Interview with Team32Red’s Colum Higgins
There’s nothing we like to see more than our Team32Red qualifiers having a great time at poker festivals around the globe, both on and off the tables. It’s also great when one of our players has a big win, and one such is Colum Higgins.
The 25-year-old from Dublin won a €555 Main Event seat for the recent MPNPT Battle of Malta at 32Red Poker. Not only did this record-breaking event have an enormous field of 4,657, but the €1,000,000 guarantee was broken with two Day 1 starting flights still to go, eventually reaching a staggering €2,258,645! Colum managed to bob and weave all the way to the Final Table, where he had just six Big Blinds, yet he finished in 4th place for a €75K payout. He also managed to win a €1,500 package for MPNPT Madrid as one of the Last Longer qualifiers.
Here is his interview:
32Red: Hi Colum! How are you feeling today?
Colum: Pretty good – yesterday and today are probably the first days I’m starting to get over the disappointment of not winning the whole thing! I keep having flashbacks to the AQ hand, wishing I had played it differently or somehow found a fold on the turn. It’s hard to explain to non-poker players, but every single person in the tournament is disappointed unless they take down the whole thing – no matter how much they win.
Then I sort of kick myself and realise I did pretty damn well…
32Red: Yes! Congratulations on your 4th place finish – and €75K win! Has it sunk in yet?
Colum: Honestly not in the slightest, my closest big score to this was around 10k so to even see my Hendon Mob ranking jump by around 3x total live earnings is huge.
My normal game is 1/2 Hold’em so this is not something I thought would happen so soon. I am still getting messages of support/congratulations and it’s honestly hard to wrap my head around!
32Red: You won a satellite at 32Red Poker for a €555 Main Event buy-in. Did you re-enter at any point or did you reach the Final Table without having to stick your hand in your pocket?
Colum: I had two bullets at a €75 satellite on 32Red and, after winning a seat, I got an email asking which day I would like to play, and decided on Friday 18th.
I arrived on Wednesday with seven of my friends. The majority of them planned to play on Thursday so they could re-enter if needed! So off I went to the registration desk asking to change my start day to Thursday in case I wanted to play again the following day. The Reg desk sent me to the payout desk, who then sent me to the MPN team. The MPN team said they had to wait on the head boss for him to approve me changing my starting day and he had just popped out! So then I decided, you know what – I’ll just play the following day! I’m a very laid back guy in general and said don’t worry about it. I’ll go explore Malta for a few hours! After waiting in a few queues and being passed from team to team I decided it wasn’t meant to be. Overall I’m very glad it was too much hassle for me to change starting days!
32Red: Any memorable hands in the lead up (Day 1 & 2) to the Final Table?
Colum: There were definitely a few mad ones! The most memorable, as it got the biggest reaction from my opponent, was getting 77 all in preflop vs JJ and spiking a 7 on the river! My opponent was an Italian lady decked out in a poker room’s patches and hat; I’m not sure who she was but she loved talking and was conversing with everyone in English and Italian. After an initial scream, and telling me how lucky I was when the river fell, she went very quiet for the remainder of the day!
Two other hands which were the most fun for me: opening TdTs in Middle Position and calling a 3-bet vs a young guy in the Small Blind. He proceeded to bet, bet, jam maybe 70-80BB on a Qd 5d 9c 4s 2c board.
After tanking for a few minutes on the river I called and he gave me a look of disgust when I tabled my hand to beat his KJo. I wouldn’t say I have much knowledge/experience in live reads, but he looked fairly uncomfortable and after playing with him for a few hours I definitely felt he was capable of barreling off here. I had probably one of the worst hands to call it down with but I generally try to find reasons to call instead of reasons to fold!
The final hand – which again wouldn’t be very strategically sound – was when I flatted the Button vs Middle Position with 22. A very tight BB 3-bet and the original raiser and I tagged along. The Flop was AT6, both players check and I bet around 30% of the pot, expecting to get heads-up, and amazingly both call… At this stage I’m giving up on the hand but the Turn card is T and my immediate reaction is I am probably the only person in the hand who can really have sets (apart from the BB having AA) and the nut straight. Both players check again, and after a few seconds I rip for maybe 80% of the pot. The BB folds (later says he has AQ) and the MP player tanked for maybe 3 or 4 minutes before asking me to show.
He then mucks his cards and the whole table chimes in so I said “just for fun” and showed a single deuce. Saying that MP player was not impressed would be an understatement, but the rest of the table cheered!
32Red: How much of the prize money had you locked up by Day 3, and what was going through your head just before the Final Table?
Colum: At the start of the day I had 6.6BB and my flight home was in two hours (which all my friends were on, too). I had everything packed and my luggage was at the hotel reception. In my head I was getting in my last 6BB and running for a taxi to the airport! In my head I had binked €20K (already twice my biggest score) and was ready for home. So when I made the final 9 it nearly didn’t even register that I suddenly had above average chips and a huge opportunity to do even better in the tournament. It was a very weird experience looking at the payouts but to me they were just numbers on a screen and barely seemed real. I guess not realising there was actually €300K in real money up top was a good thing for my mental state; I tried to just relax and take it one hand at a time.
32Red: Talk us through your exiting hand…
Colum: I left this question to last as I’ve already gone over it 500 times in my head. We open Ad Qx UTG, and the only player at the table who I think I’m at a disadvantage against calls in the SB. So immediately I’m thinking he has a lot of pocket pairs and suited connector-type hands.
The Flop is QTT with two diamonds. In my head I’m like… okay, a nice flop to check back. But also this is a board I’d bet a lot with a lot my bluffs – so I have to bet sometimes! So the next thing I know I’m placing out chips for a bet, and a few seconds later I see our Dutch friend placing forward a load of chips, and I’m not sure if the camera was on me, but I remember smiling because I knew this was coming at quite a high frequency. But my hand is far too strong to fold, it sucks having the ace of diamonds but I call and we’re off to the Turn which, from memory, was the 6 of spades, putting a spade draw out there, as well. In my head it seemed like he instantly shoved, and I knew straightaway I was never folding.
He still has all the combo draws and this is an excellent card for him to just barrel off. I think it was like 1.2x pot or something; I was just rueing getting myself into this position, wishing I had checked back the flop. I went through the scenario a few times in my head, never really giving too much credit to folding as I knew on the flop my hand was far too good. On the plus side, crippling the best player at the table and putting myself as a big chip leader probably means I win the whole thing – the payjumps were huge with the structure being very top-heavy.
I looked around at the other two stacks at the table, both were around the same and would have 1.5x more than me if I folded so ultimately I put in the chips and get the bad news! (Colum’s opponent had Kc Tc…). Pretty amazing flop for him to just have it – do you know how hard it is to flop trips? Let alone your opponent to also have top pair!
I have discussed with a lot of my friends about the hand after the fact, and they all think checking the Flop is the best play but, once we bet, we can’t ever fold on this Turn.
32Red: From 1-10, how well do you think Battle of Malta 2019 was run, and do you have any feedback for the organisers?
Colum: It was surprisingly well organised from my point of view, although I only played the Main Event. I had a fun prop bet with my friend when we came back for Day 2: He took the under on the event restarting 15 mins late! And I unfortunately paid out as it started only 9 minutes late, which was very impressive!
The only issue I had was the seat draws weren’t online before the start of Days 2/3, and we had to stand around looking at the printed out pages.
Then for breaks everyone was trying to get out of the door at the same time – an idea I’ve seen at other tournaments is to split the room in half with Group A going for dinner, while Group B play an extra level, who then in turn go for dinner, and Group A replay the level they missed. A solid 7/10.
32Red: What’s the story behind your 32Red Poker alias, TheRedViper?
Colum: It’s incredibly hard to come up with unique aliases. I was always a big Game of Thrones fan and The Red Viper was one of my favourite characters. I recently convinced my girlfriend to start reading the books and we’re discussing it now and then when something big happens, so it was always in the back of my mind. When it was time to create a 32Red account for the BoM it seemed like a good fit!
32Red: Did you get a chance to see much of the beautiful Maltese islands?
Colum: I didn’t see much as most of my time was spent in the casino! Although during my first day off I did get to see the majority of things on Tripadvisor like the War Rooms (I would definitely recommend), the Cathedral and a walk around Valetta! I can also recommend the Irish bar (The Dubliner) where I spent one night before playing! As I didn’t see Malta that much it’s a good excuse to go back and explore properly! Malta will always be a highly rated place by me now, regardless…
32Red: Other than Poker, tell us three things you like to do for fun…
Colum: I’m trying to do a lot more travelling now. I’ve been to a few places in Europe but only one long haul flight to Malaysia, which was an amazing experience! The food, people and beaches exceeded all my expectations and there’s definitely a few more I want to tick off the list soon.
I also love board games/pub quizzes and similar competitive things. It’s really good fun to sit with friends and try to figure out an answer and to also beat them at board games, especially when there’s alcohol involved. A few months ago I took part in a live version of Cluedo around Dublin! I’d never played the game before so it was lots of fun – if we got stuck at any point they encouraged us to ponder our clues over some “Detective Juice” so after 4 or 5 hours with plenty of “Detective Juice” pitstops we were lucky to figure out the right answer! I have had multiple weekend trips where we rented a cottage and sat around playing board games – definitely better than the bar!
Aside from that I’m a normal guy, I’ll follow Gaelic Football and any sporting events if there’s a big game on. I also recently started trying to cook instead of getting takeouts out all the time; my girlfriend is a good influence and we do cook together sometimes, but we generally end up baking/making incredible desserts so we may have been better off with the chinese food!
32Red: Will you be doing anything exciting with your winnings?
Colum: One of the first things I did was book a pastry tour for an upcoming trip to Vienna! I love food and going out to good restaurants. This is a good excuse to go around bakeries and eat a load of pastries and not feel bad about it.
Apart from that, I’m going to try and take a few weeks to wrap my head around what happened in Malta and figure out where I go from here. Some things, like a few holidays/a car are top of the list. And maybe I’ll try to qualify for the WSOP Main Event next year! It’ll always been something I want to play.
32Red: And finally, will you be joining Team32Red at MPNPT Madrid in February 2020?
Colum: Definitely! Its a pretty amazing added bonus. I have been to Barcelona before but never Madrid – I’m excited to explore the city, and to Final Table two MPN events in a row!