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!