Late November; early Christmas shoppers, Z-list celebrities turning on the obligatory lights, Christmas tunes on the radio, (am I on my own in thinking that there should be a rule these can’t be played prior to 1st Dec ? ) and thankfully the GUKPT series of tournaments at the Victoria Casino, London.
I’ll take the 12 days of GUKPT events over the 12 days of Christmas anytime – but first I had to do well in the earlier side events.
First up for me was the £300 freezeout side event which attracted 136 runners, which was a great turnout for the 2nd side event, especially considering it was a Tuesday night.
I was expecting some decent players or at least a couple of familiar faces on my starting table, however I recognised no-one, usually a good thing, or maybe not…
The table dynamic was pretty mad, there was lots of limping calling and acting out of turn and the concepts such as position, starting hand requirements or bet sizing did not seem to be a general consideration.
I’ll be the first to admit that the change in quality and playing style caused me issues in how to approach chipping up successfully, a valuable lesson on adaptability that all poker players need to master. Anyhow, on to a couple of key hands-
I raised two limpers in position with AQ of diamonds and received two calls. The flop brought 5d 4d 9c and both of my opponents checked. I c-bet with an intention to go all the way with this hand if raised.
One of the guys folded and the other called. The turn was Kh which didn’t change much; Kd 10d was in his range, but it was hard to think of another hand the K helped and a drawing hand, or potentially a set were other considerations, and I favoured the former. ( 10,10 and JJ I doubt check-call that flop)
Time to lead out again with a decent sized bet, and I received a call once again. The river brought the 6 of spades a brick leaving me with A- high. The guy checked to me and I found myself in a tough spot; I had 40% of my stack in the middle with a missed draw and an opponent behind who called me down both streets.
I tanked and ultimately checked behind which I’m still not sure was the best move. Admittedly a tricky player could have checked trips guessing I would barrel again, and 6,7-the most likely drawing hand would have spiked a 6 although a shove from me on the river would make this a thin call.
He showed 6d 8d for a missed flush draw (with the gutshot) and a paired 6 on the river. Looking back I reckon I could have pushed him off, equally so a diamond would have stacked him off. Frustrating on both levels.
I got involved in a few more pots after this hand but never managed to build my stack back above average before busting out with AQ vs 2,7. The guy limped and called my huge raise with 2,7 on the button and then called all in on a 3,4,5 flop with his open ended straight draw just to get rewarded on the river with an Ace I didn’t want or need to see. Sigh.
The £600 freezout on Saturday was next up.
Surprisingly this tourney attracted only 63 players, however with the poker big guns such as The Jacksons,( not Jermaine and Michael, but Ben and Paul!) Mark McCluskey, Mike Ellis & the former UKIPT Luton leg winner Charles Chatta it was obvious it was going to be a much tougher field.
I got an early double with QQ v JJ and was off to a good start.
I had a few quieter orbits and watching Martins Adeniya getting involved in a 6-bet pot whilst defending his button, I’ve decided to mix it up a little as I’m striving to improve this element of my game.
After a mid position raise from a pretty aggressive player & flat call from Martins in the cut-off, I decided to come along with my 5,2 suited on the big blind.
The flop brought K,3,5 rainbow and I checked- with a plan. I had a pretty tight table image, so with this in mind and the fact that my piece of the flop gave me some (thin) draws should my move not come off, I was aiming for a check raise.
The first player decided to c-bet and Martins snap raised. I didn’t expect to receive so much action, but nevertheless decided to continue with my plan and show some real strength. I tanked for a bit before making a 4bet and took down the pot- a nice feeling when this kind of move comes off:)
Although this put me in an OK shape with 29 players or so left and although pretty card dead I scrapped my way along to the final 11, with the top 8 paying. I was pretty short at this point.
I was in no position to wait to sneak into the money and hate that ethos anyhow so knew I would be forced to make some plays. I got a couple of shoves through and 5 handed the chip leader on the table raised on the button to pick up the blinds & antes once again.
I looked at my hand to find 8h 10h and decided it was good enough to 3bet-shove with my short stack having just enough fold equity still. He snap called and showed...
Pretty much as good as I could have hoped, but an Ace out of the gate ended my hopes and I was out just prior to the money.
2 days later and I was back to the Vic again for my final side event- £200 NL Hold’em Freezeout with a 25 min clock and 131 runners.
My strategy for this tourney was to play straightforward poker for the early stages and to see & hopefully hit as many flops as possible in position.
I had a pretty easy starting table and knew where I was at in the hands and could take an advantage of the fact that majority of the players assumed I had an aces every time I raised in an unopened pot:)
It was going all well and I was steadily accumulating the chips without getting involved in any all-ins pre-flop.
With 50 or so people left I was moved to a new table which included a couple of chip leaders. My short term plan was to stay out of their way and to get involved with the other medium stacks instead. However this was easier said than done as one of the big stacks was sitting on my right and I had a loose aggressive player on my immediate left.
Hence, I lost some chips whilst defending or/and trying to steal the blinds and with no premium hands in place, I was drifting in the wrong direction. And although I managed to achieve a couple of successful 3bets with not much and even sucked out once with 2,4 v 22, I was finally caught out when running my K,J into A,10 for an exit in 14th place.
We made a deal with 16 players left, so I got my money back and came away happy with my overall performance having pulled off a few good moves with limited quality hands.
There was still time to hit the Edgware road for one of the many choices of tasty take-outs and the main event being put on the back burner until next year...