I generally don't enter any tournament these days with a preset strategy but this time I had. I knew there would be plenty dead chips in this one and with a 90 minute clock for day two my strategy was simple; get to day two with a stack anywhere near the average. I figured I could achieve my goal by just playing small pots and playing very tight and thats what I did.
My first table had a mix of player standards with one particularly bad player. I got away from a few big hands cheaply getting AA busted and losing the minimum with 108 on an A88 flop. Table two saw me hit a 7810 flop holding 77 but the turn 8 and river 10 meant I lost a few here. I did pick up a nice pot from Damo Kavanagh after he limped the button with QQ and I turned a wheel. My third table of the day was aggressive enough and had Micheal Trinby and Shane aka Phantom lord from boards on it. I just coasted to the end of the day playing tight ABC stuff winding up with a 45,000 stack which was just ahead of the average with 77 of the 188 starters left in.
There was a redraw for day two and I was happy to see the table loaded with chips, there was over twice the average for a table on this one which meant a real chance of getting a final table stack. Rob Taylor seated on my direct left wasn't the best seat draw but from experience playing with Rob we don't get to involved with each other that much as we generally know there's easier chips to be had at most tables. The biggest pot I played here was against a lad from Dundalk where I raise AQ got two callers- bet the flop A J X, and was raised from the button. I was about to give it up as I wasn't ahead of a whole lot but decided to have a look at him and he looked very weak. When i saw his jaw drop when I stated " you know I'm holding AK here " I was convinced I was looking at AQ or A10 so went with it and re raised enough to cover his stack which took the pot.
You see some odd things at the tables but what happened soon after was unprecedented for me. Mick Muldoon was nursing a shortstack and playing like a rock which in itself is odd. He gets a walk in the bigbling and turns AA. It's still the topic of conversation when the dealer is shuffling the cards on Micks bigbling on the next orbit. I comment wouldn't it be really funny if he got another walk and had AA again. Amazingly its folded to him again; having not looked at his hand he turns the first card an A and sure enough the second matched it; sick stuff.
By the Dinner break were down to four tables. The dinner break itself caused a few problems. It was a finger buffet but the food was impossible to get at with what looked like the Munster front row blocking the grub. Time to think outside the box, I know Johnney Weaffer is very positionally aware at dinner time and was probably camped outside the kitchen for a while waiting for the grub to show so i decided to look for him. Sure enough I spotted him towards the end of the room with half the cocktail sausages in play and a nice stack of mini pizzas.
Back after the munch I was playing about 60k which was about 55% of the average at this stage but 45 big blinds which is testament to how good the structure was. My next table was the last one and had an changing lineup for the six hours or so I played on it. Some of the noticeables included Paul Smallwood, Emmett Gough, Stephen Murphy, Damien Kavanagh, Dara O’Kearney, Phil Baker and BigMick from boards. With three tables left I limp the button with KJ and four take a flop of Jc 9c 6x . Folded to me and I bet 6k and Bigmick is the only caller in the cutoff, turn is a non club three and I bet 13k after Mick checked; he moves in for a total of 30k and I'm never folding for 17k with 70 in the middle. Luckily enough his Ac3c misses.
The bubble is bust when Phil Baker negotiates payment for the 19th player. This was good business on Phil's behalf as I cooler him shortly afterwards with AQ on a Q33 flop Vs his KQ. I peak for the tournament at about 260k around this time but that was as good as it got. I hit a really bad run of cards and the guy on my direct left was snapping off a lot of my raises. He was very unorthodox opening pots for 25k with the blinds 2k4k and such. My stack dropped to about 150k through having raises snapped off and calling a few raises with small/mid pairs set mining. This is usually not an option at this stage of a tournament and I could of played those pairs a bit more aggressively but the way the table was playing and with so many bigblinds I felt that fit or fold the flop was my best option; probably a bit weak I know.
We played 11 handed for about 90 minutes I think and I was so dead I was just waiting for one player to go and get back to the final table the next day. It was twelve hours into the day and I was having trouble with the table dynamic. Four of the six players played together all the time which lead to some play that you usually wouldn't see at this stage of a tournament like this and I was finding it hard to get to grips with TBH. I then pick up KK on the button and pick up the blinds :-(, it was the third time I had KK over the day with no action. The next orbit I get AKos in the cut off and the guy who I felt was overly aggro towards me re pops I figure my AK is huge against his range and cant get all my chips into the pot fast enough, but his KK holds and I'm out in 11th for €1750. Disappointing as I was eyeing up the €40k first prize as a good fund for Vegas.
Ultimately another good showing but missing out on the real cash. This has been the story for me since last years Irish open. I was going through my results since then and in 12 tournament of a €500+ buyin with > 100 runners I have finished 10th/545 11th/188 12th/288 and 13th/136. This looks like the record of someone just getting into the money short stacked but in fact in all those tournaments with 16 players remaining I had well above average stacks. I firmly of the opinion these days all you can do is keep putting yourself in position to run well in the latter stages. The long run is so long in live mtts that while you can have an advantage because of your skill the main factor is running good late. If you can get deep more then others then that's the secret as eventually things will run your way. Ironically I played a small 44 player game in the local club on wednesday night, get an average stack with 16 left and run like god to the finish.
Finally well done to all that cashed esp Paul, Shane, Emmet and Dara, I met some great people over the weekend and cant say enough good things about the organisation of the festival and the staff; well done to JP and all involved.