Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010 Reviewed

I've been blogging for four years now and each year I've done a yearly review. The previous ones were relatively successful and always included a few decent scores. This year's review reads basically; got knocked out, got knocked out, got knocked out etc etc...

From a personal point of view I really enjoyed myself in 2010. I enjoy the lifestyle and freedom poker has afforded me over the last five years and last year was no different.

The highlight of the year for me is always Vegas. The highlight for my ego was being on the cover of Cardplayer magazine, although the airbrushing was a bit iffy. I also started a monthly column in Bluff magazine, which I enjoy and seem to get good feedback from.

It was a great honour to represent for the year. I feel these days sponsorship from a site involves a lot more then turning up at a tournament and wearing a patch.

I'd like to think I have added value for Boyle's from a marketing position and hopefully was seen as a good ambassador for the site.

From a poker perspective, the first five months of the year I was worried if I'm honest. I couldn't seem to get anything going, exiting loads of events without getting above the starting stack. A lot of these tournaments I felt I was just making up the numbers and didn't think I was playing well.

The last seven months I think I played very well, accumulating stacks freely in the early to middle stages of events. However, I kept falling short in tournament after tournament. I've practically never bubbled over my poker years, so seeing myself outlast 75-85% of fields in event after event and then exiting was surprising to me.

I like to think I'm pragmatic about how I'm playing and couldn't see how I was doing anything wrong over that seven-month period. All I can put it down to honestly is variance catching up with me.

Win a race here and there, the main event day three springs to mind, and it could be very different looking back. Basically that's how small the margins are between a great or terrible year in tournament poker, a flip here and there.

When I did a 'well' on the old boards forum, (John is doing an excellent job on his one, at ATM, check it out). Tony 'Flushdraw' Baitson asked the following question...

What is your poker expectation from 2008?

I answered, "Because the variance is so much in MTTs,i wouldn't be surprised if I didn't have any results that register for all of 2008 on the Hendonmob database. On the other hand I wouldn't be surprised to have ten results on it for the year. That's the nature/reality of being a live tournament player".

When I did my poker accounts at the end of the year it showed around €20,000 in profit. The only reason it was in profit was were picking up the tab for most of my tournament entries.

As my poker expenses over the year would have been close enough to €20k. The bottom line is a bad losing year relative to my buy-ins, but not on my pocket.

This isn't the first time I've had a losing year playing live MTT's, 2006 was similar but well offset back then by online profits.

The past two years I'm more of a recreational online player, playing just some of the big Sunday tournaments if I'm at home, or the odd tournament during the week. I did have a decent enough year punting golf, which always helps.

Looking towards 2011, I'm confident, if I keep playing like I have since June, it's only a matter of time before I click again. I do intend to play more online over the coming year.

I've never been much of an online MTT grinder but my intentions are to get stuck into them this year and see how it goes.

I kind of fell out of love with playing online, but I can feel a real zest for playing building in me recently. I even bought a new desktop and installed hold'em manager this week, in preparation.

Anyway, I hope people have enjoyed reading the blog for the year gone. Have a great 2011.

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.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Following on from my unplanned visit the previous week, it was back to Galway on Thursday for the UKIPT-IPC.

The weather had become a lot worse in Waterford but I was sure once I got about 20 miles west, the rest of the trip would be ok. As I suspected it was, and it took me the standard three hours to get there.

I found it quite amusing when Neil Kelly told me that he had decided his best option was to get to Galway by motorway, so he went Waterford-Dublin-Galway, taking a wonderful eight and a half hours, WP!

When the event finally kicked off after a day's delay, my starting table looked horrific with Rory Rees Brennan, Dermot Blaine, the eventual winner and benefactor of my chips was Nick Risk, who I'd played at the IWF and Nick Silver who won the UKIPT Dublin last year, basically ten pros.

The first real hand I played, I spewed about chip_icon.jpg4k of my starting twenty in a bad spot. The second hand I played, I went out in an odd one.

Nick one raised and was called by Nick two. I decided to just call from the small blind with Unkown suit QUnkown suit Q, disguising the strength of my hand. Rory also came along from the BB. The JXX dry flop was checked to Risk who bet chip_icon.jpg650, I called and the other two got out of the way.

The turn was an innocuous three and I checked again. This is where the hand got a bit strange. Risk bet chip_icon.jpg6100, which stunned me a little and took me a few seconds to assimilate.

He'd either mistaken a chip_icon.jpg5k chip for a 500 one, was making a rather strange bet or was pulling an angle for me to believe he'd mistaken his chips. I was leaning towards the first and this was confirmed, when Silver pointed to his bet size and his face dropped.

I decided to just push, as I felt he wasn't putting another chip in the pot if he was bluffing and I was getting called by many worse hands because of the odd dynamic. He vocally made a crying call which made me think I was good, but was in fact drawing to two outs against a turned set of threes.

It was disappointing; I'd probably have lost a third of my chips in the hand anyway but would never have burst. When I found out that there was a table re-draw for the tournament after the second level, this tilted me a lot more as the starting table should never have been.

It was a simple error, whereby the shuffle button on the software on the list of entries was never pressed. This meant that the players were seated in the order as they were received. Basically all Stars' qualifiers were seated together, same for live qualifiers, direct buy-ins etc.

I think someone should have copped what happened earlier when the four Pokerstars pros were seated in a line on the same table.

For the rest of the weekend I played two side events, lasting until the last three tables in the first and murdering my chips in the second.

I said before the event that I wasn't a fan of reducing the buy-in, as I felt it reduced the prestige of the Irish Championship. The event was hugely changed from previous years and for me just hadn't the same buzz.

It's a pie in the sky dream but I'd love to see two top tournaments in Galway, a UKIPT leg and bring back the old IPC.

I did hear a funny story from the cash tables late on the Saturday night. One of the players wasn't happy with a ruling given by the floor staff. The irate punter somehow thought the matter merited the attention of the guards, who duly arrived and arrested him!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Quick Trip

I made an unexpected trip to Galway on Saturday. I was chilling at home around two, losing money on the afternoon's racing when the phone rang. My buddy Danny Guiney, who had qualified for the final of the BOSP 2010, was sounding very disappointed as his flight had been cancelled.

I told him to get a cab straight to my gaff from the airport and I'd get him there. My thinking was, I'd save money by missing the rest of the racing and be guaranteed a good night out in Galway, as is always the case.

The roads up were grand once we hit Carrick, but for the first 15 miles they were fairly bad and Danny was crying like a little girl that he wanted to go home as I was doing my best ice-trucker impersonation.

The tournament was running about 90 minutes when we got to the Eglinton and Danny had eight BBs. I left him to get on with it and rounded up a crew, (Derek Murray, Knuckles and Eoin Dixon), for the session. When we checked the live stream from the hotel bar, Dan was heads up for the $10,000 sponsorship package, but unfortunately he just fell short to Richard Campbell.

So it was commiserations to Danny, I know it was gutting for him. However, congratulations to Richard and welcome to the team.

The night didn't disappoint anyway, it was quite nuts. Big fair play to Fintan, who went out of the way to show us the top Galwegian nightspots.

Unfortunately for Danny, his run bad for the weekend didn't end just yet. The following morning Danny asked me would I mind if he got the plane home. This suited, as I'd rather face a three-hour drive dying with a hangover alone. As I was halfway home I got a call from him telling me his flight was cancelled, hopefully he's gotten home since!

It's back cross-country tomorrow for the IPC. I'm not sure how the numbers will turn out with the current prolonged bout of weather, hopefully it gets 300 as the tournament deserves a good sized field. I'm really looking forward to the event anyway.

I probably should be feeling down about the game with the year I've had. Conversely, I don't think I've ever felt as positive as to where my game is at. It's possible I'm totally deluded, but either way I can't wait to get going the coming weekend.