Warming up for the New Year

31 Dec

Well it’s been the first and at the same time the last 5 weeks of my poker career for 2010. I have managed to play a few games this year and get  a proper feel what its like to be a dedicated poker player. I have thoroughly enjoyed travelling to different casinos in the  UK and participating in a variety of games, meeting new people and putting my poker skills into action.

Unfortunately I haven’t cashed in any live games  so far, although I know that I didn’t play enough tournaments this year to give an accurate ‘long run’ picture. On the other hand I was fortunate enought to make enough money online to cover my living expenses and contribute towards Christmas presents:)

Whilst playing slightly higher live stakes than I normally would do online , this gave me an opportunity to spot some leaks in my game. Also areas I can improve on in terms of my poker playing style  have been highlighted to me. So yes, there is still lots of work to be done in 2011.

I decided to play a couple of live games this week and hopefully get out of the way my bad run of cards this year for good!

I had never been to the famous poker room at the Victoria Grosvenor casino in London, but it was a chance to try one of their special Christmas Cracker events there.

On my entry I was not surprised to find out that majority of the tables at the poker room were taken by the huge cash playing community. It surely must be the most popular place for cash games in London! It was a Wednesday night and there were at least 80 players trying to make some Christmas/New Years sales shopping money:)

Anyhow, the game I was there to play was a £100 NL Freezout tourney and they managed to attracted around 60 runners. 6k starting stack, 30 min clock, enthusiastic players on my table  as well as a  Lithuanian dealer in place, it felt like it was going to be a good game.

I was soon to realise that quite a few players on my table were cash game regulars who didnt seem to make any adjustments to tournament play and were playing way too many hands in an obvious agressive way.  Hence it left me with no other option but to tighten up, as evidently it would prove to be rather difficult to bluff them out of any pot where they had caught equity at all.

I lost some chips early doors when I had to fold a couple of small/medium pairs on the river when double barreling on a scary board and the river card completed too many draws.

When on the second level I managed to flop a full house with 22 when on the SB. 6 limpers including me and BB and the flop comes 442.  Everyone checks; next card is 9, and I start building the pot.  I get 2 calls; next card is a 10 and I fire again. Both fold. Grrrrr! Sweet flop-unhelpful river!

Few orbits later, I lost 40% of my stack when running my JJ into KK on a harmless board. Just one of those hands where your opponent is as likely to have a pair of 99 as he is likely to have KK.

Shortly afterwards I found myself losing a flip when short stack shoves over the top of my initial raise and I am committed/happy to continue with a hand. On this occasion my KQ fails to improve and I lose another 15% of my stack  to A6.

I decided to  observe the table  whilst waiting for a hand to make a move with and hopefully double up. A couple of people get knocked out as the blinds go up and the table losens up.

My intention in this tournament was also to learn more about live tells. Hence I was paying extra more attention to my fellow players facial expressions and was studying their body language when they were  involved in any pots. I even managed to make a very good fold based mainly on a guys wide pupils:)

I didnt need to wait long for my exit hand. I woke up with AQ in the SB and with 3 limpers in the pot already I was getting my last 2k in the middle. I was snap called by pocket 10s and with no further help from my Lithuanian dealer on board I finished in 32nd.

One night later and I was heading to the Fox Poker club for the £40 NL Holdem  ‘Extreme Stack’  game.  A nice starting stack of 15,000 chips sounded good but with 8 levels of 15 mins and then only on to 20 mins levels, the blinds were gonna get high, quick.

I got a decent chatty table, with a couple of good value players to my right and settled in quickly.

I played alot of hands early, as there was loads of limping and I was looking for spots to bust big hands, and take pots down with a little aggression.

As a result my stack oscillated around the 15k mark for the first hour, and I realised the quality of play round the table was very mixed to say the least. There were 104 runners and 25 of them were a stag do!

One guy would limp-call all the time, with no obvious plan and then survey pot participants stacks when hitting before making a bet. Easy to play against if you can make a hand…

I lost a few chips chasing a four to a flush and missing. And whilst a bet may have took the river down, the caller was a fish and likely to call with his ace high after missing his up and down straight.

As I suspected , the blinds meant that the game became a crap shoot after level 7 and we were not short of players on my table who were happy to call any kind of raise with any two.

For example after a 3 x raise under the gun to 6k by a fellow solid player, a drunk stag do member instant calls thinking he is calling the blinds and then happily tops up to the 6k. Needless to say his K, 5 managed to spike a King on the flop and the initial raiser was lucky not to do all his stack with QQ!!

I was down to around 12k by then and ended up shoving a couple of times with nothing to keep my stack in reasonable shape. After losing some chips, blind on blind  race with a short stack, I entered following level with 11k and with the blinds on 1k-2k  I would be shipping it in at any opportunity.

At this point the average was 26k, so it gives you an idea how steep the blinds were!

Anyhow, a shoved with Q, 9 and a call by the big blind meant it was goodnight Vienna as he’d picked up the pocket rockets.

I’ll be back to the Fox Poker club as there are some nice people and a good atmosphere. I am playing in Stoke next and hopefully I will start my 2011 poker tournament marathon in style:)

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