Tuesday, April 26, 2011

IO 11

This was my sixth Irish Open and having done nothing in the event since 2007 I was determined to make some sort of run. In the end I finished 36th for €7,500, disappointing in the end, but definitely a decent showing.

The pre tournament preparation involved three days in the wonderful surroundings of the kclub. The first two days it was the usual suspects; Marty, Julian and Paul Spillane. Yet again Smyth showed his philanthropic side by covering all our expenses for the coming weekend with his loses on the course.

Thursdays outing was organised and bankrolled by Mr Liam Flood; thanks for the inclusion Liam. The four-ball I played in consisted of myself and three legends of the game, Bellagio Tournament Director Jack McCelland, WSOP finalist George McKeever and Mayo's finest Danny McHugh.

I was a great honor to spend an afternoon with such greats of the game. I do sometimes worry about Marty, he managed to lose money to 13 of the 20 players in the group; obviously the other six were unlucky he hadn't a bet with them.

After some grub in the Kclub it was onto the Burlington and straight to bed. Hmm not, the best laid plans and all that, I did manage to get to bed by six though.

My starting table was christened the table of death on the reporting sites. I'd imagine we killed off a few viewers from the live stream anyway for the two levels we featured. The table included Johney Weaffer, Doke, Reesy, Mark Spellman, dutch sensation Paul Berande.

Every chip won on this table was like drawing blood, except for the 5k I spewed to John early that is. No idea what I was at in the hand but It had me on the back foot for the rest of the day.

At one stage on the feature table I dropped to 10k and remember thinking thank God they increased the starting stack to 20k this year. I was really just hanging in most of the day until I won a race with Queens in the second last level.

I ended the day on 30k, a bit behind the average but 30 bigs going back was fine by me. My only goal going into the day was to be still in at the end. I've been having a lot of good day two's in recent tournaments and was hoping for another.

The first level on day 2 I added about 15k to my stack, then early in the next level I caught a beauty of a hand that got me right into the tournament.

Jason Tompkins min raised the cut off and the button called, I decided to see a flop with 6d3d giving Jason some verbals " blame the button when smash this flop". I think 334 flop could be considered smashing it. I checked, Jason raised 4400 and button flatted, I bumped it up to 13,400. Jason got out of the way but the button shoved 99 covering me.

This put me on about 95k and I was able to add to this steadily for the next 5-6 hours without setback until this table broke.

I had 170k ish when I moved to my new table. On my left on this table were two very aggro well stacked players, eventual finalist Finn Aleksi Savala and a good young English Lag. Whit most opens getting three and four bet I figured tightening my opening range optimal.

I added a handy 50k to my stack when a player shoved AJ and I woke up with the Aces. Then added another fifty when I opened 88 to 13,500, the English lad flatted and the Finn bumped it to 27,500. I felt it a good spot to 4-bet and my raise to 65k took it down.

We were on the bubble at this stage and I was about to pull my move of the tournament. David O'Neill, the tournament director announced over the mike while standing behind me that the sponsors would be giving the 65th place finisher free entry into next years event.

I said, " God bless Paddypowers", Dave obviously though this was a nice statement and asked would I say it over the mike. Always happy to oblige I got my hands on the mike and proceeded to say, " I play on boylepoker.com, you should to". A few choice words followed from Dave, which are unrepeatable here.

With the bubble broke the chips started flying in as usual. I raised 77 in early and a player called in the big. This gent had been all in numerous times and his modus was to flat and shove the flop. Sure enough he shoved the k55 flop, it's 100k to call but I feel I'm ahead of his shoving range here.

I tanked for a good while and my gut was telling me he had a small pair. I gave it some verbals but made a mistake, I said, " I have pocket tens and think I'm good here". His face visible dropped and I called to be shown 99. Why I didn't say I held eights is beyond me.

This was a very important pot to get wrong, It meant coming back for day three with a grinding stack of 180k and thirty bigs instead of a possible 380k stack with a lot more manoeuvring room.

My starting table for day three had Tureniec and Earmes and another few big stacks. I wasn't going to be opening to light but felt I could hopefully get a few chips 4-bet shoving as there was bound to be a lot of levelling going on. As it turned out the table broke after one level and I left with what I had started.

My new table looked light on chips and a lot easier, I had direct position on the Finnish player from the night before and relative stacks meant I was a threat to the players with position on me.

I was quiet comfortable for a level on this table and really felt if it didn't break I could of manoeuvred my way to the last two tables easily enough. That was until the last hand before the break.

Aleksi opened the SB and I decided to take a flop in position with Kh Jh, and what a flop I got Kx 5h 3h. He leads and I bump it up, which he flats. Ac on the turn went check/check and I called a bet on a blank river to be showed A2os. It was a bit of a sicken-er and left me with 8 bigs, which I shoved blind when folded to me in the cut off just after the break. I was racing J6os v the buttons A9 and although I hit the front on the turn the river sent me to the rail.

I hung around railing Marty and then Jude but wasn't in any mode for celebrating and headed home upon the two lads exiting.

I was happy to get some sort of run on reflection, I feel I played well on the whole and that's all I can do really. I think it was the best Irish Open I've played, the increase in starting stack made a huge difference and I think It showed with the quality of field left in on day three.

From what I saw Niall Smyth put in a fantastic performance and was a deserved winner. We needed to keep the title at home for the first time in four years so big well done to Niall for achieving this.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Looking towards the Irish Open

It's nearing the big one! The Irish Open once again becomes the focus for every poker player in the country. The tournament quiet simply dwarfs everything else that plays out over the year here.

An idea of the magnitude can be gleaned from the fact that a fifth place finish will guarantee a bigger payday then winning the next biggest tournament in Ireland for the year.

I first played the Open in 2006 when it was a bit a benchmark year, as this is when the game really exploded in Ireland.

I had won a one-seat satellite in Waterford and headed for Dublin full of naive confidence. I had only played a couple of ranking events at this stage and was totally blown away by the whole set up when I arrived at Jury's Inn for the event.

No such thing as a super satellite the previous day back then, we had a €400 re-buy with 2000 chips per buy-in and 4000 for the top up. I thought it better for my pocket to give up after four buy-ins and just hit the bar, having not reached the add-on.

My starting table the next day included Mike Caro, Marty Smyth, Rob Young, Simon Trumper and Steve Jelinek. Caro had been brought over by the sponsors as a "star" player and a hand I was involved with him in level two, is still the weirdest I have ever played.

With the blinds 50/100, three players including Caro on the button limped into my big blind, I checked my option holding Q7. The Q77 flop looked very nice and I checked, as did the next two players.

At this stage I'm thinking to myself, the best way to extract a thousand or two in chips when Mike suddenly announces all-in. It took a few seconds to register what had happened but sure enough he moved his 8,600 stack into the middle to win a pot of 400.

I obviously called and Mike turned up A2 off suit, for no draw no pair. Caro is known as the mad genius of poker and was clearly operating on a different planet to the rest of us mere mortals with this advanced play. It went way over my head anyway.

I remember accumulating a lovely stack for the next few hours, but I was to become unstuck before the end of play. Eventual sixth Paul Daly was moved to my table and we played a monster pot with all the chips going in on the turn, where my set of Jacks looked very healthy until the King on the river matched the two he held.

The beat haunted me for months afterwards, but a lasting addiction with the tournament had been formed.

The 2011 Irish Open will be held in the Burlington Hotel from the 21st to the 24th of April; one time.