Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Irish Open

Irish Open Review

The Prelude

Last gasp success gets me the ticket. League final in blazinaces 2 tickets up for grabs with four left a deal is struck seeing me and the Fox taking the tickets. 12.5% each of me for Jasper and Butch (Butch is my dad). That was my third attempt at a ticket and had gotten very close in the previous two attempts. If I hadn’t won Monday I would of played anyway.

My Form

On the worst run since I have taken up the game. Now I had three consecutive losing live tournaments months. To put this in context I had one losing month in the previous 20, it wasn’t a lot I was down 2k over the three months. Also I had just come off my first non profit month online since I started playing online properly last June

So you’d think I was entering the event in the worst form of my poker life but this was not the case. Anyone who I speak to or play regularly (also touched on it in a number of posts) knows that over the last six months I have totally changed my game and as with any transition period, changing a golf swing for instance the results are not very often immediate. Anyhow I felt I was playing decent poker and was due to turn a corner.

Day 1 (grinding)

Myself Danny and Caoimh headed up on Thursday, Dublin is about a two-hour journey but anybody who has travelled with Danny driving knows it takes about four with him and he didn’t disappoint as we reached the Burlington after 4.5 hours in his car. Anyhow straight to the bar where there was a great buzz around. The tournament was full and the word was that tickets were going for 6k. I decide mines for sale but thankfully this never happens. So it’s off to bed for an early night well early the next morning that is.

You know it’s a big event when you see players like Dan Harrington Antonio Esfandiari Mike Sexton Devilfish, Andy Black, Ram and Phil Laak swaning around the place. Anyhow got to my table very badly hungover. Now many will think this is a bad thing but in fact it was a deliberate strategy, as I know I play well in this state and I’m inclined to play basic enough poker and not get myself into dangerous situations or over think myself. My only aim on day one was to get to day two as I had gone out on day one in the last three-multi day events I played.

I knew most of the players on my starting table, which included Eoghan O'dea Ken Corkery and Joe O'Neill. It was a good table with most people playing a tag game so it was easy to know where your were and no one really running over the table. I was lucky enough to get an allin pre flop situation with Joe with KK vs. his QQ about half was through the day and that was the only memorable hand of the day. Up to that point my stack never went below 9k or over 12k. I had 19k after the hand and ended the day on 21,400. Amazingly only 239 of the 708 starters remained.

Day two (wehee I’m on TV)

Got up to about 30k after a couple of hours of play by snapping off a few of raises and look down at AA in early position put in the standard 3.5k raise and Mick MaCulsky makes it 20k from the button I push for the rest and get a double through as his pot committed AQ is no good.

Shortly after this Karl asked me if I would play on the feature table and I said fine. I had won a televised tournament before but it was on sky 421 channel and about three people saw it. This was a bit different going out on national TV that night. I remember Robin Lacy who had been playing very well commenting something like would I be worried as there would be a lot of big names on the table but TBH I want to be playing the bigger names and here was a chance.

When I got to the table the only “name’s I knew were Alan Betson (whom I had backed to win the tournament) Carlos Citroen and Thor Hanson who didn’t last long as I knocked him out the first hand I played at the table. Blinds were 1500/3000 UTG make’s it nine and Hanson pushes for his last 24k I wake up on the button with JJ and just push, UTG folds Hanson’s 66 don’t hit. I think I win the next three hands I played and got the 54k I sat down on the table with to approx 125k before it broke after about 90mins.

It was a good experience to play the table at this stage in the tournament, as any nerves I had about it were gone when I got back on it later in the tournament. To be honest I was second-guessing myself about having my game under such scrutiny but two people I spoke to cleared any worries. I had mucked A10 and 88 UTG but never put the cards on the glass to show the cameras. I told this to Mike Lacy who put me right, as they would be showing very few hands from what they were taping. Also the next morning Padriag Parkinson whom had been in the commentary box while I was on the table told me that he felt I gave a great performance and was like a duck to water in front of the camera, which made me feel good

Anyhow when the table broke we were heading for the bubble with around 80 players left and 71 paid, the bubble bust in no time.

I lost a few chips in a top two verses set scenario and then went card dead for about 90 minutes. I was looking for a hand as I was down to about 50k with the blinds 3k/6k and ended up with all my chips in the middle with QK Vs KA but two queens on the flop saved me. It was the only time in the tournament that I got my chips into the middle behind and feel that the tournament owed me that one after going out to a two outer river for a huge pot last year when the money went in on the turn. Play ended soon after with 41 players left and me with 91k in 30th position

Day three (whose afraid of De Wolfe)

Got the start I needed when after an hour I found AA and got them in pre-flop Vs 88, which got me to about 150k. Then Roland De Wolfe is moved directly to my right there were about 32 players and we were heading for 14k payday at 29 players. He starts talking about how 10k is a lot of money asks me what I do and is this a lot of money to me. I copped straight away what he is at. I tell him I do some part-time teaching and that 10k is a huge amount for me as I won my entry in a free-roll but 14k would be unreal as I could change the car and have a holiday. Three times in the next three orbits I came over the top of his bets. Each time he says you must have a big hand I tell him a monster I'm not risking that 4k without the goods.

The hand that has received a huge amount of attention is the one where I ended up with my chips in the middle with no cards. It popped up in a number of magazine articles and many sites. I have seen a number of versions a couple even suggesting that I knew that I had no cards when I pushed which is total rubbish.

Well the way it happened is he raised 36k in seat 3 from UTG and I pushed from seat 4 for 140k I had 7 rows of 20 1k chips lined up laterally in front of me the chips never entered the centre. I put my cards to the left of my stack and when the dealer was sweeping in the other player's cards he leaned across and took mine as well. I just leaned in and covered the area where the cards were. De Wolfe was staring me down for a good three minutes before he folded.When the hand was over I let out a sigh of relief and said to the dealer ffs watch what your doing but ultimately no blame could be placed on the dealer here its 100% my responsibility to protect my cards. Expect me to use a card protector in future.

Soon enough were down to three tables and I’m boxing around the 200k mark when I raise with AQos in early position and the BB calls. The flop is Axx and the BB comes out betting, I push and he calls with AJ. I’m now above the average for the first time in the game and have some room to play. I work it up to about 700k with 13 players left. Its getting harder and harder to pick my spots and the cards totally dry up. I’m basically just playing to protect my stack and hoping for a real hand, which doesn’t come.

We hit the final table of nine and then move to the TV table, which accommodates eight pretty quick. I’m now guaranteed 50k and when we lose a player that becomes 75k. I comment to eventual winner Marty Smyth that that’s the easiest €25000 I ever made when the player goes. It was dragging on now and my stack was dwindling Sorrel Mizzi and De Wolfe had the lead and both being ultra aggressive it was becoming impossible to pick a spot and I was totally card dead. I was down to about 370k with the blind’s were 15/30k with a 3k ante when Mizze raises my BB 111k. I figure that A7 off is pretty good against his range and push, he calls with QKos and I double up.

Play ended about an hour later and in the meantime De Wolfe had gone into freefall dropping from well over a million to 320k. Many people commented after the tournament how lucky he had been. The guy did have his fair share but he is a real player who plays a high-risk game. However I feel the biggest piece of luck he had was the technical difficulties at 2.45 AM on Sunday night that stopped play. The Fox (yes the same one who had won the other ticket in the league final in the local club the previous Monday) had just shown him a bluff in a hand where he had put 120k in the pot. I think he was expecting us to be frightened to get our chips in with 25k jumps in the money and was really shocked to see us making moves on him and giving him lots of verbal to boot. I know when someone is spent at a table and he was delighted to get out of there that night. When play ended I had 864k and was third in chips behind Mizzi who had over 2.8million I think..

Not To be
Was feeling pretty good before play started. Half Waterford Had made the journey up so there was plenty of support for the fox and me. But got off to the worst possible start doubling De Wolfe up when he pushed over my A9 button raise from the BB with AJ. Got back in it with a double through Mizzi but again wasn’t seeing a card.

When we were down to six just before I went out Dave O' Call had told me De Wolfe used to be a regular in the crypto sixpacs where I play. I told him he was entering my domain as this is just a sixpac now and this is where I make my living. He just looked at me funnily and said "your not a teacher then" I told him not to believe every thing he was told on a poker table. This was probably a mistake as he called my button 22 push fairly light with A4 shortly after.


Having had over a month to reflect on the tournament I have mixed feelings. My profile has increased no end. I’ve seen pieces on the no card hand in four magazines as well as a number of Internet sites. The prize is a huge bankroll boost and I’m going to Vegas very comfortable. However, I can’t help feeling that It’s a huge opportunity missed. Had I won I would of played all the EPT and a few WPT events over the next two years and had a real stab making at the top level as it is I feel I’m still grinding. But a final table finish in another tournament in early July would sort that.

Having had a good look at the media surrounding the event, two pieces made me feel very good. The round of applause I got when I went out (youtube link below) and this piece from an article on the challenge web site.

“The sixth place finisher Nicky Power was one who stole the heart of the Irish crowd. A lovely fellow, he truly was the fan favourite here today and his elimination was met with a mixture of gasps followed by a heart-warming round of applause. His departure came at the hands of his old sparring partner de Wolfe”