Friday, May 20, 2011

EPT Madrid: Part 1 (The Poker)

I just returned from Madrid, Spain and a wonderful but absolutely exhausting trip! Because it was a tale of two stories, I will break up my trip report into two parts: The Poker and The City Experience. Here is the first part about poker, and I will write the second one in the coming days.

Wow, just wow, at the fortune that awaited me at the EPT Madrid. From the start I was on fire. I'll try to limit the discussion of hands as they tend to be boring and no one cares, so I'll just recap quickly. I immediately got a pretty good table draw, a theme that would continue throughout the tournament until the final 2 tables. Ended Level 1 with 40k from 30k starting stack as I had KK and rivered a K on an A-high flop. During the 2nd level (75/150), I had QQ and flopped a Q 4-way and got some nice value from button bluffing twice into me. Was up to 50k by the end of the 2nd level; I hadn't run like that in the beginning of a poker tournament pretty much ever, and I thought I was invincible. During the 3rd level, picked up AA and won a large pot to get up to 55k, and then got 3 huge streets of action with AQdd on Jxx (2 diamonds) and rivering that 3rd diamond vs hustla16 (great player). Ended Level 4 with 80k, almost tripled up. Last year at the EPT Monte Carlo, I lost in the 3rd level with AQ vs AA on AT6QQ, so I was thinking maybe this made up for it haha.

I had one cool hand where I flatted pre with 44, called a cbet on 977 flop and called a double barrel on Ace turn. The river came a 9 counterfeiting me, but he checked, so I bet to rep the Ace or 9 or 7 which worked! I knew we were splitting if I checked back so I had a perfect freeroll to pick the pot up. For the rest of the afternoon/evening levels, 300/600-500/1000 nothing much really happened until the 2nd to last hand. I was gifted about 30k after some guy 3bet his KQo and called my 4bet jam and I held with ATo. That would be another running theme of this tournament - never losing an all-in and not ever having a scary sweat... Ace on turn gg him. Ended Day 1 @ 120k.

The next day would not be as smooth, but I would rejoin the ranks of the chip leaders after I won KK>AQ followed by the this hand. I had called a raise pre with KQo then decided to bluff raise the T53 flop which he called. I shut down on turn/river but was good anyway vs his flush draw. I had another KK>AQ to get up to 275k, def among the chip leaders middle of Day 2, and then the first/only bad postflop hand of the tournament happened. I cold-called a button 3bet from the SB with red 99, then check/called three streets on a Jack-high board, hitting a flush on the river too (he had QJo, with Qd). I definitely misplayed that hand, as he shouldn't be bluffing the turn too often, but oh well. We made the money at the end of Day 2, and I ended with about 155k.

Day 3 was pretty awesome as we played down from 104 players to the final 3 tables. Had an AK>AQ to get up to 250k and then got moved to the TV table to show off my 25 BB stack at 5k/10k blinds! I've never passed the 5k/10k level of any major live tournament (reached it twice at PCA/WSOP 09), so it felt like a breakthrough to get to 6k/12k! During the dinner break I drove around by myself for an hour, which was liberating after being trapped in the casino and playing for all these days. When I returned, I was able to find a lucky double up with KK>JJ versus Alex Gomes, a good friend and Team Pro who would be at my tables the next 2 days including the final table. After the double, I pulled off a successful 3bet squeeze with JTo and won A7>AQ, runner-runnering my way to 704k to end the night. The most chips I've ever had in a liveament!

Day 4 started off pretty miserably as I raise/folded twice and 3bet/folded once to drop down to 440k before getting all-in for my tournament life for the first time, 99>AQ! AQ had been pretty brutal versus me this tournament so far. I chipped up nicely after the double, raising most hands I got and was able to climb to about 1.6 million before being moved to the TV table again. A big hand then happened where I raised UTG with KJo and was flatted by the BB...flop 963 which I cbet and was called, turn was the lovely Jack but I decided to slowplay...river K, and he check/called my 200k bet which rocketed me to 2.3 million (56 BBs and 3rd of 11). That would be my high point of the tournament, unfortunately, as the rest of the night I was completely card dead and my raises were getting 3bet and my lone 3bet was shoved on. I ended Day 4 with 1.25 million and as short as that was, I was ELATED to make the final table!!! A dream come true.

The final table was just an awesome experience for the 30 or so minutes I lasted there. We had an initial meeting to discuss a redistribution of the prize structure, but talks broke down and we resumed play. For those of you watching the live stream, hopefully you caught me raising to "1 million" on one of the first few hands. "oogee" had opened from late position and I 1-million'd with A9o from the SB (with my 15 BB) which worked. A few hands later, I button minraised with my 17 BB with T8o, which also worked. Later I shoved about 19 BB with 44 from MP successfully, 3/3 with pretty meh hands, but good spots. Unfortunately my aggression would get the best of me, as my 20 BB reshove with 33 got tank-called by AQo and I lost my flip in brutal fashion.. 99474 board! AQ was definitely the hand to be against in this tournament, so very strange. After losing that 3.5 million chip flip, probably worth 600-700k or so, I calmly walked off, congratulated and wished everyone the best. gg.

€130,000 ain't bad for sure, but of course one always wonders what could have been...even 6th place was double that of 8th place, a lil absurd. Despite losing that hand, I am forever appreciative of my fortune and chance to get to that stage. I had an amazing once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I was definitely on top of the world every moment of that tournament. I had every reason to be all smiles all the time even during and after my bustout. I could not be more satisfied with how I played that tournament, as everything seemed to flow amazingly and I stood tough in the wake of all the seasoned MTT pros and Europeans. The interviews were really fun to do as well, and I hope to see myself on TV or wherever soon :) They told me that the poker show would be broadcast all over Europe in the coming weeks, so I'd love it if you Euro readers could send me links to them!

I'd like to thank everyone for their support... on Facebook, Twitter, the 2p2 SNE thread, in person, over AIM/GTalk/MSN, everyone! The outpouring of attention was really awesome and I'm glad that I was able to give you guys a good show. Just one card away from potentially giving you guys an even better one :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

EPT Madrid Quick Update

Hey guys, what a fantastic run at the EPT Madrid main event so far for me. I've got 704,000 chips (not 104k as reported by Pokernews/Cardplayer), which is good enough for 12th out of 24 left. The remaining field, including my table, seems very manageable with only a couple big names left (Alex Gomes and Victor Ramdin). Good thing I am friends with both ;)

I am so so stoked to have made it this far, and I realize I may never be in this position again so I'm trying to cherish every additional minute I'm in the tournament. I thank everyone for their support so far on this run. Up till the very end of yesterday, I've just kinda crept along/survived without much fanfare so the attention has been pretty minimal. Today might change that hopefully. In terms of payouts, it really doesn't matter until the final table, but I'm sure loving the spot I'm in now regardless of the money. I truly wish there were a way to bookmark my life at this point right now!

So a few more allins that go my way, and I'll be headed to the final table tomorrow! They are live streaming it with revealed hole cards for everyone for the first time in EPT history. That is going to be so awesome to play, just so awesome. And to think I booked flight the day before I flew, and all that random craziness happening with the 1st flight. Oh fate, you tricky devil!

Gl me.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Andrew's First Day At the Airport

What. A. Day. So it all started when I awoke at 830am (having slept at 430am) in order to purposely make myself sleepy and exhausted for the rest of the day. The red-eye flight to Madrid was at 5:40 in the afternoon and arriving at 7:30 the next morning, so I really wanted to be nice and sleepy for the whole flight. Good idea in principle right?

Everything was hunky-dory until about an hour before our departure when it was announced that our Aer Lingus plane was having some trouble with one of its wing ailerons (the control surface that allows the airplane to bank and turn - kinda important). After two hours, it was declared that the flight was canceled. My roommate and fellow poker player 'Dana Gordon' absolutely bolted to the nearest customer service desk to rebook as we were trying to beat out everyone else who was also running. It was truly a mad and funny scene being in a giant hoard of people flying down the corridors at frantic pace. Then we hit the wall. There was already a crush of people at the desk for previous flight cancellations and all sorts of crazy. A cluster**** as we call it.

We spent the next 3 hours calling United Airlines while also standing in the line that advanced 1-2 people every 5-10 minutes; it was truly excruciating. Finally, my roommate managed to secure a rebooking that would take us to Paris via Air France, then on to Madrid the next day! Problem: It was 9:25pm and we were in the C terminal, and the departure was at 9:50pm in the A terminal, about a 20 minute commute. The ensuing mad dash to the A gates completely obliterated our previous run. We arrived panting, sweaty, and utterly drained both physically and mentally at everything that had gone on today. But it was not to be. The French people manning the gate said we were too late and that was that.

Spent, exhausted, and ready to go home, we took a cab ride back to our apartment in Arlington. It was such a strange feeling to have spent 8 hours in an airport only to take a cab back... to where we had started our day. We tried our best and made do with what we had at our disposal. It was good to practice some of the tactics that have made us successful poker players, namely patience and calm/logical thinking, no matter the crappy situation.

We're both going back to Dulles tomorrow to make the same flight. Let's hope they have a different plane :) (Btw who lets an airplane aileron get busted to the point of a flight cancellation??) I'm hoping to start Day 1B on Sunday. I've also extended my stay there till the 12th, just because now I want to get as much Madrid in me as I possibly can!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Last minute EPT Madrid!!

I have to say that after the black Friday events a fortnight ago, my life has seemingly been on an overdrive whirlwind, contrary to anything I would have expected from being freshly "unemployed!" All these days have been spent endlessly thinking/evaluating decisions, trying to sort out where to move to, applying for visas, preparing everything at home for the eventual move, and still finding time to chill and hang with friends. After over a week of anxious waiting, I was greeted today with the great news that I have been granted an Australian visa for 12 months! It looks like I'm finally 100% to move to Sydney and will probably do so sometime in the next couple weeks.

But even before that happens, I further crazy-fied my life by choosing to randomly purchase a ticket to Madrid, Spain for tomorrow afternoon to partake in the EPT Grand Finale on Saturday. Might as well add to the whirlwind while I'm still able to, makes for an exciting life =) I'll be traveling with my good friend, roommate, and poker sicko 'Dana Gordon.' It'll be tight as we plan to rent a car and explore Madrid for as much as we can before we play the event. Who knows, maybe this last minute decision to play this tourney will pay off! A full trip report to come after I get back.

Good luck to everyone still deciding whether to / where to relocate to continue our livelihoods :)

[0 VPP since April 12, 2011 hehe, still #1 on the list though]