Saturday, February 23, 2013

UKIPT Cork – A philosophical paradigm shift

My exit has been bothering me from the UKIPT in Cork last Thursday. It was the second last level of eight played on the day. I was low stacked (18 bigs) on what looked a tough active table with plenty chips. I decided to punt my stack in a bad spot with pocket two’s.

There’s nothing unusual there for me; you know the Father Ted episode set on the aeroplane where Dougal’s finger hovers over the red button with the “Do Not Press” sign. Well I’m a bit like that historically with the ducks. I’ve knocked myself out of so many tournaments with them over the years they’ve become a bit like my own red button, but it really was a bad spot this time.

A couple of things brought home to me how stupid it was to punt those chips. Firstly, Tommy Finneran winning the event having returned for day two with 7,500 chips, less then I lost in that hand. Secondly was remembering the only UKIPT I have cashed in to date, the first ever one in Galway which was a €2,200 buy in.

I described my starting table in that 2009 tournament in my blog at the time as “the toughest starting table I ever played on, and I didn’t know a player on it”. As it turned out it contained an unknown, Jake Cody, Toby Lewis and Chris Brammer. The table never broke and I got nothing going all day, scraping through with 40% of starting stack.

I finished 15th in that tournament, never having chips but losing a race on the last two tables for 1.5 times the average. Basically I gave myself a chance in an event I never really should have had. Fast-forward to last Thursday and I showed an opposite mindset because I considered it necessary to take a bad spot to gamble because “it’s a tough table”.

That may seem long-winded way of describing losing 18 bigs in a 400-player field but as I said at the start, the hand has been bothering me and represents to me how my mindset has changed for the worse over the intervening years.

The day had started well getting my 15k starting stack up to 32k on one of the more difficult tables in the room. It went wrong after the second break. I had lost a couple of small pots and then a big one when I picked up Jacks on the small blind while Aidan Connolly held the button and the boots. This brought me back to starting stack and over the next hour I had four table moves, which is never ideal.

I managed to lose small pots on all my new tables before arriving on my last table with 6,000 chips, which was 15 bigs. I got a temporary stay of execution when I shoved Fours on the button into the BB’s Aces and flopped quads. I then lost some raising A6s and betting two streets and checking back the river on an ace high flop, the bigblind held A10. My exit was within a couple of hands from this.

I did follow events closely online over the remainder of the event and was delighted to see Tommy Finneran take down a major Irish title. My first memory of Tommy is from the 2007 Irish open and him 6-bet shoving on, and showing A3 to Peter Eastgate. You have to remember this was 2007, when this wouldn’t of been that prominent a play, and Tommy was a quiet rural looking lad, so it made a bit of an impression on me.

We’ve been good mates ever since, travelling together and sharing a house in Vegas in 2010. Tommy has been a constant in the latter stages of big Irish tournaments over the last six year only to run bad late. To say he deserved this one would be an understatement.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

D4 DeepStack

The 6th instalment of European Deepstack Poker Championship took place in Dublin at the weekend. I’ve played the tournament every year bar the 1st but have to admit I have no love for the event. Don’t get me wrong it’s a great event run to the highest standards and brings a huge amount of value to these shores. I’ve just always felt the structure for this one a bit gimmicky, you get a mass of big blinds on day one to mess around with, but the subsequent days play out like any other tournament. However, you can’t argue with the turnouts over the years of which amazingly 80% travel from overseas.

The majority of overseas visitors to the event were French, with a healthy sprinkling of Danish, Belgian and Germans. I really don’t understand the bad press French players get, I always enjoy playing with them as they’re generally funny, cordial and make for a very active table dynamic.

I guess my main problem with the event is a personal one. Give me 500 big blinds at the start of a tournament and I just can’t stop spewing. I sat down to my table on day one and it became obvious early that it was a great table. A couple of capable players and the rest were average at best. Within an hour I had lost half my stack spewing and was by far the worst player at the table.

I knew I was playing terribly but just couldn’t seem to stop. I left the table for an hour to clear the head before I blew the lot. Upon return the rest of the table must have been confused as I played some super stuff trebling my stack within an hour and not putting a chip wrong.

I returned for day two with 90k and had increased this to 110k when I lost the lot in flopped set verses flopped straight debacle in the second level of the day. I wasn’t that disappointed, over half the field was still in at that stage so we were still a long way from the money. Also, for some reason getting it in bad makes for easier emotions upon exit these days for me.

Three Irish players made the final nine. The always-impressive Marc MacDonnell was first out of the final table. Marc had yet again held the chip lead after play on day one, something he seems to achieve with abnormal consistency. I can honestly say Marc is the most impressive person I’ve ever seen to gather chips and when he starts to put his end game together live the rest of us might as well not turn up. He’s that good he’ll probably win everything.

 Pat Smyth finished in 8th position. I played with Pat on a final table in Tramore last year in a small tournament he won and he is a sound chap with a lot of game. I guess that’s to be expected as the pedigree is there with him being an uncle of Jason Tompkins.

This left the home hopes on the capable shoulders of Declan Connelly. Declan final tabled the Irish Open in 2010 where he finished 7th after losing a massive race to Paul Carr so wasn’t going to be phased by the task at hand. After a gruelling battle he would come out on top taking the €50,000 1st prize and title of 2013 European Deep stack Poker Champion.