It's not unusual to hear Mick Mccloskey mourning the absence of a free drink, but in the bar in Citywest one night he pointed out the lack of a "free" meal at the UKIPT (or rather one covered as part of the reg). I noted that this was the first UKIPT stop I could remember where this was the case, and remarked that maybe Stars were assuming that we Irish are well used to famine so no need to feed us.
That night, I was also chatting to Tom Scanlon (who had just knocked Mick out on his latest final table) who told me he knows one of my old Irish ultrarunning team compatriots Richie. Richie and I operated at different ends of what my poker friends tend to refer to as "crazy long distance running". My focus was mainly on winning big city races like the New York ultramarathon in Central Park, whereas Richie's main focus was on setting long distance solo records like across Ireland or the Antarctic. He did however win the first ever running of the South pole marathon. Coupled to his feat of running across Antartica, it's fair to say Richie's a lot better than I am in the cold (bizarrely for someone who doesn't like heat normally, I became national champion and set a few records in 35 degrees heat 90 per cent humidity). Maybe I should have tagged Richie in to play 1A of the UKIPT too. Chris Dowling remarked that we seemed to be playing it in the lobby of the convention centre and a damn cold and draughty one it was too. Maybe Stars think we're taking so well to the austerity currently being foisted on us by the EU and IMF so why not. (To be fair to Stars, whatever caused these indoor Antarctic conditions were sorted on the other days).
My day 1A was a qualified success as I ended it with more than starting stack. My cause wasn't helped by having one of the best players in the field Paul "uwannaloan" Delaney sat to my immediate left. Lovely lad, but I'd rather chat to him at breaks.
But you suck at day 2's dude
As I headed back for Day 2, my friend and business partner David Lappin commented that I suck at day 2's (a dig at several recent day 2's that haven't lasted very long). This one at least made it past the first hour. I should perhaps have guessed it wasn't going to be my day when uwannaloan reappeared at my table to sit down to, yes, my immediate left. It looked like he'd decapitated his starting day 2 table. He'd finished day one with about a third of a starting stack, which he'd now parlayed into three or four starting stacks. I was hovering around my day 2 starting stack when I picked up AT in the cutoff. With 18 bbs, two young online beasts (uwannaloan and entim) just behind and two tight blinds, I decided the best way to play the hand was to min raise with the intention of getting it in versus either of the kids, but folding if either blind three bet me. uwannaloan obliged with the 3 bet, but unfortunately had a hand to call my 4 bets hove with. His ace king held.
Rollin' rollin rollin'
Next up was the High Roller. I got off to a flying start in this, doubling up pretty quickly mostly without showdowns. I was feeling very good about how it was going. My luck changed when the table broke. At the new table, I opened jacks under the gun, Thomas Dunwoody flatted, as did Jason Tompkins on the button. The big blind now shoved, I reshoved, and after the other two folded it was off to the races against ak. After losing the race to send me back towards starting stacks, I was left to reflect glumly on how often in mtts it seems that early good work is wiped away by a lost race or two. No point in complaining though: you gotta win your races as they say.
Another table change saw me wedged between Lappin and entim. Lappin got dogged early on, and I got a much needed treble up near the end after I finally picked up a hand. I raised aces under the gun playing just over 15 bbs, an aggro Scandi decided to get jiggy with a 3 bet. Action on Jason Tompkins in the big blind and to my delight he reshoved after some thought. The Scandi got the message and left Jason's jacks the opportunity to dog my aces. They didn't and I finished the day on a high.
Day 2 started ok but turned sour when I lost most of my stack with a turned set versus a turned gutshot. That left me needing to get shove happy, and when I did find a hand to shove (KTs) I got called by a better hand (A5) and that was that. Annoying end four from the bubble but I was happy with how I played, and my decision to play. I can truthfully say I was genuinely surprised how much value there was in the field.
There was a young lad from Drumlish...
I can usually remember exactly when and where I first saw or met people, but in the case of Padraig "Smidge" O'Neill it seems that he just showed up one day and before I knew it I was talking to him every night on Skype. I do remember the first time we played live he pwned a certain Nick Newport in a very memorable hand. People who can do that stick in your memory and earn your respect. We'd already played a fair bit online. Naturally chatty, he'd struck up some chatbox convos when we locked horns. I'm not a great one for chatting when I'm multitabling, but Smidge is so amiable and polite it would seem rude not to respond, so I did. Before I knew it, he was not only running more hands by me than anyone else, but I was watching the little Skype box headed "Smidge" buzz more than all the other Skype boxes on my screen as he agonised over hands, whether to play online or live cash that night, what to eat, what to watch on TV and every other decision he wrestled with. I started buying chunks of him in live events, and then when I learned he was considering breaking from his online backers, I pounced at the opportunity to stake him and his friend online beast Jaymo. As a result, myself and Lappin had a major chunk of his action in the UKIPT. We started to get excited about this late on day 2 when word filtered through Smidge had stormed his way into the chiplead. We were both involved in the High Roller at this point, but the reports of Smidge crushing the bubble certainly gladdened our hearts.
The crushing continued into day 3 as the final table loomed. With 20% of the chips with 18 left, but for a dogging in a three way all in (aces v qq and 99) he would have been a commanding chipleader on the final table, but 3/8 was more than sufficient grounds for optimism.
I had been sharing with Daragh Davey but after busting the €300 event Daragh decided to get out of Dodge so Smidge took his place. Sensible lad that he is, he got an early night and was sound asleep by the time I got to the room from the bar. He spent the morning taking calls from family, friends and other well wishers (he's a very popular lad) and then was raring to go. With Lappin and myself hovering on the rail like a couple of pushy parents and joined by a very boisterous rail that included both poker friends (Daragh, Nick Newport, Feargal Nealon, Jaymo, Mick Mccloskey) and non poker friends (a good chunk of the young population of Drumlish), Smidge moved back into the chiplead through relentless aggression early on and was looking good to press on. Unfortunately, even though he didn't put a foot wrong, it wasn't to be, as he was coolered blind on blind.
David and I were tweeting furiously as we railed and for a while smidge2point0 was trending on Twitter, a joking reference to some minor tweaks and adjustments made to Smidge's game since he started working with us. The reality is that there was very little that needed to be done with his game. His likeability means he makes friends easily, and as a friend of most of the young online beasts (Jaymo, Daragh, Jono Crute, Robbie Scott, Ger Harraghy, Dan Wilson etc etc) he benefits from having so many great poker minds to run things by. Possessed of a calm disciplined temperament and methodical approach, Smidge approaches the game professionally and will go far.
A few other well dones
Well done to Max Silver for getting headsup in the high roller and coming close to claiming a third (High Roller) win. Also well done to Breifne Earley for winning the PLO side event. The driving force behind SharkRankings, Breifne is one of the most energetic and likable characters on the Irish scene.
Also, well done to Mick Mccloskey on his umpteenth final table. As we walked in to marvel at the awe of Ireland's best live pro, we ran into one of the Omagh lads Redbob still smarting from a Micking ("he called my 19 big blind reshove with KTs!"). When we challenged Mick on this inside from the rail, he shrugged and replied "Ah sure.....dynamics!". He's been hanging around with us too much maybe.
And on to the WSOP
I was intending in this blog to give details on how to buy some of my WSOP side event action, but within 30 minutes of putting it on IPB it was all gone. I'll probably be selling some main event action closer to the date so stay tuned for that. In the mean time, you can win or share in 5% of my action in the WSOP Main Event with Irish Eyes Poker starting from this Saturday 26th May. To get your share, win any of the following tournaments any day on Irish Eyes Poker between 26th May and 1st June 2012.
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