Ross Jarvis: Primetime poker

Along with thousands of other poker fans, I stayed up into the early hours of the morning watching the WSOP Main Event final table last week. Despite the EPT becoming such a brilliant tour – and their EPT Live webcasts providing fantastic entertainment – there’s something special and unique about the Main Event. Everything from the sparkling set design, thousands of raucous fans and incredible prize money lets the world know that this is the premier poker tournament in the world, as it should be. As soon as you switch on ESPN you recognise that this is a big, unique event worth watching.

If I had one criticism of the televised EPTs it would be that the tour locations are interchangeable and generic to the viewer – unless you are told in the commentary it’s impossible to decipher whether the tournament is being held in Prague or the Bahamas. More unique elements, such as when the 2007 PCA final table was held outdoors, would help add some character to the individual stops in my opinion.

 The TV production of the November Nine was fantastic and really made poker out to be a mainstream, exciting sport on a par with American football, soccer or boxing. Despite many of the players being relatively unfamiliar to poker fans ESPN did a great job with interviews and vignettes to give each one a character, and the audience a reason to root for or against them. Commentators Lon McEachern, Norman Chad and Antonio Esfandiari were excellent also, it’s not easy to stay informative and entertaining on commentary for such an extended period of time. Esfandiari’s analysis in particular was very impressive. He seemed to be spot on with his reads the vast majority of the time (hole cards were only revealed at the end of each hand) and his attention to live physical tells was particularly interesting from the view of an online grinder like myself.

As you know, Ryan ‘The Beast’ Riess was the eventual winner and new world champion. Inevitably, questions immediately sprung up as to whether the 23-year-old Michigan native was ‘good for poker’. That much will have to be seen in the coming months and years but I imagine Riess was already regretting his status as the ‘face of poker’ after this horrendous interview with Fox News….  

No regrets

While it wasn’t quite the November Nine my biggest tournament of the month was the latest PKR Live, a $500 event at Aspers in London. The vast majority of my online poker career has been played on PKR, and over a few years it’s where I moved up from playing $25NL to playing professionally at any stakes up to $5/$10. Because of this, I always want to do especially well in their live events as I’m often playing against people I regularly battle with online and know a lot of the players and staff.

After a ninth place finish in 2011 it didn’t go quite so well for me this year. I finished Day One with an average stack of 30k and found myself on a really fun Day Two table with WSOPE winner Scott Shelley and some other good players. All was going quite smoothly until I opened A-J to 3200 on the button and the big blind called. I started the hand with 43k, or 27BBs. The flop was a beautiful J-7-6. I c-bet 4k and he check-raised me to 9200. He hadn’t been playing particularly aggressively but, given the flush draw on the flop, I felt I had to go with my hand even though I was not in love with the situation. I moved all-in and he quickly sighed – a good sign! Then he eventually put his chips over the middle and showed a Jack also – still good – followed by a Six for a weird two pair – NOT good! I’m not sure what he was so scared about but never mind, his two pair held up and suddenly I was out in about 60th place.

 When you play live tournaments regularly (or even semi-regularly as I do) you must learn to cope with the disappointment of frequently busting. You will leave the tourney without cashing so often that you can’t afford to get down about it and let it affect your poker game the next time you play. All that you can do is objectively look back on your tournament, the key hands that you played and analyse whether you could have played them better. At PKR Live I could have just called his flop check-raise on the turn and possibly allowed myself to get away if he continued betting, but in the long run I think the differences between the two lines are pretty minimal so I was relatively happy with my tournament as a whole. In the end, being happy with your own play is all you can really ask for in poker – you just need a bit of help from the luck gods to push you to the big money. 

Hand of the week

I’ve played some pretty interesting cash game hands this past month. I think this one offers up the most potential for discussion. I’d love to hear your feedback on how I played the hand, across all streets really. The Villain is a good, winning reg but doesn’t play $5/$10 that regularly, so he may have tightened up his game a little. My line could definitely be horrendous, it could be really good – a few weeks later on and I’m still not sure! 

***** Hand History for Game 2448836834 ***** (PKR)

$1000.00 USD NL Texas Hold’em – Wednesday, October 30, 05:17:41 ET 2013

Table The Floating Lotus (Real Money)
Seat 2 is the button
Seat 1: keken4s ( $1399.51 USD )
Seat 2: Tiptop22 ( $1000.00 USD )
Seat 3: MrStarch ( $1188.75 USD )
Seat 4: Cryjob ( $1030.00 USD )
Seat 5: Kingand77 ( $1385.00 USD )
MrStarch posts small blind [$5.00 USD].
Cryjob posts big blind [$10.00 USD].
Dealt to MrStarch [  Td Tc ]
Kingand77 raises [$25.00 USD]
keken4s folds
Tiptop22 folds
MrStarch calls [$20.00 USD]
Cryjob folds
** Dealing Flop ** [ 4, 9, 6 ]
MrStarch checks
Kingand77 bets [$40.00 USD]
MrStarch calls [$40.00 USD]
** Dealing Turn ** [ A ]
MrStarch checks
Kingand77 bets [$100.00 USD]
MrStarch calls [$100.00 USD]
** Dealing River ** [ 6]
MrStarch checks
Kingand77 bets [$245.00 USD]
MrStarch raises [$1023.75 USD]
Kingand77 calls and has a set of Nines to absolutely discombobulate me! 

Ross rambles

 1) Watching Gravity on Wednesday and CANNOT WAIT. Full 3D at the Empire casino in Leicester Square, should be great.

2) It’s great to have Masterchef back on TV – even if I do feel as though I spend half of my life watching it.

3) Level 106 of Candy Crush Saga. Huge respect to Vanessa Selbst who tweeted that she has now completed all 450 levels. That’s definitely an achievement to rank right up there with anything she had done in poker…

4) Beer of the fortnight: Jaipur, Thornbridge brewery.

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