Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The best things in life are threes...

There are some tournaments that certain players always seem to do well in, and others in which they seem destined never bother the scorers. The JP Masters is a good one for me (two final tables and three cashes in four attempts). I was hoping the CPT Grand final (where I came a morale and roll boosting fourth just before Vegas last year) would be one too, but the evidence of my latest display there suggests otherwise.

I won't bore you with individual hand histories. The summary is I never really had a stack, and didn't really deserve one getting too many of the marginal decisions wrong. I hung around (as I do) for longer than was decent in the circumstances before deciding the time to gamble was upon me. First time I shoved I ran into something that was 60/40 over my favourite shoving hand, and I was on the rail about a dozen from the bubble. While it would have been nice to go deeper (and even nicer to play better), it's fair to say my mind was elsewhere. Half of it was already halfway across the Atlantic to Vegas, and the other half was thinking about a triple crown (more on that later).

Someone told me at the weekend that CPT regulars don't like to see the likes of me ("the pros") who parachute in once a year for the Grand final doing well, and they'd prefer to see one of their own take the title. That's fair enough I suppose, human nature and all that, but even if they got their wish as far as me personally, you'd have to say that overall the tournament was a triumph of the pros (or parachutists, or whatever you want to call them). Congrats to Smurph, Alan McEntire, my roommate Mick Mccloskey, Tommy Walsh and Tom Kitt all of whom final tabled. Tom and Tommy were in the three way chop, with Tom also claiming the title. It's fair to say that Tom's has been knocking on the door and on many people's "most likely to" lists for a few years now, so it was great to see him claim a major title at last. Mick also deserves a special mention: he's remarkably consistent in these events, and every time I talk through hands with him he impresses me with the sophistication of his thought processes. He admits himself he's not a "math guy" but intuitively he gets there. There's a rather ageist assumption among some of the younger guns that players past a certain age can't possibly be capable of playing at their level or that the game has "somehow passed them by", but Mick is a strong argument to the contrary. I don't think it's a matter of (physical) age but rather a mental attitude of continuing to question yourself and look to learn how to be better. I can certainly think of a few players still in their 20s who were crushing a couple of years ago but no longer who are much stronger candidates for the "games has passed them by" charge.

Part of the reason I was a little distracted in Carlow was I was having a very good week online, so good that I was in line for a Triple Crown (a purely notional Crown awarded by Pocket Fives to any mtter who wins three tournaments with more than 100 runners and a 10k plus prize pool on three different sites or networks). Having won the 30 rebuy on Ipoker on Monday and the 15k turbo on Merge on Thursday, I needed one more win in a qualifying event to claim my first Triple Crown. In between, I'd also chopped my favourite nightly tournament, the 10k on Irish Eyes. I don't normally agree to chops online but was happy enough to chop 4 ways on this occasion for a number of reasons. The remaining players were all pretty decent (which is unusual on Entraction), so I felt I had little real edge over them and it was likely to come down to flips and coolers. I had the most aggro player on the table threebetting and raising me every time I put chips into the pot, so I was either going to have to wait for a hand or make a big move without one and risk bad timing and finding him with a hand. The decisive factor though was Mrs. Doke was shouting at me for dinner :) It's a testament to how good the structure is that this was my only tourney still in play, so I was quite relieved to be able to end it there and then.

After my exit in Carlow I hauled myself back to Dublin for the Sunday grind, stopping only to join Breifne on Dublin City FM's "On The Ball". We had a good old natter about this and that (mainly Vegas and the WSOP).

The grind got going in earnest around 6 PM. The plan was to sign up to as many 100-200 runner fields with a sufficient buyin to qualify on various sites, to give myself the best possible chance of binking the all important third win. So I ruled out all the Sunday majors as too much of a longshot. Ironically, the one "major" I did play, the Bodog 100k, was the one I ended up binking. I only ended up playing it for a couple of reasons: first there was a significant 25k overlay (I can't resist an overlay), and also I'd just busted my Stars account and couldn't get more money on so I couldn't sign up for any more Stars games.

Early on, my best shots looked like the 25k on Cake and the 100k high roller on Party, and I was massive chipleader in both a few tables out. Both went south pretty fast to a number of lost races and 70/30s. By 1 AM I was down to my last two shots, the 55r on Stars and the Bodog 100k. Neither were looking too healthy but a timely race won against Jude Ainsworth kickstarted me on Stars, while on Bodog the standard was so predictably awful I wasn't having to do anything fancy to hang in there. I ended up on the final table of both. The Bodog 100k came to a conclusion first. I was rather lucky to get headsup with the player I did on Bodog. The term over aggro monkey could have been invented for this guy so even with a 3/1 chiplead at the start of the headsup I felt a strong favourite to prevail as the strategy was fairly straightforward (find a hand and let him triple barrel the loots). I was happy to let him win 90% of the hands because of his aggression, but I won the big two that decided things. Suitably elated at having clinched the Triple Crown (and the small matter of the 25k I got for winning the Bodog one), I ended up coming 5th on Stars. All in all, my best online day (or night) ever with about 30k in profit between everything, and a very timely boost running into Vegas.

This blog is being typed in Heathrow airport as I wait for my flight to Vegas. Although I'm still suffering a bit from injuries sustained in my fall in Cork, I'm looking forward to giving my fourth WSOP campaign as good a shot as I can. I'm under no real financial pressure to succeed and I think it's easier to succeed in those circumstances. The plan is to play all the lower buyin nlh events and the main event. Whatever happens happens, and so long as I feel afterwards I genuinely gave it my best shot, I'll be happy. I'm also planning to do short blog updates every day or two from Vegas. This will probably give the blog more of a Dear Diary feel than normal, but hopefully it'll be of interest to at least a few Iranians.



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