Done & Dusted On Paradise Island
Friday, 9 January 2009
30th. Absolutely can’t complain. 30th out of 1387 players, $40k banked, giving me decent stats on the EPT 2008/9 season - so far I’ve played four events (Barcelona, London, Budapest, Nassau) and cashed in two. 50% results seems decent enough to me. Were it not for the generosity of my lovely sponsors PokerStars, I would have paid out $32,000 for the four tournaments and got back $60,200. That gives me a bit of encouragement that, should they ever take their generosity away again, I can afford to carry on playing…
So, that’s the self-consoling out of the way. Obviously I was gutted to go out, so close, so close. Maybe I could have played today’s key hand differently? But I was never going to. I started with 400k in chips, blinds 8k-16k with a running 1500 ante. This has been a very aggressive tournament, and I knew that I couldn’t open-raise with a hand that I wasn’t prepared to call a reraise (or call all-in) with. Open raises just haven’t been getting through, and it would be stupid to put in 40k out of 400 if I’d probably have to fold. So I knew that I either had to find a hand where I wanted the action, or stick to chunky reraises and hope to push people away.
Then I found 66 in the big blind. It isn’t a sparkling hand, especially when someone raises to 40k under the gun. But after yesterday, which I spent crawling on my hands and knees through Rag Desert, a pair looked pretty enormous to me. And people are liable to raise my BB more often than others, for predictable reasons. I thought I might be able to take Jason Paster (who only had about 380,000 himself) off the hand; he could be targeting the vulnerable blind of a “tight” player, and he’d probably believe me for something pretty strong. Besides, if he held AK or AQ, I wanted him to call. I was hungry to double up, and would have embraced a race very happily. I reraised to 200k, effectively signalling my commitment for all my chips, but trying to look a little stronger than a straight all-in might. Jason thought for a long time, then moved in (which I had to call, obviously) with tens. Oh well. This left me with a bit of shrapnel, which I doubled up once but then ran into QQ the second time. Should I have just passed the sixes? Maybe, but I was never going to. Should I have tried a stop-go, flat-calling and moving on the flop ? Maybe, but there was no ace there so he’d most likely have called right away. Should I have gone all-in rather than making it 200,000? Maybe, maybe. There are always options with hindsight.
Never mind. The day I start thinking that $40,000 isn’t a lot of money, I’ve gone mental and need to retire from the game. Besides, this is a fantastic place, the sun is shining, and I have a day left to try and get a tan. (If you’d like to have a look round the resort, escorted by someone whacked out on valium, staring madly and shot from a staggeringly unflattering angle, enjoy…)
I’ve met some great people - I’ve decided that the Canadians are the second nicest nation in the world, after the Danish. And (as I like to do when going abroad) I have increased my foreign language skills. Even though most people in the Bahamas speak English, I have added “insta-three-jamming” to my vocabulary, and I intend to use it frequently. No longer will I “come back over the top” or “reraise all in”, I will “insta-three-jam”, and that will take the years off me faster than Botox.
I’ll definitely come to the PCA again, it’s a great tournament in a great place. Sounds silly but the climate is a really big factor for those of us coming from Europe - it reminds me of the WSOP when it happened in the spring, before they moved it to an intolerably hot time of year which is really hard to combine with a holiday. This is just lovely for walking around, loads to do, great service and friendly atmosphere, accommodation at all different prices, plenty of poker action and poker players but enough opportunity and space to get away from that for a while when you need to. I’m a total PCA convert.
Besides, if I had never come here, I might never have seen Boris Becker smoking. What a highlight! The whole “physical fitness in poker” thing has never worked for me; all this sportswear and bottled water takes me back to the nightmare of school netball. I got into poker for the late nights, the junk food and the liver damage. So, in a world of kids in tracksuits, I was delighted to see the world-class athlete Boris Becker relaxing outside the card room in all his flame-haired glory, a genuine icon of physical perfection, puffing away on a foul Cohiba.
“On the next break”, I told Boris, “I hope to see you guzzling Coke and gorging on doughnuts”.
“Doughnuts?” shouted Boris, his eyes lighting up. “Oh, sure! I vish I hed vun now.”