Friday, November 24, 2006


Sometimes you play a tournament and just know you’re outclassed, and that’s what happened in Thursday’s £300 No Limit Hold’Em Freezeout at Walsall, the third comp of the Midland Masters Festival.

This one was in fact a double chance, which is more up my street. Personally, I am a big fan of these as whilst it gives you a second chance if you get bent over and rogered, it also makes your opponents gamble more. When people know they have another 3.5k behind them, they’re more willing to gamble on draws and see the flop with half hands, and subsequently play their hands more recklessly.

This is exactly what I witnessed on my table as players donked their chips on dodgy draws, second pairs and unnecessary bluffs. In fact, the standard overall seemed very loose near the start of the event with several players seeing each flop and big pre-flop raises finding multiple callers. Red-Dog commented during the break, “This comp in particular has changed over the last year, players are much more aggressive and seem to be more willing to gamble early on.”

My table didn’t worry me too much: Matt Dale (chatty young lad), Dan Carter (sinister young gun with a few moves in him), Maurice Nicholson (I honestly can’t work this guy out), Andy Gomm (very confident and always seems to go deep), and last but not least, James Atkin. James interests me, he has a seemingly loose aggressive game in the latter stages, but from what I observed, he is an absolute rock early doors. I don’t think he raised one hand pre-flop, he seemed more intent on staying out of harms way and chatting to the chap next door. I did see him play one big hand though. I raised pre-flop with Kings and received the usual 3 or 4 callers, one of whom was James. The Flop came an unfavourable Ah-Jh-8h and Mateyboy in the blind moved all-in for around 5k (pot was only 1.5k) with 5h-7h. James called with trip Jacks, but managed to River an Ace for a full house, a card that sparked the now all too familiar Atkin yelp, a sound that always turns a head or two. I know that James’s show of emotion has caused a stir or two in the past, but how can you be angry with such a friendly go lucky young lad, plus he looks like the Milky Bar Kid, and who didn’t love that kid?

My comp got off to a whirlwind start. First round I raise it up to 200 with 9-7 suited and am re-raised to 700 by a chap in the blind. I’m almost certain he has the big overpair, so decide to see a flop. The Flop came T-T-8 and I made what many would consider a controversial call for 1k. My reasoning was that (i) If I hit, I’d have an early double through and I play my best poker with big chips in those first 3 levels (ii) there’s a chance the ten scares him and I’ll see a free River if I miss the Turn (iii) I’ll get to show rags early doors and people will be more likely to pay off my big hands and (iv) 1k from a stack of 6.3k is chunky, but worth the risk in my opinion considering the implied odds and the advantage of being stacked at such an early stage.

Anyhow, I hit a 6 on the Turn and duly doubled up. I recall my opponent mumbling the odd murmur of disbelief under his breath, but that’s okay, he’s more likely to tilt off the rest. What was unnerving though was his constant glances towards me, I have trouble looking anyone in the eye if I bust their Aces. I hope he’s not connected.

I found some nice hands in the first couple of levels, not too many flops, but at one point I recall receiving back to back Kings, Kings and Queens. Unfortunately, I couldn’t prise too many chips from my opponents with what were monster hands, plus an A-J-8 of hearts board isn’t too appealing when you have two black Kings.

After some ducking and diving, picking up some small pots here and there, I managed to hit 17k at the break, but this was soon to drop down to 12k come Level 3 as I payed off a full house with Ac-8c on a 3h-7c-8c-Ks-Kc board. Boy, that was a nasty River, especially when my opponent turned over Pocket Threes. But I suppose I was lucky against the Aces early on, so just a case of swings and roundabouts.

I hit a spot of good fortune in a multiway pot with Dale, Gomm and newest arrival Mick Fletcher (right). I had A-T in the small bind and saw a cheap Ac-7h-8h Flop. Dale bet 800, Gomm, Fletcher and myself called, before Gomm bet 800 on the 3h Turn. I knew I was miles behind, but with the bare Ace I thought it was too cheap to fold, especially because I thought someone had hit the second nuts. River brought a Five and another heart, and I opted to check, seeing this as the only way I’d get paid. Dale checked his crap, Gomm angrily checked his set and then the play stopped at Mick, who giggled momentarily before finally, and I mean finally, making a good check with his Kh-Th. I was sure he would have bet and then be forced to call a re-raise, but that’s the risk you take, and in the end he made a good check for what would have been his tournament life (he was short).

That hand took me back up to 18k and soon after I was moved to the Table of Doom and the toughest line-up (on paper, anyhow) that I have ever come across. In this order: Joe Grech (later replaced by Nick Slade), Ash Pervais, Phil Peters, Me, Zippy Aslam, John Vaccarrella, local, Mateyboy, JP Kelly and Michael McCool. Talk about a wasps’ nest.

I remember looking at the table desperately trying to find the sucker and then thinking, “Oh dear”. Having said that, however, there was one guy who I thought was weak, but ironically it was he who took all my chips, so I guess I was even suckier (new word?).

TightEnd always seems to telling me of how he’s up against so and so, how fearsome his table is, how he’s so poor in comparison, but my response is always the same. If you convince yourself you’re not as good before you’ve even played a hand, then what chance do you stand? With this in mind, I was willing to play ball with the big guns and right from the off I called JP’s pre-flop raise from the Big Blind with 8-5o. I didn’t want people to think it was going to be constantly up for grabs. Luckily, I hit top pair on a small flop. JP slowed down and folded to my bet on the River (I checked both Flop and Turn), but I was willing to put him all-in at any point (he only had 2 or 3k left).

I also went in with the mindset that I knew their game better than they knew mine, which gave me a hell of an advantage. When I update the Main Events I hear them retell endless hands, and the information I gather on various players is immense, which ends up being a useful tool if I ever cross swords with them at the table. I knew it was going to be tough, but I had to remain positive or just hand over my chips there and then.

Unfortunately, that 18k was going to be my peak as my tournament turned into a big pile of poo. Every move I made seemed to be the wrong one and I can’t express how frustrating it was seeing everything I touched turn to shite.

Personally, I feel I play the early and very latter stages okay, it’s these middle levels where I feel at a loss, especially when they remove the 150/300 and the 500/1000 blind levels. 18k with blinds at 200/400 and then 300/600 are my most problematic periods and I get caught in between two minds: remain patient, allow the blinds to eat away at my stack and let the more aggressive players fight it out or start mixing it up by playing marginal hands.

Well, I tried three separate methods, and all of them failed miserably. When I raised with hands like A-J and 8-8, I was forced to fold to re-raises from the two tightest players at the table, when I called pre-flop raises and tried to play the flop, I either missed completely or was called by a superior hand, and when I tired to steal the blinds it all went horribly wrong.

Whilst the former two actions took me down to 13k, the latter pretty much decimated me. Glancing at the table, I noticed that the blinds looked disinterested so I decided to raise it up blind (the hand was actually Jc-6c). Worryingly, the calling station on the button smooth called and we both saw a Qh-5h-8c Flop. Putting him on a middle pair that he would fold to any action, I bet out 3.5k, a move that would end in disaster as my opponent moved all-in for 1.1k. My biggest mistake here was not checking his stack. I thought he had more pre-flop and when it got to the Flop, I thought asking how much he had left would be a giveaway that a bluff was on its way. Anyhow, I called the 1.1k (which was also probably a waste, but thought he could have a flush draw) and saw that I was drawing dead to a set of Fives.

What followed my reluctant showing of the J-6 was a flurry of jibes, laughter and general mocking from the table, Michael McCool (left) in particular made sarcastic comments such as “Are you going to put that in your blog?” and “I’ve got the snoops special”. Now, I can take a bit of micky taking no worries, but when it moves onto poking fun out of my blog and my writing, then I think that’s below the belt. Having a laugh at someone’s bad play is one thing, but then mocking what is ultimately part of their day job and something that is very important to them is uncalled for. I like and respect many of the people at this table, but at times I detected a rather nasty undertone that made my stay their rather less enjoyable.

Michael McCool in particular is an interesting character. A greyhound owner and huge dog lover (no, not in that sense), I met Michael in Deauville this year and he was a friendly face indeed. At the table, however, he possesses a bit of Tony G inside him in the sense that he’ll do anything to get his man on tilt. A loud voice at the table, Michael is constantly chatting and trying to lure his opponents into doing what he wants – if Michael is at your table, you’ll know about it.

And inevitably, it was Michael who finished me off. Although I managed to near treble up with Jacks (big blind) versus Ash’s Q-5 (he’d made a good all-in re-raise to Michael’s steal) and a rather heart-rattling board of x-x-5-5-J, the blinds soon caught me up and I was forced to make a move for 7k with blinds of 600/1,200. On that table, I knew my raise had to be big, and when I found T-9 suited, I thought it was worth a shot. Unfortunately, Michael made a good call from the big blind with A-Ts and I was up shit creek. No Ace, and I was a gonna.

Although I didn’t approve of Michael poking fun out of my writing, I must highlight a characteristic that he doesn’t share with Tony G. Unlike the Australian, Michael will not jump up and down in your face upon elimination. Whether it’s his exit or yours, he will shake your hand and wish you the best of luck without any hint of offence, and I can always admire that it any player.

As I left, I looked around the table (now graced by the presence of Andy Gomm and John 'Hamsterboy' Huckle) and was disappointed that I’d played with some of the best (or most dangerous) players on the UK circuit and fallen flat on my face. Zippy Aslam (right) in particular seems to improve by the tournament and is quickly following in the footsteps of Ash Hussain in becoming a real force in the game. There is a certain smugness to him and a smidgen of arrogance that gives him an air of confidence that players seem to fear, but if you’re on the roll he’s on, it’s to be expected, so I wish him the best of luck.

Ash Hussain, incidentally, knocked over what he believed to be my drink (it was in fact John Vaccarrella’s) whilst mildly intoxicated. When I asked if he was going to buy another he shrugged his shoulders and announced, “I don’t have any money”. Cheeky bugger! If anyone had any money, I would have thought it’d be him.

I won’t deny that I was gutted about exiting that comp, possibly more than usual as I had built up a decent stack early on only to lose it all with a bad bluff. I’ve always been confident that although I’m not as good as the other players I came up against that night, that I could study the game enough to one day reach their level and compete for the big bucks, but after that exit and for the first time in my poker career, I felt that I simply wasn’t good enough and never would be, and this was deeply depressing.

Fortunately, whilst poker is known for having some real shady characters, there are lots of kind and generous folk out there who are always willing to lend a word of advice to a struggling Beagle. One of those gents is Keith Hawkins who said (and I hope he doesn’t mind me quoting a pm), “Don't panic! Sometimes for no particular reason, tournaments just go pear-shaped and whatever you try just doesn't work. Just chalk it down into ‘the shit happens’ category.”

Hehe, the Camel doesn’t mince his words.

Sunday - £20 NLH R/B @ Broadway (7th +£161.60) = +£161.60
Monday - £100 NLH R/B @ Walsall (-£310) = -£148,40
Monday - £50 STT SAT @ Walsall (+£195) = +£46.60
Tuesday - £200 NLH F/O @ Walsall (-£220) = -£173.40
Wednesday - £300 NLH D-C F/O @ Walsall (-£325) = -£498.40
Thursday - £500 NLH F/O @ Walsall (£525)
Friday - £250 NLH S/O @ Walsall (£275)
Friday - £20 NLH R/B @ Broadway (£120)


At 2:11 PM, Blogger Alex Martin said...

Unlucky snoops, nice update.
Snoopy mate, you said yourself that players were playing far too loose in the early sages, yet you yourself seem to have loosened up immensely. Call me old fashioned but if they are all playing ultra loose, try rocking up a bit.

gl mate

At 12:23 AM, Blogger snoopy1239 said...

The early stages are fine for me. I was on 17k early doors in this comp. When I say people are playing loose, I mean they are gambling more, which is great.

My problem was when the blinds went up to around 300/600.

At 1:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

keith is correct,
altho i might add the word 'regularly' to the shit happens bit.
just remain confident in your abilities and try to increase your sample size


Post a Comment

<< Home