May 14, 2013

Monte Carlo

I have yet to blog about my 3rd place finish in the Dusk Till Dawn Monte Carlo tournament in April for £45k, which is the biggest result of my poker career. Given that the big tournaments at DTD are my only real chance to play live poker without being away from my kids (it's only a 50 minute drive away), I tend to play the bigger tournaments there when I can. Having said that I was taking a bit of a shot buying in direct and not selling any action given that it was a £1,000+£100 buy-in. I also dropped $3k in my online games immediately prior to it, so it really felt like taking a shot, and given that I'm quite a huge nit, I could easily have decided not to play.

However, I did. I played the first live Day One, and bust out to John Eames in a standard rejam spot after getting short somewhere in level 7 or 8 or so. So that was Game Over. Except that there was a satellite for the second Day One (re-entry was allowed), where late registration was just about still open as I bust. There was some overlay in the satellite, so being the grinder I am I sought out the small amount of value there was in playing, despite the dejection from busting out and that inevitable feeling of just wanting to "go home" that I tend to get when busting a big live tournament. Fortunately I ran like God in the satellite and won a seat. I would have never re-entered the tournament if it wasn't for this!

It didn't look like my second shot was going to go much better. I was down to a 10k stack from 30k starting stack on the first day. Somehow though, I avoided an all-in showdown for the whole day, and grinded my way back to 50k. I really don't know how I went through so much of the tournament without being all-in and called. My only single all-in confrontation until Day Three was a double through AIPF with AKs vs QQ at the beginning of Day Two.

I played pretty solid without getting too out of line, at least as far as I recall. I do remember making a six bet shove with AQ from the button versus the big blind where I felt pretty sure he didn't have it, and he snap folded. I didn't get much going my way towards the end of Day Two and ended up coming back 25th/30 and about 18 big blinds.

I travelled back to Dusk Till Dawn fully expecting to bust out in a short space of time, as I have done many times in the past. This time, though, I went into full on God Mode. When we merged into 3 tables I made a standard cut-off jam with J9s for 16bbs or so (antes were in play of course). In a spot of irony John Eames woke up on the button with Pocket Tens and was ready to bust me for the second time, but I managed to spike a Jack. 

I then (quite literally) went on to bust a couple of Fish. First, I bust the legendary Devilfish when he squeeze jammed the big blind after I had opened with 99. It was a pretty close spot, but I went with it. He had AK and I just boomed a door card 9, and had him dead on the flop. I then went on to bust local legend 'Rastafish', who had previously won this event. I 3-bet his cut-off open from the big blind with JJ, and he jammed over a c-bet on a 246 rainbow board with A7os. Rastafish has a reputation for running rather well, so I was somewhat relieved to hold there, even with ~85% equity!

I think it was the next orbit of the table where I opened the cut-off with Pocket Fours, and had John jam on me again for about 12bbs. I made the sigh call, and he tabled Pocket Sevens. I somehow got there again and bust out John in brutal fashion.

Now with chips, I sort of cruised through to the final table bubble, picking my spots with a decent chip stack to utilise. I then made a fairly standard rejam with 66 with 10 left, and managed to run into Aces. Nevermind though, a miraculous 6 on the board gave me the chip-lead going into the final table.

The final table was really tough, with 4 heroes (Kevin Allen, Richard Trigg, Ben Jenkins and Jamie Rutherford), and everyone else was pretty decent as well. I wasn't overly pleased with how it went, basically because I kept giving chips to Kevin Allen, who went on to win. On 3 separate occasions I called him down 3 streets and he just had me by the conkers each time. In each case I could have folded the river, as my hands essentially shrivelled up into bluff catchers. But he was opening so wide, virtually ATC at times, it felt so difficult for him to have the top of his range each time, but I guess I may have made a misjudgement about his 3 barrelling tendencies vs me.

Thankfully, to offset this, I was fortunate enough to run really well with the cards I was dealt preflop, I got in A9s > Q8s to bust 9th place. I picked up KK in a spot where I could have been abusing my chip position, and was able to 7-bet jam vs Trigg and pick up a bunch of chips. I also cold 4-bet AK and made Allen, who had opened, fold AK.

My luck sort of died out 4-handed. Trigg doubled through Allen with ATs vs KK, where if he bust in 4th it would have enabled me to come 2nd really often as the other guy (Rutherford) was short. Also a bit of a misunderstanding occurred at a bad time. A few minutes after my 3rd aforementioned 3-street call down of Allen, I was heckled by a DTD reg that I had played with a couple of times. What I heard him say was; "How could you call down there with Q9-off". This is the hand I was holding in the hand, and I assume he had seen the live feed. This was about the most brutal thing he could have said at that very point in time, and I had a pretty major rant at him from the table, and was pretty steamed. However it turns out that he couldn't possibly have known this, as my cards on this hand didn't show up in the feed. I saw him a few weeks later and did my best to offer an apology and explain what I thought he had said. It turns out he had said "How could you play Q5" or something similar, where he was jokingly referring to a completely insignificant hand in a different tournament he'd played with me where he though I'd played Q5 questionably. Oops :-/

I guess it didn't really affect things as I bust in a standard spot a few hands later, where I raise/called off about 20bbs with 55 3-handed. I couldn't hold vs Trigg's KJs and I was gg'd.

After I bust out, I was completely mentally exhausted. I'm not sure if it was the feed, the high pressure situation of so much money being at stake, or the quality of the final table, but I was completely knackered and almost in a trance.

As is generally the case with poker tournaments, especially those you go deep in, I was pretty disappointed not to win. I certainly had a very decent chance of it, and it sucks that a couple of questionable decisions I made perhaps restricted my chances. With the payout jumps being so massive (£120k, £70k, £45k) it's hard not to think about what might have been. On the other hand, I played great poker for 3 days and ran the hottest I ever have in a live tournament, and had my biggest ever pay day, so I can't really be too disappointed.

The live feed was uploaded onto YouTube if you're interested, but it's bloody long! (I join somewhere at the 2:12:00 mark, and it's 9 hours long in total!)