I arrived for Day 2 of the £1500 No Limit main event of the Midland Masters in Walsall with specific goals. Firstly, I wanted to make the final 10 and, secondly, gun for a top 6 finish. I knew that despite being below the average chip count of 41,500 – I had 28,800 - I would not be under pressure as the blinds were still 800 1600. Also I liked the lineup on my table and felt if I could make the last two tables with a double up I had a good chance.
We finished the 800 1600 round and I played no hands dropping to 25,600. Then on the second hand of 1000 2000 I picked up AK and raised to 7000. One player went all in for 14,500 and I had an easy call. He turned up AJ, a K flopped and I was back to 40,000.
At this stage players were dropping fast and there was one to go before we had two tables left. In the BB with no raise I saw a flop of 3 4 8. I had 56o, both checked, turn was a 7, the sb bet 2000 and I raised to 7000. He called. Ok, I thought, just no club for the flush or any pairing card. River was the 4 of clubs! Luckily he checked and my straight won a nice pot.
We now broke to two tables and I ended up between the two chip leaders both with over 100,000. I then saw an interesting hand. Three players went all in and the sb called with AK. The cards then went over, one had KQ, one had AK and the other QQ. Thus the KQ was drawing dead to a straight and the QQ was a big favourite with only one K left and two Aces. Unfortunately just when you think you're going to be back in the game the flop brings an A and two players split the pot!
Yesterday I got lucky with 69 in the BB today it happened again. SB limped and flop came K 5 8. Check check, turn 3, both check again, river was a perfect 7. Now he bet 8000. I raised to 16000 but no call and I wasup to 59,900. We had just finished the 1500 3000 level and there were 13 players left and average was 83,000.
In the SB I had TT. First position raised to 14,000 and I reraised all in for 50,000. He called with 99 and I doubled up to over 100,000. On the next hand I raised the blinds with KQs on the button. The SB called. I knew this player liked to lead out on the flop if he thought you had missed with an A. Flop was Q 4 6 and he bet 10,000. I raised to 40,000, no call came and he showed 55. I ended the level with 124,000.
I then lost the minimum with QQ. There was one to go to the final and I had done what I needed to do so I just flat called for 6000. Flop was A K 4 and my hand was finished. On the next hand we lost the 10th player. In first position he had raised to 20,000, passed to the BB who moved in for 45,000. The FP called for his last 18,000 and showed AKs. The BB had ATs and spiked a T. I had made the final with 109,000 average was 120,000!
The final was televised by the casino for a DVD they were going to produce so we were introduced one by one and there was an audience seated making for a great atmosphere. We lost two players in the first few hands when the player to my right in seat
6 - who had just won a pot - raised to 16,000. I had JJ and flat called. Flop was K 8 9. We both checked. Turn 4, he bet 15,000 and I called. River was another 4, he checked as did I. He won with KTo. The reason I flat called with the JJ was there were 4 to act behind me and I was hoping one would raise. Then I would move in to get it heads up depending on what the original raiser did.
One round later and in the SB I found JJ again. This time when the button raised to 25,000 I went all in for 63,000 but no call. I showed the JJ as if to say “look at the hands I am getting,” and when all passed to me on the button raised the blinds to 15,000 with 23o. The BB called, flop was J J 7, he checked and so did I, turn was an A. Now when he checked I represented the A and bet a small 7000. He passed and I picked up a 33,000 pot. The reason I bet small on the turn was because he had slow played trips and he was now going to move in and I could get away cheap. I was back up to 111,000.
The player who earlier raised with KTo liked to see flops especially on his big blind so when I raised with 88 to 18,000 I was not surprised when he called. Flop came J 7 2, we both checked. Usually I would bet here but he could easily have a hand like JQ or KJ. Turn was a T and he bet 15,000. I decided he had hit the T - probably with a suited 8 or 9 - or maybe an Ace and decided that although I knew I was losing if I called there were a lot of cards I could bluff with on the river. It all depended on his reaction. I watched him as the dealer rivered a K and knew he didn’t like it. He probably put me on AK or KQs as either gave me over cards and straight draws on the turn which was exactly what I wanted him to think. He checked and I bet 25,000. He passed and said “I didn't like that K,” to which I replied, “good lay down, I figured a Q K or A would win it.”
I then got JJ again in FP and limped in. Both blinds checked and the flop came A J 3. Check to me and I bet 25,000 but sadly got no callers. We then finished the 3000 6000 level and I was up to 166,000 with six players left. Goal 2 had been achieved, the 720 points if I were to go out now would propel me from 19th in the European rankings to 10th. Now my goal was to win.
During the first 25 minutes of 4000 8000 I got blinded away. The one time I raised on the button to 24,000 the BB moved all in for 80,000. I had A9s but passed as he had never shown anything less than AK or 99 or higher. I dropped down to 109,000 and we lost a player and were down to 5. The structure here was very top heavy – ninth to sixth paid £4000 to £5600 and fifth place was only £6500. First was£68000! With less than 10% of the chips in play it made financial sense to do a deal. I agreed to a split based on chips provided we still played for £20,000. This was agreed by all and I was now guaranteed 3rd place money with £14,900.
On my SB I raised with AQ and the chip leader in the BB reraised. I went all in and he called with JJ. I hit a Q and now had 200,000 - just under average. I fancied my chances now especially as I bluffed a flop of A Q 8 7 on the turn with a straight draw which got called, then I bluffed again on the river when the board paired the Q to win with T high. But it wasn't to be! After blinding back down to 147,000 the player who beat my JJ at the beginning with KTo raised to 40,000 and found AQ in the SB. I moved all in for 107,000 more. Would you call with AT?
He did but explained that his reason was that his hand got him to the final which indeed it did. This was the player who knocked out the guy in 10th when his AT of hearts beat AKs and he spiked a T. This time he had the same AT of hearts against my AQ but flopped a flush draw and completed on the turn. After nearly an hour of five handed play I finished 5th. I was happy with the way I played and pleased to get another decent result in my first event after winning in Amsterdam. This was my 29th No Limit final with a higher than 500 Euro entry and I had achieved the goals I set myself for the event.
I hope these series of reports have given you plenty to think about as regards your game. I look forward to my next event which is a $5000 No Limit in St Maarten played over 3 days. If all goes to plan it will be enjoyable to write about. If not I'll be sunbathing and diving, after all there's more to life than poker!