Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I'm no Jessy May-Unibet Dublin

The City West is in my top two favourite venues for a poker festival in Ireland, so I was happy to see a major event back at the venue after a two-year absence.

I met John O'Shea, Tom Hanlon and Marty at the K Club on Thursday and thoroughly enjoyed our game, although I didn't bring my best. After nine holes I looked like getting stuck a monkey, but a better back nine and an impressive partner in John got me out.

I played the turbo on Thursday night, where I got a hell of a lot of big blinds in pre-flop holding KQ with about half the field gone. Well, you can't really fold a hand as pretty as KQ in a turbo I feel.

In the main event, I was a bit surprised to see EPT former grand final winner Pieter De Korver sitting two to my left on my starting table. One of the commentators described him as the best player in the tournament. In reality he wasn't even the best player at the table and was schooled freely on numerous occasions by Ian 'Bops' Ronan.

My tournament ended at level seven, playing 30k, blinds 300-600-75 ante. A relatively new player to the table who was frankly awful had been there four orbits and on each orbit had limped called a raise from UTG, and did so here. UTG + 1 called and I made it 2600 from the button with QQ; both called to see a 1022 rainbow flop.

First to act check-shoves covering me after UTG+1 had raised 4500 and I had called. I folded QQ on a nine high board the previous week in Cork but I just couldn't get away here. In my head I could see this guy showing up with 10J or even under-pairs to the ten, although I did consider the A2 he did show up with. I'm happy with my call.

I was asked to commentate for the live stream for the last two levels play on the day and had to endure watching the guy butchering his healthy stack. I'd done some live commentary in the past but I really didn't enjoy doing it here. I think it was the fact that it was a very dead table and I knew none of the players, along with having to watch my chips being spewed made me jump ship to the bar after an hour.

I didn't play poker for the rest of the weekend but had a decent sweat from percentage swaps with Marty Smyth and Derek Murray. Marty fell just short of the Money after losing a healthy stack in a couple of coolers. Derek had a great run finishing 15th for €5,000, and but for a beat with twenty left would of went very deep.

The button shipped 20 bigs in the hand, which was nearly average stack for the tournament at the time. Derek said he didn't like risking the chips with 88, as he felt he had a good edge on his table but after observing the pusher for a while, read him as very uncomfortable. It was A4 os and seeing fours land on both turn and river was a horrid way to lose the hand.

All in all I enjoyed the weekend; you can only run deep in a certain percentage of tournaments you play and just have to suck up the inevitable ones you exit early.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Irish Classic

The Classic festival in the Macau runs all week and is Ireland's largest casino based poker festival.

I just played the PLO and Main Event this year. The Omaha was on Wednesday night and had a poor turnout with a field of only seventeen.

I finished fourth for nought at five am, which made for a depressing drive home. The tournament was won by Alex 'The Prof' Lopez, with Chris Dowling taking second after some business heads up.

A sign of changing times could be gleaned from the weekend's prize pool; in 2008 the winner's prize for the main event was €81,000, this year the 'total' prize pool was less then that figure. The Macau had decreased the buy-in as a reaction to the current economic climate and a saturated calendar of poker events; they also added a re-buy option this year. The tournament was a still a great success and with 17 players choosing to buy in twice, that seems to have worked well also.

I said in a blog recently that I was unsure about these tournaments that give players the option to re-buy, when multiple day ones are in place. It's clearly an advantage to the top players who have large bankrolls, however is it fair to increase such players edge? I still haven't made my mind up, but it's definitely a topical subject as this type of event is becoming more prevalent.

My Main Event was going well for the first half of day one and into level four I had almost trebled my starting stack. Things turned on me after this however and I had a serious of unfortunate reversals which saw me finish the day with less then what I started. I rallied early on day two but was out just before dinner in a flip against the impressive Nelius Foley.

Seven on a Saturday night isn't the worst time to get knocked out of a tournament in Cork, and a big gang of the tournament causalities including Big Al, Paul Carr and Eoghan O'Dea hit the town for a messy night's drinking.

I returned home early Sunday morning but followed what looked a cracking final table online. Two of the south's favourite poker players; Peter 'Knuckles' Higgins and Brian 'The Fox' O'Keefe had good runs but fell short of the real money finishing 9th and 7th respectively.

Limerick player Con Collins followed up his recent 4th place finish at the JP Masters by filling the same position here. Upon Con's exit, the three remaining players agreed to deal, where Pat Curran took home €19,000 and the trophy, Tony Collins and David Croke both picked up a very healthy €15,000.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


No, I'm not plugging Google +, rather circles casino Clonmel where I played a €275 summer game last Sunday.

51 players turned out for the one-day event and I got the most in a 4-way chip equity chop at 5 am. I took home €3,300 which was 26% of the total prize pool, so not a bad day's work.

I was treading water early on in this event, but got lucky three tables out when I squeezed KQ into a limpers AK. I never really looked back after this and although I was short enough going to the final table, things fell my way.

One sweet hand that I'll remember from the tournament occurred six handed. I raised 10 7os in the cut-off and hit the old 89J flop. I got it in on the flop against the BB's top pair. This gave me the chip lead and I was happy to chop shortly after, when we lost another player.

It was an enjoyable, well-structured game and the staff at Circles were top class, I'll be back for their Winter Festival in early December.

My next poker outing is the Irish Classic in the Macau Cork next week. You have the option here to play Day 1A and if it doesn't work out, you can buy back in on the second day one. I'm not sure how I feel about these tournaments that you can buy back into, but I don't think I'll be availing of the option. I just don't like the idea of being in for a grand in a monkey game, where realistically a maximum of 10% of the field will only have re-entered.

On the golf front, it's the last major of the year this weekend. I had a nice touch out of Kaymer in this one last year but I haven't really gotten involved pre tee this time - I'll see how the first two days go and have a punt Saturday. TBH my confidence in doing anything-right punting wise isn't great. I'm in a trough for about ten weeks on the golf and not attacking this major with my usual vigour.

Not up to much this weekend, the highlight will be a trip to Killarney Friday to play Killeen. Just looking at the forecast now and it's not great but I'll put up with some rain to play this smashing course.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

EMOP Dublin

Clontarf Castle Hotel was the venue for the inaugural visit of the European Masters of Poker tour to these shores. It proved to be a fantastic venue with a top room for a poker tournament. Having played a few of the tours events overseas I knew what to expect- 200 or so Scandinavian online qualifiers most of mediocre ability and hopefully boosted by a good turnout form the home team.

Connie O'Sullivan's, Cue Club events team were running the show and as you could expect with these guys, all targets were met. 300+ players sat down over the two starting days to fight it out for the title. I opted for day one B and my starting table seemed tough enough initially but I warmed to it as the levels progressed.

At the first break I commented to a friend that I expected an Asian kid on my left to start playing back at me soon. First hand back he did, I can’t see how I could of folded my jacks after just making this prediction and his aces held in a 28k pot. Thankfully I doubled immediately after with kings to get back to starting stack of 20k.

Over the next few hours I hit a brilliant run of starting hands, unfortunately they kept getting smashed. I had to give up on Aces three times over the next four levels, costing me plenty on each occasion.

Seven levels into the ten level day I got a table move, I had only about 15k at this stage but was stagnating and hoping the move could ignite me into the tournament. My new table covered the spectrum of Irish poker. On my left was tall Michael Graydon, Mick is having a sick year online and is topping the pocket5s Irish table for 2011. On my right, legend of Irish poker, former WSOP main event finalist George McKeever, so quiet the contrast.

Funnily enough I had never played with George before. I must of impressed him somewhat as after two hours of playing on the table he asked me if I'd like to swap 5% in the event.

I was going along OK and had doubled my stack when I ran AK into A9 just before the last level of the night. I'm well used to losing 30-70's, so it wouldn't bother me generally. However, the fact the dealer burst out laughing when my opponent hit a flush on the river had me steaming I must admit.

Just into the final level with ten big blinds left I got a lucky double shoving A5 into A10. But it was to no avail as thirty minutes later I lost a race for 60k, which was average stack, AK v JJ.

It was a difficult days poker for me as every time I looked like getting something going the deck swung against me. I feel had I won the late race I could well of have had a run at this one, but wasn't to be. I'm never too disappointed once I've played decent poker and I was very happy with my game over the day.

I'll be writing on the event for my columns in the star and bluff and will have a more macro-based sum up of the tournament in those. But big well done to all the Irish that cashed, especially The two Micks and Doke who nearly held off the invaders.