Coventry in December, what could be better? Don’t answer that. Let’s rephrase that. £150,000 for free, what could be better? Now my enthusiasm’s back, Coventry or Baghdad, I’m in for free money!
A quick phonecall from Neil Channing, who thoughtfully had booked himself a train to Cov on Saturday morning, and as plan was formed, turn up early, buy myself a ticket (no honestly, it’s fine Neil, and thanks for paying me almost the full price for the ticket I booked you to the last comp in Blackpool, too kind) and join the Sensei for the hour hop to the Midlands, bash up some fellow champs and escape with some of the £150k kindly added, yes ADDED, to this free comp for anyone who had won a GUKPT affiliated tournament in 2010 by Grosvenor.
As ever, we had a plan B
Book no hotel, jump on the last train to London on Saturday night if it goes belly up and play the Unibet Open at the Vic on Sunday instead.
With that in mind, me and Channing decided it was to be an aggro tournament as there was no point going out after 1030pm, missing the last train home, needing a hotel and missing the comp at the Vic.
Things started well. The only two guys I recognised at my table, despite this being a tournament of champions, were Mick Fletcher and Paul Parker, and I managed to cooler Mick out in the first level, top two v his pair and flush draw holding up to take my starting stack to 25k.
Normally this would make me chipleader, but as I’d only started with 10k from my victory in the £500 comp in Luton, whereas the likes of GUKPT Leaderboard top two Dave Johnson and Ali Mallu had started with 25k.
At least I was up with the leaders
Things were looking good for a deep run in Coventry, but from there it started to go wrong, culminating in losing half my stack with kings against A-Q and then a double-barrel attempt to take down a pot when the big blind was check-calling with the nuts.
I abandoned barrel three, which would have sent me out of Coventry, just in time and checked behind, but left myself with just 5000 chips as dinner approached.
We were coming back to blinds of 300-600, and with Channing knocked out just before we went for a bite, it wasn’t gonna be long before I got them in the middle.
I ate with Channing and Parker, and as the bill came realised we’d best get back as the comp was about to start. I pointed out they’d overcharged us and legged it, leaving Parker to take up his complaint with the waiter.
Coincidentally, when I got back to the table it was Parker’s big blind and he was still on his soap box, so I took the opportunity to shove my bowl in with 9-3 off and got it through to give me some breathing space.
Paul got back and I assured him I’d protected his blind for him. Two hands later, in the small blind, there were three limps for 600, and with Channing waiting for a buddy to travel back with stood behind me, I thought I’m shoving any two here.
I looked down at two black kings. Abort plan
I made it a ridiculously suspicious 1700 out of my 5500, with parker shooting me a raised eyebrow that said I wonder which two aces you’ve got.
All three limpers called, and a nine-high all club flop looked fine for me to bet when they checked to me, not that I was ever folding any flop.
I bet 2000, it was called in one spot and raised in another, I moved all in and the first caller folded. The all in had Q-9 with no clubs and I made a flush on the turn to win the pot.
Somehow, from 5500 10 minutes ago, I’d won a 17k pot and was in the game again. Parker departed and took Neil to the bar to wait for me, giving me an hour to get big or go home. By the time they came back a glass of water (if Parker bought them) or champers (if Neil was in the chair) later, I was chip leader on 70k.
I was still playing aggro, and managed to somehow get it in good when I called a raise in the big blind with J-7 suited and check-raised all in on a seven-high board.
When you get snap called with a holding that weak it’s normally good game, but my opponent had the nut flush draw and two overs and I faded that to get to 40k.
With that guy crippled but a good player, I knew he’d get his chips in pretty sharp
As would the other good young player sat beside him who’d also just lost a race. So when the big stack to my left opened to 2100 at 400 800, I just called with two kings in the hope I could induce some action behind.
Sure enough, shorty number one pushed his 5500 all in and the big stack instantly announced ‘I’m all in too’.
Trap sprung I moved my stack in and the big stack looked sick
‘I thought you might have done that with a big hand,’ he said. Unfortunately for him and his T-J offsuit, it cost him his full 30k to find out.
Despatching players left right and centre and keeping up the aggression as Neil and Paul left for London, I was in my element, but then the other big stack in the room, Greg Hunt, moved to my table and made things tricky, especially given the hands we were dealt.
We both had around 75k at 600 1200, and I’d already called-check-folded with one AK when we managed to get our stacks in and chop up an AK v AK coup that had us both sweating. Soon afterwards we had an AK v QQ that saw Greg just call the three-bet and check fold the ace-high flop, and then a huge hand ensued.
I made it 2900 with tens in early position, and a short stack threw her last 5k all in on the button. Greg quickly threw in a 5k chip to call, so quick that I didn’t think it was possible he had realised her raise had reopened the betting. I made it 19k total and Greg now went into the tank.
He was really under it, obviously really not liking the spots I was putting him in, but also he obviously had a real decision, something around AQ I thought.
After about five minutes, he flat called, which was a bit of a surprise to me and a move I didn’t like, or really know what to make of.
Fortunately I didn’t have to sweat too long, with a 10 in the window of the flop, followed by a king and a deuce. He didn’t have kings, and even if he did, I’m not folding, but now I need to get value.
The problem was I couldn’t really decide what kind of hand he had
So I thought best to bet once he checked as any high card bar a king might fill a straight for him, plus AK was in his range.
I bet and he told me I’d got lucky and was folding two queens. I’d got lucky to hit a set against and overpair, then unlucky the king had also come to save him….but then the board ran out ace, jack, meaning if we had got it all in he’d have made broadway, so I was lucky again!
Either way, I beat the short stack’s pocket eights and finished the day in the top three or four stacks
A good few beers in the bar with Greg, Andos and the AWOP boys ended with me eventually finding a hotel and feeling fully fit and flying for day two.
It was to be a rollercoaster of a day, which started badly when I called a raise with two 10s and found the big blind squeezing all in. The original raiser passed, I made the call, and the squeezer’s kings held.
As the bubble approached I managed to get a double up back to average through Luke Fields, a good young player I’ve faced before and who is always a challenge to play against.
He tried to get overly aggressive against me, which was futile when I’d flopped a set of fours, and I was back in the game.
As the bubble passed, I finally got rid of Greg, raising with AT and calling his all in on an A-T-X two-diamond flop. He made a flush on the turn, I couldn’t get my moan out quick enough before I housed up on the river.
Now I was up among the chip leaders, and playing short-handed I increased the aggro
Though I was getting a lot of AT AJ kind of hands that I was happy to go to war with. Six-handed it was passed to me on the button and I was aware I was raising a lot, so when I looked at QJ of clubs, I checked the size of Steve Holden’s stack in the small blind and found if I raised I’d get two-to-one, plus only risk a quarter of my stack, if he pushed and I called.
Still, he couldn’t seem to get that pushing K-7 off there was pretty bad even if it was ahead.
I’m at the very bottom of my range, I could well be raising with a lot of dominating kings and will be ahead of K-7 off most of the time.
Even at the bottom of my range with QJ, he was only marginally ahead
The flop brought something for everyone, with a queen in the window, followed by the king of clubs and another club, meaning we were still flipping. However, I missed the club or any queen or jack and doubled him up.
Next hand, I found AK of clubs and raised again. This time the big blind peeled a flop, something we hadn’t seen much of with blinds of 3000 6000.
The flop came queen-high with two clubs and the big blind check-raised me all in, a massive bet as we were two of the chip leaders.
This was my pot to win the tournament
I’m obviously not winning with ace high, but I’m flipping against most hands and favourite against some, and if I lost I wouldn’t be out, although I’d be crippled.
I called, she flipped Q-8 for top pair, so all I had to do was hit a club, ace of king….déjà vu….and again I missed all my outs and shipped a monster pot away.
In two hands I’d lost two flips which if I’d won I’d have had more than a third of the chips in play.
I waited til my big blind to get my last 6bb in with K7 v TJ, I rivered a king to give him a straight.
Seemed an apt way to depart, finishing 11th for £2250. So close and yet so far
As I predicted when I was knocked out, Luke went on to lift the title, a worthy winner. Look out for LFMagic online too, he really is a handful and a credit to the GUKPT as their last ever Champion of Champions.
Next year Grosvenor is still adding the hundreds of thousands of pounds to the GUKPT, just in a different, and much better in my opinion, way.
Along with the other G Poker sponsored pro Stuart Rutter, I have been consulted in the new tournaments and structures for next year, and have to say I think they look great.
Instead of an end-of-year event like in Coventry, each leg will have its own champion of champions free roll, probably held online the Monday after the festival finishes, where 10 champs will have the chance to scoop £10k for free.
Also the tournaments next year have been refreshed, and while they’re yet to be announced, I think anyone who plays six max online and finds live poker too slow will be liking the latest GUKPT innovation, starting in Manchester in January!