Friday, 22 February 2008

Gala Casino Leicester Live Warmup

In light of my qualifying success I have decided that I need to brush up on some of my live skills. I have only played twice live since Las Vegas last year and that was in two poorly structured £10 buy in events which are basically all in or fold from the off (and I didn't cash in either of them). So last night I went to my local haunt, the Gala Casino in Leicester.

The tournament was a £20 buy in for 3,000 chips plus a £20 add on of another 3,000 chips with 40 minute blinds starting at 50/100. At least this offers quite a bit of play, 37 players and a £1,200 prize pool paying to 5th place.

Well to say my game was rusty from the start would be an under statement. I played very poorly in the first level losing a 6th of my stack holding 77. It had folded round to the small blind and he raised to 300 chips, I re-raised him to 800 which he flat called. The flop came 6,J,A rainbow - horrible. He checked it to me and I continuation bet to which he went all in. In hindsight I probably should have took a free card to see if I could hit my set and check fold from there if I missed.

I then started to settle in and get a read on a couple of players. The guy to my left was looking at his cards as soon as he got them and looked ready to muck them if they were rubbish, so I stole a few chips from him. The woman to his left was a loose calling station and would call with overcards and mid or low pairs to the board. I just couldn't hit a top pair to take her chips to the river. Then just before the table got broken up I got QQ UTG and managed to double up after my pre flop raise and subsequent all in was called by a guy that would all in on any draw. Luckily they held up when he went for his flush draw after the flop.

So at the break I was around average chips with about 24 players left. From there on I was positioned between a loose aggressive to my right and a chip leader to my left. The cards went completely dead and I watched my stack hover at around 7000 chips. Then came my exit hand.

Blinds of 600/1,200 (average 18,000 with 12 players left). The loose aggressive to my right folds and I look down at my cards to see AA.

"Great, I have AA and the guy who has been consistently raising, stopping me from doing anything (unless with complete trash) decides to fold. So what to do? I don't just want the blinds here! I need some chips!" I have a quick look round the table to see what the players look like based on the ones that have already looked at there cards. "No one looks particularly interested, except the tight playing small blind who is leaning forward waiting for me to make a move. Is a min raise here gonna look strange with my chip stack? Possibly, i haven't played a hand for a while. When I have it has been all in and I have had no resistance. If I all in I get the blinds... I don't just want the blinds! Those chips will be gone again in two more hands. OK I'm risking it, I'm limping in. Hopefully someone will raise all in but I doubt it. I think I'm going to be against the SB & BB, well I still have 70% chance right?" And I call in 1,200 chips.

As I thought it folds to the small blind who completes and the BB checks. The flop comes Js,6d,4s. The SB instantly checks and the BB leans forwards suddenly looking interested.

"OK SB has probably missed or small paired with low to mid connectors, but the BB looks interested. Normally he looks at his cards first before checking and then folds to any bet. This time he hasn't looked at his cards, leaned forwards and checked. I think he has a piece of that!. Right, whats the pot? 3,600. Whats the point of pushing all in here? I might just as well have stole the blinds. No I'm gambling with the best hand, I want his chips. I'm going to bet 3,000, this leaves me with 2,800 behind. He'll be priced in for the river. I want him all in if he's trap checking with a J. I am going to have to risk him seeing all 5 cards if he is flushing. I need to double up here if I'm going to make the money."

I bet 3,000 chips. The SB instantly mucks. The BB then picks up his cards and looks at them again before announcing all in. I instantly call. He is holding T7 of spades for the flush draw. The turn gives him his draw and I am out of the tournament.

So what about my play here?

In a way I was not disappointed because the hand panned out exactly as I wanted it to (other than losing it). I committed myself to the gamble pre flop by just limping in. I didn't feel with my table position and chip stack I would ever make the money by taking the blinds. I am sure if I had put all 7000 in pre flop both SB and BB would have folded. But by gambling for a possible 15,000 - 21,000 chips I had much more play and leverage with which to push for the final table and the money. Then hindsight says I should have just took the blinds, who knows I could have had AA again next hand! What would I do next time under similar circumstances. I think I will play AA the standard way, raise then push. Then gamble from there if I have to. I don't make a habit of continuing to do the things that have failed to work before.

Anyway I'd like your input and comments.

Thats it for now. Practice, practice, practice.

Keep it tight!!

Monday, 18 February 2008

Writing down my goals achieves!!!!

Well, what can I say, writing down my goals has worked again. Just 10 days since I posted my goals for 2008 I have qualified for a live tournament. Now its not the WSOP or the EPT. In fact it is quite a bit smaller than that and I don't think I'll get to rub shoulders with any famous players (although they have said there will be bounties so who knows). However it is a live tournament! The event is the Virgin Poker Festival to be held at Aspers Casino in Newcastle on 12th & 13th of April. It is estimated there will be about 230 players and the first prize will be around £7,500.

So how did I qualify?

Well Poker Player magazine held a freeroll in which there were 519 entrants with 1st-10th getting their ticket to Newcastle. I came 17th and got a free entry into the sunday qualifier as did anyone who came 11th-20th.

The Sunday tournament had 114 players and paid tickets up to 11th place. I ended up finishing in the top 11 so have got my ticket for an outlay of .... well nothing (unless you take into acount the cost of my magazine).

The structure looks good and is shown below:

Prize Pool – approx £28,000 (£5000 added by Virgin Poker)
Starting Stack – 10,000
Blind Levels – 40 mins starting at 25/50

This will be the first time I will have played with a starting stack of 10,000 chips on a two day structure, so it is going to be very interesting.

I must say the satisfaction of winning this seat has given me the taste of success and boost to my game that I needed, now I want more. So the GUKPT or the GBPT is definitely my next goal ... oops I've written it down again ... hope the magic of this method continues.

Until later ...

Keep it Tight.

Friday, 8 February 2008

Goals for 2008

About 10-12 years ago I was involved in a team building course where it was stated that over 90% of business people who wrote down their personal goals achieved them. Conversely this figure drops to about 60% business success where clear goals were not defined and written down. The figures may be somewhat out but you get the idea.

Apparently there was a scientific study on this and there is an explanation as to why this might happen. When you think about things you use one side of the brain and when you write things down you use the other. So in the act of writing down your goals or desires they somehow get etched into your psyche by using both sides of the brain and are thus kept for recollection either consciously or sub-consciously. This is the same reason why making notes whilst revising for an exam is encouraged, it gives you a better chance of remembering the facts.

This is something that I have carried with me from that day to this and use this theory in my personal life at regular intervals, and it has to be said that I have achieved over 90% of the things that I have written down to date.

So with that explained I will continue here to write down my poker goals 2008.
Firstly I wanted to set myself some financial goals. To do this I am using one of my previous written down achievements - my other hobby shown below.

I have owned a yacht for about 8 years now, but have only had the one above for approximately 2 years. It probably costs me about £3000 / year to maintain, store and use so this is my first goal. My poker winnings must match (or exceed) my yachting expenses for this season.

Secondly I have to qualify for a substantial live tournament to rub shoulders with some of the professional players in this game. To do this I am going to target the GUKPT via online qualifiers. This is something I did to some extent last year but just kept falling at the final hurdle. I am also going to look at buying into a GUKPT side event if I can get a couple of backers. £300 direct buy in is a little rich for my current tastes, but I have a couple of mates who might be ready to buy a third.
So there are my goals. Short but brief I know but at least I have set some realistic and achievable targets.
Month one has set me off on winning ways for the year, just hope it keeps going the same in the following months.
Thats all for now, back to the grindstone and my passion - the poker tables.
Keep it tight!