Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Brain Pain

I travelled to Cork on Friday for the three day Christmas festival. Having got through day one with an average stack, I was having a good day amassing a healthy stack through day two.

When we took a fifteen minute break at nine I had about 10% of the total chips in play, with 24 players remaining. For the first twenty minutes after the break I hit a brutal run of reversals, losing four all-in pre flop showdowns in the space of about eight hands - Unkown suit 7Unkown suit 7 v Unkown suit AUnkown suit 4, Unkown suit AUnkown suit K vUnkown suit A Unkown suit 9, Unkown suit QUnkown suit Q v Unkown suit 9Unkown suit 9 and Unkown suit KUnkown suit Q v Unkown suit 4Unkown suit 4.

Throw in losing with KK and JJ in between the showdowns and I went from chip leader to short stack. A fairly brutal turn of events and I never recovered, eventually going out with a badly timed shove in 13th position.

You'll never hear me moaning about how I run. Variance is a huge part of tournament poker and I generally take the bad with the good and just get on with it, but I must admit to feeling a little sorry for myself on the drive home after that run.

The Macau Winter Festival was the first tournament I ever won on a national stage back in 2005. That year there were 67 starters at a buy-in of €1,100. The tournament was televised on one of those magazine type poker shows Sky used to do. I'd say the make-up of the field in 2005 was about 33% locals, with the remaining field consisting of sponsored pro's.

This year there were 75 starters at €550, with probably 90% locals. The tournament is a good example of how the landscape of tournament poker has changed. In 2005 there was a handful of national level tournaments, these days there seems to be one every other week and no doubt the prestige that the Macau Christmas tournament once held, has now been vastly diluted.

There has been a plethora of new successful events that have sprung up over the last few years. These events have generally been smaller a buy-in, with larger fields then the traditional "big" tournaments that existed.

Seeing the success of the new tournaments, it seems that the organisers of the existing events have decided the best way forward is to reduce the buy-in of their events to mirror the new successful games. This has been seen over the last two years, with The Irish Championship, The Irish Classic, European Deepstack, JP Masters, Macau Winter Festival all reducing their entry fees.

I totally understand why the promoters of these events have reacted in the manner they have. Poker festivals make money on cash game rake not the tournaments, so it's understandable that the promoters have all adopted the pile them high, sell them cheap logic.

However, I think they have in general made a mistake. They should have embraced the uniqueness of the events instead of just falling back into the pack. Events with legacy have lost their potential for real continuity. In most cases, instead of promoting the unique selling points of these events, the easy option has been chosen.

What we now have is a calendar packed with more and more none-descript monkey buy-in events. Instead of six or seven must-play unique tournaments that attracted overseas visitors we now have two, the Winter Festival and the Irish Open.

This has left a gap in the market for bigger buy-in games and it seems that slack is going to be taken up by the overseas tours. This coming year there's an EMOP coming to Ireland late in July. There are also solid rumours of a leg of the Unibet tour and WPT hitting these shores.

I have no idea how these new events will run in the current recessionary climate. What I do know is I would much rather win a 400 field €1,500 buy-in, Irish Classic or European Deep-stack, then EMOP or Unibet leg.