Thursday, September 1, 2011

Tanks and minis

After a week of largely treading water online, it was good to get out of the house. I opted for day 1B of the Unibet Open so that I could play my favourite monthly game, the Fitz end of month. As I walked in, I ran into a few other lads who had made the same decision. They were worrying about how late it might run, but I pointed out that if you were there at the end, the ten grand richer you'd be would more than compensate for any tiredness in Citywest. Worst case scenario though would be to bust on the bubble at about 4 in the morning. Needless to say, this is exactly what happened.

I was short throughout most of it (watching from a cash table after he busted in classic Lappin fashion - 35 bigs all in pre with 5 high, I heard Lappin only half-jokingly tell someone "Doke spends almost his entire life between a third and half the average") before going on a rush two tables out to move close to the chiplead. I then lost a massive threeway flip on the bubble. Holding AK, I initially outdrew Marc Brody's tens who barely covered me when a king appeared atop the flop. The dealer spread the flop to reveal a ten lurking beneath to more or less kill me. The shortie's AJ pulled ahead when a queen appeared on the turn, and the king of the river did nothing for me but housed up Marc's set of tens.

As I was standing up chatting to Lappin, there was a loud discussion going on among the Fitz regs remaining about my call with the AK, with Fitz stalwart and Irish poker rankings number one Stuey Samuels offering the opinion that it was a terrible call because of the bubble. Stuey gets through more bubbles than anyone else in the Fitz thanks to some very cautious play on the bubble (earlier, he opened AQ on the button for 4 big blinds and folded to my 16 big blind reshove with sevens from the small blind) so fair play to him, but I had no regrets about the manner of my exit as I was more interested in playing for the win and the 11k up top rather than locking up the 400 min cash. In an almost identical spot a few orbits earlier, Marc had tabled A7o, so AK is far too big against the range for me to even consider folding. My chips went to a good home for once as Marc who was clearly the best player left on the table in my view told me he went on to win when I ran into him in Citywest. He made a point of coming over to me at the table to tell me how impressed he had been by my play in the Fitz which was a very nice gesture.

Out in Citywest, there was a lot of talk about how only five Irish had played 1A, and only one (Daragh Davey) had made it through to day 2. Turnout was better on 1b (over 30 Irish played) but we were still outnumbered about 6 to 1 overall. I guess it's just the way things are right now: the number of Irish players willing or able to stump up a four figure buyin has dwindled so events in this price range including possibly even January's Dublin WPT will basically be poker tournaments in Ireland rather than Irish poker tournaments.

My tournament was similar to my Fitz EOM in that I was short until near the bubble. On day 1 I had the pleasure of playing with current Irish Open champion Niall Smyth for the first time, and he's a very impressive and pleasant table presence. Overnight it emerged that the only other person still in the IPB Last Longer was Other Dara (Daragh Davey) so we agreed to chop it (which means I've now chopped the last three IPB Last Longers I was involved in). We both had less than 20 big blinds so the last thing either of us needed was to have to think about a Last Longer before sticking the loot in. As it happened, Other Dara bust a few minutes into the day, while I doubled up. We got moved to the TV table where I was pretty card dead and had a very active neighbour to my left Jimmi Bastian. Jimmi had no qualms about three betting me any time I opened from mid to late position so I had little choice but to stop opening light for now.

By dinner time we were three from the bubble. Other Dara suggested we go to the restaurant round the corner rather than the one in the main body of the hotel where they were charging all non-Unibet qualifiers 12 euro for slop (and an extra 4 euro if you wanted dessert with your slop). This was a great suggestion as for not much more we actually got decent food. Roy the Boy Brindley was there on his own so he came over to chat and ask if I'd do some commentary if I busted soon. I'm always up for a bit of commentating so I agreed.

Just after dinner and still before the bubble, I was on the right side of a cooler. Kings on the button and two guys all in before it even got to me. They had queen and jacks and I held. I now had a well above average stack for the first time, but unfortunately it didn't last long.

The very aggro chipleader got moved onto my table, button to my big blind. We played a few pots and then the big one: he opened on the button, a shortie shoved 10 bbs from the small blind, and I found AQ in the big blind. Standard reshove as far as I'm concerned: AQ is way ahead of both ranges and I can't call without committing my stack so I might as well shove. Unfortunately the chipleader had a very nice hand this time: kings, and held. All in all a strange mixed feeling of disappointment and pride at another deep run as I was led away to collect my min cash which seemed particularly min given there was over 100 grand for first.

The Unibet girl came scampering over to make sure I didn't sulk off, and chaperoned me to the commentary box, where I passed a pleasant few hours with Roy the Boy. Roy told me afterwards he felt we worked well together because unlike some other commentators I wasn't fazed by the fact that he does his own thing and doesn't look at you when he's talking to you. I thought we made a pretty good team too, with contrasting styles approaches and opinions. Roy's a consummate pro when it comes to commentary.

The one big upside to Saturday exits live is it frees up Sunday for the Sunday (online) grind. I built a few stacks in the majors but unfortunately failed to convert to a final table, the closest being a second last table exit in the Party 200K. I've been struggling a little to find my A game online since Vegas and the 6 week layoff from online that it entailed. I feel it's very important to be honest with yourself about how you're playing and be ever vigilant for mistakes and areas to improve. I generally don't make many big mistakes (like nearly everyone else who multitables I make a lot of small ones) but since Vegas I've been slipping up on that front. For example, this week, 4 handed in the Bodog turbo deepstack, I was approximately level with 2 other stacks, and the other guy had twice as much. Button shoved for 9 bigs, the big stack flatted in the small blind, and instead of sticking my chips in with AQs, I folded, hoping the big stack had a monster and eliminated the other guy (the pay jump from 4th to 3rd was unusually significant). Of course they both had hands I dominated, A9 and KQ, and to make matters worse an ace flop and they flip flopped stacks instead of me eliminating one and crippling the other. Maybe my exit in a similar spot in the Unibet main was too fresh in my mind, but AQ is always a reship there. I paid the price being eliminated in 4th a short while later.

One area of the game that has given me most trouble online is my light 4 and 5 betting ranges and spots. I used to not do it enough: recently I've been doing it too much in bad spots. It varies from site to site: your ranges have to be very different somewhere like Stars or Party where there's a lot of it going on than some of the more sedate networks where there's almost no light 4 betting and 5 betting (on those sites, 4 betting light is very profitable, but 5 betting light is just burning money because the other guy always has a hand, always). So I've been putting a lot of thought and work recently into assessing the relevant variables such as opponent type, stack sizes, tournament situation (bubbles etc.), position, history, and game flow.

Anyway, I feel like I'm getting back to my A game online. I did at least bink another UKIPT satellite, and one for the IWF. The IWF satellite was a 20r which unfortunately only had one ticket. I say unfortunately because I got headsup with my friend DPablo on Boards and Ipoker, but no friends at the table as they say, especially when it's winner takes all. Final hand was basically a cooler given the way the headsup was playing out: I got it in dominating with AK against a worse ace. I played the headsup very aggro as I tend to so DPablo was justified in thinking any ace was pretty massive against me and just unlucky I had a bigger one (and held).

EDIT: I typed this blog up before last night's grind but didn't get to post it til now. At least my feeling that I was getting back to top form online was justified by the nights results: a string of final tables (three on Irish Eyes) and best of all a win in the Super Wednesday 30K guaranteed on Party for my first 5 figure online score since Vegas. Also, I had some quality rail, including EPT Player of the Year and all round German wunderkind legend Maximilian Heinzelmann, and Milly winner Danloulou (who deserves congrats for his final table at the weekend in the Microgaming 500k).

Finally, congrats to Alan McIntyre, the only Irish player to cash at the latest EPT. I've said before how much I admire and am impressed by Alan, not just in terms of his play but also his attitude and temperament. Study and technique are all very important, but there's no replacement for natural talent and temperament. Alan managed to cash despite being down to 4 big blinds at one point on day 2, a terrific grinding performance. It's not always about driving the big tank in this game: the great players know how to navigate a mini through a minefield when needed too.


Excellent blog entry Dara. some really good insights and an excellent read...


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