Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Down To Earth With a Helluva Bump

I felt like a kid in the period building up to Christmas whilst I counted down the days (and the sleeps) until the APAT World Championships of Amateur Poker. Arrving at DuskTillDawn and donning the England shirt again was an incredible moment - sadly it was just about the last high I was to experience for the next five days, at least in poker terms anyway.

Five looooong days of wall to wall poker was "interesting", but not something I could repeat every week. Having stuck to 12 pints and 4 cooked meals per day, with the only exercise being an occasional walk to the gents, I can probably be excused the few pounds I gained. Unfortunately, they were the only type of pounds I was to gain this week.

In a previous blog entry, I questioned whether poker was a game of luck or a game of skill, and despite the fact that my results at that time proved that luck has a bearing, I set my stall very firmly in the game of skill camp. Variance is a wonderful thing, and does a good job of making sure that for every bad luck hand there is a good luck hand on another day - as poker players we just have to make the best of that, and minimise losses whilst maximising wins. However, this is tough when it comes to a team based tournament, and all four team members experience the downside and the bad luck at the same time.

From an England team perspective, the wheels were coming off from the very start of our campaign to beat last year's third place finish. We suffered the ignominy of being the first team to lose a player in the first round of single table tournaments - this was around 5 minutes after the event started, and the cruelness of the beat (JJ lost to 55 when all in preflop) was an indicator of things to come. In the course of the event, in the STTs alone, we suffered a total of 7 absolute outdraws when all in with overpairs against underpairs; and at the times that we were mathematically obliged to shove our holdings, there was always someone waiting with Aces or Kings to close us out. I don't mean to bemoan bad luck - as I have said before, it evens out over time.... unfortunately for our team though, the evening out process did not start during the Team Championships. We finished bottom of the 12 team table by some distance, yet having collectively analysed our play at length, none of us were able to point to any mistakes. Where normally some other other home country teams would take huge delight at England winning the wooden spoon, many expressed sympathy at the bad run that we endured - that's how bad it was!!

Many hours at the cash tables during the week saw similar fortunes for us as a team, where I don't believe any of us closed in profit. For me personally, having lost huge cash pots with AA v 89 (on a board of Q72JT!), with AK v T4 (on a board of KQ4xx!), with QQ v 99, and with KK v 35, my cash bankroll was utterly decimated.

Surely the Omaha, 6-max, HORSE, and Main Event, would see a turn of fortune? Nope. Having built my Main Event stack from 10k to 15k, I managed to lose (only) 2k with KK into AJ and A8 on a AAxxx board, then three hands later, lost the other 13k with KK into AA all in preflop. The most annoying part of that was that I just knew Matt Russell had AA, and even told him he had AA when I called and flipped my KK over. Until that moment I had been running over the table and had built my stack up with hardly a single showdown - until that moment I was feeling good about poker again, and fancied my chances of a deep run..... the poker gods clearly had other designs.

Results aside, this was a tremendous week, and a great opportunity to renew acquaintances and friendships, and to meet new people and new friends. It was nice to get home though - being away from home, drinking and playing poker, is okay, but you can't beat being with family. I just wish I could have brought a success story home for the kids to make it all worthwhile.

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