No rest for the wicked, they say. Particularly the wicked who are chasing leaderboard points, as myself and my Firm brethren Daragh Davey and David Lappin were going into London, the final stop of the seemingly never ending UKIPT season 4 that started all the way back in Galway. Just one full day back home after the Isle of Man before we found ourselves on another early morning flight. For some reason the official UKIPT calendar had been extended for a full week after the main event (through EPT week) so those of us chasing points were committed to almost two weeks in London. Given that, plus the fact that our numbers were swelled by Nick Newport, Kev Killeen, Dan Wilson and Smidge, we decided it was preferable to rent a gaffe for the duration rather than hotel room it. Special credit to our quartermaster Mr Lappin who really surpassed himself with the pad he found for us in Hackney, which was spacious, economic and within walking distance of the venue (the last part might be contested by a certain Mr Killeen who only made the walk once after which he was heard to moan "Ah me legs"). Just outside the gaffe was a brilliant family run cafe that became our breakfast spot. The only real drawback was this picture on the wall, looking as it does like a hipster version of Paul "uwannaloan" Delaney, the kid who has been responsible for more online pain to us collectively than any other single individual.
Much love and respect for Pauly D, but the last thing most of us wanted to be reminded every day was the various beats he has put on us down the years :)
The main event didn't go to plan for any of us (highlight was going for dinner with the lovely Daiva Barauskaite), which at least meant we had some time to grind online.
Side events weren't going to plan either. Myself and David had some catching up to do to get a podium slot (and an actual prize), let alone mount a meaningful challenge for the top spot. When we both practically bubbled the Win the Button side, the struggle got more uphill.
I grinded a short stack through day 1 of the London Cup at the most insanely tough starting table ever assembled for a bowlcomp side event, featuring as it did Max Silver, Ben Dobson, Alan Gold, recent Sunday Million winner Rob Tinnion, and Ludovic Geilich. I somehow ended the day as one of the overnight chipleaders, and went back feeling very confident of not just racking up some leaderboard points (we weren't that far from the bubble) but also making a meaningful deep run.
I started well but then it went pearshaped in a spot where I messed up. Folded around to an older gentleman who appeared inexperienced and who had already reshoved twice and open shoved once (getting them all through), he made a standard open this time. Finding tens in the small blind, I did a quick visual count of his stack to determine he had approximately 25 big blinds (as you'd expect from a man who had just got a couple of reshoves through), and decided the clear play was to 3 bet to induce a shove which I would happily call. He did shove (without moving his chips). The dealer told him to put his big chips in, much to my horror as I didn't realize he even had big chips! They weren't exactly concealed but they were rather buried at the bottom of a pile of smaller denomination chips, which is really only a problem if (like me) you're colour blind. With a sinking feeling, I asked for a count, and was told he actually had over 40 big blinds (most of my stack).
Had I realized this at the start (and I have nobody to blame for this but myself: I've been around and colour blind for long enough to know I should always ask for a count before I put chips into a pot), I would have taken the lower variance line and just flatted with my tens and tried to play a smaller pot. No point crying over spilt variance though, so now I had to make my mind up whether to call or not.
The advantage of folding was I would still have a big stack not too far from the bubble and would be a very short price to cash (and score leaderboard points). But on the flip side, if I did that I'd basically butchered my equity with a very strong hand, and would be making a mathematically unjustifiable fold as I was pretty certain I was ahead more often than not, and certainly getting more than the correct price against the range. The speed of the shove capped his range and weighted it very much towards AK and AQ in my view, and he looked nervously miserable as I tanked the decision. He clearly wasn't enjoying the fact I hadn't just snap folded and he might be getting called by the only stack at the table who could knock him out, so I figured I was pretty much racing most of the time and the overpair more often than the underpair the rest of the time. At the end of the day tens is a 57% favourite against AQo (his actual hand) so I don't regret the call (I only needed about 40% equity for the call to be correct once I'd threebet, so folding would have been a pretty bad mistake), but do regret putting myself in the spot in the first place with the threebet. I was still ahead after the flop, but a queen on the turn decimated my stack and I didn't survive til the bubble (I got the last of my chips in dominating but did not hold). The bubble burst shortly afterwards as Daragh and David were commiserating with me in the bar afterwards.
One positive was Daragh was crushing the sides and had taken the overall lead from Max (in fact he quickly put it out of reach and Max apparently stopped chasing). The other positive was I got to watch the manly sight of Desperate Dan/Nick Newport getting his Sunday grind on.
After another non cash bust in some bowlcomp side, it seemed like Dave and I would have to rail Daragh on another final table. But then we heard Daiva was on the Ladies final table, and before you can say Jack Robinson (or more accurately "Daiva is a lot more fun to be around than Daragh"), myself and David were railing the ladies final table (as was our friend Chihao Tsang).
Daiva, like a true winner, was pretty gutted not to close it out (there are no creditable third places when you have that winning mentality), but game sport that she is came along with us to rail Daragh on his rather miserable final table, and we even got a smile from the Mongoose.
The following morning was the UKIPT Champion of Champions freeroll, which I was once again invited to as Online Qualifier of the Year. I was somewhat dubious about promises Daragh, David and Daiva all made to be in for the rail given the ridiculously early hour this was scheduled for. 10 AM may seem like a decent hour for most normal people, but for poker players used to playing all night then sleeping til noon, it's basically the equivalent of asking a 9 to 5 office worker to be at his best at 4 AM. In the event, only David actually made it in on time, as a bewildered bunch of champions plus me went through the motions of playing a live hyper while barely conscious. I got the dream start doubling up through Brett Angell in a classic race. At one point, myself and Kev had about half the chips with 5 left and it was looking good for some inter Firm business to be done, but we were both knocked out by worthy winner Dean Hutchinson. By now Daragh had shown up and Daiva was on the way, so after an interview with Stars blogger Howard Swains we relocated to a bar/restaurant.
David's girlfriend Saron and Stars blogger extraordinaire Marc Convey also joined us.
As you can probably tell from the barely awake Daragh in the foreground, we still hadn't really recovered from the shock of being up at this hour so despite the scintillating company we weren't exactly at our sparkliest. I headed back to Hackney for a kip and then joined Daragh, Saron and David at an amazing restaurant in Soho (recommended by Daiva) that was definitely the culinary highlight of the trip. David found some shot in his game, and was surprisingly pleased by this (I guess it at least proved how fresh it was).
I could reel through the monotony of various side events bustouts but....well actually I couldn't cos they all blurred into one long streak of misery. The only one that sticks out was a Win the Button side where the lights went out.
Gave a whole new meaning to checking dark.
Lest anyone think trips like these are all about dining in high quality establishments, let me blow open the lid on Kevin Killeen and David Lappin's nocturnal feeding patterns. Kev's involved taking the last scrapings from the kebab joint before it closes because the owner said "Free kebab" to him as we strolled by (he somehow ended up paying so he was basically pwned: credit to the kebab joint owner for picking the young lad in the silly hat and the tracksuit bottoms as the most likely mark in our group), while David's habit was more furtive and persistent and involved wee hour visits to Chicken Cottage.
His secret shame might have remained just that (secret) but for the fact that he pals around with a total bastard (me), the type of bastard who delights in exposing this kind of thing. Not just the purchase of the "foodstuffs", but the secretive furtive consumption of same back at the pad.
That pretty much brings me up to the end of the UKIPT part of the London trip (despite Stars illogical claims that it extended through EPT week) so seems like a good place to wrap part one of this London trip report.
Coming up in part 2, how Kevin Killeen's silly hat almost won an EPT, how Daragh Davey alarmed us all by turning into a cockney geezer as the week wore on using words like razzers that none of us had a notion of, and why London UKIPT was probably my last ever UKIPT trip.