Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ship the major

Well, in my last blog I said that while all my recent results came in the smaller runner fields that are my bread and butter these days, I felt that a major result was just around the corner.

It might be stretching the definition of "Sunday major" a little to include the Merge network's 50K guaranteed, but that won't stop me claiming it. I entered a number of "majors" on Bruce and a variety of other sites that generally have overlays (I do love a good overlay), got good stacks early in most of them (something I seem to be able to do with relative ease these days), notched up a few more min cashes, before coming good and taking down the 400 runner plus Merge 50K for a five figure score. I've been going well on Merge recently, winning my first tournament there the weekend before (the 7k gtd $30 rebuy), and repeating the performance last Friday. According to Sharkscope, I've played 36 mtts on the network (three of which I've won)

I was up among the chipleaders in the 50K from a long way out and as it got down to a few tables notched up the aggression, as you do, to the point where all the table talk was about the "crazy Irishman" who was clearly driven mad by Guinness, or lack thereof. My poker soul brother Mark Dalimore begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting showed me early in my career that displaying a cavalier willingness to ship a monster stack into the middle at that stage of a tournament scares the living daylights out of most opponents, allowing you to steal a lot with impunity. Virtually every time someone in late position raised when I was in the blinds, I shipped. It all went to plan until two tables out when I lost a few big ones, and then more at the start of the final table. For most of the final table I was second in chips but had the worst seat in the virtual house, with the extremely competent and aggressive chipleader to my immediate left who was giving me a dose of my own medicine. Literally every time I raised he instashipped. Stack sizes were perfect for it as a more normal sized threebet pot committed him against all the other stacks (most of whom in any case were clinging on to move up the payout ladder), and while I'm never shy at pulling out the 5 bet ship lightish against that type of player, I really don't want to call it off lightly in that spot, even if I think I'm most likely racing. The lower placed final table prizes were a pittance compared to the top 2 or 3 spots, so risking a second place stack on some approximation of a 50/50 give or take 10 per cent either way just didn't seem prudent at that point. All of which meant I had to quickly readjust and tighten my opening range, and card death for most of the final table didn't help there. You really don't want to be sitting waiting for cards at that stage when there's a tournament waiting to be won but sometimes you have no other choice. Luckily my patience and discipline were rewarded with a run of cards and a couple of won races in the latter crucial stage.

Mireille came to watch for the last couple of hours, and I think having her there helped me focus. Having to explain my thought processes out loud to her seems to clarify them, and also stop me from doing anything rash when faced with a relentlessly aggro opponent, or playing more hands than I should for the wrong reasons. I first noticed this phenomenon when we were in New York a couple of years ago. She was toying with the idea of playing a Lady's event, and to coach her I signed up to a tourney on Full Tilt, which I ended up winning. On reflection afterwards, I realised that I'd slipped into a number of lazy bad habits in my normal online game which I eradicated from that tournament as I didn't want to be teaching her bad habits.

I was also railed on the final table by a number of Irish players. Maybe the best thing about the Irish poker scene is how many genuine people there are out there who rail and support you when you do go deep. So a big thank you to everyone.

Since the last blog, my recent dry spell in live Irish tourneys continued into the Bluff monthly tournaments (I made the final table, but lasted only a couple of orbits, exitting to a standard reship) and the Fitz 500 game (where I got a bit of a stack early but ultimately came a cropper with aces against a flopped set). Next major live outing for me is the Bruce sponsored Leinster Championships, which will hopefully mark the end of the recent live Doke drought. See you there hopefully.

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