Thursday, March 20, 2008

PLAYING THE IRISH OPEN

What it says on the tin basically. After much deliberation and internal debate I finally decided that my recent form and current confidence in my game; allied to the size of the competition and the huge value that it represents - meant that I simply couldn't sit it out.

I spent €510 in trying to qualify unsuccessfully, and the sticker price of €4500 is beyond my bankroll at the moment on account of my decision to quit my job and spend the next while traveling (more of that in a later entry). However, a solution was reached when I managed to agree a deal with an investor which allows me to enter the tournament for a price that is bankroll comfortable for me. I have no intention of naming my backer or discussing the terms. Suffice to say that I will play the tournament for 50% of any prize money I may be awarded.

My reservations about this tournament will be well known to anyone who has read my posts on boards. Last year I was a little starry eyed about the entire affair. To be honest, this time around I'm more weather beaten and feeling wiser to the whole thing. I'll be taking my seat tomorrow at 2pm with the mindset that this is simply another poker tournament. I'll do my best. We'll see what happens.

I have promised my backer a detailed trip report of my participation in the event so you can expect that to appear here next week at some point (I HAVE to do it this time). In the first week of April I'll stick up a more general catch up type entry and briefly talk about my deep run in the GJP European deepstack championships back in February.

Hopefully I'll run well tomorrow. Good luck.

Monday, November 26, 2007

THE WINNERS ENCLOSURE (Again, finally)

Ok, 41st in the IPO for €410. Got angle shot on my exit hand. That was annoying.

Out after three hours or so in the ME in Waterford after I get it in with Ac9c on a QcAh2c flop in a 18k pot at the start of the 100 / 200 level against Connor Doyle. He calls with 2s3s for my shove of 7.4k after some of the most unusual speech play ever. 2d on the river. lol. Such a sick, sick man.

Then finish 12 of 118 in the €250 side event for a paltry €400 after a grueling 14 hrs of play. But that was ALL my fault after I misplayed three hands in a row to go from comfortable stack to out.


After all of that I was undecided on whether to bother with the €1k in the SE. Made the decision on the Thursday and headed in to pay though - cause I have teh sickness.

Didn't seem like such a good decision after play finished on Friday mind. I ended day one with 14.5k after one of the most horrible days of tournament poker ever. Basically, David Callaghen is better at poker than me. It was a frightening experience to be on a table with a truly world class player who was going after me and kicking the balls off me. But tournaments are a skill game obv; and my squeeze shove with 6d9d beating his AdQd AIPF in a 40BB pot was just one of the numerous beats he took on his way out of the tournament. Being the best player don't mean a whole lot sometimes in donkaments - despite the fantastic structure in the SE.


Anywho, I turn up on day two with a positive attitude and double up on the third hand. Declan open limps in mp. I limp KsJs in the CO. Button and both blinds come along. Flop has 3.4k in it already and comes down Qs9s3x. DING DING DING. Time to gambol. Declan leads for 2k and I make it 6k with 7.4k. He calls after a little thought. With Declan this is top pair a lot, so I figure myself for 15 clean outs and that he would most likely fold if the turn is an Ace. So, without looking at the turn I shove when he checks. He dwells for about 3 mins; gives me the immortal line that is "I think I'm behind..." before calling with Qd10d. However, I run good and river the 10s for a straight flush. Sweet. 30k.

A few hours later I'm on 80k, helped in part by some missed draw chasing to meaty flop and turn bets by the Canadian Danielle. Her whirlwind descent from 81k to busto in less than an hour of 300 / 600 / 50 was quite a spectacle it must be said. Later Frank Callaghan makes it 3700 or something (basically a bigger raise than it should be) when folded to him on the button at 400 / 800. I make it 13k with KK in the bb and hold versus his AQ to move to 100k. I take out Reggie Corrigan in a 15BB pot when he shoves over my open with AdQh. Obv, his AA never beats my Q on the flop; trips on the turn; one card nut flush on the river. Seemed like a nice fella.

Take my only step backwards on the day after a short stacked Cormac shoves his small blind when folded to him. As the hand is being dealt I ask him if he is open pushing the top 70% into me. He chuckles and agrees. Sooo, when he shoves I make the insta call with A2o and lose to his Q3o. lolz.

But that setback is righted when I make it 3500 with 89o second to act and a guy playing 45 - 50k calls next to act. Heads up to the 885 with two hearts flop. DING DING DING. I lead for 5k. He thinks and calls. Turn 6. I make it 13.5k and he ships it after a little count. I call quick and beat his A5.

So we have like 140k and Michael Trimby is just settling into the seat on my right with 80k when he raises his button to 3900 at 600 / 1200 / 100. I call with 77 in the sb because we are deep and I have no idea what his range is; plus he is apparently a very tough player and playing a re raised pot OOP against him with no reads or gauge of his range is probably not ideal. Anyway, flop is 662 rainbow. I check. And he gives away his hand by saying "better check for that 6"; rechecking his cards and checking behind. Images of 56; 67; A6 flash through my head when Ursula turns a 7. DING DING DING. I lead for 8.5k. He thinks and makes it 21k. No need to slowplay here so I just wave the hand and go all - in. He snaps with 63. A 3 on the river comes just in case we don't like betting and raising monsters on the turn.

I take out the bubble boy (a decent PPP qualifier) when I win a race with AK > 1010 and end the day with a quarter of the chips in play at 265k.

Yesterday I just played patient and ground out chips. Didn't play particularly well and made a few mistakes. Missing value bets; calling a little too light sometimes; and making the most retarded preflop fold of KK ever. But I had the bigstack; the structure was great (90 min clock ftw); and unless I got horribly coolered or outdrawn my style of play and huge lead was always going to see me through to the business end.

And, as it was, Rob with 295k; Declan with 400k; and myself with 395k decided to chop it €16k each after Roy made an unfortunate error in a raise size preflop which committed him to doubling Rob up and crippling himself ( he lost A9<22 next hand). We left the remaining €1.7k for the dealers and that was that.

It feels good to be out of it for the year and seeing some profit (including online) on 2008. It is a relief to get big win number two out of the way exactly one year after GJP one. The reality is that I have played much better poker in other games this year - particularly last May during two days of ducking and diving in defense of my title which was to fall short on the bubble. But I ran well this weekend and got lucky never to get unlucky. That's tournament poker - an individual win will never be flawless or particularly significant in of itself. But do the right things often enough and you'll get there in the end. Hopefully people will shut up now and leave me to it. We'll see. Meanwhile, I'll chug along and aim to improve. I HAVE A LONG WAY TO GO AND LOADS OF LEAKS TO FIX.


GRIPES

For all the positive things about the poker room in the SE and all the great work John and Alex do - it must be noted that some things are simply not up to scratch. The 6pm - 6am opening hours are not sufficient. The lack of a regular kitchen sticks out like a sore thumb. And the catered food thrown up to us over the three days was abysmal at best. Roy and Peter Heslin having to duck out to Eddie Rockets for dinner is simply unacceptable. Compare that to the steak dinner we were treated to by Mike Lacey last year - and he was only charging a €70 reg.

John and Alex have their hands tied and would surely murder the competition if they were let bring their ideas to fruition by upper management.

Monday, October 01, 2007

RUGBY : (

Let’s go back approximately 16 years to this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4bn6StyxvU

That’s the closest an Irish team has ever come to the Semi – Finals of a rugby world cup. Stirring stuff eh (even with French commentary)? Of course, Australia rolled up their sleeves; put the head down – and went down the other end of the pitch from the restart to win the game. Because that’s what winning teams do. They win.

AN EIGHT YEAR CYCLE OUT AT SEA

Ultimately, Irish rugby has had many moments like Gordon Hamilton’s above try – small incidents of rebellion against that power which ultimately reigns all powerful over Irish sport on the world stage: the self defeating power of underachievement and failure. Eight years after the above game, an Irish team containing such willing - yet hopelessly limited - players like Tommy Tierney and Justin Bishop went down to a plucky and overachieving Argentinean side in Lens. Despite the Irish camping on their line for about 8 minutes before the ball went dead. Despite desperate phase and phase of picking and driving from the forwards, and despite the medieval tactic of the 15 man lineout: it was all to no avail and the blazers in the IRFU were jolted into the professional era – almost against their will.

Lens was undoubtedly a shockingly low point in Irish rugby history, but it should hardly have been unexpected. From 1991 to 1999 our international team was an absolute laughing stock. The likes of Geoghan and Galway were surrounded by players who defined the term “amateur athlete”. We beat England a couple of times of course (most famously when Geoghan barrelled over into the corner in Twickenham) – but such blips were vastly outnumbered by the times an Irish team would give a good 20 minutes before allowing the floodgates to open. Everything that stank about Irish rugby could be summed up by Nicky Poppelwell scoring a try against New Zealand in the 1995 world cup and celebrating by sticking up the fingers to the vastly superior opposition. Yeah, well done Nicky: Ireland went on to be trounced 43 – 19.

“THE GOLDEN GENERATION”

Professionalism was approved by the IRB in 1995. But it was not until the 1997 – 98 season that the provinces were allowed to contract full time players. The Irish team was packed with those that had headed over to the premiership to ply their trade. After Lens, the approach changed. Money was pumped into the provincial set up, and attitudes changed. Ireland went to Twickenham in February 2000 and had their arse handed to them 50 – 18. That was Justin Bishop’s last game for Ireland. Two weeks later Hickie was recalled; O’ Gara and Stringer started their first full International at half – back; O’ Driscoll came in as the “golden generation” took their first steps. We beat France in Paris for the first time since 1972. Then in April, Munster went to Toulouse and stuck it to them like only Munster could in a performance filled with passion, desire and no little skill – exemplified by Hayes’s finish of magnificent multi – phase team try that wrapped the victory up.

Inexplicably, Gatland was replaced by O’ Sullivan in November 2001. While it was probably undeserved, progress continued. And so we settled into six years of being competitive. The Grand Slam was close, but always out of reach. Surely next year we thought? Argentina was edged past in the 2003 world cup. We all enjoyed a great performance against the hosts – the highpoint being O’ Driscoll’s brave try. And it didn’t seem so bad that we never turned up against France in the quarter final – the future looked bright. England was beaten in Twickenham on the occasion of their triumphant homecoming as World Champions in 2004. And then was beaten the next three years in a row for good measure. At times we played wonderful rugby and looked really fucking special. On the provincial front, Munster performed the miracle matches. And eventually put it all together and won. Leinster could point to some scintillating performances away to Bath and Toulouse. 15 months ago we went down to New Zealand and should have won the first test; gave them a fright in the second. And the good times built up towards what we hoped would be a fitting crescendo as we hammered South Africa in the autumn internationals; and we kicked England around in Croke Park.

And yet? There was no Grand Slam. There was no Six Nations championship. Four attempts at New Zealand in six years yielded another four defeats. Munster, for all their courage and bravery, needed three cracks of the whip before they won the Heineken cup. They LOST the greatest European club match of all time against Wasps. Leinster LOST an eminently winnable semi – final against a half interested French outfit in 2003 – at Lansdowne road. While winning four straight games against England felt good – the reality was that English rugby spent the last four years mired in the doldrums. They waited two years too long to finally jettison the heroes of 2003; then spent the next two years playing every player and his brother in a frantic effort to rebuild. Yeah, we were competitive. Yeah, we played some nice rugby. But over the last six years this “golden generation” has done NOTHING that a previous Irish team hadn’t done.

What O’ Sullivan gambled on was the creation of a world – class 15 that could beat all comers. As opposed to reaching for squad depth over the past four years; he concentrated on identifying the first choice for every position – and giving them every chance to gel. The plan was that first 15 would arrive in France fit and in form. There was no plan B – but no – one really thought we would need it when plan A appeared so refined. And, despite some minor setbacks during the warm up games, they turned up fit. But in form? Not even a little bit.

O’ Sullivan noted in the RTE documentary on last year’s six nations campaign that had the agonising TMO decision in the France / Scotland game on Paddy’s day gone our way – Ireland would not have been a better team for it. We would be six nation’s champions sure, but that title would make no difference to the actual talent level of the team. Wise words indeed – but after the Irish team walked off the pitch in Rome, nothing has been right. The provinces went out of the Heineken cup with barely a whimper. A patchwork side were man handled by vastly superior hosts over two tests in Argentina. As much as we all wanted to put horrendous performances in the warm – up games against Scotland and Italy to one side as “blips”; the laboured performance against Namibia should not have been as much of a shock as it was.

The thing is this Irish team probably was not as good as it thought it was. And, no matter how good any rugby team may be in theory, when you don’t perform you just won’t be doing much at International level. During the Georgia game there was plenty of clapping and shouting – but the basics were not being executed to an acceptable standard. The passion was there against France, but every time something good happened and a platform was established – a lineout would be squandered; or a silly penalty conceded ala Wallace stepping on Chabal. And, despite the fact that the likes of O’ Gara, Darcy and Horan were wildly out of sorts – what could O’ Sullivan do? The plan was that O’ Gara would do what he had been doing for years in a green or red jersey (think Argentina at Lansdowne in 2004 or Leicester in Welford road in 2006). Paddy Wallace was not a real replacement – that wasn’t the way preparations had been carried out over the previous four years. As opposed to giving the necessary game time to Wallace at out – half; we were content to give him a run with the second string every so often. He doesn’t even play out – half for Ulster!! With the whole lot on the line against Argentina, there was some improvement. O’ Connell was furious in the loose. O’ Driscoll looked like the best player in the world at his position again. Hayes gave another solid performance. But overall there was no zing. No fluidity. No consistency. Kicks were overcooked; wrong options were taken; key lineout’s were disrupted; key catches were dropped (by the massively over hyped Murphy).

The reality is, as I have argued above, that our expectations may have been misplaced to some degree. Beating the hosts in Paris is not something Irish teams are good at. Argentina is a tough, professional and fiercely determined outfit. They carry an ever present chip on their shoulder over what they perceive as “second class citizen” treatment from the IRB. Beating them was never a given. And failure to top the group was always going to deliver us into the arms of New Zealand in the quarter finals. As such, a failure to progress beyond the group stages is not an unmitigated disaster in and of itself.

However, this Irish team has – to use one of the oft favoured clich├ęs of it’s coach – “died wondering”. Even if the expectations of what could be achieved were somewhat unreasonable, the team failed to do everything in its powers to hit the high bars that were set in place over the past four years. That is unforgivable. And that is what frustrates and annoys. Yet again, an Irish team has buckled under the weight of anticipation and failed to perform. When ever the favourites tag is applied to Irish athletes, they squirm and squeal beneath it. What is different about this Irish team from previous failures is that they speak more eloquently about their shortcomings. They make losing neater and more of an art. They seem genuinely disappointed and hurt when they don’t do what they are supposed to do. Well fuck them.

GOING FORWARD – THE GRIM REALITY

There are now two choices:

1) We can persevere with the selection policies of the O’ Sullivan era for another 18 months or so. And hope that the “golden generation” finally does what it has long threatened by doing a Grand Slam in 2009 (when we will next have England and France at home). Let them have a last hurrah before we resign ourselves to the darkness of a painful rebuilding process.

2) Or we can rule out any player who is unlikely to make 2011 from future Ireland matches. Accept some heavy and painful defeats and sacrifice short term competitiveness in the hope of building a SQUAD who can compete in the next world cup; and maybe win the one after.

The unfortunate reality is that we cannot do both. Here’s something to think about: the players who will start for Ireland at key positions like out half and prop in our first game of RWC 2011 have probably never being involved in an Irish squad previously. O’ Gara will be 34; Horan and Hayes may not see too many more Irish squads before they retire from the international game. You can probably fit fullback, wing, and one of the second row positions in that same bracket. Paddy Wallace is 27, and has never bedded in at the out – half position for Ulster – because of the durability of Humphreys. It is extremely unlikely that he can morph into an international standard no. 10 at this stage of his career. As such, if we want to rebuild, we will need to gamble on the untried and untested. We will need to take chances and leaps of faith in potential and promise. This will hurt us on the scoreboard.

In all probability, no matter what is done going forward from this world cup – we will be unable to fashion a group of athletes who can realistically expect to win it all in four years time. We now must look forward to another uncertain eight year cycle. The club game has been left to rot over the past eight years as a trade off for provincial success. The majority of the successful U21 squad of three years ago has left the game behind. There is not an abundance of young talent straining at the leash for an opportunity to come through. It will be hard to manufacture the “golden generation” of tomorrow.

THE END OF AN ERA – A TIME FOR ASSESSMENT?

As I come towards the end of this rant, I realise that what really grinds my gears is the fact that despite all the talk, all the optimism, all the investment – we are in the exact same place as Lens eight years on. Eddie O’ Sullivan has overseen three quarters of that period. And while he cannot be blamed for all of the failings of this world cup (the players need to perform at the end of the day) – it should seem perfectly reasonable to every logical person that now would be the ideal time to reflect on where we are as a rugby nation; on what has been achieved in the O’ Sullivan era; and whether we think he is the man to take this team forward over the next four to eight years. Instead, the IRB in its infinite wisdom decided to deny them such an opportunity by extending his contract BEFORE this world cup began. In my humble opinion, a coach who had failed to win the six nations; do a grand slam; or reach a world cup semi final should have faced some hard questions from his employers at this point in time. And given that the core of this team will not be around in four years – it is not a time for a focus on continuity. We did not need to contemplate major rebuilding after 2003. Now that it is necessary, we should be wondering whether to go with a completely fresh approach.


Beware of the fancy talk we will hear over the course of the next six nations. There will be interviews where players stress how defeat will make them stronger. How they will aim to learn from this world cup. How we need to take two steps back to take one forward. That it all “goes in the pot”. Whatever is said over the coming years; whatever is done; and whoever gets to do it – the goal should be simple:

To not be where we are now in eight years time – a place we were in eight years ago. We need to aim for good performances and good results to be signs of real progress that take us forward - not for them to be nothing more than blips that tease us into believing that our sporting culture has changed. We need them to be more than meaningless acts of defiance.

Friday, July 13, 2007

A RANT:

So I saw this in Muso’s Vegas blog:

“Time to cheer on the other Irish involved in the main event. Good Irish players whose names won't be known by ESPN. Because they don't throw tantrums when they have a bad beat. They don't berate players for bad play. They don't wave crappy shark card protectors in front of cameras. They can't afford to play all 50 or so events at the WSOP. One of them might end up being remembered - for the right reason. We can but hope. That’s a biased view of course but I'm just a little fed up of some of these so-called big name players. If it is a pro that wins it let it be a pro we can respect. A pro who doesn't think the sun shines out of his arse because he won some tournament a few years back and has been milking it ever since when in reality they just got sponsored because obnoxious sells.”


And it annoyed me. Any Irish poker players without the tank to go to Vegas or without the tank to enter many events cannot consider themselves unlucky. I wasn’t over there because I didn’t put the necessary time and money into ME qualifiers. If I had gone over without a ticket, I could personally afford travel, accommodation (three weeks max), ME entry, $5k in side tournaments – and then I would be poker busto. The fact that I haven’t got the kind of tank that would allow me to be there for seven weeks and play $100k worth of events is because I haven’t won that type of money. Because I am not good enough at poker to have won that sort of money. It is not a case of hard – luck, or not getting sponsored because I lack the requisite level of obnoxiousness – it is simply because I am not good enough.

From reading 2 + 2 over the past six weeks and the blogs of many of the young internet professionals over in Vegas really giving the tournaments a run (either through being good enough to convince a backer to pay 100% of entry fees // selling a lot of their action // being profitable enough to self stake themselves for whatever tournament and cash games they want to play) it is clear that if you are serious about the game – you should be seriously competing in the WSOP. The tournaments have big prize pools, big fields, big fish. While some of the structures for the smaller buy – in WSOP events are bad, those events are the most positive EV because they attract the worst players. The sit and go action and satellites at the Rio sound mind boggingly awful in terms of standard. So you need to be hitting these events hard. And before anyone starts muttering “lol donkaments” or starts babbling on about how real poker players play cash, etc – consider the fact that each WSOP event has been filled with high stakes cash game players (both live and online). In the eyes of the best poker players in the world, the events are just too soft and cannot be missed. The chance of a big score is too great to pass up.

Now Muso is correct when he says that some of the “TV pros” are noticeable for the wrong reasons – and many of them are far from being perfect, non – leak poker players. But it is not just the big known pros who are cashing left, right and centre – the Hendon mob database is filling up with previously unknown names of young 20 something’s who are graduating from the interweb. Yes, there is massive variance. Yes, not every bracelet winner or dude who made a final table from the past month and a half will be a great player. But it would be churlish to ignore the fact that good and great players are getting rewarded in Vegas. Guys over there getting sleep before playing, not fucking themselves up with alcohol and allowing themselves the greatest chance of success are getting paid. Padraig Parkinson threw a post up on boards complimenting the Irish contingent and noting how they had done themselves proud and weren’t “grim” like players from other nations. That’s nice and all, but the flag in Vegas is being carried by the likes of Alan Smurfitt and old war horses like Donnacha O’ Dea, Scott Grey and Padraig himself. The truly successful younger players like Halibut, Eoin Olin, Valor, Robin Lacey, NFR, KP etc, didn’t hone their skills and sharpen their fundamentals on the way up to where they are now by reading boards.

For all the Irish people playing a decent amount. For all of the guys taking time to post strategy on boards every day – there are very few that have reached the highest levels. And it ain’t something that we can put down to anything other than our own incompetence. Having success playing cards in Ireland doesn’t really amount to much at the end of the day. And not having a big enough tank to play tournaments you want to play is not the fault of ESPN or the big name pros. It lies squarely on your own shoulders.

Finally, there will be those who will read the above and argue that poker is supposed to be “fun”, or contend that they only play it for the “craic”. Whatever. It is a competitive game. And we keep score by how much we win. If I am not in Vegas at the moment it means that I have failed at poker over the past 12 months. Hopefully, the next 12 months will be different.

End vent.


OTHER THINGS:

I have half written a report on GJP 2. I may finish it and stick it up. I may not. It was massively disappointing to work hard for two days and just fall short of a cash finish.

I have decided to take a notebook with me to the next couple of tournaments I play and record key hands – so that I can make a detailed record and start reviewing things more closely. I’m not playing very well at the moment and am down a bit on the year. July – November is the period of the year that I am not as busy in work and I should be playing less tired and distracted. Therefore, it seems the right time to really focus on my game.

I’m thinking that I will play the JP game this Sunday (expect funny looks from the pub players when I am scribbling in a notebook, lol) and record all significant hands and write out one of those really boring hand history type trip reports with thought processes, etc. It will be boring to write and read – but should prove beneficial.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Rock and Roll

The last time I was this nervous (and felt this out of my depth) was back in November 1999. I was 15 and playing in the semi – final of the Leinster U21’s Hockey cup. I had only been playing the game for a couple of years, and was having to psyche myself up to face drag flicks from the likes of Justin Sheriff (a guy who was an Irish International at that stage and has since gone on to amass a rake of caps and play the game at the highest levels possible). I “bluffed” my way through the first half so to speak, we were on top. Second half the pressure came on and I bottled it big style; we lost 6 – 3.

The experience proved beneficial though. We came back the next year and won the competition with me a much more solid presence behind the defence; I went on to play the game adequately before I left it behind a couple of years ago.

My point? Feeling out of your depth in an activity will happen to everyone at some point. You can do one of two things. You can avoid the challenge and stay in your comfort zone or you can embrace whatever it is that faces you, do your best and analyse where you went wrong when it is over – and come back new and improved the next time.

As such, I am going to go out today and give it a go. I can’t do much else really. The Irish Open will begin in four and a half hours with the biggest starting field ever assembled in the history of European Poker. The field will be filled with a mixture of some of the most proven and experienced professional players in the game; a bunch of chancy degenerate gamblers and rubbish online qualifiers with little or no deep stack live experience; and then the likes of me – solid club players who can be good or awful depending on the day that is in it.

Since I last updated this blog I have been running worse than I actually thought was possible. I have been getting cold cards, been getting outdrawn constantly when I get in ahead – and as a result have had no results worth talking about. I am down a bit of money on the year so far, and my confidence is not where it needs to be for an event like this. If we could have played this last December when I felt invincible and was pulling good results left, right and centre I would fancy myself to be there pushing for the final table on day three. That seems a long time ago however.

Day one in this event is about survival. That is what I did in Drogheda. I hung in past some awful stuff there. Came back the second day and was rewarded with some spots – and went on to profit. At the IPC I turned up unprepared, in the wrong mindset – and was gone after 5 hours. The structure today has been much criticised on boards, and such criticism is warranted in my opinion. 10,000 chips and one hour levels sounds good, but if you consider the following you will see that there are two levels missing – leaving a savage jump before the last level of the day:

25 / 50
50 / 100
100 / 200
150 / 300
150 / 300 / 25
200 / 400 / 25
300 / 600 / 50
400 / 800 / 50
600 / 1200 / 100

Thus, you need to find chips in the first three hours or you will be in a spot of bother as you move to the end of the day.

Preparation

I am writing this from the comfortable surroundings of a hotel room in the Fitzwillam on Stephens green. I went in to register last night (bedlam) and quickly got out of there, escaping to a nearby bar for a couple of quiet pints with a good friend of mine. I got nine hours sleep last night (the most I have got in some time) and I feel rested and ready. I have been mentally running this event over in my mind for the last few weeks. I feel up for it and focused. I have taken criticism on the board over the past few months for my behaviour at the table. Well so what.

I thrive on adrenaline – when I am pumped up I play better. This seems counter – intuitive to many of the internet cash players or those that have been on the scene longer than me. But people forget that everyone is different. If I am there pumping the fist, tapping the table and wearing the highs and lows on my sleeve I am probably playing my best poker. Watch guys like Matusow and Hellmuth. If they are sounding off, it just shows that they have checked in mentally on that particular day. They care. They don’t want to lose. The best Hockey games I ever played I would be a raging terror – I thrive on getting worked up. When I do something well and feel in control of a situation I tend to show it. It just means I am in the zone and feeling it. So feck off if you don’t like it – I’ll buy you a beer after.

What people sometimes forget in a tournament like this is that you may very well play every street perfectly and be out after five hours. Every bet, every check, every call, every fold may be optimal – and you are still on the rail. When you play your best in a tournament like this you increase your odds of winning what is essentially a lottery – you maximize your chance of passing through the minefield unscathed. That is what I am aiming to do.

Let’s rock.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Getting the Year Started


First big win of the year out of the way and, hopefully, I can firmly consign the debacle of the IPC to the dustbin of the past. Or something.

The win in question involved me securing my passage to the 2007 Irish Open at the first attempt via a €100 one rebuy or top - up satellite at the Emporium. The long and the short of it is that I played terrible poker till the break, found a few hands immediately upon the resumption of play and got doubled up through Dave Masters. From then on I just played a very steady and conservative game, arriving at the final table with 10BBs. And I just hung in there, did some things right and kept my composure as we neared the ticket bubble. Finally, after over seven hours of play I was one of the three remaining players from the initial 68 starters. The other two qualifiers were Dacman and DocO of Boards. DocO, or Donal, is a cracking bloke and excellent player. I expect him to do well in the actual event itself. Further details of what went down can be found in this thread on Boards:

http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=2055044369

This is a huge result for me. It represents a notional profit of €3,300 - but is a much more significant result than the simple figures involved. On Easter Thursday of last year I was playing a €20 freezeout in the Merrion, gawping up at the big Board listing the entries for the main event. A few of the visiting pros were slumming in the tourney for the craic, and there was a real buzz about the place. On the Sunday I wandered over to the event to rail the main event itself for a while. I remember getting a real buzz from simply being in the venue. The set up was obviously amazing and seeing that amount of good players in the one place was fascinating. I was gawping at the surroundings while wondering if I would ever get to that level. This year I will be there as part of the main event itself - and will be competing in my third big Irish tourney in succesion.

To put my progress more bluntly, last year I played a qualifier for the €300 side event at the open. I failed misreably in the event run by Jeff, and couldn't actually justify buying in directly to that sidegame. How times have changed...

And so we roll onto the National Student Championship this weekend. Stephen McClean has put a massive amount of work into this and I am sure that it will live up to his own high expectations. For €70 we will be treated to 10,000 chips, 45 minute levels and the blind and ante structure employed at last year's World Series Main Event. The field will be mixed - a lot of bad players, a lot of tight ABC players, and then a few truly talented players. A lot of people I know will be playing, and a lot of trash has been talked. Therefore, pride is at stake and I will be aiming to go deep - despite the small stake involved. I will stick a report of my (hopefully extended) involvement here.

Adios Baby:

http://www.veoh.com/videos/v210155NMPJteSG;jsessionid=B6EA867A4FB0CEEF769A543DCD5538BD

Poker before the Internet: I don't gamble either Noel!!

Monday, January 08, 2007

A Bad Weekend


Bad weekend at the IPC. First off the financial implications:

Mega Satellite: 300 + 30
ME SnG 2 ticket satellite: 300 + 20
750 SnG 2 ticket satellite: 175
Dealer tips: 140
“Media” SnG (see donkfest): 50

Total outlay: 1015

Minus 350 for luckboxing the aforementioned donkfest equals a total cost of 665 for a truly depressing two days of poker. Oh well.


Thursday: Mega Satellite


Arrived for this and quickly realised that the room was full of good players milling about the place. Structure was better than expected – 6,000 starting with 30 min blinds and every level included (running ante from 150 / 300). Top 20% of the field was to get tickets meaning that there would be 27 qualifiers and 800 cash for the bubble. I put my game face on and settled down for a slog…

…Only to exit after 40 mins!! Table had a couple of tough players including the Scandie who finished second in the 750, Walter who split the Fitz 500 a few weeks back and Matt Tyler to my immediate left. Pre – flop action was heavy and most hands were won before or on the flop with no cards shown.

I played two hands in anger before I was chucked out. Hand 1, I find KK UTG + 2, weakest player at the table limps (any Ace / K, any two suited – really awful player), I make it 350 as we are still in first level, folded back around to the dude who calls. I watch him look at the flop. I reckon he has hit – confirmed as he reaches for a 500 chip. I am heartbroken to see an A – 5 – 3 board. Stew for 30 seconds before mucking. He flips over A3 offsuit. Bah. Tap the table and say “good hand sir”.

Hand 2, I have 5,300 remaining. Scandie dude raises to 550 third to act (second level now). I find QQ on the button. Repop to 1600. He thinks, rechecks, and asks me how much I have left before deciding to call. Flop (3350) is 5d5h4d. He checks. Good flop for me. Reckon I am ahead and that he has a weaker pair or AK. The pair could call an all – in whereas I am happy for the AK to feck off (it is a satellite) so I tank it for my remaining 3700. He insta – calls and shows a cleverly played AA. Fair enough. The guy outplayed me and deserved my chips.


SnG No. 1

So, I decide to give a sit and go a shot and resolve not to play the main event if I fail(I would be paying 2150 – automatic bad value). Sit down at a table that includes a few of the English lads, Lam Trinh (more on him later) and Phillip Baker. Do a few things right and manage to get three handed second in chips to Lam and one of the English pros. Get it all in against the short stack with 99 vs A9 and am discombobulated to see and A on the river. Recover to sneak in when I make a call with A3 after Lam open pushes on the button with 74. A on the flop quells the drama. We had been three handed for 35 mins and I was happy enough with the way I kept my cool to push through.


Friday: Main Event

Long, stressful day in work behind me, I managed to get home and change and make it to Citywest in the space of 30 mins. Not exactly ideally prepared, I was dismayed to find myself at a table that included Brendan McKenna, Dave Masters, Eddie “the Eagle” Kavanagh, Trevor McGoona, Vinnie “Longlad” and a really awful calling station qualifier. I was dismayed for a couple of reasons. One, I was hoping to get a couple of big names at my table as I was in on the cheap and liked the idea of playing somebody not on the regular circuit. Two, the table would hurt me if I saw no cards as you will find it difficult to get Brendan and Eddie to lay down hands and Dave would be a concern as he had good position on me.

I lasted five hours. Got 77 four hands in on my BB. It was raised to 225 by the guy second to act. I called, and had to check / fold an Akx flop. Card dead for the rest of the first level. Found AJclubs third to act at start of level 2, raised to 400 and was called by the rubbish qualifier. 9c84 flop with two spades. He checks and I bet 700. He thinks and calls. Q of spades on the turn. Check, check. Another 8 on the river and he checks. I reckon I’m done with this one and check behind. He shows Kc8c. Meh.

Won a small pot when I completed my small blind with K5. The flop brought a K and two clubs. Checked around and we saw a 5 on the turn. I bet the pot and Trevor called. As the button was thinking, one of the bad dealers turned over the river (Qc). Hated that card. I made it look as if I was annoyed and was reluctant for the card to be reshuffled in and a new river dealt. I now knew that Trevor wasn’t on the flush but the button was. Donal was called over and the table informed of the procedure. Button realised his flush was less likely and he folded. New river is a red A and I make a weak half pot bet hoping that Trevor will figure me for an annoyed missed flush. However, he passed. I reckon a non – Ace would have given me some value.

Got to the first break with 6900. I had bled off some chips to Eddie when I raised in early position with KQ and he called in the small blind. He checked dark and I followed suit on an AQx rainbow board. He checked a turn that put two to a flush out. I bet the pot of 800 and he minraised me. That’s a fold against Eddie. Other than that, I had just missed flops everytime I was forced to call on the small blind or button when given huge odds and had found nothing to get dramatic with.

Back from the break, I make an opportunistic steal of a late returning blind. Raise in early position with A9 and get a continuation bet through against one caller on a K high flop. And then that was it. Nothing to play, I couldn’t hit a flop when able to complete. My image was rock like – so I could steal once every other round from earlyish position as everyone would have to put me as mega strong. But this was a risky business and I couldn’t find a way to accumulate chips. Vinnie was eventually busted (he played some good poker including savage laydown and was quite unlucky in spots) and replaced with Lam Trinh. Lam came over with a big stack of 25,000 or so. He was quiet for a few hands but then got busy. Very busy. He was raising about 6 or 7 of 10 hands during the 150 / 300 level. Always for 850 pre – flop. He would follow through on all streets and was forced to show A8 and Q10 – however he also won a couple of decent pots and showed KK once.

My exit. Last five minutes of the 150 / 300 level. I get 99 on the button – best hand of the day. I am on 7300 chips. Lam makes it 850 from early position. I figured his range was huge and that I was most likely ahead. I was therefore willing to go to the bat with the hand if necessary. So, I repopped to 3200. If he wanted it in pre – flop that was fine by me, if he wanted to go away then that was good also – given that there was now 1300 in the pot. I reckoned that if he laid down it would signal that he should stay away from me – leave my blinds alone etc. I was sticking half my stack in and hadn’t really played a hand since he moved over to the table.

He called. Wasn’t expecting that. Board came 7 – 5 – 2 with two to a flush. I had decided that he would stick me in on any flop. He did as I expected. I made a quick call. He had JJ and my tournament was over. Ho hum. Lam would finish day one as chip leader, and be up to 250k a few hours into day two before bluffing away his stack. He played hyper – aggressive at all times. I guess the thing is that when a guy like that gets a hand he gets paid off.

I was furious with my exit. I have position on the guy – I should call. Putting in half my stack there is real donkish. I’m making it so he can only play with a range of hands that beats the crap out of 99. If I call, I would still have lost money on that board – but I would be giving myself an opportunity to get away – or some fold equity if I re – raised the flop. I had never gone through five hours at a table with such a run of cards and I was frustrated from being unable to get anything going. Tired from a full day at work – it was hard to keep patient and convince myself that it was a marathon, not a sprint. This all contributed to my exit – but it just isn’t good enough at that level to go out like that.



SnG No. 2

Joined the antesup updating team for a while and was convinced to play a SnG qualifier for the 750 by Donal O’ Connor (former SE dealer – DocO on Boards). I was only too happy to do this, as, within three hours of my exit, I was nicely beered up. We joined a table that had Paddy McClosky, Eddie “the Eagle” Kavanagh (busted despite amassing 27,000 chips in the first three hours), MD Wexford of Boards and Brendan Walls.

Again I did a couple of things right and found myself three handed with Eddie and Donal. Got Eddie over the line when he was shortstacked after he pushed on the button with 33 into my big blind and I found AA.

Ace on the flop. 3 on the turn. 3 on the river.

Pretty shaken after that but clung in to secure a ticket along with Donal after we managed to edge Eddie out.



Saturday: 750 sidegame

The structure for this was awful for a buyin of this level. 4 x 25 min levels // running ante in from level 5 which reverted to a 40 min clock // 8,000 starting chips. I would never have paid in directly.

Starting table tough. A couple of English pros, Mick McClosky, Brendan Walls and a good TAG German player. I chipped up to 10,500 before I got QQ UTG in the 75 / 150 level. Raised to 700 and an English player to my immediate left called. He had been calling me frequently and trying to play me off pots. I was getting the better of him thus far however – and he was down to his last 4500. The flop was low and raggy. I led out for 1500, fully convinced I was ahead. He deliberated for a second or two before tossing the rest in. I’m always calling – he always has AA. I was lucky he didn’t have more chips I suppose, but it was just a sign that things were not going my way.

At the break I had 6300. I came back to 150 / 300 / 25 so had to start finding steals. Managed to maintain my chipstack throughout the level despite going terminally card dead again. First few minutes of the 200 / 400 level I find AA in the Small blind. Finally!! Folded all the way around to me. The big blind had only just joined the table and goes: “I’m getting a walk here right?” I raise of course, and he wastes two minutes of everyone’s time with a stupid dwell up before folding. Bah.

A steal in the cutoff is snapped off and I am down to 5300 when I find 22 third to act. There is 825 in the pot pre – flop at this level. I have only shown down two hands up to this point: QQ and a suited Ace a few hands in to the first level which held up after some checking following my bet of an A high flop. My image must therefore be tight. The big blind is some old guy with a beard who is as loose as they come. He has been at the table since the break so will have seen me do little for about an hour. He has been calling with all sorts of mad stuff – I figure he will call a standard raise and I will hate every flop. So I push.

Folded to the old guy. He thinks for a few moments. Rechecks. Asks for a count (he has 8000 chips by the way). Reluctantly puts in his chips after a further minute or so of dwelling. Does he have a bigger pair? I won’t cry if I see overcards. He waits on the dealer to count chips and prepare his change. I show my ducks. He pauses. Rechecks. Finally flips over KK. Slowrolling cunt. It’s not big. It’s not clever folks. Why do they do it? I had maintained a fairly pleasant demeanour at the table and certaintly didn’t do anything out of order. Fucking sick.



Updating, Boozing and Luckboxing

So I spent the rest of the night helping with the updates. I luckboxed a mad €50 sit and go which included Lacey, Pat O’ Callaghan, Jen and Snoopy from Blonde Poker and Big City Banker. Beat Snoopy heads up when I:

Got it in with K3 on a KQ9 board. He had Q9. I turned a 3 (Mr Pillow Talk told me to ship it).

Got it in pre – flop with J10 versus Snoopy’s AA after he raised the button (Mr Pillow Talk looked at me as if I was from the planet “aquarium” when I shipped it). J on the flop. 10 on the river.


Rather be lucky than good right?


Random Observations

The updating is tough. I don’t think I will ever enjoy watching the business end of a big one after being there myself before. How Tom, Mike, Jen and Adam do it on a regular basis is beyond me.

Slowrolling cunts deserve to die. The sooner that kind of behaviour is eliminated from the game the better.

Smurph fully deserved her final table and would have gone all the way with a bit of luck. Great performance from a great player.

Eoin Olin will get a big result this year.

Ollie Boyce made a great point on the Friday that work and good poker don’t mix. You can’t expect to play your best when tired and stressed out from a long day at work. Next time I play one of these big events I will have to have a day off before. It really helped in Drogheda looking back and, although I was in on the cheap for this one, I may have done better if I was rested and properly focused. If you don’t give yourself every opportunity to play well you can’t be too disappointed when you don’t.

Oh, and - apparantly I rock at sit and goes!!