TrickyRock Takes on the Best in Paris
Sorry guys, I won’t be home for a while…
I am currently in the air between Paris and Prague, where the next installment of the EPT starts tomorrow, in what has become an unlikely and unexpected poker road trip. Though it is a lot of fun to travel to these kind of places, I am already missing the people and comforts of home. For the first time, I can feel a tiny bit of sympathy for the older English guys, and the way things used to be.
Before the deluge of big regular tournaments in England, the only way to play tournament poker for the now-veterans was to spend much of the time travelling round Europe, following a much thinner circuit of tournaments. However, you can only have so much sympathy for these guys, and their ridiculously lucky way of being able to make a living.
So, why did I never make it home before Prague?
This week saw the European Poker Awards celebrate the best performers of the year in Paris, and the organisers decided to sandwich the event with a big buy-in 5,000 Euro tournament. Europe’s best were present in the form of Soren Kongsgaard, who likely to be crowned European No. 1 at the end of the year, and some of his nearest challengers Andreas Krause, Annette Obrestad and Trond Eidsvig.
I was not thrilled to find myself at a starting table with Bertrand “Elky” Grospellier and the young Norwegian Annette. Her persistent aggression in the form of raises and re-raises was ruthless and near impossible to play against, and the young Frenchman “Elky” plays with a startling but justified confidence.
A tricky spot came against wily Frenchmen Patrik Bruel, as my on a was not in such good shape as it seemed against
his . It had me reeling down to 5,000, half the starting stack.
I at least now had a stack that was easy to play, as it gave me a great opportunity to make the squeeze play all-in in pots which were raised by the aggressive players and called by the looser calling-type players. Moves with and squeezed through, and I was back in the game a little.
I still had to achieve something I have not done for a long time in a big tournament, and that was to win a race. Holding against , I was mightily happy to see the board come , and to be staying in Paris for the second day, and with 19,100 in chips.
A new table on the second day would prove no respite. Andreas Krause made a quite incredible call against my river bluff on a board with just high! His play, however, was not the most fearsome. Young Frenchman Anthony Lellouche dominated the table with some quite incredible play, and was extremely unlucky to not build a massive stack, losing four out of the four times he was all-in.
Luckily, one of these race situations was against me, as a move with seemed to have gone horribly wrong as Lellouche quickly announced “CALL.” I was lucky that I had live cards against his , and luckier still to hit an amazing flop.
This stroke of luck combined with Lellouche’s departure to give me a good opportunity at the table, and I tried to get tricky as the action tightened towards the end of the night. Raising with , I hit a decent flop of after likeable Frenchman Patrik Robert had called from the big blind. His pot-sized bet of 3,500 was not great news, but gave me an opening in the hand. I made it 13,000 in an attempt to represent an overpair, and was buoyed to see him show the upon passing.
Soon we were approaching the bubble after two long and tough days’ play, and players became more tense and guarded. I admittedly was one of this crowd, desperate to cross the thin line between disappointment and elation.
With ten players left, one unfortunate player would miss out both on the money spots, and on the final table. Perhaps the toughest part of this type of situation is feeling so much emotion inside and not being able to show it. You feel desperate to know whether the end is coming soon, but know that even a shifted glance at the short stacks on the other table will give these feelings away. With a stack of about 60,000, I decided to put pressure on the shorter stacks at my table. A couple of shifty re-raises squeezed through, including a re-raise all-in with from the big blind.
And suddenly, all the players sprung to their feet. A short stack was all-in on the other table, and surprisingly it was German Andreas Krause. Even better, his was in awful shape against American Mark Friedman’s . I saw the board only as far as , before turning to celebrate with the other players at my table. Two hours of surpressing our emotions ended with a surge of relief, and I was delighted to be coming back for a third day, and the final table.
In what had been a star-studded event, the nine player final table would be surprisingly short of big name players. Fellow Englishman Joseph Grech was the only player I recognised. I would be playing in seat five with 96,000 chips, just below the 98,000 average.
I was prepared to take advantage of early nerves with a raise on the first hand, but was not surprised to see tricky American Mark Friedman beat me to it. Frenchman Patrik Robert was a fellow disbeliever of the American’s raise, as he amazingly made a massive move all-in for his entire stack with . The American announced a confident “call,” his held up, and straight away we were down to eight.
My window into the action would come soon after as I limped into a four-way pot with . A flop of gave me only a gutshot, and we checked the action round. A on the turn gave me now an up and down straight draw, but put a third heart on the board.
Three players checked round to me, and I made my first awful read of the tournament. The third heart on the board made me believe that anyone who had flopped a big hand would have had to bet on the turn. A made flush definately seemed unlikely as I felt sure that at least two of the other three players would have bet a flush draw on the flop. I felt confident that a bet of 14,000, just under the size of the pot, might get through, but was thwarted with a re-raise to 40,000 from the American.
The very next hand, I found in the small blind, as Joe Grech raised to 8,000 in a middle position. It would be a really tricky spot to play; it is difficult to flat call and play this hand out of position, but dangerous also to re-raise and face a horrible decision should the other player move all-in. I decided that Grech would give me an honest answer, and made it 25,000 to go. Grech pondered for a while, seeming to consider all three options avaliable to him.
His eventual flat call looked very much like ace-king. For that reason, the flop came as very bad news, and I folded to Grech’s quick move all-in.
Down to 55,000, I was wounded, but still felt very much in the game. Buoyed as we lost another player in eighth place, I raised with on the cut-off, and was pleased when a bet got through on the flop.
The action seemed to quicken a little as a few players seemed content to have avoided the early-exit positions; Frenchman Jean-Marc Luc opened his game up in absolutely the right way. Sitting two seats to my left, he took advantage of my aggression by twice re-raising all-in, and I had to give up my hand both times.
I managed to keep a decent position in the game for a while with a stack of about 50,000, and was delighted to look down at in third position. Better still was the news that the American Friedman had limped for 5,000 under the gun, and the table’s short stack moved all-in for 42,000 in the next position. I did not mind letting the American know that I had a very strong hand, and slammed my chips into the pot in an overly quick all-in.
He eventually made the right decision and passed face up, which was especially good news as the all-in player simultaneously tabled . A flop of kept me in the lead, but the which hit the turn was a dagger through my heart.
As I gathered my stuff to leave, I felt gutted that my luck hadn’t been able to survive one more hand. You may have realized it already- I had forgotten that of course I had a few thousand left! I sat back down, determined to survive one or two more spots up the ladder. Amazingly, I looked down straight away at , and shoved my last 6,700 into the pot. Jean-Marc Luc gave me a real helping hand by himself moving in himself, and suddenly there was a real opportunity to get back into the game in a pot of over 25,000. I was disappointed to see him table , and a on the turn meant that I was now walking for sure.
I felt a couple of moment’s disappointment that the final table had not gone as hoped. However, taking it all in, I felt happy as three fun and challenging days’ play ended with me picking up 16,700 Euros.
And what of Prague, where I have now landed, and am waiting for the start of the EPT tomorrow? Do I feel pokered out after playing for three days, with all the highs and lows of emotions? Not in the slightest- bring it all on again!