June 10, 2007

Midlands Meltdown: Main Event

£1000 Double Chance Freezeout, Walsall - Saturday 9th June

I got down to Walsall nice and early ready for the buffet. I ate with Dave Colclough as I was asking him his experience of the World Series of Poker which I shall be heading to on Thursday, and he talked about his 2nd place finish in 2000 where he was the moral victor, taking most of the cash in a 3-way deal. Then onto the main event. 7500 chips with 7500 more to be taken whenever you wish in the first two levels and an hour clock, this looked like being the best structured tournament I had played in a long time.

For the third event in a row, Ash 'the Cash' is on my table, although this time directly to my right so I was less worried about this. It was actually very cool playing next to him for a few hours as he is a really sound guy. Also my former nemisis Tim Flanders (who knocked me out of a £1500 event last year leaving me in 5th place) was two to my left. On the first hand I am dealt pocket deuces. There is a limper behind me so I limp in mid position, and the button raised to 350. The previous limper called so I decided to go set-hunting and called. The flop came down 2h 3s 4h. Bingo! I can't remember the last time I caught a set with so much action, as the raiser bets 1500 on the flop and the limper calls. I raise it up to 3500, happy to advertise that I have a set on such a dangerous board. The raiser recognises this and folds (he later tells me he folded QQ) but the caller decides to move all-in, to which I instantly call. I'm not surprised to see him flip over Ah Th for the nut flush draw and gut-shot straight draw. The turn comes down a heart so I'm calling for the board to pair, but the river is another heart! There goes my first half of chips!

Not wanting to go out in two hands I took a time-out for a couple of minutes away from the table to prevent me from steaming. 7500 chips with this structure was still fine. Not too long after I pick up AK on the button and raise a single under-the-gun limper. The big blind and the limper call. The flop comes down KQ9 rainbow. They both check and I check behind, happy but not thrilled with this flop. A King on the turn, to which they both check. I'm a bit happier now but figuring I have the hand locked up I check here to try and get some action on the river. The river comes a blank. The big blind bets out 400, and big blind Tim Flanders raises to 1500! I was supposed to be doing the raising! I think for a little while but I have Tim on a steal here so I make the call. The small blind also calls. I jokingly say "Which one of you has JT," whilst Flanders just mucks (at least I was right about that), so I assume I'm good until the big blind says "me"! Thinking about this hand though I actually lost the minimum and could've easily been out right here.

I'm down to 4000-4500 chips, but after a couple of unlucky hands it's my turn to get lucky. I limp in late position behind 2 or 3 limpers with Kc 8c. It comes down Ac 4c 2d. A blind bets out and a limper raises to 1000. I didn't want to flat call here as I couldn't really afford to miss the turn and be forced to fold, so I move all in with the nut flush draw. The original bettor folds but the raiser calls me straight away with the nuts (He'd limped in early position with 35 off!). A big fat blank on the turn and I was getting out of my seat until a beautiful 8c hit on the river. Back in the game!

I've never yo-yoed so much in the first level as I manage to plunder back down to 5000 chips with this hand. 3 limpers and I limp in the cutoff with 8h 3h. It comes down 3c 5h 7h so I have a pair and a flush-draw. Tim bets out from the blinds and I raise him up to 1200. He moves all-in for about 4500 more and I quickly, though semi-reluctantly, make the call, largely because he has less chips than me and I have the pot odds as I have to assume I'm at least 50:50. I'm not thrilled to see his 5s 3s for two pair, but once I've raised the flop there's no getting away from this hand. I'm even less thrilled about his hand when he hits a 5 on the turn for a boat, and a 5 on the river for unnecessary quads!

There was then a television hand on my table. I raised under the gun with AK off. EVERYBODY on the table calls except for the two blinds. I check in the dark cos I don't want to get in trouble on anything but a TJQ or KKx board or somthing to that effect. It comes down Th 8h 7d, perfect for me (!). Three hands end up all-in on the flop. Js 9c for the nuts. TT for top set and Jh 7h for bottom pair, flush draw and inside straight draw. A seven on the turn gives the pot to the pocket tens, I comiserate with the J9 sitting to my direct left.

After a really crazy first couple of levels, things start to go more calmly. I manage to rebuild my stack. First, I hit a set on a raised pot with 9Ts on TTx but sadly the guy didn't have a pocket pair so I only made chips from his 2000 flop bet, as he folded my all-in river bet of 2500. I go onto make several solid river calls to big bets on the river, twice with QQ when an Ace hit the river having bet the turn on Jack high flops. And with KJ on JQQQ7 when I was bet most of my chips on the river. I'm now upto 16,000 chips, not far off average. What a roller coaster!

On the very last hand before our table broke I limped with A7 on the button, having dwindled to 11,000 chips over the last couple of hours, behind a couple of limpers. It came down K97 rainbow. A limper (Mr AhTh from the first hand) bet weak into the pot so I call to see how strong he is, and if he's bluffable on the turn. My strategy changes as the turn comes down an Ace. He bets 2500 on the turn. I seriously consider moving all-in here, as calling leaves me with 5900 behind. I'm not sure if he has a King or he's bluffing. If he's bluffing he might well put me all in on the river. If he has a King he probably won't call an all-in on the turn. So I smooth call. A raggy turn and he bets 5000. I instantly put my chips in, expecting an instant call for the 900 more. Shockingly though he mucks!!! A nice pressie for the next table.

I proceeded to go card dry for the next couple of hours. I made an etiquette faux-paus at my second table as I made a call with 78 on J27T thinking I might be good. Another ten fell, and when the guy across for me checked I checked behind announcing I have a seven, but not realising a guy behind me had also made the turn call! I try and regain some dignity saying that "There might be a ten with that seven" but I don't think it worked! Anyway, I ended up passing to phantom player's bet, and he showed a 5 high flush which he hit on the river.

With the blinds at 300/600 I make a couple of raises on my third table, but get made to lay down AT and KQ to big reraises. Down to 12,000 chips I raise J2 on the button when it gets folded around but I get the same treatment and instantly pass. Down to 10,000 and it's break time before the blinds go up to 400/800. Although the average is now 30,000 I'm still feeling okay, happy to play short stack strategy and hopefully shove it in at the best times. I manage to stay at 10,000 for the first couple of rounds, shoving all-in with ATs and AQoff. A guy that got shown a big bluff and is steaming then raises to 2200. I don't look at my hands when I'm in the big blind or small blind until it comes round to me, and with my chip on my cards I'm considering raising any two here from the small blind as I'm fairly sure he is very weak. I look down at Kc Qc which makes the decision for me anyway, and move in for 10,400 total. He thinks for about two minutes and makes the call, which is for half of his chips, with Ac 4c. I'm pretty sick about this call. I can't imagine what he's put me on. I guess this is the detriment of playing against steaming players sometimes. My thoughts are put to rest though when the flop comes down K88 and a blank turn. I say outloud "no ace, no ace" without really thinking about it hitting. Of course it did and I utter some curse or other. The table backlashes saying "well the best hand won". I hate that kind of thing because it's so ignorant, but I let it go.

It's 2am and I decide I might as well make the 2-hour-drive back to Lincoln rather than getting a hotel. Not the best 3 events results wise, but I feel I am playing well and can head to Las Vegas with a confident mind-set. I bust on a good bluff in the £300, a flopped flush vs a higher flush draw in the £500, and on a coin flip which was unlucky to get called in the £1k. I think I'm going to have a break from poker until I leave ready for the poker-fest that awaits in Vegas!

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