Saturday, May 15, 2010


It's been a kind of steady as she goes period since my last blog. Online it's been a steady trickle down apart from one amazing night when I cashed in a couple of SCOOPs and made four final tables on Bruce, including a win in the $6K shorthanded and a second in the $30 rebuy.
In the one I won, I ended up headsup with one of the Longford lads, one of the best mtt players on the whole Cake network. I was reliably (well, not that reliably: Big Iain) informed it was a lad called Locko, and I ran into him at the JP Masters this weekend where he final tabled the PLO. Quality player.

I was chipleader in one of the M SCOOPs from about 200 left to 120 or so. In the end I was gutted to go out in 62nd, it basically went away from me on a few big hands, two of them involving AQs. Hand 1 was standard in my opinion: loose raiser raised in the CO, light 3 better reraised on the button to 20% of their stacks, and I have AQs in the BB and ship. Unfortunately the CO had AK and held. Just before I'd lost an 800K pot blind on blind, QQ v JJ. The jack bunk on the river made the difference between having 1.5 million (when second in the tourney had 800K) and being knocked back into the pack. The 200K loss immediately after obviously made things worse. I regrouped back up to 650K when the second AQ arrived. This time I called a raise with it on the button behind a loose raiser. This was a mistake: I should have raised but perhaps was still a little gunshy from the previous AQ. Also the BB was a very loose squeezer so I was hoping to induce a worse ace or queen squeeze from him but instead he just flatted. The flop came QT6, the raiser cbet, I flatted, and the BB (a very good Canadian who went on to win the event) reraised. The original raiser got out of the way and I decided to call and re-evaluate on the turn. The turn was a rather horrible J, the BB tanked and then shipped, and seeing nothing I could be beating now other than a total bluff or KQ, I folded. I think the fold is ok, his hand looks mostly like a set of sixes to me: it was more a case of a mistake on an earlier street (pre) making life more difficult later on.

I was hoping to go well again this year in the JP Masters main event but it wasn't to be. I did better on day one this year than the last two, finishing just under 30K, but it quickly went pear shaped on day 2. I was to the immediate left of the tricky Frenchman Pierrick Trossaro who ended up coming second after handing out some quality doggings along the way. I was trying to play as many pots as I could in position against him but wasn't able to catch him for the double up. As the blinds rose I found myself stagnating in that horrible 30 big blind zone where your options are severely limited. A desire to escape this zone contributed to my decision to make an uncharacteristic big move. I definitely don't make the big move as often as most top Irish players, yet bizarrely on the few occasions I do they seem to come a cropper more often than not. So it was again: folded to a Russian who had an Attempt to Steal stat of 100% so when he raised I'm not necessarily crediting him with much. I called in the BB with QJs and liked the 442 flop that gave me two overs and a flush draw. Or so I thought until we got it in and it turned out I had two unders and a flush draw to his aces. Needless to say the flush didn't hit and that was that. Disappointed to exit but not the manner of the exit. Most of the time my opponent has nothing he can call my check raise with in that spot and I take down the pot uncontested, and even when called I have decent suckout equity.

I jumped into a single table satellite for the 300 event which I duly chopped, and then into the side event itself. I didn't play very well at the start, couldn't seem to find my rhythm and wanted to play too many hands. Before I knew it I'd drifted back to 3K and it was time to get serious or get out. I got a fortuitous more than double up when a loose guy raising junk like A4o utg limped utg, setting off a chain of calls behind. With jacks in the big blind I had a no brain shove. When the original raiser quickly flatted I assumed it was the old trick with KK/AA, but no, amazingly enough I was a mile ahead against eights. I've seen that trap limp move with medium pairs a lot lately: someone's going to have to explain its merits to me as I really don't see them.

I was quickly moved to a new table. My 7500 was still pretty short, especially compared to the snappy dresser to my immediate right, one Big Mick G, who was pwning his way to a giant stack as per usual. I figured more than likely it wouldn't be long before I'd be standing up to shake his hand while the dealer pushed my chips into his stack, but after three big hands, we were standing to shake all right but it was Big Mick who was out. I'd love to be able to say I owned one of Ireland's finest young Internet players but the truth is the three hands were all bog standard and I had a big pair each time. The first one had Mick opening the cutoff. His range was pretty massive as he was wielding his stack well and I felt he was folding most of it to a reship from me so I flatted with aces. I got a continuation bet out of him after which he sensibly shut down, so I think I got the most I was ever going to get from a top class player. The next hand was the big one that Mick describes on his blog. I was certain he had a big hand as his hands were visibly shaking as they moved chips into the pot but if you want to win tournaments you can't really be folding jacks in the SB to a button raise less than 40 bigs deep. My raise size was chosen to make it look like I hadn't fully committed to the hand while making it unprofitable for him to set mine if he had a lower pair. After he announced all in I was somewhat relieved to be racing because, as I say, I had a strong physical read that he was not light. And even more relieved to hold obviously. I finished him off with queens v A5 a short while later. Mick's finding out the hard way this year how cruel variance can be live, but it's really only a matter of time before he binks a big one.

I cruised from there to a commanding chiplead of over 130K by the end of the day, despite losing a 60K pot at the end, my QQ v A9 all in pre, claiming another notable scalp along the way (AllinStevie also losing a race against me).

The redraw for day 2 brought some interesting faces to my table. Two seats to my immediate left was Rory Brown, who arrived talking the big talk. I'm on record as saying how impressed I've been every time with Rory in the past so I hope he won't mind me saying that he didn't seem to settle at all and seemed to put himself off more than anyone else with his table banter. He did claim one nice pot from me when he called ny first three bet with A9 and led at a raggy flop getting the fold and proudly showing the bluff. Designed to tilt me perhaps but as I said to him at the time, now I knew what he looked like when he was bluffing. That was the only hand he won against me, and he told me later that he realised I'd picked up a tell on him and started hiding his face in pots against me. So good readjustment. After he got moved table he clearly settled better and was unlucky to lose a massive race in the end.

To my immediate left was the always impressive Cat O'Neill, a player who never exhibits any evidence of failing to settle. She ran woefully on day 2, kept running into monsters when she tried to make a move, and still navigated her short stack to the final table and ultimately 7th. Cat has probably the best temperament of any tournament player in Ireland, nothing fazes her, and this is a big part of why she does so well consistently.

The second last table didn't exactly go to plan, and by the time the final table formed my 160K stack was decidedly average. I was still optimistic but it unravelled pretty quickly as the short stacked Gordon Cowan (who played a really good tight aggressive game that ultimately got him second) did unto me what I had done earlier unto Big Mick. First it was folded to me in the SB. With 15K in the middle and Gordon playing very tight with just over 60K behind I'm shipping a very wide range of hands here. I decided that Q7s fitted the bill. Gordon tanked so I knew I was behind if called. He did call and turned over AQs. Flop was Q7x but he received a justice ace on the river. An absence of good spots caused by the aggressive chipleader opening a lot of pots in the seat just ahead of me and me failing to find a decent reshipping hand behind led me to conclude I'd have to take any decent ship that presented itself to get back into it. Folded to me in late position I decided KTs was plenty and shipped in. Gordon quickly reshipped so I knew I was in trouble, and so it proved, my KTs no match for his aces. Again, I'm happy enough with the hand as I think the ship usually gets through. The only argument against shipping there is that Cat was very short behind, but I generally shoot for the win or at least the top spots on final tables rather than worrying too much about the more minor pay jumps early on. Well done to Gordon for a great performance. His game reminds me very much of my own when I first came on the live scene and I hope it continues to bring him success.

Well done to all who cashed. Sean Prenderville pulled off an astonishing double to win the main event (I co-commentated on the end of the headsup with Big Iain for IPRTV), and my former Irish Poker Radio colleague Liz Mullally played brilliantly to cash in the 150 side event and was very unlucky to exit in the end after a great call which saw her dominating her Ross Houghton's Q6. I lost a race in this early on against one of AllinStevie's crew, Mully. As so often happens, we were chatting away very friendly and before we knew it, we were in a big hand against each other and both stacks about to go into the middle. As Willie Clynes said recently on his blog, it's always easier to accept when your chips go to a good home.

Also, very well done to JP and all his crew. Talking to JP after, he expressed concern at the sharp decline in dealer's tips. JP had a visible tips jar which is a great idea as that way everyone can see what's been left. We're blessed with great dealers in this country who depend on tips to make it worthwhile so don't forget to tip when you get a score. Personally, I think a system where, say, a flat 3% of every prize pool is deducted for dealers would be best, but so long as that is not the case, it's important winning players share the wealth.

I recorded my last IPR radio shows at the weekend with Iain and would like to thank Iain and wish him and Manus continued success in the future with the show which has been a tremendous resource to the Irish poker scene.

Last major live event for me before Vegas is the Nottingham UKIPT. With the uncertainty over travel to this I was hoping Stars would let me transfer the ticket to a later event, but no dice. If I'm honest I'm not really enjoying these UKIPTs in the UK, so this might be my last one.


Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More