Thursday, April 18, 2013

The 40 Guns/Masters weekend

The 40 guns was a rather novelty name for an innovative tournament run in Tramore last week. €1,000 buy in, limited to 40 players and run over one day. I liked the idea a lot and loved the fact it was on my doorstep. The only drawback for me was a clash with the Masters that I was prepared to sacrifice for such a good tournament.

The field was a mix of players from the region and a few shrewdies who had travelled to the event. There had been many satellites run in Clonmel, Waterford, Dungarvan so for a lot of the field it was a buy in outside their usual range.

Looking at the four starting tables I’d say I got the short straw but ran well in the seat draw, having direct position on Padraig O Neill and Liam O Donoghue.

With 30,000 starting stack and 45 minute clock there was heaps of play and I did my usual party piece of spewing half my starting stack over the first two levels. Having knuckled down I picked up a few hands and played a few pots well to be among the chip leaders after level four on 60,000. 

After a very nice three-course dinner, it became obvious from the low attrition rate that this was going to be a long grind. First place was €16,000 and ultimate pain was guaranteed for one player with the bubble being €4,000 for fourth.

My VPIP definitely dropped a chunk when the full Masters coverage started on TV. I have UPC at home so was grateful to Chris Dowling for his iPhone with skygo and it wasn’t even tactical generosity as he was on another table.  

The game had become very slow and the blinds definitely caught up with the structure with 20 BB average and two tables left. I lost a big race 77 v AK with 12 remaining for which would have given me 16% of total chips. I shoved a lot to get those chips back and had a little under average when the final table started. The table draw ran against me this time with a decent stacked Padraig and big-stacked Liam now having direct position on me. 

I had a clear strategy in my head at this stage. With such a big bubble under no circumstances be short stacked playing it.  Basically, take a punt if possible to get chips. For the first two rounds of the FT I had no spot and we lost two players.

The first time it was folded to me on the cut off I had 12 BB’s and the blinds were going up in a couple on minutes. I felt it was an ATC shove as the BB seemed tight and was shorter then me. Liam woke up with a hand and I was lucky to be in a 40/60 but not lucky enough to win it.

Well done to Liam on the victory and commiseration to Padraig who was the unfortunate 5th. 

The Masters didn’t go great, I got a few quid out of Westwood top Englishman which would of covered my pre tournament bets. I had kind of avoided Tiger pre tournament but when he stiffed his drop on the 15th on day two after unfortunately hitting the flag and water the previous shot; I decided this was a ‘pivotal’ moment and ploughed in. How right I was!  

Friday, April 5, 2013

Irish Open 2013

This was my 8th Irish Open, having first played the event in 2006. As poker years are akin to ‘dog’ years, I played those eight tournaments over a 56-year period. The tournament didn’t change that much year to year in that time, a gradually improvement in structure occurred and arguably the standard of play.

This year there was a significant structure change and ignoring registration fee a 37.5% drop in buy in. The tournament may of lost a few big names because of the smaller buy in and the bubble may of broke on day three rather then day two. However all in all, for me it felt as big a tournament as any other Irish Open I have played.

courtesy of Danny Maxwell
This was my third year to cash in those eight attempts and certainly deep and around the bubble if felt exactly the same as previous years. Actually scratch that, there was one notable difference. Former TD, Dave O’Neill was sorely missed running frantically around on the bubble roaring at players and spectators alike to return to their seats and get behind the rail.

My tournament went ok. Unusually for me I can’t actually recall much of day one. I know from my twitter feed I had starting stack with two levels remaining and ended the day on an above average 74k without playing a big pot.

I had a good table draw on day two. The only person I knew was John Stokes who I used to play a lot with in the old ‘Blazing Aces’ club in Waterford. I steadily amassed chips all day and hit 250k with two levels remaining. A lot of things had went my. I remember calling a few big barrels turn and river with ace high and being good. Barrelling myself with 44 on a scary board and being good. Getting to showdown holding queen high and being good and most memorably check shoving turn with 66 on a 2235 board, getting snapped and holding verses a king flush draw.

It then turned on me. I was probable a little rash to 3–bet commit A2os losing 75k to this particular gent from the bigblind, his raised AK from the smallblind held. Within 2 minutes I raised called KQss and lost another 75k to A8. I was still comfortable on this table and confidant I could recoup until a few minutes later the floor person informed me I was moving tables.

My internal reaction was “oh no”. I had been on the table ten hours and to move now relatively short-stacked, I feared the worst. My new table had a few familiar faces including Noel Hayes, Liam Flood and Andrew ‘ulduffer’ Sweeney.

Flood was running the show here and it was a pleasure to see. I can honestly say for the last 90 minutes on day two Liam was by far the best player I had played with over the three days I lasted in the tournament. He had a 3-bet percentage of around 60% chipped up from 120k to 400k; it really was delightful to see.

My chip count improved in tandem with Liam’s for the same period but in a much luckier fashion. Firstly I got my 100k in with AK verses QQ and win. Shortly after I picked up AA and the same unfortunate player who held the queens picked up the kings. Day three would start with a healthy 375k, which was 9/64.

We started day three ten off the money. I wasn’t in great shape; it wasn’t the usual Irish Open hangover complaint but rather radiator problems. I was a big loser of the Burlington room roulette and got a horrible old one, 7th floor at the front. The radiator wouldn’t turn off and made a constant noise akin to Niagara Falls. I didn’t get much sleep.

Things got worse when I sat at my table a saw the five hero’s lined up on my left. Derek Wall and Andrew Sweeney, two pretty unexploitable young pros. Mad Mick McCloskey and Liam Flood whom although having a combined age of over 300 were probably the two most frequent 3-betters in the tournament and an English based gent who’s only English seemed to be raise or re-raise. I couldn’t see a strategy of opening a lot of pots working here, as all were decently stacked. Well that’s not exactly true, I’d lost 100k in small pots before I actually decided that. 

I remember two hands in the run up to bubble time. One I opened one of my few pots light from early position, Liam put in a chunky 3-bet. I considered this a good spot for a light 4-bet as Liam has a merged range with his 60% 3-bet percentage he folded and showed AJ. The second hand I 3-bet AK chunky from the small blind verses the English gents early open, call. Flop AK10cc I lead and he at least 4x’s it, I shove and take a nice pot.   

The bubble dragged and I mean dragged, it must have been 90 minutes. We were the feature table and it must of made for boring viewing as everyone was decently stacked and chip movement was minimal as at this stage ever one realised the table couldn’t be run over. It finally popped and I had 450k about 1.5x average and in great shape to make a run for the final table I felt.       

Unfortunately this was where my good fortune in this tournament. For the next four hours I was dealt complete trash and any time I tried to make something happen I lost another few chips. At dinner I was left with a reshove stack of 200k, which was 18 big blinds. Upon returning from dinner the blinds went through me and I shoved 16bigs holding K9cc over a cutoff raise. Declan Connolly woke up in the big blind with AQ o it was out the gap.

Looking back there was no mistakes, maybe two hands I’d of played different with hindsight but these were marginal spots. I wasn’t gutted upon exit, you become pretty pragmatic when you’ve played the Irish Open for 56 years and I didn’t feel I had actually played particularly well but just did the standard stuff correctly. I got a hell of a lot of support from people via twitter/text and at the event, I’d like to thank all for the well wishes