Monday, May 25, 2009

Slots and sluts

Nicky "Novelty Specialist" Power's suggestion as a title for this Newcastle trip report, which I'm quite happy to go with.

Up at the crack of dawn as ever for a redeye to Newcastle which got me there over 6 hours before kickoff which meant a long wait in the airport playing Steps on Stars, the only site that seems reliable on my dicky dongle laptop connection. 6 hours huched over a laptop in a garish airport bar, oh tis a glamourous life all the same.

Not the best table draw in the world for me with Nicky Power to my immediate left, and a number of other good players present including one final tableist from last year who I refuse to acknowledge by name as he told me he reads this blog and then followed up his wishes of good luck with "actually I don't give a shit whether you do well or not" from last year, and Thomas Dunwoodie. I got off to a decent start which picked up pace when I got moved to a much weaker table which Chris Dowling was running all over. Another table move to an even weaker table saw me finish the day with the biggest stack I've ever had at the end of day 1 in a GUKPT, just shy of 40K.

If Day 1 couldn't have gone much better, Day 2 couldn't have gone much worse and my fate was ultimately sealed by two blind battles between KQ and AK. After a decent start that got me close to 50K, I barely won another pot. After that I hardly won another pot, and managed to double down in a blind on blind confrontation. After raising with KQs in the small, I was priced in to call the big blind's shove. Unfortunately he had one of the hands I really didn't want to see: AK. He hit the ace for good measure.

My exit hand was along similar lines but this time I had AK. After a button limp, I stuck in a large raise of 40% of my stack pre to make it obvious (or so I thought) the rest was going in come what may (my stack size was really awkward as a normal small raise followed by a cbet on the flop would commit me in any case, so I decided it was better to commit while I almost certainly had the best hand). After some thought, my opponent (who seemed the worst player at the table and had already donked off a massive chip stack in instalments since arriving at the table) eventually made the call for 30% of his stack. The flop came JT9, in they went, and he flipped over KQ for the flopped nuts. No miracle queen and I was on my way.

I went straight into the £250 side event. It's always very hard to play a side event just after exiting a main, and I played very poorly at the start. I lost half my stack after an attempted blind steal on the button with JJ went wrong. The small blind clearly knew I was at it and called and took half my stack with T9o on a T9x flop. I eventually settled and recovered to almost double starting stack, but then we hit the ship or fold portion with three tables out. I doubled down losing another jack ace v baby pair race against Chris Dowling, and a few hands later shipped 9's into Chris' 10's.

I was undecided about whether to play the final side event or not, as it's always a pretty crapshooty affair with a 5K starting stack and 30 minute clock. In the event I played mainly on the grounds that Nicky Power and Paul Smallwood who I hung round with during the day were heading for the evening ferry so there was bugger all else to do. For once I got a stack together, moving from 5K to 40K smoothly. Most interesting pot was against the best player in England Martin Silke. I raised in the cutoff with ace king and Silkey chose to defend his big. He check raised me on an AA5 flop, which left me with an interesting decision whether to smooth call or reship. I decided to call on the grounds that if he had air he might ship the turn and if he had a worse ace he might find a fold to a flop ship but call a ship on the turn or river if I showed some apparent uncertainty on the flop. When I called his discomfort was clear and when he checked the turn blank I was 99% certain he had a worse ace. After a little thought I decided now was the time to stick the rest in and he made a crying "I have to call" with A7o. Talking through the hand with him later he confirmed he would have folded to a flop reship, so I was very happy with my thought processes during the hand.

With 14 left I was chipleader with almost 20% of the chips. That kind of position is nice but somewhat illusory in these fast structured tournaments where just about everyone is in ship or fold mode with the average stack 10 bigs and the chipleader only a little more than 20. Lose a couple of pots at this point and you can go from chipleader to out, which is precisely what happened. First I lost a race with ace queen v sevens, and then I shipped KQs into the big blinds AQ to reiterate the recurring theme of the weekend. Obviously disappointing to go out in 10th but the hands play themselves at that point and the cards ultimately decide.

So not a profitable weekend. The fact that I went deep in the main event actually ended up costing me money. I qualified too late to be able to snag a cheap flight back on Sunday, so I pessimistically booked for Saturday, so my survival necessitated missing that flight and booking a Monday morning one and a last minute hotel, both at ripoff prices. Going deepish in the other two events also prevented me from grinding back some of the weekend's outlay on the cash table (though it didn't stop me from putting in a few hours online each night - and the weekend finished as it started with me in the airport playing on Stars). None of the others lads cashed in anything either, and at least one managed to spunk off a few grand on the gaming tables. The lack of a novelty tournament in the programme probably doomed Nicky's campaigh from the outset. I think he's hoping for a 2-7 Badugi Limit event in clown costume in Luton.

Nevertheless an enjoyable one. The Irish lads were all good craic and there was much quality banter and moments of lightness. And in the end, isn't that more important than mere money. (Of course not, but still).

It has to be said though that the tour's numbers are clearly dwindling. Only 42 started day 1A, and day 1B dribbled us barely past the 150 mark overall. Blue Square don't seem to be putting the same degree of effort in and there seems to be less local value than last year. The tournament didn't exactly run smoothly either. Maybe we're spoiled in Ireland with good organisers, directors and dealers, but some of the organisation and dealing was shocking. Exempt from this criticism is the lovely Deena who was a rare island of competence, but to be perfectly honest some of the dealers were shocking. Apart from the fact that most of them seemed unable to do the basics like count chips, one incident illustrates the often slipshod way of things in GUKPTs. During a table move, a guy came and sat in the wrong seat. Whether this was by accident or design (it's hard to imagine how one confuses seat 9 with seat 5, and seat 5 was due to be big blind, a fact that may have proved unpalatable for his tiny stack), the fact is the dealer never asked him for the seat ticket, so he was allowed to sit in the wrong seat. This moved me in seat 6 into the big blind, and when I said "Surely someone is coming in in seat 5", I was ignored. Eventually, someone did turn up, not for seat 5 but for seat 9, and the error was discovered. However, by this time, the erroneously seated gentleman in seat 9 had raised, so the ruling was that since action had taken place, he had to stay in that seat, and the other guy came in to seat 5. Seat 9 profited further from the mixup by proceeding to double up with ace king in the hand.

It also has to be said a lot of the English recreational players are either clueless or just lacking in basic poker etiquette. There were several incidences not only of onlookers actively chanting for the card their friends needed (or didn't need) and jeering fallen opponents, but actually coaching in mid hand (stuff like "You have to ship now"). Of course you see some bad behaviour along these lines in Ireland too and indeed everywhere, but it does seem more prevalent in England.


Ah now Dara, you know I was only joking ... admit it, you just didnt REMEMBER my name ;-) Hope you run better at Luton, and me too lol

Damn, busted Dave :)

See you in Luton mate.

you wont be so dismissive of my novelty event acumen when I win the media event tripledraw hilo aceydeucey in the rio this year. You bloody backdooor gutshot merchent :-)

Hey, there was nothing backdoor about that gutshot, I flopped it! Monster draw it was: gutshot, backdoor flush, and two backdoor set draws.

Still one of my all time career highlights the look on your face when you saw my actual hand :)


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