Raw Power

Raw Power

Monday, 1 April 2013

Nicky Powerreports from the Irish poker scene

A philosophical paradigm shift - UKIPT Cork

My exit from the UKIPT Cork bothered me. It was the second-last level of eight played on the day. I was low-stacked (18 bigs) on what looked a tough, active table with plenty chips. I decided to punt my stack in a bad spot with pocket twos.

There’s nothing unusual there. You know the Father Ted episode set on the aeroplane where Dougal’s finger hovers over the red button with the “do not press” sign. Well, historically, I’m a bit like that with the ducks. I’ve knocked myself out of so many tournaments with them over the years they’ve become like my own red button, but it really was a bad spot this time.

Later, a couple of things brought home to me how stupid it was to punt those chips. First was the fact that Tommy Finneran won the event having returned for day two with 7,500 chips, fewer than I lost in that hand. Second was remembering that the only UKIPT I have cashed in to date was the first ever one, in Galway, which was a €2,200 buy-in. I described my starting table in that 2009 tournament in my blog at the time as “the toughest starting table I ever played on, and I didn’t know a player on it”. As it turned out, it contained the then unknown Jake Cody, Toby Lewis and Chris Brammer. The table never broke and I got nothing going all day, scraping through with 40% of my starting stack.

I finished 15th in that tournament, never having chips but losing a race on the last two tables for 1.5x average. Basically I gave myself a chance in an event I never really should have had a chance in. Fast-forward to last month and I showed an opposite mindset because I considered it necessary to take a bad spot to gamble because “it’s a tough table”.
That may seem long-winded way of describing losing 18 bigs in a 400-player field but, as I said at the start, the hand has been bothering me and represents to me how my mindset has changed for the worse over the intervening years.

I did follow events closely online over the remainder of the event and was delighted to see Tommy Finneran take down a major Irish title. My first memory of Tommy is from the 2007 Irish Open and him 6-bet shoving on, and showing A-3 to, Peter Eastgate. You have to remember this was 2007 when this wasn’t a prominent a play, and Tommy was a quiet, rural-looking lad, so it made a bit of an impression on me.

We’ve been good mates ever since, travelling together and sharing a house in Vegas in 2010. Tommy has been a constant in the latter stages of big Irish tournaments over the last six years, only to run bad late. To say he deserved this one would be an understatement.

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Super Poker Event

Entrant numbers have been fewer than last year for every game played in Ireland so far for 2013 and the Super Poker event was no different. Well, maybe it was more visible here, as the field fell from over 800 players last year to just over the 300 mark this time round.

I don’t think the cause of the attendance decline is the popularity of the game; it’s just that, with more games to choose from and disposable income being so tight in general, recreational players are becoming more selective where they spend their hard-earned.

The Super itself was a lovely game. I think the structure here was a perfect fit for the buy-in. Two days is enough for anything under a €500 entry and there were heaps of play here with a 30k starting stack and a 45-minute clock after the first four levels.

The 30k stack came in handy as I lost 25% of it on the first hand I played in the tournament. I picked up K-K in the small blind and 3-bet after Dara O’Kearney had bet over a limper. The Q-10-10 Flop made me think I was only behind two hands in his range. After I bet the flop and bet-called his turn raise, I decided he held one of those two hands and check-folded the river to be shown flopped quads.

John Keown, who tops this Irish Rankings for 2013, was running amok on the starting table for the first five levels, getting himself up to 150k. At dinner I couldn’t refuse his offer to swap a few percentages as I held 30k. An hour later, John was out, having run kings into aces for a monster pot, and I had 150k. I finished day one just shy of 300k, having peaked at 400k, which was a top-ten stack with 48 players left.

Sunday’s draw saw Thomas “The Bomber” Nolan and Ollie Boyce on my table. I love playing with Bomber – for his company and also the table dynamic he creates. It’s also nice to see Ollie back playing a bit again. Things didn’t go well, however – nothing major, just no hands and no pots – so I was back in the pack after a couple of levels.

I was a little surprised when the TD, Nick O’Hara, announced we were hand-for-hand on the bubble. I read the clock as 28 paid not 36. A couple of players on my table said they were of the same opinion so it must have been ambiguous enough.

Nick announced there was the potential to pay the bubble and they had a way of deciding this that involved each player getting a red and black card. If you agree to pay the bubble, you give the dealer the red card; if you disagree, the black. I objected verbally before any of that nonsense started. Not that I wouldn’t pay the bubble in this instance, but rather there was zero chance that the 37 players would agree and I just wanted to save the time.

With the binds rising and no hands, I was nursing a 15 BB stack when we reached the last two tables. At this stage of a tournament it only takes a couple of pots and you’re among the chip leaders but it wasn’t to be. I shoved my 15 blinds (225k) holding 5-5 over an early-position limper who called for half his stack holding K-10os. When the cards are on their back you know it’s one of those 50/50s that you have zero chance of winning.
I watched the live stream from home of the final table. It was interesting, as I had played with the entire cast list at some stage over the tournament. The three Irish finalists, Daryl McLennan, Sammy O’Brien and Jamie Browne, put up a formidable fight to keep the title on home soil, filling second to fourth spots, respectively. The event was won, however, by English player Craig Simpson. Craig played a great final table and took home €20,000 along with the trophy.

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Tourney Pick

As ever there is a lull in calendar in the immediate aftermath of the Irish Open. This means April is pretty barren for the home-focused tournament aficionado. The only tournament where an Irish player can pick up a five-figure score over the month is the ever-popular Fitzwilliam End of Month Event.

This €250+20 one-day event takes place on the last Thursday of the month, the 25th for April. The Fitzwilliam Casino is arguably Ireland’s premier card room and the tournament always attracts a bumper turnout.

Tags: Nicky Power, Irish poker