Sunday, October 08, 2006
Well, what a weekend that was!
A few days ago I mentioned I was planning on investing last month's Interpoker bonus in a £50 deepstack at the Glasgow Stanley casino.
Thus Saturday evening found myself and Teacake arriving at Glasgow Central as the Scotland v France game entered it's final moments. Neither of us was aware of the score, though we knew Scotland had been hanging on for a draw against one of the best teams in the world.
There was a definite buzz in the air as we made our way up Hope Street, which made us think we might still be holding out against Thierry Henry and co. The pubs were bursting at the seams, with all eyes still intently focused on the little green squares arrayed around the walls.
By the time we hit Sauchiehall Street - home to the Stanley Casino, and one of Glasgow's premier nightlife centres - we realised they had actually won. Kilted men were singing in the streets, ginger wigs abounded, and hordes of drunken revellers were spilling onto the roads.
'We will never get a taxi tonight', I observed. It was chaos.
I have to say I'm quietly pleased and impressed with the result. I like Scotland to win, and I don't like them to lose - particularly not in the humiliating manner of the Bertie Vogts era.
Yet the fate of the team doesn't grab me in the same way Celtic performances do. Partly it's down to the fact that as a Celtic fan, big European nights are relatively common.
If you are used to seeing Barcelona, AC Milan, Bayern Munich, Manchester Utd up close, the thought of Scotland v Moldova is not likely to grab you.
Added to that, is the long standing antipathy between Celtic as an institution, their players and fans, and the SFA - ultimate arbiters of the Scottish game and guardians of the national team.
As the anti-establishment club, in years gone by many talented players did not receive the recognition they deserved, due to an institutional bias against selecting Celtic players.
There was also the infamous Jorge Cadete incident, when the Chief Executive of the SFA was proved to have wilfully hindered the registration of a new Celtic player - thus preventing him playing in several crucial games, including a cup tie against Rangers.
This, along with other incidents, has led to a lack of fervour for the national team amongst some Celtic fans - myself included.
Ironic then that the most famous Scotland victory in a long time was courtesy of a recent Celtic signing. Gary Caldwell has his place in history.
Let's hope he makes more history in the Champions League over the next couple of months!
The Scotland victory seemed to have somewhat diminished the turnout for the tourney.
27 entrants paid £50 each for 10,000 starting chips, and a slow blind structure. Proper poker in my book!
The plan was to pay first four places, with the casino throwing in a dinner for two in their restaurant as a saver for fifth place. The juice for this event? A measly £2 - or 4%.
I'd imagine many non-UK readers will be faintly incredulous at that, but I believe the UK Gaming Board regulations restrict the maximum juice to 10%. Mega value considering the structure - even if it was self deal until the final table.
Despite the starting stacks and slow blinds, I managed to lose over half my chips in the first two levels - with big hands losing twice.
In level one(25/50) it's folded around to the button, who open limps. Hmmm. The very aggressive small blind (Bingo Bob as he is known to some) completes, and I look down at AK and decide to make it 200. Call, call.
The flop has an ace, but two jacks and a flush draw. I decide to take it down there and then with a good size bet and was somewhat shocked when my 400 is insta-raised by the button for a massive over bet of 4000 more.
Time for the first lengthy dwell of the night. Much as I took my time over it, given the starting stacks, this is an easy fold. Better spots to come I told myself.
Sure I could have been ahead of smaller aces, a flush draw, or even a total bluff, but I could just as easily have been behind to a JT type hand, or maybe even a slow played AA if he assumed I wasn't able to lay down an ace or a jack.
Better spot number one arrived soon after at level two(50/100) when I made it 400 UTG with AA. Yes I was picking up some nice hands.
The pre-flop action was hardly ideal as I got about three or four callers. One thing about live poker in Glasgow I am rapidly learning, people like to see flops!
The flop was a less than stellar KTx, again with a flush draw. I had a bad feeling about this already, but check-folding is weaker than the Foley defence so I bet about 2/3 the pot.
Folded around to the button who makes a just above minimum raise. Ugh. Dwell number two!
The hand range here was fairly wide. I figured there was a good chance he'd flopped two pair or possibly middle or bottom set, but equally with straight and flush draws onboard it could easily be a semi-bluff. He could even have called with AK and be putting me on QQ or JJ.
Calling was terrible, since I'd be open to another bet on the turn whatever card hit, and a big reraise to chase out any draws would mean putting all my chips on the line at level two. Not a happy thought.
So, I went for a min re-raise which didn't totally commit me, and meant I could get away if he pushed - which I thought he would do with two pair or the set. The thought also occurred that I was showing a LOT of strength here, and he'd have to consider I could have KK or TT(if he didn't).
He called and the turn was an equally scary Q. Check-check.
The river a T. Check-check.
He showed KT for the flopped two pair and rivered FH. The button was actually the event organiser and we chatted about the hand later. Sure enough the last raise on the flop had planted the KK seed in his mind, hence no value bet on the river.
So I was now short stack, but still had 45BB. Hooray for deep stacks!
After that I went totally card dead, which at least kept me out of trouble. Then within the space of a few hands it all changed.
First the aggressive Bingo Bob button raised on my SB. I looked down at a A6s, and - putting him on a steal - restole by pushing all-in for about four times his raise.
The BB (Canuck from the Blonde Poker forum) folded and, judging by the time Bob took to fold, I think my read was wrong. Pretty sure I escaped from a medium ace there - A8, A9 maybe?
Soon after the villain from the AK hand open raised from mid-position and on the button I found TT. He'd proven to be pretty aggressive when it was folded around to him, so I was pretty confident of being ahead here but TT is vulnerable, and I expected he'd bet any flop if I called, so a push was in order.
He didn't take long to call and I was genuinely astonished to see him flip JTo. Wow.
The tens were good and I was back in action!
After that it's a bit of a blur - I'd had a few beers and a JD and coke or two - but really I just played solid, picked my spots for a couple of steals/resteals and stayed in the pack as players fell.
I got moved to another table - which was the first time all night I hadn't had the experienced Canuck directly to my left - and within about three hands a few more players fell and I'd made the final table.
We redrew for seats, and who was to my left? Canuck! Also on the final table, Teacake, Bob, and the massive chip leader who had been catching some awesome cards.
A few players fell fairly quickly and the action slowed with six players left. This was the only point where it got a little crap-shooty since there were two huge stacks and four stacks all with about 10-12BB left.
At this point I found a couple of decent hands, but in bad positions. UTG both times.
I open-pushed JJ and got called by the by-now ultra short stack with A6s. He missed his ace but caught a flush to set me back.
I then tried to open-push 99, again from UTG but the dealer called me for a string bet! Hmm, fair enough, as I hadn't announced all-in before pushing my chips across in two distinct movements - but a warning before a penalty wouldn't have been unreasonable I thought.
This left me with about 12,000 in the middle and about 2,000 left behind, so when the chip leader called and bet out to set me all-in on a KQJ flop, I figured I was drawing to a straight or a set but I was hardly going to fold!
Astonished moment number two of the night, as he turned over A5 and missed his ace and straight draw to put me right back in contention!
Pretty soon the bubble broke as Canuck outdrew the sole remaining lady with 88 v TT - the stack sizes dictated the hand played itself - and suddenly we were four handed and in the money. Woot. My first ever live cash.
Soon thereafter Teacake raised UTG and I found AQo in the SB. More than good enough four handed and I figured my push was pretty much an insta-call since he had slightly more chips than me but would be really short if he folded. I was hoping to see a smaller ace, or at worst an underpair.
As he was thinking it over, the waitress was heading for the bar and I shouted on her to get me another JD and coke. It was entirely spontaneous, but the railbirds thought it hilarious. 'Planning on staying are you?', 'Is that a tell?', etc.
Actually I was planning on drinking it wherever. Hopefully at the table, but maybe in the lounge.
Ultimately Teacake decided he was committed, and called showing ATs. No flush or ten and a few hands later we were down to three. Canuck and myself, about equal in chips, plus the still mega chip leader.
We passed the blinds for a while, before talk turned to a deal. From memory, first was on for about £675, £340 for second, and third about £200.
Eventually the chip leader offered to give up enough cash to make third up to second, allowing myself and Canuck to chop second place - which I thought was a great deal for us - and we shook hands, before a spanner was thrown in the works as he wanted the trophy, and Canuck wanted to play on for it.
So, no deal. We played on for another half hour with no dramatic fluctuations, and around 3am eventually settled on the original deal with the chip leader taking the trophy.
It's hardly the WSOP but I am absolutely delighted with my first live cash.
One of my objectives for the year was to play live more, but I've hardly played a game. So to cash in only the second or third event I've played all year, and perhaps the sixth I've ever played, was very heartening.
Winning online is nice, but there's a special rush that comes from seeing the cashier count out a bundle of £20 notes before your very eyes. Evidence of which, I couldn't resist photographing for posterity.
The only thing I was slightly disappointed in was I didn't get to play as many flops as I'd have liked. My few early forays left me too short stacked to play over loosely, so for a while stealing was all I could do, and by the time I started to see cards again the blinds and action dictated a lot of pre-flop pushing.
Overall it was a cracking night. Credit to The Stanley and event organiser Office Poker.
The icing on the cake was myself and Teacake headed to the bar for an hour or so to relax, whilst Canuck headed downstairs to get a taxi home. As we departed, his taxi was only just arriving, so we hopped in and headed off home with no delay, since he was going in the same general direction as us.
Dodging as we did, the human flotsam and jetsam that was strewn across Sauchiehall Street at 4am. The party was still in full swing with barely coherent guys and scantily clad, blind drunk girls careering in all directions.
I can safely forecast that Gary Caldwell wasn't the only Scotsman to score last night!