Monday, June 7, 2010

London Calling

After two years tripping over to London, running deep but no cash to show for my efforts, I was reluctant to go back and play again. But this year's UK Deaf Poker Series III being held in a reputable casino with dealers somehow sounded stress-free and so by March the flight was booked and my name was on the players list...

May was a very bad month pokerwise, more down than up, couldn't get my cards to hold up against the countless villains I challenged across the felt. To be fair I didn't play as much as I usually do - couldn't afford to - my son was making his confirmation so I saved my money (and energy!) for that instead. Leaving each game without so much as a cent to show for my efforts was disheartening to say the least. I was getting very disillusioned with the game. Time to take a break, one that is long overdue to be honest. But with the London trip already booked I decided to reserve the 'break' til after this game...

Susie was unable to fly over due to a chest infection, and only other Irish player Mark McLaughlin was flying over on the morning of the main event and planning to catch the first flight back early the next morning. My flight over was booked for Friday afternoon til Sunday night, as I had planned to make the most of the weekend. Sergio Sanchez Gil (the Deaf player who won the Madrid European Deaf Poker Championship) kindly offered to meet up with me and be my room mate for the weekend. Now, I know what you are all thinking but no... it was very platonic, sorry no scandal here for you!

On arrival in a hot and humid London, I was horrified to discover Sergio had booked into an overpriced kip of a place and even paid for his share upfront. No amount of arguing with the desk clerk was going to get him his refund so we decided to stay that night and move elsewhere next day. Setting off walking to the pre-event meet up game in the Kensington Close Hotel about 1km away, we checked several places en route hoping to get a room for the next night but they were booked out.

The Kensington game was a local poker circuit game that a number of London Deaf players frequent, the £20+2 buy-in self-dealt game of a higher standard than your local pub game - lots of tight players. With 4 deaf players on my table I was able to play much looser and aggressive than I normally did - great way to fool the players into thinking this was my style too! All good preparation for the game the next day! Was out before the end of the 4th level... settled into the uber-soft cash game and left £60 up for the night - my buy-in covered for the next day.

Walking back to our 'Kip' we came across a vintage car sales room, while admiring the cars, a party was going on in a nearby house a young white girl came running out ran around the corner pulled down her hot pants and wee'ed in front of us... her boyfriend, this tall strapping black guy followed her out and started snogging her as she finished her business, pulled up her hot pants, picked her up and carried her back into the house! We were just standing there mouths all agape... I've really seen it all now(!) Popping into the local Tesco to get a cold drink and a midnight snack, the night was really humid, I was amazed that we could still buy alcohol at 1am... the amount of people drinking among the rose bushes in this affluent area was something else.

Next day, Sergio took ages getting ready, those who know me well will know how long I usually take to get ready... but Sergio is something else! He was a whole HOUR! Deciding to bring our bags straight to the International and worry about the accommodation later, we took three tubes (had our route planned but didn't realise a certain connecting tube station was closed for repairs!) it took us longer than expected to get to Old Street where the International Club was located. The game was starting at 12 noon, we got there barely 5 minutes before the game started. The buy-in was low £50+5 for 5,000 with the option to pay £5 for 2,000 more. I brought the additional 2k reluctantly - this extra fee was another reg as far as I was concerned. £50+£10 game for 7,000 chips and 20 minute blinds for a high ranking game was not the best value in my opinion. But not buying the chips could put me at a serious disadvantage too.

Greeting some familiar faces, I discussed these issues with one of the UK Deaf Poker Series organisers. He confessed that it was the International who defined the stack/blinds as they had their own regular game on and expected our game to be well finished by this time. Fair enough.

I bumped into fellow Irish player, Mark McLaughlin, he looked wrecked! He had been travelling all night, bus up from Wexford to Dublin Airport, forgot to print out his flight ticket so Ryanair fined him €40, the train from Stansted to the city cost more than he expected... the poor guy hadn't a penny left and the lack of sleep was starting to affect him. He had no money left to buy food never mind the extra 2k chips. I had a membership card from the International manager John (its who you know that counts!) with complimentary points for free food/drink worth £20, I offered to share this with Mark.

Of the 94/95 players confirmed, only 83 had turned up with 80 players opting in for the extra 2k chips.

On my first table - I was in seat 8, Mark was to my immediate right, he started open raising, re-raising and getting his bets called by middle pairs/high aces he stunk as low as 2.5k before realising he needed to change his tactics. Chips were as easy to win as to lose, I fell as low at 3.3k at one point but worked my stack back up top 10.9k at the first break.

Had AA twice, won with one and lost with the other. Raised one hand got two callers both folded to my post flop bet, in the losing hand: Mark raised to 3xBB, I re-raised to 9xBB, button flat called me and Mark mucked face-up accidentally showing his cards AQo. Flop comes ten high with two spades, I c-bet and button insta-called, the spade on the turn brought a flush board that we both checked. K on river, I threw out a small bet thinking he'd fold but no, button flat called to show KK.... meh!

Folded 88 in one hand to one player (Ahmed) re-raising my 900 raise in the 150/300 level to 3k from BB position with 40% of his stack - it was his first raise, I had him pegged as a nit so I folded face up thinking AA-1010 or AK. He showed KQo - nice move sir. Later discovered this was Ahmed 4th poker game(!) Nice playing for a novice! He later cashed in an impressive 7th place...

Moving to my 2nd table I hit trips 3 times in a row getting paid off each time to bring my stack up to 47k.

One interesting hand against Henry McDougall (IDP's Deepstack Classic winner 2008): Blinds were 1k/500; I raised 2500 from MP with 22, action folded to Henry who was shortstacked in BB, he flattened. Flop came A45 two suits, Henry insta-bet 2,000 as the flop appeared, I didn't think he had an ace here - I felt if he did he would have re-raised me rather than called pre-flop. I put him on 67s/78s or J9-KQs draw all within his range; suspecting this may be a draw/probe bet I opted to call him and re-evaluate on the turn. As the Q appeared Henry insta-bet out 3,000 without a pause. This had me confused, if he hit the queen, the Henry I knew would have have check-raised here, still putting him on a draw plus the value was too good not to call - 3,000 for a 12,500 pot... I had a 26k+ stack and Henry had 6k approx behind when a lovely 2 appeared on the river! I re-raised Henry's 3k river bet to see him panic slightly before calling with a badly represented AQ - the last hand I would have put him on.

Moving to a third table shortly before the next break, we were now down to two tables and I was 2nd chipleader with 47k behind Sylvain Dwek on 60k approx (the average stack at this point was 32k) the raising blinds were crucifying the short stacks. I doubled up by decimating a couple of shorties before taking down a lovely 40k+ pot with AJs; I raised from the button, BB insta called; flop came K89 with two spades. BB checked, I bet, he re-raised before insta-calling my shove with JTo(!) K on turn and J on the river brought my stack up to 102k and before we knew it we were on the final table!

Asking for a 15 minute break as we had no dinner break and playing from 12 noon til 5:30pm without a proper food break just 2/3 10 minute breaks was a killer. I appealed to the TD but he apologised that they needed our game to be over before their 7pm tournament started, the best he was giving us was 7 minutes. I ordered food and had to eat it as I played the final table which I hate.

The picture above shows the final table partipicants...

Seat 1. 102,000 (Julianne Gillen)
Seat 2. 31,000 (Kabwe Kabosha)
Seat 3, 10,000 (Sylvain Dwek)
Seat 4. 73,000 (Stephen Draper)
Seat 5. 40,000 (Ben Simpson)
Seat 6. 90,000 (Mark McLaughlin)
Seat 7. 15,000 (Cliffod Lane)
Seat 8. 99,000 (Joseph Devine)
Seat 9. 42,000 (Ahmed Mudawi)
Seat 10. 75,000 (Damon Delaney)

Talking to Mark, I learnt that Sylvian had a very loose image and was starting to leak chips raising/re-raising with a very wide range, he had just doubled Mark up in the last hand leaving himself barely 10k by overplaying his A rag on a AQJ board with Mark holding KTs.

With 10 players on the final table and 9 places paid a deal was agreed to take £7 off all places to pay 10th. As action folded back to me on the button in the first hand - two shorties in SB (Kabwe) & BB (Sylvian) blinds were now 3k/6k; I knew Sylvian will call with any two, but Kabwe was nitty enough to fold and wait for another spot - it would be 50-50 against me getting Sylvian out in a HU. I raised with J6s, Kabwe jumped out of the way as Sylvian insta-threw in his stack and turned over As2s, but the flop came a sick QJ6xx and a disappointed Sylvian walked away in disgust.

I dispatched Ahmed in 7th (A3 into his KQ) then Stephen Draper in 6th similar sick fashion. Before I exited Stephen I was tilting a little as Mark kept consistently playing into me; e.g. finding A10s in MP I raised to 30k (blinds now 4k/8k) Mark called from BB, flop came 896, giving me a gutshot plus flush draw. Mark bet out 30k which had me thinking - reraise or call. I opted to call, Q on turn gave me extra outs. But Mark's 50k bet had me thinking very hard, was he playing the same hand or a AQ/AK. I flat called but missed the river which was checked down Mark showed K9o for a pair and a huge pot. Urgh!

Back down to 105k, I found J10s on button and opted to shove as SB (Stephen) and BB (Ben Simpson) were nits and I had them both covered, knew they would not call unless then had AA/KK/QQ/AK etc. As Stephen tanked then asked for a count - I was praying he would fold but no... after 3/4 minutes thinking he called and Ben insta-folded. Stephen tabled AKs, but the board ran out Q9xx8 and it was all over for poor Stephen! Sorry mate xxx

Damon went next in 4th place, he shoved with barely 6BBs holding KQ from SB into my BB I saw A3 and called.

When we were down to 3 handed - Mark kept shoving all-in into my raises/BB, I folded twice but on the 3rd time discovering A7o and after tanking for a bit I ignored my heart telling me to fold and followed my head in calling his 150k leaving myself less than 90k only to see his 33, no suck out for me this time and Mark was now chipleader leaving me as the shortest stack to Marks' 300k and Ben with just over 100k approx.

The Blinds were now 6k/12k, Mark mini-raised me again from SB - I had K9 in BB and decided to race these and shoved back at him only to see him call with AQ. The board came xxxAQ and I was gone in 3rd place.

Barely one hand later - it was over, Ben flat called and Mark checked to see 68T flop. Mark bet the flop and turn (3) which Ben flat called. Ben bet out on the river (7) Mark shoved to put him all in and Ben insta-called to show 87 for two pair which was no good against Mark's 9To to crown him the new UK Deaf Poker Series III Champion! A very worthy winner too! Well played Mark!

The standard seemed better this year compared to last year. Some impressive play by some players - still a lot of check-calling and poor bets sizes still but the raises were getting through and that's a huge improvement. The structure could be improved more: 5k stack is too low for a high ranking tournament; 20 minute blinds doesn't allow enough decent play and was a killer for some players. The loss of couple key levels (especially 75/150) was felt; so was the lack of a decent dinner break.

Once the game was out of the way, I sorted out our accommodation for the night with the help of Freddie (another manager in the International) Sergio was cleaning up on the cash table, I joined him for a few rounds before we headed off in the torrential rain. By the time we got to Earls Court, we were too late to get the room so we headed back to Kings Cross and found a decent enough B&B instead for £25 each which served an alright breakfast too.

After seeing Sergio off on the train to Gatwick, I spent the afternoon catching up with a friend in South London, we talked so much I nearly missed my flight home! Getting to Heathrow with 15 minutes to spare, dashing to the automatic check-in point to print my boarding pass I learnt that my flight was delayed by a further 30 mins - oh thank God for small mercies!!!!

So... will I be taking a break from Poker? Hmmmm lets wait n see... I may be on a roll here!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Heartbreaking Month

Thank God April is so over!

The month was so sick and depressing... not one small cash to boast of, I'd get off to a good start... running deep even, then crash. Not a bumper-bumper 'blinded out >10bb' crashes but real-time CRASH! BANG! WHALLOP! Sickening beats, and pure unlucky too... Just as well I had a decent enough bankroll to ride out the bad variance this month!

Unlucky as in running my cards into AA no less than THREE times in one Voodoo game, holding AK, QQ and Kd10d on a flop full of diamonds but the fourth diamond on the river saw my beloved chips racing to the AdAs player who limped-called my raise pre, checked-called on the flop, then checked-called my all-in after tanking on the turn(!) Said he was "afraid" of me... Yeah, bloody right you were mister(!)

Unlucky as in getting AA twice, QQ and KK once each in one game raising on all and drawing dead by turn/river EVERY TIME.

Unlucky as in when a misdealt turn card gave me the nut straight, I checked-raised all-in on two players before someone not in the hand spotted the burn card was missing and called for a ruling. All bets had to STAY while TD laid down the river and re-shuffled the deck for a new burn and turn card... naturally the new turn and river card had me drawing dead for my chips that went to some donk that said 'Yeah, I'll call' BEFORE the new turn card was exposed and give him trips(!)

But going to Madrid to be whalloped beats them all!

Susie Woosie, Paul Ryder, Donal Desmond and myself had our flights and buy-in sorted for the 1st European Deaf Poker Championship taking place in Madrid. With the volcanic activity spewing ash into the skies grounding all the flights for the entire week beforehand - it was touch and go if any of us would get there to fly the Irish flag. But we did...

Travelling to Madrid Deaf Club with Donal and Paul (C)

European Deaf Poker Championship Madrid Trip Report:

The tournament which was due to start at 4pm initially, got pushed back to 6pm 3 days before, on the grounds that people wanted more time to eat(!) As the Casino was 25km outside the city centre, a free bus was organised by the Madrid Deaf Association at 4:30pm to bring the international players there with return trip back to Madrid city centre for 2am and 4am. Donal and Paul had headed out early to the Irish pub, planning to meet us at 3:15pm as we had to get two metros and 10 minute walk to Deaf Club for this bus. But the boys didn't turn up til 3:40pm leaving us in danger of missing the bloody bus! Donal had this bright idea to get Metro to the connecting station and grab a taxi from there to the club, outside this Metro was this bull-fighting arena (which we thought was church!) Donal and Paul started flagging taxis as Susie and I stood around taking pictures... a good 15 minute taxi ride later we arrived just in time for the bus.

Meeting Amador the event organiser and the other players from Italy, Portugal, France, Romania, and Spain. The Swedish and German players had to pull out because of the ash but Amador found several Spanish players willing to take the spare seats so we still had 100 players. As the bus set off to the casino, turning the corner barely two blocks down, we came face to face with the same Bull-fighting-arena-Church-Metro square that we caught the taxi from(!) Just as well the 'scenic route' taxi fare was cheap at €2 each! LOL!

Arriving at Casino, a huge massive building in the middle of nowhere, it was 5:15pm. To our amazement we were not allowed to take pictures, security stopped several players taking picture and I was asked to check in my camera at reception. Before I did I got a sneaky picture of Susie at the entrance! The men had to wear formal dinner jackets as part of the casino's dress code; poor Donal was sweating in his suede jacket as he didn't want to fork out the money to hire a jacket. Inside the plush casino (which was much grander than the Sporting Emporium....) the organisation of the seating for 100 players decended into chaos, the TD refused to start til everyone was seated and a number of players had no seats assigned at all and had to wait til 6:45pm for their seat numbers, it was 6:55pm before the tournament finally kicked off...

I didn't quibble the 5,000 starting stack because the odd blind structure posted on the Madrid Deaf Poker's web page looked fair with 10/20, 20/40 and 30/60 levels and 30 minute blinds to make up for it. To my amazement the structure on the day was not the advertised one: we had the standard 25/50, 50/100, 75/150 with antes coming in at 150/300 level (not repeated) and increasing every level after that. So the 200/400with 50 antes, 300/600 level and 75 antes and the 400/800 level had a punishing 100 antes. It was easy to see this game was going to be crapshooty as the evening wore on, we are going to need more luck of the cards to gain valuable chips than skill to win this game.

As the game started, I realised I was playing with a lot of fish players. They had no idea of which poker hands beat what, never mind MTT strategy or poker rules. Players were grabbing for change off other players bets, string-betting and throwing in one chip, when dealer said CALL they would cry 'Noooo I RAISE' much to the dismay of the dealer who spend a lot of time trying to explain why they can't do that... this happened so many times. I was bemused to see players calling all the way to the river with King high/Queen high hands, and showing them all proudly at showdown in the miraculous hope they had won... it was cringing!

Finding AKs in CO in the 3rd or 4th hand I put in a raise to 225, and got no less than 5 callers. No A or K on the all low rainbow flop, SB puts out 50, BB and MP called. I put in a raise to 325 hoping to display strength, but no, they all called(!) Turn was no help to me, SB bets 50, BB and MP call and I just had to throw away my cards. On showdown, SB showed A3o for a pair of 33s, BB had A8 for a pair of eights, Button showed 10 10 (didn't raise) and MP had J7o and hit his pair with the J on the river to win the pot(!) Awful.

Finding KK two hands later I raised again pre and got 4 callers, flop comes AAK, I c-bet hoping to get a raggy ace to call but got no bitters, and was back at starting stack. This was the only pot I won.

Just before the 2nd level started, I found A10o in SB, with 5 limpers and BB to act, I knew any raise WILL be called so elected to flat call. Flop came a lovely AdQx10x, fearing KJ I checked. A loose Portuguese player UTG threw out 1k, there was only 350 in the pot, I read him for Q10 or any A-rag and as action folded back to me I elected to call. BB called too... a lovely 10d came on the turn. I bet out 1k, BB folded and UTG shoved for 2.5k more. I insta-called to see Qd2d... tabling my house, I pointed out that I had full house and his two pair/flush draw was behind, he shook his head insisting that he was winning... then fist-pumped the air calling on his mates on the other table as a sick Q fell on river to push the chips to him leaving me with barely 1,150k. I was gutted. Two orbits later, after total card death and blinded down to 975, I find A4s and shoved into 6 limpers, Frenchman UTG insta-calls with 65s, as the rest of table folded and board reads out 23QT4 to give him a sick straight. I was gone in 92nd place 10 mins into the 2nd level(!) Meh...

After watching Donal, Paul and Susan - I realised I didn't just have a bad table. The overall standard of play was the same, dreadful. While the set-up in the Casino was top-notch, some dealers were turning a blind eye to string bets and basic mistakes (betting out of turn, letting players take bets back if there was a raise!) treating one chip as a raise instead of call. Poor Susie was embroiled in several rows with one such dealer who kept allowing people to get away with this behaviour, she called the TD over. But TD then stated the dealer was the 'boss' and their decision was final! As a dealer myself, I was horrified at how lax the dealers were in controlling the game, allowing it to get so out of hand, at the TD who was obviously being a patronising git with his 'ahhhhh poor deaf player, its alright, its alright, let them, let them!' attitude.

I settled down to play cash in the cash area and was delighted to see there was none of that silly nonsense exhibited in the tournament room in here, this was the poker we all know and enjoy. A number of deaf players came out to join me and got their proverbial knuckles rapped by the other players for string-betting etc. Crying that he was allowed to do it in the 'other room' one player threw his cards down in frustration and the dealer accepted it as a 'fold' which set off a HUGE ruckus leading to me mediating in international sign between him and the English speaking Cash Room manager. After this every time there was a communication issue with deaf players the Card Room manager kept asking me to 'help translate'... some players even started asking me poker advice.

Working €50 up to €180 over 4 hours then losing it all in one 'stupido pot' against a loco Spanish player who wouldn't be out of place in the Fitz as he called my 3-bet-all-in with 99 holding QJo, only to river a Q. I gave up playing poker and went back to meet up with Susie. Paul who busted out in 60-something place, with card-death and the raping ante levels doing the damage, was playing in a STT with the same atrocious Spanish players. Susie had just exited in 45th place, Donal was still in with 18 players left. I was too tired and jaded to bother staying to rail Donal and heading out to catch the 2am bus with Susie.

As I opened my bag to get my clockroom token to retrieve my camera (which by the way WAS allowed in the tournament room...) I found €15 of unused chips, rather than cash them out I put them on roulette and spun it up into €50, LOL! But Susie wasn't impressed as my detour to roulette table that caused us to miss the 2am bus(!) Sorry Susie!

Back in we went to rail Donal while waiting for the 4am bus, at 3am the organisers announced they were putting the bus back to 5am(!) Urgh! Railing the final table was hilarious - the standard wasn't any better than my first table, the constant limping in meant the best players exited in 8th, 9th and 10th place respectively. I don't mind any player getting their chips in good with ATC but calling all-in's from other players with ATC and winning by just getting lucky is another matter...

It became painfully obvious to me that these deaf players didn't play outside the deaf club/home games scene and had developed bad habits as a result. With no access to decent training; the mere concept of position, starting hands or pot odds was lost on them... they lacked the finesse and strategy skills to carry the game. Very few have the confidence to play with hearing, so basically they just played the same way every time 'call and hope for the best'. Just hope the next time I go to Spain, the standard will have improved somehow.

Well done to our Donal who played his usual LAG game (enough said!) and scraped into an impressive 6th place finish... this will silence your critics for many moons to come Mr Desmond! Our ordeal wasn't over, discovering the 5am bus was now leaving at 6am - urrrrgh! A shattered Paul, Susie and myself gave up at 4:30am and caught a taxi back to the city... Donal insisted on staying on for the bus.

Heading home to Dublin next day, we had a lovely trip to Madrid, the weather was beautiful sunny much appreciated 26C. It was a city that loved it meat as poor Susie (a vegetarian) discovered, she had hard time ordering food and even had me to eat things to be sure there was NO meat in it. Even the vegetable soup had pieces of jamon (ham) in it! On our last day Susie asked our hotel receptionists for the Spanish word for vegetarian, after 5 minutes explaining that she did didn't eat chicken (cluck cluck!) or pink (big round nose) or beef (horns) that she only had vegetables, pasta, etc. "Ah! You vegetariania!" says the receptionist proudly.... LOL!

At the airport I treated myself to a bottle of Spanish Brandy as a consolation prize! It must have worked a treat as the following week when the month was drawing to a close I popped to my local DPN game and came 2nd for €200... ending the depressing run and giving me a much needed confidence boost.

Here's hoping the Merry Month of May brings me much better returns... the Irish Deaf Poker Open is upon us on 8th May - the numbers are very small so we are throwing the game open to anyone who wants to play with us.

Hope your cards run good, see you at the tables!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Patience wins the day

It's been up and down few weeks for me pokerwise since Killarney. No big wins or crazy hands to report, I had acuminated a small but decent profit considering I was busto at the start and only playing very low buy-ins but by beginning of March the profit margin was slipping back... It was frustrating! I was losing all my races deep in the game to unbelievable coolers.

One example: Playing the Voodoo's €100 game last Thursday, we are down to 12, when UTG (chipleader) raises 3xBB, UTG+1 shoves with 7BB, I'm next to act - I find KK and I've 12BB left... I move all-in. Action folds back to BB, he asks for a count and starts counting his 15/16BB stack... then shoves all-in. UTG folds. I table my cowboys, UTG+1 shows K10o sheepishly and BB tables KdJd... The board slaps out 3 diamonds and the dealer whacks my cowboys into the muck before I copped what had happened!

After this cooler, on the back of several others, I was getting very disillusioned with poker in general. The Paysafecard Ladies Poker Championships was coming up and I already registered my interest to play since it was first announced... When I woke up Friday morning after the Voodoo's tournament, the day before the Ladies game - I was seriously thinking "I'm running bad... why bother?!"

Then Susie texted me; Ciara had just called her all excited about the game the next day. Ciara was going with Ro, who already had her ticket from the Satellite. I had played with Ciara, Susie, Ro in the Satellite for the game, but ended up first out when Ro called my all-n with KJ on a 9 high flop (I had A9) and hit her K on river(!) Hmrph! These are pub players from my local game, something in me just thought: "Ha! They won't last in this game... But then its a bit rich me thinking like this if I can't put my money where my mouth is and prove it?!" So I along I went...

Susie and JCB always moan about these 'women only' poker events, pointing out the poor standard of play and lack of respect for raises. I stopped thinking like this some time ago, if you are decent player you CAN go deep

When we arrived I was shocked to see there was barely 30 players registered and the game was due to start in like, 5 mins... where were the 'over 110 players pre-registered' as announced?! Stephen McLean had worked very hard to get the information out there, he took a gamble on making this event a direct on the day buy-in, when usually he opts for online full paid pre-registration in his games.

By the time the game got underway there was 37 players. There were a number of good players in the room: Collette 'Smurph' Murphy; Jane Topkin; Cat O'Neill; last year's runner-up (I later discovered her name was Rebecca McAdams - a well known poker journalist) whose play I was really impressed with in the Ladies game last year. Sitting in seat 2 on table 3 I had Smurph diagonally opposite me, there were three female dealers as well: Sharon G, Lorraine Gately and another from Northern Ireland that I didn’t know.

I got off to a fine start in the second hand, when I completed the blind from SB holding Q7o. There was 6 limpers in the pot(!) Flop came Qc7c3c, action checked all around. Turn was 8d; I bet out 300, the players folded back to the button on my immediate left who called. Turn was Kd. I bet out 350, button raised to 600 - dealer corrected her saying that minimum raise must be 700. I ain't folding my two pair so threw out the extra 350 before she put the extra 100 in... She tabled two black aces for an over-pair(!) I threw in my two pair... nice wee pot comes back to me!

What was noticeable very early was all these serial limpers and people playing too many hands. I punished those limpers raising big from CO/button couple of times with air. The Northern Ireland dealer, Chantelle, was doing the same, she went very short in the first level but bounced back very well just before the first break. Then fell back again after the break, before shooting back up again. While watching her I noticed that she had no respect for the position players. She re-raised with suited connectors as much as raising/calling with any ace to the river very successfully too. After tangling in a couple of pots with her, my stack drifted back under 10k. When I found AKs in CO, I made the standard 4bb raise. Button (calling-station/bluffer) called as did Chantelle in BB. Flop came Q high rainbow, Chantelle bet out a pot size bet, I felt she was just pushing us out and flat called to see what button did, button folded. Rag on turn, Chantelle being first to act bet more slightly than the pot size bet... I just knew she had nothing on the board. But I couldn'r rule out any underpair (66-99 or 1010 even for trips) I contemplated coming over the top by going all-in but her turn bet was more than 40% of my remaining stack, shoving would be -EVs for me as it wasn't enough to get her out of the pot after putting in so much... I had no option but to fold. That hand cost me a lot of valuable chips, I fell back to 6k. I got hyper-aggressive after this, raising/shoving, stealing blinds and limper's chips until my stack was back up to 9k... when this hand happened.

Smurph was in BB, UTG, UTG+1 (both serial limpers)and UTG+2 (never raises only limps - same girl who limped in with AA in 2nd hand)joined the action... I was next to act and found 10 10; still in hyper-aggro mode I made a 6bb raise. Everyone folded back to UTG+2 who merely called as I expected, flop came AK10, as UTG+2 checked - I made a pot size bet, she then mini-raised me, I insta-shoved praying she didn't have aces or kings... I had her covered by just 4.5k. To my amazement she calls and flips over JJ, I show my 10s for a set and held my breath for the J/Q cooler that thankfully never came! I was back up over starting stack again...

I calmed down and settled back to pace myself, until 2 orbits later when blinds 150/300, Margaret (Fitz regular) came to take the place of the AA/JJ girl I knocked out. She's not played any hands; it looked like she was short... Finding 99 UTG, I bet out 3.5BB, but one by one they all folded back to Margaret in BB who shoved her small stack over the line. Taking a look at the stack I mistakenly assumed 4k (it was closer to 6k) and insta-shoved my stack over she shows AK and the K high board doubles her up; that decimated my stack by 50%... I got too cocky over-valuing nines, meh(!) Big lesson learnt here: asking for a count and THINK before I make any calls!

From this level right up until 500/1000 I got nothing... no more hands, just rubbish, all I could do was sit back and watch as Chantelle (the pretty dealer) and Smurph started running all over the table; bursting players left right and centre. Growing increasingly short I kept looking for key spots to shove to steal blinds etc, I was desperate - shoving with K4s, J10, 78s etc... even shoved once with crap 102o I think... thankfully I got no callers on these hands(!) One shove with A5 got called by AJ, the lovely 995xx board that ran out was a god send! That double-up just before our table broke helped me through the card-death that lasted two orbits when I got moved my next table.

On table one was Gillian Armstrong (the Boyle Poker sponsored player); Jane Topkin (runner-up from JP's mini-WSOP game) and Margaret (a very good aggressive player from Dundalk - regular at Cue Club & Poker Ireland 100 games) I had an awful position on the latter who was the table chipleader, sitting immediately on my left. Usually I enjoy chatting with Margaret at the table but being so short, plus it was a new table, I was back to square one watching and pegging the other players; I remained stoic saying very little... Margaret must have thought I was being rude ignoring her! I shoved twice with KK and QQ but got no callers, showing both I was setting my image for future shoves...

UTG a serial limper made an unusual min-raise the blinds; action folded back to me. Finding 99 on button, after thinking I decided I couldn't fold here with <10bbs, so all-in I went. To my horror Margaret came over the top into UTG... UTG tanked then folded (she later admitted she had AK! WTF?) Margaret tabled KJs and I felt a cold numb feeling of de va ju coming over me at the sight of them... was another tournament going to be ended for me by a poxy KJ(!)

The dealer looked at me and mouths 'good luck', then turns the flop one card up... the top card was a King... urgh! Collective groans all around from the table ladies in sympathy. I stood up to leave as the dealer, slowly spread out the rest of the flop when a glorious nine appeared from under the king and I squealed in delight! Yaaaay!!!! But that didn't get me out of danger. I was still all-in or fold mode as the blinds were going up 1k/2k.

That was also the beginning of the end for poor Margaret, she never won another pot after that... By this stage there were a lot of short stacks on the table, shoving spots were getting rarer. I folded 33 and 55 both times to a raise and re-raise all-in, when the initial raiser called and the board came out - I would have won both times had I called... meh(!)

With Margaret now out of the picture, Jane Topkins who had slowly amassed a sizable stack at this stage started to put pressure on the small stacks, kept raising into all the shorties blinds or limping/raising on flop... she had me on my toes! I re-raised all-in back into her once with KQs and she insta-folded - after that she stopped playing into me.

To my right was a novice player, who admitted she's only played hold 'em since last October, unlike the serial limpers she put it a few decent raises and made a lot of interesting moves. She was joint chipleader with Jane. Every time she was in SB to my BB and there was no other action on the table - she would look at my short-stack and fold pushing her small blind towards me saying 'here... you can have it, I fold.' Bless her - she saved me a few times by doing this! I wouldn't have been that nice if the shoe was on the other foot...

We were down to 10, the blinds had just gone up to 1.5k/3k when Jane limped in, a tight-passive shortie in Button mini raised, I found 33 in BB and swore I was not folding it this time! As I shoved right over the top with 23k, Jane folded after a dwell and button insta-called with AJ - I had her covered. The board that came out was sick: AJ5...5...3 Ouch! And with that I had my place on the final table as the 2nd shortest stack with 35k.

On the final table - only Margaret (Fitz regular) was shorter than me, Chantelle was next in chips, just couple odd thousand more than me. I was surprised as she was tournament chipleader at the last break? Smurph was chipleader with almost 90k, Susie wasn't far behind her with 50k, the rest of the table varied between 40-45k. Rebecca McAdams, a Westbury regular, Jane and the Novice from my previous table made up the rest of the table.

Susie was the unlucky player out in 9th place, after shoving her AJs into Smurph's AA... Margaret was next to go... followed by the novice player. By the time we were 6 handed, I was just behind Smurph in chips having doubled up via the Westbury player with 10 10, flopped a set, turned a house then rivered poker-10s for good measure! We had a deal to take €50 from 1st and 2nd to create a 6th prize - everyone agreed, having decimated Christina (Westbury player) she was happy to push her short stack with any two half decent cards, but her raced didn't hold and she was gone in 6th.

One orbit later I found AA UTG+2, I made my stanadard raise to 22,000 (blinds 4k/8k) Smurph insta-flattened as the others got out of the way. Flop came AK10 all hearts... we both checked. I lead out on the rag turn for 30,000. Smurph tanked before coming over the top... I insta-called showing my trips. The river bricks and poor Smurph is left with <5BB. Few hands later she's gone in 5th place for €250... she immediately sailed off for the Voodoo Festival main event, came back next day 2nd in chips but no joy with AK into 99... UL Smurph! Rebecca McAdams was the next casualty out in 4th when I reraised from SB into her BB.
Then there were three... After doubling Chantelle up not just once or twice but THRICE! I was back playing ultra-tight and putting pressure on Jane for a change! Jane in button was short on 45k, Chantelle was on 136k while I had 150k approx when the biggest car crash happened!

I was in SB, Chantelle was in BB with blinds now 4k/8k. Jane was in button on 46k. As I expected she shoved. I knew she was showing with a wide range but I didn’t want to double her up, finding A9o I knew my only option was to go all-in to isolate the action. I had a bad, bad feeling about this hand... so I tanked, considered the payouts and asked for a count of other player’s chips before shoving my stack over the line... Chantelle snapped called with KK. Jane tables A9s and I knew I had lost the game...

The kings hold, Jane is gone in 3rd place and I am down to >3BB... two shoves later and I was out 2nd for €950 after running K8s into Chantelle's 22. GG... UL... WP... etc. Pose for some photos, smile and good night!

Over all - it wasn’t my finest game but I was happy with how I played, my game plan went askew a few times but the winning factor that saved me was patience. There was a small satisfaction knowing I also outlasted the other DPN regulars! This year's game favoured the strong players, as the final table testified to this. Chantelle was a well deserving winner having played well all day, never losing her cool once. It was a brilliant experience to play on tables with strong experienced players like Smurph, Rebecca, Margaret and Jane.

Kudos to Stephen McLean for a great tournament, while the numbers was very disappointing, the structure was great, it was clear he had put a lot of work into organising the day. The craic was mighty all day, by the time the final table started it was clear that today was the day of the good players...

Roll on next year!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Poker in the Pub Grand Final - Trip Report

I came down on Thursday to deal the team event (and get valuable reads/info on the players too of course!) and worked from 7:30pm til 7:30am... crashed into bed and didn't wake up til 3:30pm. The game was starting at 5pm; as I went to register I got an unexpected surprise - there was an additional €30 registration fee due. For what!? I win a ticket and still have to pay registration??? That one’s new to me...

Heading to the restaurant in the bar for a decent meal before we started, I met up with Willow and Eamon Connolly. Talking about the registration fee, I was informed that the organisers were already operating at a loss, due to associated outlay costs like chips, advertising, printing, staff etc.

I barely made it to my seat before the first hand was dealt. Looking down finding AQs in the first hand, I was UTG and didn't want to raise this early – really hate getting good hands so early in the game. So I limped, two other players limped in, button re-pots to 350. I called for the extra 300, MP folds and CO-1 threw in 300 with a 1k chip underneath. Dealer checked and pointed out the chip... 'Are you re-raising Sir?' 'Erm... yeah... yeah...' the player nodded. Button called the extra 1k. I felt it might have been a mistake rather than a genuine re-raise, considering button flat called rather than re-raised, I knew I should get out of this pot but was was well stacked enough to call the extra 1k to see the flop which came J high rainbow. Urgh. I knew I was finished with this hand if either players’ put a bet out. Sure enough, CO-1 bets 1,500; Button came over the top to 4.5k. I insta-mucked. CO-1 flat called. Turn saw another 4k from each player while river was checked down. CO-1 shows AA and Button KK... Nice angleshoot with the €1k re-raise sir(!)

I didn't see or play another decent hand til the 2nd level when I raised to 550 with 10 10; a loose player re-raised to 1200. He had been doing this a lot, raising with ace rags, suited connectors, small pairs etc. I felt I was ahead of his range and re-potted to 3,600... he folded. Two hands later I was in BB to his button. He was down to 6k approx, several limpers in the pot; I had AQs he raised to 650 on button. I re-raised to 3250, as action folded back to him he laughed then folded showing J10s. That brought me back up over starting stack for the first time since we started. I was on a table of serial-limpers who just wanted to see a flop for cheap but folded a lot to any raise. I hovered along taking couple more small pots with well placed raises, had to fold to a re-raise from BB when I attempted a raised with QJs from CO. By the first break at end of 3rd level, I was sitting on 17.5k, when I met Thomas Maguire who was sitting well on 24k having “only played 3 hands” getting well paid on them all. Didn’t see him again after this – hope you went deep mate?

At the break the final numbers were confirmed. Out of 800-odd players who actually qualified, 706 had turned up to play. A staggering amazing number, but when you consider the prize fund was just €65,000 plus a €10,000 WSOP Vegas package, it works out at €107 approx per player and not the €200 per player as advertised.
Granted most players would have won a ticket having just played 4 weeks of the league, but some people (like me) would have played 8 or 12 weeks to qualify. With an average 8 week play at €10pw, plus the €30 registration fee making a total of €120 average outlay per player for an event that actually would have cost less to enter directly was thought-provoking. There was only €4 per week per player was going into the overall prize fund, but considering that for every one person that qualified, there were at least 7-10 other players who didn’t qualify – shouldn’t there have been a lot more than €65,000 in that prize pool? Another gripe was the prizes, they were only paying out the top 18 or 2.5% of the field, which represented much less than standard 10-15% of usual games.

After the break, I drifted down to 13/14k in BB (200/400) with card death and losing chips in one hand when I limped re-raised with AJ s UTG and was forced to fold them to a re-raise all-in from the initial limper. I tanked long enough before I folded showing the ace and mucking the J face down; he tables QQ. “AK?” he asked – I nodded – the players rapped the table. I knew I had respect.

Then came the first pivot hand of the tournament: Next hand saw me in BB with 6s10s when UTG raises to 600, two players along with the Button called. I was getting pissed off at having my blinds raised into (I had to fold them every time since the break) had decided I would to call to see a flop with any two.

6d10d7s flop... woooo! I checked, UTG puts out 1200, others fold. I think for minute – he could be flushing? I’m out of position for a re-raise so decided to flat call. 7c on turn ... I checked, UTG put out 2000, again I tanked then flat called. 2c on river, I opt to bet out 3250 on river as I felt he had missed and I didn’t really want to show my cards... but UTG calls showing AdKd(!) “I put you on a bluff chasing a flush draw” he says... Scooping in 8.5k I finally got my stack over the 20k mark for the first time!

Two hands later I’m on button when I opted to raise with Q4o as BB (same player UTG from my 610s hand) calls, he’s been leaking a lot of chips... he became the table chipleader very early but was on clearly on tilt after a massive bluff and losing three pots in a row. Everyone else folded. Flop comes 949 rainbow. BB checks I bet a pot size bet. He insta-calls. Turn is 3, action went check-bet-call... on the river came a K. He checks. I felt I was ahead but, opted to check behind in case he had hit the king. “Two pair” I announce, he nodded “yeah I have two pair too... which pair you got?” tabling my Q4, he announced its good and mucks(!) OMG!

I decided to go back into tight mode as I felt I had just shot my image with that hand... I folded for couple more orbits before getting moved to another table. In my first hand I got 99, had no read on the table but I wasn't limping with them... I made a standard 3xBB raise (blinds were 300/600 at this stage) they all folded, I showed my nines. Next hand I got 77, and opted to limp in. Three other limpers and SB completed, BB checked. Flop came AdQd8c, old man in SB bet 1200, I saw this as a probe bet, so flat called, other players folded. 10c came on turn. Old man bet out 1200... I sensed weakness and put him on a flush draw or Qx, so put in a re-raise to 2800, he folded. Phew!

Also on this table was a Gum-type woman player - you know the one who makes HUGE crazy bets and you just can't see where she's going. She was swigging back bottles of beer and was well oiled too. As the table chipleader, she limped in pre then shoved the flop a lot, or bet out 6-10xBB pre-flop... I had to fold my AcQc to her shove on the Q high flop with 3 hearts, as I just didn’t feel I was a head and was drifting back down to 23k. The average stack at this stage was 20k, when my second pivot hand happened: she limped UTG+2, I was in CO with Ad10d and decided to made a re-raise to 3200, action folded back to her. She flat called. Flop came AhKdJd, just as the flop appeared she snapped 'ALL IN!' But I had made my mind up not to let her bully me again – so insta-called to see J10s; 10c on turn and 3d on the river just sweetened the deal... and I was up to a heady 48k.

The structure had changed - instead of antes kicking in at the 150/300 level as advertised on the forum, it was put back to the 1000/2000 level. I wasn't too impressed with this as there was a lot of small stacks still in, blinding themselves down waiting for the good cards and shoving with 4/5/6/7BBs and doubling up to stay in the game.

After winning a couple more pots at this table I got moved again to my 3rd (and ultimately final) table with 54k. Losing one big race with AJ into shorties AK on a A rag flop – he limped called my raise then shoved the flop. I was down to 41k approx when I pick up my first AA. UGT+1 raised to 4,500 (blinds were 500/1000) I was in MP and re-raised to 13,500. As the rest of players folded back to UTG+1 he tanked for an age then shoved, he had me well covered but it was an insta-call for me. Tabling my aces, he showed KK, no king on board and I'm up to 83k!

The antes started to kick in, with the 1000/2000 level being repeated with 100 ante, putting pressure on a lot of small stacks to shove with marginal hands, calling a couple of players, I steadily built my stack up to 128k. I heard the announcement that the ‘tournament chipleader’ was sitting on 117k... eh?! Excuse me! I was just about to call the TD over to tell him, when I checked my big blind holding Jc10c; too many limpers in the pot to re-raise. Flop comes Qc9s3c - I bet out half the pot, it fold back to player on button (total novice player – calling all the way to river with any pair, draws and Aces) he flat calls. Turn is 7x I put out a huge pot bet and again he calls... 8c on river - I've got the flush as well as straight - I jam it to put him all in and he auto calls showing Kc4c for better flush... Urgh! Sick... I'm back down to 79k. Got paid off with another AA, and shoved into re-raise trying ti isolate the small stack holding QQ but both shortie min-raiser and the re-raiser folded. My stack went back up to 93k before we finished for the night at 1:15am. The average was 48k and there was 220 approx players remaining.

Willow from Voodoo was still in, sitting on 45k, we agreed to swap 5% of each other and went for ONE drink to relax before hitting the sack... One drink with Willow?! LOL! It was 4 brandies later before I escaped to my bed at 3am! Waking with a slight hangover in the morning, I went down for breakfast downed a gallon of water then over to the leisure centre for a swim/sauna session to clear my head before starting back at 2pm.

Heading in to play day 2 I noticed from the player list I was in 24th place with 92,000 (dealer error on sheet) - vowing to play tight; I made a colossal error in my first hand: spying 2 red aces, I made a standard raise UTG; UTG+1 min-re-raises - I re-potted to put him all in. He calls with JJ, as I turned over my hand to my horror I had Ah4d.... aaaaaaahhhhh! Mortification! Lost 35k in that pot - was so angry I went on min-tilt and donked away another 20k attempting raises with rubbish that I had to fold to re-raises. At the break I was down to 46k just under the average - I gave myself a mental ticking off and restarted with a better frame of mind. Was all-in or fold mode. Shoved about 6/7 times but no callers... made two bad laydowns – I genuinely could not decide if I did right thing or not.

Finding A8s in BB I was considering a shove if there were limpers or min-raisers, when UTG+1 shoved for 21k, I was on 50-odd approx and blinds were 2000/4000 with 200 antes, average stack had increased to 58k approx. CO flat calls leaving himself with 40k approx behind; this player had just moved to our table after the break and was a serial limper – I had very little reads on him. I tanked for ages before folding. Was disgusted to see UTG+1 table A5o and CO tables QhJh... and sicker was the flop: AA8xx. Meh!

I shoved next hand with QQ – no callers. Got the blinds, antes and one limper’s 4k to keep me going for another orbit. I had 55 UTG+2, was considering a raise/shove/fold when UTG+3 shoved all-in out of turn and the rest of the table started to insta-fold their cards. Dealer tried to stop them but saw Novice player then said ‘yeah call’ getting his chips ready. Dealer stopped him then brought the action back to me. I tanked for ages was about to have the clock put on me when I folded. Novice player calls with A7o, UTG+2 shows AQ... And you won’t believe what came on the board – not one 5 but TWO bloody 5’s(!) AQ wins with top kicker. Meh!

A few more uncalled shoves with QQ, AK, 66, and 10 10 (I showed them all... ) got my stack back up to 65k – but I wasn’t out of danger. The blinds were now a crippling 4000/8000/500 antes and the game was in crapshoot mode with the average stack only 100k. As I found A2s UTG+1, the Novice player to my right was now table chipleader on 200+ folded, rest of table had various amounts from 50-100k I didn’t feel good about the hand but I had enough to put a lot of pressure on other players to fold and steal the blinds and antes (17k total) that I desperately needed. I shoved...

SB woke up with JJ and snaps called leaving himself with 25/30k... Board read out 3...4...6... 10...K... and I'm gone by 5pm. Somewhere between 85-90th place... the board said 95, I thought I was 94th having just seen another player exit before me but there were good few players crashing out and they didn’t update the board properly. 10 minutes after I exited – the board read 80 players left... so I can only speculate it was in the region of 85-90. Not bad out of 706 players and for my first major tournament!

The game was a terrific experience – I was happy with how I played on day one, but day two was so-so: I let the small things bother me, made too many rash decisions and over played some hands; I could have waited another orbit or two for a better shoving spot, considering one of the short stacks on my table managed to get to the final two tables and cashed. But if’s and and’s and all that... I have to take responsibility for my play too.

I wasn’t due to go back on dealing duty until Sunday, after taking a small break I decided to play the €80+20 side event. Got off to a good start, but had a very good player on the table putting solid pressure on other players, finding AQs in button, he raise in MP to 5.5/6xBB I min-re-raised him only for him to tank then shove his stack in. I was stuck... kicking myself for re-raising - calling with AQ would have been fine but attempting a re-raise here is idiocy at its best, as his action was suggesting AA/KK/QQ – AK even... I folded face up. Talking to him the next day he admitted he had nothing, that I was miles ahead... LOL! Nice move mate, congrats on coming 4th in the end too. I went completely card dead after this; steals were few and far between, getting caught by the raising blinds (which was only 15 minutes not the 20mins I expected), constant shoving by other players and the unexpected antes that came in later. Finding my first ace in almost 4 orbits while UTG, ignoring the weak suited kicker, the binds were 600/1200/100 and I had only 7000 left. Needing that double up fast, I shoved to ensure I had my stack in first but ran into another player’s AJ – that’s all she wrote...

Giving up on poker for the night, I went for a walk about talking to various players still in the main event; Willow was still in - going strong winning all her races! I was full of hopes for the 5% cash as well! But it wasn’t to be... she crashed out in 30-something place. UL, WP girl!

The eventual main event winner – Elaine Kiernan from Laois, played a sterling game establishing herself as chipleader from 5/6 tables out, right up until the end. Watching her, I couldn’t help sensing the uncanny similarities between her game and Susie Woosie’s... Good luck to her in Las Vegas!

The off-duty staff started rounding up numbers for a side game, I was going to say no, but hey it was only €20 and the staff games are always fun. There were two tables going. We were so rowdy the TD’s still working in the main event and side events had to tell us to pipe down. Serious bickering started out on the other table over who was to be moved to our table when two unfortunates were quickly eliminated (including Neil Kelly aka ‘shoving fish’) leading to the pot being split between the tables into two sit-n-go’s. I ended up 3 handed with one of the floor staff – James- and Paddy Winston; we remained 3 handed for 2 hours! The craic was just brilliant; I thought it would never end! We finally agreed on a crazy deal - €70 each, €10 to the dealer who stayed with us and play on for the last €20. Finally James, who kept limping in with premium hands got sucked out by moi, I ended heads up with Paddy while the stacks went up and down before I knocked him out with pocket kings. Best game of the day IMO!

Loss making claw-back or underlay alert aside, you have to admit that the Poker in the Pub organisers are on to a very good thing here... These are players that NEVER get play the big events; these are tomorrow’s fish that we need to re-stock the dwindling traditional main events. They have done the industry a big favour. This was the ideal game to give them a taste of the ‘real thing’, to encourage them to try their game at a higher level. Several players even talked about ‘trying’ the upcoming Ladbrookes festival. The atmosphere in the place was electric, the event was well run and there was a general sense of fun, a total contrast to the air of seriousness that populated the last Ladbrookes Festival, in the same centre last November.

Great weekend of poker, if these players keep playing then the future of poker is very secure! Chcek the gallery here and see for yourself!

Thursday, February 4, 2010


I’ve not had time to post a few updates, there’s been too much happening in the last month, I’m amazed I managed to find time to play poker, never mind learn and play Mythical!

‘Mythical?!’I can hear your puzzled voices already before this post has been written! You can blame Trisha Stephens for this one...

We’ve all seen that group of 2-4 players playing with two decks of cards at the breaks and after a tournament in the Jackpot, Voodoo and other places. After throwing their money into a pot, the players are dealt 10 cards to make 2, 3 or 4 sets – a straight flush run, 3 or 4 of a kind, etc and complete it before the other players. It is similar to Kalooki, except you keep your sets in your hand and you can’t add to other sets. Mythical allows you to an imaginary ‘mythical’ card to complete the sets. The other players can then dump their sets, but are penalised with points for the game as well as any leftover cards in their hands. If the player makes his sets without the mythical card it is a ‘Bonus’ which means the game penalty point is doubled for that round. As each player hits the maximum penalty points, they are out, with the last man standing taking the pot. If the sole surviving player wins the game without getting one penalty points it’s a ‘whitewash’ which means the other players have to pay double the entry to the luckbox. After standing around watching others play Mythical for so long, I was dying to have a go but didn’t have the nerve to ask them to include me.

On the 5th January I played my first poker game of the year €20+5 Tuesday night game in the Voodoo but no joy. Trish who was out earlier along with Joe the Show and one other player had been playing Mythical in the corner. Joe went for food, and the other player went for a smoke, I sat down to chat with Trish, gave her the lowdown on my game. Asking how she was doing in Mythical, she moaned that Joe was cleaning them up... “Do you play Mythical?” She asked me. “No, never tried it. But I think I have an idea how it’s played...” I replied

“Wanna try play a game with me? No money, just have a go for 100 points?” Trish offered, I didn’t need to be told twice!

Trish won the practice game, only by a few points but it was a close one, she suggested playing another game for a fiver, yeah okay... when the other players came back 20 minutes later, I was already €5 richer, and agree to join the game for €10. Coming a close second to Joe the Show, I was down €5... Joe had us all agreeing to play another game, which I took down for €40, Trish took the 3rd game then I had another glory potting the 4th game for a sweet €60 (Joe the Show talked us into upping the buy-in to €15!) We played a final game, can’t remember who won it but heading home that night I was €50-60 richer and hooked!

I wasn’t as lucky the next night I played; I got hammered for €60 wiping out my new mini-mythical-bankroll! Meh! I think would have stopped there and then but the Voodoo decided to host a Mythical tournament the following week and it looked really good – for €30 I wanted to give it a go. Playing a few more games I managed to run up a small enough profit on the 3rd night, just enough to cover my buy-in for the Mythical Tournament at least!

Most players know that Mythical can be pure luck, while there is an element of skill in watching and determining what to keep, knowing what to throw away. It is still down to luck...

The Mythical Tournament started with 16 players; 4 players on each table, only 2 will get through to the next round, they will face 2 more players. Only the two players still in will reach the final 4. First round points was played to 100, in the second round we played to 150 with the final 4 playing to 200 points. I barely made it through the 1st round, I was 3rd in points and next to exit when I got a lovely bonus hand to eliminate the 2nd place player and advance myself and Eamon Connolly into the next round. In the second round I got several wins in a row to guarantee my place in the final round against Trish Stephens, Big John and another girl. I got an early Mythical within one orbit leading to a spectacular 70+ points for poor Trisha! As Trisha and the other girl later exited I went into heads up with Big John who is considered the ‘Granddaddy of Mythical’, I was on 80 points to his 176 and feeling very positive but it wasn’t to be. Big John won three grand slams in a row to elbow me out into 2nd place for €180. LOL!

But the most memorable game has to be last week – Tuesday 26th to be exact, playing the regular Tuesday game in the Voodoo. I played a €10 Mythical game with Joe the Show at the break and got my first Whitewash! LOLOLOL! Joe had been egging me on to play for more than €10, but I insisted €10 was enough... handing me the extra €10, ever the gracious loser, Joe rubbed it in: “And to think you could have gotten more off me had you agreed to play for €20! Ha!”

I played a few more mythical games but for every night I leave with a profit the next night I lose it all again! The Voodoo has agreed to make the Mythical tournament a regular monthly event, looking forward to the next one on 18th February...

Don’t worry folks, I haven’t given up on poker... while I’ve not won any games outright, apart from splitting a local €40 pub game heads up for €240 each, I’ve managed a few decent runner-up cashes. Overall, since the 4th January to date, I am up just over €400 (yes I’m keeping tabs!) after buy-ins, which is not a bad start to 2010 considering how busto I was at the end of 2009! I’m sticking to good bankroll management and staying with the low buy-in games up to €40 max until I put that figure over €1000.

But the icing on the cake has to be gaining my entry ticket to the Poker in the Pub grand final on 5th February. With a €65,000 guaranteed prize fund including a WSOP entry and trip to Vegas to play for – this is the biggest game I’ve ever played and as the entry was covered during 2009... I’m practically freerolling it!

I’ll be re-reading my Harrington books, especially End Game, checking out all the pro-articles online, to polish up my game. I'll be formatting a serious game plan in my head before I sit down to play on Friday night... Expect a detailed write up on the game in my next blog post.

Woo! Hoo! Bring it on!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


What do ya think of my new skin?!

Played omaha on iPoker tonight, I'm barely finding my feet on this so started with 1c/2c 6max game and pwned it big time! $5 into $14 in 1 hour then got up and left.

Back to work today, after the Christmas break (what break?! I need another holiday to recover!) got LOADS done... but still behind, meh! Two more days to deadline...

Will work on the blog list again soon

Monday, January 4, 2010

Please bear with me...

Reading through my past posts I've been feeling a bit sorry for this blog - I've really abandoned it of late. I've fallen into that trap when blogging about poker becomes 'a chore', or as the traffic increases or I'm playing with certain people - I'm getting wary of what I'm writing about. It never used to be that way... *sigh*

Some players take to it well, some don't. Others start fishing for information: "Who's xxx on yer blog? Ah c'mon, ya gotta tell me!"

Deciding to change my blog page design. I never really like it to be honest. Should have kept the 'Luscious Lips' design but the amount of ghey comments I got over it was just...grrrrrr! I went fishing for a new one, trying on several when I realised I had to be elsewhere and just left it. Today I said: 'Hey! It's a new year, fresh start, good excuse as any for a new skin...'

That was 5 hours ago... and I'm still NOT happy with this page!

There are LOADS of wonderful sassy poker blog-skin designs out there, but only for Wordpress or MySpace or Bebo(!) I've gone through many a poker blog, usually one get bored start clicking on your mates blog 'links' and just head off clicking, browsing, surfing... yes I've ended up going deep into blogs of total complete random strangers, non-poker blogs even. But not one on Worldpress... nor MySpace... or Bebo(!) Who the f@#k design these while leaving us poor Blogspots in the shade?!

Anyone know how to convert these into XML for Blogger? Please, please contact me! Anyway I'm currently experimenting with several skins so please excuse the various changes, mad colours/schemes/designs appearing here over the next few days...

I must apologise for the loss of my links too - especially if you are one of those total random strangers 'just passing through' shocked to discover an actual dead-end - I must stress this is a happy dead-end, just need to clarify that as the only other dead-end-blogs you find out there are those written by people 'contemplating suicide'. Seriously... I am not! No matter how bad my poker is - I do have better things in life that I excel at, well things I think I excel at!

In the meantime I'm seeing spots, swirls and sprinkles... I've tried pink, red and sabre-green... And it's 5 long hours and I'm still NOT happy... I'm all googled out now.

On a positive note - I've not played poker at all tonight... LOL! Good night!

Friday, January 1, 2010

2009 Review : My Annus Horribilis

2009 has been both my best and worse year poker-wise since I started playing poker...

I'm not going into detail of the games I played or a month by month analysis - basically in a nutshell: its been awful! I'm starting 2010 totally busto.

I lost far more than I have won, I even lost the wee bankroll I started this year on which had been accumulated over the previous 2 years. For the first time in almost 3 years of playing I finished a year 'deep in the minus' category. Despite cashing well in the final 6 weeks where I won an €1,475 approx in various live MTT's in Voodoo, local pub games and Fitzwilliam - but it still wasn't enough to get me out of the red...My saving grace as to be all the various dealing jobs that I have done in festivals around the country this year, without these I would have been in serious debt.

Looking at my first post of 2008, I had some resolutions:

1. Stay away from the cash tables till I get some coaching. LOL! I tried, lord I tried...
2. Play all the IDP events, the UK Deaf Poker Open and two of the Swedish Deaf Poker tournaments. Yes, Yes and No... :( The Swedish Events clashed with other commitments. I became Chairperson of IDP in a difficult year, as with the mainstream poker, we have seen a drop in numbers.
3. Play at least two of the big tournaments on the Irish Poker scene LOL! Had the IPO in mind but got asked to work at it (wasn't flush enough to buy-in either, aimed to get a ticket for 'Poker in The Pub' league game and failed by a measy 1 point(!)
4. To show an 100% increase on my current poker profit for 2009 LOL!
5. Improve my tournament game more This, I am proud to report, was my one success in 2009.

My learning curve rose very sharp in 2009. I getting better reads on players and making far more hero calls and re-raises than I used to... I'm bluffing more and getting away with it 90% of the time. I am making better use of position, pot-odds, M factors and percentages to determine if my hands are worth shoving for. And best of all: I no longer lose it when some ass slowplays me or calls my pre-flop raise with spanners and hits good... I just laugh!

For 2010... I've just three 'small' resolutions:

1 - End on a Profit... even a €100 will be an improvement on this year!
2 - Stay away from cash games... and stop playing prop bets in Mythical
3 - Keep that learning curve growing... Keep telling myself: Every fish will get her day!

Happy New Year everyone... see you at the tables!