Tuesday, February 21, 2012

UKIPT Galway: another victory for the grinders

"Yeah but what's his biggest score?"

In poker, there's an eternal philosophical battle between two camps divided by their reaction to this question. On one side you have what I call the bink merchants, who judge a player purely by his biggest score or scores. On the other, the grinders, who prefer to measure success over statistically meaningful sample sizes of thousands of tournaments rather than the lucky strike.

After the recent IPPF which ended with two proper young online grinders facing each other and agreeing to chop, I wrote in my blog "The last few years have seen the online kids rise to dominate the international stage, and the next couple will see the same thing happen here in my opinion". UKIPT Galway continued that trend: winner Emmett Mullin is a proper online grinder who despite having a biggest P5's score of just over $20k has notched up lifetime online winnings (as tracked by PocketFives) of over $1 million.

Props also to defending champ Nick Abou Risk who mounted a Raymeresque defence of his crown all the way to the final table, and one of the most promising newcomers on the Irish scene John "jwillo" Willoughby who also final tabled. Nick's friend Max Silver also added a high roller crown to his main event crown.

My own UKIPT campaign ended rather miserably with an exact bubble in a side event. After seeing my stack almost disappear near the bubble when I shoved into aces, I'd recovered somewhat on the exact bubble only to lose a flip (queens v ace king). I then more or less replicated my live week on the Sunday grind online, building a few stacks only to see them combust near the bubble and ended up doing another couple of grand.

No point whining or moaning though: after 6 weeks mainly devoted to live poker, it's time to redress the balance and get back to clicking buttons for a living.

As I hung around Monday waiting for my train, I railed the final table for a short while. The one hand of note I witnessed saw Mully get two outered on the river after calling a check raise on the flop, betting the turn (and getting called), and checking behind on the river. I had to chuckle to myself when a cheer went up from the other player's rail as the pot was pushed towards their man, clearly unconcerned about the fact that at every point in the hand when chips went in, he was far behind, and then when he finally did hit a 20/1 shot on the river, not another chip went in. Mully took this temporary reverse without histrionics or even reaction and got on with the job of winning the war: as you'd expect from a man who has played millions of hands online and understands that poker is a game of luck in the short term, but skill in the long term.

Mully is one of the Omagh crew spear-headed by Steve "allinstevie" Devlin which features several top class online grinders and a great guy: when I switched from playing stts to mtts online he popped up a few times on the rail on some of my early Stars final tables to give me some advice on the regs which I greatly appreciated. So I was really thrilled to see him win. He's had a few deep runs and crossbars live before so it was great to see him get his just rewards this time. He has the talent and the dedication for this to be the first of many, but the great thing about being a grinder is that even if it doesn't happen, he'll still keep ticking along online on the way to his next million in lifetime winnings. In response to my tweet celebrating his victory, Mully replied, in his usual self deprecating manner, "thanks a million Dara, pretty unbelievable tbh, this ones for all us grinders out there".



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