Monday, March 2, 2009

The unhappiest place in the world

I arrived in Walsall, officially the unhappiest place in the world (according to Wikipedia), on Thursday. The Clamper was on the same flight and kept me awake with colourful stories of his life as a serial entrepreneur.
That evening, I played a £100 side event, a freezeout that pretty quickly descended into a crapshoot. The pre crapshoot portion was fairly uneventful, and the crapshoot segment started poorly when I shipped queens over a raise into kings behind. That left me with a meagre 900 at a time when blinds were already 300/600 (and an ante of 50). Luckily I picked up AK next hand, my ship was called by the button and then protected by an overship from the blinds. The button folded JJ, the blind had AQ, I held, so back in the game. Shortly afterwards, I shipped JJ utg into AT in the blinds and held, and was right back in it now. Three tables out I had motored, or rather shipped, my way up to average stack, but still less than 10 bbs. The table was collectively getting noisy about my frequency of shipping, and when I eventually shipped A7s from the cutoff, there was almost a communal fist pump when I got called by 99 and didn't suck out. I got bad news even before my own main event campaign kicked off when Mick McCloskey told me that my 10% of him was busto.
When I came back the next day for the Main Event, I was horrified to discover that instead of the hoped for soft table full of nervous internet qualifiers who had never played live before, I had two maniacs to my immediate left (Paul Marrow and Kyran something who final tabled the last leg in Brighton), an EPT winner (Fintan Gavin), a friend of John Eams who was also a very good player (and went on to cash), a wild Scandi and a few other respected pros. Maybe (bad) luck of the draw, or maybe these fields are just getting tougher as the recession bites. I knew that having Marrow to my immediate left was a bad beat in itself, and so it proved. He effectively destroyed me in the early part of the tournament where I'm looking to steadily build my stack with minimal risk and marginal decisions. Paul tends to make every pot you play with him a big one, and played every pot I entered. Three times I had to decide whether top pair top kicker type hands were good against him or not and I managed to get all three decisions wrong, at least by the end. In the first two I check called all the way only to find out I'd been rivered by an improbable two pair. The final hand was the worst: playing AQs, I decided to flat on the button when the Scandi raised from mid position, and Paul called in the SB. The flop came A23 with two spades (not my suit), and when the Scandi cbet, I again flatted, as did Paul. The turn was a non spade 6 seemingly changing nothing and when it was checked to me I fired in a 2/3rds pot bet as Paul's most likely holding here was the flush draw, and the Scandi would call with a worse ace based on past performance. In the event, Paul called quickly and the Scandi folded. The river unfortunately brought the ten of spades, Paul potted it effectively putting me all in if I called. Normally it's an easy fold here as I'm now only beating a bluff, but against the likes of Paul you have to be prepared to call pretty light. I worked back through the betting action and rescrutinised the board, but with no missed straight draws out there, it was difficult to see anything legitimate I was beating any more. Either he had a monster which he'd been slowplaying, or he'd again hit two pair on the river, or the flush. When he saw I was considering making the call, he said "Unless you have the flush you're beaten". It doesn't generally pay to take speechplay at face value but on the other hand on every other occasion I'd heard him use that kind of speechplay he had been telling the truth, so that made it an easier fold. At least until he showed 44. Ugh. Well played, sir. As a player Paul's a nightmare but as a human being he's a king.
By the time Paul was moved, he had about 55K (which he proceeded to bluff away in about half an hour: in the words of one English pro at his new table, "If he's gonna try and pull 30K bluffs at the 75/150 level, he probably shouldn't wear loon pants and a coat of many colours") and I had less than 2K. I managed to get a bit of a recovery going, starting when John's friend tried to take advantage of my frail stack by shipping J3 from the SB only to find me with AK, and had recovered to 9K when one of the few weak links, a guy who had been moved to Paul's seat recently and was clearly tilted from the previous hand against me open shipped for 5K (17 bbs) utg and I called in the BB with AJ. He had 97s and flopped a flush. I had a redraw to a higher flush but missed. With the blinds gone up and antes already kicking in, I couldn't hang around waiting for a monster and a short while later shipped QJs into AJ and didn't suck out.
Mick McCool and James Browning both arrived at my table while I was still there and there was some good banter. Mick's always a pleasure as company and he was passing around Roy Brindley's book which Francis had given him, "Life's a gamble". Someone asked James when he was going to write his: "No it isn't".
There were a good few Irish over and I hung around for a while with Fran and his lovely wife, his Dad, Sean Gregory, Francis McCormack, The Clamper, Chris Dowling (who seemed to be clearing up in the 6 card Omaha) and Fintan Gavin. Unfortunately only Fran made the second day: not a great showing for the Irish contingent. We keep talking about how soft these fields are, so it's about time we started backing it up with some more results.
I played a few hours of cash and ground out a meagre profit to at least partly affray the trip expenses, before returning the next day to play the £250 side event. This time I did get off to a flyer, getting a double up early with aces versus tens where I managed to get all the money in across 4 streets on a board that finished up 73332. I then went card dead for a long while until three tables out, I picked up AK on the button. Utg made a bizarre pot committing overbet raise to 9 bbs and after a bit of thought I decided that probably wasn't a monster but more likely something like ace queen so I shipped. It turned out to be ace jack and I held. Now in a good spot, I worked up to 45K until I lost a big pot which would probably have given me the chiplead, certainly final table chips, with about 16 left. An old school English pro raised in the cutoff, for the umpteenth time a sneeringly arrogant young English internet kid called Nick sometwit or other who was bizarrely alternating between fawningly begging James Browning to get him a deal with William Hill and doing a cartoonish impression of the original poker brat showing as much contempt for his opponents as he could shipped, and I reshipped 99 in the BB. In a hand eerily reminiscent of my exit on the second last table of the main event in Newcastle last year, he flipped over 76s and I'm temporarily in about as good a shape as you can ever be pre. Unfortunately, first two cards on the flop are both 7's, and no miracle 9 comes to save me.
With 14 left and my stack now down to 12 bbs, the cartoon character shipped from the sb, I called with 77 knowing tons of his range would be one overcard (and some would be none). Unfortunately it was worst case scenario of a straight race against KJ, which I managed to stay ahead in until a king on the river. Another case of close but no cigar.
Sunday was given over to the laptop followed by another 100 FO scrapshoot, this one with scalps. Never really got going and eventually went out reshoving ace king sooted for 15 BBs over a king queen which felt compelled to call because he was "priced in". Whatever about increasing standards in the main events, the side events are still atrocious. The English pros obviously know what they are doing, but the average English recreational player really hasn't a clue and would give the Americans a good run for Worst in the World title. Also, anyone ever tempted to complain about side events getting the short end of the organisational stick in Ireland should try one of these GUKPT events sometimes. Shocking stuff: at one point our table was playing at higher blinds than everyone else in the tournament as the dealer incorrectly believed there was no 150/300 level. Having just paid a 400 big blind, I was moved to a new table just in time to pay a 300 big blind, and the guy who had button raised my 400 blind was given a chance for an immediate action replay as he moved into the dealer seat on my new table. For a while, my second last table was five (yes five!) handed while every other table in the place seemed to have 10 players.


Sound dreadful Dara, ul.

They say that "Tús maith is leath na h-oibre" and having the clamper beside you on a flight isn't a "tús maith" in any language!!!

Malahide anocht??

LOL, indeed Joe, indeed.

Malahide anocht.


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