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 :)

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