Where's this D4 anyway?
This year JP moved his Masters from his traditional base in Tallaght (the Maldron) to D4. This well publicised fact somehow escaped my attention, so last Thursday evening having just tweeted "heading to the Maldron for the JP Masters" I did just that. My friends Jono and Cory were supposed to have arrived at Doke Manor to stay in the building Mrs. Doke had constructed in the garden that is the subject of some marital debate (I view it as a shed while she insists it's a "studio"). The Belfast whizkids had missed the appointed bus so instead had headed to the venue. As we approached the Maldron, I texted Jono so the lads would be out in front with their luggage. No sign of them when we got there. No sign of anyone in fact, when I went inside to find them. Three people in the bar, none of them poker players as far as I knew. Not a good sign. The room upstairs used for the poker completely empty. Definitely not good.
A quick phone call to Jono revealed their location and that of the tournamemt. Mrs. Doke was not exactly impressed by her lesser half's latest absent-mined professor gaffe, but good sport that she is she tends to just get on with things. Thirty minutes of sudden lane changes and marginal traffic light pushes while her terrified husband screamed "It's only a side event: it's not the end of the world if I miss a few hands!", I was sitting down to the short-handed between two of my favourite slapheads, Nicky "No pair no draw no cards no hair" Power and Roberto Taylor.
No sooner had I started to enjoy the banter at the table than I hear a "Player Gone!". I look up and see the becapped head of Jono smiling wryly as he walked away from the table. Another epic live fail from the internet whizz. Meanwhile at my table Nicky was in cracking form, although perhaps not taking the poker seriously (he went out shoving Q4o from utg+1 for lots). Rob was in great form too, he even took the inevitable bad beat on the chin.
I got unlucky too: unlucky James McManus actually had a hand when I reshipped an ace on the button over his umpteenth open :) 6 max is good fun though.
What's with the cap?
A couple of weeks ago during a slightly drunken late night Skype chat, Jono had suggested if he wore a suit to the main event, I should wear a cap. I found it hard to believe he even owned a suit so decided to call his bluff.
Ger's got game, Jono's got suit!
Unfortunately this was a bad read and the kid showed up in a suit he'd bought for a wedding, and a pink and blue cap for me. This didn't fit my abnormally big head but Jono's a resilient guy so there was a plan B: his classic NY Giants cap. This did fit: it also fit perfectly with the "midlife crisis" look.
I almost avoided the embarrassment of having to wear it when Jono managed to lock it inside the shed/studio. With the key firmly wedged in the lock on the inside of the door preventing the door being opened from the other side, it wasn't looking good for the wedding suit and the cap until Mrs. Doke turned up and managed to dislodge the key from the outside.
After running the gauntlet of cap-related abuse in the hotel before kickoff, I settled down at my table hoping that at the very least the cap might prove lucky (a rather fanciful belief given the cap had not cashed live since the IPO a couple of years earlier). I kept out of trouble and chipped up steadily to just under two starting stacks with no real incident. An acceptable day 1.
Dinner was a two shift affair, and with the word from the early birds being "steer clear of the hotel slop", I headed up the road for some fish and chips with Rob, Eoin Olin and Cory. All were going well although Cory was having to contend with the blaaaaaahs (Jason Tompkins 3 betting him both willy and nilly almost every time he opened).
Jono got off to a flyer and even managed to cripple his hero Ger Harraghy with a two outer. While Ger was still reeling from the loss to his immediate neighbour in the wedding suit, his phone beeped. It was a text from Jono that read simply "OUCHO". After Ger's exit, I got moved into the seat. Dealer Gemma, looking at me and the kid, made the kindest comment anyone did all weekend ("I'm seeing double"). Things were looking good for the kid to make a day 2 until he ran second nut straight into nut straight. Oucho.
Cory meanwhile was playing an absolute blinder. Despite having the worst seat in the room (Jason Tompkins to his immediate left, TheRealFDT to his left, and Eoin Olin and Tony Baitson also at the table), he chipped up to 77k.
Blaaaaah 3 bets Cory again
Day 2 was much more eventful for me. The most interesting name on my redraw table was Cathal Shine to my immediate right. Cathal is a regular in the top 5 or 10 Irish online mtters on the P5's Irish rankings, and I've played with him a fair bit online. Nick Newport was also at the table. THe most interesting hand I played was against Cathal, but played out the way it did mainly because of Nick, Nick had just lost a big one where he raised KK utg and flatted a threebet from his neighbour, and got it in on a nine high flop against a set of nines. Next hand, Cathal raised in early position, and I found my first hand of the tourney, aces, just behind. I quickly flatted as Nick was now left with a reshipping stack, and was hoping he might go for a steamy squeeze. He resisted, so now it's just me and shinerr. The flop came 996 and I flatted his cbet. He fired again when a ten hit the turn, and I flatted again. He gave up on the river. So not exactly as I hoped, but an acceptable enough result.
I hovered around 70 to 80k for most of the day until I doubled up through James Waldron after a table move. I opened queens utg, button flatted, James squeezed from the small blind, I shoved, and he called with the jacks. The girls held for once.
Another table move late in the day saw me wedged between two of the three friends I'd just had dinner with, Albert Kenny on one side, and Alan McIntyre on the other.
Future superstar, Alan McIntyre
The aggressive Richard Hinds was just the other side of Alan, and Eoin Olin to his left, so it wasn't the nicest of seats. I'd drifted back a bit when I finally got a bit of a stack thanks to two slightly controversial calls. First I called Albert's 11 bb button shove with KJo. Online I wouldn't even think about it, I'd just click call and move on, and live it's probably fair to say I call a good bit lighter than most in these spots. Basically, if the maths says call I don't mind calling even if I think I'm usually behind (but have the correct price against the overall range). On this occasion I actually expected to be ahead, but was actually behind, at least temporarily, to A4o. But I pulled ahead of the flop and stayed ahead.
The second call was with jack high, as my opponent reminded me in the shop the following day, obviously still smarting from it. I opened JTs for my standard not much more than a min raise in the cutoff and Richard shoved 15 bbs from the small blind. I decided I was calling if I was getting 6 to 4 as I figured I had about 43% against any reasonable reshoving range and having calculated I was getting the price, made the call rather quickly. Richard turned over A9o, I just flopped the flush, no messing about, and a clearly disgusted Richard went off to tell the bloggers about the disgusting call Doke had just made with jack high. I obviously expected to be behind (or flipping at best) but thought I'd rarely if ever be worse than a 6 to 4 dog, so I'd make the call again any day of the week. Coming up to the bubble when I found myself wedged betweena rampant Marc McDonnell, Cathal Shine and Alan, and grappling with card death meaning I was playing almost no hands, Richard had made a swipe about me clearly folding to the money. This remark suggested to me that he might see me as slightly scared money and therefore be more likely to be reshipping absolute spanners, another factor tipping me towards the call there.
These two calls and suckouts pushed me up to 400k near the end of the day, but I managed to do almost half of that in the last orbit. I had one raise snapped off, and then on my big blind it's folded to Ciaran McGivern who looks like he's folding til he realises it's been folded to him, and then he thinks and raises instead. I peel my first card: ace, and decide it's enough in itself to be 3 betting here and if Ciaran's body language is to be taken at face value he has nothing anyway. Ciaran unfortunately 4 bets me, so I now realise sadly I've been taken in by a bit of Hollywooding and I have to look at my other card to see if I can continue in the hand. It's a rather disappointing three so into the muck with it.
Last hand of the night I did another chunk with the second nut flush against Alan's nut flush. That left me 12/13 overnight.
At home, Jono was giving us a good triple crown sweat. Having won tourneys on Party and Stars already this week, he stood to claim a coveted PocketFives triple crown if he could win a decent sized tourney on another network. He was headsup on Ipoker when I arrived home with Cory but after a few suckouts a 3:1 chiplead disappeared and he told me wryly when I came back from checking mail in the other room "We have no points". Only a matter of time though.
My day 3 campaign was severely hampered by Jason having direct position on me. I felt Jason would quickly pick up if I started opening light so I didn't bother.
Time to 3bet Doke again
Pretty much nobody else in the country seems to understand my basic live game as well as the Athyminator so I never enjoy being to his right. Eventually I found a hand, tens, utg, and opened. Sure enough Jason 3 bets me and I'm about to 4 bet shove when I hear Alan say "all in" in the big blind. The tens are an easy fold now. The two lads have a pair of kings each (I wouldn't have sucked out). Alan having kings saved me as there was no way I thought my tens weren't huge against Mr. Tompkins.
Noel Clarke gets doked
It also needs to be recorded that not for the first time I got very lucky at one point against Noel Clarke. Noel runs very bad against me so when I shipped a suited queen into his suited ace blind on blind (my situation worsened by the suits being the same), it was no surprise that the queen appeared to save me. Noel took it like a gent but it obviously hurt. He apparently lives on an Arctic Island up near the North Pole (or something) and only gets out a few times a year to play, and every time he does I'm there sucking out on him. Joking aside, he made a correct and courageous call and that's all you can do. As he was led away to claim his prize, I remembered I'd bought a percentage of him, and hoped he'd forget about it til next time I saw him, but a few minutes later he was walking back to give me my cut. Oucho.
The disadvantage of playing so tight is when I did find a couple of hands, kings and aces once each, I didn't get much action. I basically jogged up and down on the spot til the final table formed.
Reminiscing with JP
JP did some pre final table interviews as I remembered that it was at the JP Masters the first year I played it where I shook off the "Jamie Gold of Irish poker" tag some had given me after I won the European Deepstack but failed to get another result for a few months until I final tabled the Masters. It's fair to say this tournament has been good to me: in the 4 times I've played it, I final tabled twice, and went out on the second last table once.
Jason looks suspicious as I chop the IPB Last Longer with him
Once again, Jason was to my immediate left. There was just him and me left in the IPB Last Longest now so I suggested chopping that to get it out of the way. After a joking refusal, he agreed. I was starting to regret this as with 7 left Jason had become the short stack. I was sticking to my usual very basic strategy with 20 bbs or less: ship or fold. By taking any shove I deemed positive expectation, I steadily moved my stack towards the average without showdown. The key to that strategy is to get big enough so that when you do run into a caller you can take a hit (alternatively you can be lucky enough to have the aces this time, or suck out). I was almost there when it got folded to me on the button and I found ace ten. With Jason perilously low behind, I considered a normal raise to induce a shove from hands I crush, but the problem was the big blind Eoin Olin. Eoin is very competent and aggro in these spots and I really didn't want to induce him to shove a hand I'm not much better than flipping with, so in the end I stuck to plan A and moved everything in front of me into the middle. As it happened, all the chips were going in pre no matter what I did. Once Jason quickly called I figured I was in bad shape, and was. His AK flopped 2 pair and crippled me down to 7 bbs.
That meant I basically had an orbit to get it in, and a few hands later K5s looked good enough to go with from early position. Rafter flatted the button for a big chunk of his stack so I figured I was in bad shape but was hoping 30/70 at least. The SB then reshipped and I now feared the worst. Rafter folded AQ apparently and the other guy had KK. Not enough hearts appeared for my liking so it was time to shake some hands and leave the scene.
I went to get something to drink with Mick McCloskey to shake off the disappointment. No regrets, the AT ship was standard and in the end I had the choice of shipping the K5s or shipping blind next hand. I was just unlucky on both occasions to run into hands that crushed me but I'd run well to that point.
I was hoping either Jason or Alan would go on to win. Apart from the fact that they're both good mates of mine, I thought they were the pick of the players left. Unfortunately they were the next two out before a 4 way chop. Had it been played out, my money would have been on Eoin Olin to win, which given my record wih Jason and Alan probably means he'd have been fourth had it been played out :)
It was my first time actually playing with Alan and he impressed me as a tremendous natural talent with immense potential. Jason always brings it and is probably my biggest rival on the Irish scene in terms of consistency in these things. JP joked at the start of the final table that every time he runs a tournament, one or both of us makes the final table.
Also, special mention to Mark McDonnell, who once again got unlucky when it looked like he was crushing an entire tournament. Mark always seems to get unlucky just before the final table but one of these days, one of these days...
One of these days kid, one of these days...
The last side event was an $80 turbo. I find it hard to resist a good turbo, and with only 2 tables, it seemed like a good way to blow off some steam. Breifne Earley was the early chipleader using the rather novel strategy of playing every hand blind. My most interesting hand was the first one I played. The irrepressible Phil Baker had just arrived to my immediate left. Most of the table limped and I found AKs on the BB. Playing 40 bbs it's a good spot to stick in a big raise, but I know Phil likes to get creative in these spots so I just limped along. The fact that the hand was suited meant that if worst came to worst and there was no raise, I had a well disguised hand that played well multiway. As it happened, Phil went for the squeeze with 54s and folded after I shoved. While he was tanking he asked me if I had a pair, saying he'd call if I told him I hadn't. I assured him I had a pair and when he folded showed him my pair (of clubs). Any table with Phil at it is going to be noisy and entertaining, so it was a shame to see him leave.
The fabulous Baker boy
In the end, I got headsup with Breifne. I had just over half so took the title (and most importantly the first place on the Hendon Mob :)) I joked to Jono afterwards that my Hendon mob for that one day, featuring as it did two final tables and a "win", was more impressive than his entire one :)
By now most people had left. I somehow ended up playing a weird version of Chinese poker with Mick, Phil and Ger (Harraghy). Deena attempted unsuccessfully to buy me and Mick a drink but Mick was having none of it. In recent months he's totally cast off the role of the world's best round dodger and he's buying drinks willy nilly left right and centre.
Mick wants to buy you drink
Also well done to Rory Brown who was third in the more legit 150 side event. And a big well done to JP and his crew. They never fail to deliver and while they must have been disappointed by the numbers I'm sure this event can grow in the future.
EPT Country of the Year
At the Irish Open recently, my friend Steve Berto told me that my cash in Berlin had pushed Ireland to the top of the EPT Country of the Year table. I found it hard to believe a 56th place finish could do that, but it turns out it's calculated as percentage of cashes to total number of entries, and you need 16 cashes to qualify (to stop a small country winning it with one cash). As my Berlin cash was the 16th and final Irish cash of the season it meant we moved onto the table at the very top, ahead of Spain. Poker's not a team sport but at a time when our ability as a nation was called into question I guess it's nice to win this. It was certainly a team effort as it took the efforts of 13 different players to get us to 16. Special well done to Tom "The Bomb" Finneran who got three, and Bobby Willis who got two. Apparently the 13 of us get to play a 10K freeroll at the next London EPT which should be good craic.
Well done to to my German pal Maxi who not only got headsup in 2 consecutive EPTs but followed it up by winning 2 EPT awards.
Earlier this week I headed down to the Kingdom with Mrs. Doke for a couple of days. Connie had asked me to go talk to some of the more promising and proficient players there. Featuring as they did a Killarney main event winner, several Irish Open qualifiers, and a few online winners, my qualifications to teach them anything are somewhat questionable, but I greatly enjoyed the time I spent with them. My son Paddy challenged me recently as to what if anything I was doing to help out in the current economic mess Ireland is in, and it occured to me that maybe one thing I could do is steer some people in the right direction to making a good living from poker. So Connie's invitation was well timed and I'm always open to any casinos or clubs who want to try something similar.
While I was there I played a satellite for the UKIPT in the Cue Club. Connie's hospitality was rewarded (not!) when we got headsup and he saw at first hand how well the Dokester can run at times, as I won a few flips and 40/60s to claim the prize.
I had another good week online. Didn't play much volume but did well in the little I played. I got a second in the 20K on Irish Eyes, a third in the 15K on Party, a deepish run in a SCOOP and a few other bits and bobs.
Vegas is just round the corner so my thoughts are starting to turn to there. I'm very confident this year with how I'm playing and running. Basically I'm doing about as well as I was at this stage last year online (and last year was so good online I'd take it every year) but considerably better live.
Before Vegas I have a UKIPT to win, and a CPT grand final. There are also some other things in the pipeline, including a regular slot with Breifne on Dublin City FM's Sunday afternoon sports show (I should be making my debut there this Sunday) which I'm excited about. My second column for Player Ireland (on the Irish Open) should be out soon and there is another big piece of Doke news you'll be hearing about soon in the next blog and elsewhere.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Where's this D4 anyway?