There has been the odd foray to the cash tables in Gibraltar, and a small tournament here and there, but truth be told I haven’t been able to play much Poker in the last few months. Certainly not enough to warrant posting about anyway. Stopping posting here wasn’t by design, but was more due to other things in my life taking higher priority than trying to gather some readership on a blog I only occasionally post on.
Nevertheless, I’m back. For 1 more post at least. And most of you probably already know why.
Last week I popped over to Nottingham to play the Sky Poker Tour. I knew a couple of people who were going and as the dates aligned well with other plans in the UK it presented an opportunity for me to play.
I left my apartment 9am sharp in Spain, and after a fair bit of travel I made the 3pm start time at the Alea Casino in Nottingham by approximately 30 secs for Day 1A of SPT Nottingham. There are even some unconfirmed reports of me jogging from the Hotel to make sure I was sat at the table when the first hand was dealt. Shocking, I know.
The structure was very slow (much like my jogging) and antes didn’t kick in till much later than in a normal live tournament – something which benefits my game immensely. I like to be aggressive in marginal spots. This can backfire sometimes, but in deep tournaments like this it means you can lose a big pot or two and still be afloat.
The tournament started well. I doubled up with AA v AJ on a J high board and was making great progress. There were no real hands of note for the next few hours which required a lot of patience to maintain my chip stack and not get restless. All looked OK to make it into Day 2 at the first attempt until a big swing in chips came a few levels before the end of the day.
KK v AK is a lovely spot to find yourself in 70% of the time. The other 30%… not so much. I was just starting to think about how to spend my Saturday off just as the River was dealt. The Ace swung the pot in his favour and suddenly my chip stack was looking rather feeble.
The last level of the day I decided to play my stack super aggressive. I would either get into Day 2 with a decent(ish) stack to give me a good chance of cashing or I’d register for Day 1B and start all over again.
I defended my big blind with 10c 9c and after seeing a flop with 2 clubs, proceeded to check/jam the flop. Neither a club on the Turn or River came and that was me finished.
It’d been a long day and as I had been drinking on the table I thought it was wise to get to bed at a reasonable hour and give Day 1B on the Saturday my best shot.
Day 1B started bad. Apparently my ‘best shot’ was to give chips to anyone who wanted them. This persisted to get worse for about 4 hours. I wasn’t getting dealt much so had decided to push the action by hook or by crook as best I could. I just couldn’t get anything started. It was a frustrating few hours and I had almost resigned myself to either firing another bullet or just heading to the bar to drink my sorrows away.
I had halved my chip stack by the time the following hand rocked around which would prove to be the first of three big hands that would make my tournament.
I was dealt 97ss UTG and proceeded to raise it up. A tight player 3 bet in mid position and the SB flat calls. Alarm bells all over the place already. I have the price to call versus two opponents, but well aware that any flopped 9 or 7 is likely useless to me against their ranges.
Flop comes 6x 6x 8s
I check. Initial aggressor bets huge. SB flats the huge bet. I find myself in a position whereby if I jam and i’m called by both it’d be a huge scalp if I can hit my draw. I’m likely to be about a 1/3 in chance of winning the hand providing my opponents don’t have any blockers to my straight (10 10 would be a disaster here for instance). I jam.
Called by the initial aggressor only. Up against KK. SB folds QQ face up and I sigh at the lost value in the pot.
Turn: 10x. I hit my draw and for the first time in Day 1B I was above starting stack.
From there I was able to chip up much easier. The table had seen me be aggressive for a number of hours with marginal hands. Once I tightened up a bit my stack was looking healthier by the hour.
By the end of the day I had 153k to take into Day 2 (Starting stack 25k). Things were looking up.
Onto the bar.
I met a whole bunch of Sky regulars there. Too many to name off the top of my head, so won’t even try! We had a good laugh about times we’d played each other, other players that hadn’t attended and generally just got quite drunk! I was enjoying myself so much not once had I considered that this was probably not ideal preparation for Day 2.
I crawled into bed about half 4/5 in the morning praying I didn’t wake up with a hangover.
That didn’t go to plan.
Nursing a Coffee, a Water and an Orange Juice at the table to try and make myself feel better I run a rather stupid bluff 2nd hand of the day for over half my stack. It worked (just), but it was an immediate wake up call to calm down and not let a mild headache ruin any chances of a decent run in the tournament.
I liked the Table I was drawn to a lot. A LOT. After I had settled down and started paying attention to the other players around me I realised that I was sat on a table which presented a decent opportunity to chip up. I was the biggest stack on the table and had a good position against the smaller stacks to apply the most pressure.
Then I got a table move to possibly the worst position possible in the entire tournament. I was sat to the direct right of Neil Channing on a table full to the brim of regs who all appeared to be quite solid.
After losing a couple of small pots I tightened up incredibly. A couple of the regs were playing relatively loose aggressive poker but I wasn’t in a position (both table and chip count) to take advantage. It was a game of sitting tight and hoping a decent opportunity presented itself.
It didn’t. Not until the bubble at least. This is where Hand 2 of the three most important hands takes place.
I had 25BB on the stone bubble. UTG (with circa 22BB) raises. UTG +1 flats. I see 88 in Mid Position.
Its a standard Jamming spot, particularly with the image I had developed for myself over the preceding few hours. I’m all in.
UTG dwells as its the money bubble and sigh calls with KQdd. UTG +1 folds.
Holds (despite a rather scary turn card). We are in the money. Boom.
It’s amazing how quickly the tournament moves just after the bubble bursts. After a number of quick busts we closed in on a final table, and after picking up AA versus a very short stack, I was not only on the final table of SPT Nottingham, but I was chip leader too…
The final table didn’t start too well. A few hands in I had lost my chip lead AK v QQ all in pre flop and was back to an average stack size.
We lose two players. 7 remain when I decide to take an aggressive line Blind against Blind.
I 4 bet shove A5s pre flop and get called by QQ which resulted in losing about half my stack. I’ve discussed the line I took and the reasons for taking it with other players since and the conclusion is that the play is fine. Perhaps the high variant line but we can expect a high % of folds when the BB has been relatively active.
Nevertheless we lose 3 more players and we are down to the final 4. By this point I’ve managed to get my chip stack back up to about average and I’m in a decent position to go for the win.
This is when hand 3/3 of the most important hands of the tournament occurs. And it’s a weird one…
UTG and the Button Fold and its just myself and the Big Blind remaining in the pot.
The opponent had been defending his big blind rather religiously so I had decided to limp my entire range against him in situations like this. This is mostly so that I was playing smaller pots out of position that were easier to navigate down streets, whilst also giving myself a polarising 3 bet range should he decide to squeeze pre flop. Either way, the hand plays out as follows…
I limp Q5 in the SB. He checks it back and we see a flop:
Qs 5s 4s
Top two pair. Ideal. I bet about 2/3 pot. Called.
I bet about 2/3 pot again. He thinks about it for a number of minutes before declaring “All in”. To be clear, this is a huge raise – about 2-3 times the pot. It also puts my tournament life on the line. I’ve thought over this hand many times since and I’m still not entirely sure I made the +ev decision. I’d love to know peoples opinions on what they’d do in this situation, what ranges of hands you put the opponent on and whether or not you’d call or fold.
I tank for a few minutes. I hate it. Really hate it. Really really hate it. I run through all the hands I think he could be doing this with. The size of the raise too – does it make sense? I convince myself he wouldn’t do this with the top part of his range against me, but find myself none the wiser about what I should do. I hate it.
He turns over 5 4 for flopped two pair and a big pot swings my way to reclaim the chip lead.
4 Handed play continued for about 90 minutes after this hand before two very quick busts came and I found myself Heads Up for the title of SPT Nottingham Champion and of course, £12k.
I had a 5/1 chip lead going into heads up and after one or two little scares where my opponent doubled up, the final hand of the day saw me shove AJo, be called by K9s and have it won by the turn.
I had won my first big event with a personal record cash! I’m absolutely over the moon with how the weekend went. I’m hoping to attend another SPT as soon as possible (basically when work allows me). I met some fantastic people, had a great time and have come home with a nice little trophy too.
And here’s a cheesy photo to prove it…
Yes, I’m well aware I look tired and sweaty. It’s the most exercise I’ve gotten in months, thanks.
Until next time…