Monday, November 15, 2010

Vive la France

Well, as predicted, my comments in my last entry well and truly jinxed the Irish contingent at the FPS Lyon. Fergal and I had pretty similar tournaments. He got up past starting stack, then lost 3 races in quick succession and was gone. I spent most of the first level sizing up the opposition and how the table was playing before deciding on a strategy somewhere between my normal online LAG one and my live TAG. I small balled my way from 25K up to 60K with no major showdowns and was feeling good about things until I lost about 20K with QQ v AK. I three bet pre and was called, checked behind on the ace high flop, called a half pot turn bet when I picked up the second nut flush draw, and a quarter pot river bet just in case my opponent thought jacks were good or was betting a busted draw (the French bluff so much I think the call here is mandatory as he's bluffing at least 25% of the time). I then got moved to a much younger and less French (tougher) table where there was a lot of 3, 4 and 5 betting going on. There comes a point in every tournament where you can't be backing off races any more, and I lost half my stack calling a shortie hijack shove with AJs in the SB. Standard call imo as I'd already seen him shove utg and show JTs so I dominate a lot of his range. As it was, I was racing, and his fives held.

Very next hand, a young English guy minned in the hijack to 2K and I found 9's on the button. I now had an awkward stack size of 20 bbs and change so I took a while to consider my options. A normal raise almost pot commits and 99's are tough to play post flop against a good aggro young opponent (I gathered from the table talk he was a big winning online mtter), and not the sort of hand you want to be inducing a light 4 bet shove from the likes of QJs for your tournament. So with 4500 out there the shove seemed like the best option. I duly stuck the loot in. He tanked and looked close to folding a few times before eventually making the call with KQs. First card out was a queen and that was that. Loose call but I know that type of player prefers to make marginally bad calls in those spots than leave themselves open to exploitation if they raise fold too much.

I jumped into the 6 max event late. To guard against tilt spew, I nitted it up early doors and as a strategy it worked. The French love to bluff so by simply waiting for hands and check calling a lot I rocked up from 14K to 40K with three tables left. I then changed gears and pushed past 50K before taking a few hits/lost races as the blinds escalated. I had 30K when my exit hand happened. This was the one hand all weekend I really don't like. A loose spewbox opening nearly every hand and bluffing every chance had just been crippled down to 10K (having spewed off an 80K stack trying awful stuff like bluffing stations or 3 bet shoving rocks light). He opened to 3600 in the CO and I found ATs on the button. Not really thinking about it, I pushed in 10K to put him all in, expecting the blinds to fold, him to call and me to be ahead. To my horror, the young lad in the SB who had just moved to the table now minned to 20K. The original raiser folded and now I'm in an awful spot. With a third of my stack in, raise folding is pretty bad here (I pretty much never raise fold a third of my stack). With the dead money in I'm getting 5/2 on a call where I expect to be a 9/4 dog most of the time so folding is a clear theoretical mistake (however, there is an argument to be mounted for the fold on practical grounds, leaving me with 20K a perfect pushing stack at a table of opponents playing push/fold very sub optimally). However, after some thought, I had to allow for the possibility that my opponent is on a move here knowing that I know that the first guy has a range of almost any 2 cards, or that he's moving with something like nines that I'm not in bad shape against, so I made the crying call. Calling is the same as shoving here more or less but I preferred the call in case he has a medium pair, and the board comes scary. As it was, it came AK2, he jammed, and I called hoping to see jacks or queens but I was in awful shape looking at a set of kings. My mistake here is a bet sizing one, I basically over committed with a hand that is usually best but if not is in horrible shape a lot. A non pot committing raise is much better, and actually the flat call may be the best option. It probably folds out the same hands in the blinds, and against the initial raiser I don't mind calling the rest on any flop as if I'm good pre I'm usually good on the flop even if I miss. The only downside of the flat call is it's more likely to induce a squeeze in the blinds, but on balance I think the flat is best and if I was less tired and less flu-ridden I think I'd have found it.

Fergal was flying at that stage in the 6 max but unfortunately came a cropper shortly after with top and bottom pair versus an aggro guy's top 2.

Dan's main event was probably the biggest tale of misfortune. He cruised up past 100K before being rivered in a 200K pot with two pair v a bare flush draw. He recovered back to 80K before losing an all in pre with QQ v AQ.

I was the only one who came back for the last side event, effectively a bounty turbo, on the Sunday. After a good start, I got setted over setted. I then picked up AJs in the SB and as the table folded to me prepared to ship until a lady who was shortstacked did so first. I wasn't confident my hand was ahead of her range here so I had to think about it now. Although she was short stacked, she seemed the fairly typical "tight girl". In a normal tournament I'd fold but I had to take the knockout bounty into consideration. With a third of my starting stack left, my equity at that point was a third of the buyin, and the bounty represented a third of that, so in money equity terms the call became correct if I thought I had 40% equity against her range (I just barely covered her). In the end that plus the fast structure tipped me into the reship and hoping to see nines or tens but she had AQ. A few hands later I shipped my remaining shrapnel in with K8 after a loose guy opened. Unfortunately he had the aces and that was the end of my FPS Lyon programme.

I arrived in Lyon with a heavy flu developing and actually passed out in the hotel and slept for about 15 hours. Given that I've run marathons and even 24 hour races with flu I'm not the type to start using that as any sort of excuse (and actually apart from my 6 max exit I was very happy with how I played) but it did seriously curtail my ability to appreciate Lyon. The flight over (via Copenhagen) was a bit of an ordeal too lightened only by the company of Fergal and Sinead, and the chance to take the piss out of Fergal's bag. Seriously, the size of it had to be seen to be believed, it looked like it was for a travelling party of twenty spinsters trip to the coast for the summer season rather than the flying visit of one Sligo lunatic to Lyon :) And he didn't even have his laptop! The Kowby's not a man to take criticism of his luggage predilections from the likes of the Dokester lightly though, and he did mount a very sprited defence of its utility.

Lyon is a lovely spot though, the casino is typically plush, and I really do love the atmosphere the French bring to the game. They've taken to poker with trademark gusto and there's a really lovely civilised ambiance at French poker tables you don't get anywhere else. I ran into my old friend and adversary Frederic Brunet (current European Deepstack champion) and some other faces I recognised and they all said that France is becoming a sort of El Dorado for live poker. There was another major event in Paris this weekend, and the French can pretty much play full time live without ever having to face the ordeal of travel to less civilised lands. They are rapidly improving too: although there obviously was value, the overall standard was probably roughly equivalent to a typical event in Ireland. One thing you have to be very careful about in France is age profiling. When we lived in France I quickly realised that the French don't really have the sort of generation gaps you see in other countries, certainly in the English speaking world. There's much more inter generational communication, respect and harmony, and this manifests itself at the tables by there being no major differences between how different age groups play. The old guy in the stylish chapeau is just as likely to be a hyper aggro lag as the young baseball cap kid. You can also expect the same degree of decorum and respect from younger players as from older ones, and it all adds up to create a wonderfully French atmosphere. The French revel in life, nobody is better at the simple act of living, and they bring this to the tables. You don't have to walk very far in Lyon to see evidence of the laidback whimsy with which the French view life: exhibit A from my hotel, a rather novel solution to parking problems in a major city.

After my exit, I walked round the village (Charbonnier les Bains, which is lovely) savouring the French experience a little and considering whether to join Fergal and Sinead in the centre of Lyon for a meal and a trip to the cinema, but as my flu started to remind me that it hadn't gone away, I chickened out and headed back to the Hilton. I grabbed a pasta salad dinner, half of which I managed to knock over my hotel room floor. I then made a pleasant discovery: the beautiful little madamemoiselle who had bagged my salad obviously took pity on me as a clear mulnutrition case and had padded the bag out with lots of free bread. Merci madamemoiselle.

The internet charges in the Hilton were a total ripoff but French TV is really awful (why wouldn't it be when they're all out living rather than fretting over which exhibitionist lost out on this week's reality show?). I had qualified for the MTT leaderboard monthly freeroll on Carbon and worked out my equity was marginally more than the ripoff rates, so I caved. A few hours later I was cursing at my monitor. 8 handed on the final table and with a ridiculously top heavy payout (3K ftw, basically 200 bucks for 6-15), one clown was shipping every hand. I called his umpteenth ship with hand of the weekend, nines, and hit a set on the river which unfortunately straightened out his 65o. One of my pet poker hate is eejits making these awful "two live cards" shoves, running into one of the 8 possible overpairs that could be out there, but getting rewarded for their stupidity.

I'd also jumped into the Galway UKIPT 3x on Stars. I was running much better there and by the time the final table formed I had over half the chips. A lot of this was down to the "two low live cards, ship!" brigade so I guess I shouldn't complain too much about them. I got headsup with a 7:1 chiplead thinking it'd be a sick one to lose but after losing one flip I won the second to ship the second package. So basically in a couple of hours back in the hotel room I more than recouped the cost of the trip to Lyon and not for the first time was left to ponder why I ever leave the house. I had a chat with Fergal about this in the airport and I guess while live poker is never going to be as financially lucrative as online (even if I think our edge is much bigger live than online as live players are technically worse, once you factor in variance and expenses relying on the live game for your livelihood just seems foolish unless you're staked), it's the thrill and glory of the big live score than keeps us coming. Plus the social aspect: I always love my time spent in the company of Fergal and Sinead, and it was great to meet Dan and Laura too, and all mes amis Francais.

Plan for this week is to try to shake my flu for next weekend's Cavan Open. Mick Wolf is one of the great guys of Irish poker and always puts on a great event, and I love the atmosphere at his games in the midlands. Before that, this week's "Doke challenge" opponent is British dealer, player and Sky Sports celebrity Steve Berto, who is promising to show up some time between 7 and 9 tomorrow (Tuesday) night to play me headsup on Bruce. Apart from that, the plan is to keep grinding away online, and hopefully bink another Galway package. Not to be greedy or anything, but I feel a mere two is seriously below expectation for me at this point :)

I'd also like to qualify for the next FPS: France is now my favourite place for live poker. Vive la France!


vive la France :)
nice article sir :)
I will be with Fred next week for the GSOP in Malta.

Good luck at the GSOP mon ami :)

Nice post!
Enjoyable trip, will def try go back next year.

Yeah, lovely spot all right Dan, well worth a return trip


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