VentureAce - Professional Poker Player

Sheffield Winter Poker Tournament

The scene at Napoleon’s casino was akin to Sheffield’s skyline, where the clouds are pollution chugged out by the giant factory chimneys. 75% of players smoked 75% of the time, it probably knocked a few years off my life.

The tournament was a double chance no limit hold’em event, with 5,000 starting chips an a hour clock. Blinds started at 25/50. At my table, I recognized 1 face. My friend Sam, who was playing only his third live tournament was in seat 3. Sam’s played $25/50 and $50/100 practically every day for the last year and is a decent player.

My live poker rustiness showed after an hour. On the first occasion that I raised pre-flop, with Ace Queen off, it went 3-way to the flop of K45. I led out for 500. The man on my left, who was rolling a cigarette every hand and holding it in front of my face, flat called. The turn brought another 5, I checked, he nervously bet 1,000. I know he’s bluffing, smooth call (good ole Ace high trap?!). The river is a 9. I check, intending to call any bet. He thinks for a while, and then said, “I don’t think I can get you to fold.” He taps the table. I flip over the Queen, “Yep”. I turned over the Ace, “Oh, I thought you had Queens.” He tables pocket threes and scoops the pot. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh, bluffing with the best hand. That was embarrassing.

Tilt. The next hand I limp UTG with 10 5 off, predetermined to re-raise any raise. The guy who beat me out of the last pot makes it 150, called by the small Pakistani guy with a light-bulb shaped head. Folded round the big blind, a chubby well dressed Pakistani, he called. I grab a handful of chips and whack them in the middle. Fold, fold, fold. The big blind showed 25 unsuited, the original raiser said he folded 43 clubs and light-bulb said he had 46 suited. Bluffing with the best hand again.

The very next hand, fake tilt. 5 or 6 limpers to my big blind. I look down at Ace King of diamonds and make it 550 to go. Everybody folded with a few tilt comments. During the next few orbits, Sam built a nice stack mostly virtue to turning a flush versus the chubby Pakistani’s pocket Aces and nut flush redraw. River washed a blank. Everybody was picking on that guy, his add-on quickly decreased to 3,000, due to limp calling pre-flop and check folding post-flop. Blinds were up to 50/100 and the limp-caller raised to 300, I squeeze pocket 10’s and make it 900 to go. He flat called. Flop was 245, and then he check-folded for the umpteenth time.

Blinds went up to 100/200. During this level, I was dealt pocket deuces 4 times in 2 orbits, never saw the flop once. After the first 2 occasions of limp folding to manic re-raisers, the smart move was just to fold and save the 200 chips.

Chubby Pakistani limps in mid-position, I bump it up to 800 with Ace Queen off, he calls. The hand before the same situation occurred, except light bulb head pushed all-in over the top of my King Jack of spades raise. Chubby and I both folded. Back to the hand, the flop came rainbow KQ8, checked to me, I made a bet of 1,000, later described by Sam as “sooo weak”. Chubby calls. The turn is a Jack. I put him on something like QJ or QT. Check, I checked to revaluate his holdings on the river. The river was a blank. He led out for 1,200. He wanted a call, so I should’ve folded. But, the little devil on my shoulder was saying “maybe JT?” I looked him up. He triumphantly flips Ace Ten, for the nuts. Outside - keep calm, composed, no emotion. Inside - “HIT YOUR MIRACLE GUTSHOT AND WON 1,200 Ahahahahahaha.” I went to muck my cards face down, when the chain smoking Yorkshire man, says I have to show my cards. I decline, then there was a fuss until the dealer says it’s a rule in Sheffield, all cards that go to a showdown must be turned over. “You muss be baginner no’know that rule.” Sincerely said chain-smoker, who I’d wager has never ventured to a casino outside of Sheffield. Thankfully they broke the table shortly afterwards before I went on mega-tilt.

The new table was ugly, containing Micky Wernick and Julian Thew, 2 of the UK’s best tournament players. The action, to start, was very passive with lots of players in un-raised pots seeing the flop. I folded for a few orbits, only taking the blinds once with Ace Ten. Blinds were 150/300, and the guy on my right raised it up to 1,000. He’d been tight, so there this was a big hand. I look down at Ace King, Ace King! Got to raise that up. 3,000 to go with 2,800 behind. Folded around, he wastes no time in pushing all-in. In Gus Hansen style, I fling the rest of the chips in, knowing I’m behind. He over flips over Kings, I celebrate that it’s not Aces. Anyway, I’m a lucky bastard with Ace King versus Kings, memorably the Paris Open of Poker. This time … I did it again, sucked out on the turn with the Ace of Spades. The guy was distraught, obviously hadn’t played that much poker and looked clinically depressed.

5 minute Break.

3 hands back from the break, depressed guy raises the 2/400 blinds up to 1,200 with about another 5K behind. I find the cowboys and trickle in 7 white chips, 3,500. Folded back around, he auto-pushes and I auto-call. Vice versa, KK v AK. Surely, the poker Gods would show some mercy and let him win this one.

“No justice” commented one guy after the board blanked. I’m up to about 19,000.

One orbit later, I pick up JJ in early position. The guy in seat 2, who’s next to act as seat 1 is vacant, raises, no idea how much as the dealer was obstructing my view. I glance round the dealer’s back to gage the man’s total chips. He has his legs perched on seat 1 and is laying horizontally, totally relaxed and confident. He has about 7K behind. I know him, he doesn’t know me, I love that situation. This guy plays as reddog online, a solid winning tournament player. With the aforementioned info - I pushed, he instantly calls and flips over Aces. It’s a good sign when the dealer doesn’t count your chips, she was too busy dealing the flop, which came J88, Full house, 2-outer extraordinaire! Up to about 29,000.

A few hands later, Maurice, a bald black guy limps in the small blind. He’d limped UTG with Aces earlier and got paid off by an all-in move with Jacks. I declined the option to raise with Queen 10 unsuited. The flop came Q74 with 2 clubs. He led out for 500, I called. The turn brought the 9 of clubs. He checked, I bet 1,200, he called. River produced another Queen, giving me trips. He suddenly got busy and bet 4,000. I considered raising for a minute, then eventually called. Would he call with a worse hand? Probably not but I’d hate for him to turn over Q with a weak kicker. Looking back I should have raised, if only to conceal information from my opponents. He flipped over J8 with no clubs, gutshot chasing must be endemic in Sheffield.

I went card dead for a few orbits and my button steals were re-raised on nearly every occasion. My image wasn’t helped by having showdown Ace 7 off, which I raised from second position. A guy who lost with KK vs. AA a few hands before, pushed all-in and I had to call, getting 5-1. He flipped Ace Jack and hit a J on the flop.

Next hand I was involved in was against Maurice. Blinds were 600/1,200. He limped in the small blind once again, I checked 9T. The flop was 446, checked to the turn, which came a 7. He bet out 2,000. I didn’t pick up any weakness but attempted to steal the pot, hoping my tight image would get him to lay down a hand. Raised to 7,000. Pretty bad play considering this guy chased a gutshot earlier and I had no inclination to his cards. He 3-bet all-in, and my balls shrank. After some false pretence I mucked like I was Hellmuth laying down Queens. He showed 47 for a full house. Impeccable timing as usual on my part.

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