dimanche 21 décembre 2008

RGC Final : short and bittersweet

This recap for the final installment of the Run Good Challenge II is coming quite late – eight days after the tournament took place, in fact. Truth is that I've been busy with several things this week : working at live events, travelling, working at the office, catching up on sleep, sorting out domestic issues, doing insane amounts of laundry, getting ready for Christmas, and packing for my next trip – which is gonna be, thank God at last, a holliday trip.

Anyway, my performance during the preliminary legs of RGC II granted me a seat at the final, among with eight other players – an interesting mixture of friends, colleagues and fellow bloggers from the other side of the Atlantic : Change100, Jason Kirk, Matthew Showell, Michelle Lewis, the Poker Shrink, Amy Calistri, KidDynamite and Up4Poker. We were all competiting for a $2,500 prize-pool, spread over six players, meaning only three of us would come home empty-handed. As you will soon find out, I ended up being part of the latter group.

Again, I was busy working when the tournament started. I had already played the second leg while covering the Paris stop of the France Poker Tour, but this time it was even trickier. I was in Prague, Czech Republic doing commentary in French for the live broadcast of the European Poker Tour final table. It's one thing playing a bit of online poker while writing updates. Only the most attentive readers will notice you're publishing less content because you're busy playing on your laptop. But doing vocal commentary for a live broadcast requires 100% concentration. You have to pay attention to the players on screen, how much they bet and raise, which cards come on the flop, whose turn it's to act – everything. You have to talk about it while it happens, giving the audience a clear picture of what's going on, and also provide analysis : who's on tilt after losing a big pot ? Who's on fire, raising hand after hand ? Who has the upper hand in this game ?Granted, I had a co-commentator sitting next to me giving help, but the task was nontheless quite demanding.

The result was that I played really tight from the start – much tighter than usual. Despite the excellent structure, I didn't have the time to raise junk hands and construct complicated bluffs, nor pay attention to the table flow. My eyes were firmly set on the Prague final table, with only a few seconds of lapse on the laptop screen to fold most of the hands I was being dealt. Therefore, I managed to fold hands like AJo UTG, AKo (after one reraise from Matt), or KJo (after one reraise from Change100) The few times I saw the flop with a small pair or high cards, I immediatly folded after a single bet – not that I would have done differently had I been focusing on the game. I still managed to semi-bluff a small pot off KidDynamite and Amy, betting on the turn with the nut flush draw.

The first notable hand of my tournament happened on Hand #20. While a flurry of French railbirds invaded the chat-box after I advertised the tournament on the EPT live broadcast, I proceed to reraise with Jacks after Amy opened for three times the big blind. She folded, unlike Michelle who called. We both checked every street on a threatening AdKc7d-5d-4h board, and I took down the pot against her JToff. I was quite puzzled she elected to see a flop out of position with a hand as bad as JT offsuit, but I was also relieved she didn't go for the bluff option on later streets, as I would have released my Jacks quickly.

That hand lifted my stack to 3,240 out of the 3,000 starting stack. I quickly lost my profit after a failed bluffing attempt with pocket threes on an AdQdJs flop, giving up the pot to Up4Poker. The same player then proceeded to bluff me off a nice pot, when he strongly bet his Eights on the turn and river after having checked the AA3 flop. I called on the turn with my Nines but folded on the river. I'm wondering if Up4Poker thought he was value betting or just bluffing. In that particular case, he was indeed bluffing as I folded the best hand.

You might remember the key hand that tremendously helped me winning the second leg of RGC II three weeks ago... All in on the turn with Queens against KidDynamite's Aces, I spiked one of my only two outs to double up very early in the tournament. Well, the Kid got his revenge during the final, by knocking me out in 9th position. Again, I was all-in on the turn, except this time I was a clear favorite. We all know there's no justice in poker – well, maybe this time there was, as the Kid pulled out a miracle to eliminate me and go on to win the RGC Final.

Here's how the hand went on : KidDynamite raised in middle position, as he always did when he got the chance. Michelle called behind him, as she always did when she got the chance. I have AJ offsuit and make the unsual decision to re-raise right here, right now. In general, I wouldn't take such an agressive line with a weakish hand like Ace-Jack offsuit, but two factors favored this decision : KidDynamite has been pretty active up to this point, and Michelle has shown she's not afraid to call reraises out of position with trash hands. In short : I could well have the best hand here.

Both players call, and I find a very good flop : Ad-9c-4c. The only hands I'm afraid of are AQ, 99 and 44. I rule out AA since one of them is in my hand and one of the others is on the flop. AK is also quite unrealistic since it would have been worth a reraise before the flop. KidDynamite and Michelle both check, and I make another weird decision by checking behind, despite the presence of two clubs on the flop.

The turn isn't great : a five, putting a third club on the board. KidDynamite elects to bet 900 in the 1,350 pot. Michelle folds and the big decision is up to me. I have only 1,685 chips left, meaning I can either give up this big pot, or risk my tournament life right here. I have no idea what KidDynamite has – he's representing a strong hand here, one the three hands I mentionned above. But I have already invested 25% of my chips in this pot, and I could well have the best hand. I go all-in for 785 chips more as I adress vocal prayer on the EPT live feed.

KidDynamite doesn't snap calls, a sure sign I made the right decision. But again, he's priced in to call, having bet so much on the turn to begin with. He calls with pocket 3's, including the three of clubs. Having noticed the lack of action on the flop, the Kid decided to turn his hand into a bluff by betting heavily on the turn, and is now forced to call after I moved in the rest of my chips, with a hand that could well be dead already.

It was divine justice time. Any club, three or deuce and I was out. Any other card and I was doubling up to more than 5,000 in chips, way enough to grab an early chip-lead.

The river was... a deuce. KidDynamite had made his straight. I was the first player out of the RGC Final.

Sweet justice, some will say, after the bad-beat I put on him two weeks ago. Some others will question the way I played this hand : why didn't you bet on the flop, you idiot ? He would have folded his lousy pair ! Granted, I played this hand in an unorthodox way, but value-wise, it worked perfeclty : I managed to put my chips in as a 2 to 1 favorite for a 100-BB pot.

Oh well, at least I was able to go back to my EPT live duties, having being distracted for only thirty minutes or so before being knocked out.

Let's recap my overall performance during the second edition of the Run Good Challenge II :

- First leg : late arrival, shitloads of connection issues due to being on a train between Lyon and Lille = quick exit, nothing I could do.
- Second leg : on time, playing while working a tournament, lots of luck = easy win.
- Third leg : late arrival, so late I didn't make it in time to register = no show.
- Final : on time, busy working, played tight, and put all my chips as a 70% favorite after 30 minutes = quick exit.

All in all, quite a satisfactory experience, given the fact that I made a nice $600 profit for a $0 investment. Thanks again to my friends over at PokerListings.com for setting up this cool series of tournaments.

Congratulations to all who played, and especially to the eventual winner KidDynamite ! And, since it's gonna be my last post written in English before a while, let me wish you a happy holliday time. May all of you be well and have a nice Christmas. I miss (most of) you ! For those around NYC during NYE, drop me a note - I'll be visiting the big apple at the end of the year before heading to the Bahamas for the PCA. To the rest, hope to see you soon on the tournament trail !

3 commentaires:

Anonyme a dit…

bonnes fetes, et enjoy les vacances !!!


Jennifer a dit…

Happy holidays to you, Benjo! Be safe and enjoy your travels. :)

Anonyme a dit…

Joyeux Noel, Benjo!