Sometimes in poker you just don’t get the cards or situations to do anything.
All around you people are flopping sets, or finding the aces when someone else has got kings, or getting there with their draw against someone who doesn’t want to fold their big hand. And all you can do is sit and watch.
Actually that’s not all you can do. You can get frustrated and just have a random gamble.
Next time someone raises just stick the lot in and hope they fold, and if they don’t, hope to get lucky if they call because you obviously have the worst hand.
Sit and watching, playing patiently, giving yourself every chance to do something, pick up a hand or a situation to get some chips is a skill in itself.
Often you’ll feel like you’ve played well when you’ve run up a big stack, made a load of big hands and been paid, but showing patience and doing the best with what little ammo you’ve been provided with is also a skill in poker, and one I had to use to the max to make my 10th GUKPT final table at the recent GUKPT Luton.
I’d got a little unlucky to only come fourth in the PLO side event for £680 so went into the Main Event in good spirits. That lasted one hand!
First hand I sat down I raised with AK suited and found just the one caller in the small blind.
I bet the flop and turn on a K844 rainbow run out and while I was pretty sure I was winning, just called a river donk bet for a third of the pot, only to be shown two aces!
A few hands later I found pocket kings in the big blind. There was plenty of action before me, a raise to 250 and four calls, so I bumped it up to 1600. I got past the original raiser, but two of the callers called again.
I bet 1900 on the QJ9 flop and the first guy called before the second, the aces guy from earlier, made it 4k. Now I wasn’t loving life, but at least I had a gutshot (surely he couldn’t have KT?!) so called, as did the third guy.
An ace on the turn just about killed my hand. I checked, the second guy checked and the flop aggressor bet 10k. I threw my hand away and eventually the other guy in the pot folded trip nines face up. Aces guy showed the old T8 off for the flopped straight!
Now short stacked I had to play tight and find a spot.
I literally folded every hand of the two-hour session until the last hand before dinner when I found 66 under the gun. I shoved my 18bb and was pretty pleased to see the big stack call with just A3o. Just three outs to survive…unless you find the more painful way to lose. The dealer showed us a lovely Q9999 board to give him the nuts and send me to dinner. At least I was early for the buffet!
Bullet two was more grinding, but after lots of passing and patience, I doubled up through Martin Bader with JJ v AQ, always nice to win a race, and 28k was my new high for the day!
The structure of GUKPT’s is so good that even with a short stack, I had 30bb for day 2, and after winning an early pot with aces, I then got a much needed double up, peeling a 3b with QJ suited and finding the JJ3 flop.
That was the time to kick on.
But after a table break where I got to see Mitch Johnson make the nuts two hands in a row to double up twice. Toasty.
I seemed to be moving tables regularly, and one guy I got to spend a bit of time with was Andrew Christoforou, who came 18th in the 2016 WSOP Main Event for nearly $340k.
I’ve played with him before, but it was great to quiz him on his fantastic run in the summer and some of his big hands, especially with Will Kassouf.
One of the most amazing things he told us will be coming up on TV very soon, when he went for dinner with Will on day seven and they managed to be so late to get back that they both blinded off a million chips! Hope it was a tasty meal!
Back in Luton, I was hoping to kick on, but crucially I lost a raise with AJss v 99 to send me back to 25bb and the short stack grind continued.
I managed to make broadway sticking it in with KJ v AK.
And when I tried to nick Albert Sapiano’s limp and the blinds with KT, Albert called me with his AQ and I got there again.
As the bubble burst the shackles were off, and while I was still short, I was reminded that I’ve never cashed without making the final table. I’d bubbled twice and made nine finals, so once they lost a player in 24th on another table, it seemed like I was on the way to the final.
Day three started with just 9bb, but after consulting Max Silver’s excellent SnapShove app, where I could put in stack sizes and ante and work out which hands to play, I folded a hand I think I would probably have shoved previously, A2 suited UTG, when I would have run into AK and AQ, and next hand doubled up with TT v A4o. I was looking at the app in between hands, not during, though I did ask what the rules were to make sure I wasn’t doing anything wrong!
Now with chips I wanted to build a stack for the final, but with Albert two to my left, I managed to tangle at the wrong time and gave half of them away.
With 10 left we played hand for hand, and it could have been a sick one.
Driton Haxhiaj, who went on to win the whole thing, raised my blind from under the gun. Thankfully for me, someone shoved JT suited in mid position, allowing me to fold my pocket threes that I would have seen a flop with.
Driton had the aces, and I was cursing at the 823 flop, but an ace on the turn would have killed me. Thankfully my hand was folded and I was on the way to final table number 10, and there I doubled up straight away, winning a race with A9hh v 66.
I felt like I’d played pretty well, folding some good hands correctly and picking spots to maintain my stack, but I definitely got one wrong on the final.
I raised off about 18bb UTG with pocket tens and Ben Vinson 3b me.
It was really close, and I don’t think I’d fold jacks. I probably wouldn’t have folded tens if I’d noticed the blinds were going up soon, but I just didn’t think Ben was light, and also thought he was the best opponent out there so I didn’t really want to tangle with eight left. I found out later he had K4, so I made a bad fold but such is life.
Of course I then went through the blinds, the blinds went up and all of a sudden I was back to 10bb. I found pocket fives in early position and didn’t need to check with the app, I know that’s a shove.
Ben flatted with AJ and Paul vas Nunes reshoved and got called with AQ.
We’d had a really similar hand the night before on the feature table when a guy managed to beat AK and AQ with pocket fours. A treble up would have been lovely, and the KT9 flop wasn’t bad, but the Q on the turn had me drawing dead and Paul drawing to a chop which he couldn’t find, and both of us were out.
I picked up £6000 for my eighth place, not too shabby, and even though I’d been forced to sit and fold an awful lot and hadn’t actually played too much, I’d loved it!
It’s testament to the great structure of the GUKPT that I could sit short stack so long and still have a shot at winning the first prize of nearly £69k at the final.
I can’t wait for Blackpool, I love this time of year, so much poker! First of all Team Grosvenor are off to Ireland for the IPO at the end of October, then it’s up to Blackpool for the best week of poker of the year!
And of course just a couple of weeks after that is the Grand Final in London.
Between now and Christmas there’s over half a million quid on offer in Grosvenor events. I’m hoping to grab as much of it as possible but you’re more than welcome to join me!
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