack through the bubble with the help of some optimal push/fold stuff and a bit of good fortune, before ultimately coming a cropper with the Big Chick again. Another short stack with a similar range to mad Manus shipped, I got my own short stack in with AQ thinking I was racing at worst and hopefully dominating. In the event, I was racing against pocket twos. I managed to hit the flop but a deuce on the turn sent me packing.

I followed that up with a good run out in JP's monthly game, a two day event which apes the WSOP structure with the twist that JP was repeating levels to ensure the average stack didn't drop below 25 big blinds. A very intriguing experiment, and apart from treating it the same way I would any other tourney (trying to maximize my equity at all points) I was interested to see how it would play out. As it happened, the only real impact was on the final table, and it made for much more play at that point so it was a resounding success in my opinion. JP may need to try it with bigger numbers for a fuller test but at this stage it's difficult to see any negatives.

As for the tournament itself, I got off to a ropey enough start that I was starting to wonder if I'd be around to see the effects of the structure. The standard in Molloys was very high as it tends to be at JP's games: my first table included Ray Masters, Ciaran McGivern, Alan Mclean (one of the most entertaining and nicest characters I've ever played with) and several of JP's better regulars who's names elude me (Alzheimers setting in). Anyway, I hung around for most of day 1, and kicked on late on in the day to make the final table third in chips. Day two was a bit of a struggle as I struggled with card death and outdraws and oscillated from the 230K I started the day with down to 100K and back up again. This continued until I was three handed with a very good young player I'd not played with before called Chris weho was a massive chipleader, and Kieran (William) Walsh who had slightly less than me. I'm on record as saying I think Kieran is one of the best players in the country and after years of specialising in cash games, his tournament game is absolutely top of the range. He commented afterwards that opur styles are very similar, an opinion I share. It's an unusual experience for me to run into someone playing a very similar style to my own in Ireland and somewhat unnerving at times, particularly when he has immediate position on me and a massive chiplead for most of the final table. Eventually we agreed a three way chop from which I took €1200.

Afterwards, I went for a couple of pints with Kieran and Paul Quinn (who underlined his tremendous consistency in these games by final tabling yet again), and then a cameo appearance in Luke Ivory's monthly game in Fitzpatricks. Never got going in this one before the push/fold part, and pushed K9s into the big blinds KK to mercy kill my tournament.

Overall though, I was obviously happy with my week live, back to cashing ways in time for this week's Berlin EPT. Another reason it was sweeter is that it came off the back of my worst ever losing week online. To be fair, I've been running like God for a few months online and was due a bit of flip side, and this flip side added up to my first ever 5 figure losing week online. You have to be able to take these things in your stride, and while my bankroll obviously couldn't take too many more of them before my ability to play the games I want to play online starts to be threratened, I like to think I handle these downswings better than most. It's not easy though: I was running so bad online that when I walked through the doors of the Fitz or Molloys, I felt that I'd already technically cashed, as even if I busted out early it meant I'd lose less on the night than I was doing online most nights :)

Flew into Berlin this morning with the ever faithful Mireille in tow to put up with my nonsense for the week. Kasia also accompanied us: she's understandably excited about dealing her first EPT and I'm sure she'll be a massive hit. As I've said before, it's a bonus to see more and more Irish-based dealers and floor staff at these events as you know you're getting a higher level of competency than most of the locals.

I'm playing Day 1A tomorrow, and looking forward to giving my second EPT of the year a good old rattle.



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