Sole Survivor: Gutshots Don't Miss In Spain
by Ian Simpson | Published: Aug 20, '12
Day 1 of the Estrellas Poker Tour main event was certainly a rollercoaster. The buy in was €1,100 and attracted a huge field of 1036, meaning a prize pool of over €1 million with €200,000 going to the winner.
I started out loose aggressive (as if I play any other way) and after hovering between just above and just below the starting stack of 15,000 I get the gorgeous pocket aces pre-flop. The gentleman to my right raises pre-flop and calls every bullet I throw at him on each street to pay me off very nicely.
Loose images do have their advantages. The day goes on with my stack trending upwards when I get to 40,000 chips and get pocket ladies pre-flop, raise and get three-bet. I call suspiciously and see a low flop. I check-call the very quick very strong continuation bet and face the same again on a low turn card. I surrender and throw the queens away. The friendly Spanish player later tells me he had top set 9’s and my gut says he was telling the truth. Perhaps the quick bets were anxiety of a potential flush draw? Anyway that hurt my stack and when the blinds went up I was all of a sudden left with 15 big blinds. I get A 5 all in vs 2-2 and get myself doubled up with 2 pair.
Day 1 comes to a close with me sitting on 35k with the average stack being 38k. Not bad for being almost out.
I learnt from day 1 that not speaking Spanish does not prevent a Spanish poker player being your best friend at the table, communicating solely through mime and excitable facial expressions. I also learnt that the field here is possibly the toughest I’ve ever played against and I’m glad that day 2 comes with a fresh table draw.
Day 2 goes fantastically well for me. I start building my stack and go above average, the table is a little easier but the better players start playing back at me. I decide I need to show a little strength and not let myself get pushed off to many hands so I call a three-bet with my Q J.
The flop comes K 9 8. The villain checks. Now I doubt he checks a king here with three scary spades being out there so I ship all in with all sorts of outs.
A huge part of his range folds here but not 10 10 which he eventually calls with. The turn is the 10h giving me the straight but him the re-draw to the house. The whole table fell silent whilst figuring out who’s ahead, who has outs and what sort of crazy poker is going on with this Geordie maniac shipping with Q high.
The turn peels out so slowly to reveal a red 7 of hearts and a lovely double up for me. That put me well above the average stack with 280 players remaining and 128 getting paid. Getting to the bubble however turned out to be harder than I thought. I folded top pair on the river vs three-barrels but paid more of my stack than I would have liked to find out I was beat.
Then I raise A Q and get two callers. Check-check-bet goes the action on K K J flop. It smells like a steal so I call with what I’m fairly confident is the best hand but outs in case I’m wrong.
The turn is 6 and it goes check-check. The river is the worst card in the deck the Q giving me a strong pair to pay off his A 8. All of a sudden it’s the bubble, and the blinds go up, and my stack hurts and the deck runs cold as ice. The bubble is the best place to accumulate chips but I’m not about the recklessly ship with what I was dealt and seemed to be facing a raise every time I had a marginal steal-worthy holding. I actually felt tight and chastised myself for folding A-3 offsuit under the gun.
The bubble was very intense but broke when A K ran into pocket kings and didn’t improve. This of course meant that I was in the money in a major tourney for the second time ever in my life. Happy days!
I ship with 8-6 with 10 big blinds and get called by kings. The flop gives me a gutshot, the river gives me a dirty dirty straight and with the blinds and anties I’m back in the running.
Apparently whilst in Spain the odds of me making a gut-shot straight increase about 1,000%. After fighting, stealing, and bluffing I get myself a playable stack. I get dealt K Q raise and get called from the small blind. The flop is J-9-2 and I check with position as I don’t want to continuation bet 100% of the time and a free card with a gut-shot is always a good thing. The turn is a blank and now he bets. What did he check? Isn’t top pair jacks a vulnerable hand to check? I’ve got outs if I’m wrong (where have I heard that before?) so I decide to raise now. He calls so I’m ready to give up when the most beautiful little 10 hits the river.
The nuts in a €1,100 game with 1,036 runners vs a player showing strength AND it’s very disguised. He checks.
I ship. He takes what seems like forever and says “I just can’t put you on a hand” and calls. The poker gods do love me.
A new guy arrives at the table, we get into a pot together and he checks all three streets with position and folds to my river bluff. It’s apparent he’s a bit new to this high stakes poker business and is my new target.
I call his next rise with position and float my gut-shot. The rule of Spanish straights holds true and I felt his 9-9. Immediately after showing down my 5-4 off suit straight I get dealt pocket queens. But the poker gods are fickle and I get all in with A-Q and lose.
Then I lose another pot. And another.
Then I raise J-10 off and my continuation bet on A-8-2 gets called. The turn is a 9 and I don’t think my opponent is that strong. I ship all in but unfortunately that 9 was a club, and gave his A-5 a flush draw with his weak top pair.
I’ve got to miss a straight at some point and unfortunately this is my exit hand. I’m over the moon however, I’ve managed to cash in another big game for €2,500. Not only that but I’ve now got 2 days in Barcelona with my fantastic mum and dad and the best poker players girlfriend that the game has ever known.
Dos cervesas por pa vor, the €5,300 EPT main event is right around the corner.