Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Chips passing in the night (Killarney trip report)

The train down was a veritable who's who of Dublin poker and we sat with Lloyd O'Farrell from Mallow to Killarney. Lloyd's an interesting well rounded guy who is knowledgeable on a lot of subjects beyond poker and we had a good chat about American politics.
Before the tournament, we hung around the excellent Player's Lounge for a while chatting with Rob, Cat, and Mark (just arrived from England).
Tourney started bang on time, great organisation as ever from Neill and Connie. My tournament came down to one cooler when I ran the nut full house into the BB's flopped quads. I didn't play the hand very well but to be honest it made no difference as I was never getting away. If I'd played it better, the chips would have gone in faster. Funnily enough, my gut was telling me to flat call the river so I might have got away in my early days when I was a much more cautious player going mainly on gut instinct.
That calamity left me with 3 BB's and with antes kicking in I didn't have many hands to wait before the inevitable push, which I lost.
Welcome to the Dave Masters show
After an almost sleepless night thanks to some Norn Irish gentlemen in the next room making noise until 7 AM, I was in 2 minds as to whether to even play the side event. My track record in side events is appalling: I've only ever cashed in one, I think, and that was a side event before a main event. After exiting a main, I find it hard to play my best game. So the choice was to play cash or the side.
In the end, the deciding factor was a prop bet I have on with an English guy that I'll talk about more at some future point.
I got a terrible seat draw: seat 9 at a table that included Dave Masters in seat 3, Fran Egan in seat 5, and Mick McEvoy in seat 7. The next few hours I sat there virtually card dead nursing a starting stack and watching what I can only describe as the Dave Masters Show. It was one of the best displays of power poker I've ever witnessed, and anyone who can't recognise Dave as one of the best tournament players in Ireland when he's in that kind of form just doesn't understand tournament poker in my view.
Dave was table captain more or less from the start. If it hadn't been him it would have been Fran who was unlucky to lose a few crucial races. While I'm quite happy to go to war with a bad LAG, or a good one if circumstances demand, I considered it more prudent to batten down the hatches and wait for hands.
Dave meanwhile raced to something like 120K at a time when the average was about 12K. Ironically I was staying afloat only because I was winning most of my pots against him, purely because I kept outflopping him. There was one other big stack by now at the table, a guy I've played a couple of times in the Clonsilla Inn, and Dave was doing his best to wind him up all the better to stack him. The first time he did this, Dave limped under the gun, the other guy stuck in a big scared raise as he tended to do with smallish pairs and raggy aces, I woke up with kings and shoved, and then to my horror Dave didn't instafold and I immediately thought "Oh crap, he's got aces". Sure enough, Dave calls, the other guy smells a rat and folds (A 10o as it turns out) and Dave says "Sorry Doke, I was trying to trap him" and flips over aces. When I turn over kings, Dave, ever the gentleman, asks the dealer to give me a king, which he duly does.
Things went from bad to worse for Dave when he managed to trap the other guy yet again into a horrible call with AJo when Dave had KK, but an ace flopped and Dave lost most of his stack. To his credit, he managed to get most of it back in jig time. I gather Dave is something of a controversial figure in Irish poker and I've seen how masterful he is at manipulating table dynamics and putting people on tilt, but I must say I like him immensely both as a person and a poker player. It's also intensely amusing to watch him tilt players with ease, and some of his one liners are pure genius, like when he complained about one ruling saying "must be country bumpkin rules".
Anyway, he continued to knock people out and the table got even harder when Rob arrived in the seat beside Dave, meaning I was now looking across and seeing not one but two of the finest tournament players in Ireland. Chris (Russh from Boards) arrived to make the table even tougher, so I was considerably relieved to be moved when the table broke.
I was moved to a table that included David McCarthy, a very good TAG from Waterford, who seemed even shorter stacked than me. DBC2007 from Boards arrived to deal and gave me the perfect hand to push with, AKs, which bought me some blinds, an early limper and antes, before I was moved again. A few more judicious pushes saw me double up without showing a card and surviving to day 2.
The day ended rather chaotically when a dealer appeared with bags (or rather envelopes) to do chip counts while the final hand was in progress. I was not involved in the final hand so I counted my chips out into stacks of 5's and 10's, revealing I had 40K, as verified by the dealer. I bagged (or enveloped) the chips, and signed the count sheet. One of the English guys complained that this was going on while a hand was still in progress.
After play ended, I talked to Rob and he told me he had 47K. That meant we were both chronically short with 5-6 big blinds so there was a strong danger that one or both of us were destined to bubble. He proposed a percentage swap, very generously since he had more chips than me at this point, which I instantly accepted. I think this was a good idea as it meant both of us could play the bubble with a healthy level of aggression rather than simply clinging on for the money. And obviously swapping percentages with, IMO, the finest all round NLH player in Ireland is always good business.
Sherlock Holmes and the Missing Chip
Next morning I got up and went down for breakfast with Mireille. There was a great atmophere in the place which was full of poker players stopping to chat. Afterwards, I strolled back to the tournament area to double check the start time was 2. I asked Toby, the TD, and he informed me it was actually 3. This confused me as I was certain I'd heard them announce 2 the previous night, but he told me it had been changed. On my way back to the room, I met Colette (Smurph) and Martin and they said they thought it was 2 and advised me to double check with Connie, thankfully, as he confirmed it was still 2.
That left enough time for a nice walk with Mireille to Killarney National Park and Muckross Abbey, covering a route that formed part of my 90 minute run the previous day. I got back just before 2, just in time to open my chip envelope. When I did, I discovered to my horror that there was a chip missing. I told the dealer and she called Toby over, but he abruptly dismissed the matter saying that players were responsible for bagging their own chips and that was that. This stunned me as the only other time I'd ever seen a discrepancy, at a GUKPT event, the player (not me) had their chip restored and I assumed, naively as it turns out, that this was standard.
Fuming from the loss of the chip and the summary dismissal of the appeal, I walked away from the table to clear my head. I met Fran Egan and Brian from GJP and they both advised me not to accept the ruling, so I went back and appealed directly to Neill. He went off to talk to Toby and came back apologetically saying there was nothing he could do. Still fuming, I briefly considered kicking up a fuss, or withdrawing under protest, but mindful of the fact that I'd swapped a percentage with Rob decided against it. In any case, Neill's more tactful manner made the pill a little less hard to swallow, so even though I was still fuming, I sat down to play.
The bubble burst much faster than I thought it would. I actually moved all in on the bubble, not realising it was the bubble. I was utg with just over 3 BB's, looked down at A8, looked up at the screen and saw there were still 3 players to go to the bubble, decided I couldn't wait any longer, and announced all in. What I didn't know is the screen was not up to date and we were in fact on the bubble. As it happened, this worked out to my advantage, because I got called by pocket 5's and won the race. I was still a little shocked though at the lack of a bubble announcement or going hand for hand.
Rob had survived too and in fact had doubled up to 75K. But by now the tournament was pretty much a crapshoot for almost everyone with average M less than 5, so it was simply a matter of deciding when to push. Rob got unlucky while I clung on thanks to a few more well timed pushes and a couple of double ups courtesy of another race and an AK v J10. Unfortunately, my gallop came to a halt when I ran AJs from the cutoff in the button's AQ and didn't improve. I was disappointed not to have gone farther of course, but at the end of the day couldn't really complain and was happy with the way I played. I finished 22nd for €800.
Overall, it was a great weekend and a really well run event, so Neill Kelly and Connie O'Sullivan deserve huge thanks and praise from all the players. It was a great occasion, but socially and pokerly, and it was great to meet and chat with so many fellow players.
After I got home I was still fuming somewhat over the missing chip so I started a thread on Boards to find out what the usual rule was, and what other players thought. Thank you to all who contributed there and especially to Neill who not only agreed that a change of policy was in the interest of players but very generously registered me for next year's €300 event by way of compensation for what happened. As I've said before on this blog, we don't know how lucky we are in this country to have the likes of Neill (and others like JP and Connie) organising top quality events. Also, notwithstanding my problems with Toby during the event, I understand that we're all human, and as an ex professional soccer referee know just how unrealistic the expectations we place in general on officials. We all make mistakes especially under stressful conditions and long working hours, and I'm reliably informed that Toby is generally a top class and well respected TD.
Last night I played the Westbury monthly tournament in Malahide and ended up chopping for €1500 with Joe O'Donnell. It was a pretty high quality final table overall as it also included Rob (who got very unlucky yet again) and Derek "The Clamper" (who was third).
The plan at this stage is to play the Fitz Winter festival satellite on Thursday and the Betdaq thing in the SE on Friday, as well as some more online grinding. That'll probably be it before I fly out to Korea for the World 24 Hour Championships. I've decided to run related "win a percentage of me" contest on Boards after all so watch this space.



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