In the year 25/25…

In the year 25/25…

Monday, 20 January 2014

Paul Jackson on an eventful trip to Bolton.

Ben and I made our way up to Bolton Grosvenor Casino for their very popular 25/25 event – a great structure, £220 entry, 25,000 starting stack and a £25,000 guaranteed prize pool. Not that the guarantee mattered, as these events are so popular the prize pool was well in excess of that before the first day 1 and, indeed, when we turned up for the second day 1 flight of three (starting midday Saturday), the prize pool was already an amazing £57,000.

In one hand on a nearby table a player accidentally acted out of turn, and the whole incident (although in truth insignificant as is the case 95% of the time this happens) was dealt with superbly by the excellent TD, Kat (from Salford via Kent), who gave the gentleman a gentle warning despite the ironic calls by other players that he should have his “dick cut off”. She was at the Goliath event at Coventry too and is just about the best TD I have seen in the way she handled the players. In one spot she was near our table and the dealer requested a new deck, which she instantly produced from under her bra strap. What more could a poker player want from a TD?

They have a rule about not talking when there are multiple players in a pot which I think is quite hard to administer in a fair and consistent way. So before the cards are dealt I announce that I am going to move all-in blind. I have murdered over half my stack like a monkey and figure I won't get a penalty with no cards dealt, even though it had exactly the same effect, regardless. I add that anyone who now limp-folds to my shove should be thrown out of the club. It’s folded around to the small blind, the player sitting directly next to me, who decides that raise-folding is plus EV.

In fact, in one three-way pot a player asked, “Have I got a flush draw?” and was told off for talking to himself. Obviously they would need to suspend this rule if my friend Claudio entered one of their tournaments as he has a habit of sending opponents off talking to themselves, sometimes two at a time.

I soon managed to dust off the remaining stack and I more than tripled up with my re-entry. I was moved to a new table and, first hand, I witness a player in position check behind on the turn and river holding JhKh on a board that ran out 6h7sTh2h8c. I made a mental note to mostly fold should he re-raise me at any point thereafter, and took a sly iPhone photo so I could identify him should he ever sit at a cash table of any poker variant, or indeed brag, cribbage or snap. Having said that, I then got into four pots with him, with me in position each time, and lost all four hands.

It was folded to the small blind with blinds 400/800 and he makes it 1,800. He says he wants a call, so I oblige, with JsKs. The flop is 2s5s6c. He bets 2k, which I feel he will do with his entire range, so I semi-bluff raise to 4k (with 20k behind), happy to get it in there if I have to, and he calls. The turn is an off-suit seven and I fold, which is mostly right despite the bullshit adage, “You called with that hand and got a great flop, how can you fold?” usually used by players in between jobs at fast food outlets.

He showed me a set.

I eventually finished the day with a small stack of about 16BB and went back to day 2 with another 109 players playing for a prize pool of £78,200, which is superb for a £200 tournament. At first it was a bit of a struggle as I had very little room to manoeuvre with my short stack. I won a couple of small pots to build up a bit, and then lost a couple, which took me about back to where I started, about 15BB. I was then lucky enough to get it all in with A-J against K-Q (K-Q always seems to win on the internet in this spot!) and doubled up to give myself a playable stack.

I didn’t use it very well, though; in my final hand I was overly passive then overly aggressive, the latter being encouraged by way of punishment for the former and, although I got it in a spot some people might think was decent, I wasn’t happy with it.

I was on a new table for the day – I’d been there for about an hour – and the player on my left had been involved in a few pots, but nothing out of the ordinary. It’s folded around to me and I look down in the small blind at As3c. Now, normally, against most relatively straightforward opponents, this is mostly a raising spot, but for some reason I decided I would limp. Then, expecting him to raise light, I would re-raise him, making my hand, which would mostly be best anyway, look even stronger, and again, mostly, he would be likely to raise-fold.

Now, as with many strategies in poker that are abused, misused and misspoken about on forums, mostly by people with hoodies and headphones (even when they play online, I think), as a general principal, the theory behind my move is very valid, but it’s hard to justify unless you have a reasonable expectation that your opponent will behave in the way your plan requires him to. Furthermore, this belief must be based on the tendencies you have observed from that opponent and not just because you think its “standard” or what you would do if you were in their position. (Remember, it’s them in their position not you!).

As it happens, my opponent did what he was most likely to do with most hands in this spot. He checked behind, so we went to the flop.

The flop was Qs9s4s and, again, probably partially as a result of my failed pre-flop plan, I decided a check-raise would be a good idea. Again, this requires my opponent to bet when I check, which is far from guaranteed, although the line has more merit than the pre-flop line against this opponent. Once I check, he will likely bet with any pair and straight draw or any high spade. So I check and he bets 4K (blinds 800/1600). I execute the plan with military precision, raising to 10k.

Now, I expect him to fold a lot here, or even call then fold to a turn bet or shove. As it happens, he re-raises again to 20K. I had a stack of about 50K so it would have been just about possible to flat his last raise and then check-fold a brick turn, leaving myself about 20BB, but overall I think that is too much of a waste of chips. So I am left with the option of folding or getting it all-in. If he has a decent queen, I may have 12 outs with the ace as well as the spades, which leaves me little worse than a flip. With all the dead money in the pot (well played me for creating my own pot odds with the worst hand and worst equity), I decided to lump it in like a monkey with a small chance he might fold (in reality, I probably have more chance of doing Megan Fox) and the chance of a virtual flip (dream on) if he called.

So he snaps me off with T-2 of spades and I miss what is now a seven-outer and I am off back down the M6 for a drive longer than the time I spent playing day 2. Great tournament, though. I strongly recommend making the effort to attend these Grosvenor 25/25 events. They are a great concept and great opportunity to win big money from a small outlay.

Tags: Paul Jackson, strategy, Grosvenor 25/25