Thursday, March 31, 2005

Quickfire Day 2

I didn’t last very long on the second day of the £750 freezeout. Managed to win the blinds once when I raised from the cutoff with AQ. The next pot I entered I raised with 88 and got called by the big blind. Flop 9T4 and he moved all in. I passed. Then I picked up 44 in the small blind. The button who I knew was going to raise if everyone passed to him made a raise to 8000 chips and I went all in for 33000 figuring he wouldn’t call. He did with JK. Flop AJJ and that was that. I finished 15th. He ended up winning it ….. The same player the day before had moved all in with 49 for a massive overbet from the small blind and I called with AK in the big blind and he survived. It shows that often luck and not skill is needed to win these tournaments.

I posted this way back on the 8th November. It’s the third big tournament I have been knocked out of with KJ when in the money....

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Still in the The Vic £750 freezeout

At the last minute i decided play the £750 freezeout due to the fact I had won a bit of money in the Dealers Choice game.

I actually felt really focused throughout though I had admit I did steam at one point and got lucky twice late on to still be in. Had a tricky looking starting table which had Willie Tann, Simon Trumper and Ali Mallu arrived shortly afterwards. I had managed to slowly build my stack to a 8500 from a starting point of 5000 after level one which I was pretty pleased with. When the blinds reached 100/200 (Level 3) I had around 10000 chips and limped under the gun with JJ. Flop Jc3d4d. As there had been 4 callers to my limp checked hoping for a raiser and Ali Mallu who was sat to my left raised it to 1200. Everyone passed and I called. I thought it was too good an opportunity to scare someone of which is why I didn’t raise. Turn 8s. I check again and Ali raised it 3000. I now moved all in and he said he passed 5d6d so had a massive draw…..

I then steadily managed to build up my chips to 25000 over the next few levels and when blinds reached 400/800 and I raised in middle position to 3200 with 88 and a player in late position called. It flopped TQ4 and I moved all in. He only had 8000 left so could have done me some damage if he called. He mucked JJ. I had put him on AK so I was lucky that a J didn’t fall.

I was up to a high point of 35000 when a hand happened that made me steam for a while. I had reraised Alan Betson a couple of times who was sat directly to my right…. and had actually shown him a bluff reraise. Everyone passed around to him on the small blind and he moved all in for 11400 which was a huge overbet. I saw an A and decided if I squeezed a Q, K or A with it I would call. It was a K so I moved my chips in. He turned over 4s9s and hit a 9 to take the pot down. I know percentage wise I wasn’t a huge favorite but it still made me steam for a while. I kept thinking I should have been on 45000 chips instead of back amongst the field with 25000. I made a few lousy calls to try and hit flops and was down to 20000. I managed to get my focus back and start playing properly again.

Blinds were rapidly increasing and most bets before the flop were taking down the blinds and antes…. I had a bit of a rush of cards and built my stack to 33000 again. With the blinds at 800/1600 and running antes of 200 Alan raised under the gun to 6000 and I looked down at AK. I was pretty sure I could get him to lay most hands down so I raised it to 18000. Unfortunately S Bovis woke up with AA behind me. The only saving grace was that he had just 15000 chips left so I was still in it with 18000. We were down to three tables now and quite close to the money. I then got very lucky. I raised my last 15000 chips with Qc6c and Bad Girl called the majority of her stack in late position. She turned over AK so I was about in as good a shape as I could have hoped for with live cards. It flopped Tc9c6h. Just about the best flop for me I could imagine. Turn a Qs and river a Kc to give me the flush.

Blinds were then up to 1000/2000 and I played tight for a while and the bubble player was knocked out. With 28000 chips I raised with AdJd. All passed around to S Bovis who raised the remainder of my chips. I passed. He said he had 88. As I only had 20000 chips and the blinds were so high I decided I would try and double through rather than return with less than 10 big blinds for Day 2. I picked up 9hJh and moved all in to try and steal the blinds. J Rogers immediately to my left reraised all in for about 20000 more. That didn’t look promising. Everyone passed and he flipped over 66. I thought he must have had a high pocket pair so was pleased to see 66. It flopped TQK to give me the straight….. I was very lucky with that coin flip and we finished two hands after that and I have 43200 chips and the button is on me. We resume with blinds of 1500/3000 and running antes of 200. The average chip count is 53000 and there are 16 players left…..

I posted the chip counts on Blondepoker if anyone wants to check if there mate is still in.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


Sometimes you have one of those nights when you walk out of where you are playing and hate poker. Last night was one of those…

Played in the £250 Omaha Hi/Lo rebuy event which we started with 3000 chips. I played good solid poker for four hours and had built my chips up to a decent 32000. I was probably amongst the top 5 or 6 of the 29 players remaining. Then I tangled with another player with a lot of chips. We were playing three blinds which at the time were 600/600/1200. An early player raised to 4000 to play and I look down and see I have AA59… I decide to try and win it then or at least isolate one caller so I raised it to 16000 to play. He called. Flop 899. He immediately moved all in. Even if I didn’t have a 9 I would have called without hesitation. So I moved my remaining 16000 chips into the middle and he turned over A2TQ. Turn a blank and the river yes you guessed it… a J to give him a straight. There were 74000 chips in that pot and if I won that hand I would have been a big chip leader. Instead I left immediately or I would have gone on tilt big style. The problem I have when these things happen is I equate them in monetary terms. I can’t see how I wouldn’t have made the money if I had won that hand and I think it probably cost me at least £3000… maybe a lot me. Even if he had had two outs or something it wouldn’t have been so bad but a bloody Gutshot…. Arrrrghhhh

Monday, March 28, 2005

Brain freeze

I stupidly decided to go to the Vic on Sat evening and donate £2000 of my hard earned reddies to the Vic regulars in the Dealers choice game. I had drunk a “few” pints in the afternoon and decided in my wisdom that I was still ok to play in the cash game. I didn’t play terribly but I certainly didn’t play well either…. Twice I lost very big pots when I held the nuts when my money went in the middle but I just wasn’t feeling on my game so should have given it a miss in the first place. I made a few stupid bluffs as well and walked into a serial check raiser… I should have known better. One big pot that I played in the Omaha 8/better got me thinking….. I held TsThJhQc and it flopped 2d8dTc to give me top set. I make a big bet of around £250 and get reraised by a solid player £750. Does this now become a passing hand? Over to the Omaha/8 better experts that read my blog…… ok so I have top set which is the current nuts… but I have no low draw so effectively if a low card comes on the turn I am being freerolled for a potentially massive pot. My opponent did indeed have a massive draw holding the nut low flush draw and a straight draw and he scooped with a 7 on the river.

So yesterday I thought I would get involved in the $1000 Omaha 8/better tables on Party. I sat started with $1000 and was treading water for around three hours but had managed to get my stack up to about $1700 when I was involved in a couple of massive pots. The first I held top set on a QJ9 flop and called a $150 bet on the flop and a $450 on the turn as it was three way action so the pot odds were good if it paired up. A J on the river and I bet $700 and got called by one of the other players and I was up to $4000. Remarkably I was involved in an even bigger pot on the very next hand. I held A355 and it flopped 544 rainbow. I reraised on the flop and got two callers and there was $700 in the middle. Turn a T and both players check to me and I bet $700. Both players call. A 2 arrived on the river to give me the nut low as well as a full house. I bet $2100 and one passes and the other calls the $1200 he had left in front of him and I scooped. Not sure what he was calling with but I assume he had a smaller full house than me and some kind of low hand. I was up to a high point of $7000 and carried on for about an hour when I dropped a $1000 so finished $5000 up. So I managed to turn a somewhat disastrous start to the weekend into a small profit.

However despite winning a bit over the weekend I am still not happy with playing on Saturday evening. With poker being my only source of income very soon such costly mistakes need to be eradicated.

Enough of telling myself off anyway….

The week ahead

I have been looking forward to the Vic festival for a few weeks now. I will be playing in all the events below probably. The only tournament I may miss is the No Limit Holdem Freezeout £750 a miss because I don’t particularly like the structure/starting chips.

Mon, 28 Mar Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo Unlimited Re-buys £250
Tue, 29 Mar No Limit Holdem Freezeout £750
Wed, 30 Mar Pot Limit Holdem Unlimited Re-buys + 1 Add-on 90 £200
Thu, 31 Mar Double chance Pot Limit Omaha Freezeout £1000
Sat, 02 Apr Championship Event No Limit Holdem Freezeout £1500
Sun, 03 Apr No Limit Holdem Freezeout £300

I am sure there will be a few tournament reports. I kick off this evening with the Omaha Hi-Lo. At the last festival I was chip leader when we were down to two tables at this event only to get crushed when I got ¾ of my chips in the middle preflop with AA23 double suited v A2KK. I ended up finishing on the bubble. Hopefully my luck will be better this time.

I am sure blondepoker will be doing Live updates for some of the events.

On another note I have added a link to a new blog. Sherwood Poker… check it out.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Is that an internet qualifier to my left?

Back to the grind

I thought I would have a go at a couple of satellites last night for the Irish Open and The British Poker Open. The Qualifier for the Irish Open on Victor Chandler never really got going for me and the best hand I saw in an hour was AQ. I was still in until a J high flop when I held JK but my opponent took all my chips with JA. I was concentrating harder on trying to qualify for the British Open on Betfair. With 11 out of 57 players remaining I was doing ok until I got crippled when I held QQ in the small blind and the raiser had AA. I then tried a bluff in the small blind and walked into AA again and I was out. One play I noticed that was just terrible was with 12 of us left the button limped with QQ. Truly a bizarre play at the best of times...... anyway it flopped 57A and the QQ then decided to reraise me and I wasn't passing 68 and made my straight and took all his chips. Why ever limp on the button with QQ when the big blind is about 1/10 of the average stack?

Before the excitement of the satellites I managed to get in a bit of time on the $1000 PL Omaha 8/better. Lost a huge pot early on when I held Ac2s4cKs and it flopped 3c5d9c to give me an uncounterfitable nut low draw, a wrap on the straight and the A flush draw. On the flop it turned into 3 way mayhem and the pot was $2500. Turn a 9 and the river a T. Very ugly and someone with a pair of 8's in their hand scooped. I was down to $200 and soon flopped the second best flush with a back door nut low. I wasn't passing that and was up against a lower flush, a bare A who tried bluffing and trips. So I was back up to $800. I then managed to win a big pot when I held 2346 and it flopped A59 and I made double nuts on the river and I was up to $1700. I was then involved in another huge pot when I think my opponents play was terrible. I held Ad2h4dKh and it flopped 3d5d8s..... again I already had the nut low, wrap and the A flush draw.... a complete monster. All my $1700 was in the middle on the flop and it transpired my opponent had 889T. Ok so he had the nut high on the flop but he is being completely freerolled. Assuming no pair up I have about 16 cards in the pack to scoop. Luckily for him the turn and the river didn't bring any of my outs .... dammit. Finished up with $1900 so not too bad all in all.

I have decided against going to play in the Irish Open. I have spent so many weekends away of late I kind of want to relax and see my mates. Will probably head to the Vic to play Dealers Choice on one of the evenings..... I am sure there are some good value tournaments online with it being Easter as well.

Regarding my article in Poker in Europe I will probably have a go at my own exercise later and publish it on my blog. I will be ready for tomatoes to be thrown at me. :-)

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Poker in Europe article

I sent this article to Poker In Europe a few weeks ago. It has just appeared on their homepage. Click here if you fancy a read.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

What next...

I see that the Hendon Mob have updated their rankings and I am 13th in the EPT all time money list which is cool and am also just inside the top 100 money winners worldwide for 2005..... I doubt that will last very long though.

Its been a great boost to the confidence doing well in Monte Carlo.... I have long been profitable playing in cash games but had yet to get a big score in tournaments and was about $20000 down in live festival tournaments prior to this one. I guess what everyone says about tournament poker is true. You have to be able to survive the swings in these tournaments. You can literally run badly for months. Brandon Schaefer was the really success story of Monte Carlo. The kid had only played three $100 tournaments before Deauville, and thanks to winning that, and a second in Monte Carlo he has won $652000 in 2005. Amazing......

The one thing this result does mean is that I can now have a pop at the bigger buy in tournaments when I feel like it. I am tempted to go over and play in the Irish Open final over Easter weekend which is a €2000 NL Holdem event. I definitely would if it wasn't for my hectic poker schedule in the next few weeks. With festivals at the Vic, Gutshot and Luton it’s going to be a very busy few weeks on the poker front.

Since my result in Monte Carlo I have adjusted my targets in poker for 2005. Back here I made it my aim to make $80000/£40000 playing poker in 2005. Since I surpassed that target somewhat unexpectedly I have readjusted it so my aim now is to make $180000. My aim to be ranked in the top 20 in Europe by the end of 2005 still stands though I have plenty of catching up to do. For me its important to try and set my targets as high as possible.... i may fall short but it won't be through lack of effort.

Monday, March 21, 2005

EPT Monte Carlo report

€10000 NL Holdem - EPT Main Event

It all started well on Day 1. My strategy was to play tight for the first two levels as the last thing I wanted to do in such a big buy in event was to go bust on one of the first levels. For the first two levels it all went to plan and I managed to get up to 18000 chips from the starting amount of 10000. I had the eventual winner of the final Rob Hollink to my left and I can say that it wasn't a particularly nice experience... he kept reraising me out of pots and was definitely one of the toughest opponents I have ever had in a tournament. Then for the remaining 3 levels of the Day my chips kept draining away. No massive pots and eventually for level 5 I dropped below 10000 chips for the first time and I didn't win a hand for the remaining 90 minute level. I finished Day 1 with 5800 chips and I was going to have to get used to adjusting my strategy to play with a short stack. I was struggling at 109th out of the 118 players remaining. I had achieved my first aim of making the second day and there were 93 players that I am sure would have swapped places with me. There were actually no interesting hands to report. Most of my hands won were preflop and all my chips were never in the middle.

We resumed Day 2 at level six with blinds of 150/300 and running ante's of 25. I was on a new table which looked slightly more favorable than my table from Day 1 and the only player I recognised was Jani Sointula. I knew that I didn't have very long to survive if I didn't double up. I lost a few hands early on and was down to 4800 chips when another player who was to make it far in the tournament raised it to 900 to play from the cut off. I looked down and saw 33. Jani had been very aggressive since arriving on the table and he could have any hand and be trying to steal the blinds. I decide to just call after considering a reraise. Flop came 237 and the trap was set. I checked and he bet 1000. I called hoping that he would bet again on the turn. The turn card was a K and I checked again and he put me all in. I call and he showed JJ and missed on the river so I doubled up. I was at around 12000 chips moving in to Level 7 which was still ok with blinds of 200/400. I then soon found AA for the first time during the tournament and raised it to 1000 to play under the gun. A late position player reraised me to 2500 and I just called hoping for a favorable flop to trap him. It flopped TT2. I checked to him and he bet 2000. I reraised him as there was a flush draw and I didn't want to regret giving a free card and he passed. I was up to the dizzy heights of about 18000 chips. I then played the first of two hands that were crucial. If either had them had gone wrong then I wouldn't have made Day 3. We were at Level 8 and with blinds of 300/600 I raised in a blind steal attempt to 2000 with 2d3d. The big blind who had about the same amount of chips as me called. It flopped 4cJcQd. He checked to me. I bet 3000 chips hoping that he didn't like the flop and he called immediately. I was sure that he wasn't that strong at the moment. He had been playing very tight and I am sure if he had AQ or QK he would have reraised me so my initial thought was to put him on the flush draw... possibly AcTc which would give him a Gutshot as well. The turn came a 7h and he checked to me again. I decided the pot was too big to give up on so I bet 4000 leaving myself with enough chips to bluff again on the river. Again he called straight away. I was pretty sure that he was not trapping me with a set or two pairs as I think he would have raised me in case I had a strong drawing hand. The river came a 2h and he checked again. Now was not a time for the feint hearted. I pushed my remaining chips which was around 10000 into the middle and survived a two minute staredown before he passed. My next big staredown would come from Gus Hanson on the TV table on Day 3. Incidentally he showed the Qc. So he passed top pair to me. I think he had top pair and the flush draw so I survived a bullet there. I was up to around 29000 chips after surviving that pot. I then passed JJ on the button as there was a raise and a reraise before it got to me and it flopped J77. Damn that hand would have tripled me up as my opponents had QQ and AA. We were at the final Level of the Day with blinds of 600/1200 and running ante's of 100 when I played another of my tournaments crucial hands. I had about 25000 chips I raised from the cut off with J9 to 4000 to play hoping to pick up the pot there and a Scandinavian player called in the big blind. We were very close to the end of Day 2 by now and only about 20 players from the money. It flopped 336 and he checked to me. I checked thinking that he may be trying to set a trap for me. The turn came a J. He immediately bet out 10000 chips. Now here is a decision. I have 21000 chips in front of me and would be practically crippled if I make the wrong decision on this hand. My initial thought was that he had JK or JA. The more I looked at him though the more I was convinced that he was bluffing. Do I risk my tournament on top pair 9 kicker? I decide eventually that he is bluffing so call the 10000. The river is a 6 and he checks and I check. He taps the table when I show my J. He later told me he was drawing dead with 8T. I then lost a small pot when I folded TT on a J high flop which was the winning hand..... I was pleased to finish the Day with 37,600 and was ranked 25th in chips from the remaining 37.

I had a really bad nights sleep after Day 2. Probably a mixture of nerves and excitement. With only 38 players remaining I was in touching distance of the money. As I qualified through a satellite on Betfair even finishing in the money would represent a welcome boost to my bankroll. Still with blinds of 800/1600 and running antes of 150 I couldn't just sit back so decided I would try and pick up a few early pots even if it was just the blinds and antes. The dangerous Julian Gardener was sitting with alot of chips to my left. I soon had Gus Hanson move to my table and luckily he was sitting to my right so at least I could see what he was up to before I acted. Soon after he arrived he called in early position. I had JJ which was by far the best hand I had seen since the Day began and raised it to 7000 to play. Everyone folds including Gus after a dwell. I then won another two hands without seeing a flop after raising with AQ and AK. The players were slowly dwindling and I was playing very cautiously as I would have been gutted to finish on the bubble. There were a few shorter stacks than mine about but out of nowhere Willie Tann finished on the bubble when he clashed in a big pot with Rob Hollink. I was in the money and now I could play a bit more knowing that anything else was now a bonus. I soon was moved to the TV table and after getting used to Gus raising plenty of hands pre flop I then encountered Marcel Luske. He went through a spell of raising a huge number of hand before the flop. I had a really tight image on the TV table. I was literally getting no playable hands so on the occasions I did raise I won the pot there. I did make a move with 25 when Kevin O'Connell limped from late position and I decided the pot was worth stealing so I made a big raise. I flipped over the 25 hoping that when I did get a hand that I may be called now. The very next hand I had AA and made a small raise and everyone passed. It seemed to be that some of the big stacks were self destructing themselves. I watched on as player after player clashed and before I knew it we were down to 17. We drew seats again and I had the pleasure of drawing Seat 4 with Gus Hanson directly to my right. He had about 100,000 chips and I was on around 65000 with blinds of 2000/4000 and running antes of 400. I built my way up to 90000 reraising hands preflop with KK and AK suited. The following hand then happened. Perhaps I should have played this stronger. I raised in middle position to 15000 with 99 and the big blind who liked to see plenty of flops and had about 200,000 called and it flopped 45J. He was first to act raised 15000. I went into the think tank trying to work out whether he had a J or better. Eventually I decided it was quite probably he was bluffing. A reraise here from me though would probably mean that I had to put the remaining 60000 chips in to the middle. I called hoping it would scare him if he was bluffing. The turn was a 6 and he bet 35000. I mucked eventually and later I found out he had QK so he was bluffing. I got blinded away for a bit and was down to 40000 chips when I picked up AQ suited. I late position I moved all in as I wasn't going to pass to a reraise. The big blind woke up and called..... it looked like my tournament was about to finish when he flipped over KK but a flop of QA4 saved me as I was back in it. That was the only time I had all my chips in the middle with the worst hand and won. Gus had raised me when I made up the small blind against him so I decided if everyone passed round to me when Gus was on the big blind I would either fold or raise him. I had A3 and everyone passed around to me. I decided to make a large raise to try and pick up the pot. My bet was 16000 and Gus called in the big blind. Damn that didn't work out too well. It flopped A68 and with only 45000 chips left I pushed it all into the middle. Gus gave me a two minute staredown. I was convinced he was never going to call but just wanted to stop me from raising his big blind again. Soon Gus departed after losing a very big pot with JJ v AK. Julian Gardener than went as well when he walked into AA with JJ in a 270000 chip pot. I was still one of the shortest stacks with about 80000 eventually we got down to 10 players. We were now playing hand for hand and I noticed that it was a €16000 jump if another player got knocked out. The blinds were now a massive 3000/6000 so I had only about 13 big blinds. There were two other players just below me so I decided unless I had a monster I would try and wait for one of those two to get knocked out. I passed TT under the gun and it was the right move as everyone passed to the BB and he showed AA. Dodged a big bullet there. I stayed about the same amount by winning the blinds twice without seeing the flop. Isabelle Mercier then got extremely unlucky when all in with the best hand on the flop. Her opponent hit runner runner clubs to make a flush and we down to 9.

There were still a couple of players who had less chips than me and with another €20000 jump in prize money and the massive incentive of making the final you could cut the tension with a knife. Any raise before the flop was winning 90% of the time and I managed to win a couple of pots with 88 and AK. Jani Sointula eventually departed when he didn't believe a late position raise holding AJ in the BB. His opponent had QQ which held up and we were down to the final 8. Woohoo

All the players had to go and do tournament interviews for the final table. Not sure exactly what I said as I was so focused on the final starting that I probably waffled a bit. Studying the chip counts my position was not good. However there were two players with even less than me.

Seat 1: Romain Feriolo 475,000
Seat 2: Alex Stevic 57,500
Seat 3: Abdulaziz Abdulaziz 181,000
Seat 4: Ben Grundy 90,500
Seat 5: Kevin Seeger 364,500
Seat 6: Mikhail Ustinov 68,500
Seat 7: Brandon Scahefer 488,500
Seat 8: Rob Hollink 384,000

I was just praying for some good hands. We kicked off and John Duthie decided to reduce the blinds which was good news as it meant that I could at least have another move than all in. With blinds of 3000/6000 we kicked off. There was a big crowd watching at quite a few were cheering me on. This was not the time to card dead but it happened. I watched 3 rounds pass by without even an A in my hand. Alex Stevic and Mikhail Ustinov then tangled and Stevic had JJ which beat QQ to take Mikhail out and we were down to 7 players. I then had AT two hands on the trot and everyone passed to my raises. I was still not picking up any hands as was at 68000 chips when I found AJ in the small blind. Rob Hollink made it 18000 to play. This was the best hand I had got in 3 rounds so after a dwell I decided to call and hope for a favorable flop. I also knew from playing with Rob for 10 hours on Day 1 that he could literally have raised with any hand and my AJ may be winning. It flopped QK4 with two clubs. I checked and Rob checked. The turn was a J. I checked again and Rob bet 25000. I first thought I should muck it but the more I thought about it I managed to convince myself that Rob was bluffing. Even in my mind if he had a Q or K then I had out with a T, J or A. So I pushed all in. Unfortunately Rob had KK and had trapped me. No help on the river and I was out in 7th place which paid €79500. Do I have regrets about that hand? Maybe a little. Perhaps I should have passed preflop but I knew he could be raising with anything. I wasn't in a position to sit back and watch another player get knocked out as everyone had at least double my chip count. Rob deserved to win the tournament and he was my tip in the exit interview.

Overall I couldn't have been more pleased with how it went. I concentrated through over 30 hours of poker and the majority of that time I was never in a great chip position. I knew that each and every decision I made from Day 2 was crucial and I don't think I made too many bad ones. The one thing that did surprise me was the amount of players who were in a much better chip position than me self destruct when we got into the money. It really was a bizarre tournament from my point of view. In 30 hours of poker I knocked only two players out. I only had two or three flops in the whole tournament where I wanted a caller when I bet. I had been getting a bit frustrated at getting so close to decent money in a few big tournaments so this is a massive confidence and bankroll boost with me turning pro in a week or so.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Back home

Just arrived back from Monte Carlo. Still buzzing a bit from playing over 30 hours of poker..... thanks to anyone who sent me good luck messages on here, my phone and on the forums.

There will be a tournament report. I managed to write down some key hands that i played when i got back to my room each evening... will post it tomorrow as it will take ages to write and i am shattered.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Still in.... just

Quick update from monte carlo....

We have played down to 38 at the moment. Started the day with 6700 chips and just finished with 37600... so a bit of a comeback. Think i am at around 25th out of the 38 left.

Fingers crossed for a some decent cards and luck tomorrow.

Monday, March 14, 2005


Yikes so tomorrow morning I fly to Monte Carlo for the EPT final. I have no real expectations about how well I think I should do. I have won a great package... my aim is to play my best poker and enjoy myself. I have got nothing to lose.

In two minds about whether I will update my blog. Guess it depends whether I bust out on Day 1 or not.

If anyone wants to check out how me or anyone else is doing the EPT blog and Live Updates from Blondepoker are sure to provide excellent coverage.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

My own steps challenge

I created my own step challenge on Pokerstars last night. I have played Heads Up quite a bit in the past with good results and always fancy my chances against any regular Pokerstars player.

Here is how it worked:

Step 1 - $100
Step 2 - $200
Step 3 - $500
Step 4 - $1000

The only gap in the system being that I had to pay an extra $100 even when I win Step 2 to move to Step 3.

I tried it four times and managed to complete my step challenge once. Once I lost on Step 2, once on Step 3 and once on Step 4.

So it cost me $700 plus all the juice I was paying moving up the steps so probably more like $1000.

My return was $2000 for the one I won. It should have been $4000 though. The time I lost on Step 4 I was against possibly the worst player I played all night heads up. I had him all in 7 times and he survived each and every one. Sure he was favorite on about half of them but I still reckon the odds to survive 7 all ins were about 128/1 working on a coin flip basis. Very frustrating and the one time I was all I lost... damn typical.

I was looking back over my records and noticed that I haven't played any Live Cash since February 5th. I guess when my online results are going well which they have been then it’s less tempting to go and play with people who actually have a decent grasp of the game. The situations that pay you off at the Vic are far less frequent than online. I will be returning to the Cash scene with a bang though during the festival the week after next.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Yikes... its just a week away!

It was a pretty cool package I won in the Betfair satellite to the EPT final starting next Wednesday. Included in the package is 5 nights in the luxury Hermitage Hotel, €2000 spending money and €750 drinks/food allowance.
I am also getting a Helicopter with the Betfair crew from Nice to Monte Carlo.

It’s hard to think about anything else at the moment. I just checked the official EPT Final website and the prize pool currently stands at €1360000. I expect that it will be over €2000000 by the time we kick off. It may be a while before I get the opportunity to play for such a big prize pool again.

It’s a four day tournament and I found the tournament structure for day 1 which is below and wow is it slow. I have never played in a tournament with such a slow structure. I have the next week to devise my strategy. I imagine with the entry being so big that the field will be very strong and I will have to be at my very best and get lucky as well.

Starting Chips 10000

90 Minute Clock

Level 1 25/50
Level 2 50/100
Level 3 75/150
Level 4 100/200
Level 5 150/300

I am not sure whether to provide blog updates or not at the end of each day. Guess if I am still in after Day 1 I may but if I have been knocked out I probably won’t.

So far my form this month has well and truly been in. I haven’t had a losing session online and I played four £50 STT’s on Sunday finishing 1st, 1st, 1st and 2nd. For the first time in my poker life on the flop I hit set over set over set and tripled up on the very first hand. If only that could happen in Monte Carlo…. Well one can dream can’t they?

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Sklansky v Negreanu

Not normally a fan of cut and paste but thought this was interesting.

Apparently at the recent heads up world championship Daniel annoyed Sklansky by saying that he was a 1/2 dog to both Ivey and Chan who Sklansky knocked out.

Here is Sklansky’s response:

"I have several points to make about a variety of things that have been recently written about me, much of it in regard to the recent heads up tournament.

It is important to read what follows because I am not only defending myself, but in some cases I will be talking about some important concepts that poker players need to know.

First in regards to Mason's Doyle, Ivey, Chan, post. It was misconstrued by some because Mason didn't use the suggested phraseology "need I say more?" which would have suggested a bit more tongue in cheek playfulness than his actual wording. Of COURSE short term results don't prove much. On the other hand I did win four out of ten soon to be televised sit n gos against top players, and got a bad beat or it would have been five. That IS getting to statistical significance. And while the three for three headup victories are not statistically significant, they WOULD be if you were testing the hypothesis that I was a 2-1 dog in these matches. See why?

On a personal note I want to say that even if it was true that I was the world's best theorist, but only a pretty good player, I would still much prefer that to being the world's best practitioner but only a merely good theorist. That goes not only for poker but almost any thinking type of field. Dr. Debakey didn't save anywhere near as many lives as Dr Salk. But that is off the subject.

First lets get to the comment I made that when the blinds get high I would be favored over Phil Ivey or Johnny Chan. Some on this forum took issue with that statement but I doubt that Chan, Ivey or even Daniel would. Laying even 15-1 odds on preflop raises is not wrong with awfully mediocre hands in headup situations, because of the two ways to win nature of that play. When to do it against a random hand is something only me, Chris Ferguson and a few others know well. So is knowing when to call getting 7-5 odds or so given a menu of hands that the opponent might push with. When the stacks are thirty times the big blind or less, it is impossible that a player who is not intimately familiar with this stuff could be favored over me regardless of how well he plays. And that situation was reached pretty quickly in the tournament.

Qualitatively, Daniel's comments about me perhaps had some validity. Quantitavely he was way off. He does that a lot, confusing his degree of certainty of something with the odds he could lay. I'm almost a two to one underdog against Ivey and Chan? I'll play right now under the same rising blinds format a series of freezouts getting $16,500 to $10,000, agree not to quit until I'm 100K loser but they can quit whenever they want. Let me hasten to add that there is NO WAY that either Johnny or Phil would lay 3-2. They do not share Daniel's opinion. I doubt I could get 1.30 from them. In fact Phil specifically said he wouldn't lay me any price before the match started. That's not to say he didn't think he was favored.

In actual fact I thought I was about 48% in those matches. If we had equal chips when the blinds rose I put myself at 52%, more if they would fold quite a bit too many hands when I moved in. But since I thought I would have on average 45% of the chips when the blinds rose, I was indeed probably a small underdog.

Here's the irksome part: I am sure that with big stacks and small blinds I am a lot closer to these fellows than some give me credit for. But the right strategy for me was to play in a way that would give my detractors fodder for their criticisms. It was in my overall best interest to play a very meek game early on (that would likely leave me with a smaller stack barring a nice cold deck) even though I am a lot better at playing otherwise than most people think. In other words, if there was never to be a increase in the blinds I would have played a lot differently and still, in my opinion, held my own. I'll gladly take 1.80 under those conditions.

The reason I chose not to mix it up early was not because I thought I was clearly overmatched but rather because being even a small underdog made it the wrong thing to do. The main reason was, as already stated because of the soon to be increase in blinds. The other reason was TV face time. And avoiding the business disaster of early elimination. So I played the first half hours exactly as my critics predicted, not letting ego get in the way of business.

The concept that I was the favorite once the blinds got bigger was echoed by Barry Greenstein and Huck Seed. Perhaps they were being polite. But I doubt it. Daniel's comment that I would "gamble madly" hoping to get lucky is absurd. The fact is that Phil Ivey made a critical preflop mistake, (that I would have never made), failing to move in preflop with two eights, that probably cost him the match. (To his credit he quickly realized his error and is not likely to repeat it.)

As to this quote:
"Name a pro that hasn't read his book.
Just one? Chau Giang, Eli Elezra, Ming Ly, Lee Salem, Johnny Chan... shall I continue?
--Daniel Negreanu"

I'm sure Daniel believes this. But two of those players have told me otherwise. And one of them paid me $800 for four hours of limit holdem lessons about ten years ago.
I know for a fact that some high rollers flat out lie when they tell people they haven't read my stuff. Phil Ivey has been quoted as saying he never read anything but when interviewed by NBC (I'm told) said that Theory of Poker was the first poker book he ever read. Maybe he was just being nice.

As to Daniels assertion that Phil would be favored over me in "any poker game known to man", that's ridiculous. I'm uncomfortable expounding on this too much because Phil himself didn't say it. And Daniel himself must know he is exagerating. For instance what about straight five card poker, no draw, one round of betting? What about hi-lo split where the low hand gets 60% of the pot? What about almost any game where the rules are such that neither one of us has never played it before? Less contrived examples are regular high draw and regular high low. Straight lowball and even eight or better stud are games that its hard to imagine that he could be any better than even with me.

What's exasperating though is not that Daniel would disagree with the above. He would concede those things, perhaps claiming a tiny edge for Phil, but then go on to say his words were not to be taken so literally. He would probably admit that games with a strong "mathematical" component are not what he was talking about. What he would say though is that Phil would crush me in the other games. And he is wrong. He might be a small favorite but not a big one. There are two reasons. One is that he underestimates me. With very little to go on he thinks I don't have a good feel for where my opponent is at. He mistakes the fact that I play on automatic pilot in middle size games for an inability to get off it if I really need to. But that is not really here or there. I will admit that my skills at reading are not as high as most world class players. (They should thank their lucky stars for that.) The important error that Daniel makes is equating that flaw with big underdog status in head up games against world class players. He forgot about something: Game Theory.

There is no doubt that being a great reader is valuable. But it is only valuable when the opponent is readable! That means that a great reader will win more from readable mediocre opponents than a mediocre reader who plays well otherwise. That's why, as Barry Greenstein has said, Daniel out does the best players in tournaments even though he doesn't beat them in side games. He is great at reading readable opponents. But great players are almost impossible to read. In fact a mediocre reader might do better against them if he resited any inclination to try.

Let me put it another way. If Daniel played a pretty good player a 100 hour session head up, and then I did, he would out perform me by a nice amount, especially if he is right about my reading abilities. But if we both played Phil Ivey the difference would be less. (Assuming I did some game theory studying and would careful not to exude physical tells). Because against great players reading is as apt to backfire as not. If instead you play like a computer, randomizing both your bets and your calls you can't make great reads but you can't be tricked either. Of course playing perfect game theory is not yet possible for complex games. If it was, a computer would be the best player. But you can come close enough that you can negate this "people" aspect of your oppnents skills to a large extent. If he doesn't know his fundamentals well you might even be the favorite. In games like single draw lowball, IBM could design a world champion computer in a year. Phil Ivey would lose to it. And he would lose to me if I knew the computer's algorithms. (Space does not permit me to expound on these concepts fully.)

Here's a secret. Those who watch the TV show carefully may notice that I did not always fully look at my cards. It is the best way to implement a quasi game theory strategy because you have no tells. Math is more than just numbers and probability. Throw in game theory and it takes away opponents edge in many people skills as well. That's a scary thought to some but the fact remains it is true. But some people don't want to deal with it."

Monday, March 07, 2005

Qualifier to EPT final in Monte Carlo

I decided to have a go at Betfair's € 500 satellite last night to try and win one of the two € 14000 packages to Monte Carlo.

Starting chips were 2000 with a decent clock and 39 players with two seats available the value was pretty good.

Made a terrible start when the blinds were 10/20 holding KK on the button I raised it to 100 to play after a couple of early callers. Both limpers and the blinds called and it flopped 23Q. It checked to the last limper who made it 300 to play. I reraised it to 900 to play and then the small blind woke up and went all in for 1350. Limper passes and I smell a set but can't pass for just 450 more and he had 22 which held up. My current bogey hand KK loses yet again.

So after level one I hit a low point of about 375 and was sitting nicely at the bottom of the chip count I could see in the tournament lobby. I then found 9T in the small blind and made up the blind after a few limpers. Flop 964 with 2 diamonds. No choice here with my low stack but to push, so I go all in. Get a quick caller and he shows JdKd for overcards and a flush draw. I dodged a fair few bullets there. So I was back up to just over 1000 chips which wasn't terrible considering the blinds were still 25/50. I then managed to steal some blinds and pick up a few decent cards and get up to around 1700 chips when I pick up KK again. I made it 200 to play and pick up one caller. Flop KTT. Managed to squeeze another 500 chips out of my opponent and soon I am in a reasonable position with 3000 chips.

We were down to two tables by now and average chips were about 4000 so I wasn't in bad shape. I won a few more very small pots to put me chip count at 4000 and with the blinds at 100/200 I limped on the button with TQ and 4 players saw the flop. Flop TTK. I checked hoping it will disguise my T. Definitely a risky play but it worked out this time when a Q came on the turn to give me a house and I raised 600 and a foe reraise me all in. I called instantly and he had Q6 and was drawing dead.

That was the double up I had been seeking since we started and I was up to 9000 chips which was about the 5th most chips of the 18 players that were remaining. I then went on a rush of picking up the blinds and bullying the shorter stacks and by the time we were down to the final table I had the second most chips with 15000. On a side note I was chatting away to a regular Betfair player Ariston and he was chip leader for much of the tournament. We were on the same table all night and I told him that he would double me up at some point. He replied, "He would but only when we were down to the final two."

I did pick up AA when the blinds were at 200/400 and raised under the gun to make it 1000 to play. Two callers... It flopped K23 and I was pleased when both players passed to my 2500 bet. I can't ever remember getting any monsters but with the blinds at 400/800 and 600/1200 and running antes just picking up the pot without any callers was very worthwhile. At one point I won 5 pots on the trot raising each one and when we got down to 5 players I was a clear chip leader with 30000 chips. I then lost a few pots to Ariston who clearly got sick of me stealing his big blind and flopped the nut flush v my top pair. I raised 3000 on the turn and he reraised me to 6000. I smelt a rat and passed.

Soon we were down to four players and we must have been playing four handed for quite a while. Eventually the blinds reached 1200/2400 with running antes of 250 and with just 78000 chips in play it became more down to luck and timing than anything else. Three of us were on about 23000 and the short stack was on 9000. The short stack eventually lost to TT when making a move on the blinds and we were down to three. I had feared that i would finish third all along and with the blinds so large it was now anyone's game. Then the final hand of the tournament soon happened. I was sitting with a 29000 chips, Ariston with 35000 and the other player with 14000. I found A2 in the big blind and predictably the short stacked small blind made a raise to 6000 to play. I decided to make a stand as I also knew that even if I lost this hand I was still in with a chance so I reraised him all in. He thought for a while so I knew my A was probably winning. He called the rest of his chips and showed JK. Now it was time for a sweat. The sweat got even worse when it flopped TQ7. I now had to dodge a 9JK or an A. Yikes. Turn was a blank..... I stood up from my chair. River.... another blank. I scream YES. I think most of my neighbours must have heard me. Ariston held true to his word that he would double me up when we already both had won our seat and my A9 beat his QK.

I can rarely remember being as ecstatic as I felt for a few minutes after that. Managing to come back from such a bad start and my chips were never all in the middle with the worst hand in the whole tournament. So a week tomorrow I shall be making my way to Monte Carlo for a tournament where the buy in is greater than the WSOP. Just bring it on………….

Thursday, March 03, 2005

This could be handy!

This could be handy!

Click here for a useful little odds calculating tool you can use for working out odds at Omaha 8/b… I have never seen one before. I thought I would use it to attack Tom McEvoy assertion that if you hold 4567 with one suit in middle position with two limpers that you should call. I made the assumption that there would be 5 players in the pot as there are already the big blind, early two limpers, McEvoy and probably one other. Against a random set of hands which were by no means great starting hands this handy little tool gave me the following stats that proves McEvoy to be the fish that Big Dave claimed he is.

Scoop: 4%
Hi: 15%
Lo: 7%
LoTie: 0%
EE: 0.127

EE (expected equity): Actual returned fraction of the pot for the hand.

This is what you call true form

Despite my recent form at PL Omaha my luck is still way out as far as NL Holdem goes. During my marathon Omaha session last week i thought that i would give the £2.50/£5 NL Holdem a crack and sat down with £350.

First hand i was dealt QQ. Nice start.... i raise it to £20 to play and the big blind wakes up and raises it to £50. I call. Flop QK7. For some reason i just feared he had KK. He made a small raise of £20 and i reraised it to £50.... he called. Next card a 7 to give me a house. He bets all in. I called and he had KK. Is there any way i could have passed this hand?

I had to laugh as for the third successive time i had hit a set on the flop i lost (albeit one of those times was my fault). That would be bad form in Omaha never mind Holdem.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Some PL Omaha strategy

One of the things that I have noticed recently that has improved my PL Omaha results is not giving up the pot on the river if my opponent has called raises/semi bluffs from me on the flop and the turn.

To look at this in greater depth I have used the following example. Milkybarkid v Anon (both players have £750 before this hand) Stack size is extremely important. If you are going to bet with a draw on the flop and the turn you must ensure that if you miss and decide to bluff on the river that your opponent is not left so short stacked that he will call for value and that you have enough in front of you to make a reasonable sized bet.

I hold 7TKA and it flops JQ2 rainbow. I decide to bet £50 on the flop with a straight draw and one opponent calls. The turn is a 4. What is the best strategy now? Regardless of position I still think it is best to bet again. By doing this you are attempting to represent two pairs at least. So if I bet £150 and your opponent calls again and the river is a 6 you are left with an awkward decision. There is now £450 in the pot and you know that if you check you are going to lose. In the past I may have given up on pots like this online because of the crap that I have been called down but this was clearly the wrong strategy. In 2005 betting on the river has been picking up pots like this easily enough of the time to make it profitable. The difficulty I find is how much to bet? There is £450 in the pot and both you and your opponent have £545 in front of you. Do you bet the pot in this situation? Normally I will bet between 50-70% of the pot but whether that is correct is another matter. Considering you can write off this pot if you check then a bet of 50% of the pot would only have to be successful over 33% of the time for it to be the correct move. If you bet full pot then you would have to win over 50% of the time for this kind of play to be correct.

I was playing PL Omaha last night and for the first time I was sat at a table when I had made notes on every single player. Extensive notes on many of them as well. I have only made a concerted effort to make notes on players in the last 2-3 months and the advantage it has given me is massive. If you don’t make notes. START NOW.

Another tip for PL Omaha players online is how to play the second best flush. I think this is a far better tactic than calling down an opponent if you think they are bluffing. Not that I like particularly playing the second best flush myself but if you find it difficult to lay down then this may be a good strategy for you. For example, if you hold KcTc9h8h and it flops 2c7c9c and one of your opponents bets the pot which is £50 I would actually consider reraising. This may sound crazy but if you raise £100 you will probably find out straight away whether your opponent is holding the nut flush. If he raises you back he almost certainly has it. Hardly any players would reraise again with just a bluff as they probably think you are crazy after raising them in the first place and will call them down. In this scenario it is costing you £150 to find out whether you are facing the nut flush whereas calling your opponent down would cost up to £600.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Poker hot or not

I did one of these a while ago and it was fun so thought I’d give it another crack.


EPT – just gets better and better and expect fields in excess of 300 for the second season.
Blonde Poker – Excellent tournament reports and a promising looking forum.
Daniel Negreanu’s Blog – A lot of good content and its interesting to read about the $4000/$8000 game that is played.
Bloggers – Luckyblind and The Camel achieving decent results in big tournaments so far in 2005.
Deauville – Good location for a tournament and I met a load of nice people.


The Hendon Mob Forum – Seems to have gone downhill and the days of me checking it a few times a day are long gone.
Annie Duke – She just irritated me a lot when I watched her play recently.
Poker Bastard – Was on my hot list. Give us some more posts and some juicy gossip please.
Pokerstars – Just for still not allowing players to deposit by switch even though nearly every other poker room does now.