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!