On Friday I took the day off work to play in day 1b of the GUKPT in Manchester. I’m currently 4/0 as part of my sponsorship package and I’m getting to the point where I’m starting to put a bit of extra pressure on myself to do something in one of these events and repay the faith that Coral have put in me.
So again I set off in plenty of time and pop in to see my brother for a little bit before chewing up some motorway miles. I’m on course to make it into Manchester with plenty of time to spare when I notice that the A19 has been closed and all traffic is being diverted towards the A174. So I end up coming off the A19 & driving through loads of small little villages trying to find a route back onto the A19. I try to rejoin at Thirsk but the road is still closed so I double back on myself and try to find another route. I eventually get back onto the A19 and try to make some time back on the M1 and M62. Having played the UKIPT in the same casino in February I was familiar with the location and once in Manchester I drove straight to the casino. I parked up, had a quick freshen up and headed inside the casino. I rush into the casino, straight into the card room and quickly check my seating position. I’m drawn T12 S4 and quickly sit down just as the dealer is dealing the first hand of the MTT. Wow that was close.
Ok, so the cards are in the air and within about 20 minutes I’m involved in a pretty big pot but only after flopping top set. With the blinds at 25/50 UTG raises pre to 125. Action passed round to me in the SB and I make the call with 2 red Tens. The flop is 25T with a spade draw out. I accidently over bet the pot and lead out for 650 into a 300 pot. To my surprise UTG villain min raises me to 1,300. I tank for ages and eventually re-raise him to 3,300 total. He then tank calls. A non spade 7 hits the turn meaning I no longer hold the nuts & although not dreadful it’s not a particularly good card for me if villain does think this is my line with an opened ended straight draw. At this point I’m certain he has either an over pair or a flush draw. If I know 100% it’s an over pair I’d probably look to check raise all in on the turn. Since I’m not sure and he could be on a flush draw I can’t take the risk and lead out once again. This time I lead for 6,000 into a 7,000 pot pricing out any draws. Villain tanks for an eternity before eventually folding AA face up. I muck my hand face down not wanting to give him the feel good factor of a big lay and start to wonder if I missed out on value and should or could I have played for stacks. I win another smaller pot and by the time level 1 comes to end I’m sitting on just over 20,000.
Level 2 is a quiet one for me as I get no cards and pretty much fold every hand. We break for 15 minutes and when I return my table has been broken. I’m re-drawn on T7 S3 and share the same table as Mike ‘DaBookie’ Hill, Jamie Sykes, Gutshot pro Kirik Patel and Bristol CBMPT winner John Gardener amongst others. I don’t get involved in any big pots whilst I adjust to my new table. The first significant pot I play at this table is with Jd8d. I play my BTN and join a multi-way and see a AdKdXx flop. Unknown villain leads into the pot and gets one caller before action passes to me. I’m drawing to the 2nd nuts and consider my options. A raise here probably get’s through a load of times but I don’t want to chase away draws that I have crushed and elect to flat. The turn bricks and it’s checked around to me. I take a free card and again brick the river. EP villain leads the river and I fold not wanting to get to tricky with a busted draw. By the end of the level I’m back down to 18,350.
Level 4 comes and goes without me getting involved in any significant pots which keeps me out of trouble as we prepare to break for a one hour lunch. During the level we are joined by local Teesside player Paul ‘Swampy’ Gardener. As we break for lunch I’m sitting on 20,025 with a chip average of 19,700 and 95 players remaining from the 125 runners who started day 1b.
After lunch I sit down for level 5 (150/300/25) I’m feeling recharged and ready and it was during this level that I am asked the question for my tournament life. I open to 800 for mid position with AK. The cut-off flat calls and Jamie Sykes 3BETS to 2,500 from the BTN. Right WTF do I do now? I hate the flat call OOP and it’s just too big a hand to fold to such a agro player. I elect to 4BET and make it 7,500 to go. CO passes and Jamie insti moves all in. FML. I’ve got almost half my stack in the middle but just don’t like the situation. In the end I just think fuck it, it’s probably the same hand but if he has me beat he has me beat. If not then lets flip for a stack that I can do some damage with. I didn’t like to leave 7,500 in the middle and reluctantly slide my remaining 11,500 over the line. Jamie also tables AK and we chop it up. By the end of the level I have 18,900. It’s around this time that news spreads around the card room that fellow NPFer and Newcastle local Jon Lundy has bust James Akenhead.
Level 6 comes and goes without my getting involved but with players dropping left right and centre the chip average jumps to 26,800 as were quickly down to 70 players. I just can’t get going and I’m stuck on 20,350, pretty much where I was after the first level. Still I had loads of time and over 30 BB’s so I wasn’t panicking but was a little frustrating all the same. During the level we are also joined by Mick McCool who is a well known Irish player on the UK circuit and has had a few TV appearances too. Mick McCool is sitting to my immediate left and Jamie Sykes sat to his left.
FTP GIM : Level 7 (300/600/50) was arguably the level that changed my MTT. Prior to the below hand I chipped up to about 23,000. Nothing much to speak of really until about mid way through the level when unknown villain opens the pot from UTG+1 to 1,600. Action is passed around to me in the SB and I make the call with 99. BB passes and the flop is Kxx. I check to the villain and he C-bets 2,500. I insti call and another brick hits the turn. I again check to him and he fires out 6,000 into the middle. I don’t think for too long before flat calling again. The river is a Jack and I again check to the villain. He fires a 3rd barrel into me and this time makes it 10,000. With only about 13,000 left behind me I’m down to the felt if I’m wrong with less than 3,000 and have pretty much one foot out the door. I tank and eventually make the call. He sheepishly tables a flopped pair of 5’s and busted draw and a 41,300 pot gets shipped my way. I get a few nods and acknowledgements from the table for the call down and my confidence shoots through the roof. I felt like Allan Cunningham at the WSOP 2006 final table when he calls Jamie Gold down with ace high. Norman Chad’s immortal words were ringing in my ears “That was a world class call and Cunningham sends a message to Gold your not gonna bully me”. Not quite as heroic but that’s how I felt all the same.
Moving into level 8 (400/800/75) I pick up KK for the first time all tournament. I raise pre and get looked up by the same kid who I’ve just won a huge pot from with 99. The flop is 8 high with no draws and I C-bet. Villain moves in on me and I snap call him. He flips over 44 for middle set and I’m drawing to two outs. I miss my outs and double said villain up and quickly drop back down to 34,850. Interestingly if this kid hadn’t made the play vs me a few orbits earlier he would have most probably bust me in this hand. The rest of level goes by without much to speak of until the very last hand of the level. There’s a kid at the table (Adam Wilkinson) who had a big hand cracked earlier in the level and since then he’d started playing very aggressive. He’d won that many pots in the past 30 minutes he practically had all of the smaller chip denominations on the table in his stack. The announcement goes out that the 15 break will commence after the hand in progress just as the dealer is dealing the final hand. Before the cards have been dealt Adam Wilkinson is in the big blind and declares he will defend his blind regardless of action. Due to his previous 30 minutes I think the table tended to believe him. So anyway, some unknown opens to 2,100 from mid and after considering my options I flat behind with AhQh. Action passes around to Adam and sure enough he moves all in. Mid position villain passes and action is on me. I ask for a count and go into the tank. The count is roughly 15,000 more. With about 7,500 already in the middle I’m pretty sure I’m calling him but I run a few things over in my head first. How much will I have left if I call and lose? How many bigs will I have left? Do I really need to call this all off now etc. In the end I just decide I’m probably miles ahead of him range and most likely a 70% favorite. At worst I’m 50% and flipping. By this point most of the players have left the table for the break but Blackpool and Bolton winner Priyan De Mel, who has just recently joined the table and Kirik Patel hang around and watch the action unfold. Eventually I make the call and Adam tables 33. I’m actually quite surprised he has a pair there and was naturally hoping and expecting to see some kind of hand I had dominated (Ax, KQ type of hands). Anyway the flop comes down Q8Q and I move miles ahead and have Adam drawing to two outs. The turn bricks as Adam screams for a 3 on the river. The dealer duly obliges and peels off a 3 to fill Adam up. FML. I lose a 37,500 coin flip and I’m down to 19,000 but what an ugly way to lose.
I return from the break with only 19,000 as we enter level 9 (500/1,000/100) which will be the last level of the evening. With 19 bigs I don’t hit the panic button just yet but I’m also well aware of the need to give myself a reasonable stack going into day 2. Were down to 45 players and the chip average is 41,700. I’m fairly active in this level as I take an advantage of my position and previous image. I open raise pre from the hijack with ATo to 2,500 and get looked up by Priyan De Mel on the BTN and Adam Wilkinson in the BB. I air ball the flop but try to get a C-bet through and fire out 5,500 into the 9,000 pot. Priyan passes and Adam flats. An Ace hits the turn, Adam checks to me and with 20,000 in the middle I tank shove for 11,000 more. Adam folds and I win a nice pot. Maybe I could have checked behind and got it in on the river or even made the turn bet really small but I didn’t mind the bet to much really. I pick up a couple of blinds and antes and slowly start to chip back up. As the day is coming to a close UTG opens the pot to 2,200 and the BTN flats. I have AsQs in the SB and consider my options. I don’t want to play the hand OOP in a multi so I 3BET to isolate against one opponent and hopefully help define villains range. The both fold and I add another 6,500 to my stack. That was the last hand I played in the level and by the end of day 1 I’d chipped back up to 41,750 without an all in confrontation.
In total 35 players from day 1b made it to day 2 and joined the 18 remaining players from day 1a. So 53 players in total were due to return for day 2 out of a field of 192. With the overnight chip average sitting at 48,100 and was well and truly back in the tournament. We counted our stacks and bagged them up and I headed out of the casino feeling very satisfied with my days work. I jumped in my car and headed round to my hotel for much needed sleep.
Well I obviously did need my sleep as I didn’t wake up until 12.50pm the following afternoon. Shit. I had 1 hour and 10 minutes to get showered, have breakfast and make the 20 minute drive over to the casino. I get turned around and head over to the casino. I have a pit stop at McDonalds to pick up a latte and a quick bite to eat on route. I walk into the casino and check out my table draw. Naturally there isn’t many soft spots as I share the table with Teesside local Dave Maudlin, internet pro Max Proctor, and 4 time GUKPT final tablest Joseph Grech amongst others. Also at my table again is Mick McCool for the second consecutive day. I sit down and start to un bag and count my chips. I don’t remember the exact words but Mick McCool, whom I’d been getting on with well and chatting to for quite a while the previous day makes some reference to me about him not being happy that I was on his right again. Coming from a player of Mick McCool’s stature it was a nice confidence boost to start the day as I’d obviously shown him enough on day 1b to prove I was capable of causing him a few problems.
So anyway, day 2 was just a frustrating day for me as I got every big hand cracked. It started in the first level of the day, level 10 (600/1,200/100). Andrew Georgiou opens to 3,100 for mid. I have AQo on the BTN and consider my options. Andrew is fairly short and has a reputation as a bit of a rock. I just don’t know what line I should be taking here. I consider a 3BET but in the end elect to flat for a couple of reasons. Firstly I have POS and can play the hand ‘fit or fold’ if he gets tricky post flop. Secondly because he is such a rock there’s every chance I don’t need to hit and can take the pot away from him anyway. The 3BET commits me to his shove and I don’t really want to flip for such a big percentage of my stack if I can help it. So I flat call and the flop comes down AT4. Andrew C-bets which kind of commits him, I re-raise enough to put him all in and he quickly calls me with top two. FML. I’m drawing to a live queen for a bigger two pair but I don’t hit anything and double Andrew up to 42,000. Joe Grech, who was sat to my immediate right, was speaking to me after the hand and he was saying I should 3BET pre vs smaller stacks and only flat vs a stack that can bust me. I 100% understood his reasoning but still felt my line was fine vs said villain. Obviously with the benefit of hindsight a 3BET would have won the pot pre but cest la vie. I’d be interested to hear other peoples thoughts on this as I’m still not 100% certain what my line should be. Anyway, by the end of the level down I’m down to 26,600.
Moving into level 12 (800/1,600/200) I’m sitting with about 16-17 bigs behind and try to wait for a hand to get it in with. It’s a nice re-steal stack size but I’m determined to find a hand first and don’t want to 3BET shove on somebody with ATC. Eventually my patience pays off as I find two black Jacks in late position. I open raise the hijack to 4,100 and I’m flat called off the BTN. The flop comes down A9X with a spade draw out and I check to the BTN. Villain checks behind. At this point I’m pretty happy I’m ahead as practically no-one at this level is checking an ace in that spot with the draw out. A brick hits the turn and I check again, this time to induce a bet. Sure enough he obliges and fires out 7,500 into the middle. Action is back on me and I move all in for another 15,000 more. He asks for a count and goes into the tank. At this point I’m hoping he will call and feel sure he has an under pair to my jacks. I’m pretty sure he has either pocket 7’s or 8’s and patiently wait for him to make a decision. Eventually he does find the call I guess hoping I have some kind of draw and sure enough he tables pocket 7’s. I flip my hand over and surprisingly I’m not two outered on the river and I’m back up to 52,000. A few players, including Andy Moseley, who’s a super sick high stakes online player and a really, really nice guy to boot compliments me on the way I played the hand. He was quite funny actually, he described his starting table as like an online freeroll because it was so soft.
Anyway, by the end of the level I’m sitting on 55,900 but still under the chip average at 82,300. This didn’t concern me too much though. With the blinds and antes so high I was literally only a few pots away from where I wanted to be. So level 13 begins with the blinds at 1,000/2,000/200 and we are down to the final 35 players from the 192 runners, 20 of which get paid. Level 13 was a frustrating level for me as I had to raise fold twice. The first time I raise the cut off to 5,100 with KcQc and the BB moves in on me. I tank fold and I’m shown AK. A few orbits later I open raise again to 5,100 this time with AJo and Dave Maudlin 3BETS me getting about half of his stack in pre. I had just seen Dave get his aces cracked and wondered if he was on tilt & maybe making a move on me, I know he’s a solid player but he’s also very capable of this type of play. In the end I just feel I’m beat and again tank fold. Dave asked to see my hand and I show him the AJo and he kindly shows my KK in return.
So I’d raise folded twice and had spewed away 10,000. I didn’t let it deter me and got my stack back up with LP steals with 8c9c and QJo. Then I find KK UTG and feel sure I’ll get action as I’ve been pretty active this level. I stick my shades on and make my standard raise to 5,100. Action folds round to Richard Milne in mid who 3BET shoves. ‘Perfect’ I think to myself as I wait for the action to get to me. Naturally I snap call and Richard tables TT. I have him covered and I’m in great shape to win a 55,000 pot as a 80% favorite. I remember the flop was ace high, the turn bricked and then sure enough the two outer hits the river to felt me. For the second time this MTT I’d been two outered on the river in a key pot and I was down to 10,000 or 5 bigs, whatever. Naturally I can’t even wait an orbit to get my stack in and 5 bigs has pretty much no fold equity anyway. I just don’t get the chance to get it in as someone else opens the pot before me every time. The blinds are quickly moving around the table and I start to think I’m going to have to shove ATC UTG at this rate. Anyway, Gutshot pro Kirik Patel opens from early and I look down on 22. I can’t fold a pair with 5 bigs and slide my little stack over the line. Kirik makes the call with QQ and I’m all in and at risk for my tournament life. I don’t find my 20% and exit the tournament in 30th place. I stand up and wish the table good luck and walk out of the casino feeling utterly dejected. I got in the car and drove straight home and ran a few things over in my head on the way home. By the time I get home I feel fine and totally happy with my decision making throughout the day.
When I get home I check AWOP to see how Teesside locals Paul ‘Swampy’ Gardener and Dave Maudlin are getting on. I’m disappointed for them as I read they both bust out before the money. They are both great lads and always very friendly with me. Anyway the eventual winner was Kuljinder Sidhu but only after winning a huge flip vs Chris Brammer heads up. They get it all in pre with Chris’ AhQh vs Kuljinder’s 66’s. The 66’s hold and Chris gets his last 200k in next hand with J7 and Kuljinder makes the call with K7. He flops the king and takes the title and the £54,850 first place prize money. Just want to say very unlucky to Chris Brammer who in his interview afterwards said he felt cursed. He just an awesome player and I really believe he’ll win something huge this year.
Final table prize payouts and final standing below :-
1) Kuljinder Sidhu £54,850
2) Chris Brammer £38,900
3) Ken Clark £23,500
4) Sam Grafton £14,400
5) Anutr Amranand £11,050
6) Joe Grech £9,100
7) Andrew Georgiou £7,200
8) Loic Bernede £5,300
9) Tony Constantinides £3,850
10) Tim Flanders £3,350
Next stop is the Coral British Masters Poker Tour down in Bristol. I missed this leg last year and I’ve heard good things about the casino so looking forward to checking it out. I must say I’m mega excited about this one. I think I’m a better player than last year and I’m definitely playing better. I think it goes without saying I have a special affection towards this tour having given me such a big opportunity this year. So here’s to another deep run and hopefully my first final table of the year.
As always, thanks for reading and feel free to comment. I'm out.
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