samedi 14 août 2010

No money in poker, everyone's solid

My first European Poker Tour event ended disappointingly after seven hours of play. My opponents were no one you would recognize, but they were very tough nonetheless, almost all of them. I made tons of small mistakes which added up. I got lots of good hands, but didn't get paid off, lost at the showdown, or got them in such tricky spots that I was unable to win with them. I never made a flush or a straight. I played very tight. I never had an easy spot to play, one of those Aces vs Kings matchups, or flush vs flush, no hand that played itself. I had to fight for every chip, and lost most of those battles. I was below the starting stack for the entire day, save for maybe ten minutes. And when I finally got in the perfect spot, the one that could put me back on the right track, I busted out, victim of a 3-outer on the river.

The numerous media people and friends who were rooting for me in Tallinn asked me after wards if I enjoyed the experience, despite the poor result. I told them it was akin to get a spanking from your mistress in a no tel motel on a rainy Thursday night. Your ass hurts, but you still get a kick out of it. I enjoyed the mental stimulation that came with all the difficult decisions I had to make, and stayed positive the entire time, despite never being really in a good position. For the first time, I wasn't even upset after busting out. Maybe there was a sense of relief at being out, I don't know.

What made things great was the tons of support I received before, during and after the tournament. Thanks to all of you who dropped a word on Twitter, Facebook, sent an email, an SMS, patted me on the back... Save for this scandinavian reporter who showed up at my table and gave me a laugh, saying “You, playing a tournament ? So funny !”, within earshot of the entire table. Thanks for the table image, buddy.

And at least, I got the chance to be interviewed by my friend and famous poker hostess Gloria Balding for PokerNews... Well worth the €4,250 if you ask me.

Blinds : 50/100. My stack : 30,000

I take my seat at table 11, which is slowly filling up with players. Stereotypes helps to make your first assessment of the competition. The guys I'm facing to start my first EPT are all unknown (good thing), and all young (bad thing). The partial seat draw info posted outside the tournament area tells me I'm playing with one Swede, one Estonian (only a handful entered the event), one Polish, and one Belgian. There's also a Frenchman, Gregory, sporting Winamax colors, as I do, too. An amateur player who qualified on the site. Since I'm not good enough at poker to qualify online for a big poker tournament, my only way of playing was to sell a big share of my action to various friends. Thanks all for giving me your trust and your money. It meant a lot to me.

Thomas Kremser says « Shuffle up and deal » on the microphone, it's my 38th EPT, but the first as a player. I'm nervous and excited. I have no idea what's gonna happen. I hope to run good, and that I won't make stupid mistakes. My heart is racing as I play my first hand, calling a UTG+1 raise on the button with pocket Sevens. Flop is 862 off and I call a 500 c-bet. Turn is a 10, I call another bet, 1,100. River is a meaningless 2, and my opponent completes his 3-barreling by betting 2,200. At this point I don't think I beat anything anymore. Given my fast flop and turn calls, the guy must think I'm gonna call the river also. So he can only betting with a better hand than mine, right ? I fold.

Then I raise in mid-pos with Q9 of clubs, get called in three places, and the flop is 853 of hearts. No reason to c-bet here in a multiway pot, I check/fold. UTG, I raise 275 with 76 of spades, and the Winamax frenchie reraises to 900 on the button. I call and check/fold again on a Q83 offsuit flop, no spades. Looks like I'm setting up a weak image. Not what I had in mind. One orbit later, UTG raises 300. I'm UTG+1 with pocket Tens and I flat call. The nit in me is not about to overplay a middle pair right at the beginning of my first €4,250 tournament. The big blind calls as well, and the flop is 955 offsuit. This is good, right ? The BB checks. Preflop raiser bets 600. I call only to see the BB check/raising to 2,200. PFR folds, and I can't see any other option than folding as well. His line doesn't make much sense, it looks like a bluff with air to make PFR fold his As-K and me fold the mid-pair I represent, but finding out is gonna cost me a lot. I fold. Later, I call a raise on the cutoff with 98 of hearts and see a 3-way J86 flop with two diamonds. Again, I opt for the weakest line by folding to a c-bet, despite having flopped a little something. I should have called, lots of scare cards would have slowed down the action on the turn. I'm starting to think this report is gonna get me some abuse by the people who put me in. But I'm trying to write an honest recap, so... So be it.

Blinds : 75/150. My stack : 25,450

Not the best start ! I haven't won a single hand yet. I'm about to when I defend my big blind with AT of spades against a hi-jack raise. The flop is JTT with two clubs. Nice. I check, and my opponent checks as well. I bet 350 on the 7 turn – it's way not enough, I know, the pot was about 1,000 large at that point. Anyway, he calls. River is another 7, I have a full-house and bet 750. Should have been 1,500 if my bet-sizing had been correct on the turn. He calls, and mucks upon seeing my hand.

Then I fold KQ off from the SB after a raise from early and a reraise from the cutoff. I limp K7 of diamonds on the cut-off and fold after a small blind raise. Then I fold a lot and we go on break.

Blinds : 100/200. My stack : 26,575

I come back from the break a little late and miss a couple of hands. I find pocket Fours UTG and raise to 525. I'm called by the solid Swedish player seated directly on my left. Flop is AQ7 with two spades. I decline the c-bet, and he checks as well. I try a 650 steal on the 9 of spades turn, but he calls. We check the 6 river, and he shows me KQ of clubs for the win.

Seat one, a decent player, raises to 500 from early position. I call on the hijack with A4 of diamonds. The big blind calls. Flop is A62 off with one diamond. Seat 1 c-bets 900, I call and we're heads-up. Turn is another 6 that brings a second spade. He checks, I check as well. River is a King. He checks and I bet 1,500. He snap calls and shows AQ offsuit : I lucked out a split pot, and saved chips since I would have bet lots of rivers here.

The Winamax player (Gregory) raises to 525 from early position. I call in mid-pos with pocket Tens again. See, I get dealt lots of pocket pairs but never manage to win a pot. It will be the case again here. Seat 1 calls from the big blind, and the flop is K86 offsuit. Gregory c-bets 900 and I call. We're heads-up. Turn is an Ace, a second spade. He checks, I check. River is an 8 of spades. He bets 1,500. Why would I be ahead here ? I fold. Dammit.

I get dealt Queens. Surely there's a way I'm gonna finally win with a pair, right ? The worst player at the table raises to 600 from early position... Wait a minute, let me clarify about the choice of words. The whole table was amazingly solid. It was a whole new universe for me, my previous “big” comps had buy-in ranging from €500 to €1,500. In Tallinn my opponents weren't all world class, but they all knew what they were doing to some extent. This guy here was just the least good of all, he was calling 3-bets ouf of position too often. Anyway, he raises to 600 from EP, and I 3-bet to 1,900. Alas, he folds this time. As you can see, I know how to make money with my monsters. Fuck this.

The cut-off raises to 500. I call on the button with A2 of clubs. The BB calls. Flop is A53 with one club. Not bad. I call a 1,000 c-bet and we're heads-up. Turn is a K of spades. Check/check. River is a 2. He checks, I bet 2,100 with my two pairs, he folds.

photo : Lina Olofsson / PokerStarsBlog Suède

Blinds : 150/300. My stack : 26,250

One guy tries a raise to 525, he hasn't noticed the blinds have went up. Therefore, he's instructed by the dealer to make a min raise. I call on the cut-off with QJ of clubs. Flop is Q53 with one club. He checks, I bet 375 (again, not enough), he calls. Turn is a 7, we check. River is an 8, he checks, I bet 1,000, he snap-folds.

The next hand is one of the most important I played during my short-lived tournament, I think... Experts, let me know what you would have done. UTG, the Swedish player raises UTG. UTG+1 calls. Seat 1 reraises to 2,400. Since the tournament started, he's proven himself to be quite an active player, but not too active either. Let's say he's mixing it up well, playing like good tournament players should in my opinion. I'm on the big blind with pocket Jacks. Another hideous spot, isn't it ? I have about 27K, the Swede got me covered by a few thousand, and Seat 1 got 22K to start the hand. All things considered, we all have the same stack, or so I assume. What do you do ? I opt to flat call, and so does the Swede. UTG+1 fold, and we're three-handed on the 984 flop with two spades. There's 7,500 or so in the middle. I check, and my two opponents do as well. Interesting. Turn is a 7 of hearts. I check again. The Swede bets 4,500. Seat 1 calls quickly. I dwell for thirty seconds and fold sheepishly. River is a 6 of spades, completing a flush draw. Both players check. Swede turns over three of a kind with pocket Nines, and Seat 1 mucks. OK, so I was a loser as soon as the flop came, and made the right fold on the turn. But could I have won the hand by 4-betting preflop ? Was it a good option ? I'll never know what Seat 1 had here... But he can't possibly have AA, KK or QQ, right, since he checked on the flop ? Maybe Jacks, like me ? Shit, I hated this hand. Another pair loses, and my stack is desperately staying below average.

I raise to 750 on the cut-off with A9 of diamonds, the Swede calls on the button, flop is AQ8 off with one diamond, I c-bet 1,025 and he folds. Then Ace-King from early position (again, I get lots of good starting hands), which I raise to 775. Button calls, he's the best player at the table in my opinion, very aggressive. Flop is QT8 with two hearts, and I have none. Shitty spot again. I check, he bets, and I fold like the fish I am. NEXT hand, I get Aces, and raise to 775, still from early position. The same player calls me from the cut-off. Flop is K87 offsuit, and instead of check/raising, I c-bet and win the pot. Combined, those hands are bad, I played them face up. I should have CR the second one to get a bit more respect on future hands.

Blinds : 150/300, ante 25. My stack : 25,650

I can't seem to get above my starting stack, which is now worth less than 100BBs, plus there are the antes to worry about now. Back from the second break, I see an incredible hand where a guy (the one whom against I laid down TT against when he CR'd a 955 flop) ships his 40K stack on a King high flop with just an 8-high flush draw. The good player in Seat 10 sighs and call with a set of Deuces, and the river completes the other guy's draw. Amazing.

Next I raise UTG to 725 with AQ of clubs. Seat 1, now short-stack (kinda, 10K) calls from the hi-jack. The BB calls as well. Flop J33 offsuit, no clubs. I c-bet 1,400, and get called by Seat 1 only. Turn is another 3. We check. River is a Q, I lucked out the full-house and most likely have the winner... I check, still. He bets 2,600, and nitty that I am, I don't raise. I flat call and he shows Ace-Jack. Another hand atrociously played. I'm lucky he had a good hand. I should have bet on the river, obviously, since he would have called with lots of pocket pairs, pocket pairs that he would have checked back. Jeez. No happy with all those small mistakes I'm making, but I got a stack above 30,000 for the first time in the tournament.

Someone raises to 775 from mid-pos. I'm next to him on the hi-jack with AK off. I don't raise. But not out of nittyness for once (I swear...). Simply, Seat 10 and 1 are in the blinds. They are now short, and good enough to attempt a squeeze with less than premium hands. I'm targeting them. But instead, Swede on CO calls, button calls, and Seat 1 calls on BB. Flop is 8 high with two spades, I have none. Fuck. Seat 1 overbets by going all-in for 5,000. PFR snaps like he's heads-up, he only has pocket Nines (lol at his snap-call), the rest of the players fold including me, Seat 1 turns over 85 of hearts for one pair. Turn is an Ace, shit I could have won this showdown for once, and Seat 1 is out.

I raise AT of clubs from MP, 725 total. I'm called by Seat 10, who has like 9K in front of him. Flop is KJ3, all spades. I c-bet 1,025. He raises to 3,000. I fold. He shows one King. I feel ashamed. He's having fun showing me how good his read on me is. I feel powerless. What am I doing in this tournament ?

Blinds : 200/400, ante 50. My stack : 28,725

Right when a new level begins, my table breaks and I get moved to a new table. Joining me is Seat 10 and Seat 8 from the previous table. Seat 10 stays in Seat 10, while Seat 8 is now in Seat 3. Two on my right is Manuel Bevand, the only Winamax Team Pro player who showed up to play the first EPT of the season. He sporting a 50,000 stack. On my immediate left and right are seated players with at least 90,000 each. This table is way more aggressive than the last one, with more 3-betting. Only redeeming quality : two on my left is a clueless Finnish guy who I'm gonna witness 3-betting, then calling a 4-bet with QJ off, out of position, with a 30,000 stack.

To make things worse, I'm card dead now. So much that I don't play for thirty minutes straight. Nothing to do with K2, Q5 and 84 twenty times in a row. Then I find 98 of spades UTG, first remotely decent hand since I sat down at this new table. I raise to 1,000. Obviously, the clueless Finn min-reraises me, and I'm forced to call when action comes back to me, then to check/fold on a 433 offsuit flop. Fuckety fucking fuck.

Then I wait another half-hour (not kidding) and raise to 1,000 with 54 of clubs. I'm in mid-pos. I get a call from the Finnish fish and the button. Flop is T96 and I check/fold for the 183th time today. A few minutes later I'm UTG+1 with KJ of diamonds, and manage to steal the blinds. Yay. Level 6 is over.

I head to the dinner break and have a sit-down with ElkY and Arnaud Mattern. They give me some pointers, well Arnaud is at least, ElkY just spends one hour making fun of my plays, and I can't blame him.

Blinds : 300/600, ante 50. My stack : 23,525

I have 40 big blinds. Still plenty of room to butcher hands, check this : first hand, a tight player with a short-stack (like 16K) raises from late position. I call on the big blind with pocket Nines. Flop is J53 with two spades. You already know what I'm gonna do... I check/fold. Another one, right after : I get KQ off on the small blind, everybody folds to me... I limp in. The big stacked BB raises, and again, I fold. I simply had no idea what else to do. Someone raises from early position, and I don't wanna call in position with QJ of spades. I would have flopped nothing anyway...

In short, I spend another hour folding and getting slowly blinded off. Then I get pocket Queens... Big stack on my right raises to 1,700 from early position. I 3-bet small, 4,000 total. Action is back to him, and he tanks. Clueless dealer thinks he called, and start dealing the flop, enough for everyone to see a King of clubs. What ??!! A floor is called over. He makes the proper ruling (this is the EPT, I was not too worried) : if we have to see a flop, the deck will be shuffled again, King included. Anyway, the guy folds, and very next hand, I get dealt Queens again. This time Manuel Bevand raises to 1,500. I 3-bet to 4,500, and he folds as well. To sum it up : I'm card dead, and when I finally get a hand, I get no action since everybody has figured out how tight I am.

Blinds : 400/800, ante 75. My stack : 22,625

I steal the blinds on the button with 86 of clubs. Seat 10 busts, and is replaced by a guy with 140,000, and I steal the blinds again, from the hi-jack with KQ offsuit. I try to steal once more with A2 offsuit, but fold to a shove from a short stack, but not short enough to warrant a call.

Then, a few orbits later, a few minutes before the last level of the day is set to begin, I play my last hand of the Tallinn EPT. The hand right before it, Manuel Bevand doubled up to 70,000 when he cracked Aces with KJ offsuit... (He 3-bet from the BB, the HJ raiser trapped by just calling, and all the money went it on a KJ3 flop). I'm UTG with pocket Kings. I raise to 1,900. Everybody folds to Manuel who 3-bets 6,300 from the small blind. I think about it for fifteen seconds and push my 20,500 stack in the middle.

He instantly calls, then asks how many chips I got. For those who don't know, this sequence (“I call, how much ?”) is jokingly known as a “ElkY” in French poker lingo. Manuel turns over Ace-King offsuit.

There is 42,000 in the middle. Biggest pot I played today, obviously, that could set me up nicely to finish Day 1 above a starting stack, not the best result ever, but given all that happened today, I would be content with it.

The flop comes nothing, brick, blank. The turn is a rag. The river is an Ace of spades. I literally jump out of my chair in a reflex of disgust. I shake Manuel's hand, and part ways with my first European Poker Tour event.

So yeah, the whole thing was enjoyable, but quite painful. I was definitely outmatched in this field, I'll admit it. But the lack of good spots and easy hands made my task a lot harder. To go deep in such a tournament, you definitely need lots of hands like that. You need to flop sets once in a while, you need your draws to get there, and you need not to get outdrawn...

Do I want more of this ? Yes... But the next live tournament I'll play will have a lesser buy-in and an easier field, and I'll put my own money. Playing with other people's money prove quite stressful, especially since the competition the toughest I faced. All in all, I don't regret my decision to play. It was interesting. I learned a lot and can't wait to try again... Till I finally make a big score.

3 commentaires:

Pedro Pok a dit…

Arffff !!! Dommage.

J'en viens à douter de l'utilité du porter un bracelet jaune "Livestrong" pendant un tournoi de poker.

C'est un sympbole sympa (j'ai constaté que tu l'arborais sur l'interview), mais visibilement c'est un ustensile avec lequel on se fait craquer "KK".

Moi au DSO de Dublin c'était contre "K10os", je trouve que c'est encore plus la classe (lol).

Ou alors, rien à voir avec tout ça, "manub" est juste un gros chattard de merde (je plaisante).

++ et bonne saison EPT.

Andy a dit…

You write very well. You also play poker well ;)

Dethier Eric a dit…

Nice intervieuw on pokernews.

Sick river my friend. AK was great with this flop for him.

I have a question for you: why did you write your experience on your blog in English?

You have mayby write the reason on your post. Sorry if i hadn't see it.