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Unibet Open: Riga

by Ian Simpson |  Published: Feb 01, 2014


About a year ago I wrote a blog about my first trip to Riga, the capital of Latvia, and told my readers about how much I loved it there. If anything my recent trip there was even better.

I qualified online in a weekly €275 satellite which won me a really nice package which allowed you to bring a guest. It turned out both of my parents wanted to visit the city after my first experience there so they both came along.

Latvia is a beautiful city. It was snowing for several days of our trip which just added to the charm of the place. We flew out a couple of days before the tournament started so that we could spend some time together and explore the city before I took to the felt. If you ever get the chance to do some travelling get yourself to Latvia. The food is possibly the best I’ve ever had, the people are fantastic and the city has a lot of sights for you to take in while you enjoy the tasty food and picturesque capital. If you ever go I would strongly recommend the “Key to Riga” restaurant, great value and even my dad couldn’t finish his meal.

Unfortunately I busted the main event on day 1a and then busted a €330 side event. This left me debating about playing the high roller event that was on offer. The buy in was €2,500 which is not a small sum, so I wanted concrete reasons to play.

Bankroll management is important. I’ve had two huge scores this year, but I’ve heard a lot of stories about people who went on to not manage their money carefully, either at the felt or with their real life expenses. One of the many things my father taught me about gambling is that you should never chase your losses, there’s always another day.

When the buy ins start getting on the higher side I want to be at the top of my game, so I didn’t make the decision to play the tournament until the day of the event. If for whatever reason I wasn’t feeling 100 percent, through lack of sleep or whatever I wouldn’t play.

However when I woke up and went through my usual routine of preparing for a tournament I felt really good about getting involved.

Another reason I played was that I knew a lot of people who could play well at this level would already be in Prague for the European Poker Tour, which would leave the field mainly comprising of people playing high stakes for the fun of it rather than to make money. The tournament only attracted 11 runners and it was indeed the case that more than half of the players were recreational guys just having fun.

Then Mickey Petersen late registered and sat directly to my left just to try and spoil the party! By this stage of the tournament, maybe two levels in, I had already tripled up and this was a deep stacked game, getting drawn to the left of the guy with all the chips is always good so I’m sure he was happy with his table draw. Fortunately for me Mickey seemed to run into a lot of made hands of the other competitors and as the blinds were just 30 minutes long, with a larger ante structure than normal Mickey soon found himself with less than 20 big blinds.

We got down to 4 handed and I called a small opening raise with KSpade SuitJSpade Suit on the small blind. Mickey bet all of his chips and the opener folded leaving me with a bit of a decision.

I apologise but being 4 handed meant I didn’t have time to make a concrete note of the exact stack sizes and situation in my phone so I won’t do any equity calculations for you. Mickey is a very good, solid player. He is capable of making moves but isn’t one of those hyper lag internet kids who can’t resist getting their stack in the middle. He had garnered himself a tight aggressive reputation, and this is the perfect spot to use that reputation to his advantage. Therefore I allocated him a slightly wider range than his play so far might have indicated. Something like any Ace suited, A8o+, any two broadway cards and pairs 66 or better seemed reasonable. KJs has about 47 percent equity in this situation and given the pot odds I was given and my strong stack size I decided to make the call. He turned over A9s but I flopped a pair and a flush draw to take the lead, and the king on the turn left him drawing dead. My most dangerous opponent out, another of my competitors short stacked and my own stack just jumped up to be the biggest at the table. Happy days!

The short stack busted in short order, leaving me heads up which didn’t last too long. My opponent four bet me all in not for the first time and I made a stand with KQo. He turned over 88 and we were off to the races. When the flop came 10 high I was getting ready for another second place finish, but the turn and the river both came kings to give me over 95 percent of the chips in play. My A10 held against his A3 for the final hand and I managed to pocket about €13,800 which topped off what had already been a really enjoyable trip.

I’m looking forward to spending Christmas with my family and taking about a month off from poker. In the New Year there are plenty of tournaments to sink my teeth into. Dusk Till Dawn in Nottingham will be hosting a £440 game in January by Genting Casinos and a £1,100 game in February by Sky Poker. There’s also a UKIPT in Edinburgh with a £1,100 buy in. I could also choose to play a larger buy in event and get myself over to Deauville for an EPT being held there. I’ll have a long think and decide which suits me best, but for now it is time to enjoy Christmas with my friends and family and I hope you guys have a great Christmas and New Year too. ♠

After spending a year sponsored by Paddy Power Poker through their Sole Survivor promotion, Ian Simpson went on to win the 2013 Irish Poker Open to take home €265,000 euros. He currently plans on doing some work in schools in between travelling the tournament circuit and writing for Card Player Magazine. You can find him on twitter @IanSimpsonPoker