Monday, 28 October 2013

Paul Jackson goes to the seaside.

It was a new dawn and a new day that saw us pop down to sunny Southend-on-Sea for leg 5 of the rollicking GPS. The casino there is absolutely lovely; more than living up to its name in the sense that it is not so much on sea, as virtually IN the sea. This provides for a superb view from the poker room. Similarly, any dirty smokers are ushered to a charming little terrace where they can ingest a healthy dose of sea air alongside their carcinogenic fog. Admittedly, you’d have to be a braver man than me to go for a dip in the somewhat murky water – but it does provide a great jaunty seaside backdrop.

I arrived promptly on Thursday, ready to deliver a poker seminar for the 40-odd players who had won GPS packages, courtesy of a great promotion available at Genting Casino Star City.

The packages in question, which were worth a generous £750, were simple to win. All you had to do was play at the casino there as you normally would. For every cash game and tournament played, points would be earned and accumulated. Four packages were given away every week (which would include main event entry, hotel accommodation, spending money and the joy of attending my seminar), and all for merely turning up!

My seminar consisted of an appearance from Bankroll Supply mentor James Lowrey, who gave a great talk about the mental side of poker. Included in this was a thoughtful discussion of the psychological effects of running bad, as well as how best to cope with them from a player's perspective. This was followed by me examining hands played from a video of the best of High Stakes Poker with the audience. We had a good and interesting time, and the free bar afterwards resulted in me drinking more than perhaps is quite fitting for a person of my age.

We didn’t have to wait long for Day 1B to quickly kick off the action, with one early hand being particularly interesting. In this, a player raised from 100 to 300 from under the gun, only to have it folded round to the player on the button. The button had so far shown zero propensity to bluff, although we were admittedly only 45 minutes into the game. However, he had clearly decided that the time was ripe to make his first three-bet of the tournament, re-popping it to a healthy 800. This was called by the initial raiser (who held a three and a four), and the flop came an unpromising 5-5-8. After it was checked to him, the three-bettor led out for 800. The player with the three and a four decided (I assume) to float his opponent, although I would question the long term profitability of this play – he had called out of position with this hand hoping to make a player fold, when everything that player had hitherto done suggested he likely had an over-pair he wanted to hang on to.

The turn came an absolute bingo card – a three. This now gave him showdown value, or at least enough to check call 1,400, as well as a further 2,600 on the jack river.

He made all of these check-calls while staring steadfastly at his opponent, averting his eyes only for the merest second to see the dealing of the turn and river. Given the intensity of his stare, I wasn't sure if he was deeply attracted to his opponent or if he was trying to get a soul read off him. To be fair to him, after his river bet was called his opponent asked "have you got a pair?" before quickly mucking. In light of this, I think he deserves the benefit of the doubt and should be credited with a “soul read”.

Another hand involved a good player who was sat to my right. With the blinds at 75/150, he raised to 350. Given that this was on the big blind of a player who didn’t defend much, it seemed like a good spot for me to three bet my J?4?, expecting him to fold a lot of the time. However, it turned out that after everyone else folded, he called.

From my perspective, the flop was a fairly pleasing J-6-4. This was especially brilliant because, as I found out later, he had flatted my three bet with aces. Unfortunately, one turned ace and 12,000 chips later, things didn't work out too well for me.

Serves me right for showing flair below my years! I felt like taking a walk to the smoking terrace.

After this, I went on a raising spree. I raised so often that at one point I was three-bet by what eventually turned out to be J-4 off-suit, which won the pot (at least it was suited!). Despite this setback, I managed to get back up to 24k.

Just before the end of level 2, I raised with 5-6 to 350. This got one caller (against whom I was out of position), with the flop coming 6-7-Q with two spades. I checked, only for my opponent to bet 400 into a pot of 925. My call brought a five on the turn, and when I checked he bet 800, so I decided to raise to 2,000. He called (with 11k behind), and the river fell as a very attractive five, giving me a full house. Careful not to rub my hands together with glee, I bet 4k which he shoved over. I called… to see him show 7-7 for a bigger full house. My stack was destroyed.

Since I was not quite dead and buried, I plodded on a bit in an attempt to recover, only for two hands to severely damage my enthusiasm even further.

In the first of these, I made up the small blind with 5?7?, while the big blind checked his 8-9 – the flop came 8?9?4? and I didn't improve. This was followed by me holding top pair on a T-7-2 flop, but losing to a player (not in the big blind) with 2-3 off-suit.

I eventually squeezed all-in for 4,800 with a very live 4-5 double-suited, and was called by a player who trap-called the initial raise holding J-K. The flop was J-K-8, bringing no chance of even a sweat.

My co-presenter at the seminar, James Lowrey, did very well. Short-stacked from four tables out, he picked his spots and nursed his stack. Ultimately however, he ran into a spot of bad luck, being knocked out in 11th. This happened after a player, with blinds at 12k/24k, opened to an interesting 75k with K-5 and felt obliged to call James’ shove with A-9 for 350k-odd. I’m guessing he didn't attend the seminar.

Luckily, Jimmy's vanquisher was giving his own seminar in the bar afterwards. Jimmy was even fortunate enough to attend, where he had it explained to him in detail just how he had misplayed his exit hand. Apparently, he should have just called pre-flop and then shoved on the flop, and his opponent would have folded. No doubt that had it been a king-high flop, the advice would have mysteriously changed to say that Jimmy SHOULD in fact have shoved pre-flop to get a fold… funny that.

Finally, I had a most enjoyable journey back down the M25 (serves the cockneys right), with my chain-smoking friend Jeff Burke. Who knows what shenanigans will transpire at next month’s GPS Stoke? Not me – but at least the journey back will be considerably shorter and rather less smoky.

Tags: Paul Jackson