Saturday, October 8, 2011

Player down....goodbye Sean

I played day 1B of the Barcelona EMOP. Recently I've been trying some of the mental techniques I used to prepare for big races (of the running variety) to see if they help with the poker, and one area where I've noticed a definite improvement is in my patience early on. The biggest mistake I see predominantly online players (myself included) live is to get bored, play too many hands, and try to force things prematurely.

Anyway, it paid off on this occasion: I think I'd lost the minimum through my early period of card death/making the second best hand a lot, so still had 13k left when I was on the right side of a cooler. At 150/300, a loose player utg raised to 800, a loose Scandi flatted just before me, and I found aces in late position. I threebet to 2600, and after asking how much I had left the initial raiser threw in a clump of chips to make it just over 9k. The other guy unexpectedly flatted, I shoved, and now the initial raiser was annoyed to discover after the floor had been called that he couldn't reraise to force the other guy out as my shove represented an underraise (an elementary mistake you see online players make live more often than they should, particularly after taking the trouble to get an exact count from me). So he flatted, as did the other guy. The board ran out KT896 with three diamonds and with neither of them betting I was still feeling good about my aces (I also had the ace of diamonds).As anticipated, they turned over queens and jacks. So a timely triple up. From there I moved up towards 70k without any major setbacks. Late in the day I lost with tens against a shorty's A5 to finish with 56k, around average.

It's not just the French who do it
Unfortunately day 2 didn't go to plan. I was card and spot dead for the first three hours and struggled not to fall too far back, kept afloat by the occasional well timed steal or resteal. I had just over 40k shortly before dinner, less than 20 bbs, when I got moved to a new table. First hand: I shove AJs and it gets through. Second hand: I shove sevens and runs into kings behind. I was left with a pile of small denom chips which represented just over 3 bbs. I was bb next hand so with over a third of my stack in (counting antes) and getting over 2 to 1 to call I was more or less committed. After a late position raise I checked one card to make sure it was higher than a 7, and seeing a queen reshoved. My opponent hummed and hawed as the dealer counted my mountain of small denom chips before announcing, "OK, I call", and turned over aces, which held against my Q9. An annoying end to my tourney about 40 from the money but no major regrets: I felt I'd done as much as anyone could given what I had to work with. The tournament itself was a massive success, with over 450 runners, an EMOP record that proves that the tour is going from strength to strength. Roll on the live final in Riga.

Mrs. Doke was struggling with the same flu so this curtailed our sightseeing a bit, but what we saw of Barcelona was absolutely brilliant. I also ran into Team Irish Eyes member Noel Keane on day 1 (he busted just after dinner unfortunately). Noel's an interesting guy with a very interesting background and "how I got into poker" story.

Bad news from home
I was still struggling unmanfully with the flu, as was my better half sniffling back in the hotel room, so my mood couldn't really be described as cheery as I described to her how I'd been slowrolled. The wifi connection in the hotel was terrible, but when I eventually got it working, I learned two things that quickly put into perspective just how unimportant what had just happened to me was in the grand scheme of things. First I found out that the living legend that is Pagraig Parkinson had suffered a heart attack two days previously. I sent him a message on Twitter apologising for the delay in so doing saying I was out of the loop in Barcelona with dodgy wifi. Sharp as ever, Parky tweeted back "WHOSE DODGY WIFE?", indicating no damage to his humour valves at least, surely a good sign. Get well soon Parky.

I also found out to my deep sadness that another poker friend, Sean Gregory, had just lost a long fight with cancer. Everyone who knew Sean agreed he was one of the most genuine and positive people on the Irish poker scene. No matter how bad the beats got, Sean somehow kept a smile on his face that could cheer up anyone. Sean was one of the first people to befriend me when I appeared on the scene a few years ago, and one of the first to come to grips with my game (which meant that as much as I loved his company, I dreaded seeing him at the same table). He was a natural poker talent who read people well and worked out how to play them. He was also profoundly generous: a long chat I had with him after I knocked him out of a major tournament on my first year on the circuit provided me with a wealth of information on how loose players think and play, and a wealth of ideas and improvements to incorporate into my own game to counteract them. This is not generally how people react when I knock them out of a big tournament, but it was typical of Sean. Sean was the ultimate people person. Very few people in Irish poker remember that I have a brother who played at the top level, because he drifted away from the game around the time I drifted in, and poker's a fast moving and fickle world with a cast of characters that changes quicker than your average Aussie soap, but the first question Sean always asked whenever we met was "How's the brother?" He was also an underrated talent. Like many talented players, he struggled with the vagaries of short term luck (and ill fortune), and bankroll management. Even a smidgen of luck earlier in his career would have afforded Sean the chance to prove to us all just how great he could have been, but he never seemed to get the break when it mattered most. About a year ago he came to me looking for advice on how to play online, saying he'd watched me play and rated me the best in Ireland online. I was more than happy to give him whatever advice I could, and was thrilled to see him subsequently win some big ones online. The last time I saw Sean at a major live tournament, a few months ago, he asked me to sit down with him and helped him construct an online schedule. Unfortunately we never got round to it, as for one last time Sean's luck deserted him when he deserved it most. Rest in peace Sean: you'll never be forgotten by anyone who had the privilege to know you.

Better news from home
Congratulations to Niall Smyth who followed up his Irish Open win with another win in the Killarney main event, a truly remarkable double that will come as no surprise to anyone who has seen Niall play. Congratulations to everyone else who went deep, particularly Mark O'Connor, one of the best young players in the country. I've never failed to been impressed any time I've played with him live (or more frequently) online.

More fun in lifts
Frequent readers of this blog will know my occasional obsession with the wry and amusing things people get up to in lifts. The lifts in the hotel in Barca were a bit of a disaster. If the lift was going up but you were going down, it tended to collect you on the way up anyway. Same if you were going up when it was on its way down. Basically the world's friendliest lift: it literally couldn't wait to get you inside it.

One day I was on the ground floor looking to go up to the 5th, where the room was. The lift opened, empty, and I got in. It then went down to the basement, and picked up 8 pensioners. They shuffled in, pressed the button for ground floor (groan). One of them was standing too close to the doors so when they tried to shut, they couldn't, so they re-opened. 4 of the 8 pensioners were now convinced they were on the ground floor, so they wandered out. Much to the dismay of the other 4 pensioners who started shouting at them in Catalan. This only confused the wanderers further and they now fanned out in different directions. Two of the pensioners who were still in the lift now got out with a view to rounding the others up. This they eventually managed, although one particularly stubborn soul refused to accept he was still in the basement, so the doors closed without him. He must have had an immediate change of heart and pressed the Up button, because the doors re-opened. He got in, as 3 other pensioners got out, once again convinced they were on the ground floor. I'd had enough: I surreptitiously jammed my finger on the close door button, and off we went.

This blog is being typed on a plane from Barca to London, where the plan is to play a side event or two before Thursday's EPT Country of the Year freeroll. I've rented an apartment beside Hyde Park this time to save myself the ordeal of spending a few more nights with my friends in Paddington. Then it's back home where I have a royal wedding to attend!


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