Bit chomped to a nub, I finally get to play

ps_news_thn.jpgThought I'd blog about playing the Newcastle UKIPT ...for your pleasure.

As the event isn't part of our TV coverage I finally got to play a UKIPT after a couple of years chomping at the bit covering them. You can watch my video diary of playing the event here if you prefer me in visual format (god help you).

The tour's first visit to Newcastle went down a storm with a 554 runner field - pretty huge for a regional even with no tv coverage. I've played in Newcastle before so knew I was in for a fun time - there's a lot of banter at the tables and the players have a ton of gamble in them.

Day 1 started as badly as possible with me managing to shed half my stack in the first two levels. This is actually quite hard to do - you have to reallllyyyy try to donk them off to get this low! I'm exaggerating - it is No Limit Holdem and anything can happen. However I'd forgotten a couple of key things, first you can't win the tournament you can only lose it in the first two levels (there's nothing in the middle to win so tight tends to be right). And second, in general, players don't come to big live events to fold; especially if they've called a couple of streets. I contemplated this in depth after an early failed triple barrel bluff...if only I'd contemplated it before.

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Every player dreads one of those tournaments where you can't win a pot, your stack dwindles and you blow out without any 'bang for your buck'. They happen to everyone and this looked like being one. Then it all changed in a hand as I found KK, 3 bet and got called on all 3 streets including the river all in by a non-believer. How could he not believe - it's not like a triple barrel bluff or anything...see it was all part of the master plan.

After doubling up the rest of day 1 went pretty well. The odd decent sized pot and chipping up well once the ante came in. The only real decision I faced all day was when I picked up KK for the second time. I 3 bet again and the same player called me in position. The flop came a pretty perfect looking 10,6,6 rainbow. I bet and he called - good news! The turn was 2, a complete blank, I bet again hoping for a call and he quickly shoved all in; a big over bet to the pot. What just happened?! Was it possible he went crazy and just wanted to put a move on me after he lost the last hand?

The thing is when someone goes crazy on the turn in a live game - especially early in the tournament - you are often 'boned beyond belief'. Of course a good player will make this kind of play as a semi bluff or for thin value or whatever but a 'casual' player in a big live event...much more rare. I talked to him a little bit and he made things easier by chatting back in a totally relaxed way. In the end it was an easy lay down and pretty standard. He showed me 6,7 for trips to make me feel better about it.

I finished day 1 with 53k which was a decent amount above average and all you can ask from a day 1....bag em and tag em.

It's always fun to see the huge number of early bust outs on day 1 - not fun for the people involved, clearly, but fun because so many people cling on to make day 2. If you play one of these try not to do that; making the second day is totally meaningless in a 4 day event and you shouldn't miss opportunities to get the money in in a good spot even if it happens to be the last hand of a day. They don't pay you for coming back!!

Day 2 was a bit ...well...forgettable really. I played well the first 3 hours or so. I didn't play a hand to showdown yet moved up to just under 80k; a good sign you're doing something right. I was picking steal spots well and feeling like my game was coming back after months and months away from playing live. Of course I couldn't have been more wrong!

No limit is such a vicious game and because we all play it it's easy to forget just how demanding it can be. However good or bad you are your chip swings will be huge and that can be tough to take. It's a game where you can be cruising in a tournament then play 2 big hands, do nothing wrong and be watching from the sidelines.

Nothing that dramatic happened to me however I did have a couple of horror levels that took me from being comfortably above average to being short stacked and exiting quickly afterwards about 25 spots off the money. I wasn't completely happy with how I played. I was a little too loose once my stack got below 40bbs and I also paid off a couple of players on the river when folding was probably right. One on a A,3,5,6,K board when he shoved into me on the river. I had a one pair hand and it was a single bet pot so I just couldn't figure out what hand of his made sense. He either had nothing or the whole world - I called and he showed me top set of Aces ...or the whole world!! I can make a case for my call but we were closing in on the money and it was just one of those live spots where I was getting bluffed very rarely.

Anyway that was my tournament. Nice to have a bit of a run in my first tour event but nothing too remarkable really. I played some decent stuff but also was aware of being 'rusty' - if you don't play poker often as I'm not able to do right now due to restrictions on my time it's impossible to be at your best when you do play.

As expected the event was a lot of fun, the structure is great and I had a blast. Hope to see every single last one of you in Brighton where I might just ante up for another spin.

Nick Wealthall
@PokerStars in News