There aren’t many sports, pastimes or hobbies in this world where you can win a significant amount of money in just a few hours and come home bitterly disappointed and p**sed off. That was the case for me in last week’s PokerPlayer UK Tour Grand Final at the Vic.
It was a £165 buy-in and the prizes were very modest by major tournament standards – £8k for first, plus a £1k GUKPT package – but winning would have still been a major score for me, and a very welcome pre-Christmas bonus. Also, there’s a certain amount of extra emphasis placed on the PokerPlayer-specific tournaments for me and I always want to do well in these. Somehow, after drinking Heineken steadily all day, I ended Day One as the chip leader with 24 remaining from a 200 strong field.
I think one important aspect that playing so many hundreds of thousands of cash game hands has taught me is that there is no need to panic when you get quite short in tournaments. After a few years of playing professionally I now feel comfortable playing postflop (so long as I’m the aggressor) with a 15-30 big blind stack in live events, whereas before I would have purely looked to fold or reshove in most instances. I think it’s an important realisation – of course, you can’t take it too far and start playing loosely with this stack size either – and especially in fields where the players take making the cash very seriously. I had this scenario myself late in Day One but was able to chip up quite nicely by opening fairly widely and defending my blinds in spots where I would have previously folded under ‘standard’ tourney strategy.
As we approached the bubble at the PPUKT Grand Final lots of players were openly saying out loud how they were planning on folding their way into the money! I definitely wasn’t bothered about this and only had my eyes set on a top three finish. I was opening a ton of hands but nobody was really playing back at me so I was able to increase my stack some more and go into the final table in around 4th place. The unfortunate thing was that it took a long time to get there so by this point, despite the excellent structure that the Vic had devised for us, the average stack was only around 24 big blinds. Even as a big stack I had little more than 40BBs.
This same problem occurred again on the final as we were seven-handed for about two hours – everyone was getting short. I had a few interesting hands at this point. I never really got dealt a premium hand but was trying really hard to make things happen by opening any two when it was folded to me in late position and, interestingly, I also had a really good stealing spot under the gun as the two players in the blinds then were both pretty tight. This dynamic came into play when I opened K-J offsuit to 40,000 at 10k/20k blinds off a 400k stack. It folded to the button, Jerome Ho, who announced ‘raise ’ and put out 40,000 but then didn’t hide his surprise very well when it was pointed out I had already opened under the gun! The tournament director decided a raise must stand and so he made it 80,000. Ordinarily, I’d have just sheepishly folded K-J versus this action but with the additional information of the accidental raise it was an easy ship – luckily he folded.
A bit later, with play six-handed, I opened 7-5 suited under the gun off a 23BB stack to 40k (again, this is definitely questionable but I really wanted to try and assert some authority on the table) and was 3-bet – intentionally this time! – by the same player on the button to 80k. He had 340k behind, or 17BBs. I’ll be honest, I don’t play enough tournaments to know exactly what I should do in this spot. I was getting an incredible price to call if you include the antes and blinds, yet he almost always has a monster hand here given the action. Surely he’d just jam his medium/good hands like 9-9 and A-Q here rather than risk a big proportion of his stack? Anyway, I called. The flop was A-K-Q with one spade. It went check/check but I felt that much of his range was still smashing this and I had seen Jerome slowplay earlier in the tournament. The turn was 2 of spades, giving me a flush draw. It went check/check again and the river was an offsuit 5 giving me a rubbish pair. I seriously considered jamming here to try and take him off Tens or Jacks but in the end I bottled it and was gutted to see him turn over pocket Nines. It was definitely a missed opportunity to pick up some chips.
Shortly after, I jammed K-Q for 13BBs, was called by A-Q and that was that. I got £1,200 for sixth. It’s always great for your poker confidence to have a deep live run but heartbreaking when it doesn’t end your way. Even though this was a smaller comp I still felt pain for a few days and was constantly nit picking certain little errors in the week after. I can’t imagine what the pain and self-analysis is like when you go really close yet so far (such as Sam Grafton’s 13th in this week’s GUKPT Grand Final) in a major tournament. It’s weird – everyone who plays poker loves tournaments and yet they bring about nothing but pain and sorrow the vast majority of the time. It’s a good job that the joy is so great on the few times it does all fall into place….
It was a tremendous event though and I already can’t wait for the 2014 incarnation of the PokerPlayer UK Tour. Along with similarly priced events like the Sky Poker Tour they really are great additions to the UK live tourney scene.
Hand of the week
Poker has been going OK online this month. I’m winning a few thousand dollars but have definitely messed up some good opportunities too. I came 2nd in a tournament last night where I really should have won the heads-up and had a really bad $2k losing session last week. It wasn’t that bad due to the money – it’s not hard to drop a few thousand when you are playing $2/$4 and $5/$10 – but because I was in some really good games yet not paying my full attention at all. Instead, I was sat playing on my laptop while grinding through Masterchef and I’m a Celebrity (go Steve Davis and Kian!). It’s just not the way to play poker and it can directly cost you a ton of money. Hopefully I’ll just quit the games in future rather than trying to do both.
Here is a cool hand from this week in an aggressive HU game. #station
***** Hand History for Game 2459625728 ***** (PKR)
$400.00 USD NL Texas Hold’em – Saturday, November 16, 12:04:25 ET 2013
Table 52653830 (Real Money)
Seat 3 is the button
Seat 1: Bananaman1976 ( $654.00 USD )
Seat 2: chainsawfish ( $120.00 USD )
Seat 3: MrStarch ( $619.20 USD )
MrStarch posts small blind [$2.00 USD].
Bananaman1976 posts big blind [$4.00 USD].
Dealt to MrStarch [ A♦ T♥ ]
MrStarch raises [$10.00 USD]
Bananaman1976 raises [$36.00 USD]
MrStarch calls [$28.00 USD]
** Dealing Flop ** [ 3♥, T♠, 8♥ ]
Bananaman1976 bets [$48.00 USD]
MrStarch calls [$48.00 USD]
** Dealing Turn ** [ 9♦ ]
Bananaman1976 bets [$124.00 USD]
MrStarch calls [$124.00 USD]
** Dealing River ** [ 8♠ ]
Bananaman1976 bets [$442.00 USD]
MrStarch calls [$407.20 USD]
Bananaman1976 wins $34.80 USD
Bananaman1976 shows [J♣, K♦ ]
MrStarch shows [A♦, T♥ ]
MrStarch wins $1237.40 USD from main pot
The highlight of my month was definitely a weekend I had in Vienna with my wife Hattie. It’s a beautiful city and especially at this time of year with the Christmas markets and lights all around. We ended up eating a lot of meat and potatoes, there isn’t really much else available, and were astounded by the brilliant architecture all around. We’re so lucky in Europe to have so many outstanding cities all within a few hours’ flight of each other.
If any of you are on the fence about going to Vienna for the upcoming EPT stop then definitely do it, you won’t regret it.
1) It’s so much easier to play long online poker sessions in the winter than the summer. Loving the grind at the moment!
2) I quit Candy Crush as it was taking over my life. I have a distinct feeling Open Face Chinese poker might have to be deleted from my phone next – it’s too addictive!
3) So excited about Anderson Silva vs Chris Weidman and Ronda Rousey vs Miesha Tait on December 28.
4) Beer of the fortnight: Dead Pony Cub, Brewdog.