MPNPT Tallinn 2015
Once known as Big Red Castle, it’s not surprising to learn that Tallinn, Estonia’s picturesque capital, is a favourite among tourists looking for a bit of history that’s easy on the eye. The Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the city was a European Capital of Culture in 2011. Sounds a great place to visit, and thus a perfect venue for the third leg of the MPN Poker Tour, which took place January 15-18, 2015 at the Olympic Casino Olümpia.
Winning a package via 32Red Poker is a perfect way to experience a live poker festival, and our players had the added bonus that the casino, a very well respected poker venue, is part of the luxurious Radisson Blu Olümpia hotel, where they stayed.
The Main Event was a €500 + €50 No Limit Hold’em tournament with a €40,000 guaranteed prize fund. The combination of a decent structure (25,000 starting chips, 60-minute levels), late registration and unlimited re-entries during the first six levels made for some interesting poker and some awkward decisions.
Having collected their free chips to use at the tables, drinks vouchers and a free sports bet given away by the casino upon joining, Angus Dunnington (Scotland), Simon Taylor, Bruce Shannon (England), LeoLeou (Northern Ireland) and Vladimir Pastushenko (Ukraine) took their seats in the tournament room. Note that, ultimately, 122 players actually entered and, with 26 re-entries, this made for an effective total of 148 entries, thus generating a prize pool of over €70,000 for the top 12 places, with over €20,000 for the winner… well worth playing for.
There was also the added incentive of making an impression in the MPN Poker Tour Player of the Year, which offers as a fantastic first prize free entry to all of the MPNPT Main Events in 2016 (plus a unique trophy).
Angus got off to a decent start but the late arrival of a talkative, dominating Swede to his left seriously cramped his style. He eventually made his exit just before the end of the play for the day when, finding aces for the very first time in the tournament, he got it all in but ran up against a bigger stack’s 555. Meanwhile, the structure might have been welcomed by some, but LeoLeou coped with what he perceived to be the tedium by turning to his iPad for entertainment. This might not necessarily be recommended strategy, but whatever works, and he managed to find a path through the jungle to end Day 1 with 17,900 chips, a little behind Simon’s 23,600 but out of touch with chips leader Revo Rink, who was already racing off into the distance with a stack of 215,000!
In terms of the Main Event, fortune didn’t shine on our players today. As the blinds increase the significance and implications of taking a hit – or even failing to keep your head sufficiently above water to afford much-needed breathing space and flexibility – can grow conspicuously problematic, even with the tournament’s player-friendly structure.
With good opportunities difficult to come by, any ‘decent’ looking hand assumes far greater importance than would normally be the case, while premium holdings are like gold dust. Simon Taylor found himself with KK but, unfortunately, ran into a pair of ace. Coincidences tend to be more memorable when associated with good or bad fortune and, for Simon, it was the latter, as he’d exited the event in the same manner as his fellow 32Red Poker player, good friend and roommate in Tallinn, Bruce Shannon…
Meanwhile, LeoLeou was still battling away or, in his words: ‘Hand dead at new table. Going to get blinded out’ – which was a more practical assessment of his chances than a show of pessimism, as anyone who has spent time with the likeable player will confirm. Later he was ‘still hanging on’ with around 50K in chips when the average was 95K and, eventually, after 3-betting a big stack with 88 and shoving a 10, 10, 2 flop, he had come up against A, 10 and the 32Red Poker assault on the Main Event had finally come to an end.
The players met up in the Old Town, which is well worth a visit, the plan being to recharge the poker batteries and try their luck in Event 4 on Day 3. Ukraine’s Vladimir Pastushenko had other ideas. He had already made up for exiting the Main Event by taking 2nd place in the 24-player €135 + €15 NLH tournament, and today he made another final table in the €110 + €10 NLH, finishing in 6th place – all the more impressive considering there 105 players this time around.
Our players, suitably refreshed, sat down for the €135 + €15 NLH ‘Big Night Out’ event. This was a sort of quasi freezeout with re-starts available during the early levels which, unlike the 60-minute blind levels in the Main Event, were this time only 20 minutes.
At one table, Angus Dunnington, Bruce Shannon and Vladimir Pastushenko were all next to each other. Bruce got off to a flying start, re-raising a player on the steal more than once, making a nice (check-) call on the river with a not very attractive but ‘strong’ enough hand and, even taking into account a bit of inevitable bad luck, deservedly built a hefty looking stack. Unfortunately a series of big pots highlighted how quickly the proverbial wheels can come off the poker train as it hurtles along, and his disappointment will have been heightened by the fact he lost out to players whose understanding of the game doesn’t approach his. That, of course, is one of the occupational hazards of poker, but it always feels particularly cruel nonetheless.
Angus felt he didn’t seem to get going, yet Bruce’s exit ironically coincided with his recovery. After barely waking up for much of the tournament he was suddenly able to take advantage of his hitherto dormant table image. All good things come to an end, as they say and, as he was starting to finally move up gears, his Q-high straight came up against a K-high straight.
The 32Red Poker presence did continue, though, with LeoLeou finishing in 5th place in the 59-player tournament.
The last poker fix came in the form of the €50 + €5 Pot Limit Omaha which, with only 39 entries, paid out just five spots. While most of the players were relaxing and thinking of their flight home and the next quest, the indefatigable Simon Taylor took 5th place.
Tallinn is a nice place for a poker festival and our players enjoyed their time both exploring what the city has to offer (Can-Can dancers at the casino proved to be a popular, albeit unexpected form of entertainment, but it’s the picturesque capital itself that lives up to its expectations) and the poker itself (although the frustrating nature of poker means some enjoyed it more than others).
As for the festival, the numbers proved quite encouraging in the context of the MPN Poker Tour, with the 148 Main Event entries here – after 109 in Malta and 89 in London, translating to official first prizes of €20,387 in Tallinn, €15,330 in Malta and €9,465 in London – showing how the tour is going from strength to strength.