It's fair to say I get more than my fair share of abuse in chat boxes around the world. Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows this already because I sometimes cut and paste the more choice comments to there. It's pretty much always some recreational player I've dogged so other than tweeting them now and then, I take it as fair vent, and don't think too much about it. However, in the satellites to the Isle of Man, I got enough threats of violence and death to instruct my travelling companions, Dave and Daragh, not to tell anyone who Slowdoke was if asked. I was also a bit on edge to the point that whenever I heard the S word (as I tend to do on UKIPT stops: more people call me SlowDoke than Doke or Dara) I flinched. I need not have worried: everyone who actually came up to me to introduce themselves to the prince of doggings SlowDoke was very friendly.
Pretty much everyone we met was very welcoming and helpful (except the guy on the Best Western desk who gave us a sweat we could have done without by telling us he had booked our cab to the airport but didn't actually bother), none more than the divine Christin Maschmann who pulled out all the stops, even driving us around the island on our day off.
We all played day 1a and all got through (my roommate David on his second bullet), which was remarkable in itself given that less than a third of the field did. That meant we could take day 1b off, hence the aforementioned day off being driven around the finest sights of the South of the island by Christin. We got back in time to jump into a couple of turbos. First up was a Win the Button where I won very few buttons and bust in time to register the 250 turbo which was stalled waiting for more runners. It eventually climbed into double figures. When a tournament only gets a dozen runners, making the "final table" doesn't seem that big a deal, especially when you get there with less than starting stack without having won a pot. I ran pretty well from there though to min cash in third. Meanwhile Daragh was coming second in the Win The Button.
My main event day 1 was a long grind to hang in there as I drifted back from starting stack, to a last hour surge that saw me challenge for the chiplead (two years ago, a similar late surge saw me claim the actual chiplead). But as I bagged up double average it still felt like a decent day's work, and a good chance to continue my good record of at least cashing on the island.
His reign as Miss Finland got off to a bumpy start when dawhiteninja decided to hit on the new Miss Finland at the player party.
It was not to be for me or Daragh on day 2, but Dave who started the day short stacked ninjaed his way deep and was unlucky not to make the final table. I barely won a pot and when I found myself with less than 20 big blinds near the bubble, Kings proved to be a mixed blessing. Too strong not to play for stacks, but not strong enough to hold against ace eight off. It's always disappointing to (near) bubble but I don't think I can expect much sympathy for the rest of this year given how well I ran in Vegas.
I hopped straight into the so called high roller (a slight misnomer maybe given the 1k buyin, same as the UKIPT main event buyin not too long ago). I found myself at an exceptionally good looking table causing me to tweet:
My immediate neighbour to the left, Liv, got things off to a friendly start when she saw my tweet and said it was sweet but completely untrue: one of those rare occasions when it's actually nice to be lied to your face. I started pretty well mainly thanks to flopping a couple of sets before I got booted off the good looking table to one that included Paul Newey, Jake Cody and Chris Moneymaker. I chipped up a little more before moving back to my original table. The most interesting and talked about hand I played was against my immediate neighbour to the right, Pokerstars founder Isai Sheinberg. Isai opened 2.5x in the hijack playing 30 big blinds. With only slightly more just behind and KQs, I quickly decided this was one of those spots where my hand is ahead of his opening range but not in great shape against his four betting range. Off suit I would consider three betting (with the intention of folding to a 4 bet) but with the added playability of being suited I didn't want to have to fold the hand, so I flatted. I was pretty happy with the KQ4dd flop. Isai led for 4k into 7k, I raised to 9k, and after some thought he clearly decided he didn't believe me (or at least thought I was drawing) and shoved. After I snap called, I was pretty happy to see he didn't have much equity (I expected to be up against a draw) with Q3.
Although there was a fair amount of value in the overall field, it ended up being a pretty stacked final table that included Daragh Davey and Liv Boeree (both on their second bullet), legendary gambler Paul Newey, mixed game beast Adam Owen, consistent UKIPT reg Marc Hunter and Chris Moneymaker. It played pretty deep so it was a much more protracted affair then my turbo final table. In particular we were 6 handed for several hours. Most of my more interesting hands were against Moneymaker (which I will be going into in detail in a forthcoming piece for Bluff Europe), but probably the two most crucial ones were against Adam. The first one saw me double him up after he'd gotten a bit short. Chris opened from the hijack, I three bet ace ten on the button (which seemed reasonable given how wide Chris opens in late position) and found myself priced in to call Adam's shove from the big blind. His kings held.
The funniest hand saw me decide to limp the button (something I often do once effective stacks drop below thirty bigs) and Adam decided to fold his BB. When this hand was relayed to a friend of Adam's who came over to rail, he drily commented "You're playing great".
My exit also saw me hoping to hit an ace and not getting there against his kings. By the time we got three handed Adam had most of the chips and was applying good ICM pressure to myself and Daragh who had similar stacks. So when he opened the button and I saw an ace in the big blind I reshoved. Adam started headsup with a huge chiplead, but Daragh made some early inroads and then got the full double up when his A9s got there against Adam's AQ. No better man than Mr Davey when it comes to hitting two or three outers with a hand with a nine in it.
That brought the stacks back to some sort of semblance of equality and the two lads decided it was prudent to chop (to the feigned disgust of the new Miss Finland who boohed "Cowards! Sure he's only a badugi player"). Normally in these spots the chipleader gets the title and the trophy, but Adam graciously offered to flip for it and rather inconsistently they were allowed to (the previous night on my turbo final table a proposed three way chop broke down because we were told the trophy had to go to the chipleader unless we played on for at least 10% of the prize pool). New Backdoor Quads ambassador Adam rivered Daragh in the flip to win.
Afterwards there was some talk on Twitter (and a few people said it to me directly) about it being disrespectful to just flip for a trophy. I understand how it can appear that way to recreational players who dream of one day finding themselves headsup for a high roller trophy, but I also understand that professional players find it hard to get excited when all the money has been divided and there's just the so-called glory to be played for. Particularly at the end of a 14 hour day in the middle of a week where you are playing every day. My own view is that in chop situations the trophy should always go to the chipleader, not just because that's how I got my first poker trophy but because they have the most legitimate claim to having "won" the tournament. As much as I love Daragh (he's the closest thing there is in poker to a mini me version of me, something I tell him any time I want to annoy him) I think it would have been a bit of a travesty if he had flipped his way to the victory. Once you chop all the money any tournament changes into something very different: essentially a play money tournament with a trophy. Even if you don't flip for it, it just isn't the same.
Adam was the deserving winner. Any time I meet or play with him he never fails to impress not just with his play but also his conduct and how he carries himself. This result apparently moves Daragh back up to second in the overall UKIPT leaderboard, and given both his consistency and the fact he will play every ranking event he can between now and the end of the season, makes him favourite in my view to repeat his leaderboard victory of last year. That would be a remarkable feat if he pulls it off.
One final well done to the inimitable Jamesy Walsh, who not only represented on the main event final table, but hopped straight in to the last side and final tabled that too. And a final thank you to everyone who helped make our stay on the island so enjoyable this time, especially Christin Maschmann who provided car rides, great eating and drinking company and a rowdy rail.