Thursday, March 7, 2013


I said to Mick McCloskey recently that it must be tough for players who just play live tourneys to deal with variance and downswings. Online players routinely deal with downswings that extend into the thousands of games. That's fine online if you are playing 20000 games a year but live that could be a lifetime. Online players who routinely brick 20 or 30 tourneys in a night think nothing of it, but when you do that live you have to start dealing with people telling you you're not a live player. Memories are getting shorter and even though I usually point to a pretty consistent record over my career and the fact that I'm pretty high up this list for someone who only started playing 5 years ago I generally get the feeling I'm appealing to deaf ears. So it was nice to make my first day 3 in a while at UKIPT Cork.

I had a tough table draw on day one that featured Big Mick G, Nelius Foley and Nick "mi_turtle" Rainey. The player who posed me the most problems though was a very unorthodox Danish maniac. I don't know his name so I mentally called him the Daniac. No fold button and a man whose poker lexicon had nothing after B for barrel and bluff, he unfortunately had it pretty much every time I called him down. One such stationing episode almost cost me my tourney life before the second break. After I 3 bet kings from the blinds and he peeled, he called my cbet on a akx board with 2 diamonds. After the worst card in the deck hit the turn (queen of diamonds) I elected to go into check call mode to allow him to barrel his air hands and value bet worse. I called his river bet leaving me with just 5 big blinds behind (he again had it: jto with no diamond for the turned gutter). I considered shoving the river as there are definitely worse hands he calls with (smaller sets and 2 pair) but elected to take the more cautious route.

Another player asked me about a hand in the side event where he had a similar river spot. When I asked him why he shoved even though he thought there was an excellent chance his set was no good (there were four cards to a straight on board) he said that he felt his hand was too strong to fold and he saw no point in just calling and leaving himself with less than ten big blinds. I hold the polar opposite opinion: in my view a thousand in chips is a lot more valuable when it's the difference between 1k and 0 rather than the difference between 41k and 40k.

It's a bit of an in joke in the Firm that nobody plays 5 big blinds better. I think it's important to never give up and even with 5 bigs I don't subscribe to the intellectually lazy "flick it in at the first opportunity" theory. I actually managed to spin my 1k back up to starting stack of 15k in a couple of orbits, getting it in ahead each time and holding. To emphasise how quick things can turn around in tourney poker, my third double up was also the Daniac's exit hand.

Having dropped as low as 1k I was pretty happy to be bagging up 45k, an above average stack, at the end of the day.

Day 2 was an up and down day. I got up to 100k early in the day and dropped as low as 30k after letting Noel Magner get there and paying him off. Towards the end of the day I was moved beside Tom the Bomb Finneran. Tom's a good mate and a great player and had amassed a stack terrorising the table after coming back short.

One of the features of the interaction between live poker players and the social media is not only do interested railers back home have the opportunity to access up to date information, but the players can also interact with each other and the rail via Twitter and Facebook. I am a pretty social animal so I get a kick out of this added dimension, and it never fails to amaze me how many people you can reach through the social media. After Tom the Bomb had tweeted my arrival at the table, I got a tweet from his wife Mrs Bomb asking me to go easy on him! I could have done with Mrs Doke tweeting Tom instead as he was running the table over at the time.

I managed to navigate my way through to end the day with about 90k, an advance on where I started but one of the shortest coming back. It should also be noted I got lucky late in the day after the bubble had burst. The impressive Pascal Tongi had arrived at the table with chips and was beasting it. In the circumstances nines seemed like a perfectly reasonable hand to reshove over his early position raise and even when he snapped I was still reasonably confident my nines were good or at least racing. They weren't. He had tens but I got there.

Having run well to make day 3, it ended there.  I was drawn on the same table as the two remaining Stars pros Liv Boeree and Dale Phillip. Early on I called Dale's shove with aj. He said Oops as he turned over his hand, a worse ace, but the board double paired on the river to make our kickers redundant and we chopped. In retrospect that was a big moment as a hold would have allowed me to escape the sub 20 big blind zone. Instead I remaining handcuffed in that zone til my exit. I did manage to win a race against Cahal Heapes but by then I had blinded down to the point that even the double up left me with less than 20 bigs. Shortly after, it was folded to Andy Grimasson in the small blind. Andy had shoved every time this had happened when I was short and I never found a hand I could even consider calling with. I now had too much for him to just open shove a wide range to me. Instead he went for a normal raise , which I interpreted as one of two things. He either had a marginal hand he wasn't happy to get the lot in with, or he had a monster and was inducing me to shove. I looked down at kqo and shoved. When he snap called I knew he had been inducing. I'm still in decent shape against most of his range (even if he has jacks its a flip) but unfortunately he had one of the few hands I really didn't want to see, aq. He held and I busted in 27th. No regrets though: I was happy with my play overall and it was good to go somewhat deep in a big Irish tourney for the first time in a while.

It was a pretty good festival for the Firm in general. Jason took down the High Roller as he does. David final tabled the 300 side event, Daragh final tabled the Deepstack turbo, and Nick final tabled the main event. In a recent blog Nick freely admitted he had had a bad year of it before he joined us. Since joining us, he has been crushing online and was happy with his deep live run here. It's great to see him happy and enjoying his poker again.

Finally, a big well done to Tom the Bomb who all the way and kept the title in Ireland.



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