Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014

Well from a poker stand point, 2013 has probably been the worst year since I started playing the game around 10 years ago.

The year started in very much the same way that 2012 had ended, by that I mean I was playing well but just not catching the breaks at the right times and more often than not running into bad beat after bad beat at the most critical of times in tournaments of reasonable significance. I also wasn’t able to grind the sit n’ go tournaments like I used to due to my increasingly restricted availability to play; that along with my lack of success in multi-table tournaments meant that I lost a lot of love for the game of poker very quicky.

I also couldn’t dedicate much time to UK Sharks which despite the fantastic efforts of many of our senior members became a little stagnant in my opinion. Whilst I would apportion some of this as a result of decreasing interest in online poker in the United Kingdom and outdated website software (hence the new site); it is ultimately my responsibility and I accept it fully.

With that said, I’m slowly but surely finding the time and love for both poker and UK Sharks once again. I think the site is coming along nicely (please let me know if you have any feedback) and we have some exciting plans for 2014.

On a positive note, my last poker tournament of the year proved to be a good one…

My Last Poker Tournament of 2013

Myself and the family spent Christmas in Scotland with my wife’s family. On Boxing Day evening, myself and my brother in law Mark (who likes his blackjack) headed off to the Grosvenor Casino in Dundee. Given the fact that we had made the hour plus journey from their house in Sauchie, Clackmannanshire twice in the past only to find no poker tournament running, I wasn’t holding out high hopes for a decent, let alone profitable poker game.

As it turns out, there was a poker tournament running, but it had started an hour ago and the buy-in was significantly more than the £20 freezeout that I’d been expecting. It was a £1,500 Guaranteed No Limit Texas Hold’em £25 (+£5 fee) re-buy/add on (£25) with the option to re-enter once (£25 + £5 fee) with an optional re-buy/add on (£25).

Since it was the only game running I took the chance and signed up, handed 12,000 starting chips I was seated at seat 4 on table 3 of 3, the blinds were 150/300 increasing every 20 minutes. There were a number of very large stacks around my table and looking down at my stack I was quietly concerned that this would be a tough game to even reach the cash places.

I took the add on (10,000 chips) early, believing that I’ll need a more sizeable stack to be able to leverage any fold equity and to allow for any dry runs of hole cards. Before I saw any hand of significant, my brother in law Mark has wandered in to tell me that the £5 bet he had put on the roulette table for his Gran had won, netting her £85 (split 13/14); regardless of anything else happening someone great who deserved it had got a bit of luck already tonight which gave me a bit of a lift.

Somewhat bouyed I looked down a short time later to see a pair of Queens, the table had proven to be extremely loose with the chippo (having 150-175,000 chips) in particular pushing the action and seeming to call with any two cards just for the gamble. Managing to build a decent sized pot whilst seeing off a couple of chancers, with only the chip leader (seat 6) left in, I was pleased to see a rainbow flop of 3-7-9. First to act, I put in a raise of around a third of my remaining stack (5,000 of 15,000) and my opponent reraises me all-in for my remaining 10k. Around 60k in the pot and against someone who has played almost every hand since I’ve sat down, I have to call.

He turns over 5-3 off suit and I’m well ahead but a 5 on the turn sees my joy turn to despair and a blank on the river leaves me exiting the tournament witin 45 minutes of taking my seat.

As previously mentioned there was a re-entry option available for the tournament, but I was hesitant at the expense as I certainly wasn’t inclined to take a £110 hit without a reasonable chance of making the money.

Given the venues disregard for smokers, the balcony being closed meaning that you have to walk back down three flights of stairs, go through the barriers and stand outside the front of the building, not to mention their insane decision to ban vapour cigarettes; I had to take a quick break and come to a decision. Having taken 5 minutes for a smoke and brought myself a pint of Tenants (when in Scotland), I stood watching Mark play blackjack for a while.

Just like the previous to occasions where Mark and I have visited this casino, I prove to me a lucky charm (he makes a nice profit, I lose everything playing games I don’t normally play because there aren’t poker tournaments). He goes from being £10 down (starting with £30 and on £20) to a £60 profit within 10 minutes. I take the decision to buy-in once more to the tournament but whilst I have the funds available in the bank to cover the re-buy/add on, I don’t quite have it in cash and so I figure this is a good thing. There’s now around 30 or so players with the guaranteed prizepool likely to be exceeded. My last table was very loose but I’d remained silent and it was evident that without exception every player in the tournament had played together and had some familiarity …with the exception of me.

Despite Mark’s objections at losing his lucky mascot, I re-entered and took my seat at seat 1 on table 1.

A well played straight early saw me triple up soon after sat back down and for the first time I felt like I had the chips to make a real impact on the tournament and not just make the money to break even and prevent it from being an expensive night that I could in all honesty ill afford.

A short period of grinding and Pokect Aces stand up for me in a decent sized pot and all of a sudden I’m the chipleader, or there-a-bouts; although we’re still on three tables with roughly 22-25 players and there are a lot of big stacks.

I fished for a hand and got lucky, hitting an Ace on the river (with (Ah-4h) when I probably shouldn’t have been calling on the turn and river. Karma would bite me when despite starting with the best of it with J-J against 9-9 and K-9, a rivered King would leave me amongst the competing pack as opposed to the dominant leaders in a huge pot.

I’m proud to say that I didn’t let this hand get to me at a pivitol point in the tournament as shortly after, given a series of well played hand leading to the elimination of a fair number of the shorter stacks, I found myself right back up amongst the leading pack of the 15 or so players now split over two tables at the break with the end of the re-buy/add on period.

Around this time Mark decided to once again pay me a visit, it would seem that he doesn’t necessarily need my luck as he’s almost £130 up for the night and still running well. Despite being in a reasonably comfortable position within the tournament, I’m feeling a little pressure to at least win back my outlay given his and Gran’s success.

The dealer at my table seems to have it in for me as I struggle to stack the vast number of low denomination chips (I’m sat next to him and there isn’t much room) and he makes a few ‘sensitive’ decisions against me that cost me a not insignificant amount and despite my quiet demeanor thus far, I’m beginning to feel some hostilatity from the locals.

I managed to play a couple of great hands at key times though leading to more eliminations and a highly competitive stack for me; when a couple of huge hands on the other table saw massive swings and more players knocked out, I suddenly found ourselves on the final table with only seven players left.

The tournament paid 6 places approximately as follows:

1st = £610
2nd = £415
3rd = £285
4th = £230
5th = £175
6th = £125

Total Prizepool = £1,840 (approx.)

Luckily it didn’t take long for the bubble to burst and the final six of us were congratulating ourselves on being in the money within half an hour of the restart.

To my appreciation every single player remaining were smokers and agreed on a quick break. A quick visit to Mark at the blackjack put a little pressure on me as he continued to build up to a near £190 profit, not including Gran’s £85 win; I was going to have to play well and not be intimidated when I was well placed to finish high in the payouts.

With a change of dealer, a mutual sense of relief as a result of making it into the money and a little camaraderie through our cigarette breaks, the final table had a much more accepting ambience. The level of play was higher and I continued to use good judgement to pick up decent sized pots, calling bluffs at the right times and making the most of the reasonable hands I was receiving without risking many of my chips.

Soon enoough (around half an hour later), it was finally down to myself and one last opponent. He was complaining of a headache, that he was tired and he wanted to get home (it was around 02:00); “he’d be happy to cut a deal”.

A little ruthelessly, I decided against any deal; heads-up we were about equal in chips and I knew I had the momentum in my favour. Two hands later I got a pair of 9’s which stood up after raised me all-in pre-flop and what what little chips he had left were quickly taken away on the very next hand.

So, I took first place for £610 (funny Scottish money), Mark won around £250 and Gran £85 (without going). A good night in all and hopefully a sign of the great things ahead in 2014.

My Final Words for 2013

All the very best to you and those you love not just in the new year but the many years ahead; try to have a positive outlook and give it your all from the start.

Happy New Year!

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One Comment to "Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014"

  1. Crumble says:

    Thank Stu, a good post and a good read. And what a fine boost to your Christmas spirits!

    It’s good to remind yourself that you really can play this game, hopefully you can harness the enthusiasm to kick on in 2014.

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