The Palm Beach Casino Big Game – London, Dec 2010

14 Dec

Having managed to get on a last train from Stoke and arrive home at 2 am the night before, I was still wide awake early Monday morning thinking about the Big Game.

With the £1,000 entry fee and a number of poker stars in place it was surely going to be the biggest tournament of my poker career so far!

I arrived at the gorgeous Palm Beach casino 15 min prior to the start of the game so I would have a little time to settle in, whilst having a quick drink in order to calm my nerves down and catch up with some friends.

This month’s event attracted 72 runners and I soon realised that at least half of them were professional poker players.

The casino was full of big poker names including JP Kelly, Karl Mahrenholz, Praz Bansi, James Mitchell and James Akenhead who were ready to fight for the first place pay out of £25,200.

Seats were drawn and with players settling in at the tables, the dealers were ready to deal the first hand.
I have to admit, I was rather relieved not to find any pros sitting at my table. Actually, there was not even one face I recognised.

There was a Danish guy – high stakes cash games player – sitting on my left, and as generally expected of scandinavian players, I was ready for some agressive action, however he turned out to be playing pretty solid and nothing much out of line.
Next to his left was a very young English player, who has bought in directly and came across as a good tight agressive player.
The other guy who stood out on the table, was a geezer from Manchester, who looked like a typical Manchester United fan:) He was trying to take down every pot he was involved in and was playing like a maniac!

I was going to play pretty tight in the initial stages of the tournament and loosen up as the blinds go up and I get to know the players.

The the guy to my right turned out to be the tightest player on earth and not very chatty too. I have tried a few times to start a conversation with him, but he was not having it:). Least he wasn’t stealing my blinds…

Anyhow, a couple of hands into the game and I flop a set of 6’s having called a small raise on the SB. With three players in the pot including initial mid position raiser and BB, I elect to just check the Q, 6, 8, flop. The BB bets half the pot and the initial raiser and I call.
The next card comes harmless 2, the mid-position guy checks and I check in behind. The BB continues to represent strength and build the pot by betting around 50% of the pot.The mid-position guy folds and I smooth call. The river brings a J and at that point I am thinking what to do…??

There is 4.5k chips in the middle, and I have just under 8k behind. I didn’t want to bet out and be 3bet or jammed all in, which would put me in a really difficult spot. Considering that it was the first level of the game, I was playing my first hand and I didn’t know anything about the player, I wanted to keep the pot at a manageable size.After two barrels I felt the BB would fire again,hence, for that reason I decided to just check call. Unfortunately, the BB checked behind and showed 10s. I guess I should have value bet on the river maybe 2k or so, but checking felt like the right idea at the time.

I didnt play a hand for a couple of orbits and then decided it was time to put my stack into action when I found Q,9 suited in a middle position in an unopened pot.
I raised x3 and got called by both the button and the BB. The flop brings 7,9,10 rainbow. BB checks and with a mid pair in my hand I am definitely going to take a stab at the pot and I lead out. I bet 60% of the pot and get a call from the button guy. The BB folds. At this point I am thinking I am done with investing more chips in this hand, unless I am improving on the future streets.
When the turn brings a 3, I check, and so does the button. The river is a K, check, check and I lose to A,10.

A couple of levels on I pick up a pair of 5’s in mid position and raise x 3 to steal the blinds. Unfortunately I found a quick fold out of position when I was 3bet by the button.
Then a few hands later I get sweet KK utg and pop it up x3, just to find 8 instant mucks. Grrrr!

Unfortunately for me I wasnt getting many hands and bar a little blind action, an active table left limited opportunities and my stack slipped down a little.

Back from the 2nd break and with playable hands nowhere to be seen, my strategy was to look for the right spots and 3bet or jam,depending on the players/stacks involved and my position of course.I’m down to half the average so happy for a race or to ease my stack up a little.

After waiting for a decent spot, I pick up a hand and I re-shove with AK but the raiser doesn’t want to come along. Then one orbit later and I pick up A 2 suited in late position. I jam once again hoping to pick up the blinds and antes but this time I get a call from the big blind, who shows A J. Doh! I thought I am dead, till the flop brings a lucky 2, Q, 9…and the harmless 7 and 5 follows. I am alive just still a bit below average.

Another couple of uneventful orbits, and I return from the break with 27 runners left and my stack just over 14k. At this moment I’m actually starving, having neglected to eat properly before the start of the game and my diet of nuts and cranberry juice, not really cutting it.
On the bright side I was planning to get busy and get to the final table in good shape, or have something decent to eat when I was out. Every cloud….

30 mins later I was ordering a steak 😦

I returned to my table but got quickly moved to another. The blinds had crept up to 800/1600 and with antes I was doubling up or eating.
After an early position shove with A,K I had my blinds stolen in return and shoved again with A,8. I was called by A,10 and berating myself for shoving with a weak ace, but a 5 diamond board meant it was chop chop and I was still alive.

At this point I thought it was going my way. I’m still in shove mode, and got one through, but I was still waiting for a pair or any decent high cards that could give me the chance to double up back to average.
Eventually I shoved with Q,8 in an unopened pot in the cut off for 13k. The BB called with A,5 which I wasn’t entirely displeased about, but this time I missed and out I went….

15th of 72, so I was happy to have scrapped to there, albeit with a couple of spots going my way, and I really felt that if I could I have got back to average, my overdue hands might have placed me in good stead.

A good fun tournament and I look forward to seeing the familiar faces on the 3rd of January, where I’ll be aiming to see the new year in, in style!!!

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