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Losing Control At Prague's Poker Fest

by Miikka Anttonen |  Published: Dec 23, '11

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As mainly an online poker player, I’m used to getting a lot of information off my opponents fast. When you’re dealt 50 to 100 hands per hour, it doesn’t take very long to notice how everyone plays. Playing live is much different, because you only get dealt 20 hands per hour or so, and often the biggest fish at your table busts before you even get to notice how bad he is.

I’ve come to realise that to stay ahead of your opponents it’s extremely important to start stereotyping people from the beginning. When a 25-year-old Italian wearing a Gucci shirt and expensive watch sits down, I immediately expect him to be splashy and running stupid bluffs. When an older gentleman sits down, I already have a plan for his open limps before he’s even made one. And when some Swedish guy wearing a hoodie sits down casually listening to his iPod, I’m getting ready for the battle of three-, four-, five- and 6-bets.

This part of the stereotyping game I’ve long ago mastered. What I’ve been struggling with in recent live tournaments is the opposite – mainly the fact how my looks make people not want to fold against me. I have young, boyish looks, and people immediately notice that I’m a Scandi. It doesn’t matter how tight I play, they just don’t fold because they think I bluff all the time. While I’m aware of all this when I’m not playing, it’s been a bit difficult for me to tone down the bluffing at the tables. I’ve punted more big live tournaments than I can count in recent history by running bluffs that would’ve worked if I was an old guy from Vegas, but that had almost no chance of working coming from someone who looks like me. Not to even mention if my opponents actually recognized me, as my image is pretty much forever ruined after all the 2+2 posts and training videos.

All of the recent walks of shame in mind I headed to Prague for the massive poker festival they were running (they had a WPT, an EPT, a GSOP and about 20 side events in eleven days). “This time I won’t bust with stupid bluffs”, I told myself. “For this one time I’m going to abandon the stupid four-bet shoves, the hood flats out of position with unplayable hands, and all the other crazy stuff I always do. I’m not going to do anything stupid that I’ll lose sleep over.”

Fast forward 11 days. I’m currently sitting on the plane on my way back home. When I look back at my one-and-a-half weeks at the tables, pretty much all I can remember is huge bluffs, stupid four-bet shoves, hood flats out of position with unplayable hands, other crazy stuff, and the long nights I spent sleepless thinking about the hands I screwed up. What the **** happened?

The trip didn’t start very well for me outside the tables. I had made awful flight bookings for myself that I hadn’t noticed until it was too late, resulting in me staying up about 30 hours straight for two two-hour flights and one long stopover. When I finally got to Prague on the night before my WPT starting day, I found my four-star hotel to be an absolute shit-hole. My door didn’t have a lock, the shower was barely working and it was as cold inside as it was outside. I was so tired that I just passed out in my bed, only to wake up in the morning completely frozen. I decided to abandon my hotel and book the Hilton instead, but it was too late – I had already caught a terrible cold and I spent the next four days incredibly sick. My fever peaked at a solid 39.6c during the EPT main day 1.

You’d think that all the spewing happened when I was playing sick and under the influence of suspicious Czech painkillers, right? Well, not quite. I played my best poker of the trip by far when I was sporting that fever. During those four days when I couldn’t sleep, eat or do anything but lie in agony or play poker, I managed to make both the WPT and the EPT main event day two’s with average stacks, bink a €5,300 EPT seat from a €500 live satellite and get 15th in the €2k bounty event for €5,200. I didn’t do anything stupid, because I was unable to think as clearly as usual, and I wanted to avoid any unnecessary tough spots when I wasn’t playing my A-game. I just grinded small pots, owned your standard live donks, and chipped up without ever risking busting in any of those events (until my eventual bustout hand for what was close to a chip-lead pot in the 2k with A-T against A-3. Flop: 3-3-3. At least I didn’t have to sweat it!

Then, something happened. I recovered. I had grown confidence in my live reads over the week, and I was just waiting to get better physically so I could get my game full-on. I literally couldn’t wait to find a cool 5-bet spot with random rags. I felt like I was reading people so well there’s just no chance they’d be able to beat me. I kind of forgot about my plan to play solid, and got to my usual habits.

It turns out getting better was the worst thing that happened to me in Prague. I’m still trying to understand how exactly I managed to punt almost €20,000 worth of buy-ins in a week, getting it in almost dead every time. I’m not going to go into details, because I’m slightly worried that the CardRunners executives might be reading this and sack me after noticing what a spewbox I am, but to cut it short I busted both the WPT and the EPT mains with Q-5o against A-A, the GSOP main with K-To against A-A, and the EPT 2k with K-Qo against K-K. How come they always have aces or kings?

In none of those hands I was particularly short and none of them were anywhere near necessary. I just spazzed out hardcore and that’s about it. You could always make excuses about running into the top of people’s ranges, but the thing is that it doesn’t really matter how wide their ranges were in the first place (my guess in retrospect: probably not very wide to begin with), there’s just no way they are folding enough against someone with my reputation and looks. Especially when you hood flat cold four-bets out of position with Q-5o.

On the plus side, at least the trip wasn’t a total failure. I had a great time meeting loads of new people. One of the more interesting encounters was with our new world champion Pius Heinz. I was at the PokerStars party, and I saw him hanging out with some people I knew. Our eyes met, and for a moment I considered going over and introducing myself to him. I decided against it, because I figured he already has tons of fanboys coming over to him, and as much as I liked his performance at the WSOP main event final table I didn’t want to appear like one. It turned out I wouldn’t have had to go over anyway, since he introduced himself to me instead. “So you’re the famous Chuck Bass?” (referring to my world-famous spewing at the tables). Who would’ve known?!

My next live event is going to be the Aussie Millions $10k in January. Aussies are known to be incapable of folding anything at all, so this time I’m not going to bust with stupid bluffs. For this one time I’m going to abandon the stupid four-bet shoves, the hood flats out of position with unplayable hands, and all the other crazy stuff I always do. I’m not going to do anything stupid that I’ll lose sleep over. Promise.

Miikka Anttonen, also known as “Chuck Bass”, has some crazy stories to tell of his time in the poker world. The poker pro and coach has made over $300,000 playing MTTs in two years and has caused quite a stir on various poker forums in the past. Check out our special feature on the young Finn in the February 2012 issue of Card Player Europe.

 
Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of CardPlayer.com.
 

Comments

mikeyb111
over 10 years ago

I don't get it. What's the difference between you and someone who doesn't know how to play?

 
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clunker
over 10 years ago

A bass is a fish. So Chuck is a live fish. A legend when playing 20 tables on line.

 
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