England for the second week running for the Gala final. I was looking forward to the game all week and was hopeful of a good run as I had been told that there would be many mediocre players in this one. Derek and Jude were flying in from Galway Friday morning and myself and my Brucepoker.com boss, Paul Smallwood decided to ferry over Thursday night. Paul was doing the driving; his assurance that he was a great driver became very debatable after he drove down the busiest trough fare in Bristol at 3 am Friday morning while we were trying to locate the hotel on the wrong side of the road.
We met up with the Galway lads Friday morning and discussed best strategy's for relieving all these bad English players of there chips. Lol, what a joke that turned out to be. My starting table had Neill Channing to my right and Roland De Wolfe two to his right, two to my left was Roberto Romanello and next to him last weeks GUKPT winner Pab Foltyn. Channing commented " last year he played this event he didn't know eight players in the field, looking around now I'm struggling to find eight I don't know". Guess the only value in this one was the WOSP, Aussie Millions and EPT packages added by Gala for the first three finishers; a nice added incentive.
Second hand of the tournament I pick up QQ and get taken to value town by an elderly Asian lady's KK on every street. Down 3000 of my 15k starting stack in the first minute. The next four hours were a continuation of the previous weeks tournament; raises and continuation bets snapped off and no premium starting hands. I was however enjoying the game and still hopeful as we broke for dinner.
Shortly sfter a very nice if rather rushed Chinese I pick up 1010 in the bigblind. Theres 4 limpers and the small blind bumps it up to 2700. I'm thinking my 1010 might be in good shape here as the SB seemed to be thinking of making up the blind before making the raise. So I push and after a long dwell the SB calls with AQ. After winning the race I'm above starting stack and start playing a few more pots.
I really started getting into the game and enjoying the table over the next 90 minutes leading to the biggest hand I played in the event. I raise two black tens to 1200 with the blinds 200/400; De Wolfe calls in the BB. Flop 8s5x3s, De Wolfe check-shoves his 14,000 stack over my 2000 bet. I go into the tank for a bit, I'm 100% facing the flush draw and some pair gutshot or overs combo. When I consider the money already in the pot and the fact that I hold a spade out I decide the maths say a call. Then I consider the qualitative aspect of whether I want to race against the best flipper in the world. In the end I go with it and he shows Ks9s, the turn brings a 6c giving him even more outs and the river king gives him the pot and leaves me with 4025 chips.
I grind the short stack back to about 10k and get a table move with about 90 minutes play left for the day. My new table boasted James Akenhead, Joe Beavers, The Camel, the frightening looking character in the photo and was joined by Marc Goodwin and Surinder Sunar. I was struggling to find any spots on the table when the following hand occurred. I raised to 1800 with QJos blinds 300/600 and get called in the BB by an American, Mark Friedman. Flop KK9 two hearts; check/check and he leads for 2k on the turn. I'm playing 8k and I'm obviously not calling 2k on the gutter but decide to go back through the hand before I fold. This guy was the bigstack and had been extremely aggressive especially towards the short stacks and 3 bet a number of times from the blinds. When I think about it I'm strongly weighing his range towards suited connectors and small ones at that. I decide that my Q high is good and decide to call and also call any non heart river. The river brings a ten giving me the straight but unfortunately he held the same holdings.
My exit hand came with 20 minutes of play remaining. I pick up 99 in the bigblind, Friedman opens for 2400 which is much bigger then what he has been normally opening for. Akenhead calls which worries me a little as he is three betting a fair bit but having seen pocket tens twice and QQ once in over seven one hour levels, the nines are looking very pretty at that moment. I go with them and push, Friedman immediately announces all in isolating me and I'm very happy to find myself in a 20k pot verses 88. The 6 8 10 flop gave me a little hope of the resuck but it wasn't to happen.
I really enjoyed this tournament, I dont get to play with class acts like Channing and De Wolfe often and I relished the opportunity. De Wolfe is a class player and always putting you in interesting spots; himself and Channing are real talkers and good craic to play with. The poker room was deadly and Bristol itself is a very nice city but if anyone tells you to go there for a poker tournament because the players are value, forget it.