Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Just another few days in the life of Doke...

My Irish Open main event went pretty much the same as almost every other time. You'd have thought that doubling the starting stack to 20k would have given me a fighting chance of at least making the first dinner break but no, shortly before it was scheduled I was taking the walk of shame trying to avoid contact with people who looked like they might want to ask "How are you getting on?" thinking the last thing I wanted was to be sitting down to dinner with a bunch of people still in. I almost made a clean escape but after stopping to commiserate with fellow busto Peter Barable I got hauled back to do an interview with Jesse May.

This at least provided a few lols. Jesse clearly had no notion who I was so was frantically typing my name into the Hendon Mob as the cameras got ready to roll. Struggling with a first name that can be spelled at least 4 different ways and a surname with at least three variants, and an apostrophe in there somewhere too, he was making little headway so I told him "just type Doke", which is the fastest way to get there. This seemed to tickle Jesse's fancy.

Jesse couldn't see the wood (or foreign flags) for the trees (Irish ones) so he decided to go with the "live grinder who has cashed a lot in Ireland" angle. I used to be quite cranky about this given that my record outside Ireland is roughly similar to that in Ireland in terms of number of cashes/number of tourneys entered but decided not to bother pointing out the 5 cashes at EPTs, 2 GUKPT main events, UKIPTs and Estrellas cashes. I did get a little cranky though when Jesse asked me if I felt like my type of player was being surpassed by the Internet players with their fancy 3 4 and 5 bets. Mainly because I've played at least 1000 times more tourneys online and made way more money than live and think of myself primarily as an online player. One factoid Jesse had been given to back up his hometown hero angle was that I've supposedly cashed in more tournaments in Ireland in the last 3 years than any other player. I don't know whether this is actually true but if it is I guess it's pretty cool.

For the record, my exit from the main was pretty standard. I opened tens utg, Johnny Weafer and Carmel Reynolds called behind, as did a blind. I flopped middle set and got it in on the turn against Carmel who had flopped top 2 and a backdoor flush draw. The backdoor closed to bring my Irish open challenge to a phut.

Back to the night job
The one advantage of busting early is I was home in time to do a bit of a Friday night grind. It was a pretty good one, highlight being a third place in the 40k on Party for 4k. I was a bit disappointed in the end as I lost a 40/60 to get headsup with a chiplead and then a 60/40 to exit and there was 11k for the win. Three tables out I was chipleader, with moorman (second in chips) to my immediate right. We had a lot of battles as I decided I needed to tackle him now that I had the artillery rather than let him run over the table into a big chiplead. He's pretty hard to play against but for the first time I think I at least held my own.

Who can resist a turbo?
The following evening I was back in the Burlo sitting down to the 300 turbo. I ran pretty well in this and ended up in a rather bizarre 9 way chop. Bizarre because I had less than 5% of the chips, and the guy who suggested the deal 40%. He took 7k and everyone else got 5k. Someone in the bar asked why I agreed to a chop as nobody in the country plays 10 bbs or less better, but I feel with 3 bbs any edge anyone might have is pretty small in real terms. 5 grand for a few hours of dogging people seemed like a decent enough return.

Before the turbo I met Jono and a bunch of his mates for dinner. These included Max (who came second in the Berlin EPT), Ricky (a valuehunter of the highest order: this man insisted on being allowed into the second softest WSOP event, the Ladies, and was toying with the idea of entering the Ladies event this weekend), Mickey "mementmori" Petersen and Todd Terry.

The highlight of the day was seeing three of my swaps or stakes survive through the bubble. Only Mick Mccloskey was well stacked: Jason and Rob were clinging on for dear life. Jason then ran queens into kings but at least it was the right side of the bubble. I probably didn't make things better when I pointed out to him that I got more for a few hours dogging people in the night's turbo than he got for 2 days of quality poker in the main event :)

Live multitabling. Why not?
I've gotten out of the habit of swapping with people since it became less crucial to reduce my variance in live events but I decided to swap with a select four to give myself a good chance of a sweat. Three of the four had made day 2, as well as three I'd bought stakes in. I swap good. You'd think this was good enough reason to go to the Burlo but like the eejit that I am I decided to try a new experiment: live multitabling So I ended up playing the 1k and the 200 turbo simultaneously. This turned out to be an even worse idea than it sounds: it just meant I spent a lot of time walking across the room missing hands on both tables and spewing equity on the double. I got a bit of a stack in the turbo only for it to disappear in 2 hands near the bubble. When I used to be the tightest player in Ireland, I always thought I was unlucky if I didn't win two pots where I got it in ahead. These days I think it's unlucky to lose two when I get it in behind both times. :)

Highlight of this day was doing another interview with Jesse who now knew who I was (fame at last). Dan Harrington of course didn't but it was pretty thrilling to be in the presence of the man whose books taught me how to play tournaments. Dan's a very nice guy in person.

Three becomes one
While I was busting two tournaments, missing two dinner breaks and talking to two American legends, the main event was slimming down to one table, and one of my horses was getting there. The previous night near the bubble Rob had come over to talk strategy as the bubble loomed. We both agreed that with Rob's stack at that point there was little point in taking any unnecessary risks. Some people believe you should always go mental on the bubble, but we've always been of the view that with a short or below average stack this isn't a great idea. You can't win a tournament with 60 left, and the equity you gain from a double up at that point is way less than what you lose if you bubble. So basically, don't gamble just for the sake of it. Now Robbie had ridden a below average stack the whole way to the final table. During the week he'd put up a post selling percentages more or less at face value. I jumped in for 5%, the highest I ever take in anyone (I prefer 1-2%), before deciding that buying one of the best live tourney players in Ireland at face value was just far too good a deal and went back to edit my post to 10%. Best edit ever.

I also did pretty well out of my perennial swapping partner, Mick McCloskey. Mick's consistency is phenomenal and while he'd like to have gone further he can be proud of another deep run that shows he can still challenge for the biggest prizes in poker even though he's now 97 years old:)

Taylor time!
Monday was going to be an exciting day given that I had 10% of a final tableist. In actual fact, the 10% was merely a nice bonus: even if I'd had nothing I'd have been giddy with excitement for Rob. Since I dogged him on my way to winning the European Deepstack three years ago, he's become my mentor, friend, roommate, co-commentator, travelling buddy. We've gone to EPTs, GUKPTs and WSOPs together, we spent a month together in a small Gold Coast hotel room in Vegas last summer without coming to blows, we've chopped some tournaments and knocked each other out of others, we've spent countless hours swapping bad beats and talking strategy and swapping intel and screaming at each other all in the name of poker. All of which meant I was more nervous than if it had been me on the final table. Mrs. Doke was shocked that I wasn't able to sleep, having watched me take my own final tables and big days in my stride as just another day at the office after a good night's sleep. But watching is harder than doing because you feel powerless.

I arrived in the Burlo a couple of hours before kickoff. Rob and I ran through the table draw, the stacks, what we knew about the other players and how we thought they'd play. Just like old times. After taking a break, this was Rob's first big live outing in about 6 months, and the break clearly did him good. The head had cleared, the old razor sharp mind was back, and I'd never seen him as upbeat and enthusiastic. As it started, I felt a knot in my stomach and crossed my fingers that this would be his day of days.

In the end, it wasn't to be. He didn't get the breaks he needed but he outlasted two to claim over 60k, his biggest ever live payday. He was carried out on his shield. Most people fundamentally misunderstand Rob's game seeing him as the ultimate nit. I went to eat with him and Cat immediately after, and Rob was happy that he'd gone out making a brave move to get a stack rather than blinding out or down to the point where a double up would merely prolong the agony.

While it would have been great to see him win, I pointed out that now he would always be a guy who had final tabled the Irish Open. He's proven he can compete at the highest level. The Rob Taylor story is far from over.

I spent most of the rest of the day doing some unexpected commentary for the Internet livestream. Iain kept asking me to come back saying people were enjoying it. To be honest my read was he had to be lying but needed someone so Paul Marrow could take fag breaks, andd I was slightly worried about what the reaction would be as I was pretty tired and also a bit down after Rob's exit and trying to talk intelligently about what's happening on a table in the distance while out of the corner of your eye you see someone has typed "WHATS HE TALKING ABOUT? HE SHOULD HAVE SHOVED! THAT IDIOT KNOWS NOTHING ABOUT POKER" in response to your latest comment.

I can only imagine how tilting it must be to some to listen to me droning on about optimal game theory (luckily I'm the only person in Ireland who will never experience that) so I was very alarmed at this overdokage, and I'm not and never will be a professional commentator like Emmet or Bex so all I could do is basically say out loud what I was thinking about the poker. Much respect to Emmet or Bex: it's impossible to describe how difficult it is to keep talking on demand for hours on end. I felt my brain turning to mush towards the end of each 20 minute stint so I can't really imagine how they manage it for hours.

I was therefore very pleasantly surprised to find that the reaction to my commentary was on IPB, in the chatbox and in person and texts was overwhelmingly positive.

It was a very interesting and exciting (for me anyway) final table to comment on. Irish players like Rob Taylor, Seamus Cahill and Niall Smyth stepped up to the plate and all played brilliantly. There were very few clear mistakes and the overall standard was very high. Niall played brilliantly throughout and in my opinion totally outplayed Surinder headsup and was a most deserving winner. Seamus was magnificent and showed great character and temperament to keep coming back from the beats. Rob did everything he could and had he doubled up to 2 million would have mounted a serious challenge to Seamus and Niall.

I also had the thrill of co-commentating with Neil Channing, in my view the best expert analyst in the world on these things. Neil is also an absolute hoot and delight to co-commentate with. You're not going to get much mic time but as he rolls out the phrases like "between bankrolls" you're not going to mind as he has you in stitches. Hearing him say "when in doubt I feel the best strategy is to just agree with Doke" was also a highlight :)

Also credit to Iain for all the technical stuff. It's a tough and entirely thankless job but it's a great service to people watching at home and will go from strength to strength imo.

At one point I got a text from Jono asking me where I was. When I told him I was doing the livestreaming, he replied with his characteristic dry wit "Just another day in the life of doke", probably the best summation to a few days that includes a bit of everything - live and online, turbos and slow structures, talking about and to poker people - that makes up the organised chaos I currently call my life.

Goodbye to Bruce
I have come to the end of my tenure as a sponsored pro for Bruce. I have greatly enjoyed my time and association with Bruce, and no matter what happens in my future career in poker they'll always have a special place in my heart as the first to take a chance on me. I'd especially like to thank Chris Fitz who has been a gentleman and a pleasure to work with at all times, and a consummate professional.


I'm sure Pokerstars need a few more european sponsored pros after "black friday"! Just a thought!

You will be surprised who follows you online. Jesse knows all about you, but was prolly trying to find more info to bring into the conversation.
As for fags breaks for marrow. I was trying to keep it fresh so quick swops out of different commentators kept it real and the viewer figures high.
In the end you and Channing are who people wanted to hear from so that is why we kept asking you back.

I think you did a great job and I thank you for your time and efforts. Same time next year, if you are not on the final table. lol

LOL, there's a thought Goat :)

Thanks for kind comments Iain, was kinda joking about Jesse just to spice things up, you know what I'm like :)

Well done at the weekend, unbeluevable amount of people came up to me since and said how great it was to be able to see the livestream. I watched it myself in the car on the way in most datys and it's brilliant to be able to follow it live as it happens


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