My Reading take-home ticket:
The secret to playing deep stacked tournaments is to stick in, not get knocked out, take few risks and play your stack size in relation to the big blind, rather than the biggest stacks in the room, and Willie does it almost perfectly.
Reading is quickly becoming one of my favourite stops for the GUKPT. I almost won the first one (first runner up!) and the locals are a welcoming lot.
There aren’t that many circuit regs, more local guys playing their biggest local comp of the year, which provides a good challenge (and a little value!) for us travelling pros.
Last year I’d turned up with a stinking hangover after a night out with the old Blue Square traders, and despite not touching a drop I managed to turn up similarly late this year, arriving at the first break.
This was not through laziness (not completely anyway), more thinking ahead, in the knowledge that we were to play 10 levels on Day One due to the delayed start to Day Two to allow any players who wanted to to attend the funeral of tour regular and all round good guy Kirit Patel, who passed away last week far too young.
With an extra level to play, I decided I’d be better off
being fresh and ready to play in level 10 than level one.
No prizes for guessing which level I busted in then! The best laid plans…
To be fair it was a ridiculously frustrating day. I had a fabulous table, full of value. Apart from Willie Tann two to my left, and James Williams two to my left.
I didn’t know anyone, and half of them were playing like they had somewhere better to go.
James had three bet me early on, something I’d expected, so I got the four bet out with two queens. He folded on the flop, ironically the one of only two times I won with a premium hand all day despite being dealt my fair share. It’s a tough game to win if that’s the case.
To show the kind of problems the regs are faced with when playing recs which makes the game interesting/frustrating/comical, I called Willie’s £450 raise at 100/200 with two queens. James was on the button and I was hoping for a squeeze to spring the ‘Mantis trap’, but James just called, as did the small blind.
The big blind made it…. £3,700!
Just the 9x then. Now what am I to do? Well I was the only caller, and I called again when he bet the king high, two spade board.
To be honest I put him on AK when he re-raised so big, so I think I could fold to his £4k cbet, but of course I didn’t.
To compound the error, when he checked the turn I bet £4k, hoping to either win or just to get to showdown cheaply. I was quickly set all in and had to fold! Fantastic.
My opponent allowed me to turn one card over, and it was a king, so at least I made the right fold eventually.
I’m pretty sure he had two kings, a monster hand. Who knows why he made it £3,700?
All I know is it seemed to work against me!
A while later I picked up two queens again, and again just called a raise, this time a min raise from under the gun. Five of us saw the flop, and when it fell J85 rainbow, it looked pretty safe.
A weak player stabbed at it, having seen the pre-flop raiser check, and I was happy to make the pot big against what I hoped was an AJ type hand. He made it £800, I made it £2k….James next to speak made it £5,100. Another sigh fold, James later telling me I spoilt his action with a set of eights.
I was determined to catch the £3,700 pocket kings guys
I felt like he would make a big mistake, and with his big stack it could be lucrative, so I tried to play as many pots as possible with him.
He raised under the gun, I peeled £97 on the button and the big blind also came along. The T98 flop seemed to fit my hand pretty well, so when they checked to me I bet. Both opponents called. I felt like the big blind probably had a pair and/or a draw, a hand I might be behind but which he would fold later anyway, and the pre-flop raiser probably had two high cards.
Or maybe a pocket pair that gave him a draw.
Or two sixes perhaps.
The turn was a beautiful nine, and they both checked again.
Now it was just a matter of how much can I make…or so I thought
I bet £1,700 and was check raised by the big blind to £3,500. Hmm, what can he have?
I called to see what he did on the river. I improved to a straight on the river, seeing a six, and the big blind thought for a while then moved all in. I said I have three nines and a straight and I don’t like either, and folded.
He showed me 10s full! One of those days?
A few hands later a new player limped the button, the small blind made it up and I checked £95 off suit in the big blind. The flop was £552. Lovely. We all checked. Turn 3, and the small blind let out. I just called, the button passed. River queen, the small blind led out again.
I sighed. I can’t fold but he just looks like he’s loving life.
I call and he shows me A4 for a turned straight. Happy days. With the great structure, I’m still battling on and in the tournament, but I’d lost half my stack about five times!
I raised with two kings and saw the dreaded ace high flop. Only the small blind had called. It was checked three times, and with a queen on the board I felt I could value bet and be called by worse.
He called with his AJ and another pot went the other way. I was determined to keep positive and keep fighting, and I did knock out a shortie with two kings versus his two eights.
The very next hand I played a weird hand with Willie. I raised under the gun with two eights, mid position called and Willie defended his big blind. He only had 10bb, so I was pretty sure he’d shove anything half decent.
The flop fell TT5 with two hearts. Willie checked, I bet £1,700, the other guy passed and Willie went into the tank. He emerged with a min raise to £3,400.
I had a think about what he could have.
Of course he could flop three tens, but would he be so keen to raise at this stage in the hand?
Surely he could call; his stack was so small that he would be able to get the rest in on the river even if the turn was checked, so I didn’t get the raise.
It felt like Willie either thought/hoped I had just two big cards, or he might have a five and think he was good.
With only a pot sized bet back, I felt like the hand just didn’t make sense. I min raised back, £5,100. The whole table were scratching their heads at this play, but whatever I did that wasn’t folding would basically mean we were all in, and I thought it was more fun to do this, while also feeling like Willie would have to fold a lot and the min raise making it obvious I had his number. He could also have a flush draw which I was happy to get it in against.
Eventually, after having the clock called on him by someone, Willie folded. He told me he had two nines. I don’t believe that for one second.
Just when it felt like I had some momentum, and feeling fresh as the last level started while others around me were visibly fading, it all went wrong
I raised with two aces under the gun, and my two favourite punters called, the £3,700 two kings guy, and the guy to my right who had played too many hands and been limp folding a lot. The flop came J73 rainbow. A great flop for two aces, maybe too good, as apart from AJ, what can they call bets with? I bet £5,700 of my £33k into the £8k pot, and both called.
The turn was an 8, I bet again, this time £12.5k with about 15 back.
The first guy folded, bit the big blind asked how much I had and quickly moved all in.
This was ugly, but I couldn’t pass
He could be playing a smaller overpair this way, and was the sort to go mad with top pair. Unfortunately he’d called the flop with a middle pin, and the turned 8 was perfect for his 9T.
I was drawing dead and got up to leave, not without overhearing him telling everyone I didn’t bet enough on the flop.
I’d happily go through the maths with him of how calling 5700 when I had less than 30 back, meaning he’d have to hit one of his four outs on the turn, is pretty horrible, but whatever, he was hitting everything, had just made a house with 88 on a 97389 run out when the big blind had defended J9, made a house raising with 23 on 233xx when the big blind had defended A3, had had aces against kings, so I guess you could say it wasn’t wholly unexpected given his form!
Willie ground his short stack all day, showing proper fighting spirit, and eventually took home £24k for second place, losing to Paul Vas Nunes heads up.
I really feel like the secret to playing deep stacked tournaments is to stick in, not get knocked out, take few risks and play your stack size in relation to the big blind, rather than the biggest stacks in the room, and Willie does it almost perfectly.
A great turn out in Reading, I look forward to going back there again next year.
On the journey home I felt sick of poker. By the time I got home two hours later I was ready to play online! Gotta love this game.