The English Poker Open was going to be the biggest buy in tournament (£2000+180) in my professional poker career so far.
I was extremely excited about the potential to win a fantastic pay out and trophy but at the same time I was a little impatient to get playing with so many world class poker players, if only so I could relax a little and play away those pre-game nerves.
EPO Welcome Party the night before was a great opportunity to meet my competition and have a little fun before a hard day’s work;)
It was held at HMS President -the same venue as the British Poker Awards- just on the other side of the boat and super convenient when skipping between parties:))
I had a great night socialising & making new friends whilst taking advantage of free champagne & tasty seafood canapes. Despite all fun I made an effort to get home just before midnight, so I could have enough rest and beauty sleep before the big day the following morning;)
I was wide awake at 9am next morning and didn’t like it! I never get up before 12pm unless I put my alarm on, so being up so early meant only one thing for me – excitement:)) Oh, well, at least I had enough time to get ready!
I made it to the Fox before time and very quickly realised that EPO day 1a was going to attract the toughest field of the two days. To name only a few- James Akenhead, Praz Bansi, Chris Bjorin, Neil Channing, Sam Trickett, Toby Lewis, Craig McCorkell and the previous EPO winner - Fabian Quoss were there ready to battle.
I also felt a little under the weather ( I hadn’t had That much champagne), and I decided to go with my gut feeling and play day 1b instead. It also gave the advantage of watching unknown players on the live stream and the chance to get an overall feeling for the tournament before playing.
Surinder Sunar – finished 3rd for £35,880
I woke up Wednesday morning feeling confident and ready to go and was hoping for a good seat draw whilst making my way to the Fox Poker Club.
My starting table was as good as it gets in a £2000 buy in tourney and included a good mix of recreational players and some serious pros; Ian Woodley, Simon Deadman, Dani Sauva, Andy Efstathiou, Simon Trumper and Surinder Sunar seated to my immediate left – which was not ideal but manageable;)
A couple of orbits in and I won my first decent pot with the nut flush v second best and was starting to get a little momentum going. I took my time to profile the players and was happy with my individual strategies applied to them.
It was all going well and after two levels in I have increased my starting stack of 25k to 31k. I was pretty happy with my starting table as nobody was playing out of line and deep structure in place (1 hour clock) ensured that there was lots of play and opportunity to wait for some favourable spots.
I was ticking along nicely by picking up some small pots and made it to the dinner break with well above average stack.
A mini walk in Soho, some Vietnamese and a tasty glass of wine was a nice way to spend the break and I was all refreshed and ready to battle further on the feature table next.
Once I have been moved to a new table, everything started going wrong!
I lost my first chunk of chips when 4betting light against a frequent raiser and having to fold to a shove all in (guy happened to have AA of course!).
Then I had another nightmare pot, where I folded a set of Aces on a A,3,4,5,6 board when Simon Deadman overbet- shoved the pot on the river. I was pretty confident about the strength of my hand till that moment, as by shoving on the river he is very much polarising his range – either straight or bluff. It left me with an agonising decision.
Although I know Simon is capable of bluffing in that spot, I didn’t feel he was doing it then. I was watching him play all day and he wasn’t playing his usual loose aggressive style and was rather cautious with his chips.
Also watching him whilst seeking for some live tells, he came across very confident whilst waiting for my decision. Based on this and that fact that I still had a decent stack if I mucked my cards, -I folded.
It happened to be the wrong decision, as Simon had a set of 5s. I was talking to him later and he said that he totally miscounted my stack, he thought I had much less and was already committed to the pot, hence that’s why he shoved the river. He’d put me on AK and was hoping for a call- no wonder he looked confident.
In retrospect I should have called, even without the benefit of hindsight. Unfortunately in tournaments you don’t always make the exact right decisions, especially when you have a particular gut feeling one way. I’ll be on the other side of a correct fold in the future I’m sure, but a good learning process none the less.
I was still in ok shape with 17k and an average of 28k, but wasn’t having much luck with the premium starting hands or hitting some flops when required.
I had to fold the river with top pair 99 when Roberto Romanello made his up and down straight and shoved on my river bet. I finally got a break though when somewhat lower with a double up versus Roberto and this put a smile back on my face;)
I made it through to day 2 as a shortie -with 15bb and in need of one double up to have any chance of a deep run. Unfortunately it was not meant to be as unbelievably, given the table dynamics and my short stack, I did not get any action with my AK, KK and then lost the required flip with 88 v the AK of Paul Jackson.
Overall I was happy with my play, apart from the AA hand which is just another one of those things as you continue to strive to improve your game.
I certainly felt confident in the company of EPT winners on my table and as always came away with valuable experience. There are fine margins between good poker players and great ones, and it is those margins I’m continually looking to find. On to the next one…