The final leg of APAT's fourth season saw the UK Team Championships held in Bolton's G Casino. I entered this tournament as a reigning champion, having been part of the successful TeamAPAT in last year's competition, however this year I was teaming up with peers from the Black Country Poker Club.
The tournament contained 25 teams of 8 players, and played as a standard multi table tournament with 10k chips on a 45 minute clock over two days. The last 50 players would earn points for their teams, with 1 point for 50th, 2 points for 49th, and 50 points for 1st, etc.
Sadly, from a team perspective, we were never in the running having lost several players early on when just about every race went against us. Will Young and I were the only players to survive to day two, but with some teams still having 3 or 4 players in the last 30, we had no realistic chance of team glory.
From a personal perspective, the weekend was excellent! The atmosphere around the card room was fantastic, as it always is for an APAT event. The banter at my day one table was worth the buy in on it's own - Rob Swindells, Craig MacInnes, and myself, ruled that table, and had a good laugh in the process. That said, there were three players from that table who were to survive to the final table!
In season 3 - 2009 - I had the pleasure of making several day two's and final tables, but season 4 has been a washout - every single APAT tournament has seen me leave early, with me running KK into AA on three occasions to lose my stack. When my KK was run into AA for the fourth time on day one in Bolton, I feared the worst.... however this was to be time that KK would bink, and I just knew then that tables were turning back in my favour.
A couple of times I needed to rebuild having got unlucky, but other than that, was never in any real danger, and cruised to the end of day one, albeit with rather a short stack in the end.
Hand of note from day one: Button open shoved into my BB, and found JsJc and made a simple call for almost all of my stack - was left with less than 5 big blinds if I lost. Button had Ad2d. Flop Qc9c2c. So villain has flopped bottom pair, but I have all the clubs covered. The turn was a brick, but the rivered 2h was a killer.
After play finished around 01:30, I figured an "early night" was in order - however hunger got the better of me. Was walking through Bolton at around 2:30 en route to the hotel, when the quote of the weekend was made by Will Young - "this place is dead. It's Saturday night, yet there's nobody around the city centre." Turns out we were one street away from the nightspots - turned the next corner and a wall of sound, people, and bass deep enough to tremble the pavements hit us. 20 minutes of stepping over and around drunken girls showing more flesh than one would expect to see on a Mediterranean beach in mid summer, despite it being around -2C, coupled with wading thrugh the odd lake of vomit, and we were lost. Google navigator in hand, and half an hour later, we were back on track for what was supposed to be a 5 minute walk to the hotel! Pizza and doner kebab at 3am on the steps of the Holiday Inn, (bet they were chuffed with that image!), and then bed at 3:30. zzzzz.... until room mate Tony Trippier came to bed at 5:30.... then it was more volcanic snoring than zzzzzz. Still, after a 20 hour day, with 10+ pints, who needed more than two hours sleep anyway :)
At least I kept my clothes on when out and about in the hotel, unlike Jack Prime, who in a drunken state, mis-stook the room door for the bathroom door, and ended up in the hotel corridor in the wee hours stark bollock naked.
So day two - the first for a year... in fact, the last time I made day two was the equivalent team event last year in Jan-2010! Returning with a stack of 38k, and blinds at 2k/4k, I had committed to myself to be all in before the blinds reached me - luckily I was on the button first hand, so on an 8 handed table, had 6 hands to find something shoveable. In the third hand I found 88, shoved, and was called by AK.... 88 held, and I was up to around 20 big blinds.
A little while later, and I got engaged with my most notable hand of day two: It folds to me in the cutoff, and I raise to 16k (blinds 3k/6k) with 22, planning to fold to any shoves. The button and SB folded, but BB shoved. After a count, it turned out that I needed to call 23k to win 63k in the pot, but 22 still felt too dominated by his range which obviously contained all the overpairs. I asked a question and the BB responded, giving me a really strong read that he had an Ace rather than an overpair, therefore I was in a 50/50 situation, with the pot paying 3:1, and knowing that if I lost I still had 13 big blinds behind - I called, he showed AQ, and a board of xQ2A6 gave him hope along the way, but my 22 held. I think that in an online game, I probably fold there most of the time - but the value of a live read gave me an edge, and that's the hand I will remember most from the weekend.
A few hands later, and my tourney life was on a shoestring - having shoved 33 from UTG 6 handed, I was called by AA. *BINK* - a 3 first card out. That gave me a decent stack that I could carry to the final table.
6th in chips at the final, and knowing that team dynamics might make a difference to play, I was never going to sit back and watch the play go by - I wanted the monster stack, and was prepared to gamble for the win. A move with ThJc was called by AdKs - not too bad a spot for me, particularly when the flop was dealt Qh3h9h giving my the open ender, a flush draw, and live cards as well.... total 21 outs, and 66% favourite to win the hand....... yet I somehow managed to avoid the lot and was gone in 10th.
Congratulations to the London Poker Meetup team on their victory - was nice to catchup with Matt Carter again after so long.... deserving member of the winning team (hey Matt, were you printing those AKs?).
Thanks to APAT for another brilliant weekend.
Invigorated and rejuvenated, it's now back to the online slog to try and find a way out of a pretty deep hole. Still, with renewed confidence in hand, February could be an interesting month with the live final of the Vegas Team Challenge at Star City, as well as entry to the £560 UKIPT main even at DuskTillDawn.