Thursday, February 17, 2011

Professional bumhunter

One of my friends and colleagues, Jono Crute, recently described what we do as professional bumhunting. Sitting down with the best might do wonders for the ego, but is a potentially disastrous bankroll management strategy. In any zero sum game, the profit of the winners has to come from the vaults of losers, and online poker isn't even a zero sum game. The sites will always take the lion's share of the bum money. Staying ahead of the rake, the reg and variance means making decisions on which sites, times and individual games to play based entirely on the whims of the bum. In this game, the bum pays the piper, and therefore calls the shot. The bum is king.

Online satellites are always great bum magnets as you get a lot of live players trying to qualify for the target event who don't adjust very well to online. One recent example is enough to illustrate this point: eight left in an Estrellas Malaga satellite on Stars with 7 packages. One guy has let himself get too short, 10k, 6 bbs. Everyone else has at least 40k so logic suggests that the table will wait til he makes his move, then everyone behind will call and check it down. Well , that's what should happen. What did happen was 3rd in chips playing 70k opened for 4x, and the chipleader playing 120k shoved from the sb. Aces is a fold here now but our Spanish friend was made of sterner stuff: he snapped with eights, lost to the chippy's queens, literally burning €1700. (It would have been funnier if he did have aces though as the queens flopped a set).

Irish Open qualification: remembering how it's done

In the last week since the deepstack, I've been a little lazy playing mainly online sats. In that time, I've scooped four Malagas, a few Nottingham UKIPTs and a couple of Manchester UKIPTs. I also finally nailed down my IO package. I say finally cos it took me a lot longer this year: at least 10 attempts I think. I was starting to think I'd lost my touch and just before playing Tuesday's rebuy on PP I came across an old strategy piece I wrote on supersats three years ago when I was still very much in nappies as a player. The piece reminded me of some things I'd managed to forget and I realised I was playing these too aggro early doors and making too many big rash moves late on rather than smallball coasting across the line like I used to. So I went back to basics for the Tuesday rebuy and a few hours later qualification was in the bag. Also, fair play to Evan Frisby of PP who automatically credited me with the cash for the hotel as he remembered I always ask to this. PP's flexibility on this matter is in stark contrast to another site I won't mention (Stars).

Friends and enemies
Speaking of the deepstack, I played a couple of sides to no great effect. I had my fingers crossed for my friend Feargal Nealon who amassed a gigantic stack that would be well above average at the bubble long before the bubble on day 2. Unfortunately this wasn't to be his day. He asked me for my opinion on the hand that did the damage and I gave it to him the next day, as he mentioned on his blog. I generally don't hold my punches when a friend asks for my opinion, enemies are a different matter (let them go on thinking everything they do is brilliant), but I don't think it's bad per se given his read, just unnecessarily risky when he was hoovering up soft chips without big risks. Feargal's a lot more fearless than me though in those spots and it's really a question of style more than anything else. Some day all his moves will be well timed, he'll win the big flip, and romp home.

Another friend, the indomitable seemingly unstoppable Sean Prendiville, went deep (std) but ultimately went out just before the final table (atypical). Sean's an amazing finisher so it came as something of a shock that he didn't close the deal here but his record of going deep in these 1000 plus runner fields is unparallelled in the country.

Nits in Notts
On Friday morning, I flew over to Nottingham for the UKIPT. I bumped into Nicholas Newport, Chris Dowling and Mark Smyth and we shared a cab from the airport. There were a few other Irish on the plane: including 3x master Ciaran Cooney, Marc McDonnell and Nick Heather.

I was a little apprehensive about a long day of live poker after a sleepless night, but it was actually a fun day 1A for me. Got a lot of early chips from guy to my immediate left who was hilarious. First hand we played set the tone: I raised A7o in lp, he flats button, flop comes JT7, I decide not to cbet and it goes ch ch, turns a 2 so I make a smallish bet which he calls, rivers another 2 and it goes ch ch. I have his 75o outkicked. When he sees my hand he goes on tilt. "You raised with that shite?" I pointed out he'd called with 75o. "Yes, but I only called. You raised!" No arguing with that and the Brucey bonus was now every time I put a chip in a pot, he called atc. Also helped he was a monumental tellbox to the point I always knew his cards before showdown.

I chipped up steadily through the day using a smallball strategy. I deliberately avoided probable races for decent chunks of my stack, I even folded AK twice pre which you'd rarely if ever see me do online, and shied away from high variance moves like light 4 and 5 bets as the field was so soft it was possible to chip up steadily without showdowns. The value in the field is illustrated by one of the last hands of the night. A loose goose who had already spewed off 75% of a 200K stack he somehow luckboxed limped utg, good Dutch internet kid flats, good Scandi internet kid flats, and I get a free ride in BB with K8o. Flop K97 with two hearts, Dutch kid 75% pots it, Scandi calls, I get out, goose calls. Turn is Jh, check, check, Scandi pots it, goose shoves, Dutch kid reshoves, Scandi snaps. I'm wondering what the three big hands are. Dutch kid, Th8h, made straight and open ended straight flush draw, fine. Scandi nut flush, yup. What does the goose have? Pair of fours!

Afterwards, I stayed on drinking with the Irish contingent that included Chris, Mark, Peter Barable and the Mcleans, and we were joined by my Scottish mate Dave for a while. I don't normally drink during events but had the next day off so I decided to let my hair down for once.

I'm not very good at chilling but I'm willing to try
The following day I just chilled out in the hotel with a non poker friend based in Leicester these days who came to see me for the day. I was struggling with a head cold (I still am) so a day off with good company was just what the doctor ordered.

The plainclothes detective strikes again
I came back for day 2 feeling confident with just over average. I had breakfast in the hotel with Larry Ryan and even though there were almost 100 to go before the bubble, he predicted it would burst within three hours. In the event it took only two. I was pretty card and spot dead in that time except for one hand (kings on the button, called by the BB and I got two streets of value on a jack high board) and basically treading water. That continued after the bubble and my 60K was just 20 bbs and M 8.5 when I decided to reshove the plainclothes detective (KJs) from the blinds. Unfortunately I was called by AK. I had a flush draw and a gutter after the turn but the river bricked.

When bumhunting turns bad
I jumped straight into the High Roller which was definitely a mistake. Talking to one of the English lads before, he pointed to the bar area where a bunch of mad looking yokes were playing a turbo sat to the game and said "that's where the value is coming from". They did indeed look like the kind of mentalists who'd be getting 400 bigs at level one with KJ on a jack high flop, but because of a scheduling error the supersat was still running when the high roller kicked off. To make matters worse, when it did finally end, they roped the 9 qualifiers off at the one table. Meanwhile, I'm at a table that includes Max Silver, Jake Cody and James Mitchell struggling to spot the value and remembering Doyle Brunson's truism that if you can't spot the value you're it. I was pretty card dead til my exit, which saw me raising AK from the small blind with 20 bigs. I raised rather than shoved to induce a shove from a hand that I dominate and got what I wanted until my opponent's A9 binked a 9 on the river. The positive was I got to play against a bunch of really top class players and see some great poker, but that's not a good reason to fork out two grand to play an event where your edge if it even exists is miniscule so I don't see myself playing any more of these at future UKIPTs (unless there are more satellite qualifiers). Highlight was one of the sickest calls I've ever seen. A pensioner with about 100K arrived at the table. I initially assumed he was a rock hitting hands or catching fools trying to bluff him, but that read was quickly challenged by the fact that he was in every hand. When he bet he overbet the bollocks out of it, with the nuts whenever it was showed down. Then Jake Cody (who it must be said wouldn't look out of place in the Stars Wars universe) raised in the cutoff, the old lad flats on the button, and the two blinds come along. Jake cbet a 996 flop, called by the pensioner. The pensioner ceized the initiative when Jake checked the 4 turn. A third nine appeared on the river and after Jake checked again, the OAP thought about it for not very long and then massive overbet shoved. Jake looked like he'd been light sabered, then started laughing. He giggled to himself for a while, every so often looking at the old guy. After tanking for a few minutes he called with a shrug and showed ace 5 for ace high. The old lad had 23 for the nut low.

At the dinner break in the High Roller, I was chatting with Owen Robinson. Obviously I know of Owen but had never really been chatting to him before. I was very impressed by his attitude towards the game and his obvious knowledge. I'm pretty sure we're going to see a changing of the guard at the top of Irish poker pretty soon with Owen and other young guns more attuned to recent developments in the game and with a more disciplined approach to it coming to the fore. Owen told me about one lucky soul who galloped up to 60K in the early going, then got moved to the table with all the satellite qualifiers. That folks is running good!

I Heart England
Plan on Monday was to take it easy and play online, but I got roped into a sit n go Liam Flood put on with most of the Irish contingent, honorary Irishman Neil Channing, and an English kid who clearly had us down as value. He was obviously a shark as he played perfect sit n go strategy (and ended up winning). I walked back into Nottingham and traipsed around for a while looking for an I Heart England t shirt (I made the mistake of asking my daughter what she wanted and she nominated this: it may have been a level but no Irish daddy in his right mind would say no to his only daughter no matter what his suspicions are). I played a bit online and binked another Manchester seat. Meanwhile, Chris Dowling was getting horribly unlucky on the final table of the main event. I said to another player recently that I think Chris is possibly the most underrated tournament player in Ireland. His results speak for themselves: he is remarkably consistent in going deep in these large runner fields. His style is a little unorthodox at times but that makes his all the more difficult to play against.

Also well done to Peter Barable who took down the charity side event playing like, in his words, "a tramp". It can only be good for Irish poker to see more Irish travelling to UK events and getting results.

I met Chris in the airport the morning after and he was admirably philosophical about his sick exit. There's never any point dwelling too long on sick beats or what might have beens in this game.

Forthcoming attractions...
Next up for me is this year's Irish Poker Rankings final. I think Irish Poker TV is covering it. A few friends got on me to win at 14 to 1 on Boyles so that's an added incentive for me to go in all guns blazing for the win.

After that, the plan is to concentrate on online until mid March when I'll have the Manchester UKIPT, the Lisbon EMOPS and Estrellas Malaga in rapid succession. Lisbon clashes with the EPT Snowfest so I won't be playing that this year. At this stage it's looking likely that San Remo will be my only EPT before Vegas.



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