Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Morsel of Form

"Form" that mystical intangible that rules poker players’ lives. Forms give it and forms take it away. When we're in form the worlds all rainbows and lollypops, when we're not, every day looks like a scene from Se7en.

Over dramatic? Definitely, but every player will know what I mean. When we're out of form we grasp for any sign that a downswing might be about to turn. If we win a race or fade a flushdraw, book the smallest win or cash, we think maybe just maybe the tide has turned and we're on the up. It's all very irrational I know but it is what it is.

This year has been pretty shit one for me. Most of it my own doing, I simply don't play enough these days. A run of bad results over 15 tournaments probably means a whole year for me, for many that's a bad night.

I've been grasping for a bit of form all year, a morsel of that intangible that gets me feeling I'm not dead money. Truthfully I had totally written off 2012 and my illogical thought process told me 2013 would be immeasurably better. With this in mind it was nice to find a little form last weekend.

 On Thursday, Ciaran rang me and asked me to play the WPT satellite on Boyles as he expected an overlay. Only Twelve players and one seat but I ran pretty well and won it handy. Now when things are going well winning that wouldn't even register, but when they're not you start thinking, hmmm maybe just maybe a bit of form.

The slight optimism continued into the weekend when again I ran pretty well chopping (taking Trophy and 4k) the Macau Winter Festival. The tournament is not the touch it once was. I won it in 2005 getting 20k and it's boasted prize pools of well in excess of 100k for a few years. These days the event is reduced to a €350 entry 15k guarantee total prize pool (which it didn't quiet reach). Still it made for my most enjoyable drive home in a while.

I played no better or worse then I have in any event for the last six months, I just found that bit of "form".

Shout outs to my roomy and regular travel companion Ian 'Bops' Rohan who clocked another final table appearance finishing an unlucky 4th, and Limericks Jamie 'Jamfly' Flynn who put in a determined title defence too finish third.     

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


The Village Green card club Tallaght was the venue for this festival over last weekend. This was my second time visiting the JP's new club and it really is a great spot for a game. JP understands poker players needs and really does cross the T's and dot the I’s when it comes too putting on an event.

 I just played the main event opting for day one-A. The game was a re-entry. When I made day two it felt like a min-cash already, as I wouldn't have too have a second go.

 The day itself went very well after an early mishap. Practically after sitting down I lost a decent chunk to Rory Brown but don’t think I lost another sizable pot over the day. I held AJ on a JJ4xx board against Rory's 44. Lucky enough it was first level I guess, as it could be a tournament ender a bit later on.

 I was moved straight away after this hand and the new table had a lot of familiar friendly faces. Tim Farrelly seems to be a constant on every table I've played on over the last few months and I was sandwiched between Colette 'Smurf' Murphy and Wes Farrell. Big shout out to Wes on his super result in the Sunday Million, definitely one for the good guys.  

 I was going along nicely when I won a big pot stacking Eoin Olin. I flopped a set, Eoin turned two pair and the chip went in. This put me on 90k and I was playing around 100k into the last level of the day when I won a late race against with AK against Paul Carnegie's QQ. I finished on 148k which was 4th biggest chip stack after the two day ones. 
 Day two started slowly and ended abruptly. I was playing around 130k just after the first break, blinds 1200-2400. Rasheed Mahmood who went onto finish 5th raised UTG, I 3-bet KK from the BB and Rasheed shipped AK just covering me.

 It's been a recurring theme this year that the 1st time I'm all-in in a tournament I'm out and unfortunately the trend continued with an ace flopping. The pot would of put me in good shape with a top two stack 20 off the money. Instead it was a leisurely afternoons drive back to Waterford. 

I really enjoyed the event; it was good to see so many good players in attendance from all over the country. I feel I'm playing a lot better poker then earlier in the year which I'm happy about. Hopefully I can turn that good play into a few results before the end of the year as it's been abysmal so far result wise. Big well done to all whom cashed, especially Liam O Donoghue on his second place finish and 2012 MiniWSOP champ Chris O Connor.    

Friday, November 2, 2012

IWF 2012

I met that great poker philosopher Mick Muldoon when leaving my room to play the tournament. Mick described the Winter Festival as the best value big buy in event left in Europe. I wasn’t that excited about playing given my recent form but this short conversation totally changed my perspective and got me enthusiastic about playing.

I found some more enthusiasm almost immediately after the poker started. After only a few nothing pots I got a full double. I raised QQ from the small blind after one limper. He called and we saw a QJ2 rainbow pot. I lead; he raised and called my three-bet. I lead 60 (3k) bigs on the innocuous 5 that turned and 160 (8k) bigs on the river 6. This river bet was met with a push for about another 7k, he held QJ. I think 400 BBs is the most I have ever won in a tournament hand.

The next six levels were only memorable for the lack of anything resembling a hand. I had managed to maintain my stack until level 8 when I coolered a player and won a few other pots to get to 75k.

That was to be my tournament peak as I lost 60k of them with AK into AA. You may expect they would go in preflop here but I just called my opponent’s (can’t think of gentleman’s name) 4-bet pre in position. I read him as very strong for a number of reasons and should of just folded. 

It was checked to the turn with the board showing QJJx, I bet 12k he minned, I tanked. Changed my mind a few times at this stage but eventually pushed and got a reluctant enough call I think. I went with my read on the turn and was wrong; I should have gone with it preflop.

I suppose I did well not to blow the rest over the last level after that mishap and returned day two with about starting stack AKA 19.3 blinds.

There were very few chips on the new table on day two, with only Keith McFadden being above average. I got an early double JJ v A10 belonging to Eoin Olin. Shortly after I had Eoin all in with my QQ v 99 too get me to the dizzy heights of 60k but he binked the 9 which was to come back to haunt me.

Towards the end of the second level we had lost a lot of players from the table and it was a getting tougher with bigger stacks. I had 30 blinds and was aware of the blinds rising soon. I 4-bet shoved 43os from the button after Andrew Grimason had opened the hi-jack and Wes Farrell 3-bet. Eoin woke up with QQ in the bigblind and I was on the rail.

I don’t mind my exit. I could of hung around waiting for hands and try worming into a min-cash, but from experience the IWF is a great tournament to have chips hitting bubble time, and that was what I was planning to get.

Next up is JP’s mine-wsop at the Village Green card club Tallaght this weekend; I’m looking forward to it.     

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The IPO 2012

I had never made it past level six in an IPO. My goal entering day one was to make level seven, which I managed by twenty minutes. A success? Debatable, but one thing for sure IPO2012 was a huge success.

Playing the IPO conflicts me a little. As a Boylepoker representative I feel I have a certain role to play over the weekend. Do some commentary on the live stream, help out where I can, be social, meet and have a beer and generally be nice to people.

This is where the conflict arises; I almost feel it’s my duty to get knocked out. I dogged a chap that had travelled over from Holland in level six blind on blind and I was honestly gutted to do so. It’s a funny one.

My tournament ended in a pre flop all in cooler involving my AK and Jay O’Toole’s 7h8h. Jay flopped the world and I left the tournament as un-gutted as a man will ever be upon exit.

This freed me up for live stream commentary duties that I enjoyed a lot. The streaming at the IPO is done in a very informal manner, it differs from the norm but I think in a way that’s a great fit for this tournament. Over the weekend I got to ‘chew the fat’ with some of my all time poker hero’s.

Watching Jesse May and Padraig Parkinson commentating on Late Night Poker got me interested in the game so it’s quiet surreal to actually be chatting with them on the live stream. Neil Channing, John O’Shea and Ciaran Corbett aren’t the worse for an old natter either.

The IPO has a history of innovation and this year Iain Cheyne unveiled his EVCount system. The system lets people at home follow the chip counts and tables of every player in the tournament in real time. I suppose it’s like an online lobby for live tournaments and by all accounts was a huge success. No doubt Iain will make millions from it so well played that man.

The Bluff Irish poker awards took place on Sunday night of the IPO. Ciaran had booked a magician as the warm up act and he was great craic. I was up for two awards, best blogger and best spammer, aka best social media user. I don’t really get the second category but need not of worried, as I failed miserably to bink. I don’t think anyone could of argued with the winners TBH and it was nice to be nominated.

It was a pleasure to be there to see Padraig pick up the legend award. Not that we needed any confirmation that the man is a legend.

While the IPO has a relatively small buy in, it’s a huge tournament. Ciaran, Gerry and all the Boylepoker crew, Stephen and an army of staff all put in a huge effort to make sure everything is in place for us players to enjoy ourselves. Huge well done to all those involved for making IPO2012 such a fantastic celebration of poker.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Cork Swaps and Mega Satts

I played a decent game in Cork the weekend. The guarantee had a 100k Dollar which translated into a €360 entry €80 bounty and €40 reg.

Ian ‘Bop’ Ronan whom I often travel with and swap a few percent with was playing day 1A; I had opted for 1B. I got a text on the Friday morning from Bops suggesting a 10% swap. I said we’d go five as I fully expected to win the tournament and wanted to keep most of the money I was going to get for doing so. I was regretting not swapping the ten when Ian emerged as chip leader on day one A.  

My starting table was ok, but the line up on my left got progressively worse over the first few levels. After two hours my direct left look far more difficult then normal for a game in Cork. WPT 2nd Gilly followed by Tom Kittt and then former Winter Festival champ Michael O’Sullivan.

I started nicely getting to 30k. This dropped to 8k in level 4, but I then hit a nice run to get to a peak of 120k. In the mean time the table got a lot easier with the three previously mentioned either exiting or moved.

This had me in a great position heading into the last two levels of the day but two hands changed everything. I was guilty of over aggression with a small pair, which cost me 40k. I had decided before I opened if a certain player 3-bet me I was having none of it. What a time for him to find the boots.  I was still playing a very healthy stack on my exit hand where a guy went nuts with a five high flush draw. I had to call his over shove having flopped two pair but couldn’t fade.

Disappointing as it really was a good table. Bops went onto put in another great performance, maintaining a big stack all the way until coolered five handed.

There are only few days to go until the IPO kicks off on Friday. Everyone I was speaking to over the weekend seem to be looking forward to this year’s instalment and it’s setting up for a cracking weekend. If your haven’t got your seat yet, Boyle’s are running Mega Satellites every night this week at eight with a whopping 20 seats guaranteed. These Mega’s are a fantastic opportunity to bag your seat so get in and lets make this the best IPO yet.                         

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Wonderful Dundalk was the destination last weekend for the final leg of the Irish Tour. I drove up with Pat on Saturday morning and such was my enthusiasm to get to Ireland's capital of 'fun' I arrived 90 minutes early. Ok, I got the starting time wrong.

My starting table looked very similar to the Cork leg of the tour with Tim Farrelly and Ken Ralph as opponents again. The poker didn't go well. I remember one good fold, one bad call, winning a 40/60 and losing a 70/30 eventually losing a race to exit.

Much more intriguing to me was Pats suggestion that we use the time we had on our hands before the tournament started, to nip across the border to Newry as he " wanted to pick something up". This got me interested. I had Pat down as a fairly straight laced guy. Could he be involved in some subversive green diesel smuggling ring. Must be at least something illegal like, fireworks, booze. Nope not Pat, a fucking batch of kitchen rolls from Sainsbury's I smuggled back across the border.

The highlight of the day was dinner with Pat, Tim and Dundalks most famous son, Ciaran Corbett. It was obvious Ciaran would know all the top spots and sure enough he brought us to a little gem of a restaurant. It was the best egg sausage and chips I'd had in ages.

After the feed it was back to the poker room where I planted myself behind Pat trying to bokk him. He didnt last too long and we were home by midnight.

The tour maybe didn't get the support it deserved over the four legs but it's a tough environment out there. I don't know what else they could of done to bring in the numbers, the games themselves were put on to the highest standards in good venues with decent guarantees.

I can't sign off without giving Mad Mick McCloskey a shout out. Mick final tabled all four legs of the tour, a huge performance. Well done Mad Mick.         


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Celtic Poker Tour Final 2012

The Celtic Tour Final is one of my favourite games of the year. With 80% of the field having won entry over the year at regional games and an average age demographic twenty years older then the norm for similar buy ins. Playing this tournament is a little like stepping back in time to 2005.

I did spot a few heroes in the room. You’d have to consider yourself a tad unlucky if your starting table at a CPT game included Internet phenomena’s Jude ‘j.thaddeus’ Ainsworth or Nelius ‘danceofddead’ Foley.  

Thankfully I avoided both and had a lovely table, only one good player and I don’t think my bigblind was raised more then twice in the first four levels. I had almost doubled my starting stack by the first break and commented to Derek Murray, “I couldn’t see how I was going to lose any chips on this table”. This was such a silly thing to say as I managed to lose 100 blinds in the first two hands after that break.

I managed to get these chips back when I flopped the nut flush in an unraised multiway pot, but then made the fatal fancy play error. I made a big check raise bluff when a flush hit the turn in a hand I shouldn’t have been in and then pumped the river when a forth club fell. JJ called me with the jack of clubs.

Cathal Shine a top player who had joined the table said I had played the hand perfectly and he couldn’t understand how my opponent found the call. This made me feel a little better, although I really shouldn’t of been running big bluffs on this table, big value bet yes. Again I was back to the 20k starting stack and with the blinds rising and table toughening I had severely restricted myself.

My exit came in the ninth level in a standard enough spot. Blinds 400-800 and playing 25k I find the Kings with a raise and 3-bet before me to act, I’m up against AK and the Ace flops. I must admit to being a bit gutted on the drive home. With a hold and 50k entering the last two levels of play of the day I’d of fancied my chances of accumulating a stack.             

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I Drive

Living at the bottom of the country means a recurring conflict when traveling to  poker events. Do you go alone, thus allowing a quick exit upon busting, or do you travel with a friend. This offers company on the often long drives, but brings it with the risk of either of you having to wait around if one bust early and the other goes deep.     

From experience I've become to favor the drive alone option. Too often I've found myself in the position of railing a travel companion. When these friends are in showdown situations, I'm ashamed to say I'm usually hoping they bust.

I had arranged to go check out JP McCann's new card room in Tallaght Village with Pat Storen for a €120 buy in €10,000 guaranteed tournament. I rang Pat early on Saturday to say I'd drive up separately rather then accompany him just in case one of us bust early and the other goes deep. Pat's reply was " sure thats not going to happen, I'll collect you in twenty minutes".

The tournament started at two and sure enough I got knocked out after 90 minutes and Pat went on to cash in the 100 runner field. I had a few beers and a few trips to the bookies but eventually I had to succumb to partaking in a pastime I despise, live cash.

I used to play a lot of live cash back in 2005 and 2006 before I got a real turn against it. I formed the opinion that the whole premise of it was rather predatory. Most of the money won is either from drunks or vulnerable people with very little chance of winning.

I spent about six hours playing cash Saturday and my thoughts on the pastime haven't changed. I'm not preaching to anyone here just saying it's not for me.

The only saving grace was the venue. The Village Green card club is a smashing spot for a game  of poker. It's a bright and spacious card room, tastefully decorated with a very nice bar area and enough space too easily hold major tournaments.

About ten hours after my exit I herd "all in and call", I look across to where the tournament was running and Pat was involved. I'm ashamed to say my feelings didn't involve disappointment when he grabbed his coat.                 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Southern Open

The third leg of the Irish Tour, The Southern Open took place at the Macau in Cork over the weekend. The organisers have adjusted the structure slightly from the previous legs to allow the tournaments to run over two days.

The guys who run the tour were pretty sure that they would 'not' reach the €30,000 guarantee in the run up to the €300 buy in event. A number of other games were on the weekend and the host venue didn't have much time to fill satellites with this event coming right on the tail of the Irish Classic.

In fairness to the Irish Tour they could easily of pulled the guarantee or even the tournament, but they decided they would take the hit and run with it. This looked like a very costly decision early on as only 25 players were seated at the start of the tournament, which would of meant a €24,000 overlay.

At this stage the powers of social media kicked into full swing. Twitter and Facebook became awash with the news of a massive overlay. By the time the 6 levels of late registration closed the field had increased to a respectable 93 players and the overlay was reduced to €5,000.

My starting table was packed with good players. Chris Dowling, Tim Farrelly, Ken Ralph, Tony Collins, Jamie 'brutal' Flynn. You get the idea, no easy chips. I slugged away all day and every time I looked like getting a stack to play with I'd hit a reversal.

I don't think I'm one to complain about how I'm running but one instant well into the day brought home to me where my mindset is currently at. I had needlessly slow played aces as I got all my chips in on the turn against kings. As the dealer counted out the pot, Chris Dowling asked me do you have the aces because the look on you face says you have the kings.

I'm sitting there 95% favorite to win the showdown and instead of fist pumping in my head, I'm fully expecting to be sent packing, This really is not a good place to be as a poker player.

Into level 12, I lost half my stack to Kieran 'the croc' Walsh in a QQ v 1010 cooler. Then another few chips when I decided not to call off with a flush draw while having odds to do so if the draw was live. A few people said I should of called here but I'm happy enough my decision not to. 

My exit came shortly after with three tables remaining in the tournament. Gary Clarke raised UTG the SB made it 10k, I shoved from the BB with QQ for 38k. Gary folded and the SB called with Jacks and hit one on the flop. Pity as it was an above average pot and I'd have fancied a deep run if I could of held.

I felt very rusty in the Irish Classic two weeks ago. I wasn't making glaring mistakes but just wasn't plugged in and on the drive home a couple of hand stuck in my head where I definitely gave up too easily and missed spots. I guess you can't just expect to turn up once every four weeks and be on your A-game. Time to get the finger out and put in a bit of volume for the rest of the year.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Irish Classic

The Irish Classic in Cork was the target last weekend. I always look forward to playing in the Macau sporting club, generally you can be assured of some banter on the tables and historically I do well there. The banter was great last weekend, unfortunately the poker didn't go so well.

My starting table included Paul Carr, Fintan Gavin and the WBO International Middleweight Champion Gary 'Spike' O'Sullivan. It's unusual to see a total novice in a €500 buy in but Gary had never played poker before so I guess that could be considered a good table draw. Fintan ever the gentleman took Spike under his wing and gave him loads of advice. Well maybe not loads but he showed him a hand ranking chart on his phone and told him to fold every time Fintan raised him.

It was a pretty good table and I doubled my 20k starting stack over the first six levels without playing a sizable or memorable pot. The last two levels of the night went bad for me and I returned day two with 28k which was 28 bigblinds.

My starting table on day two was tough including Chris Dowling directly on my left and good young Cork players, Tadhg Ryan and Colin Hammond. I found Kings, Aces and AK early but had to fold the kings on a ace high 3 spade flop after my continuation bet was raised and just took a few bigs with the other two premiums.

My exit came at the hands of Dowling in the second level of the day with 36 of the 103 starters remaining. I shoved 19 bigs over a button open with AJ and Chris woke up with AQ in the big blind. A jack on the turn game me a glimmer of hope but the Queen to follow on the river meant that hope didn't last long.

I was chatting to fellow Waterford native Dave 'Kakak' McCarty before start of play on Saturday. Dave is a real enthusiast of the game but wasn't overly confidant of his prospects in the conversation we had so it was a nice surprise to see he finished second for €10,000. 

The Irish Classic used to be the major Irish poker event of the summer months. Unfortunately recent years have seen a sizable drop in buy in, numbers and consequently prize pool. The extent of this could be gleaned from the fact that cashing for 5th place in 2008 was equal to 1st place money this year.          

It's a harsh environment for tournament operators in Ireland at present. With a glut of events and patrons disposable income almost non existent, putting bums on seats has never been more difficult.
It's probably nostalgia  on my behalf but I do feel bad about the decline of the event in recent years.   

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Compulsive Viewing

Congrats to John O’Shea on his great run in the WSOP Main Event. I must admit to being very impressed with the fact that John needed to finish around 12th in the main event to get out on the trip. Such a pity he couldn’t catch a few breaks inside the last 200.Would of made for some ending to the documentary Setanta are shooting about John. 

I played the Munster Masters in Tramore last weekend. The €250 buy in tournament only got 50 runners and I finished 6th for a little over double the buy in. While the numbers were small, it was an enjoyable game with a good structure.

I lost a big pot with about 15 players left and never really recovered. Being in shove mode for so long it was inevitable that I’d get called at some stage and in reality I was a bit fortunate to even make the money.
I’ll be on lock-down mode this weekend watching the Open Championship. This is my favourite weeks golf of the year and I’ll be glued to the TV savoring every minute of the forty or so hours coverage.

I’m not going to try tipping a winner as I’m a bit perplexed and don’t really have a strong fancy. I had a few small speculative bets on the outright markets, but will mainly play that in running.

A couple of bets I’ll be having on other markets include; Mark Leishman at 10/1 for a top twenty finish with Boylesports. Leishman is a recent winner on the PGA tour and a player goes a bit under the radar. He’s generally over priced as is the case this week and is in the form of his life.

I’ll also be having a decent punt on Ben Curtis for his opening day three ball against two players woefully out of form in Trevor Immelman and Paul Casey. 18-hole three ball markets aren’t usually a place that I often get involved in, but this one looks too good to pass up.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Musical Chairs

There were two games on last Saturday. A €120 game in the City West and a €350 two day game which was part of a ‘Summer Festival’ in the Fitz. I opted for the latter, which unfortunately only attracted 26 players, the game in the City West got a massive 500 players.   

The Fitz game started with two tables and when a few more entered, I was moved to the third table. After 20 minutes on my new table I ran a King high flush into the nut flush of James 'Hawkeye' McManus. Meanwhile I looked across to my old seat, which was filled by Fintan Gavin, and he had quadrupled his starting stack in that time. I kind of felt it wasn’t going to be my day.

Nothing went right after and I exited in 16th after roughly 3 hours play, at least I lasted long enough for the legendry Fitz feed. I had travelled up with Ian ‘Bops’ Ronan and although we had swapped percentages, I’m ashamed to say I was more hoping he got knocked out quickly rather then win the thing. Bops is never one to hang around short-stacked, luckily he finished 14th.

I had dropped into the City West on my way to Dublin and the numbers for that game were astounding. Celtic poker tours with their regional partners, JP and Nick O’Hara in this instance, have been putting on these €120 buy in $25,000 guarantees for over a year now.

These games have become hugely popular attracting more and more recreational players to them, rather then playing the expense laden multi-day festival event. Professionally run; low buy in, softer fields, with a chance of a decent score at the end. What’s not to like? With the economy in the state it is Celtic Poker Tour have clearly produced the product that fits the current market well, and these event will be where much of the poker playing community will be getting their fix for the foreseeable future.         

Well done to Jason Tompkins on his WSOP final table in event #54 last night, a great performance getting through 3,200 players to finish 6th. BigMickG aka Mick Graydon is currently 12/22 in event #56 so hopefully another late nights railing lays ahead tonight.                    

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


I was in Galway (briefly) last weekend for the Eglington’s Casino, rather grandly named Chieftain of the Tribes tournament. It was a €350 game with 110 runners and a very good structure.

I only lasted into the fourth level, bluffing off my stack shoving on the river, when I didn’t think I’d get called; I did. I felt it was a good spot the way the hand played out but I picked the wrong client who had rivered top pair when in the hand on a flush draw.

I had gotten of to a good start adding 25% to my starting stack in level one, but a few reversals had me playing my exit hand with 75 big blinds. Typing it here now it’s becoming clear that it was probably an unnecessary risk I was taking in the hand.

Not having booked anywhere accommodation wise I didn’t hang around. Galway was booked out the weekend, I had checked a few online sites and the likes of travel lodge were priced at €500 a night. Upon further investigation I found out the scarcity of rooms was because of a huge influx of people for the International Quilting Festival.

Not being familiar with the term Quilting, but assuming it had some sexual connotation, I checked the ‘Urban Dictionary’. This defines quilting as  The act of removing one's clothes as a professional stripper”. Could it be every hotel in Galway was filled with stripper for the weekend? Nope I’m afraid not, it was filled with people who made or had interests in fabric quilts.

Big shout out to tournament director extraordinaire JP McCann or as I rather refer to him “the Irish Elky”. JP became a player for the weekend and put in a splendid effort to finish 4th, in the poker tournament that was, not the quilting.

I played the WSOP mega satt on Boylepoker Sunday night. Got off to a flyer in this and was 2nd in chips a few hours into the tournament. Hopes were high of binking one of the 20 x $13,500 packages, but I lost a big flip AK v JJ just inside 80 players, exiting shortly after.

Finally it’s the US open this week and at the risk of being unoriginal I’m backing Kaymer EW and 18/1 top European. As much as Augusta doesn’t suit Herr Kaymers swing; this place is made for it, with fading the ball off the tee a must.

Monday, May 21, 2012

I got knocked F%^&ing out - UKIPT Dublin

This is the sixth calendar year I've been producing a blog and I know I've produced the odd decent one and many mundane ones. You win a bit, lose a bit, win a few 50/50s 70/30s; lose a few. Only so many ways you can describe it.

These days I produce most of my blogs for Boylepoker and tbh, I try to describe as few poker hands in them as possible. They've become boring to me to write so I assume the reader must feel similar. Unfortunately this blog is going to contain many poker hands as I have nothing else to give. 

I only lasted into level six on day 1A of UKIPT Dublin but got to play a heap of big pots for the short time I was in. The first of these was level two, blinds 50-100. I flopped a set of two's on a K 10 2 rainbow flop from the small blind in a four-way pot.. I lead the flop and the button was the only caller. Turn was a 9 and I bet again, the button raised and I called. River was a Jack and I blocker/value bet 20 BBs into the 50 BB pot, button calls and holds KK for flopped top set. It's not often your happy after losing a relatively big pot but this was such an occasion.

The next orbit I pick up the boots, I'm in SB again and playing 12k. There's a raise early and button flats, I raise chunky and both call. Flop K 10 8 with two clubs, I lead for 1,150 and get raised by the button to 2,850. With the board texture and the fact that the same opponent had flat the set of Kings the previous hand, I decided to 'get' m in'. He held 10 8 for bottom two and a King fell on the turn to counterfeit.

This got me to 25k and I had worked this to around 38k  over the next two levels until I run Kings into Aces preflop for around Twenty of them. The owner of the Aces dwelt and announced "I think I have to call" when facing the final pre-flop raise, which lead me to believe he didn't hold Aces, however I think it was more the ultimate nit-roll rather then slowroll.

I get the chip back shortly after in a dream spot. I raise 33 in early position, the button min raises, the guy who had the aces in previous hand calls from the small blind and I call to hit a set. Flop A J 9 and I'm suprised to see it checked through. My head is thinking   3  3  3 PLS - bink - a beautiful 3 amazingly appears. SB leads for 1,500, I make it 3,500 and the button now flats, SB folds. I jam 13k on the blank river and the button tank calls. I asked him what he held and he said A J which would kinda make sense except I saw a queen in his cards as he folded. The SB told me later he held Kings in the hand. I'm Lucky in so many ways in that hand.

The table broke immediately and my new table was well stacked and filled with "playa's". Think mirror shades, beat headphones and European accents. I lost 15k of my 40k in a blind on blind debacle. I call the SB raise in position with A6, flop is 10 7 4, I float. The 8 on the turn gave me double gutter outs and with the ace, I decided to put my opponent to the sword, unfortunately he held kings which held.

My exit hand was to the same opponent a few hands later. I had 80 Blinds at the start of the hand, blinds 150-300-25. He raises cut-off and I 3-bet AK from the button. he four bet to 14 BBs and knowing my image isn't great, i elect to shove feeling I can get looked of light enough. Sure enough he calls it off with AQ and gets there.

Usually getting knocked out this early doesn't bother me. Your simply not in the tournament long enough to be emotionally attached. However I was a bit gutted this time around. I consider this a good thing as it should matter and hurt.                               


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Some thoughts on this years Irish Open

Below is the tournament part of my IO this year that went up on the Boyles blog yesterday. Basically just had a bad  tournament, 20k to zero in six hours. That's the way it goes sometimes, wasn't anything I could of done differently. I just want to add a few observation here on my personal blog; well moan a bit I guess.

My starting table included Dara O'Kearney, Faraz 'the toilet' Jaka and eventual winner Kevin Vandersmissen. I had a miserable tournament. I lost 25% of my chips when Jaka got there on the river in a hand I played well bar him hitting a three outer. Another 25% of my stack went when I raised KQ; hit a lovely QQ10 flop but lost to a turned gut shot. 

It was a very interesting table with 'The Toilet' running riot over the first four levels. He was playing about 70% of hands and hit a lot of lucky rivers when barrelling to amass a 70k stack by dinner. One level later he was out after getting smashed up by an excellent Australian player whose name I never got to know. 

Vandersmissen was having a similar day to myself until he made a sick call for his tournament life. He held pocket sixes, on a paired board with all over-cards facing a river bet that effectively put him all in. It was a hugely impressive hero call and he amassed chips with ease after taking that pot.
My own tournament ended in level seven. I got 17 blinds in pre-flop with AK verses AQ to no avail"

A few observations on the event.

The antes

It may seem a small thing in the overall scheme but It's inexcusable to have ante's of 1/16th & 1/20th of a bigblind in a major tournament. Like who the hell produces the structure because it's certainly not someone that understands tournament structures. How hard can it be to consult someone on what a proper ante to BB ratio should be. As I said it may see a small issue but its unprofessional and looks bad to oversea visitors. Having said that it's something that's easily fixed and the overall structure has come on heaps with the increased starting stack. I remember playing the IO in 2006, with a 10k starting stack, no repeat 150/300, or 500/1000, 1200/2400 levels.

The Field: size reduction and demographic 

these are the numbers from recent years
2007 = 708  
2008 =  667 
2009 = 700         
2010 = 708
2011 = 615
2012 = 502

Big reduction over the last two years, a number of factors in play here, the recession and a saturation of tournament's would  be the major ones. I'm sure PPP are doing everything they can on this front but it's just a sign of the times. It's worth noting that finishing second in 2008 got you the same money as winning in 2012.

As for the make up of the field. Someone commented the field this year was if 300 bad players were taken out and replaced with 100 top class online MTT players. Again this is a sign of the times, black Friday and in general online grinders realising the value in this event.   

The Hotel 

I'm not a big fan of the Burlington. I booked the poker rate for 4 nights, went for breakfast the first morning and was told that there wasn't a breaky included with my booking. On a normal week it's €69 a night to stay there with breaky included, poker players rate €79 with no breaky. It's not a huge deal but an example of players being screwed over. I think the food in general and pints in the hotel bar are over priced slop. I had a few nice pints in a pub across the road on Saturday afternoon and the difference in quality was huge, clean the pipes pls, drink is important. 

 Final Table Atmosphere

This is a trade off, we saw it in 2006 when the FT went live on Skysports and again this year for hole cards to be shown on the stream. The quality and coverage available on the stream production over the event is second to none and ground breaking.  However, below is a video from the 2007 final, watch the last 20 seconds or so. The atmosphere was electric, compare that to the sterile offering this year. This is what made the tournament special for a lot of people. I think the tournament is probably giving up too much for the viewer at home to be allowed to view the hole cards.       

 These are just a few observations and areas where improvements can be made. Overall I think PPP do a great job on the tournament.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

More City West

I travelled back to the City West Friday to play the €500 side event. What a contrast from the previous week, the place was hopping. The Norwegian Masters itself had over a thousand entries and there must have been nearly double that amount travelled over from the Scandinavian country.

There were up to 45 cash tables running at peak times, with games running round the clock. These guys certainly came to gamble from some of the stories I was hearing, crazy action by all account.

My table in the €500 8-handed consisted of seven Norwegians, two decent players; the rest weren’t up to much. I lost 90% of my chips in the 75-150 level when I hit a set of two’s on a 932 flop. I check raised heavy into multiple players on the flop, and put in a chunky bet on the 5 turn to one player.

I hated the 4 on the river and blocker bet 3k. The opponent shoved for 10k, it was now 7k to win 40k. After deciding this person was capable of spazing in the spot, I called to be shown pocket sixes. I was at least proved correct on my assumption on the player later. A guy bet 3k on the river on an AAJ83 board from 7k and she put him in with air, he had quads.

Anyhow, that hand in level three left me 3k. I still felt I had a chance to get back into it; the table was just so good. I ground a micro shortstack for the next three levels nursing it up to 12k and then won a race, 88 v AJ.

Just as I hit the dizzy heights of 25k into the last level of the night I got coolered blind on blind, AQ into AK. Disappointing as I had fought very hard for the resurrection.          

JP deserves a medal from Failte Ireland for bringing this event to these shores. It was without doubt the busiest poker festival I have ever seen outside Vegas. The income statement for March in the City West resort’s books must look very healthy indeed.

All roads lead to the Burlo this week for the big one. If I told you I was confidant it would be a lie. I don’t feel I’ve played well in recent events, but the Irish Open usually brings out the best in me, so fingers crossed. I should arrive relaxed anyhow. Keeping with tradition, I’ll be spending this week at the Kclub in preparation.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Finally won one

Don't be silly, of course I didn't win a poker tournament, I'm talking about Tiger.

I did like him at Bayhill and took some 8/1. However I hadn't the heart to go in as strong as I did on his last outing at Doral. I was on such a terrible run and hadn't the confidence or balls to really pull the trigger again. Nice to book a winner and break the bad run anyway.

I put in a poor showing in the JP Masters. I called a 50 blind turn shove in Level 5 with AK on a KK107 three-spade board. I read the guy as being terrified of the call, when he was just terrified I had a bigger Flush. In reality it was an awful call as his hand was pretty transparent the way it had played out.

The tournament itself was packed with good players and offered very little value. Every good grinder in the country had turned out with the promise of loads of Norwegian value to be had. The Vikings never showed, and the result was a field of only 88 players with five or six recognisable players on every table.

JP seemed pretty gutted with the turnout for his flagship event and more or less said he'd got it wrong and should have held the tournament back until this weekend. Hindsight and all that, but thankfully the numbers have picked up since, and the masses have arrived from Norway, just a little bit later then expected.

My good buddy Knuckles from Cork took the event down. While the prize pool was down, it certainly played out as a hugely difficult tournament to win. Peter is a top player who never complains on a bad run, this is a well-deserved victory and hopefully the start of a good run for one the games nicest people.

I thought about playing the €300 game on Saturday but with the poor numbers opted for the golf course instead. Golf is such a frustrating game, I was on fire a few weeks ago, at the moment I'm hitting the ball like an eighty year old. At least the weathers good and the lads are generous with the handicapping.

I'll be back to the City West Thursday for the €150 shootout and hopefully play the €500 game Friday. Badly need to get some practice in for the Irish Open the following week.

Friday, March 16, 2012

I'd love to be able to drive the ball like that

No poker to report on over the last two weeks so it'll have to be a drinking and gambling blog. I missed the Western Open as it clashed with my youngest brother - Anthony's - stag. About twenty of us hit the stag mecca of Kilkenny for a good day and night without to much damage.

Last weekend the WCG at Doral was the center of my universe. I try to avoid lumping on pre event these days unless it top ten or twenty markets. However I got stuck right in here, I felt that Tiger would be punted hard for the event, so decided I should be able to get a nice freeroll before kick off by taking the Monday prices 

As the week went on I got stuck into a lot more bets. Westwood 6/4 top ten looked huge, Kaymer 40/1, I'll have some of that EW, and it went on. Meanwhile the big tipsters who have a huge say on how the golf markets develop, totally ignored Tiger. I decided to run with him and go for the touch.

By Sunday I was buried. I punted Bradley to get out, and that looked good for the front nine before he surprisingly imploded. It was a disaster of an event for me.

With Cheltenham on the horizon, I felt I could dig myself out of a hole. I was interested in the leading trainer market. I made it a dead match between Mullins and Henderson, and priced it 4/5 n' 5/4. I thought getting the 5/4 Mullins when I made him 4/5 was great stuff altogether, and punted it accordingly with numerous firms. Oh how I wish I had decided the 2/1 Henderson when I made him 5/4 was where the value lay.

Most other bets I had for the week involved 'Hurricane Fly' in one form or another, so it was all pretty grim. By 3.30 Thursday I rang my brother Robbie and asked if he fancied a few holes of golf.

Anyone who has ever played golf with me will know I'm the worst driver of a ball in the world, historically I hit my 5 iron further then my drives. I started using a new driver recently with much better results.

We were only playing 13 holes and played up the 18th with another two ball. After I pinged my drive, a chap in the other group commented, " Jesus, I'd love to be able to drive the ball like that". It brought some grin to my face, the losses of the previous seven days faded to a distant memory.

Back to the poker next week with the JP Masters Friday, this is the start of a fantastic 12 day festival in the City West with an amazing 51 tournaments scheduled. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Galway Washout

I went to Galway full of expectation last Wednesday and left late Saturday night with empty pockets and broken dreams. Now that may sound a bit depressing, but it happens to thousands of people every year on Galway race week and I've been doing it for years. One thing is guaranteed in the 'City of the Tribes' you'll of had some fun blowing your hard earned.

I had initially registered for the Friday but a big gang had planned a piss up to cerebrate Derek Murray's  birthday post play Thursday. This meant a change of starting day and a three hour drive on Wednesday with the early noon start. Tom 'the bomb' Finneran convinced me the best hangover avoidance option was to play the rebuy satellite. I managed to do €300 for a €770 seat, not lasting long after the first break.

This set the tone for the rest of they week, if there was a hand to be lost, a bet to go down or a dinner bill to pay, I found it.

My main event was fast; the 15k starting stack was my peak chip stack. I got no hands and didn't play well. Firstly I bluffed off 40% of my chips, I luckily got these back in a hand against Limerick native Jamie Daly. I raised pre with 2h7h, totally missed the flop but kept firing on a 7 turn and a two river. Jamie's fellow county man, Paul Carr seem to get more pleasure from the hand the myself when I relayed it to him later, perverse crowd those Limerick lads!  

This got me back close to starting, but I dribbled to 8k in level five (150-300) then lost them in a blind on blind situation. SB limped, I raise 88 and we get it in on a 10 7 5 two spade flop, he held Js 9s and hit his nine on the turn.

At least I had plenty company at the bar as Derek, Jude and Tall Michéal were also out at this stage. A nice meal and plenty drink followed Thursday. Friday was more of the same although I did venture back to the poker room for the fun €100+50+10 turbo scalp game.

It wasn't that much fun, I think I was at the table 40 minutes before any of the players even spoke. I did hang in until the last three tables of the 150 field but lost a race to exit.

Saturday was spent in the company of Marty Smyth on our laptops punting everything that moved, it didn't go well. We went for dinner and when I lost the gamble for that one, 'well' it was time to surrender, Marty just doesn't win dinner flips ever.    

I couldn't face the €300 game so just chilled watching the golf before driving home about eleven in the evening. It all might come across as a little miserable but in honesty I had a great few days catching up and socialising with friends. The Radisson Galway is in my top three venues for a poker event in Ireland and produced the goods yet again; I can't wait for the next time.                         

Monday, February 13, 2012

Euro Deep Stack - D4

I was saying to Bops on the drive up to this on Wednesday that I felt very rusty and hoped for some kind of run to blow off the cobwebs. I managed to make the money for a min cash, meaning I got the table time I felt I needed anyhow so I guess we can call that a small success.

I played day one A as I tend to do at €550 events, it keeps the expenses down should I bust and means a refreshed start for day two should I make that; so win-win.

My table on day one had some very good players, Ross Johnson impressed and EPT London second Stephen O'Dwyer seemed decent, although one player stole the show. Watching the Chief crush dreams for a full day was a pleasure to see at close quarters.

The man is obviously a poker genius and was operating on a level so far ahead of anyone else that we hadn't a clue what he was at. He amassed a top ten stack over the day mastering spots that would make Durrrr a nervous wreck.

My own day went ok, I was going along nicely and had more then doubled the starting stack when I dropped about 30k to Ross in a hand he played well and I didn't. I locked up for a bit after this, got going again to110k and then donated another 50k to the same man AK v KK.

 This was into the last level and my 60k were looking very measly amount when I got a table move. First hand at new table I get a double, raising KQ utg and getting it in against a flush draw on a queen high flop. I pick up another small pot two hands later when the table breaks and I’m allocated back to the seat I had left three hands earlier with a much improved 130k. We finish shortly after this and I bag 160k.

Day two started very slowly for me I don’t think I played a single hand in the first hour. I got a bit more active after this but every time I seemed to be getting ahead of the game I lose a decent pot. Two 100k reversals spring to mind; AK v AJ in pre, and a blind on blind with Jacks v A7 where the ace floated and spiked the turn.

 I was grinding a re-shove stack on the live stream table for the two hours leading to the bubble and just as it bust I picked up AQhh and shove 23 blinds over a late position raiser. Unfortunately the bigblind woke up with the boots.

I enjoyed the tournament and look forward to playing the UKIPT Galway this week a little less rusty. DaGunman O'Shea has kindly offered me a loan of his crush hammer for the tournament so a deep run is almost certain. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Do you want to hear a sick one?

This was the question I was asked returning from a smoke in Clane Friday night from a random person I didn't know. Usually I just listen to the persons badbeat, nodding away with a numb brain. This time I just said "not really" as I was a bit steamed on Guinness and thus not at my diplomatic best. I hope the gentleman involved didn't take offence, but I think I was doing him a favor long term.

The tournament was good craic. My starting table had great potential with John O'Shea, Chris Dowling & a few notable IPB heads, unfortunately none of them were on the Guinness buzz with me.  

There was six levels played on day one, I spent at least four of those in the bar, making it through the day with an average chip stack. I think my best play of the time I spent on the table was to come up with a nickname for Chris 'showdown' Dowling.

Having had my fill of the black stuff I staggered off to bed about 3am and thought that was it for the night. Imagine my surprise to wake about 5am and find the legendary Mark Reilly on the bed beside me. Now I do like Mark a lot and was regaled by his story of how he went from being on the lash in  leixlip to ending up on my bed, but I did ask him to please %&$% off  to the poker room when he starting discussing PLO strategy.

 The next day didn't go well poker wise. I got my last 20 blinds in preflop with 66 v AK and if I'm honest, I wasn't that gutted to lose the race. My intentions this year are to win races in big buy in events and lose them in the smaller ones. 

It was an excellent tournament in a really nice venue but once I was out I headed home. It was a big weekend on the sports betting front for me. To cut that story short I should of stayed where I was.  

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Irish Poker Championship 2012

I think we've seen this event change in one way or another every year since it's inception in 2006. I never would of foreseen it playing out as a side event, but that's what happened this year. The tournament had a €750 buy in and over 200 starters, add to this the title and it was still a tournament well worth giving your all for.

Contrary to the ribbing I get, I'm not really a great one for side events. Usually after getting knocked out of a main event, I find it hard to give a side event my full attention. This wasn't the case last weekend as my early exit from the WPT meant I felt as I hadn't really played, so was well up for this.

The Bomber
My starting table had a few familiar faces, Including Bomber and Andrew Grimason. There was a real nice atmosphere on the table with everyone in good form.

I started steady enough, then hit a bit of a heater just before and after the dinner break trebling my 20k starting stack. We were only playing six levels and the table broke for the last one. I ended the day with a top ten stack of 66k with around half the field still in.

Day two was an odd one. I loved my starting table but it was first to break. They were breaking tables down one of two lines and every time I drew the next table to break. I'm the type of player ( well i guess most are ) that likes time to settle into a table. Subsequently I was three hours into the day and had broken 5 times.

My stack was maintained until I lost a third of it with AJ v KK, it was a shortish corner and I was happy enough calling the 18 big blinds it cost to call the 4bet shove. Again just after this, I get moved again to the next table to break. I know it shouldn't bother me but it was doing my head in at this stage.

I needn't of worried though as the poker gods were soon to put me out of my misery. I was only at the table a couple of hands when I picked up QQ. First to act opened, and I 3-bet from a 40k stack with blinds 500-1000-100, The button shipped for about 120k holding AQ. An ace on the flop meant no fourth life time cash in the IPC.

It wasn't too disappointing, we were about 40 off the money and, well you want to get them in in that spot every time. I dont know where the IPC as a tournament goes from here, but I think we can assume it wont stay the same as this year. The tournament has a good legacy, and needs to find a stand alone berth.              

Monday, January 9, 2012

WPT Dublin

The general vibe leading up to the inaugural WPT Ireland was that the tournament would not be a success. My gut told me differently, I had told the man behind bringing the tournament here ( Ian Langstaff ) a couple of months ago that I thought it would work and we'd get 300 starters.

I thought the event had three big positives going for it; 1, Ireland has a history of a big field buy ins the first week in January. 2, the City west venue, overseas visitors like it and come back. 3, the brand, every poker player in Ireland would fancy a crack at a WPT title.     

As it played out, the event was a resounding success attracting a field of 333 starters, including a host of big name stars from around Europe.  In fact it could well of been the best field ever assembled in the country. Dom Hever who blogs for irishpokerboards described the field as " being like the Irish Open, without the 300 bad players". 

One area where the WPT people got it very wrong was the chips. Each denomination of chip was a plethora of colors with the 5000 and 100 chip closely resembling each other. Barney boatman was the main sufferer of this when he mistakenly opened for 15,000 instead of the intended 300 and a player put him in holding QQ. Barney call with 1010 for a very unfortunate exit.  

While the tournament itself was a huge success, my own display was an abysmal failure. Looking at some of the starting tables I had definitely drawn a good one. However that wasn't much consultation exiting in level five.

all the cool kids are wearing these
In honesty I made no mistakes so cant be too disappointed, it was just one of those days where my opponents kept having the goods or got there as hands progressed. On four occasions I had to fold after putting a decent percentage of my chip into pots, and each time was shown the nut flush. Just a bad day at the office.

As the tournament progressed  Dave Shallow became the dominant force. The home contingents performance wasn't great with the notable exception of  Ronan 'Gilly' Gilligan, Ken Doherty & Dan Smyth.

The 1997 World Snooker champ taking down a major poker title would of been the biggest headline grabber. However, the talented Doherty's run would end in a creditable 16th place finish.

Dan Smyth, owner of a surname that's synonymous with taking down major Irish events looked like making a big challenge for the title, when he grabbed the chip lead two tables out. Dan has a fantastic online record but a number of reversals saw his commendable challenge peter out in 11th.   

This left Gilly as the remaining Irish hope. A Galway based player Ronan was rooming with my mate Derek Murray. Derek has mentioned to me on a number of occasions that he rates Gilligan very highly as a player and relayed to me pre-tournament that Ronan had won entry in a $50 satellite and his intentions were to play the event as it it was a $50 buy in rather then a €2,500.          

True to his word, Gilly got his full 300 big-blind starting stack in verses two sets (one folded ) in only the second hand of the tournament, pushing a flush draw and never looked back. His third place finish was a swashbuckling display and is a fine addition to his 2nd place finish in the 2010 UKIPT  Dublin for his CV.

In the end Shallow was a worthy winner of a fantastic tournament, which is a wonderful addition to the Irish poker calendar.   


Monday, January 2, 2012

Back to Work

Hope everyone had a good Chrishmas and got over the New Year without too bad a hangover. I must admit to being a bit of a Christmas grouch, although I hide it well enough and the feast of sport on over the holiday keeps me some way sane.

It's back to work this week. 1st up is tonight's fantastic $10,000 added Festival Frenzy tournament at Boylepoker. I'm sure most of you will have qualified for this non-direct buy in event already; if you haven't satellites are running all day today ending at 6.45 with the main event starting at seven.

On Thursday I'll be at the City West for the WPT Ireland. When I started out playing the game, this date was always filled with the Irish Poker Championship at the same venue and that event returns to it's spiritual home as a side event of the WPT starting the Friday.

The WPT is a hard one to call turnout wise. On a negative its relatively big buy in for a country where disposable income is at an all time low. This makes it hard to see where the walk in buy ins will come from. There's also the clash with the PCA, which could affect overseas visitors.

The positive is the brand, every poker player in the country will fancy the title of WPT champion, so a few mattresses will be raided to come up with the buy in.

I've herd people predicting very low turnout for the event, but personally I think the numbers will be decent. I'd call anything over 150 starters a relative success for this type of buy in, in its first year. Hopefully it gets over 250 and establishes itself as a permanent way to kick off the poker year.

I, as every other Irish poker player, kinda like the ring of " Irish WPT Champion".