The Palm Beach Casino Big Game – London, Jan 2011

4 Jan

I was impatienly looking forward to playing in the Big Game at the Palm Beach casino again.

After Christmas and New Year celebrations including a few relaxing days with family and friends, I was in good spirits, feeling focused and was planning to kick off 2011 with a Big Bang! Although in the last few live games I have been running pretty bad I have a feeling my luck is about to change.

I know it is very difficult not to get frustarted when you don’t get any cards, find yourself on a  wrong side of a flip over and over again, and your bankroll keeps on diminishing.  However my best advice in these kind of situations is just to keep on playing your best and  continue improving your game and enter each new tournament with confidence and a positive mind set!

Hence, I am really confident heading into 2011 and hopefully my poker goal of taking down a major this year is going to come true:)

Anyhow, back to the Palm Beach Big Game…

On my entrance to the casino I was nicely greeted by a few familliar faces and soon after I got engaged into the conversations with the players I met last month.

So after a nice catch up and a bit of poker gossip I was all at ease and ready to start the game.

There were 62 runners this month and a prize pool of £62k which was well worth fighting for. I got an interesting starting table; there were 2 young players which were backed up/bought in by someone else, and who played pretty aggressive poker trying to take down the blinds nearly every hand.

The guy on my left was a lovely chap from Liverpool, who won a local league and qualified for this game as a result. He came across as a good tightish player and wasn’t playing anything out of line.

Another young lad on the table placed in mid position and sitting just in front of me, was a  super aggressive and loose player. He was not drunk or anything, he just loved playing any two cards in any position, and of course as it happens he was hitting a lot too.

Another one of the seats at the table was taken by my Danish poker buddy, Jesper Hansen – who won Bet24 Poker Open in Tallin last month and is a very capable player.

The first hand I got involved with was AQ on level 1 with the blinds at 50/25.  There was a mid position raise to 125 and I smooth called on the small blind, so did the BB. The flop comes 6, 6, 9 rainbow and all of us check.  The turn brings a 9 and after my check the guy in BB bets out 175.With the middle man out of the way and with a such dry board- I decided to continue with my hand and just smooth call.

The river is a 4 and I check. Whereas the BB after putting some thought in place fires 350 in the middle. At that point I am thinking that 4 has not changed anything and if I was ahead on a turn, I presume I still am, unless he has an overpair, which is unlikely as he hasn’t showed much strength preflop. It is possible that he has hit 9 or 6, however A high or 7,8 missing  is as likely. I call, he shows A6 and I lose my first pot:(

My next big hand appeared at level 2. There is a mid position raise from a lose agressive guy to 250 and a smooth call from the cut off. I look down at my hand to find AK on the button. Without any hesitation, I am going to be charging more to see a flop with my hand and make it 800 to go. My raise does not seem to worry any of the players involved and subsequently I get 2 calls.

The flop brings Q, 9, 5 with two heart, and obviously not a good one for me. Although both players check and decided to proceed cautiously and just see the next card for free. The turn is a blank 10, which gives me a few outs and some hope:)

At that point initial agresssive raiser bets out 700, which gives me pretty favourable odds to hit my one of the 10 outs if needed. The cut off man gets out of the way and I smooth call just to see a 6 of hearts appearing on the river. What a horrible card!

My opponent checks and with a completed flush draw on board and missing all of my outs I have no other option but to check behind, as I know even if i tried to take down this pot by bluffing I would get called very light. So I check and lose to Q8! Hmmm

So two hands played and my 10k starting stack is down to 7k….not feeling so positive anymore…but still hopeful:)

I managed to pinch a set of blinds before finding a pair of Jacks in my hand. UTG raises x3 to 300 and I re-pop it to 750 representing a stronger hand than I have. I get 2 calls, including a mid position and from initial UTG raiser. The flop is an interesting A, Q, J rainbow and initial raiser checks. There are so many possible drawing combinations on this board that my opponents cards should have equity, so I proceed to bet big and fire  around 75% of the pot. Mid position player  shoves over the top without much hesitation for the rest of my stack.

Well, at that point I am thinking it is unlikely he has AA, as he would have probably 4-bet pre flop and AK, AJ, and AQ seem like the most viable hands, which I am ahead of at this point in time.  I guess he could have a set of Queens, which is the only likely hand that he might have that actually beats me.  So based on this analysis I call and he shows AQ for 2 pair.  The turn and river are blanks and I double up. Sweet!

With a tight table image in place, and with an average being 11.5k and my stack gone up t0 14k I was going to defend my blinds more and pick up some steals hopefully.

Two levels later, the blinds have gone up to 150/300 and my stack to 16k when I pick up AA on the button and pray for some action.  The guy on the cutoff raises it up  to 1,100 and I make it 2,600, hoping for a 4-bet if he has a hand. He just flat calls instead and we are off to see a 10d 9d 5c flop. He checks and with dangerous board as it is I  was not going to let him see any cards for free. I bet 3,600 into 5,650 pot and almost instantly get re-popped all in. Decision is back on me!

Well, with such a wet board is difficult to put him on any specific hand, however I can only see him doing this with a nut flush draw or trips really, although if he has QQ, KK is difficult for him to get away from this flop too.  I had a feeling I’m still good on this flop, so I called and he showed Q,K for a flush draw and a gut shot. Luckily for me he missed it all and I doubled up again.

I was feeling pretty confident after winning this pot and went to being a chip leader on the table with 25 players left.

I was trying play a few more pots in the right spots and position, but unfortunately failed to preserve  my chip lead when running my AJ into AQ and folding to the all in moves a couple of times on a 7 handed table.

I was hovering around the 26k mark, with the average now around 34k, I got the chance to make a move, which fortunately didn’t pay off but if you have any aspirations to make the final table in good shape, you need to make.

My exit hand saw me calling a button raise on the BB and getting it in on a J, 10, 5 rainbow flop with K, Q.  I missed all my 14 outs and lost to J,8.

17th out of 62, and only a coin flip away from the final table methinks.

I look forward to coming back in February and making the final table, maybe third time lucky:)

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