Nuts On The Flop

Poker stories from an Irish player...tournament reports, thoughts and goals

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Lazy Blogger

Haven't posted in a long while due to sheer laziness and lack of things to report! I have played a handful of tournaments over the past 3 weeks (8 days spent in Galway with out either live or online poker action due to brother's wedding and other social engagements) but only cashed in two of them and nowhere near the big money. Cash is going quite well, playing on Betfair and Party and making a nice, consistent profit playing the $.25/$.50 and $.50/$1 tables. Pokertracker is a god-send, really helping me to identify (if not eliminate!) the leaks in my beginner cash game - in particularly I am not playing AK or AQ well and need to tighten up post-flop here. The standard on Betfair seems higher than on Party, but the 30% rakeback is making up for this at the moment. If I can get a similar rakeback deal on one of the US-focused sites, I will probably move to that for a while.

That's it from me for now - will try to update a little more frequently during August :)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Life gets in the way - 22/06/2006 - 28/06/2006


Only found time for one live game over the past week, and because of a number of social commitments (including a wedding outside of Dublin and friends visiting) I don’t think I’ll play another live tournament for a four or five days. Luckily, my ‘career break’ kicks in at the end of this week, so for the next month or so I should find a lot more time for live (and online) play. Lucky me!

Sporting Emporium €50+5 Double Chance – 22/06/2006

There was a reduced field for this when compared to the average number of runners over the past few months. This was almost certainly down to the World Cup, which is turning into a great spectacle. My poker sweepstakes team (we ran a $10 online tournament, 32 entrants, we selected teams in the order we finished, obviously he who finished first picked Brazil, I finished 9th), the Czech Republic, were knocked out in the group stages so I’ve no-one left to shout for. That said, I would love to see Argentina win, they play the most exciting football of the remaining eight teams.

Anyhow, only 49 runners or so lined up for the Sporting Emporium’s €50+5 Double Chance. There were a number of familiar faces, including Gholimoli, Lazare and Olly. Chief Brody was there – unfortunately he was knocked out before we got a chance to share tables! I had a very unremarkable few levels before the break at an unremarkable table with players I didn’t particularly rate. I was fairly card dead, not really involved in many pots, until the last level (blinds 100/200) before the dash for the chicken tenders. Mid way through the level, I was dealt AKs in MP. Two early limpers, I raised to 800, blinds folded, and the first limper UTG immediately pushed. Other limper folded. UTG had me well covered…but I knew his style, his experience and his ability to do something like this with AA / KK / QQ…I knew I was almost certainly a mile in front and at worst, very worst, 50/50 to a small pocket pair. He is a player very easy for me to read. I called with a big smile, he turned over 89s and doesn’t hit, doubling me up to over 5k, just about average when we reach the break.

After the break I started to move a little bit more, and trepled up in one lovely hand. Again, I was in mid-position, blinds were 200/400. A player in EP raised to 600, the next player raised to 1500, I look down at QQ and decide to push and hope to avoid AA / KK. More often then not in this situation, against these players at this stage of the tournament, the range of both players is 99+, AJ+ and I’m a mile ahead. The first raiser dwells and decides to call, the other didn’t have as much to think about as he was getting great odds. Both flip AKo – happy days! Only 4 cards to worry about, none of which appear, and I move into a nice table chip lead.

I maintained this stack for the next while, dropping a few thousand when we were down to two tables and when Olly was on my left, I was UTG and raised to 4xBB with JJ, it was called by two players including the BB (who is a boardie I think?). The flop came down K-high, the BB bet out, and I folded. The other player went along for the ride until the river, I think it was AA against TT or 99. and a J hit on the river! I moved tables while this was happening, and Olly shouted over to me that if I were a worse player I would have won! Damn JJ, damn it all to hell!

Anyhow, as we approached the bubble play slowed down, everybody tightened up, and I went unfortunately card dead. Soon we were hand-to-hand and I was in trouble. After an agonisingly long wait, the bubble was knocked out and we were on the final table. I was the short stack with 7k (blinds were 800/1500 I think) and in seat 3, needing to make a move straight away. Also, the prize structure only paid €55 to 9th, 8th, 7th and 6th so there was no point hanging around trying to limp into a better payout! First hand on the FT, I found KQo UTG and pushed, no callers. Sweet. Second hand, only the button limped on my BB, the SB completed, and I had 55 so auto-pushed again. This time I had a called, the button, who had two overcards. He hit on the flop, but I stood up and put the magic river-outdraw jacket on and of course one of my two remaining 5s hit! Double sweet.

EDIT: Added this hand that I forgot - Olly requested it! An orbit or two later, I was still in some trouble despite the early FT double up. I found AKs in MP and again had no choice but to open push on Olly's BB. I think I had a bit of a smile on my face, I always enjoy pushing and Olly deserves a little of his own medicine! Anyhow, the SB (who had me well covered) dwelled for a while, I could tell he had something but not enough to call. He folded, and Olly went into the tank for a while to think about it. He must have something. I honestly wanted a call at this point, as with the long dwell I was either big favourite or 50/50 at worst. However he folded and I took the blinds. I found out later he had A7 and the SB confirmed he had Ax as well, would have loved two callers in that case!

Despite this, I was knocked out a half an hour later in 8th place, with Olly going a few places later. At least I got my money back, right…?


I am playing most of my poker at Betfair, trying to get as much of the 4 week long signup bonus as possible. Out of a possible $800. I think I’ll get $300 at most, as I am not playing enough or at high enough stakes to get any more. Still, money for old rope. As it stands, over the past two weeks I’ve built the $80 I initially deposited up to over $400, and still have to get rackback in 10 days time or so. Playing mainly 6-handed $.25/$.50. I am also using Poker Tracker, but don’t know how to analyse the data captured yet! This is something to look into next week when officially on ‘career break’, ha ha.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

A Quick Update - 10/06/2006 - 21/06/2006

I haven't posted in ages because...I haven't played much in ages! The reason being an obvious one, that little sporting event that is taking place this month. You may have seen it mentioned once or twice somewhere in the sporting sections of your favourite newspaper.

I played only one live game since my last entry, that being the Sporting Emporium €50+5 Double Chance, 15/06/2006. This game is much improved with the changed blinds structure that the SE brought in earlier this month, there is much more play with the inclusion of the 150/300 level. In addition, the €50+5 DC now features a starting stack of 2k and top up of 2k, rather than the old 1.5k+1.5k. I didn't cash, despite the long-awaited changes!

How about the...

Party Poker Free-to-$500 challenge:

Well, as of the last update, my balance was $202, I got it up to €300 a few days later, went on tilt and lost most of that, down to €35, up to €105, and at that amount I put the challenge on hold as I have now decided to devote more time to cash games and to really give it a go - by becoming a bonus whore! Firstly I got my Neteller account going. I also now have a good rakeback deal with Betfair, in addition to the great (no minimum deposit up to $800) startup bonus they have, I am spending 90% of my time online at that site. Deposited $80 last week, which I now have up to $300. Am going stick with 6-handed $.25-$.50 tables for the time being. Pokerstars also had a reload bonus available, so I simply cashed out of Stars to Neteller and back again a few hours later to qualify for this! Bonus whoring / rakeback is obviously the way to go :)

Won't really be playing much live I think until a) I start my career break in 8 days time (whoo-hoo!) and b) the World Cup is over.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Against the wind - 29/05/2006 - 09/06/2006

Its been a while since my last update, but I have only played three tournaments in that period, two on the same day!

Pokerevents Irish Poker Tour Finals side event - €400+40 05/06/2006

I had decided to play one of the side events that accompanied the Irish Poker Tour Final, a €3000+300 event that a number of my friends were playing in, and one that hoped to attract up to 300 of Europe's best. Due to usually fine and warm weather and primarily due to a lack of decent marketing and promotion, the main event only drew about 170 runners. Still, almost €500k in the prize pool! The 1st side event on Saturday night, a €800+80 freezeout, was a little out of my budget, but I decided on the €400+40 event on Sunday over the €300+30 event on Bank holiday Monday as I hoped to take it easy on Monday and get an early night in anticipation of a tough week at work (only four weeks left, they are working me to the bone!).

Anyhow, I missed the STTs and paid in directly, meeting Gholimoli, Dave 'Big Dragon' Kingston, NickyOD and Ollie Boyce inside, ready to play. Approx. 225 players settled down for some cards! Starting stack was 7k, blind levels were 30 minutes. During the 1st orbit, I was dealt QJo in the BB, and checked to see a flop alongside 3 other limpers. The flop was a Jack-high rainbow, and I bet out 2/3 pot to see where I stood. Only one caller, an elderly gentleman I had played before, he was fairly tight but solid. He certainly didn't have an overpair, and probably would have raised pre-flop with AJ, so a possible range (assuming he had a J) of KJo-J9s. The only one of those I was worried about was KJ, obviously. The turn was another blank and I bet 1/2 pot, flat called again. The river was a final bet, I bet 500, he flat called again and flipped....KJ. Should've check-called that river I think, he probably wouldn't have bet anyways.

A few hands later I was involved in a pot with one of the pros down from Northern Ireland, I found KK, flopped a set and he went with my bets all the way to the river, bringing me back to a healthy 7.5k. It all went wrong here, lost a big pot when I flopped two pair and my opponent flopped a straight, lost another pot when I was outkickered on the river, and finally made a stand before the break, having 1.8k left. The blinds were 100/200 I think, two limpers, I noticed the second chap hesitate a little before throwing his two 100 chips out - I have to admit I thought to myself 'he wanted to raise but was too cautious' - when action got to me I looked down at JJ, pushed my 1.8k to win the 700 in the blinds or double up, the blinds and limper #1 fold but limper #2 insta-calls with the bullets! Oops. Exit stage right.

The Jackpot Club - €50+5 'Deep Stacks' Freezeout 05/06/2006

It still being early, and me having had two very heavy nights out previously (was involved in a two night A-Z pub crawl, starting in AKA Bar on Friday night and ending in Zanzibar on Saturday, then on to the nightclub) so not in the mood for going out, I stopped home for a quick bowl of cereal then headed in for my 1st visit to the new Jackpot club. The game was just about the start when I arrived, with a grand total of 9 runners! Chip stack of 4k to start, so a lot of play for our STT. The dealer obviously didn't appreciate this, as he continously complained loudly to the TD that there was little action and 'four levels in and they're still all here!' - don't think he wants the business, so. I thought it was annoying and showed poor form on the TD's part to let him continue to complain about it. The bouncer was a complete tosser, which didn't lend itself to a nice evening of poker. I was knocked out after the break when I flopped two pair (I had 94o, flop was 974 rainbow), end up all in on the flop again a player (a known cheater, which is beside the point but he gets under my skin and I wanted to help see him on his merry way) who had Q9o, the river brings a 7 to give us both two pair, him with a better kicker. Exit stage right, 2nd time in 1 night! One positive note is that I turned my €10 free bet from the Jackpot into €27.50 on the blackjack tables :) Not sure I'll be back.

SE Scalp - €40+10+5 1 rebuy/top-up 07/06/2006

This was a new tournament, designed to shake up the SE's lackluster schedule and focus on the players who attended their most popular night, the Thursday night €50 DC. Only 24 players showed up for this, but it was fun while it lasted. Starting stack 2k, rebuy / topup 3k, scalp worth €10. Again, I suffered from a serious case of 'out-kicker-itis', and only had an above average stack for the 1st level, then it was all downhill. The real kick in the teeth occured at the end of level 3, the 2nd last level before the break, blinds were 100/200, I was BB, two limpers, one of whom was very late sitting at the table. He had loudly complained the previous hand after trying to limp and being raised, saying he wouldn't take it anymore. He is a regular tournament player in Dublin and has an attitude / personality I'm not much of a fan of. Anyhow, I look down at ATh and raised to 900. He had invested 200 and had another 1.5k behind, gave me a look (that he hoped was intimidating I think?) and flat called. Flop was Q85 rainbow, and as I knew he would push if I checked, I bet 600. He threw in his remaining 800 with a smile and I knew he had hit his Q, but I called the 200 to me hoping for an A. He flipped........85s, for two pair. Yep, he called my pre-flop raise with 85s for more than half his stack. He had a great laugh pulling in the pot, a real Mr. Chuckles.

I proceeded to rebuy and almost immediately had to lay down AJo and a bet of 600 to the same gentleman's laugh-accompanied raise to 2k - didn't think it right to risk my tournament on AJo. I did ask him did he have 85 again, he wouldn't tell me. I made it to the break (4 levels of 20 minutes now, rather than the old 3 levels of 30 minutes and no 150/300 level that the SE had) with only 2.3k left. After the break, with blinds at 200/400 I was in double up mode, and got my chance during the 1st orbit, a shortstack limper on the button, the SB completed and I looked down at KQo and pushed. The shortie called for his remaining 700 and the SB folded. I pulled my excess chips back, turned over my cards, and the SB turned over 89h (why didn't he just push to begin with? With less than 3xBB? He is an experienced player!) - the poker gods strike me again and give him an 8 on the flop. Down to the felt! I fold my SB and then push my 1.2k on the button with Q3o as there were no limpers. The big stack in the SB calls instantly (he had been getting cards all night) with AKs, I smile and tell the table 'I think I have a chance at this table - at least now I'm behind!', but to no avail, he hits his A on the flop. Fun night, can't you tell?

Party Poker Free-to-$500 challenge:

This has really stalled, I've been playing a lot on the $.10 / $.25 and $.25 / $.50 tables, and got up to $290, but managed to drop an entire buy-in ($100) the only time I chanced my arm at the $.50 / $1 tables (children, please note this shows the foolishness of ignoring proper bankroll management!) when I ran my QQ up again KK. The balance currently stands at $202. I've identified the biggest leak in my game, attempting to bluff opponnents I haven't categorised and / or firing off a second or third bluff when the first was flat called! Won't be going near those €.50 / €1 tables either, not until I've surged past €500 :) On a positive note I've finally got my Neteller account up and running. Poker Stars STTs are going ok, neither hot or cold at the moment.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A foolish move - 25/05/2006 - 28/05/2006

Online Poker

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker!

This Online Poker Tournament is a No Limit Texas Holdem event exclusive to Bloggers.

Registration code: 4250797

A few things to cover this time:

SE Double Chance - €50+5 25/05/2006

Not much to say about this tournament: I turned up at 9pm on the dot and this week they made a good effort to start on time...only 10 minutes late. There were about 80 runners, the Thursday night is far and away the SE's most popular tournament. After my previous week's run-in with Chief Brody, it was inevitable that he was on my starting table! I really wanted to get involved in the big pot with him, but was completely card dead and didn't get the opportunity. To make a long story short, I was in trouble from immediately after the break and pushed on the button with 67s, was called by KJs (I think) and off I went.

I went to Galway for my brother's stag last weekend, so didn't get to play any live poker, and only managed a few hours online, hitting the Party low-limit cash tables as part of the challenge I've set myself. An update on that later.

Pokerevents Red Cow Satellite - €50+25 Rebuy 28/05/2006

After getting back to Dublin mid-day on Monday, I took it easy (needed to recharge the batteries and help the liver recover!) and headed over the Red Cow that evening for Pokerevent's weekly game (which I had never played before). It usually was a €50+15, one rebuy / topup at €50+10, satellite for their €500 super-satellite tournaments (such as the Leinster / Ulster / Munster / Connaught Cups), but with the super-satellites finished for the moment and the IPT Final (€3000+300 buy-in) the following weekend, Pokerevents changed to format to a €50+25 game with two rebuys / one rebuy one topup at €50. This was to build a bigger prizepool, as there were 3 tickets guaranteed to the IPT Final. 112 players started, I was on an interesting table with a few recognisable faces, no-one stuck me as amazingly strong, most of us were of equal experience I thought. I didn't get involved in many big pots during the 6 levels before the break, barring the following:

I was on the button with approx 2.7k (starting stack + early bird chips were 4.5k). Blinds were 100/200. It was folded to me and I limped with K3o. The SB completed and the BB raised to 500. I decided to flat call to see if I got lucky on the flop. The flop was KQ6 rainbow. The BB immediately bet 1k, which really seemed like he didn't want me to stick around. I believed I was in front and pushed my remaining 2.2k in. He enquired how much I had left, and I made a mistake - I knew now I was in front and should have stayed quiet or given a false tell to induce his call. Instead I decided to show the rest of the table I knew how to make him fold via speech play and smiled, saying 'oh, its only a little bit more'. The others smiled and the BB eventually folded, showing 99. I felt like a fool while raking in the chips, I should have let him call, I still had my rebuy chips.

I top my 5k topup at the break and had a little over 9k going into the freezeout period. However, it all fell apart during the first level after the break - see this boards thread for a description of how it happened: I just shouldn't have gotten involved, but hindsight is 20/20 I guess. I was almost happy to be leaving with enough time to get to bed before midnight - I wasn't up for the tournament enough and probably should have skipped it to get an early night in.

Party Poker Free-to-$500 challenge:

As mentioned last update, I have set myself the challenge of turning the free $50 I got last month from Party Poker (as an inticement to attract me back to their site after a long period of inactivity) in $500 via their low-limit cash tables. I am not a cash game player (never played live, though this will surely change at some point), but am interested in gaining more experience and giving it ago online over the summer. On Party I multi-table the $.10/$.25 6-handed tables ($25 buy-in) or single-table the $.25/$.50 6-handed tables - I know this is terrible bankroll management, but come on, it's only a silly challenge! In any case, after a run of good luck / tight play, I am currently up to approx. $230, and hope to get to $500 before the middle of June. I have found the best way to make money on these tables is to let your opponents bet into you when you have hit top pair or better - you will get occasionally outdrawn as a result but on balance it seems to be a winning strategy. We'll see what I say in a few weeks!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

SE Double Chance - €75+5 24/05/2006

The Fitz is having a big festival this week to co-incide with their hosting of the Dublin leg of the Showdown Poker Tour, a €5000 buy-in European tournament series. As a result, the Fitz End Of Month tournament, €250+20 buy-in, was scheduled on a Wednesday night instead of the usual Thursday night, to allow a main event satellite tournament take place on the Thursday. I wandered down to the Fitz, not sure whether I would play or not, but willing to take a STT for a ticket. €30 to play, 9 of us at the table, with 1500 starting stack and 5 minute blinds, true turbo style! I was knocked out in 4th when my BB was raised, I found A7s and pushed, the raiser called with KJo and flopped a K to send me packing. I missed the infamous 1-handed blind Omaha STTs and decided I didn't feel like tackling the strong field this time, preferring to play one of the Citywest side events (€800, €400 and €300 buy-ins) the following Bank Holiday weekend, running simultaneously with the big €3000 main event out there. Lots of poker this time of year!

So I went over to the SE, where I expected a new €60+10+5 Scalps freezeout tournament was starting. As it turned out, the new SE schedule (interesting mix of smaller buy-in events) was not coming in until early June, so the old €75+5 DC was on. Some of the usual suspects were playing, Ianmc and HalfBaked (Peter), as well as Nick from Vegasnights and his brother Chris. No Chief Brody in sight - but I still didn't play well. I bluffed when I should have checked, I folded when I should have pushed, and I ran my AQs into Peter's KTo when we both were shortstacked and he hit a K on the flop. All in all not a good starting 3 levels.

After the break wasn't much better, down to 1800 chips with blinds now at 100/200, I had to double up. There were only 15 or so runners, with 3 gone by this stage, but it looked like I couldn't even hope to make the final table, let alone get paid! I was button+1, when Nick made it 800 UTG+1. Folded around to me, I looked down at AQo. Argh. I knew he wasn't making a move from there without a hand. Could he be doing it with AJ? Unlikely but possible. A mid-pair? Very possible. A hand that had me dominated? Also, very possible. The smart thing here would have been to fold and wait for a better moment to risk my tournament life. But I needed to double up and told myself he had a mid-pair and I was 50/50 - funny the things we tell ourselves when we know we're in trouble and want to gamble!

I pushed my remaining 1600 and he called the 800 more with AKc. The flop came down A77 of the better flops for me, giving me 6 outs (the final A or one of the two 7s to split the pot, one of the three Qs to win it outright)...I still only had a 23% chance of avoiding elimination though! No help on the turn or the river and out I go. Hopefully Nick went on to cash, he deserves it, seen him get very unlucky in that place. I'm off to the West for another stag this weekend so no poker (barring maybe tonight in the SE) for a few days - probably good to take a nice rest. Been playing a lot online these days, though the days I make money on the STTs I lose on the cash tables, and vice versa! Turned the €50 'please come back' free cash on Party into €110 on the cash tables over the past month, gotta come up with some objectives with what to do with this. Turn it into €500 via the lowest stakes cash games?

Friday, May 19, 2006

Double Chances and Positive Variance - 16-18/05/2006

I played two Double Chance NL Holdem tournaments this week, the second one much more interesting than the first. In both I came across players enjoying, briefly in the first case and seemingly continuously in the second case, the all-important benefits of a run of positive variance.

The Fitz, €50+5 16/05/2006

Not a whole lot to say about my play in this tournament. I started off on table 3, a quite passive table, which I enjoyed for the first two levels. I won a few small pots and seemed to be motoring away, until the following setback during level 2 (blinds 25/50). I found 77 in early position and limped, along with 4 others. The flop came down J87 rainbow. Checked to me, I threw out a pot-sized bet. The chap to my right, table chip leader, re-raised to 900. He had a huge stack, which he had built by being a calling station and hitting most of the flops. His range here was huge, and I would be pot-committed if I called his re-raise. Certainly, it was possible he had the nut straight or a higher set, but equally he could have two pair, TPTK, top pair pickure kicker, middle pair ace kicker, virtually any part of the flop. So it was a clear decision, and I pushed. He called with 9T for the nuts. The board didn't pair and I didn't see another 7, so I need my topup!

He went on limping into every pot and hitting almost every flop, and was the tournament chip leader when he was moved off our table 5 minutes before the break. A Fitz regular turned to me and said she wondered how long it would take for the sharks at the other table to take *our*chips off him! With the blinds at 75/150 and going to 100/200 after the break, I needed to double my 1500 as soon as possible. The final three hands (pre-break) were called, and I found AQo UTG+1. UTG folded - now, what to do? I wanted to double up and was happy to get into a race. Despite it being a passive enough table, I decided to limp and hope for a button raise or similar. No such luck, 3 other limpers and I had to fold to a bet on a raggy flop. The very next hand, AA UTG. I really needed to take down a nice sized pot, not just the blinds! Hmm...min raise? Nah, I'll limp again. Again, no luck with a LP raise and 5 of us see a safe-ish flop, no flush or straight out there, though both draws could have been out there. The blinds check and I pushed my remaining 1400 or so, hoping for a call from someone who had a part of it. No bites and I reach the break with 1750, with an average stack of approx 4k I'd say.

Not a lot to report after the break, brianmc was moved to my table with a decent stack and proceeded to build his way up by playing a tight, smart game. With blinds at 100/200, I found AKs in LP. Scarily, an absolute rock (think Harold equivalent) to my immediate right raised to 900. Now I knew he would only make this bet with a premium pair or AK, nothing else. I had to think about it for a minute, but I only had 7.5xBB left and really would have been foolish not to take a probable 50/50. I pushed, it was folded around to him and he called (please not aces or kings, please not aces or kings) he flipped jacks and I hit a K on the flop to double up. A level later I found AA again on the BB, made a nice raise to scare away most of the limpers, the table shortstack called and called my bet on a scary picture-heavy board, he had AJo for mid-pair and out he went. I was in decent enough shape, but with the blinds increasing I needed to continue winning these sized pots to stay in contention. I went card dead, however, and went out in 25th or so (approx. 75 runners) when I pushed for 3.2k or so with J9o on the SB and was called by the BB with 22 (blinds were 400/800), no help for me.

As an aside (and to link in with the theme of the effects of periods of positive variance), the player who I had contributed my first stack to earlier in the tournament was knocked out in 50th or so, during the 1st blind level after the break. He had donkeyed away his massive stack on the table he had been moved to - hopefully he had learned a lesson or two about the pitfalls of being a calling station and lack of discipline / patience - obviously it is more fun to try and see each and every flop, but for most players it isn't the best strategy.

The SE, €50+5 18/05/2006

I didn't head in on the Wednesday night for the €75+5 Double Chance due to the Champions League final being on - doubt they got much of a crowd because of this. Being a Spurs man, I thought to myself that despite my dislike for Arsenal, I wouldn't mind seeing a British team win the trophy...I found out that I actually wanted the gooners to lose after Eboue dived and Campbell scored their only goal, and I felt my traditional feelings of disgust rise within me. Come on Barca! Deserving winners in the end.

Anyhow, since I'm off to Westport this weekend for a stag do (and despite needing a good night's sleep last night to properly prepare for tonight's boozing!) and won't get to play poker for a good few days, I really was up for the tournament last night. There were almost 60 runners, including such greats as Culchie (Mick), Nick from Vegasnights, Ianmc and DocO. I also got to met a new boardster or two over the course of the game. The tournament finally kicked off at 9.20, they really, really need to get time-management under control, everyone had been sitting down for at least 10 minutes before the first hand was dealt.

Thankfully, it was worth waiting for. I was sitting on table 7, seat 9. Folded around to an experienced player in LP, he made it 150 to go (blinds 25/50). I finded QQ as my first hand, on the button no less. I raise to 400. The SB folds. The BB dwells...and goes all in. ACTION! Good for the table buzz, that sort of thing. The initial bettor in LP dwells a bit himself, shakes his head (he really wanted to see a flop) and folds. I have to have a think myself, but the pot is nice and big and I'm only behind two hands. Not knowing the player in the BB, I have to assume he is of pub player standard and as a result could have a big enough range. I call. He has AKs, so almost a 50/50. However, the player in LP says to me before the flop is dealt that he had AK himself, so it is no longer a 50/50, I'm way in front. No help for the BB and I double up first hand. I proceed to go on a run, dominating the table (some good, experienced players there, happy to say!) and, after the table is broken up and I'm moved to table 1, I go into the break with approx 6.5k after taking my top-up, starting stack 3k.

I really was enjoying my poker, and headed into the post-break period as I ended the 1st session, playing well and continuously accumulating. When 5 players limped on my BB (blinds 200/400), I raised to 4k - limpers tax - and scared them all away. I raised 1200 into the table chip leader (another one of these calling stations who hit a few flops) with A6d, SB folded and he called. Flop was Q64 with one diamond. He checked - I put him on Ax or a mid pair, he hadn't hit that Q as he certainly would have bet it. He also would definitely pot it on the turn if I checked it, that was how he played when faced with weakness. I wanted to take the pot then and there, and confidently threw out a bet of 1500. He hummed and hawed for a while, then relucantly folded. I showed him my hand to get a reaction and hopefully find out what he had - he had folded 77. I was now really motoring, table chip leader and throwing out bluffs, semi-bluffs and tricky play to steadily accumulate chips. With three tables left and 21 players surviving, I was moved to table 3, where it seemed all the tournament chips were sitting. I went from chip leader on table 1 to joint shortstack on the new table!

Who had all the chips? Well, two good players had nice stacks in the high-teens / mid-20ks (I had 12k I think), but the ubiquitous, salmon-jumper wearing Chief Brody (a shout out to rounders123 for naming this legend) had all the rest. He probably had a good 40k, a good 25% of the chips in play! I asked the chap on my left how he did it (like I didn't know) - a series of inprobably and sickening outdraws, this man loves to gamble, is very agressive, knows nothing of odds, and a 2:1 shot for the rest of us is an odds-on favourite for him - he must have sold his soul to the Turn and River Gods for their eternal blessing. I have played against him many times, and despite some players I respect sticking up for him, I think without his obscene outdraws he would be regarded as one of the poorest players around (ok, maybe that is overdoing it). To him, middle pair is king, he'll stick his entire stack on it. K8s is worth calling almost every pre-flop raise with, in case he hits. The one thing he is good at, the one thing that saves his bacon (other than the suicide-inducing outdraws - hmm, may have mentioned these earlier, now I seem to think of it?) is his appreciation of agressive play - if he senses weakness, he will always ask the question with a big bet. Most other players are not willing to risk their tournament on top or middle pair, and as such he has a second way of adding to his stack. In addition to his playing style, I find him a dislikable character for a number of reasons I won't go into - it is funny to dislike someone you don't know and very unlike me, but these various little things (mostly non-poker related) add up and it just rubs me the wrong way.

Anyhow, knowing his style (but wary of the size of his stack), I hoped to get a chance to double up against him. I took down a nice pot during the 400/800 level when the button raised to 2k on my BB - the button was a good player, good enough to make this bet with nothing and good enough to lay his hand down if he thought he was behind (he is a SE dealer I think). I looked down at A7s, and pushed my 12.5k. After a brief dwell he folded. A few hands later the table was broken, as we were down to 18 players. Unfortunately, the Chief and his big stack went to table 1, as I went to table 2. I continued to play well, really I felt I played better than at any time since my final table in City West in January. I was patient when I needed to and agressive when appropriate, using my stack like a baseball bat at times.

Still I only had 15k when the Chief returned to our table, this time with only 4.3k after giving the other 40k away in 15 minutes on table 1. He doesn't know how to keep a big stack but somehow is always seen on the final table, and certainly must be a quite profitable tournament player (don't know about cash games). Again, the explanation for this can be laid at the feat of the Turn, River and above all All-Powerful Outdraw Gods, who have chosen the Chief as their earthly messiah and prophet. First hand after his sits down, he limps (1k of his 4.3k stack?) on my BB, the SB completes and I check with 8To. Flop is Q98 rainbow. The SB checks. Now, what to do? I am probably ahead of him, he limps most of the time with a big stack, but with so little left, I can safely assume he either has Ax, Kx or maybe a pocket pair. He will push if I check, that's the only move he knows. I check, he pushes for 3.3k, 6.3k in the pot in total, I'm probably in front so I call, yep, he had A6o and is in serious trouble.

But wait! I hear a fiendish voice from the heavens! Not the...not the Outdraw God...AGAIN...! Yes, one of his three aces hits on the turn and he's back in business, and I'm down to 9k myself. I very, very rarely suffer from tilt or anger playing poker (to me it is only a game, the stakes are low for a non-student - by comparison the value of my stock portfolio fell by €2k this week and it didn't bother me really - and I'm just not the aggressive, emotion type at all), but suddenly I feel a real rush of anger about the way the cards came down. To make it worse, amid the 'good call - unlucky' comments from the other players, the Chief himself decides to impart some wisdom as he's raking in MY (that's how I felt) chips - 'you shouldn't have even called, did you see the Q on the board?'. WHAT? WHAT? I've never, ever gotten into verbals at a table but was 1 inch away from madness at this point. I angrily snapped at him (something else I've never done) 'I called because I've played with you before and knew you didn't have anything!'. I really was tilting now. The only thought in my head for the next few minutes was - 'how can I get into a pot with him and get him to double me up?'. Honestly, I didn't want anyone else's chips, only his.

Luckily, I pulled it together. We were down to 10 players now, on the final table bubble and playing hand-for-hand. I still had 9k, joint short stack at the 5-handed table with blinds of 800/1500. UTG I find QQ, pushed, and was called by the BB. Uh-oh, he was tight so was calling with a hand. Uh-oh, his hand were the cowboys. Off I go, at 1:30 and still very, very upset with the world for that hand versus Chief Brody.

Back to my thoughts on positive variance - with so many people playing poker at the moment, I believe (someone who actually knows statistics probably needs to take me aside and correct me! anyone?) that it is possible to enjoy a 'wave' of positive variance, winning the vast majority of the 2:1 shots, for months and years on end. There may be some famous pros out there who are where they are simply because of this - getting lucky when it counts, again and again. Chief Brody is a local version of this - he is very often in the money in the tournaments I see him in, despite his predictable, albeit agressive, play, and often will have a huge stack in front of him. I have never seen anyone else in my life hit so many 3, 4 and 5-outers multiple times per night, it almost beggars belief. Am I wrong to be extremely jealous of this positive variance? Does it not happen to me tournament-after-tournament (it happens to all of us every once in a while!) because I am making the mistake of NOT getting all the chips in when behind? What am I missing?

Looking at my tournament history this year (very positive as it is), one of my problems is my style of play - I like getting it all in there when I'm confident of being ahead. However, this means when I'm outdrawn, it is often for my tournament life. I need to work on applying pressure, building pots, and outplaying opponents WITHOUT risking my tournament life so much - even going all-in as 2:1 or 3:1 favourite, if my opponents cover me, I shouldn't risk my tournament life so many times per tournament. Last night I didn't, ironically enough, as most pots were won without showdown, but I need to take a good look at my tournament play.