My 2011 Part 1 - Australia
Oct. 13, 2011
Well 2011 has certainly been an interesting year for me.
The year started with a trip for me to Australia for the Aussie Millions which was sponsored by my former sponsors Full Tilt. It was the third time I had been in four years and certainly one of my favorite destinations on the poker circuit. The first time I went I got fairly deep in the Main Event, busting 57th for $25,000. In 2010 I had another decent run in the Main Event, finishing 24th for $50,000, and also ended up one of the big winners in the high stakes cash game.
2011, however, could not have gone much worse for me. I played 4 events and the High Stakes Cash game and literally everything I touched turned sour. It started off in the $25k Full Tilt Invitational with arguably one of the toughest tables with players such as Patrik Antonius, Phil Ivey, James Bord, David Benyamine and Johnathan Karamaklis. This tournament, like many I have played before in the past, was a crapshoot just to make a television programme as we all started with 60 BB with the blinds going up every 20mins or so. I never really got going and had no spots until I got a nice timely double against Billy Argoylsis with AA against his AJ. However the first hand after the break, Patrik min raised UTG and naturally I shoved with about 10BB with QQ, Patrick snap called with AK but unfortunately the K came on the flop. But my close friend James won the heat and ended up coming second overall so I enjoyed cheering him on at the final table.
The next event I played was the $10k Main event. I was hoping that I would go one better than last year and was certainly pleased with my table draw. I felt there were a couple of other strong players but certainly was feeling confident. With a 30k starting stack, it didn’t take me too long to double this up to 60k but then an interesting hand occurred for me where I lost 90% of my chips. A player opened in early position, a young strong German called next to speak and in the small blind I wake up with KK. I had been probably been the most aggressive player on the table so I was certainly expecting some action and I made a three bet. The initial raiser folded but the German guy called. The flop seemed a fairly innocent 7 4 2 rainbow board, and naturally I went for a half pot sized bet hoping that I would get called by any pocket pair (hopefully one that hasn’t connected with the flop!). The turn was a 9 which bought 2 diamonds, again a card that seemed like it changed nothing unless of course he had 99 and I decided to continue my aggression and go for another half pot sized bet. The German guy called. Now I thought if he had the set he would raise here because of the flush draw so I was pretty sure he was making a stubborn call with 66 88 or maybe even had TT or JJ. The river was an offsuit 6 and with about 30k in the pot and my opponent having about 25k, I had an interesting spot. Do I bet fold, bet call, check call or even check fold? I just thought if I bet 12k it would look exactly like AA KK and the only chance I can get value is by shoving to look more bluffy. I could even check fold if I suspect my opponent has a set, or check and reevaluate depending on how much my opponent bets. Against a weak player, I would definitely bet small or even check as I think they are folding so much, but against a strong player I feel the all-in is the correct play. That is what I did – he snapped and I knew I was beat. ‘One pair’, I exclaimed. He said ‘Ok which one’. I still thought I was beat so I said ‘just one pair’. He said ‘yes but I called you so I want to see’. So I turned over my Kings praying they were good but of course he flopped the nuts, 777, and had the nerve to slowroll me! ‘I wanted to see your cards for information, this game is about information’ he exclaims. I was not happy to say the least and told him you should never make your opponent turn over a losing hand, he apologised and that was the end of that. I was down to 10k and wasn’t long before I busted.
So 2 out of 2 haven’t gone well. Now it was time for the $100k Highrollers, where if you want any run good this would certainly be the event for it! About 28 players put up the $100k buy-in and my table certainly was full of tournament sharks. Sorel Mizzi, Peter Jetten, and James Bord to name but a few. I knew it was going to be hard to accumulate chips. Sorel was raising a vast majority of hands and I never really had anything to get going until I defended his button raise with a suited Ace, flopped the flush and check raised small to which, he told me at the break, he folded Kings! I eventually moved tables but really struggled, didn’t have many great spots and was just surviving. With two tables remaining, I probably had the most in form UK player on my right with a lot of chips, Sam Trickett, which was never going to be easy. With about 20bb I opened from the cut off to 12k and Sam three bet the button to 25k with about 400k back. I had 100k total and thought this was a good spot to 4bet jam as I know Sam doesn’t have to a hand to three bet in this position so that is what I did, but it is never nice when you get snap called by Aces and you are drawing deader than dead. However, like my TV heat, Sam is a good friend of mine in the UK Poker scene so I was absolutely delighted for him when he took down the title.
The last tournament I played was last minute due to a friend kindly offering to back me for a substantial amount of my buy-in. The opportunity to win the largest ever buy-in poker tournament was too great to turn down. My table included two of the Macau Billionaires who play recreationally that I definitely targeted as the soft spots, but equally they could play and would not be pushed around. I also had Sam on my table, who again had position on me, and also one of the best tournament players in the world, Eugene Katchalov. I registered as one of the last players and as the tournament needed to be completed within a day there certainly wasn’t too much skill in it. I did however get a nice timely double up after the break shoving with 77 and getting called by one of the Macau players with A7 of spades and dodging the 8 6 4, two spade flop. What a sick $250k sweat! I went into the final table of nine with above average chips, but with players like Phil Ivey, Chris Ferguson, Erik Seidel, David Benyamine and Sam Trickett... it couldn’t have been much easier! I really struggled on the final table. I had to fold AT and 88 to three bets and woke up with no hands in the blinds until Sam – the chip leader – three bet the button and I had AQ with about 25 BB in the blinds. I was thinking, is Sam really going to take me out another highroller event? I decided to let it go and afterwards Sam told me he had AK. With 7 players and 12 BB I was in the cut off with 99, naturally I shoved only to run into Benyamines KK in the big blind. Massive congratulations most go to Erik Seidel for winning this event and overtaking Ivey and Negreanu as the all time leading player with now over $15 million dollars in tournament earnings. I was upset that Sam didn’t take it down after having a 5-1 chip lead heads up, but still another fantastic cash for him and some way to start 2011!
So surely the cash game would go better as that is what I predominately play online. I thoroughly enjoy playing cash games and have a very good record. Previously I have been the big winner of both the Party Poker Den Cash Game and Eurobet England vs. France. I also ended in the top three winners in both Full Tilt Million Dollar Cash Game London and Melbourne 2010. I felt over the two sessions I played pretty decent. I didn’t make too many errors until my arch nemesis in TV formats, David Benyamine, defended the BB with 34 of clubs when I had 55. After a flop of A 5 2, Benyamine simply check called the flop, turn, and my value shove all-in on the river which was a $270k pot. I also lost a $100k pot to him the following session when I four bet pre flop with AK, he called with JJ, and I check folded on the QJ4 flop. I had my first big losing session on a TV cash game of about $100k but it just seems that for me Australia wasn’t meant to be. And on top of that I got sun burnt the first day I went out in the strong Aussie sun. So the Aussie Millions 2011 couldn’t have ended any quicker for me. I went with a friend to visit my brother and his wife in Singapore where he is working as a pilot and then came back to London in March pretty exhausted of poker.
When I look back on Aussie Millions 2011, like any other poker professional I have to look at it with a philosophical mind. Although it certainly took a hit to my bank balance, 3 out of the 4 tournaments I played were turbo formats all starting with 60-100 BB and the short term variance in these events is going to be volatile to say the least. The same three players cashed in both high rollers – Trickett, Benyamine and Seidel – so pretty much everyone else was heavily down. In the main event I took a cooler in the early stages, and in the cash game Benyamine had the better of me in two big pots. When I put all that into context, there wasn’t really much I could do. The poker gods weren’t on my side and life goes on. My brother’s wife came back with me from Singapore and over the next few weeks I needed to sort a few bits out. I had been out of London for 3 months.
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