Full Tilt Poker
Roland De Wolfe
Paris Open of PokerI was particularly looking forward to the Ä500 event, mainly because of the greater prize pool and the prospect of playing against better players. By this time I had put yesterdays lapse in concentration and lack of desire behind as a one off, a release of stress, I decided to go to the casino earlier, primarily to warm up and have my senses in tune by the time the tournament started. Also for the added confidence of winning enough in cash games to recoup the Ä500 buy-in. A big mistake I realised when I went to register 10 minutes before the start. Having played for about 5 hours straight, I was tired, my eyes were squaring up and I imagine my scrunched up forehead wasnít too friendly a sight.
My opponents on table 23, where I was sat in seat 9, included Isabelle Mercier, who was sat to my immediate left in seat 10. However, I paid little attention to her as there was an incredibly beautiful lady on the table to the right. You can imagine how much I wanted to be moved to that table! Anyway, the rest of my opponents were middle aged gentlemen and not to stimulating. I got underway with an excellent start, picking AA second hand. Blinds started at 2/5 and I raised from second position to T20. The tight old guys folded around to the big blind, who called the extra T15 chips. The flop produced K79 with 2 spades. He checked and I bet the pot, to see where I stood. A call and the turn was an off suit deuce. Once more he checked, I gathered he had a piece of the flop and absolutely no clue over my holdings. I lay the trap with a check, pretty convincing I thought considering the flush draw on board. The river brought another spade and my opponent weakly checked, I pushed a value bet to the max with T125. He took the cheese and paid the price. Nice start.
The very next hand, the ego overtook common sense and I raised in first position with A4 of clubs, again to T20. Called only by seat 4. The flop pictured 78T rainbow. I checked and he checked. The turn was a king which I checked, my opponent made a weak bet of T30, I re-raised to T90 hoping to take it down there purely on his weak bet. Obviously he wasnít as weak as I expected as he called the check raise. The river was a queen, now I had to bet to win the pot, perhaps the prior hand would tilt the advantage in my favour and get my opponent to fold a king with moderate kicker. I bet T105, (who seriously bets the amount T105 with a good hand? A question Iíve asked somebody before.) Of course he called, I mucked my cards instead of having to show that I check raised with a complete bluff.
Play was loose, Mercier bluffed away two thirds of her stack straight away. Starting stacks were T500 and with a 40 minute clock there was going to be a large luck factor involved in winning. The French toad (Dublin Day 1) was in seat 6. He was down to T60, he stupidly pushed all-in pre-flop with AJ spades versus Ace King diamonds after it went raise, re-raise, re-re-raise. Blinds went up to 5/10, the toad limped under the gun, I found JJ in the cut off and raised to T50. The big blind in seat 3 flat called as did the toad, leaving himself T10 behind. The flop came 345, the toad dipped his chips in to the middle and went all-in. I attempted to isolate him and made a raise to T125, to my surprise, seat 3 who had been playing loosely flat called. It was certainly possible he could hold pocket 3ís, 4ís or 5ís, but I didnít believe he was cunning enough to slow play them. The turn came another 3. The pot was significantly large enough that I wanted to take it down right there, I bet T250, letting my opponent that I was committing myself to the pot. He delayed and then called, now I knew I was in trouble. The river came an 8, I checked, allowing the opportunity to fold if I so decided it was the correct choice. No surprise when the big blind put me all-in. The best way to illustrate my thoughts at this point is to loosely use the example of Simon Trumper slow rolling Barry Greenstein in the WSOP 2005 Omaha event. Greenstein excuse for calling the all-in bet was that he wanted to know for sure that Trumper was slow rolling. There was no mathematics involved in my decision, I needed to know that this guy had me beat. Thatís a terrible excuse for making a bad call and wasting 500, but itís the truth. Admitting this, I hope will eradicate it from my future game. I called and he showed A3 for trip 3ís.
This tournament provided helpful lessons in my development to become a consistent winner in multi-table tournaments. Preparation is key, playing 5 hours of cash games beforehand hindered my performance tremendously. It had the reverse effects of warming up and I was playing tired, Dan Harringtonís WSOP interview exemplifies this point perfectly, he said that he mentally switched off during the first few days to conserve energy for when he needed it. Adding to the preparation topic, being sufficiently energized has much to do with nutrition. I hadnít eaten or drank all day, being hungry and dehydrated during this tournament was a major factor in my concentration struggles. Iíve read the average personís concentration level drops by 70% if they donít drink the recommended amount of fluids each day. This was on the back of a bottle of mineral water, so absorb it with a pinch of salt.
In college I had a rugby coach who trained the England U18 rugby team. His preparation for matches was exceptional. Our team was always up for the game, knowing we had prepared better than the opposition. However, during the match the coach lacked the creativity, courage and tactical awareness needed to beat the best coaches on other teams. Hereís what Iím getting at, preparation is the key to unlocking the door to becoming a better poker player, but to truly excel a player needs to walk through the whole corridor, opening new doors and filling up the cracks a long the way.
Motivation. I wasnít motivated to play in this tournament. I could have used this money to play another tournament, perhaps as a fraction of a larger buy-in tournament where it may have been more of a challenge to win, but rising to challenges is the main ingredient to improving. I play less frequently when I canít be bothered nowadays, this was the biggest lesson I learnt from this tournament.
Analyse everything. When I sat at this table, I could have been sat in the park, I wasnít concerned about anything poker related, analysing my opponents was not in my thoughts. Big mistake! It is critical aspect to winning, especially when the cards are cold that you need to have even the slightest advantages over your opponents. Observing players mannerisms, ticks and general posture during the time from when they receive their cards until the time they fold, will give huge clues to when they are weak or strong, in turn this will help determine their exact hand by deciphering whether they believe they are winning or losing. I also find comparing players characteristics to those of people Iíve come across during the past very useful, itís incredible how similar the body language of humans can be. (Continued: Paris Open of Poker 2005, Main Event)