Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I'm a Grinda

Clonmel's Park Hotel was the venue for this years Celtic poker tour grand final. Of the 201 starters something like 160 were qualifiers from the tour over the previous year. This meant for a tournament with €130,000 prizepool, the line up would be relatively soft. Some people are snobby towards this tour but I've always played the odd game and I'll take my value where I can find it thank you very much. I wasnt alone as through the field was a sprinkling of well known top class players.

My starting table was very soft but I didn't play very well on it and was quiet spewey in the first two levels. Flipper said he was still happy to see me moved as it gave him free reign to reek havoc on the unsuspecting CPT regs. When I got to my new table, Thomas Finneran was two to my left and Micheal Thrinby was on his left. This sorted out my spew because having two of Irelands top tournament players with position on you allows no room for error.

I was motoring along nicely and had my 25k starting stack ( 10k for €500 entry and 15k for €200 rebuy or top up ) up tp over 50k until I lost a race to Thomas Ak v 1010. This momentum stopper had me grinding for the rest of the day and after a few card dead levels I finished the day on 29k.

Day two continued in a similar vein until about five hours into the day when an unusual hand occurred. Blinds 800/1500 I'm playing 39k in the bigblind holding two red fives. UTG limped ( had limped a good bit ) , next to act raises to 5,000, next to act pushes for 8,300 and two more come alone. I don't think UTG will squeeze so I'm in the unusual position of set mining for >20% of my stack sure I'm getting the right odd. I blink the five and take down a nice pot getting one taker for me remaining 31k. Unfortunately I lose 30k next hand with a straight to a bigger one and have a bad hour to find myself short again.

I managed to grind into the money eventually finishing in 15th for €1750 but was never really a factor in the tournament. I had swapped a few 10% and two of my three swaps were going well into the final table. Brian Nolan an excellent player out of Waterford eventually finished 8th for €4k; Brian has come on a tun in the last year with some big scores online and its only a matter of time before he makes his presence known at a national level. I had also swapped 10% with the eventual winner of the €37k first prize and a man that needs no introduction, the great Flipper. So a nice weekends profit; roll on Killarney.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Charity Event at IPC

From pokerevents
Congratulations to Nicky Power who took down the hotly contested €300 Charity event in his usual inimitable style. 127 players contested this event and the action was thick and fast from the start. All the travelling players, professional and amateur alike, madeit their business to support this worthwhile cause.

In the end, a final table was made in the early hours of Monday morning and included some well known faces such as Anto O'Callaghan, Trevor McGoona and Nicky Power. After a fiercesome heads-up battle between Nicky and Anto, Nicky was to eventually emerge the victor and claim the €7,500 first prize.

It was the second year a Waterford man triumphed in the event with Pat Storan having lifted the honours in 2008. Power also follows in the footsteps of former world champion Noel Furlong who won the event in 2007. The €330 event, of which €100 went directly to homeless charities in Ireland, raised €18,200 for Galway Simon and once all pledges are collected is expected to reach €40,000, with Dublin Simon and Brother Kevin of the Capuchin Day Centre the beneficiaries.

Padraig Parkinson, one of the organizers of the event, added, “We’d like to thank everyone who played and all the companies who contributed financially to the success of the event. Without them it wouldn’t exist and we’re deeply grateful.”

I hit the bar after my exit from the IPC main event so was in good spirit when the "Poker for the Homeless" event started at nine. I never drink when playing larger buyins these days which is very different from when I started out but allow myself a few drinks for the last game of festivals. Having said that I wasnt going to throw my chips away as this event carries more prestige then the entry fee merits. The fact that my buddy Pat Storan was the defending champion also added a little spice to the event for me.

With a 6k starting stack it was going to be a fast enough structure and I got the perfect start when Dave Masters doubled me up early when I held the rockets. The tournament defining hand came for me when 50 or so of the 130 starters remained. You know the Father Ted episode where Dougal sees the big red "do not press" button on the plane; its a bit like that. Blinds 300/600 100 ante, I'm playing 20k in SB when UTG raises 1800 and gets three callers. I'm small blind with J9os and about to fold when the do not press button appears in my mind and off course I shove. UTG calls and I four flush his AK on the river, luclkbox.

This gives me a nice stack to cruise to the last two tables where I get a big double with QQ just before the final table. Chip leader going into the FT but the structure is fast with about 12 bigblind average and I think six of the nine are within four blinds of me. The line up included Trevor McGoona Anto O'Callagham, Adam Fallon and Rory Hogan who finished second to me in a tournament in Limerick last year.

The FT went well enough for me I made a big call with A10 to knock out the 4th place finisher and was in a good position when I took a hit three handed. Rory pushes the button for 100k Anto playing 200k called as do I playing 400k with KQs. Flop comes Qk3 with two of a suit and Anto folds to my bet. Rory has 108os so is drawing fairly slim but hits running tens. I get HU with Anto eventually and we split the cash for €6,000 each but both of us want the trophy. I win it in a race with A10 verses 66.
KQQ, decent flop for A10

Theres a $1,000 freeroll on Thursday with a $200 bounty on my head which should be a bit of craic on Brucepoker at eight. Also looking forward to the sponsored
Lakes of Killareny festival; Details here. This festival was absolutely brilliant last year, fantastic structure and the hotel catered for every need at a super price for the quality of the place.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

IPC 2009

I didn't have high expectations when I headed off to Galway last Thursday. I did a post last year of how Galway has never been the happiest hunting ground for me. I had been asked if I wanted to play on one of the feature tables. Now I knew this would mean playing on a very difficult starting table but the fact that I'm sponsored meant this was a good opportunity to promote the brand so it was an EV trade off I was happy to make.

Although I envisaged a decent starting table I hadn't expected as strong a line up as I got. Have a look at these five beauties lined up together. From left to right, Ciaran O' Leary, Marty Smyth, Mark Goodwin, Sideshow, Julian Gardner. I started very well and was up to 17k in chips by the end of the second level. The only hand I remember from those levels, I raised 99 and got two callers. My C-bet on an A23 rainbow flop was called by the chap directly to my left and I gave up on the hand. However the turn was checked back and a beautiful 9 sprang on the river where I got I nice pot sized value bet paid.

The next hand I played of any consequence was against Maria Maceiras. Maria had been by far the most aggressive player up until this point, we had clashed a few times in the previous levels and I was looking to try win a pot against her and slow her down. I'm still not sure about the way I played the following hand but it worked out very well. Maria raised from early position which ment nothing as she was probably opening about 40% of pots and I called with 6c7c in the big blind. Flop is 10cJc3x and I check raise her C-bet. Now I think she is calling with a lot of one pair hands here with the intention of re-evaluating on the turn when I act because at this stage my hand is transparently enough a draw I feel. I lead hard at the turn expecting her to fold most one pair hands, certainly AJ A10 and when she calls I'm finished with it. Another lucky river gives me the flush. Normally I just shove the river here but i didn't want to lose a big bet; I'm playing just short of 9k and she has 12k. I throw a 5k chip in which is 25 big blinds and Maria calls after a long dwell, my gut tells me I got maxim value.

This years IPC is scheduled to go out in eight one hour episodes on RTE and when we moved to the TV table the production guys were hoping to get an episode from the table by the end of play. Well if they do achieve this it will be the worst hours TV poker of all time. While there was plenty of banter I don't think there was one interesting hand occurred during our two hour plus stint. The table was broken as the last level of the day started and I had maintained my 25k stack until the second last hand of the night went i dropped 8k with QQ against a well played KK.

After a redraw I had a very interesting table for day two. Legends, Padraig Parkinson and Donnacha O'Dee, my good mate Derek Murry who was well chipped up and Maria who exited early and unluckily in a monster pot with a flopped top set verses a combo draw.

We were moved to the TV table early enough in the day and not long in Mr Parkinson got most of my stack. Standard enough hand given the stacks with Padraig pushing the cut off for about 9k with K9 and I call in from the BB with tens. This left me very short. I managed to get a couple of pushes through and then added a decent few chips when Derek raised 4.5k over a limper and then folded fours to my additional 9k push with AQ. We were on the table for about 90 minutes and I managed to maintain my stack without seeing any hands. Neill Channing and Jessy May were commenting on the session and both were very complementary on my play later with Channing saying that he ran out of superlatives to describe how well I played the shortstack. It's great to hear this from these guys but in all honesty its not that hard to play a 10-15 BB stack. My thought after the chat with Channing was I hope to god I get a chance later in the tournament to show you what I can do with a big stack.

My new table has Derek two to my left with the impressive Rory Rees Brennan next to him. It becomes apparent immediately that there is a few soft spots on this table. I get my now customary Brucie bonus hand with about 60 players remaining in the tournament when I push my 16k from the SB with Ac4c into KK and spike an ace. This gives me a few chips to play with and I get my stack to over 50k without showdown before I play my biggest pot of the tournament thus far.

I raise UTG and Derek who has taken a few hits pushes for 41k; I think I can get away form the Jacks for a number of reasons but dont and Der has the Rockets. Back down to 11k I double through Rory with 44 Vs AJ and get a steal through to get up to 31k. I then hit 70 when I get it in against Breandan Ruane with AK V AQ.

The table breaks shortly after this and were heading for the bubble. Chris Dowling the eventually second is the bigstack on the new table and played an excellent bubble. I was totally card dead for this period and couldnt find a spot but luckily enough the bubble burst fast enough.

At this stage play was stopped and we were informed that extra chips were being added to the tournament. This was a disaster for the organisers and I gave my opinion on the situtation in the forum

" I think the situation was handled commendably. The physical chip management security system was obviously breached. But there was audits in place to identify the breach and the organisers acted swiftly and decisively once the problem was identified. I was very impressed whit how it was handled.

People will argue that there shouldn't of been a problem in the first place but if someone is intent on breaking down security, it will happen. As northern banks improved there security after they were relieved of 40 million, the system in place here will also be improved in future".

I feel Donal and Fintan handled a horrible situation in an exemplary manner and deserve a lot or credit for this. Play was eventually stopped for the day with all the chips in the tournament being substituted.

So back for day three with 18 bigblinds and hoping to run good. Were on the TV table again but its a little strange as with the unscheduled early start the cameras aren't running. I lose most of my stack in a race to Johnny Weaffer with Jacks V AQ early enough, get a double up with A5 V Q9 a couple of hands later and exit next hand pushing 910s from the cut off into Pete Murphy's AK. So another deep but ultimately disappointing run; I'm happy with my performance overall, I gave myself a small squeak when in all honesty with the cards I was dealt over the event I should never of had one.

Monday, January 5, 2009


I went into day three of The Irish Championships yesterday with 26 players remaining. I managed to win a tournament at the end of the day but it was the Poker for the homeless charity event rather then the big one. I've never cashed in Galway before so €3,000 and €6,000 wins in the same day is a novelty. I was very proud to win Padraig's charity game, the entry fee is small but its a high profile event and a coveted title. The first video more or less cliff notes my main event. The second was shot at 5.20 am after much vodka was consumed. I'll probably do tournament reviews here later in the week.