Sunday, February 08, 2009

Time to improve

A long two weeks of poker and little joy. It started with a trip to Killarney. Connie put on a good show as usual put my show never got started. A short stack going into day two I was gone in 10 hands. Made an incorrect fold of two pair against Caoimh and put a bluff on a fella who was always going to call with top pair no kicker. Looking back on it I'm quite disappointed in how I played. Towards the end of day one I was extremely reckless calling people down with ace high for no reason. It was desperation stuff in what seemed like a run of a gazillion tournaments Ive played without picking up any wealth of cards.

I tried to brush myself off after my Killarney exit and relaxed for a few hours before playing a cash game that night. I played long and hard into the night and was never ahead. I ended up down €600 for the night. I watched all the other poker lads having a good time at the bar and thought of all my other friends back in Dublin who were out in town that night. Saturday night. And here was me with a bunch of 47 1/2 year olds, doing my nuts.

Sunday was another expensive day. I searched for a lift to Clonmel so I could get up to the coursing festival. 150 poker players in the Killarney main event, surely somebody would be making the trip up. Several hours later I had bagged myself a lift. A watch salesman from Galway offered me a spin for the price of the juice to get there. A central clause in the deal. The journey up was a little frightening because of three reasons. Number one he was stoned from all the hash he was smoking en route. Number two he was driving 80mph+ and overtaking everyone, even on single white lines. Number three he was talking to my face rather than looking ahead.

I arrived in Clonmel a little bit ill but relieved that this particular roller coaster was over. Then the watch-man cornered me. He wanted me to buy half his entry into the €300 tournament in return for the lift he had given me. Oh dear. The only thing that he had actually lifted was my stomach to just below my mouth, surely I wouldn't have to give him that much money? So there I was trying to reason with him that €150 was a bit much for a drive from Killarney. I offered him €50 and he snapped my hand off. This was one of the more casual muggings I have experienced. Later in the week I would encounter a much more above the line heist watching travellers playing 3 card trick outside Clonmel Racecourse, also for €50s.

I played cash that evening and posted my second losing live session of the week. I played bad and ran bad. A good effort all round. The one saving grace was that i had secured a room for €40 a night during the coursing festival. A fair saving from the €720 the Clonmel Park Hotel quoted me for a 3 nights stay. You do get one evening meal with that though.

The time was right too for our gentleman offering lifts. He got a room for next to nothing as well. In fact it was nothing. He didn't pay anything just checked out the following morning and left me with the bill. I do tend to get shafted betimes.

I played two more days in Clonmel and continued the losing streak. Rather ironically I believe I played quite well the final two days. It was tail between your legs time though and back to Dublin out of pocket. I played pitch and toss and mythical on the way back. I was €50 down on that too.

Finally it was the Red Cow and the Deepstack main event. I love this tournament and did a preview on the Poker Ireland site for this month's article. I was delighted with how I played getting late into the day Saturday and knocked out with 30 left to James McManus who went on to finish fifth. I got dealt Aces and Kings not once for the duration of the tournament. With a few more cards maybe I would have cashed.

I was delighted to see my good friend Francis McCormack win it. He is on a roll at the moment (I flagged him up in the first article of the year on Poker Ireland as a man bang in form) and not a nicer fella could take over Dara O Kearney's crown. I'm also delighted for Sean Kilroy who I urged to take a shot at the festival. He finished 9th and put in the performance of his life. Well played indeed. Sean Gregory too was another I was pleased to see do well. Obviously it was a great run by Dara too to come 15th. He defended his title valiantly.

So that's it for the foreseeable future. The Irish Open is the next big tournament. I would love to play it but I'll need to satelite in. My live fund has taken an awful hammering these past two weeks with Killarney (-1150) Clonmel (-1400) and the Deepstack (-1650). Ive got some money in my Paddy Power account which I will use to try satelite my way in. Other than that i will be be multi-tabling 1/2 for the time-being.

All these knocks seem disheartening but I feel quite happy with poker at the moment. I'm delighted that I could take these shots on my own money ans still be in action. I have no problem hibernating away for a few months and going for it again. My game is improving all the time and one day it will all click and I truly believe I will get a big score in a tournament. For the moment I'm happy to learn my trade. Grinding away online is helping to grow my foundations as a player.

As long as I am looking to improve, that's all that matters.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Catching up...

Hmmm been another long time since an update. I don't loath blogging at all but for some reason I just keep shying away from doing it. It's logging into this site that's the toughest part, after that it's a breeze!

I got knocked out of an IO sat last night on Paddy Power Poker in 5th place and 2 tickets. I wish I could play more of these type sattys than I do as I've got a solid strike rate any time I give them a shot. A diary, a plan, a scribble on my hand, I'm not sure what is needed to stop me from saying at 8.35pm on a Sunday "Damn, I missed the Irish Open/Killarney/Deepstack satellite again!"

The Irish Open is a tournament I've always wanted to play and I'm hoping this year can be my chance. With satelites running twice weekly there is no excuse for me not to be in the line-up come April. Also Killarney is not too far away and I'm looking forward to my first shot at the lakes of Killarney festival as well.

The 50,000 starting stack extravaganza ain't too far away either and I'm counting the days I must say to the Deepstack Festival II. It is a really fun tournament and a great experience to play it. It even got crowned tournament of the year on the Blonde poker site. In many ways I feel like it's an age since the first one. Yet in other ways it feels like I've been in poker slumber since last Feb. Although I've not been unsuccessful since then, I just think I have yet to achieve the same sort of glory which I took from my second place finish last year. I certainly feel as though I've aged a lot power-wise since then.

I find it interesting that Lloyd is giving the Deepstack a miss. On what seems like a sabbatical in his poker career, he has distanced himself from the game for whatever reason. There is no doubt that for all the moments of joy which you can get in poker (and the game has been good to Lloyd) it can still be more hassle than it's worth. There can be a lot of disheartening moments and when they pile up this takes from your hunger to play. For me it does anyway.

I wonder how Dara is feeling about the defence of his crown. For him too I would say it has been a long year of education in poker. He has been very consistent since but I have no doubt he too is searching for similar glory which was dished out in Drogheda last year. It's also rather interesting that he will head for the Deepstack with an even better game than last year! It's going to be hard to improve on first place!

I too am longing for a return to the poker headlines. Maybe it was a once off last year but I do believe I can achieve a lot more in this game if I concentrate on improvement.

The past 12 months I've tasted failure in lots of areas.

I don't think I ever cut it as a live cash player. For unorthodox reasons more than any perhaps. It's not that I was uncomfortable with the money or playing deep (in fact I relish both) but the late hours, the drunks, the mental pressure of being up all night and asleep all day was just too much.

I'm disappointed that I've yet to become properly successful online. Daragh has done very well and even with the hindrance of taking money every month whereas I've done merely okay and took out diddly squat. I need to play more hands and I need to play them better. Some of my hold'em manager stats are quite off and I'll be looking to keep them in check in the future. I don't think I'm a million miles behind Daragh as a player but the figures would suggest that I most certainly am. I'll be looking to try emulate Daragh more by getting back in a routine of meeting him regularly.

Another problem is that I think I have lost a lot of confidence in my game. Going into last year's Deepstack game I was on cloud nine. I wish I could smile and be happy when I'm playing rather than feeling rather apprehensious, doubting and critical of every move I make. I feel a bit like James Wade is at the moment for those who follow darts. He was always jovial as he progressed within the sport. In 2007/2008 he won three major titles out of nowhere. He deservedly became a huge name and draw and was duly built up as Taylor's fiercest rival. On the turn of the year at the Darts World Champs he looked a tired, distant image of his not-so-long-ago success. He was gloomy, down-beat and very critical on the oche every time he missed a regular shot. You could see him beat himself up and his game lost it's flow. He had lost his confidence and out went the performances too. I don't want to become like that but I do think I'm berating myself a lot more than before. End of rant!

Elsewhere I was talking about the prospect of playing the GUKPT final last time and I have since done a report on the Paddy Power blog. Also in my last entry I conducted a poll on the performance of the year in Irish poker. Congrats to Marty Smyth (the surprise winner-lol) who took the poll along with a few other awards in the Poker Ireland end of year review from December. This month's article I take a look at how recent form has lead to some stand-out trends in the results in poker tournaments of late.

That's it for now. It's been a bit of a mumbled entry but an entry none the less. I'm hoping to have a report from Killarney and the Clonmel coursing festival on my blog next as I will be playing both over the coming weeks.