February 16, 2011
UKIPT Nottingham has been and gone, and what a wonderful event it was. The 'Dusk till Dawn' cardroom really is one the best places to play poker anywhere, the Stars staff were friendly as always, and the UKIPT dealers and staff do a great job every time. I'm not going to talk about my Main Event too much as it didn't build to a deep enough run but I was happy with my play and know that I wouldn't do anything differently in my exit hand, it was perfectly standard, and sometimes doing the right thing still means you go out. To win or go deep in a 1000 player field you need luck on your side. I look forward to reading the reports from the members of Team Black Belt that did make it deep.
I was happy with my preparation, and attitude for the event as I got an early night before the tournament, and felt fresh. I again took it easy on Friday night which meant that on Saturday I was able to put in a few hours grinding online while the football results came in, and virtually railing my friends in the event from my hotel room. While this might not sound terribly exciting, I'm pleased that I was disciplined about things because if you have one too many beers early in the weekend, it can have repercussions later on. These events are great social occasions and I love meeting the circuit regulars for a beer at the end of the day, there are so many great people on the tour and we can relate to each other and our unconventional lives in ways that we can't with our regular non-poker friends. It's just important to strike the right balance so that you're winding down at the end of the day, you have to be professional.
I did allow myself the night off on Saturday to have leaving drinks for Raz from Pokerstars, and some of our other friends including new Black Belt Poker members were there too. Raz, and all of the Stars staff look after us, and are friends to us, at each leg we attend so we were all happy to give her a send off, and I'm sure we'll see her at a stop again soon.
Sunday, I played the 'High Roller' tournament, a £1500+120 buy in, (eat your heart out, Sam Trickett). With a monkey buy in Main Event, it makes sense to a have a larger buy in side event over the weekend to help justify the travel costs for the established pros such as Channing, Zimbler, Devilfish, and the host of younger EPT regulars. While there were a number of top pros in the 80 runner field, I feel like there was plenty of value from the locals and satellite qualifiers, especially given that we play 8handed from the beginning and with a really great structure. I am not 'rolled for tournaments this size but did sell some pieces on IrishPokerBoards. This was the first time I'd done this and was very pleased with the response so sincere thanks to those that invested.
My first table had Chris Brammer and James Keys, but Chris busted in the first couple of levels, playing a bit faster than is necessary I would say. He was replaced by Jake Cody. I think both Jake and James are top notch players, and they've both had a great year. They both play pretty solid early on, but do take advantage of good squeeze spots when they arise. Jake in particular has a reputation as being crazy aggressive but it simply isn't the case at this stage of a tournament. I have played with him deep in a tournament in Edinburgh and at that stage he moves his preflop aggression up a notch and will 3bet and 4bet light and is constantly put pressure on. Both players play extremely well down the streets, and are as it happens two of the nicest guys in poker. I managed to chip up to 45k after the first 4 levels, no big double up, but I did get max value from my big hands. Tim Blake tried to run two big bluffs against me and I had a hand on both occasions and picked them off. James Keys had position on me but had gotten shortish early and so wasn't as much of a thorn as he might have been. I was really happy with my play early on, and I was quite active especially once my stack was big.
After dinner I lost two keys hands. I opened QQ on the button and was flat called by the small blind, an older guy that was a bit of a station. He check/called a bet on a low flop, and check/raised a J turn. I flatted and also called his bet on the K river, and was shown KJ. I then doubled up a short stack that had check raised all in on a KQx board my KJ under AK. Down to about 25k and our table broke.
Myself and James Keys were moved to probably the worst table in the room with James Dempsey (Flushy), Vicky Coren, Jeff Kimber and Neil Channing. I hate playing Neil; he knows me really well, I somehow feel under greater scrutiny when I play him because he backs me, and I kinda find his style difficult to play against. He does things that a lot of the younger guys don't; unusual lines, he will sometimes open limp, and flat call in spots where others might 3bet. I think he is a great player and his unconventional style makes him tough to play against. As it proved, he was my biggest pain to deal with.
I opened KK from late position and Neil flats out of the blinds. Flop comes J97 , and Neil check raises me. I contemplate 4betting here for value but I felt that I would be turning my hand face up, and would be folding out worse hands and only getting action from better. I flat. Turn comes a J, I feel almost certain I am now dead, and the turn goes check check. Neil lids a brick on turn, a dwell for a few minutes, I know I need to fold but just took my time going through it. Neil isn't bluffing in this spot, and I really can't beat much that has checkraised the flop at this stage. I fold, and Neil told me later that he had JT so check raised the flop with top pair and a gutshot, slowed down on the turn in case I have AJ/KJ, and naturally value bets the river. I am down to 15k.
Doubled to 30k with AA over QQ where I was pleased that I got three streets of value on a pretty scary board.
I open ATo/s from mid position, Neil flat calls on the button, and Vicky calls out of the blinds. Board comes AA9, and I am certain I have the best hand at this point, I figure Neil would 3bet a bigger Ace on the button. Check, I check, and Neil checks back. This is a clear mistake from me, I should be betting this flop close to 100% when I have missed, if I have an underpair or if I do indeed have a Ace. I got too tricky, and if anything telegraphed that I have an Ace because it is such a good board to cbet that I only really check an Ace. Turn 5, and having made an error on the flop, I'm happy enough to check here to at least keep a consistent story about supposedly being weak, and hope that Neil will fire with his air having been checked to twice. Leading is possibly better here but it is less clear cut than on the flop in my opinion. Neil does bet, but asks me how much I have before doing so. I'm not sure if that's significant but I took it to mean that he was strong. Vicky gets out of the way, and I call. The river is a T, and I have the nuts. Again, I think that leading is maybe better but I do get the sense he is strong and decide that I will go for a river checkraise, he bets 3.3k, and make it 10k. At this point Neil starts talking and I obviously stare into space, shuffling my chips. He says there is only one hand he can put me on that beats him. He obviously knows me well, and would know that I am basically never bluffing here, on this type of board particularly, people in general rarely check raise the river as a bluff. The decision takes an age, and runs in to the break. Eventually he folds A5 face up, for the 3rd nuts. I was stunned. This is a fold that an internet kid will never make, even if I am never bluffing, I could be value owning myself with a worse house, specifically TT. However, Neil has quite simply read me perfectly, and made a fold that only a live pro could make, and I just have to take my hat off and say I got owned. My line isn't right in the hand anyway, and it plays out the way it does because of my mistake in not leading the flop and simply bet, bet, betting. Anyway, I win the pot but have 40k instead of what should really be 60k.
I open with 77 from mid, and Flushy shoves a short stack on the button with AJ. I call it off but lose the flip. I lose a couple of other small pots, I'm back to 25k.
The table breaks again, and I now have Stuart Rutter, Ollie Schaffmann, Channing, and Jamie Burland. I haven't played with Stuart but I am aware that he is a good, thinking player. Ollie I know well, and is a loose, aggressive player that puts a lot of pressure on preflop. Neil, I know obviously. Jamie, I know best of all, we talk poker all of the time over skype and is most similar to me, tight aggressive, but capable of switching gears.
300/600 75a, I open AKss UTG to 1500 out of my 25k stack. Folds to Neil who 3bets to 4.1k in the small blind. Neil is simply never, ever doing this light. I'm not saying that he doesn't 3bet light, he does, but it would more likely be while in position and versus a loose opener, which in this situation, I am not. I really put him on JJ+, and AK. I'm about 42% versus that range, 43% if you include TT, and if I have any fold equity whatsoever then it can't be too bad to get it in here. I make it 9.5k, Neil ships and I call it off, hoping to see QQ but unsurprised when I see KK, and I brick out. GG me, out in 39th.
Well done to all of the guys that made runs in the Main, to Joe Roberts for binking a side event and to David Docherty and Ollie for cashing the HR. It's a really great team that we have now at Black Belt and I just want to put it out there to all of them that we make an effort to work together to improve, to support each other, to travel together, and at the end of the day to have a relaxed bloody beer.