ActionJack: Dublin WPT National

ActionJack: Dublin WPT National

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Flairy adventures with Paul Jackson

The original players of the Star City “Actionjack” Card Room round-of-each cash game decided it would be a good idea to hire a luxury coach to drive us to Dublin, via the ferry, so we could play Chinese poker all the way there and back.

I arrived at Star City in the early hours and, while waiting for the luxury coach, fancied going to McDonald's for a Bacon and Egg McMuffin. Apparently, however, as it was 5.15am, you can only go in through the drive-through. The obvious answer was to hire a taxi to drive us through and I can confirm I still have a 100% success rate at backgammon in McDonald's.

So we leave Star City at 6.30am and the ferry leaves Holyhead at 2.10pm. What a stupid idea this was! We could have flown by plane for £50 and it would have taken about 50 minutes. Instead, we paid £2,500 for a coach that took 11 hours – not much plus-EV in that decision.

Claudio's trip did not start with good signs of running well as, when entering his room and wandering into the bathroom, he came upon an existing, apparently double-booked guest having a poo. He was swiftly moved to an alternative room.

After a very nice dinner, we went to play €1/€2 PLO, but the 5% rake, with a €15 cap per hand, produced a feeling akin to unwanted bum sex and we didn't participate in that for too long. The person running the cash games told us that the house rules (this was a function room in a hotel) didn't permit our game of choice (4/5/6 card PLO), so we all got out of our seats to go and play Chinese poker. Suddenly the house rules became more flexible.

We requested our own private game (there were literally zero cash games running at the time) which allowed rabbit-hunting, 4, 5 or 6 card PLO and a reduced rake, capped at €7 per hand. They very kindly agreed to this, but then as soon as a couple of locals joined the game they changed all the things they had agreed to back to their normal system. We didn’t play this for very long and went to the Fitzwilliam Club, which is very nice and very reasonable in terms of rake.

The following day one of the more senior, diplomatic and distinguished members of our group had a quiet and respectful word with the cash game guru advising him that we all wanted to play there but the rake-charge of €15 per hand in a €1/€2 game was simply too high (with us lot playing, most hands reached the cap level) and the cash guru was very understanding and reasonable, offering the response: “If you are going to threaten me then go and play elsewhere.”

So we did. By the last day, the rake-charge on all cash tables was capped at €7 per hand, so I assume the people in charge had received a quick lesson in the economics of supply and demand, or maybe a higher authority had told them not to be such greedy bastards.

In this particular €1/€2 game, we had the top-quality MTT player Marc Wright, and I knew that, with our “Actionjack Card Room” cash game players at the table, at some point he would have an interesting experience.

In one hand after a little (not unusual) pre-flop action at 6-card PLO, the flop was 8-3-2 rainbow. The first player to act bets 50, I call 50, Ram (“Actionjack” Room committee member) calls the 50, Marc now makes it 250 (the initial bettor has a total of 500-odd and myself and Ram had much bigger stacks) and the initial bettor now moves in for his 500 stack. I fold and Ram calls (with 1,300 behind). Marc now executes his master plan and moves all-in for about €1,800 and naturally Ram calls.

Marc has middle set. The turn is a ten and the river a jack, and Ram declares a straight to win the 4,000-odd (2,000BB) pot. Ram reveals his cards, 2-6-9-T-J-Q. He’d hit runner-runner straight to scoop the pot and Marc was just staring at his hand, trying to work out what he got it in with. A pair of deuces was the answer, with a wrap around, or at least near, the eight.

We started the tournament the next day with a 25k starting stack and blinds at 50/100. Thirty minutes into level one I am watching a large pot develop on the table next to me between Simon Deadman and another player. As the sixth raise is going in, the dealer on my table starts to deal, so I step back to my seat hoping my hand is live, which it is, and that made me very happy as I looked down at two aces. I raise to 300 and everyone folds. The hand in the other table Is now all-in for 50k and Simon turns over aces (he said for that spot he was getting it in lighter than usual, as normally the aces would be the same colour) and his opponent reveals a very “creative” 8-7 double-suited, which has no outs at any point as the board is dealt out.

It must be karma. Because he is a nicer person than me, we get aces at the same time and I win 150 and he has an opponent spazzing out for 25,000 chips.

It must be nice to be Simon Deadman. They say it’s better to be lucky than good, and it is, but its best to be both, and he is. I wrote this on my iPhone notes at the time and Simon went on to win the whole thing.

The dealers here, as in Vegas, refuse to tell players the amount of an opponent’s bet, unless specifically asked, which I find really frustrating to experience and watch. I see absolutely no benefit to the game, as it means, in almost every hand, someone needs to ask, so the game-flow is always slowed down.

You might be able to come up with some thin traditional excuse to give at least some credibility to this procedure but I very much doubt it could ever justify the time unnecessarily wasted in so many hands on every table in every tournament run this way. It was particularly silly for them to operate this rule while giving players green (25) chips to use on a green cloth table.

I find it interesting that all the millions of players playing online (vastly more than play live) are all made aware of the exact amount of every bet they are facing without asking and, to my knowledge, there has never been any crusade to have this apparently offensive situation altered in order to maintain the sanctity and integrity of the game. Maybe they are all too scared to say anything?

Why don’t they pay a software developer to develop a new online poker option which simply confirms a bet has been made, and any player who wants to know the actual bet amount has to request the information by pressing, say, a “reveal” button? I won't be patenting that idea because we all know it’s total bullshit.

Another interesting (probably not the right adjective) rule is that you cannot open-fold in a multi-way pot as it apparently gives information away, even though it is to all opponents at the same time.

Apparently, asking if you are allowed to open-fold in that spot is completely acceptable, but I guess the outrageous advantage given to someone (not sure who) in the first scenario is completely different. In scenario two, I guess you could be sat there with the nuts and ask to fold, which is somehow different to mucking your cards. But if I am in, say, a three-way pot and first to act I am not sure who is advantaged or disadvantaged, and you could easily argue in favour of either player. If I am the second to act I can see the point, and if last to act there us zero justification, as folding on river there cannot affect any betting.

On asking about scenario one, the floor (who was generally very professional) tried to explain the logic, but one of the players piped up to explain it for him. If first-to-act folded, he said, someone may have an advantage, which could be one or the other, depending on the spot. The rule was to encompass all scenarios so you just could not open-fold. This pre-supposed that a rule is even required, a point I totally disagree on. Additionally, you could use that logic to impose any rule where you were able to argue that someone might potentially benefit (even if you could not determine whom) and then impose it in every scenario, even if that potential benefit, in reality, virtually never, ever arose, just as long as the new rule caused ridiculous levels of inconvenience and damage to game flow. Surely we need more logic and sense when imposing rules on all poker players.

Anyway, enough of this old fart’s ramblings and onto actual poker playing. The game started very badly for me when the player who liked to limp-call with J-4 and J-7 off (board J-J-7-6-4 when I had A-J) kept getting there and I flopped a set versus a flush. In this day and age, if you keep flopping top pair with the second-best kicker it’s a bad combo, especially against young people in hats and Dr Dre headphones. All this meant I had lost 80 per cent of my stack by level three.

Eventually I was able to deliberately under-represent my hand (Q-Q) pre-flop versus Mr J-4 and J-7 off, but it didn't matter because he had K-K. Obviously. Sometimes the most effective and optimal way to increase your stack is to spazz out and re-enter the next day, and if that wasn’t your plan you can always pretend it was.

As it happened, the whole way the games were being run tilted me and I didn’t bother re-entering as the thought of giving them any of my juice was too offensive to me, so I went and played cash at the Fitzwilliam (as did the rest of us) and I found that relatively successful and enjoyable all round.

The infamous Claudio, now a European MTT circuit player after his success in the Genting Poker Series Grand Final, was chatting to Daniel Hardy as they played. Daniel was telling of a hand he had played in a previous event where he 5-bet with A-Q, his opponent peeled J-5 out of position and Daniel went broke on a Q-J-5 flop.

For Claudio, this was a red rag to a bull. A few hands later Daniel raised with A-K and, in view of their previous conversation, Claudio felt it might be funny to call with J-5 off. The flop was K-J-5, which didn't work out well for Daniel but was a nice reward for Claudio's “creativity” and appreciation of potentially ironic possibilities. As usual, Claudio’s chip graph looked like a camel’s hump and he was soon playing cash with us.

It is a pity that Ireland, in general, and the Irish players are great fun and good company and the enjoyment of that gets spoiled by a few people greedy for rake.

Tags: paul jackson, action jack