A Dublin adventure, by JP Kelly

Thumbnail image for jp_kelly.jpgby JP Kelly

If I was to list my attributes, planning and time keeping would definitely not make my list. So I thought it would be great idea to turn up for the UKIPT Dublin the morning beforehand.

I played the WCOOP events the night before with no success and then had a horrible night's sleep. Waking up at 9am is also not a strong point of mine so I stumbled about and got to the airport where I was lumped with a £40 charge just to print a boarding pass by Ryanair. I may have written this elsewhere but, I dropped my laptop on a plate at EPT Vilamoura so I then went into Dixons and bought a brand new Apple MacBook Pro.

Armed with this beast of a laptop I made it to check in where I was stung with another £40 charge of having to check one of my bags in. I gave my opinion on Ryanair but life's too short and I really couldn't be bothered to make a meal out of the situation so I stumped up the cash and vowed never to travel with them ever again!

I caught up with some much needed sleep on the plane and then had a very interesting conversation with the girl I was sat next to who was moving to Ireland all the way from Australia. She was so full of enthusiasm that it transferred to me so I arrived at the Burlington Hotel in a very good mood and bumped into some familiar faces and made it down just in time for the start.

I really didn't do anything too special for the first few hours as Irish players love to bluff and get involved far too much so it's a good strategy to just sit and be patient against them. Proving the point I saw at least four players go out on a bluff which is very rare in a big tournament. The Irish though are very impulsive and will not let the chips go uncontested even if the story they are trying to tell doesn't make any sense at all, which after a few drinks can be true for real life! I had some good banter with the other players and decided to have a couple of drinks which I sometimes do towards the end of the day.

I had steadily risen my 15k starting stack up to 20k. At the 200/400 level I open raised on the button to 1,000 with 22 and was then 3 bet to 2700 by an aggressive older player who had told me he played 6 max cash games online. He had about 11k left so I thought there was a good chance if I shoved he would fold, if I'm called he can still have AK, AQ in his range but also I guess he would call with 99+ which I'm obviously doing badly against. He'd three-bet me the most on the table and had let him get away with it so I really like my push here with 22. Unfortunately he called rather quickly, but I was happy to see AQs. I was even happier to see the flop come down 244 and even though the turn was an A I faded the 4 outs to give my stack a much needed boost.

The next hand I played was very interesting. An extremely loose Irish player who had about 34k raised to 1,200 in mid-position and I was on the button with a pair of tens. I had a similar stack, probably slightly more around 40k. Most people would have three-bet this hand for sure and tried to get all the money in pre-flop. I saw dangers with this play as this player really loved two picture cards and also any pair.

If I'm gonna play an above-average chip pot at this stage I need to know almost 100% that I have the best of it and I feel just getting it all in on a flip here is not good poker, as I would figure to be one of the best players in the tournament, so 40k at the time was well above average. What I'm saying is TT isn't as strong here as you think it might be. Three-betting also puts you in an awkward situation when he inevitably calls and then it comes something like Q83 with 2 of a suit. There is no way you can play this confidently.

Now, if the player had say been an aggressive guy and him and I had been battling all day back and forth bluffing each other etc, then, three-betting is almost mandatory as you want to give him a chance to do something crazy and you can then shove if he four-bets or something like that. These situations are crucial in a tournament and how you handle them determines how far you will go and how successful you can be.

Anyway, I went off on a bit of a tangent there.

I elected to just call with the tens and see a flop, which unfortunately dragged in the bb, which is one of the negatives of just calling. The flop came down 752 with a flush draw. The big blind checked and the Irish guy fired out about 3k.

I just called, as, like before, I'm pretty sure I have the best hand, but my hand is not strong enough to go to war just yet, as he can have overpairs, overs and flush draw and maybe even a set.

The big blind got out of the way and then the turn came a three. The Irish guy checked, and now I feel like against tricky opponents the decision is close between betting and checking back. Here I feel it is a compulsory bet. We need to protect against ace-high hands that have just picked up a straight draw and will invariably have ten outs against us.

So, I bet 6,500, and after about ten seconds he check-raised all in for an additional 25k. This is a pretty gross situation, as I could be drawing very close to dead here.

However, I made my mind up that he was a bad player and, like I said before, Irish players hardly ever give up on a pot. Also he could be doing this with just a 7, 88, 99, flush draw, 44. I thought if he had a big over-pair like KK he would just bomb the turn and try and get me to fold, as he would be too scared to give a free card.

So, I decided to call and played most likely the biggest pot of the tournament to that point. He sheepishly turned over AQo. I faded it and moved to 70k with a little more than 20 minutes left of play.

I do find players' comments amusing sometimes. When I called, the all-in player turned to me and said, "You got a piece of that"?

Well, I have just stuck in 30k at 200-400, I probably got something!

It was like on Day 2, there was a raise from Kev Allen, and the short stack moved in
for 15 big blinds. I had jacks in the big blind, so I overcalled. Kev folded, I turned my
hand over. Then the small blind went "arghhhhhhhh" and turned over KQs.

I said to him "I'm not gonna turn over KJ, mate. You should be delighted to see that when my range of hands is probably TT, JJ, QQ, KK, AA, AQ, AK."

Made me chuckle until he spiked the Q!

So, I just sat there and plodded to the end of the day right?


On the second to last hand of day, I raised AKs and got three-bet by the button. So, I four-bet to 9k, and he just called. The flop came down 23Q, and I led really tiny for 6k, which he then raised to 16k with 24k behind.

I really thought he had 99 or TT and, there is no way he can call if I shove. I have represented AA perfectly here, so I shoved. He tanked for about two minutes, and ended up folding what he said was 99. This is kind of similar to the TT hand from earlier. He put himself in an awkward situation by three-betting that hand in the first place and then completely misplaying it once I've four-bet. It is such a hard hand to play well there, he is better off just folding and moving onto the next day with a good stack. Or if he really thinks I'm at it, just shove the lot in pre-flop. To lose 25k in that pot with the best hand is a disaster in my opinion.

So I ended the day with just over 100k, which put me in 3rd position overall.

Day 2 came and I played ridiculously tight. My table had loads of short stacks and it was hard to get into good situations. Grinding a multi-day tournament involves lots of gear changes. I can't always be hammering every pot. Likewise, I can't always wait for good hands.

I found myself up to 130k somehow after seemingly losing every showdown (see JJ v KQ) AQ v A7. I won with KK v Kev Allen when he called me down with AJ on J24Q4 and river had brought the flush. I then gave them back in a dumb game of chicken on a QQ43 board when I bet 15,200 on the turn after multiple raises on the flop went in, and it became apparent that he did in fact have at least a Q. He gave me the pilea nd I sheepishly folded my jack-high.

This hand, some might say its one of the best hands/call they've ever seen. Others will think I'm a complete donkey! Anyway, I open to 4,800 at 1k-2k. An Irish player had just sat down who had me covered and was moaning after five minutes about not getting a hand. These guys are almost always poor players with patience issues. How can you moan about not getting a hand deep into Day 2 when you've seen about four hands?

My hand was A8o and he flat called me after checking my stack. My immediate read was two connected cards in some way that he wanted to play. Flop was K45 with a flush draw. I led for 6k which he raised it up to 16k total. I thought about re-raising again but I really felt like I had the best hand. He is representing just a K basically. If he had a set he would at least think about it a bit more.

Remember, a lot of these situations you have to get down or up to the level of the player you are playing. My read on his thought process, and this is honestly what I thought at the time and not in hindsight: 1) I got an alright hand 2) He's young he probably doesn't have anything 3) I wanna play this one (call) 4) I'll raise that bet, don't think he has anything.

That is as simple as it gets with some players. So, I am beating a ton of hands like QJ, QT, Q9, JT, J9, T9, T8, 89, 97. All this analysis meant that I called the additional 10k.

The turn brought the [Kc ]bringing two clubs and two hearts now. This was a great card for me. If I was winning before, then I am still winning, so I checked. He went to grab a stack of chips and then changed his mind and checked behind. The river was the 6♣ completing the backdoor flush. Now, I am almost certain he would have fired another bet if he had picked up a club flush draw on the turn, so I can rule out a flush. He would also have bet a K I think as there were two flush draws on the board.


Remember this isn't some internet whizz kid. So, I checked the river and he bet chunk of chips hurriedly, which was about 27k. I couldn't think of a hand that he could possibly have. If say he had got tricky and checked a K back, he wouldn't bet 27k on river. I think he would have to bet a bit less to try to get me to call with worse. 44 and 55 were my only real concerns but my read on his body language was that he was extremely weak.

Now, I paused for a second because he could be bluffing with a better A high or like 22 or 33, but why on earth would he bet 22 or 33. Surely he'd just turn that over and hope he was good. All this analysis led me to call on the end, and he said "if you hit it you got it". So I waited.

I wanted him to muck his hand, just in case he somehow had one of these hands that beat me. But I was very happy with my call. Eventually after about 10 seconds the other players got irritated and made him turn his hand over, which was like a kick to the stomach when I saw A9o. He had me pipped and was going to scoop this pot after he played this absolutely horrendously. I flashed my A8 and went to the dinner break steaming. In hindsight, I really like my play in this hand but probably should have just shoved over the top of him on the flop if I was that convinced of my read. I never recovered and ended up shoving A3 into AJ.

Had a great weekend which involved going dog racing with the Brighton lads and Rob Sherwood. We had a few winners at the Derby which was brilliant followed by a couple of funny nights out. Great effort from Kev Allen who played great on my table and was unlucky at the final and deserved to finish much higher than 5th. Congrats to Max Silver for picking up the £72,000 first prize and the seat into EPT London.

I'm off to London now for the WSOPE. Going to play four events, I think, followed by EPT London, which I am really looking forward to.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in