Monday, September 29, 2008

Race won, race lost

I was supposed to be running a half marathon down the country this weekend but turns out it's next weekend, so I had to improvise. Said improvisation taking the form of splitting 2 10 mile tempo runs with a 5K race in the (Phoenix) park, the Grandparent's Day 5K(ish).

Race was a little unusual to say the least (more of a fun run to be honest): only about 30 entrants, an unclear distance (about 5.5K according to my Garmin), no distance markers or official timing, an unclear course on footpaths rather than roads. Because I didn't know the course, I jogged along behind the leading pack before taking off like a scalded cat as soon as I saw the finish line about 1K from the end. This meant I rather surreally ended up winning the race by almost 300 metres. Race started very slowly (around my 100K pace!), then the leading female who I recognised from high finishes in the minimarathon and other road races around Dublin seemed to realise she had a rare opportunity to beat all the men in a race, so she injected some meaningful pace, followed by myself and another guy. We ran together for about 4K and it being almost a fun run I was unsure of whether we were even racing each other (if there had been a suggestion that we all finish together, I'd certainly have gone for it) but actually the other two seemed to make a determined effort to get away from me as we went up the hill towards the 40 acres so I got the message, right it is a race, and kicked away about a K from the end.

Ten years ago I considered myself to be a slow marathon runner lining up for his first short race, also a 5K in the park, only because someone told me that short races could improve your marathon times. A decade of innocence about running and training methods was about to give way to a decade of obsession that would see me winning races in Ireland, England, New York, Holland, the Czech Republic, but I lined up on that start line 10 years ago convinced I was about to be last in the race (I wasn't, thankfully) and certainly not dreaming that 10 years later I'd actually be winning a 5K "sprint" in the park.

Anyway, by the time I finished my run, it was too late for me to make the game in Molloys. So instead I played the Winter festival sat in the Fitz. Never really got going in truth, but happy enough with my play, I kept my patience and discipline to give myself my best shot at it. Entertainment value too in some of the hands I wasn't involved in.

Hand 1: Bunch of limpers to Fitz regular Stuey's big blind. He sticks in a big reraise. Stuey's pretty loose to say the least but any time he does that he actually has a hand (he'd already done it with kings). This being the Fitz of course, limp folding isn't an option so they all call. Flop is A 10 7 rainbow, Stuey makes a pot sized stab at it, called only by Bob Battersby. Turns a queen and Stuey shoves. Bob calls almost instantly for most of his stack with something like 10 4. Stuey had Ace queen but Bob rivers a 10.

Hand 2: Bunch of limpers, table maniac sticks in a raise of 13 big blinds or something mad like that, tight player behind him calls, as does Stuey. Flop is 654 with 2 clubs. Maniac leads out for pot, tight guy behind him shoves, maniac goes to fold but eventually calls with KQ. No flush draw, just two overs. Other guy turns over A10, two overs and a flush draw and stays ahead.

Hand 3: Early limp, button sticks in a big raise, maniac calls in bb, early limper too. Flop is 10 7 3 rainbow, maniac checks, check, raiser bets pot, maniac check raises pot times 2, raiser shoves, and check raiser has a long think, says "I think my 3 is good here" but eventually folds after clock is called on him.

Hand 4, aka how I donked away my first tranch of chips: Last hand before the addon/rebuy break. Card death has seen me drift back to 60% starting stack, I pick up AKs utg and figure, what the heck, lets shoot for a double up here at this ace rag merchant infested table. So I go with a play I discussed with Paul Quinn at the final table in Citywest in July: limping to shove if reraised. Right on cue, Bob Battersby sticks in a big raise from mid position. Button calls this big raise, as does Pat Vickers in the bb. I shove, happy with the outcome, thinking Bob's got a small to medium pair, so I'm racing for a big stack at worst when the other two drop out. Bob does indeed reshove his considerably bigger stack thanks to his dogging of Stuey, but they both call!

Cards go over, Bob's got 7's, button has 56s, Pat has J9o, and scoops the lot when he hits a 4 flush to the 9.

After the break I lost a pot to Pat blind on blind where I thought I was getting value for bottom two but he reluctantly called me down with top 2, and another where I hit a well disguised top 2 against Bob and he called me down with who knows what. I could perhaps have got a bigger river bet off him as Bob doesn't seem to be able to fold any pair when he has some chips.

Anyway, got to the final table very much in push or fold mode. Card death is frustrating in the Fitz because there's bugger all creativity you can bring to bear, since fold equity doesn't exist, so it's purely a matter of deciding whether your hands figures, on average, to be better than the active players, at least one of whom will be calling you. First push was A10s from earlyish position. Pat's in the BB so my thoughts are I'm pushing any half decent ace because he'll call any ace or king, and maybe worse, and I need a doubleup, not just some blinds and antes. So A10s is a monster to my eyes in this particular spot and true to read, he calls with A6o and I hold.

Blinds go up though and with the ever insidious antes I'm back in push or fold mode and can't afford to rest on my laurels too long before picking a spot. That spot comes when it's folded round to me in the CO and I have 6's, so shoveski. Button has clearly woken up with a hand though, because he counts out my push to make sure that yes, it's more or less half his stack, and after what I assume is a bit of Hollywood he flat calls. That looks like a really big pair to me, and yup, he turns them over, first card ace, second card, jack. Wha?? Happy to be in a straight race obviously but he hits two jacks and that's that. Some day I'll write a blog entry talking about how my opponent made a great call in my exit hand, but today's not the day. OK, he'd seen me shove with A10s but hmmm..... still.

Anyway, races are gas, aren't they? Most players I know know that the pair is generally favourite but still tend to fancy having the overs more. I think the reason for that is the rather strange maths of the race: yes, the pair is generally a favourite, often quite clearly so, but unless the pair hits a set (which happens only about once every five times), the overs usually win, because they hit by the river more than half the time. So in other words, the pair rarely hits a set, and if it doesn't, the overs are favourite, but the pair is still favourite overall.


Well done on winning the 5k race! All the 'fun runs' in the Park seem to be like that - no markers just follow the path!

Thanks a million for you support in advertising our game! Please don't worry about missing it! Plenty more games ahead ;-D You only missed Ciaran's "all-in" with silly cards like 63off and getting called holding 72 and hitting 72 on the flop! Sickening stuff! I don't know how I got to the final table!


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