San Remo Day1b

Get into town with time to kill so eat lunch in harbourside fish restaurant where the choice is between seafood spaghetti and seafood risotto. We choose the spaghetti and its delicious and plentiful.  Feels weird being abroad having a great lunch and not drinking booze with it.

So I arrive at my table full of energy and anticipation.  There’s a german guy on my right called Krystoff in a similar mood. He is talkative but I’m not so I put my headphones on although no music is playing. Our table is next to the water cooler – thats useful as its going to be a long day, eight one-hour levels plus breaks with 596 runners starting. Tables are ten-handed. A similar number started day 1a yesterday for 1178 total, making this the biggest tournament ever held in Europe! First prize will be 1.5 million euros.

On my left in seats 3 and 4 are two quiet, serious looking guys who look like poker players I don’t really want to mess with. This first impression is later proved correct. Seat 5 an english guy in his forties who plays in a quite straightforward way, a bit too fond of limping. Seat 6 young Italian plays many hands but able to fold when played  back at. Seat 7 aggressive young scandanavian who turns up late. Seat 8 an Italian businessman who will be the most important player at the table.

The more experienced players will quickly realise that seat 8 has not played a lot of poker. He seems to be making up for lost time, limping in with more than half of his hands and calling any raise with most of them. If he has any piece of the flop he will call all the way down to the river. I do not exaggerate. Fortunately for him he hits quite a lot of hands against players who can’t quite believe how this guy is playing – and they roll their eyes as he rakes another pile. What these players should really be upset about is how they’re paying him off when they know he got there.

The most vocal and obnoxious contributor is the Dutch guy in seat 9 who is the type of player actually quite good at controlling the pot and making bets for value and reading his opponents. Unfortunately for the rest of the table he is equally concerned with chattering and insulting the other players. I grow quite annoyed when he berates seat 8 for another bad play, as educating the Italian businessman at poker would be like turning a tap off – a tap of chips. I tell the dutch guy that he must be a really good player if he doesn’t want people to play bad against him. He shuts up for a bit then pipes up when I call a misdeal after he has been dealt one ace.

Most of the dealers here are local ones and the standard is varied from excellent to poor. I see several misdeals, change given incorrectly and other minor things. I’m concerned that the dealers are given a float to change up the smaller tournament chips as it means I feel compelled to watch for errors.

To the right of the dealer there is a French wild card in seat 10 who plays some of the most bizarre poker I have ever seen. He makes one-sixth-of-the-pot value bets with air against Krystoff then, when his bluff is called, inquires as to how long he has being playing poker! His tone is sarcastic. He is clearly operating on another level than the rest of us.

The wild card is the driving force in the biggest pot I will win today. With blinds at 100-200 the English guy limps under-the-gun, the businessman limps behind, and the wild card, who has just bluffed off most of his 10,000 starting stack, moves in for 3200. Folded to me and I look down at JJ… wtf? I can’t fold this chance to get chips in against a random ace or lower pair and ffs he might be all in blind. But I have to worry about four players to act behind me including the two limpers. I have 20k. I call, prepared to fold only to the other big stack at the table – the businessman. Now action folds to the English under-the-gun limper, who writhes in his seat, muttering to himself for two or three minutes before shoving all-in. I mentally tick myself off for only now realising that he has but 3,800 more, meaning that after the businessman folds it is up to me to call 3,800 into 13,900.

Easy call? Problem is, he probably has queens. What else is he limping for 200, then considering folding to heavy action, then risking his EPT with when he knows he will be called? Perhaps AK, sometimes TT, most of the time QQ.

To avoid this horrible situation I could have conservatively folded my jacks to the first all-in, or aggressively shoved all-in. In the event I took the weak middle road, just calling the first raise and now considering calling off more chips when I think I’m well behind.

I’m reminded of a familiar explanation of the concept of pot odds: big pot odds are the excuse you use to make a bad call when you know you’re behind. Well, for one thing I’m not sure I’m behind, and even if I was sure… I’ve been wrong before!

I say out loud ‘oh shit – I call’ and he turns over queens. The wild card has A9 off suit and hits his ace on the river, but thats fine by me because I already hit my jack in the door.

Now I have 31k, more than double the average during level four of the biggest tournament ever held in Europe. I’d rather be lucky than good.

I quickly reduce my stack  to 20k by flopping the classic top-pair-queen-kicker-plus-gutshot-and-backdoor-flush-draw versus my opponent’s bottom set.

I slowly reduce my stack to 11,500 over hours of good-old-fashioned painful poker. I re-raise twice and fold to the four-bet both times. I raise blind under-the-gun and Patrik Antonius’ wife shoves me – I lay down the 4-7 offsuit. I prepare to open a pot then someone else opens it before me. I get to see a flop and I miss. All this time the businessman is going through his loop of seeing a flop, paying someone off horribly, seeing another flop, getting paid off terrifically, and his chips are fluctuating between 10k and 30k while mine are on a slow slide downhill.

The Englishman I bad-beated out of the EPT is replaced by an Italian who shows great pride in both raising with and folding his hand when it contains an ace. Every time he flips one ace up before mucking his cards, then declares – ‘thats the last time i’m going to show you’. He does this about twenty times. I really, really want to find a spot to three-bet him, to make him feel proud to raise-fold his ace-high-medium-kicker, but alas, that won’t happen today.

The one sweet oasis in this desert of hurt was a classic A7s isolation play from my button after under-the-gun goes all in for three big blinds and gets one caller. He wants to call the 900, will he want to call another 2000? Even with antes in the pot? …thought not. Amazingly the utg shover turns over jacks, but they don’t look too good on an A7T board. Imagine my satisfaction as the overcaller declares he folded the AT!

The businessman finally falls apart at the end of level 8, calling off, or rather donating, yes, actually donating his chips to a young german player with the AT high on a board of 3 6 4. No pair, no draw, no chance. The businessman is obviously not very interested in coming back for day 2, when the 600 remaining players from days 1a and 1b will join.

I will return with 11,500 with blinds at 400/800 with a 100 ante.  Frankly the outlook is grim, but hey, I made it to day two! I’ve gone from starting stack to amongst the chip leaders and all the way back again.

I feel a long way now from the excitement of the third hand of the day, when I flopped a set of eights, led out with it, and got raised by the aggressive scandanavian. I won a big pot calling down his three-barrel bluff. A few hands later I was lucky enough to hold kings when he shoved the rest of his chips in with nines.

I chat to William Reynolds of Iowa as we wait for the shuttle bus back to the hotel. He calls himself a ‘poker stars grinder’ which is quite modest for someone who plays up to 16 tables of $3/6 NL and has cashed for more than $400,000 in online tournaments this year. He earns enough player points on Stars to buy-in directly for EPT events, including the grand final at Monte Carlo next week.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: