Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Welcome to London.....here's your cupboard

I started to suspect that "Executive Apartment" might not mean what I thought it meant as I was checking in and they asked me if I wanted to upgrade, and when I asked what an upgrade meant, was told it basically meant "you get a window". Actually I should probably have suspected that long before, as this place was recommended to me by Mick Mccloskey. Mick has proven himself to be a man who values value above every other consideration on many occasions, not least when he dragged me all over a supermarket in Malaga looking for the absolute cheapest water per litre.

Deciding I'd rather have the extra hundred quid than a window for the next few days, I eventually found my cupboard, number 021. First I got into the lift, then realised the 0 signified ground floor. Next attempt was a right turn through a well hidden door behind reception, revealing a warren of numbers from 039 down to 022. So back to reception where I found an even more cunningly disguised door the other side of reception where the numbers, behind which lurked another warren with numbers from 001 to 012. After climbing the stairs (no good either, the numbers now started with 1) I found another brilliantly hidden door behind the stairs. A few more well hidden doors later and I'm wrestling with the lock to cupboard 021, buried so deep within the building it seemed there was no phone signal. After dumping my luggage and freshening up in the bathroom so small you had to back into it, I felt ready to tackle the task of finding my way back out, so I could head to the Metropole. As I was exiting the cupboard mentally trying to reconstruct a schematic of the way back to reception, I noticed another well disguised door just to the left on mine. Worth a try, and it brought opened onto the lift beside reception. Result.

Still feeling like I'd just gone through a loophole in the time space continuum, I walked from Hyde Park up to the Metropole. I was there in time to play the 1K side event but feeling a bit tired from an early start, a flight and the search for my cupboard, I decided it might not be the best idea to play a 1k sterling event in the circumstances. I went to get some food with the idea that I'd then decide whether to play the 440 turbo at 8. Walking back, I ran into Ben Jenkins who was still in the main and obviously buzzing. A brief chat with him perked up my poker appetite and when he asked if I was going to play the 1k, I said I was. And stuck to it.

I was about 30 minutes late but got off to a good start. First hand I find kings, raise utg+1, and get two callers. One decided to raise me on a JTx flop. He fired the turn again but gave up with Q8o on the river. Next hand, I won a decent pot when I raised ATs utg, flopped middle pair, turned 2 pair, and rivered the house.

After that, I was pretty much just card dead. Liv Boeree got moved to the table and wasn't best pleased when she got 2 outered by one of the table fish for most of her stack. Next hand she made a steamy looking reshove but had the goods, jacks, which held against tens. She hung around for most of the day amusing herself and the table with some very innovative chip stack structures, before reshipping ATs over KK.

Meanwhile, I was struggling with card death. The one hand I got, sevens, lost a chunk when they ran into a shortie's kings. I then got lucky to get back into it. I reshoved KQ over a guy opening most pots when folded to, only to run into queens behind. A king on the turn kept me alive.

One table move later and I'm at the same table as Devilfish. A late card rush and some well timed steals and resteals see me finish the day with a very respectable 56k, in or around average. Didn't play any big pots with the Devilfish who seemed to decide early on I was a rock and therefore not to be tangled with without the goods. One interesting thing I find When I play abroad is if I sit there quietly not saying a word or joining in the table chatter, the general assumption is that I'm playing a lot tighter than I actually am. Numerous times this week I heard myself described as "the tightest player at the table". In a way, it's like stepping back in time to when I first appeared on the scene in Ireland.

Devilfish was visibly tilted when a girl at the table called his overbet on the river with king high (and was good obviously), offering the loud opinion that God gave the fair sex one anatomical part he referred to in crude terms as compensation for not having any brains left to give out.

Day 2 was mostly a case of hanging in there. I was on the verge of a stack only to get rivered and crippled in a big pot. I hung in with 6 bbs for a long time around the bubble, then won a 70/30 (AK v A9) and a flip (AQs v tens) to get right back into it. A lack of cards and spots after the bubble saw me treading water, then I got 2 outered on the river again to return to shortstacksville. With 16 left I lost a race (AK v 99) to bust for £2800. Normally I find second last table exits pretty tilting, but was fine with this one as I felt I'd done the most with what I was given to play with, and while I could argue I was unlucky to get rivered in big pots twice, I can't argue that I was also lucky at crucial points (the early 30/70 I won, and winning both the 70/30 and 50/50 on the bubble).

Well done to Bobby Willis who I played with a bit in this game. He ended up fifth for 11k.

Turbo king.....does not strike again
I jumped straight into an unusual 330 turbo. The twist here is that each player was dealt their own river card (face down unless the chips were all in before the river). This makes the game a bit like seven card stud, and it was clear that very few in the field understood the full implications of the personal river. In particular, small pairs go down in value in a straight race, as the two overs have a better chance with a personal river (if it pairs the board, the overs pull ahead unless the pair's personal river also hits it). I never got going though in this. I'd like to play it with a slower structure.

Hyperturbos live....chaos poker
On Wednesday I went back to play the 100+20 hyperturbo. 5k starting stack, 10 min blinds. I almost didn't play on principle as I doubt the best hyperturbo player in the world could beat a 20% reg (or 23%+ when you take the prize pool deduction into account) long term. They wouldn't get away with this online, but that doesn't stop Stars doing it live, and if people will play, then why not I guess. Mad props to all the dealers in this one (most of whom were either Irish or regular faces on the Irish festival circuit) for some lightning dealers. Without the best dealers, a live hyperturbo could descend into a 2 hands per level farce, especially given the clueless nature of much of the field who had to keep being reminded about antes and the like. Even with top notch dealers and floor staff (also crucial. Given how fast players bust, you need floor staff to be on their toes as far as table breaking goes), it's something of a farcical affair, particularly late on when you can go from having too many chips to shove to having so few you're priced in too call on your bb with any 2 in the space of an orbit without playing a hand. This is what basically happened to me.

The floor staff were also top notch, with many regular faces like Toby, JP and Carine on top of their game.

EPT Country of the Year freeroll
14 players (out of an eligible 38) turned up for this 10k freeroll. Feargal Nealon was flying in so I arranged to meet him at Paddington. In the event his flight was delayed, which meant not for the first time I found myself hanging round Paddington for no good reason. All I can say is it looks a lot different in daylight filled with people and open shops.

Fintan Gavin arrived late and proceeded to bluff off a third of his stack to me first hand. My plan was to check call the whole way so as to let him barrel, but I got greedy when I rivered the nuts and fired out a small bet I hoped he'd interpret as a weak lead. Instead he just gave up.

They were paying 8 places in this, and I was just over starting stack when the final table of 9 (also the bubble) formed. At the final table I found myself in an O'Dea sandwich, with Eoghan to my left and Donnacha to my right. Eoghan was short though and ended up bubbling when he lost a race to Feargal Nealon. As he (jokingly) whined about bubbling, he received zero sympathy but lots of abuse, even from the old man. That's how we Irish roll.

I then picked up the only two legit hands I got. First Big Mick G shoved KTs for less than 10 bbs utg, I called with AQ, and lost on a k high board. Standard shove post bubble obv. Next hand, the rest of my chips were in from the small blind with queens against Feargal's qjo. Feargal won this one with a runner runner flush, so it's fair to say I ran pretty bad in this overall, so wasn't too disappointed to have to settle for a £500 min cash. The big prizes went to Nick Newport (first), Big Mick (second) and Feargal (third).

Good banter in this tourney. Early on, Nick Abou Risk was the centre of it without pretty much everyone exclaiming "But you're not Irish!" at some point.

After my bustout I hung round a bit. Had a very interesting poker chat with Mike Lacey, Jesse May and Nick Abou Risk, and then went for some food with the other Nick (Newport) and Feargal. Most of the lads were jumping into the UKIPT turbo but I had an evening flight so headed to Gatwick instead.

Congratulations to Cat and RobO
On Saturday I headed north to Belfast for the wedding of two of my oldest poker friends, Cat O'Neill and Rob Taylor. In such circumstances it's normal to wish the happy couple a happy marriage, but actually it's harder to imagine a couple with more shared interests than Rob and Cat, so anyone even considering that this marriage will be anything less than blissful is drawing dead. The wedding itself was a classy affair with some memorable revelations in particular from Cat's brother Tony in relation to Brylcream :)


To be fair now, I didn't actually recommend the cupboard (executive apartment) but advised you that the location seemed suitable for playing in the Vic. Looking at the outlandish prices being demanded for hotel rooms in the area, it also looked like the value. You do have to take account of the expenses involved in following the tournament trail.
I've stayed in hotels in the area in the past where the bathroom was down the hallway somewhere. At least your cupboard was "en suite".


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