Welsh Poker Championships Swansea

Welsh Poker Championships Swansea

Monday, 17 June 2013

With Paul Jackson.

I decided it was about time I went to see some of my Welsh friends and so last month I drove down to Grosvenor Casino Swansea to play the Welsh Poker Championship.

From the off, I had the very creative and often very generous Jamie Fisher to my left which made things potentially awkward but also potentially very fruitful, as Jamie is disinclined to give up on any pot he plays and tends to play most hands which start with a dealer putting two cards in front of him.

He shows an outrageous and abundant level of flair and can put you in some very tough spots, but unfortunately for him he only has one very fast gear, and more often than not his performance at a poker tournament is much like letting off a rocket in your living room: he flies around causing mayhem and damage and then fizzles out on the floor, probably much like when he has sex. Despite this, I still managed to get completely owned in the biggest pot I played against him.

The blinds are 300/600, with an average stack of about 55k, and Jamie covers my stack of about 100k. A player in early position raises to 1,350, I call with 4-4 and Jamie over-calls. The flop is 4-6-J rainbow. The initial raiser checks and I bet 2,500, Jamie calls and the other player folds. The turn is a three and I bet 2,700, hoping Jamie will get aggressive and pounce on my weak turn bet, but again, Jamie calls. Before the river card is dealt I check blind (hoping to induce a bluff or over-bet as a result of my apparent weakness) and Jamie obliges, betting a comparatively big 9k on a ten river. I min-raise to 18k, making it one of the biggest pots of the day on the table.

I figure all bluffs will fold (as my play indicates a very strong hand) and I can also get value from more made hands than I ought to because Jamie hates to fold and hates to think he may have been bluffed (not that my line looks like a bluff). After some thought, Jamie four-bets to a huge 44k, which was a big shock.

He would never do this with a one- or two-pair hand. He would have three-bet pre-flop with T-T or J-J and would likely have three-bet my small turn bet with 6-6. So that only left total air and exactly 5-7, which is very much a possibility (as was 5-2). Given that my line was so strong I felt he could not be bluffing, so I folded and he showed me Q-5 off suit.

Later in the game I called Jamie with queen-high, which was an extreme change from folding a set to him. A K-9-5 flop (one limper in pot) was checked around and Jamie bet a four turn, which I expected him to do with any two cards. After all, I was ahead of his range with any single paint card in my hand.

On the last hand of the night, Jamie lost half his stack in a total bluff which he subsequently tried to characterise as "one moment of madness". I pointed out to him it was one of many such moments, just the only one he was caught on.

Given that every singer from Wales seems to have a fantastic voice, it was very unfortunate to have to listen to the cabaret singer the casino had playing live. Jamie observed that the person announcing the blinds increase was a better singer than this guy. Someone jokingly suggested he sounded a bit like Tom Jones which would only be vaguely accurate if Tom were being penetrated by a hippopotamus at the time.

He sang all night during the tournament and no matter how much he practised he failed to improve. After starting his “set” the only time he took a significant break was at the end of the night when we were bagging our chips for day 2. That felt like a sick rub down.

At the start of day two Jamie offered me a last longer bet but despite the obvious plus-EV of this, given that he was two seats to my left, it was not worth risking the possibility that such a bet might induce him to play more carefully, so I declined. It was all going well and I was sitting about fifth in chips, with about 130k, with the chip leader on my table. Then the hottest (running-good) player on the table, the tournament chip leader, raised from 2k to 5k and as I called with pocket fives I said, "I feel like I am throwing it away playing a hand against you." The player behind then moved in for about 26k which was called and I also called, in position.

The flop was a fairly decent 5-2-2 and I began to consider what I should do in order to maximise value in this spot. Based on his general tendencies, it seemed that he would not bluff into a dry side-pot and would be more inclined to check-fold any no-hand. I figured if he bet I would likely re-raise and he would pay me off with any big over-pair. Furthermore, as he probably wouldn’t bet with ace-high, any bet from him would indicate a pair, although it was unlikely to be a very big a pair as I would have expected him to isolate the all-in player with, say, J-J+. It was, however, possible (and indeed I was hoping) that he was being sneaky with K-K+).

While I considered the best way to maximise value if he checked, my whole thought process became redundant as he open-shoved an effective 50BB stack. I found a call and he tabled 7-7 and turned a seven and well-played-me and I drove home feeling very sheepish.

Tags: Paul Jackson, columnists, Welsh Poker Championships