Friday, August 22, 2008

Chop in Macau Classic part 3

Day 3, Final Table

Again I didn't sleep but when you reach this stage of a multi day deep stack it doesn't matter as your running on adrenalin. With €4,000 for 10th and €78,000 for first the chance for a big score is obvious. It's only natural for one to come up with a figure that constitutes a success for the day ahead and I was thinking if I could win €30,000 then the day would have been a triumph. The chips stacks were very compact with me having the third largest behind Jeff Duval and Sideshow Bob but there wasn't a whole lot in it.

We started back at four and the action started a little more aggressive then I had expected. The first hand I was involved in I lost about 100k of my stack needlessly. With the blinds 3/6k I call an early position raise of 16k with 910os and a bet on a 783 flop; the turn goes check/check and I bet the river about 80% of the pot hoping he has overs. I don't mind the river bet but I shouldn't be in the hand and I'm trying to make something happen which in reality there is no need to, he calls with JJ.

I knew I had played the hand badly but I didn't let it effect me which I was happy about and I showed great patience over the next hour when I went totally card dead. I then picked up circa 60k in a pot and hover around the 300k mark for a while. By now were down to seven players and I have two of those well covered.

My ideal scenario before the final table started would of been to get heads up with my good friend Bob but the final table hadn't been going well for him. He had a few raises snapped off, once by me in a blind verses blind spot and most recently when he was shown 910 by the pusher. After that hand Bob had open pushed three times in a row; I had folded AJ to one of his pushes as there was three to act after me and when the following hand occurred my impression was that Bob was steaming.

We were blind on blind and I'm playing just over 300k while Bob has about 170k I think, blinds are 5k/10k. Bob limps the small blind and I look down at A7os. After some deliberation I make it 50k basically making my decision that I'm not folding to a push by my bet size. Well Bob pushes pocket sixes and I call quickly and win the race in the most painful of ways for Bob; flop kk3, turn 9, river9 to counterfeit his pocket pair. As I said Bobs a good friend and I was sorry to see him out but theres no room for sentiment on the table however I'm sure we will see him back on a big stage in the future as his tournament game is improving all the time and the guy is a class act at the tables. The funniest moment of the tournament was when three tables out Bob started singing are you Bepe in disguise to Micheal Grecko, classic Sideshow.

Just before dinner were down to five when a shortstack pushes light and finds Rob Taylor's AQ to good. So at dinner the stacks are Me 500k, Ryan 550, Rob who has had a super day so far over 700k and Duval and a tricky French player around the 400 mark. The final two mentioned have been going at it hammer and tongs and already gotten it in twice against each other only to chop the pots, in my mind its only a matter of time before one takes the other out.

This more or less happens shortly after the break when Frenchy wins a big pot and the next hand Jeff Pushes his remaining 5 bigblinds into my bigblind. I call holding 33 and hit a 3 on the flop to bust his 88. I also had a good 20 minutes back after dinner so after that hand I was up to 640k. An equity deal was suggested and when we ran the numbers, it worked out as €42,000 for Rob and me, €40,000 for Ryan and €46,000 for the French lad.

I would of considered that I had a small edge on the four players left as a whole but getting 640k from rob would of been like extracting teeth and the edge was small so we were basically looking at €20,000 coin flips. All in all I was happy to deal and the €42,000 represented more then my €30,000 target at the beginning of play. We then took 1k each off to play for and the trophy. To say that the deal changed the atmosphere and loosened play a bit would be an understatement although having had a few days to digest it I think I lose most of my chips in the hand I did deal or not.

Simple hand I raise 50k on the button with AJos and Rob pushes for around 600k from the bigblind. I snap and Rob also has AJos but he four flushes me. Now if the deal wasnt done I dont snap but having thought about it I think I probably call anyway. Rob is a nit full ring but you don't make your online profit from high stakes 6man sitngoes without being able to really open up your game short handed, so knowing this I think I call anyway. Next hand I push my last 80k with AK and talk the French kid into calling me with 105os and he rivers a five.

Over all I'm delighted with the result on a number of levels. It's my second biggest cash after last years Irish open and in the intervening time I have put myself in a good position on a number of occasions but fallen short so it felt good to be there at the death. A chop on such close terms is as good as winning it in my mind and the way I played over the three days pleased me no end. I came as close as possible to the perfect tournament I think, never all in the whole way through and only raced for circa 50% of my stack twice. I'm also very pleased with the level of concentration and focus I achieved over the three days.

Probably most importantly it felt great to justify the faith Paul Smallwood and the decision makers at Brucepoker have shown in me through my sponsorship deal. It would of been very easy for them to go for a bigger name but I think it shows that is committed to supporting Irish poker by the decision to support me and I'm delighted to repay that faith in some way.

Finally once again the Macau have produced a brilliant festival, It's my favorite place to play cards and Ken and his staff through hard work have made the Irish Classic one of the top four tournaments in the country. The structure was magnificent and the average bigblinds never dropped below 40 and was over 60 for most of the tournament, it is truly a pleasure for any poker player to play such a fantastic structure. Also well done to fellow Waterford players Buda and Ray Kent on there chop in the €300 event

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Chop in Macau Classic part 2

Day 2 continued

Guy goes into the tank and asks “ do I have Q10”. My reply was plagiarised and something I think I read in Dara O’Kearneys blog recently “wouldn’t it defeat the whole purpose of the game if I told you my hand“. Now Guy says he has a straight and asks me will I show him my hand if he folds? There was a little history to this and I tell him that I will show him as we have been getting on very well and that I liked him, which I did. Guy then proceeds to fold 107 for the second nuts face up. I keep my part of the bargain and show the flush draw. In fairness to Guy he didn’t let the hand affect him and he went on to cash, again I felt I had dodged a bullet.

We had a 30 minute break around seven and when we came back I immediately won two large successive pots. The first I raised to 3500 UTG with JJ and a French kid pushed for 34000 on the button. I was fairly sure that if he held a real premium hand he would of just put in a standard 3bet. In fact I was a little disappointed to see AQ when I called as I thought there was a decent chance he held an under pair. Luckily the jacks held and I was up to over 90k. The very next hand a cork player over raises to 6,500 from UTG and I look down to find the bullets and raise to 21,000 which he calls quickly. On a flop of Qxx I just open push and get snap called by AQ. I avoid the two outer and add the players circa 80k stack to my 90k.

At this stage there's about 40 players left in the tournament and the 170k represents over 6% of the total chips in play, a playable final table stack so I'm in great shape and must be in the top five in chips.

My stack stayed around this mark until the last level of the day. I don't really remember any major hands for the intermittent period but I folded AK twice pre-flop and I was well behind each time. Going into the last level I was playing very well and totally focused but I had a small dilemma in my head. Anyone who reads my blog regularly will know that over the last year I've had a number of finishes between tenth and twelfth and I have been questioning whether I'm playing over aggressively at this stage of a tournament. I thought about playing passively into the final table but decided thats its just not my style. I also felt I was playing great and I was just in the zone and seeing everything.

So while others were tiring and looking a to make day three I really opened up and had a fantastic level. I got my stack up to 370k mostly taking down small pots. The biggest pot I won over the period was when Fatboydim pushed 55k over my 12k JJ raise with Q10 and I held. Just towards the end of the night a young aggressive English player came to the table and I had 3bet him twice in succession when the following hand occurred.

He bet and I'm bigblind with Ac9c, I considered raising but with our recent history I expected him to push over me so I just called. The flop was an innocuous 7x4x2x and he bet, I knew my A was good and called. The turn brought a Q and I suggested to him that it was a good card for him to second barrel which he did. I just knew he held KJ or K10 and called, the river changed nothing and he took an age to check and my A was good. If he fired again I was calling and when I was scooping the pot he gave me a bit of verbal about being a station which I enjoyed. These internet kids just don't get the soul read.

We finished shortly after and it was decided that the final table would be ten handed. Looking back on the day, I had gone from 26k to 370k and held nearly 15% of the chips in play; a super days work, we had played from 2 PM to 3 AM and I had enjoyed every second.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Chop in Macau Classic part 1

Irish Classic Festival 2008, Macau Casino Cork

I said in my last post that the Macau festivals have been very good to me the last few years and that run continued the weekend. I was fortunate enough to get a four way equity chop, we then took 1k each off to play for along with the trophy, I was happy to deal as the payout structure dictates a deal at times. It was a long slog over the three days and there was a huge amount of poker left in this if a deal wasn't struck. The €41,000 I brought home is a great payday and what a super start to wearing the shirt but it could of been very different as I narrowly miss being involved in a crash just as I left Waterford on Friday.

Day 1

I had just left town and was passing the Whitfield Clinic when a jeep lost control and bashed into a truck about two seconds in front of me. It was a pretty serious smash and the jeep hurtled off the road and through a ditch however it seemed no one was seriously injured. I'm sure had I been twenty yards down the road there would off been no poker for me last weekend. So with the accident fresh in my mind as I restart the journey about fifteen minutes later I decide that missing the crash constitutes running good.

Having checked into the hotel and grabbing some dinner with Paul from Brucepoker it was off to the Macau with great anticipation and a hunger for a poker tournament that I hadn't felt in a while. I had been playing a lot of small games recently but the previous Thursday having played like a donkey in New Ross I had decided on a no live poker policy until the Macau as I wanted to be fresh and eager to play. The plan worked as I was well up for it by Friday and its something that I will definitely do again in the run up to a big game.

I cant recall that much of Fridays play TBH but the day went reasonably well. In the first level I flopped a set of queens and won about 30 big blinds with them, which got me above starting stack, and my stack would rise in small increments for the rest of the day. I didn't play any big pots over day one but did hit some nice cards and won a lot of small pots eventually finishing the day on 26,000 chips just short of the average.

Day 2

I didn't sleep great and nipped back to the hotel for an hours nap after a light breakfast. When I woke for the second time that day I was feeling very good about the day ahead and it didn't disappointed. Day two of the event was just the perfect poker day for me and I will remember it well as everything just fell right for me.

The first hand of consequence was what I'll be calling from now on my Brucie bonus hand as I'm hoping I get a hand like this every tournament now I'm part of the team. Having worked my stack to over 30k I'm small blind with 47os and decide to complete. The flop comes a magical 3c5c6x, which I check, into three players. The bb checks and the first limper bets 1500, when the second limper announces all in its music to my ears and I get the chips in expecting to be facing a set or flush draw but its even better as he turns 4x5x more or less drawing to a chop. After the hand is over I'm up to about 60k and now I know a deep run is there for the taking.

I lose some chips against a very aggro Cork player when I raise 4.5k on the button with QQ the big blind who is a bit of a maniac re pops me to 10k. Now normally in this spot I 4-bet but because of the way he was playing I decided to slowdown, the flop comes k1010 Yuk. It goes check/check flop, check/check turn, he bets 10k on the river and I make a marginal call to be shown KK and although I lost 20k in the hand I felt rather lucky to have gotten away cheaply.

I got back most of the 20k immediately and was talking over my shoulder to Gavin 'Valor' Kelly about the QQ hand when a very strange hand occurred. I post the big blind and after a little confusion by me I realise that I've actually limped under the gun by mistake. The dealer should of noticed this but its still a stupid mistake. Anyway, just the blinds enter the hand and the flop brings 8s9sJx which fits rather nicely with my Ks5s. Peter Murphy an excellent player makes it 2200 and Guy a very nice English player whom I had been getting on well with raised to 5k. Guy was tight and could lay down a hand so after figuring he probably had two pair or a one pair hand and a ten, I decide to bump it up to 15k, as I'm confident I can fold him out.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Good advice

That's what I gave my buddy Danny on the golf course last Tuesday. Danny isn't a punter but was talking about having a few bets. Me having great wisdom on such matters proceeded to inform him that Galway and Goodwood made the last week of July a bookies benefit week and not to consider a bet. Off-course I proceeded to do my total bollix the next day.

Looking forward to the USPGA championship this coming weekend but a bit hesitant to have a decent punt on anyone, probably just pick four or five at big prices for a few speculative bets and if none of my picks get in the hunt have a punt Saturday or Sunday. I was tempted by the 25/1 available on Sergio which looks pretty big compared to his price in the recent Open but decided against it, the guy would break your heart with his putting.

Next week sees the Macau summer festival in Cork. I really love the Macau festivals and this one looks like being the best one yet. The main event has a 75 minute clock and 15,000 starting stack and having played the structure last year its magic. This will be my sixth festival in the place and I've had some kind of a score in four of the previous five I've played, my best result winning the winter festivals main event in Dec 05. That's a little over two and a half years ago and I remember traveling to the event with no doubt in my mind that I would win it even though it was my first €1,000 buy in. I'm a lot more pragmatic about the game these days, its fingers crossed for a good showing next week and hopefully I can bring my A-game in my first outing in the Brucepoker shirt.

Here's a cool Cork montage I found a while back on youtube, the tune is 'make this love right' aka 'ball and chain' by Romanthony and was a huge anthem in Sir Henry's back in the day.