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My World Series of Poker Odyssey Part II

by Niall Smyth |  Published: Oct 01, 2011


The Good
In one hand that happened early in the day [in the main event], I raise with K-8 and, as was the norm, the small blind reraised. The big blind stared him down and four-bet it — at this stage late in level six I’m either so sick of them just taking my chips or, less likely, I have a good read.
I go ahead and reraise again, we get a quick fold from the small blind, and after a lengthy stare down from the big blind we get a fold as he shows an ace. Nothing magical I’m sorry folks but this was my first low of 49,000 and helped me rebuild my stack back towards 100,000 in the level.
We move along maybe two levels now and the blinds are 400-800 and the table norm raise is 2,000. (I’ve lost two pots; one where I hit two pair on the river but I end up folding to a massive over bet and the only real scare was runner flush. Sorry I know wrong section!)
I only mentioned the lost pots because I think this next play was mainly tilt as opposed to skill. So it goes raise, call, and I call from the cut-off with 9♥ 8♥. Do you remember the tanker from last month? Well he turned manic-aggressive when he got chips and he makes it 8,000.
He gets a fold-fold but I’m not in the mood — I know you buddy, I’m going to trap you with this tricky hand. BINGO, GIN, YATSI! The flop came K-10-10-x-x.
I check and am ready to muck my hand when he bets, but there was something I had noticed about this guy — when he bet he either stated the amount or did it in silence and when he said it he always seemed to show strong hands. His chips went in the middle but he never said a word. At this stage I can’t take too long to decide, the longer you take the weaker you are right?, at that moment I haven’t a clue but after he bets 9,500 I find 20,500 to reraise. Why add the 500 you might ask? I have no idea but everyone is doing it and I’m not one to be different, maybe it has something to do with maths or meta-game that I don’t understand.
Anyways he folds and my fully tilted half-read turned out to be right Good game me.
As good play goes that’s about all I have — genius, I know — well you don’t win the Irish Open by fluke you know. It’s nothing like picking the winner in the Grand National just cause you like a horse’s name.
The Bad
Now I’ve had a bit of time to think about it, there were different spots that kept cropping up where I bled a lot of chips. If I fancied playing a hand like a connected suitor I would call a raise most times, instead of three-betting some. This also gave the aggressive players the chance to squeeze more often and on the times when I did make a stand I’m playing a big pot out of position with marginal hands. How I should have overcome positional advantage was to play trickier which leads me to this next hand.
I look down and I’ve A-A, I’ve raised two out of the last three hands so I open again. Well I’m very happy when one of the aggressive players decides to reraise me. Now I thought for a while and I decided to three-bet but to do it on the big side because I wanted to look weak. Even though the guy tanked for a long while, he ended up folding.
While this isn’t terrible I should have taken a bit more risk and just flatted his three-bet with the chance to win a bigger pot instead of hoping he has a big hand or decides to make a move.
Then we have the 6-6 hand where I’m on the button, I raise it up and the small blind three-bets. I debate between four-betting and calling, While four-betting is probably best I don’t mind either play as I had position.
So we take the flop it came king-high with two hearts, it gets checked to me, I bet and he calls. The turn and river goes the same way and I get called down by two-pair. I ended up losing a big pot to the other big stack where I turned a hand that had some showdown value into a massive bluff and this pot really sent me on the downward spiral.
Then there was my knock out hand and funnily enough it came with A-Q. God, the more I write about this, the more I hate A-Q.
So the blinds are 600-1200 with a 200 ante and I have around 30,000. I had been down to 17,000 but had pushed all in three hands in a row to build up. I raise under the gun to 3,600 and end up getting two callers — one of the aggressive players and the small blind a tight enough player.
The pot now lies at 12,000, the flop comes J-10-6 with two hearts, I bet out 8,000 and was more than willing to get it all in on that flop as its never too bad a spot with two overs and an inside straight draw. Anyways instead I get two callers and the turn is an ace.
At this point the pot is 36,000 and I have 20 behind so I’m first to act and push all-in.
When I look back I think this is pretty terrible as the only hands that call me are crushing me, I can just check and fold if there is a lot of action even if I have a third of my stack in the middle. I get a caller and a push all in.
One player had flopped a set, the other turned a straight. This was late in the night and I was looking more at the pot than the position I was in at the table. I have to say it was a disappointing way to go out but c’est la vie — you live you learn.
That was the story of my day two, an experience to say the least. I had swings from 108,000 to 49,000 back to 100,000 in the first level alone and the trend continued the rest of the day. I never got any momentum when around 100,000. It was always two steps back one step forward which eventually ended in elimination.
I’ve a lot to think about after this tournament as I’ve learned a lot. The most important thing being I’ve a lot more to learn about this game. Hopefully this will push me on to better things. They do say you learn nothing from winning, only in defeat. So after nought for four cashes in the Series I must know a hell of a lot more then when I started. ♠

Niall Smyth is the 2011 Irish Open champion and Sole Survivor winner. He took down €550,000 for the former and €100,000 for the latter and has taken a year’s leave from his job to concentrate on poker.