When I started writing this blog, it had been my intention to post an update after every significant poker event or achievement I experienced - whilst the intention is still good, finding the time between work, family, and poker is not so easy. That said, here is the next load of tripe.
Whilst playing a monthly league game with the Black Country Poker club is primarily about friendship, competition, and having a laugh, there is a serious undertone. For winning the league in Season 4, I was granted a £560 seat at UKIPT Nottingham which I would play on behalf of BCPC, and if I should make the money, I would keep the value of the buy in, plus 50% of the remainder - the rest going to the club to be split equally amongst all members.
I played UKIPT Notts last year, stumping up the buy in myself from recent tournament winnings, and having managed to get into a good position, proceeded to donk off most of my stack with a huge mistake. This time round I was desperate to do better, particularly as I had the BCPC club rooting me, and knowing that I would have to explain any silly donk failures - that added pressure helped me tremendously with focus.
My starting table was a bit weird - playing 10 handed, we were already tight for space, so having David Vamplew at the next table, surrounded by TV crew, it made for a real squash. My starting table would be the same table I would play at for the next 8 hours. I've tried to recall some hands of note - let's start with the very first hand of the day. With starting stacks of 15k, and blinds of 25/50, I'm in the big blind. There is an early position raise to 150, and three callers - I look down to find AA. Memories of last year are immediately flooding back!! I re-raise to 650 and get two callers. A rather attractive A82 rainbow flop, and I decide to make the donk lead of around 800 to try and induce some action - which comes with a raise to 1800 .... now, guessing that my loss with AA is now affecting my thinking, I 3-bet to 4000 when a flat call was quite obviously the better move - the other guy tank/folded claiming he had 88! I didn't show, but was feeling pretty good with a 20k stack after one hand!
The table turned out to be extremely tough for all those at my end of the table - the other end was where the action was developing, and chips were moving in one direction - away from our end! With Nick Slade at the table and prepared to play any two cards in or out of position, and seemingly careless about his stack, I was finding it really tough to get in a good spot to play back at him. During the early evening session of play, with blinds around 100/200, and my stack sat around 12k, I found a perfect spot - or so I thought. A loose aggro player raised to 450, and two people called - in the big blind I found 66 and chose to just call the extra 250. On a flop of a KKA, all four players checked - I was ready to insta-fold to any action at this point. The turn was a 6, giving me a full house. I checked again, and the original LAG raiser bet around half pot - the others in the hand folded, and it was back to me with my full house - I decided to raise, and given the relative weakness of my hand on that board, and knowing that he would never fold a K, I decided to make the raise a fairly large one in an effort to get stacks in the middle here and now, with him hopefully overplaying AQ/AJ, or any K - obviously if he has AK I'm on the way home - my raise was half of my stack, which left me a little surprised when after some thought the other guy flat called. A nightmare on the river as another K came, completely counterfieting any strength I may have had in the hand - now I'm losing to any A, the case K, and any pocket pair bigger than 66.... luckily for me the other guy lead out with a shove and I was able to get away, showing my 66 - he showed KQ :(
Now down to less than 15 big blinds, it was time for short stack ninja - and with many shoves and one double up I survived to the last level of the day. Now, for me to get home and then back to Nottingham, I would need to drive around 180 miles round trip, and would get little sleep - so going into the last level, I decided that if I was to come back it would be with a decent stack, and not with dregs - I lost count of the number of times I was all in during that final level. I started the level with 9k, and ended it with 36k - but remarkably, I was never at risk, and never took a hand to showdown. The comedy moment of my day came once the TD announced last three hands of play - I openly declared that I would be all in during these three hands, possibly as many as three times! I fold the first hand, but in the second I'm UTG and find AQs - shove and take the blinds and antes..... in the last hand I'm in the big blind, and ask politely for a walk - the whole table snap folds round to the small blind who starts to think about his action and counts out chips for a raise.... I moved my stack to the line and announced that I would not be folding. He duly raised to 3.5x, and I shoved blind - he sighed and folded AQs face up - I just flipped one card for good measure, it was a 3 :)
So with chips bagged up, I made a sharp exit at 1:40am, planning to race home, hit the sack, and then be back on the road for 10am ready for am 11:30am seat draw. I didn't count on the A453 out of Nottingham being closed for roadworks, meaning I had to go back through Nottingham, back past the door of DTD, and up the A52 toward Derby to get on the M1 at J25 - it's now 2am..... 90 miles in 50 minutes (!!!!) and I was in bed before 3am. Lying in the dark, seeing streetlights flash past in my mind's eye, I started recalling all those espressos and Red Bulls I'd drunk through the course of the evening. By around 5am, it became apparent that sleep was not going to come, and it was almost a relief when the alarm sounded at 8am.
Play started at noon, and with blinds at 1k/2k, my stack of 36k was short enough to only allow one move, but not so short that I couldn't wait for a hand. The table draw for day two was not too bad - no massive stacks, and no aggressive maniacs - a couple of 3-bet shove re-steals and I was beyond the 50k mark without any real danger. People dropping like flies at this stage, and tables breaking all over the place, including mine. This move was to be my last. Taking my seat at my next table, I wasn't overly chuffed to see a 300k+ stack on my immediate left, followed by two 100k+ stacks beyond that, and with 50k, I was easily the smallest stack at the table.
What happened next was a complete shock. When I started this tourney, my first goal had been to survive to the dinner break, and after that to make day two. In making day two, I had not really considered the next goal, and had just played hands as they arrived without really considering the context of the tournament in any way.... so when the TD announced we had reached the bubble and were now playing hand for hand, I was more than a little surprised to find myself on the brink of cashing. OK - time to play uber-tight and think about the money for the club, especially with the big stacked crazy Italian on my left.... first hand and it folds to me on the button and I find AQs..... so much for folding to the money - all in! Italian gives me a nervous moment when he asked for a count and stares me down, before folding. Next hand and there's a min-raise on the way round to me where I find AKs in the cut off - again, so much for folding to the money - all in! He folds, and I find myself being the one to pick up chips around the bubble.
Once the bubble burst, the usual deluge of exits occured and we were down to around 90 left. I find AA and get a huge double up to over 130k - happy days.
Then what turned out to be my last hand of the tournament unfolded. I found QsTs in early position, and having only played one hand for around three orbits (the AA hand), I decided to open to 2.5x. Everyone folded to the big blind who flat called. Now I had him pegged as a very weak player who would fold easily when pressurised, and I was more than happy to play a pot with him. A flop of 3h6s7s was exactly what I was looking for - he lead out for a full pot bet which given the way the table had been playing, was a little odd. I figured he might make that bet to protect any top pair hand, or indeed a low overpair - so with my overcards and my flush draw, I fancied I was in good shape for a big shove..... of course he snap called with 67 for top two pair, I missed my flush, and that was all she wrote.
The £1375 won, of which I kept a a little over £900, was very welcome..... but if I had won that final hand, I would have had a stack of over 250k, been up in the top 10, and fancying a tilt at the £109,000 first prize. C'est la vie - totally happy with my play all weekend, and wouldn't have done anything different at any stage. Definitely going to find the funds to play this one again next year.
Now one week to wait until my next live adventure - the live final of the Vegas Team Challenge at Star city in Birmingham......