Normally at this time of year I am in Helsinki for their freezeout but my sponsors UKBetting decided to send me to the Caribbean instead. Oh well someone has to do it!
This is the first Caribbean Classic hosted by Cryptologic who are the software providers for several internet sites including UKBetting and Totalbet. They brought in Bonnie Damiano and Jimmy Sommerfield to run what was a fantastic tournament. There were some nice touches to make it a great experience for all the players.
The first night we had a welcome party where 109 online qualifiers met for the first time and were all asking each others user id. For some this would be the first time they had played live and everyone was looking forward to it.
During the run up to the main event $5000 No Limit ‘sit n’ goes’ proved very popular and every day a dozen pizzas were brought in for the players which disappeared very quickly. On the last night there was a celebration dinner with a four course dinner - wine, champagne and entertainment. I am sure everyone here, whether they won or lost, had a great time and there will be far more runners next year.
Having had two good results recently I came here expecting to do well. I knew I would have to adjust my play as most internet players tend to be aggressive and like to play a range of starting hands regardless of position or size of raise before them, so my plan was to sit back in the first level and wait for premium hands.
During the first level of 25 50 I made it 250 to go with TT. One limper called, flop was 9 T J, both checked, turn Q, he bet 200, I called, river 8, he checked as did I. He had called my raise with K8. I knew if I had bet the flop he would have called as later I saw him call a bet on the turn with K7 on a flop of 3 9 7 T. He caught a K on the river to win.
I wasn't getting any hands so decided to test my table image and raised on the button with 34o. The BB called, flop was A 3 7, he checked and I bet 250 representing the A. He called, turn was a 3, he checked, I overbet 1100 and he called. Now I was sure he had an A but a medium kicker. River was a 6 and he called for another 500. I probably should have bet more but I won and for the only time had more than 10,000.
I picked up JJ flat called a raise but the flop was two over cards. I then took on the K8 player with AT, flop was A 7 Q and I check called to trap. Turn was an 8, I checked but he didn’t bet this time. Now I knew he probably had a second pair or KT for a straight draw. I had seen him bet these flops with those type of hands. River was a J. He bet 300 and I raised to 600. He re-raised to 1800. Oops, I passed and still had 8000.
Players were dropping out quite quickly for a $5,000 comp. I think if you have qualified for $50 on a fast clock it is hard to adapt to a one hour clock and I wasn't surprised that these players were willing to take their chances and as the final would prove the qualifiers would prevail over the "pros."
There were three world champions in the field - Russ Hamilton, Chris Moneymaker and Robert Varkoni - as well as John Kabbaj and Garry Bush, both top ten in Europe. None of us made the money!
I was looking for a chance to double through and should have been out of the comp on this hand - FP raise to 600, I had AKs and made it 1600. He called, flop was A K Q, he checked, I bet 3500 and he called. I didn't like it and checked the turn and river. He had flopped a set of Queens! I then found KK in FP and raised to 850, blinds were 150 300, one player called, flop A T 4. I checked and he bet 200 into 2150. I flipped up my Kings and he showed me his ATo. I was now short stacked so when the blinds next came round with A9s in FP I raised again the same amount. Surely after seeing my KK before I would only get called by a big hand? Wrong! The same player called, flop was A Q 3, I moved in for my last 1800 and he hesitated and then called. I said "surely you haven't got AT again?" He did! The exact same two cards that had beat my KK now knocked me out.
In my opinion I am the one who made the mistake. I should have realised that if he was willing to call before with four to act behind him for a first position raise this time I should have just been more aggressive and moved in to pick up the blinds. You never stop learning in this game - and even more so now with all these new players that internet poker is introducing to live poker I am going to have to adapt because these guys are the future.