Saturday, November 29, 2014

The bits flew far and wide

As Noddy Holder said (or screamed, and goes on doing so every year).....It's Christmas!!!! Well not quite, but it is the time of year the dying music industry tries to feed on old corpses by getting us to buy compilations, and the confectionery business (Big Sweets if you like) tries a new angle to get us all to give our kids diabetes in the form of selection boxes. And I warn you: this is something of a blog equivalent.

I've been letting the blogging slide recently owing mainly to time constraints and now have a backlog of trip reports I might get around to at some point, but before I do I have a few bits and pieces to say and plug. Firstly I was honoured to be an invited guest on the best poker podcast out there, Thinking Poker. Big thank to Andrew Brokos and Nate Meyviss for having me on, and Carl Mellor for suggesting me. I had a lot of fun chatting with the guys, and the best part was I listened to some old shows to see what I was letting myself in for and ended up hooked so I'm now working my way through the entire back catalogue. I was talking to Noel Keane in the Fitz about this who just discovered the podcast himself and is doing the same and we both agreed the strategy pieces in particular are top notch, well above the level of a lot of training site material you have to pay hefty subscription fees to access.

As the year winds to a close, I am looking at the prospect of finishing second in the Irish live rankings for a fourth time in my career. No real shame in that but it would nice to be a bride rather than a bridesmaid at least once! So I will be playing as many ranking events as I can by year end after I put myself within one decent result of Ivan at the top after my deep run at the Paddy Power Spooktacular. This was a really well structured 2 day event at Halloween in the Red Cow. I got through day 1 without too much major incident. After some fireworks early on day 2 after a couple of interesting hands versus Tim Farrelly, I found myself relatively short and by no means certain to break my duck of never cashing in a Paddy event. On the direct bubble, a shortish (12 big blinds or so) stack open shoved from under the gun. I looked down at jacks in the cutoff playing 15 big blinds and reshoved after very little thought, feeling jacks was definitely strong enough to go with in the spot even if towards the bottom of the range because of ICM bubble considerations. Tim Farrelly playing slightly more than me then went deep into the tank on the button. As soon as he started tanking, I figured he could only have one of two hands, queens or ace king, as any weaker hand was a clear fold and any stronger hand an easy call. So I sat there hoping he'd fold, which he eventually did with queens as it turned out. The hand sparked a lot of immediate inter Firm debate, with everyone thinking it was close but David and Daragh thinking it was a call. I felt it was a fold given that jacks is bottom of my range and the only hand queens is in tremendous shape against. When I got home to my poker laboratory (as I call it: actually more like a similar word with a v rather than a b in the middle), I ran the numbers through Holdem Resources Calculator, which concluded that the shover should be shoving 88+, AJo+, KQ (in game I didn't think he was shoving quite this wide because it was the bubble, but given the hand he had kq is at the bottom of that range, clearly he was), and I needed jacks plus or ace king (which in game was my precise range). Given those two ranges, Tim can only call profitably with kings or aces, so kudos to him for the fold. I suspect 90% of players would just call pretty quickly in that spot with a thought process that didn't get far beyond "A queen and another queen is a very strong hand, I call!" but Tim is a lot more thoughtful in his approach and even if he happens to be ahead of my hand (but only because I happen to be at the bottom of my range), it's a correct fold in the spot against my range.

Obviously in game I was pretty thrilled he did fold the queens, even more so when my jacks held. Shortly after I got moved to the feature table and played another big hand. Rather than describe it, you can watch it for yourself at

It starts at about 1 hours 35 minutes in. Halfway through the hand, I heard my Firm friend David Lappin (who was on livestream commentary with Phil Baker) announce that I always have trips or a house now. Not because I was listening to the livestream but because the commentators were a mere matter of metres away! Those of you who know Lappin will know he has the projection of a theatrical actor used to having to be heard in the back row even when whispering, so I could hear everything he was saying quite clearly. And hoping my opponent in the hand couldn't.

In large part due to that hand, I went into the final table (which also included Firmy Nick Newport who ended up coming 5th) as chipleader (although the stacks were a lot flatter than you'd normally get at this stage, thanks in large part to the really good structure). Unfortunately I got dealt absolute garbage, and the few light spots I took ran into hands (or at least I got played back at). Including my exit when as 4/4 I shoved the very pretty T9s, and got looked up by the less pretty but still ahead A8o. Still, happy with the run and how I played overall. I played another Paddy event in Manchester (or Madchester) at the weekend. I wrote a full trip report on  one of the most fun events I've ever been at (kudos to the casino, and Clodagh Hansen and the rest of the Paddy Power staff) for Bluff Europe so I won't spoiler that beyond saying I got to play with Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi and Chino Rheem. My tussles with Chino late on day 1 being rendered more memorable by the arrival of the legendary Satnav (Michelle Gavigan) in a state of considerable drunkenness. Satnav launched straight into one of her favourite hobbies, abusing my hair. Said abuse included both a verbal and physical component. Always good to meet Michelle though, she is one of a kind. I actually got off light in comparison to one poor Lithuanian lad she started abusing over the colour of his trousers (pink, reportedly). Never seen a guy so scared! Also nice to see Paul Marrow who was trying to keep Satnav under control (no luck with that). The following day I somehow got into a chat with Parky as to who would win a fight between Paul and Satnav. We both wanted to bet on Satnav.

Highlight of the trip was the Aseefo Night Tour of Manchester given to me by my friend Asif Warris. More on that in the Bluff piece.

Finally, I want to plug an excellent piece written by my daughter on depression. Since I publicised it on my Twitter and elsewhere, a number of people have graciously taken the time to say how much they appreciated it. I'm proud of Fiona for a wide variety of reasons, including her writing skills.


Hi Dara, thanks for the mention! For anyone who hasn't already I highly recommend listening to Dara's excellent interview last week on the ThinkingPoker podcast. The only disappointing thing was that they didn't pick your brains on some strategy but I suspect it was a case of not actually getting around to it such was the interest they took in your life/poker story and your discussion about the Irish poker landscape. My guess is the two boys who clearly took to you within minutes, were probably already planning ahead for some strategy discussion in a future episode. Here's hoping they invite you back on again soon and we can hear the three of you pick apart a hand.

Thanks Noel, was a pleasure as ever to chat with you in the Fitz


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