Anna Kournikova Bang in Form for Wimbledon!

“If you never get caught bluffing, you’re not bluffing enough,” is one of those phrases you can try and take some comfort from when you’re on your way home having bluffed off your stack.


I googled it on the train home from GUKPT Reading – the first hit is from the book Poker For Dummies. Marvellous.

It’s not like I didn’t have my reasons, but I was pretty annoyed, having got my 25bb all in preflop in the last level of a pretty tough day one with T7 offsuit.

Not much had gone right, but in retrospect it was one of those days I should have been happy just to get through, not give my chance of another Reading final table away. Instead I ran into AK three times, the hand they call Anna Kournikova because it looks good but never wins….well just in time for the Wimbledon Championships, it’s found some form!

I had a pretty tough starting table.

A guy I’d quickly picked out as being pretty useful, just from his demeanour and the way he played some early hands, was sat two to my left, and it was a tangle with him that led to my first big accident.

Reading playing 2

An older guy had limped into a lot of pots, and shown down hands like T8 suited, QT etc. He’d shown down the queen high when he’d made no hand and just checked every street (I’d isolated with KQ on the button and my king high won the pot) so a few of the observant players were looking to get heads-up in position with him.

A guy in seat five had got down to 6k at 100/200 when he isolated the same limper. I had AJ of spades and felt it was likely the best hand. I didn’t want to just call the 700 raise, and felt three-betting was correct here. If I got it in preflop with the 6k stack, so be it, it would probably be a race that I could take on with my 20k stack.

Reading playing 3

However, the decent player two to my left now went into the tank in the small blind and eventually called. I knew he would have noticed the 6k stack could reopen the betting by moving all-in, and this was the most likely scenario. I also knew he must know I was strong, as I was obviously happy to play for that 6k with my hand. We therefore both knew that the other had a very strong hand (though as it happens I was at the very bottom of my range here, I would pass AT).

The short stack had just been isolating, and passed to maintain his 5300 stack, and I saw a heads-up flop with the small blind. It came A84 rainbow. He checked, and I decided to check behind, for pot control, deception, and also because I wasn’t sure I was winning. The turn was the 7s, giving me the nut flush draw,  and he let 1500. I felt calling was the best move.

The river bricked and he bet 3200. It really felt like he had AK. I’d missed my flush draw and now really just had a bluff catcher. I made a frustrated call after telling him it looked like AK. He showed me that very hand.

An annoying waste of chips, I knew I was beat!

Later in the same level, and down to 12k, I opened with AQ in early position. The raise was called by three players, before the small blind, a very active player who’d shown down some pretty ropey hands, made it 2200. It felt like an all-in or fold moment, and with the possibility of it being a squeeze, and the probability of it being a race if called, I moved all-in, and was called by AK again. No help, and it was re-entry time.

I don’t always re-enter tournaments, and certainly don’t get in for free via my Grosvenor sponsorship, but this was a great comp with lots of value, so in I went again.

I moved to a table with a guy three-betting every single hand, determined to get it in. He was bluffing every river and basically playing like he was in a hurry. It meant I had to make a hand to beat him, but as the break approached and the last opportunity for re-entries, he went into overdrive.

Jeff Reading playing

Second to last hand he three-bet J3 off and called his opponent’s open shove all-in on an AJx board, losing to A2.

With 9k left he informed us he was going all-in blind. I found two kings under the gun, raised and as promised, he shoved with Q2 and went off to re-enter.

With 35k I was doing okay, but a lack of hands and opportunities on a pretty wild table meant by the start of the last level I had under 30k.

We had a dead stack on our table, someone had entered and then left for some reason before I’d joined the table.

An active guy I’ve played with before was sat one to the left of the dead stack, and had raised UTG the last four times.

I felt like if he did it again, it was time to pile over the top, and next lap, right on cue, he raised the 800 big blind to 2200. With the blinds and antes in there was over 4k of dead money, and surely he couldn’t coincidentally always have a hand?

Well I stuck my 22k in with T7o, was up against AK yet again and despite flopping a pair, couldn’t get there, and was left to contemplate who the dummy was!

What a great place to play poker Reading is though.

The Grosvenor is huge, has a big coffee shop and bar that you can relax in without even knowing you’re in a casino.

Reading Casino

There’s an Xbox for the big kids, TVs with sport everywhere, it’s a casino, but not as you know it.

And the poker room, segregated off, has great support from the locals. It’s only half an hour outside London, yet a lot of the loyal players support all their events, without ever travelling far to play elsewhere.

Yet again here the guarantee was smashed, and there were locals on every final table. Says a lot about what a good card room it is.

It’s off to Leeds next for the GUKPT, another well supported event last year. I might just order that Poker for Dummies book to read in the four weeks before that trip!


Photo credits – Wikimedia (Creative Commons – Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0))









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