By the time Saturday came around I was very excited about playing the Winter Festival. I had played very little in the previous week and the whole week seemed to drag with my focus totally on the weekends game. Decided to go to city west on Saturday morning rather then the Friday for hangover avoidance reasons. It's very hard not to get caught up in the pre festival festivities in these events so I decided Saturday was my best option. Got there about 12.30 quiet relaxed as I left the driving to Pat. The room was set up exactly as it was for the Irish open earlier in the year and with a great turnout of over 420 runners there was a real top level tournament atmosphere in the main hall.
The very first hand of the tournament I lost over 30% of my starting stack when I turned the nut flush but lost to a rivered house when the board paired. I lost another decent size pot shortly afterwards when I called two bets with an over-pair and folded on the river. So I was down to half my stack in level one. Level three saw me rally back above starting stack getting most of the chips back with a call holding AJ on a KKJXX board against an aggressive Swedish player. It looked a good call but the way the hand played out it was obvious he was bluffing a missed draw.
Got up to about 14k playing small pots but then lost 4k when I folded queens on a dry jack high board. I think this was an easy enough fold, the guy flatted pre led the flop and check shoved the turn, I thought he had AA or KK at the time and he confirmed later he had AA. The next hand of any note was against Rooney_dives and he posted in the strategy forum on boards here, I definitely didn't get full value from my hand and I don't like my bet sizing much mainly due to a mistake I made on chip denominations. I also wouldn't have Dan on a small range here as raising under the gun light is fairly fashionable with stars tournament players so I didn't want to lose him if he held lesser holdings then he actually did.
I don't remember any interesting spots for the rest of day one. Dave Masters was moved to my immediate left and while I don't mind playing against Dave I was happy to see him go as he is a player you certainly don't want having direct position on you. He was however replaced by big Mick who is another excellent player so I had to be selective enough with my raising for the rest of the day.
I came back with 25500 which while well down the field was very playable at 400/800 blinds. Day two was to be one of the most memorable days of poker I ever played because I got my chips in bad so many times and ended up winning pots it was unbelievable. I was to record four major suck outs over the day. Now to put this in context over the last three years of playing these big events in Ireland I honestly only remember two hands where I won important pots from behind. The first was against Derek Murry at the final table of the Macau winter festival in Dec 05 when I four flushed him after getting it in bad on the flop and the second was last years Irish Open with QK v AK all in pre flop.
The day started quiet for the first two levels and I was playing a new table when I had my first all in of the day. A hijack raise and cutoff call of the 3100, I pick up 1010 in the bigblind and raise all in for about 22,000 and hold against the initial raisers AK. About an hour later after a table move I raise AJ on the button a Danish player re pops it from the small blind. I decided the AJ in a short corner against a scandi is good enough and push about another 35k in and win a pot for over 100k when I spike a jack on the flop against his AK. A10 no match for my A8
Table breaks shortly after this hand and I'm liking my new table; loaded with chips and minimal aggression. I'm playing about an hour on the table and on about 120k when I pick up KK in the BB and get a walk which was rather disappointing. When I picked them up again three hands later it was even more so as I got 100k of my chips in pre-flop verses aces. This hand leaves me with 20k, blinds are 1500/3000 and we are 11 places off the 40 to be paid. I'm looking to get my chips in fast and find that opportunity soon enough when I shove over the most aggro player at the tables mid-position raise with Ad8d. He tables A10 and I hit an 8 on the flop and nuts flush by the river. Shortly after this I push 40k 99 under the gun and the same player finds aces, I'm ready to leave the room four off the money when a beautiful nine hits the river.
I bust the bubble in embarrassing fashion
Soon after this were hand for hand and I raise from the cutoff into a short stacks bigbling to 12k and he pushes for his 30k. Now its 18k to call to win 67k and I've got 50k behind if i lose so I call and the following sickness occurs. My opponent has AA and I call for an aces on the flop which the dealer delivers with a 3 and 5; when the turn 4 arrives I go a bit blank and think I'm drawing to a 2 for a chopped pot. The river 6 leaves me unmoved until the room erupts and I realise I've put the sickest of beats on the poor guy to bubble him.
Looking around the room with 45 players left there was some real quality name players left; by the time we reached three tables we had lost most of them and I wasn't that disappointed seeing Mick Muldoon, Rob Sherwood, Karl Mahrenholz, James Akenhead and Andy Black leaving the building.
I was loving my table and had my chips up to 170k when I got moved just into the last level of the day. My new table was much more aggro and I didn't see a hand until the last ten minutes of of the days play when I picked up QQ. The excellent Warren Woodall whom I have played with on two tables raised UTG to 25k I raise to 75k and the small blind whom hasn't played a hand sinced I've arrived tanks. After about five minutes he goes all in for about 90k and I hold up against pocket nines. Warren tells me he folded AK and was calling if the small blind folds. I guess I got very lucky again here as there was a king on the flop. This was the last action I saw on my luckiest days poker ever.
22 runners returning with the blinds at 5k/10k an average of 19 big blinds. I'm sitting on 264k 7th in chips and 15/2 to win the tournament with the sponsors betting in running market. I'm fairly experienced at reaching this stage of a tournament but looking at the structure going into the final day I felt it was down to running good as quiet simply even though I was above average there was no room for the smallest error. It was my view that the tournament was fine up until the 3k/6k level but after that I felt the play was gone.
I have been critical about the structures at the Irish Open the past couple of years and lobbied a bit on boards for new levels that have been added (three new levels have been added the last two years). Last week when the structure was posted for this event, I implored the organisers to include a 1200/2400 level and they showed there willingness to improve these games by introducing it. These events are not solely run by paddypower and there are people/forces whom are less receptive to chance that need to be convinced that giving more play will improve the quality of the event. I thought the clock should of been brought back a level going into Sunday or for future events a 2500/5000 level introduced.
The fact that the field went from 22 players to a final nine in a little over 90 minutes is proof that the structure just wasnt good enough. As for the 70 minutes I lasted on Sunday, well it was a total non event for me. I received a walk on my first bigblind which was nice. I raised twice with k8os and Q10s and folded to a three bet each time. I was down to 134k without seeing anything resembling a hand and with each round of the table costing 25k I shoved my 12 blinds with 77 and lost a race verses AQos.
It was the least dissapointed I have ever been getting knocked out on day three of an event. Probably because of all the luck I had on Sunday I felt that I didn't really deserve this one. Also on Monday there was absolutely nothing I could of done with the muck I was dealt. The tournament itself was run excellently and had the highest standard of dealing and running of a floor of any event I've played.
It's another deep run In the Brucepoker shirt. The following is bragging so turn off now but its my blog and I'll brag if I want :-) I probably deserve two years bad luck for this. Looking back at my results since April 07 there have been 11 major tournaments in the country. I consider a major event to be €500 with greater then 200 runners and €1000 greater then 100 runners excluding side events. Of these 11 I didn't play the EPT Dublin last year or the GJP this year- of the remaining nine I've reached the last two tables in six of them. To find this level of consistency is extremely pleasing as I feel the edge in tournament poker is about putting yourself in position to win more often then others.
I'd like to thank my sponsors Brucepoker.com and I will be sporting my now lucky Brucepoker shirt at three events before the year is out. The last week in Nov and the first week in Dec I'm playing the grand finals of the GUKPT and the Gala tour in England. But first and more importantly theres the Brucepoker launch festival at the Greenisle hotel 14th-16th of November, this will be an excellent weekends poker and if you haven't already registered do so now as its gonna sell out. To finish I wanna give a shout out to Knuckles who took a bit of a detour on his drive home to Cork to drop me home on Tuesday, much app.