Wednesday, April 19, 2006

WPT Championship - Day 1

Well, I am lucky I can title this blog "Day 1", which at least suggests there might be a Day 2 to blog about. To be frank I played so badly in the first 3 levels I pretty much deserved to be out. If it was a 10,000 chip event I would certainly have hit the rail sometime inthe first two hours..

Anyway, here is a brief synopsis of intresting stuff which happened (comments on any of the hands are welcome):

Took my seat in the regular cardroom, rather than the Fontana Lounge where most of the tournament action takes place. Only two players I recognise are Mark Seif (two to my right) and David Chui (on my immediate left).

I soon find out the geeky looking guy in seat 2 invented the game "Grand Theft Auto" and was worth a zillion quid or something. He moved allin twice when the following hand came up after about 30 minutes. Blinds are 50-100 GTA (as I will call him) raised to 400. Seif reraised to 2000 and GTA called. Flop came 89J with two spades. GTA checked and Seif bet 5k. GTA immediately moved allin for 48k. Seif made a ballsy call with two red kings. GTA had KT spades and was clear favourite to win the pot. But he missed his draws and Seif doubled up.

Soon after I raised to 300 with AK. Chui reraised to 800. I called. Flop KJ2 rainbow. I check called 1000. Turn a 7. Now I check called 2500. River another 7. I check called 6000 to be shown a house of jacks. Horrible play by me. I should have check raised on the flop and when Chui either called or rereraised had nothing more to do with the hand. Wasted well over 6k in this spot.

Early on during the next level (100-200) I limped with Jc8c. A very tight and seemingly inexperienced player now raised to 800. I called. Flop came Qc8s3c. I check called 1200. The turn was a juicy 6c. Now I check called 5k. My read was he had KK or AA with the appropriate club. I was planning to bet the river quite heavily if no club arrived. But just before the dealer showed the last card the guy grabbed a whole bunch of chips and looked manacingly at me, trying to intimidate me into checking. 99% of the the time this action means the guy is HOPING you will check and will meekly check behind you. Therefore you should bet any even haf decnt holdings, let alone the third nuts. But, before I had even given myself 3 seconds to think things through I had checked and he, sure enough checked behind me. He showed KK and I won the pot. Urgh.

I lost an yucky pot during the next level when I raised with AK and saw a flop of AKT. I bet quite heavily but was disappointed to see that the one caller was rewarded with a jack on the turn and led out with a huge bet and flashed me AQ when I passed.

Overall I played weak, timid poker throughout the first 3 levels, I was really nervous, which I haven't been at a poker oturnament since my first couple of attempts at the WSOP. I didn't think clearly and acted too quickly.

During the early stages of level 4 I moved to the Fonatan lounge and was greeted by a table featuring Brian Wilson, TJ Cloutier, Mike Gracz and Joe Sebok. They were all safely to my right however. I arrived with about 35k in chips and a resolve to play more positively and aggressively.

Let me describe a beautifully played hand that I wasn't involved in. I have no idea of the context, because it was within the first 15 minutes of my arrival.

200-400 blinds. TJ raised on the button to 1500. Sebok now reaised to 5k (leaving himself 24k). TJ called. Flop was 732 rainbow. Sebok bet 10k. TJ pushed allin. Sebok passed to be shown AT by TJ.. Sebok starts shaking! A great read by Cloutier...

Here's an interesting situation: With the blinds still at 200-400 someone opens for 1800. He gets 4 callers... and I squeeze AA out in the BB. I have 32k and all the players have me comftably covered. What should I do?

Now onto the last level of the day... two final key hands. Now we are playing 300-600 and I have 40k. Gracz opens in late position for 1800. I call on the button with 44. The flop comes 752 with two diamonds. He checks and I fire out an exploratory 3k. He calls. I am pretty sure he just has overcards, possibly with the flush draw. The turn is another 7. He checks and I bet 7k. He agonises and calls. When the river comes 6d he bets 9k. Hmmmm. Would he have called so much on a flush draw? Although I think it was a bad call by him, I decided he did. And he flashed me the AKd.

Then with 5 minutes remaining and 19k in chips TJ opened for 1800 on my sb. I called with AT. The flop was AK7 rainbow. I checked and so did he. With a pretty ten (which made 2 clubs on board) on the turn I bet 3k to be greeted by the question "How many chips do you have left?". When he called I was almost certain he had a draw of some kind... Probably a flush draw. The river was another ten. Now, the only way I could see getting paid here was to check and hope TJ bluffed at me, which he did by moving in and I beat him into the pot and doubled up.

Tomorrow is another day. I have 37k in chips which is plenty to work with as the blinds are just 400-800. I really played horribly for the most part but was pleased with the final two hands. Game plan for tomorrow is as always dependant on the table draw, but my focus will be on aggression..

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Cameluck II - Finally Something to Blog About...

(This blog has been half written for about 2 weeks. I just couldn't be arsed to complete it. I will leave the detail I have already written but become alot briefer as I've forgotten most of the hands/incidents from the Vic already!)

Before I forget all the relevant going ons (or is it goings on?) I better complete the Vic festival week..

Friday: Met Joe, Claire and the twins for lunch. Lola and Millie are so delicate and tiny it was impossible not to fall in love with them.. It is frightening to admit I can barely remember Jake at that age..

Anyway, here is the gratuitous pic:

(This pic seems not to be working for some reason, I will reload it when I get home from Vegas)

Cue jokes about Joe holding a small pair etc etc...

A couple of hours of kip followed by the free(!) buffet at the Vic and into action...

As I was meandering into Darlo yesterday my mind went back to my exit hand of the £750... I'm afraid I misreported it in the last blog. It was even worse than I portrayed. When the sb bet out on the flop, I was so concerned the limper had a big hand I just called his bet and then called again when the limper moved allin. Yuck. So, on contemplating my plan of action for the main event I decided to just trust my instincts and play poker the way I used to. I felt I haven't played my best for at least 18 months, probably the disappointing finish in Amsterdam in 2004 left more of a mark than I originally thought. I can almost see people like BDD and Andy Ward laughing their collective heads off, but I wanted to play the way I used to. Put pot odds, position, value betting and all the techncal stuff on the back burner and just play the way I used to. Pressure the table from the off, try and make them worried about what I was going to do before anything else. If a guy makes a bet at me, I wanted to look at him and feel if he had a hand or not, and if he didn't to raise him regardless whether I had goods..

My table draw wasn't exactly favourable. I had 3 ultra agressive players sitting directly to my left: Mads Andersen, Rob Yong and John Hewston. But I got a late Christmas prsent from a Scandie when I turned a nut straight with JT (Board AQ6,K)and he called my raise and then led out with A3 when he rivered two pair! This meant I could really mix it up. I probably played more pots in the first three levels of a major tournament than I have ever before. Then I got a full double up from John Hewston when I called his raise on the button with 9T and was gratified to see a AT9 flop. I called his flop bet and when a 7 came off on the turn and he checked I knew he had AK or similar. He called my bet of 3000 and checked again when I housed up on the river. John has alot of qualities as a poker player but being able to lay a down a hand isn't one of them. So I simply moved in. He called with AQ and I was off to the races.

I played as well I can remember on day 1. Everything fell into place and my timing was spot on. I wasn't called on a siungle bluff and when I had the goods I was paid off. I ended the day in excellent chip position and hopeful of a good result.

As well as played on day 1 I played badly on day 2. In my defence I had monster chip leader Marc Goodwin on my immediate left and he was calling everything all day. I felt handcuffed. On my right was Stephen Pearce who could quite possibly claim to be the most annoying player I've ever faced. The rub down he gave Alan Vinson's young son after outdrawing him in a huge pot was almost unforgiveable.

Cameluck came into play half way through the day when John Kabbaj, who was on my table and similarly stacked, asked me whether I wanted to swap 5%. I think he's one of the best players in Europe and I hestitated for about 0.000001 seconds before agreeing.

After strugging all day, Goodwin finally gave me a double up when I tried the old stop and go move on him and it failed spectacularly but I had the best hand and it held up. Then much to everyone's amusement Pearce wanked away a huge stack before finding KK against a perfectly played AA. He missed the money.

Next morning we met DY for a spot of lunch:

Before going back to the Vic, pretty short stacked for the third and final day. I got a pretty quick double up when I took my QQ against Tim Flanders T8 flopped straight draw and it held up. Then a little later another double up with AK v AQ. I moved into a lovely position with about 18 players left. But, alas it wasn't to be. I doubled up El Blondie, who asked for a saver soon afterwards (Cameluck rides again) which I agreed to obviously..

Then the fatal hand for my chances occurred. I raised in middle position with TT and Tim Flanders defended (as he usually does against me) in the BB. I was watching him pretty carefully as a flop of Q43 with 2 hearts arrived. I was pretty confident he didn't hit the Queen. He checked and I bet about 3/4 of the pot, which was roughly half my stack. He immediately moved allin. I took a long time agonising over my decision, but finally laid it down. He showed T8 hearts. Ok, he might have hit his flush, but I was really pot committed and should have gone with my instincts and called him. Oh well. I lost my remaining chips in a coin flip and went out about 14th. Disappointing for sure, but I was pleased with my overall performance and then very pleased when my two swapees managed to make the top 3. Lucky old Camel.

Alot of bullshit was talked at the time about the structure of this tournament. I wrote an article for Blondepoker about it. If you are interested you can read it here.

Then it was home for a few days to prepare for Vegas and the Bellagio. On route to Gatwick we stopped off to Luton for the main event there. Said hello to JP Kelly before proceeding started and he asked to swap 5%. Really Phil Ivey and Barry Greenstein should be begging to swap a % with me here at the Bellagio for the big one. I'm such a lucky bastard.

As for my tournament it was a non event really. I had the most rocky table I've ever encountered in a Luton tournament. I stole my way to 12k before playing my first big pot, when I flopped 2 pair and "the geezer" flopped a set. I should have laid it down but I wasn't in the mood.

Off to Vegas on the Tuesday. Shared a plane with Tony Bloom, El Blondie and Roland De Wolfe and interesting chats with all of them. Played the $2500 and got pretty much cold decked. Turned a King Flush against a ace flush. Ho hum. Decided to play a $1000 side event the next day. Cracked kings with JT early. And had a healthy stack most of the way. Made a nice call with third pair against a very aggressive player for all my chips. The bubble lasted nearly 90 minutes as we fought tooth and nail to get in the money. Finally a guy found 66 impossible to pass for a reraise. A nice rush of cards 6 handed left me one of the chip leaders. And with 3 guys patently not playing a hand against each other when a chip count deal was offered I accepted. These are massively in favour of the chip leaders and my $22k was probably 10% more than I would have accepted especially as the other players would have colluded against me if I objected to the deal...

I said when I came here that if I won enough money I would play the main event. Now I've actually got the dough I'm not so keen. I am prepared to put some up and sell some. So, if anyone wants to buy a piece let me know. I would need a small premium, say $2500 for 7.5% (or pro rata) to help cover expenses. I honestly feel like I'm playing the best poker of my life.

On Saturday came the event I really wanted to blog about... Tony Bloom rang me and asked if Katharine, Jake and I would like to come out for dinner "with a few friends". We didn't have anything planned so we accepted.

The "few friends" happened to include Billy Baxter, his wife and son. Now, if you haven't heard of Baxter you really should have done. He is an absolute legend. He has 7 (count 'em) WSOP bracelets despite not playing holdem events until the late 90's because he was partners with Doyle Brunson and let Doyle play those. He staked Stu Ungar into the third WSOP main event he won. Oh, yeah, he's also probably one of biggest 3 sports betting winners in the whole world. I commented to Harry Demetriou that if some bookmakers knew that Bloom and Baxter were in the same restaurant at the same time there was a good chance they would set fire to the place!

It was one of those evenings you just don't want to end. Conversation drifted betwen internet poker, the merits of Phil Ivey, the WSOP past compared to present, sports betting and living with a gambler.

It was like having dinner with Pele, Frank Sinatra or Neil Armstrong. An evening I will never forget. It was the biggest example of Cameluck ever that I was lucky enough to be invited...
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