Full Tilt Poker
Roland De Wolfe
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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