Poker Tourney

This year Betfair became the official sponsors of the WSOPE – the World Series of Poker Europe.  The world series of Poker is the biggest and best known tournament in the world, and this is their first foray into Europe – we are privileged to have been chosen as sponsors and we’ll put in the maximum effort to ensure it is a success. 

Seats at the WSOPE can be bought, but many of them are won in online and offline tournaments.  There was an invitational tournament for the “financial community” last night at the Empire (where the WSOPE will be held) – it was a mix of bankers, brokers, financial journalists along with a few pros and the odd celeb.  I’m not one to miss out on a good card session and I nabbed one of the 50 seats in the tournament.

I start on a table of ten which is supposed to include Sam Torrance and John McCririck, but unfortunately John doesn’t make it.  He gets to the Empire ok but they won’t allow him in unless he takes off his hat – he refuses to do this so that is that.  The early stage of the tournament is a rebuy, so anyone getting knocked out can buy back in immediately at a price.  There is a bounty on my head, meaning that the first person to knock me out gets free entry into an online tournament and another chance to get into the WSOPE.

There is a big hand early on, and three of us end up going all in.  The guy on my right has an Ace flush and he looks pretty confident when he put his cards down.  Unfortunately for him I have a full house – Kings and Nines.  Unfortunately for me Sam has pocket nines – four nines for a monster early pot and the bounty on my head.

I have to buy back in a couple of times more, but the cards start to swing my way and I have a moderate stack at the first break (signifying the end of the rebuy period).  I move to another table which includes a couple of pros – Willy Tann and Neil Channing.  I know them both pretty well and they are quality players – I prefer playing against the top guys as I think I learn more.

Neil is seated to my right and he sets about stealing my blinds at every opportunity as is his style.  I gnash my teeth for a while, allowing him to pick my pockets and hoping the cards will come right.  A half chance comes 40 minutes later – as big blind I pick up 3, 5 of clubs.  Neil raises ahead of me but he doesn’t hit it hard and I call – the flop comes K, 6, 4 with one club.  Neil checks and I go all in – he calls and turns over pocket nines.  He’s favourite to win now by a decent margin – he’s around 63%.  The turn is the eight of clubs – I’m getting ready to leave now.  The river is a two, making my straight, and I sit down again.  Neil is short stacked now – he battles on for a while but is taken out a little later.

On the face of it I was wrong to be all in on a 37% chance, and of course I was lucky to hit the two.  I think my all in call was right though – since I was drawing to a straight (and the cards don’t indicate flushes or full houses) 37% is almost as bad as it could be – it would be no worse if Neil had pocket Aces and if he has AQ or AJ I’m favourite.  The main point is that there is a big chance that he will fold, in which case I’ll be 100%.

A few hands later I pick up 10,9 unsuited.  It is passed round to me – I call and Willy (small blind) raises – big blind folds and again I call.  The flop comes down 6,7,8 – Halleluia!  The spotlight is on me – I don’t want to think too hard about it so I check quickly and Willy checks.  The turn is a three – again I check and Willy makes a big bet – I call.  The river is a Jack – I check, Willy checks.  He has AQ.  He is fairly short stacked now and goes out a few hands later – I’m pleased I took some of his stack but I’m wondering if I should have had all of it.

A little later and I’m on the final table, and chip leader by a small margin.  Jeremy Wray, Ed’s brother and a close mate is second.  Sam is still there and one other very good player, but for the most part the table is made of novices.  I’m big blind on the first hand and I pick up A5 unsuited – Jeremy makes a decent bet and after a little thought I call.  The flop is AA6.  I bet big, around a third of my stack.  Jeremy umms and aahs for a while and goes all in – I call.  He turns his cards over and for he third time I am up against pocket nines.  He is of course a massive dog at this point and he doesn’t hit – he goes out and suddenly I have more than half of the total chips out in front of me – in theory I’m odds on to win now.

Jeremy curses his luck.  He didn’t think I’d bet with an Ace – he thought it was a sign of weakness and he read me for a six or a low pair.  On another day I would check but I try to vary my game.

From here on in it all goes wrong and I barely win another hand – I get irritated with myself and end up going out in rather silly fashion.  I finish fourth.  Sam, who seems to play a pretty good game, is third – the first and second are both relative novices.  The winner, John, has had plenty of luck along the way.  At one point he was all in with pocket twos against pocket Aces and survived (he’s an 18% dog) – in the final hand he was all in with J,10 against A,5 and the flop came up J,10,3.  I am annoyed that I threw my chance away, but take some solace in the fact that I saw off most of the top players, clearing the way for a novice to win.