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!

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