Thursday, July 14, 2011

Serious business

My plan or at least hope going into day 1A of the main event was to make a fast start and then just steadily chip up all day. I had a tough looking table but got up to 35k in the first hour. A mad Italian then sat down, having bought in late. My first impression, that he was unlikely to last to the first break an hour later, was pretty much confirmed when he started 10x opening every second hand or so. If he got called, his plan B was the 5k cbet.

I figured I needed to play pots against this guy while he still had chips. Against someone like that, I'd be happy getting the lot in with top pair or better even at this early stage but unfortunately I couldn't catch even bottom pair. I was back to 25k when he basically gave his stack to Scott Montgomery. With the blinds just gone to 100/200, he makes it 500 utg (a startling change from the 10x opens: clearly he had a hand this time). Scott who has been playing tight and hasn't 3 bet yet makes it 1500. Back to the Italian who now shoves for 35k. Scott has aces, which holds against the Italians AK.

Table broke shortly after and most of the rest of the day was a long struggle without cards. So the "build a stack day one" plan didn't come to fruition but in the end I was mainly just relieved to have escaped with 16k.

I ran into Neil Channing a few days later and he commiserated with me on my day 2 table draw. I hadn't seen it yet so asked him why it was bad: he said he recognised two other names apart from me, Keith "The Camel" Hawkins and Chris Bjorin. Both were chipped up and to my left too, and there were also a few online ballas there.

With 32 bbs and a tough table, I figured my best plan was to nit it up and try to minimise the spew. The structure means there's no need to panic and rush into a premature gamble. I folded every hand for an hour. I was down to 11k when I called on the button after three limpers. A small bet on the flop when checked to me took it down to give me some breathing space. I then folded for another hour and was back down to 11k when I found a good spot to 3 bet shove. Chris Bjorin who was playing very loose opened in early position, one of the online ballas flatted and with 4500 out there now KQs was plenty good enough to be going with so I shoved in. Chris folded quickly. The online guy tanked for an age so I figured I was in good shape even if called (unless it was AQ). He eventually did call with jacks so we were flipping. We were still flipping after a 9 high flop with two of my suit and a king on the turn got the job done.

A lot more folding in the next level as I got a serious of rag seven and eights, then an attempted utg steal with 33 went badly awry. The small blind called, the AJT flop looked like a good one to fire a tickler at. After a very reluctant call, the K on the turn looked like a great card to barrel bigger. After another reluctant call I decided not to stick the rest in when a blank hit the river. His KJ took it down.

Back down to 11k, I finally found a hand. Keith the Camel opened to 1500 in early position, John Tabatabai threebet to 4k on the button. I found aces in the small blind and just instajammed to make my hand look like AK or a tilt shove. As it happened, Tabby had queens so was never folding. Then came a weird hand which included the dealer flipping over the entire muck before the flop. I don't want to go into the details of the hand as it's clear to me that opponents are targetting Twitter and blogs for information in running, but while I won the hand to advance to 40k, it was the one hand that troubled me after as I may have lost value. I ran it by Nick (Newport) at the break and he would have gone for more value, but Peter Murphy later told me he'd play it exactly the same way so it's probably ok. In any normal tournament or a faster structure I would have gone for more value but in this event your tournament life is worth a lot more than normally so you have to think very carefully about sticking all your chips in to get a few K extra value.

I steadily accumulated chips for the rest of the day playing tight for the most part, but occasionally swooping in when the time and situation seemed right to try to capitalise on my very tight image. I got up to 60k but towards the end the Camel started 3 betting me a bit more often, perhaps recognising what I was up to. I bit back with a 4 bet at one point so I broke approximately even in my battles with Keith. Keith was the most impressive player all day in my opinion and deserved to steadily chip up to 150k+. I was also impressed how much he'd done his research: we'd never played together before but no sooner had I sat down than he was asking me "Do you still run ultra marathons Dara?".

I drifted back a bit in the last hour to finish with 53200, which is just over 33 bbs, more or less the same stack I started with. I'll be happy enough if I can grind a 30 bb stack all the way to the final table next Tuesday.

I have a 6% stake in my poker soul bro Mark Dalimore who goes into day 3 with 112k and is playing brilliantly, 5% of Nick Newport (just under 50k) and 94% of my own action (I just sold 1% to a friend back home in running to give him a sweat) so it'll be pretty disappointing if I come out of this ME emptyhanded. But I'm not thinking in those terms: I'm feeling very positive as I think I'm playing my A game right now. It's basically been a long hard grind without much help from the deck, but sometimes that's what it takes. I remember a couple of years ago railing Nicky Power as he ground a short stack all the way to the money in the main event with very little help from the deck: Nicky's performance was my touchstone throughout day 2 as I clung to the discipline you need to keep folding when there are no good cards or spots.

In between day 1 and 2, myself, my son Paddy, Mick "Voucher" Mccloskey and Mark Dalimore did a two day field trip to Arizona that took in the Grand Canyon. Awesome trip and I'll write a full report on that at some point with pics. Paddy's now gone home on the flight I originally booked for myself (I rescheduled to next Tuesday and extended my hotel booking so I'm here till then come what may) and most of the other lads have already left town. I've been hanging with my Aussie pal Theos Rippis who just started an excellent new blog from the perspective of an accomplished recreational player, and today grabbed breakfast with my friend Matt McAllister. Matt's a great guy who makes his living as a trader, a life that closely mirrors that of the poker pro but if anything is more high stress.

I also went bowling one night with Theos, Paddy, Nick and Other Dara. Despite having bowled something like 4 times in a 30 year period, I gave a reasonably good account of myself, even if my softly softly technique was a source of amusement to the younger lads. Other Dara compared it to watching Marge Simpson bowl, and it did seem at times like my bowls wouldn't even reach the pins let alone knock them over, but in the end it took a last gasp strike by Nick "The Power" Newport to deny me victory and the cash we'd wagered. I won't complain too much though if the only bad beat I get for the rest of this trip comes in a lane rather than on a table.


Happy to see u didn't take a swipe at my less than stellar bowling ability original dara, despite the marge simpson comment :)

Took the high road for once :)

Just nticed you've a blog, nice one. Added it :)


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