So Saturday 8th May I took a flight down to Bristol for leg 1 of the Coral British Masters Poker Tour. I’d been on a works night out the previous night and ended up at Circus casino. Having blown £400 on drink, taxis and cash poker I made my way to Newcastle airport. Not long after boarding my flight I bumped into Teessiders Dave Maudlin, Dom Mahoney, Howie and John Cairns who were also making their way to the event. I was a little hung over and still in Friday night’s clothes & despite felling a little sleep deprived I just about mange to stay awake for the short 45 minute flight. We arrive in Bristol about 8.00am and share a taxi to the town centre. Coral had very kindly put me up in a very nice hotel literally next door to the casino for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday night. So once I arrived, I quickly checked in, had some breakfast and went to get a few hours shut eye. 5 hours later I woke up, get showed and changed and headed around the corner to the casino.
I’m greeted in the casino by Mark O’Donnell (Head of Poker for Gala Coral). We have a long chat about how things are going for me on the tour & other bits and bobs before leaving him to it to do his PR work. I also spot Mark English who is a former employee of Coral. As he’s no longer on the payroll he was eligible to play the tour and wasted no time in heading to Bristol for leg 1 of the tour. He’s a good kid & always has plenty to say so it was nice to see him in the field and catch up with him.
So after socializing in the card room for an hour or so the seats are drawn and I find myself on the feature table. I have a quick scan around the table and notice Teessider Dave Maudlin and good friend Dave Swan sat to my immediate right. Both of these lads had shared the final table with me in Teesside last year finishing 5th and 3rd respectively. Having not seen Swany since Teesside it was great to see him again. As usual levels 1 and 2 passed by without my getting involved much as I try to establish playing styles from the opponents. In level 2 I did turn two pair in a multi-way when I checked my option from the big blind with 85. After seeing a free turn card I check raise the turn after I make my two pair, everyone folds other than Dave Maudlin who looks me up. I then get a value bet through on the river. By the end of the level I’m up to 13,600.
It was one of them tournaments where I never really played a big pot all MTT but just slowly chipped up. By the end of level 3 I’d chipped up to 17,550 with the chip average sitting at 12,700. We had already lost 23 players from the 109 runners including Dave Maudlin who lost a flip with AdKd v TT all in pre flop. By the start of level 5 (150/300) we’d already lost a staggering 40 players as the field thinned to 69. I was just above average sitting on 19,250 with the average quickly increasing to 15,800. It was during this level I was able to add to my stack and stay ahead of the ever increasing chip average. After a BTN limp I make it 1,200 from the SB with KK. The BB moves all in, BTN folds and I make the easy call. The BB opens AQ. My hand holds and I add another 5,000+ to my stack. After a few small pots here and there I’m up to 27,800 with the average at 17,900 and down to 61 players. So I’m now sitting very comfortably as I enter level 6 (200/400/25). This is usually the level where there are a few movers as players will open up their range a little bit to try and accumulate chips. With my stack I decide to take the opposite approach and I tighten up my range a little knowing I’m likely to be 3BET quite a bit and I didn’t want to start spraying my chips about.
By the start on level 7 (300/600/25) my stack hasn’t really moved and I’m on 26,275. Level 7 and I got moving again having picked up on which players were looking to chip up and which players were trying to preserve their stack. I found a couple of good spots and went from strength to strength. I never played a big pot never had more than half my stack in the middle and was gathering chips for fun. By half was through level 8 (400/800/75) I was up to 48,725 with the chip average at 32,100 and only 34 players left. I kept moving and by the end of the level I was on 53,025. Chip average had increased to 37,600 as we lost another 5 players as the field thinned to 29 players.
We had a short break before entering the final level of the day. Level 9 (600/1,200/100) was by far the most volatile level of the day for me as my stack took a pounding. I opened to 3,000 on 3 separate occasions with small or medium pairs and ran into big pairs every time. In one hand I’d opened with 77 and was flat called by the most active player at the table. I was quite happy to be in a pot with this lad but not too happy about playing the pot out of position with such a vulnerable hand. Anyway the flop was king high and I check called the flop expecting him to slow down a bit on the turn if he had air. I again check the turn and he jams. Hmm, no need to be a hero with my stack and I give it up. I’m pleased I did as he shows me kings for top set. I remained pretty active and picked up a lot of small pots. With 2,700 dead money in the pot every hand I was slowly getting my stack back. About 10 minutes before the end of the level I opened from mid with Ac5c. I’m looked up by the cut off and the BB also joins the party. The flop falls 467r. We all check the flop and a jack hits the turn. BB checks to me and I have a stab at it. CO folds and BB flats. My gin card hits the river (3) to complete my straight and the BB again checks to me. With 25,500 ITM I fire out 20,000 and the BB snaps me with a jack. I scoop a very nice pot and end day 1 3rd in chips on 80,200. I was well above the chip average at 54,500 and only 20 players had made it back for day 2.
I was on the same table all day which definitely helped me with reads & tells & picking up on betting patterns and playing styles throughout the course of the day. just want to add that this table was by far the most friendly table I’ve played on in ages. We had lots of laugh and it was a pleasure to spend a day in everyone company.
As with previous British Masters there is no re-draw for day 2 and It definitely helped me personally as I picked up where I left off picking up lots of dead money and just generally playing my position. Without playing a significant pot or picking up any premiums I had chipped up to 114,400, still comfortably above the chip average which was up to 68,100 as we were now down to only 16 players. It was in level 11 when I won my first big pot as I open from mid with JTs. I’m looked up in two spots. One of which was Tom Fielding in the big blind who was only player at the table who has my covered. I like the flop as it falls 889. I air on the side of caution and decide not to bet the flop as I’m out of position to one lad and also have Tom Fielding to contend with. So we all check the flop and I like the turn card even more as the dealer peels off a 7 giving me a straight to the jack. It’s a paired board so I’m not holding the nuts but naturally feel confident I have the best hand. Tom checks the turn and I lead, the other villain flat calls and surprising Tom makes a re-raise from the BB. I go into the tank and consider my options. I don’t like the fold here, Tom has a lot of ‘game’ and is more than capable of making a squeeze here with air. If he has a house then I’m either going broke or going to be severely crippled. I elect to flat call and try to control the pot. The flat will also give Tom the opportunity to fire again on the river. I’m not folding so I’m either going home or picking off his bluff. Anyway, the other villain folds to Tom’s re-raise and my flat behind and a ten hits the river. Tom then checks the river to me. With the check on the river I’m now certain he does not have the full house and I’m now happy again that I definitely have the best hand. I decide to shove for value against a bare 8. Tom quickly folds and I make the assumption he had air and he just thought it look like a good spot to make a play.
I win another couple of nice pots and go from strength to strength as we are short handed & approaching the final table. The first of which was with KhQh. Matthew Kerry opens from mid position and I make the call on the BTN. The flop is Q7xdd. Matthew leads and I consider my options. Matthew Kerry is a very solid player so I decide to just flat here knowing he will give up on the turn without anything other than a big hand. The 2d falls on the turn and Matthew checks to me. I consider checking back to get to a cheap showdown but decide to value bet vs Ad. Matthew goes into the tank for what feels like an eternity then eventually folds AQ face up. Wow, I dodged a bullet there as Matthew Kerry hero folds the best hand and I add to my stack.
I win another smaller pot the an orbit later when I again play my BTN. This time Tom Fielding opens from mid and I flat call the BTN with JJ. The flop is Q23r and Tom C-Bets. I flat call and we both check fourth street. Tom again checks the river to me and I consider a value bet. In the end I just open my hand up and I Tom could be checking a Q9 QT type of hand. In hindsight I think he may of VB these type of hands on the river and a VB by myself probably would have been the optimal play but meh. I checked back, showed my hand and Tom mucked face down.
By the start of level 12 I was sitting on about 155,000 with the average at 90,000 and down to 12 players. With only 10 getting paid I play solid poker and we lose another player and were on the bubble. I use my big stack to abuse the bubble and just start picking up pot after pot. It becomes pretty obvious to the table that I’m at it (which I think worked against me a little bit on the FT as people assumed I was opening equally light) but nobody wants to go broke and I’m getting everything through. The player to eventually make a stand was a Scottish lad called George Stuart who had up to now had a great day 2 taking his stack from 16,500 to north of 100,000 and was obviously playing very well. I opened another pot from late position and George 3BETs me from the cut off. I have nothing and quickly fold. The next hand I have AT in the cut off and open again. George flats me from the BTN and the BB also calls. The flop is Q high and the BB checks. I check and George bets. The BB folds and I fold behind. George shows AJ for ace high. Which was the best hand as it happens. Someone beats me into the pot the next hand and I muck my BTN.
FTP GIM : The next hand I’m in the SB and action is passed around to me. I raise George Stuart’s blind and he makes the call. The flop is X67ss and I check to George. He leads the flop and I float him. The dealer peels off the 8s on the turn completing a flush draw and also gives me an open ended straight draw. I again check to George who fires a second barrel into me. I know George is just playing back at me due to me being so active. The 8s on the turn is a great card for me as I can represent so many hands so this time I check raise him and put him to the test. He folds and since George was kind enough to show me his ace high a couple of hands earlier I show him the jack high. That was the last pot George played with me and kept out of my way for the remainder of the tournament. He’s a nice guy and played to win which I admire so no hard feelings mate. I continued to abuse the bubble and opened and won most pots uncontested until the bubble eventually burst and we had our final ten.
I sit down at the FT as joint chip leader with over 180,000 and sit down at my second Coral British Masters final table in consecutive years. Within the first few hands Matthew Kerry moves his short stack all in from early position. He moves in for 35,000 with the blinds at 1,000/2,000/200. Action folds around to me in mid and I look down on AQ. I consider my options. I think about folding with so many dangerous stacks still behind me. I don’t really want to re-raise incase I run into a monster behind. In the end I just think it’s too good a hand to fold to a short stack shove (less than 10 bigs) and I smooth call with the intension of giving it up pre it I hear any noise from one of the big stacks behind. Nobody’s interested and I open my AQ and Matthew Kerry shows up with 44. Meh, ideally I’d rather have seen Ax obviously but I didn’t mind too much. I was flipping for a tiny percentage of my stack and the chance to bust a player. I don’t remember how the board read but I know I didn’t hit anything and took a 35,000 hit to my stack and double Matthew up to 74,000.
A few orbits later James Williams opens from mid and action is on me. I have 66 and consider my action, I check his stack size to see if he’s deep enough for me to go set mining. He’s got plenty back so I make the call. The flop comes down TT4ss. With 35,000 ITM he leads the flop for only 15,000. I didn’t really understand this bet. It seemed too small and I read it as a weak stopper type bet from him as if he wanted to see a cheap turn card with a couple of over cards. It was a pretty good flop for my hand so rather than giving up and probably folding the best hand I decide to ask the question there and then and I raise to 40,000. I prefer this line to making a three street hero call down and it would save me some chips if I was wrong. Well, he tank shoves on me. I ask for a count, initially thinking I was priced into the call. The dealer counts his remaining stack and it still an extra 50,000+ more to make the call. I tank for ages but in the end I give it up. I’m pretty sure I was beat and drawing to two outs so I give the pot up having put a decent percentage of my stack in and move onto the next hand. The lunch break shortly followed and I was down to just over 100,000 from the 180,000 I sat down with.
Things weren’t going to great for me since the FT had started. I felt like my previous lag image pre bubble was working against me & during the lunch break I make a call to my bro for a bit of advice. I spent quite a while on the phone to him and by the time I’d returned to the table I was late back. I never realized they’d put the call out but had kindly waited for my return before recommencing. The table has been playing back at me constantly and I feel like all I’ve done since I sat down is raise folded. Things continued when I got back when I raise the BTN with KQ and the BB moves in on me again. He was very short and I was getting the right price to look him up so I stuck the extra in and were on our backs. I open my KQ and FML he has AA. No miracle and I double him up.
I’m chip back up to about 80,000 when I start to open shove my entire range. I can’t really afford or want to raise fold again and I’m happy to flip for a double or pick up the dead money uncontested. I tighten up my opening range a little bit and begin to open shove with my revised range. It kind of works when I open shove QQ and I’m looked up by AdTd. I’m a 70% favorite and have the chance to bust another player until the flop falls A high and I’m down to the felt. I was left with only 45,000 with the blinds at 6,000/12,000/400. With only 4 bigs I’m UTG next hand I shove ATC not wanting the blinds to pass through me. Tom Fielding in the BB understandably calls me very light. We go to showdown with my Ts6s and Tom’s 82o. Fortunately I make a flush on the turn and double up to 90,000.
I pick up a couple of decent aces and pocket pairs in quick succession and get my stack in. I’ve shoved the previous two pots in a row and by this point I’m clearly the most active player at the table when James Williams opens. Action passes to me and I look down on AK and get my stack in again. It gets back round to James Williams who tanks for a while, asks for a count then makes the call with KQ. No help from the board and AK’s good for a timely double through.
We are down to 7 players when the blinds jump to at a crippling 8,000/16,000/500. This was the level where all the action happened, so much so that by the time the level was over it was heads up. I’m pretty much shoving any unopened pot and picking up so much dead money. Anyway the action is happening thick and fast as we lose another couple of players before I play my next big pot. It turned out to be a very significant one; five handed action folds around to me in the small blind. I have Ax9d. I don’t remember my exact stack size but it was over 120,000 & I make the auto shove into the Rod Buckman’s BB. Rod snaps me off with AsKs. FML. This was it, I was a big underdog and at risk. I needed help from the deck. The dealer duly obliged when the flop fell QT8ddd. I had picked up a flush draw as well as the live 9. The dealer peels off a beautiful Ad on the turn to lock the hand up. I doubled to 250,000-300,000 and Rod was down to the felt. The very next hand Tom Fielding opens to 80,000 and I look down on AQ. I now have a stack with some serious fold equity and decide to ship it over the top of Tom’s open. I know he can’t call me unless he’s found the very top of his range. He quickly folds and just like that I was the new chip leader on about 400,000.
Rod Buckman, having previously been crippled by me with the A9 v AK hand gets him short stack in and Tom Fielding looks him up. Rod tables 89o and Tom makes the call with KTo. No help from the board and we lose Rod in 5th place. I was very impressed with Tom calling range as we got short-handed and he took plenty of shots of taking out the short stacks. I think a lot of people don’t understand calling ranges and are scared to call of percentages of their stacks with marginal’s vs desperate short stacks so well played to him.
Now 4 handed It was at this point we discussed a deal. With the chip average at 250,000 and blinds at 8,000/16,000/500 we were all pretty shallow with only 15 bigs being an average stack and naturally it was pretty much shove or fold poker. Due to the stack sizes and blind levels I felt it was prudent to do a deal so with £42,940 prize money remaining we decide to take £9,000 each and play it out for the remaining £6,940, the play off seat and the trophy. I felt I had a small edge and fancied my chances at taking first place.
The very next hand after the deal we lose good friend Dave Swan in fourth place. He opened raised from the SB and Tom Fielding in the BB moved all in. Swanny snap calls and tables QQ. Tom opens AJ & flops his ace to send Swanny to the rail. The double for Tom kind of changed the table dynamics as we now had a big chip leader at the table. 3 handed we play a bit of small ball and I lose a couple of small pots here and there. I completed with JT from the SB and Dave Harris checks his option from the BB. The board reads ATX-X-K and we check it down to the turn, I check 5th street to him and call his river bet. He tables A8o and scoops a nice little pot. I lose another little pot when I play a B on B pot with Tom Fielding. I have 56 and the board falls XX6-X-K again we check it down until the river and I call a small bet on the end and Tom shows KT. With the blinds so high and having lost a few little pots I found myself on about 200,000. The break was imminent and it couldn’t come soon enough. I was physically tired and really for a short break but mainly mentally exhausted and was desperate to regroup and reassess the situation. I felt like we’d been playing the same level for hours.
Anyway, were seconds from the break as Tom Fielding and Dave Harris both stand up. With a few seconds left on the clock the dealer announces one more hand. At this point Tom Fielding who had chipped up to about 600,000 passed his BTN and action was on me in the SB. I look down on Qd8d. For me there’s only one move here. I hate the raise fold as it’s just too spewy with my stack size and it’s just too big a hand to give him a walk. I could complete and try to play a flop but I decide to just get it in and hopefully win the dead money uncontested. Dave snap calls me and opens AJo. Hmm, oh well, I wasn’t in terrible shape – about 42%. Qd8d plays pretty well and I was playing a big pot. I was quite happy really, I mean I could have been in terrible shape and I was happy to take a shot at Dave Harris and give myself a chance at winning a big stack to take Tom Fielding on heads up. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be as the board read XXX-J-8. Dave had me covered and I hit the rail in 3rd place taking home £9,000 for my efforts. I was gutted not to win but at the same time I was mindful of the A9 AK suck out 5 handed pre deal. I was speaking to Mark O’Donnell after I went bust and predicted that Tom Fielding would take it down heads up. He’s a nice lad and a great poker player with a lot of game and felt he would have the beating of Dave Harris heads up. I’m not sure how the cards fell but I was wrong in my prediction as Dave slowly chipped away at Tom before they eventually get it all in on an 8 high flop both holding an 8 with Dave Harris having Tom out kicked. That was enough for Dave to take the title, the play off seat and the extra £6,940 in prize money.
The final standing and payout were as follows :-
1) Dave Harris £15,910*
2) Tom Fielding £9,000*
3) Mark Trett £9,000*
4) Dave Swan £9,000*
5) Rod Buckman £3,380
6) George Stewart £2,290
7) Antonio Pietragalla £1,960
8) James Williams £1,640
9) Matt Kerry £1,310
10) Vic Nosko £980
*Deal done 4 handed.
Ok, so that’s it folks. Really sorry for the delay guys. I will make a concerted effort to get these trip reports up earlier in future events. Like my brother says the longer it goes before I post the less people are interested. Yesterday’s news is today’s fish and chips type of thing. I played the PokerStars UKIPT in Nottingham the following week and for the 3rd event running I made day 2. Trip report to follow soon.
Anyway, as always thanks for reading and feel free to comment.
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