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Belgium Poker Championship 2009

Belgium Poker Championship 2009 Last year myself and a few friends went over to Belgium by the Euro Star (which worked properly then) and played in the 1500 euro entry Belgium Poker Championship which had 800 odd players and was a fantastic event to play in with a remarkably slow structure.

A one hour clock was good but the number of levels almost could not be increased. A 10,000 starting stack and levels like 20/40 30/60 40/80 50/100 60/120 70/140 and so on were a pleasure for players who like to play good deep stack poker without having to go into shove fold mode or unable to bet all three streets without one player being all-in or virtually all-in.

I went this year with the ginger whinger Mick MCcool again on the Euro Star to Brussels, followed by a local train to Namure. It was a late decision to go and i left my house the morning of the event (around 5am) getting there just before it started at 2pm.

The standard of the tournament the previous year was very poor for a 1500 euro event and news of this had obviously spread as there were many more experienced professional players from Holland Germany and France

While the blinds were small (which was a long time)i played fairly conservatively effectively waiting for dead money to make mistakes. There is not a lot of point in making moves against players that could not fold a piece of paper let alone a hand with any distant chance of winning.. As i have said in the past, there is not a lot of point in sending a message of strength to someone that cannot read!

I managed to gradually increase my stack and few occasions i did make aggressive moves pre-flop the opposition, in most cases, was sufficiently straight forward and passive that it was generally easy enough to try and win the pot without taking too much of a risk.

I got through to day two pretty uneventfully and moved onto day 2 where i was sat at a reasonably nice table and maintained my stack in relation to the average without much trouble. Then i was moved to a more aggressive table with a good Dutch professional to my left and a mindless German aggro-donk to my right. The aggro Donk was typically predictable and about as sophisticated as a Millwall fan urinating on a tube-train. If it was folded to him within 3 spots of the button he raised and if it was checked to him on any flop with any number of players he bet and 9 times out of 10 he folded to a re-raise.

With a good player to my left who was more than happy to 3 bet quite regularly when he had position on them i decided that if i was going to open light i needed to do it infrequently so that i was more likely to get respect from the potential re-raiser and hope he picked on someone else.

I could obviously have made moves on him when he re-raised me, on the reasonable assumption that his 3 bet frequency clearly indicated that he did not require a premium hand to do it, but making such flairy moves was not only against my plodding nature, it also seemed unnecessarily risky when the general standard of opposition was as weak as it was and the opportunity to win chips so easy and none-risky from other sources.

That principal, although valid, did not stop me from three betting the aggro-donk on numerous occasions; particularly when he raised after the tournament breaks were announced and players were generally leaving the table and showing little interest.

On day three i started on a lovely table with several weak tight players to my left. I soon got into a rhythm of raising like the aggro-donk almost every time it was folded to me within 3 spots of the button. Usually i raised without looking at my cards and then, if called, would make a standard continuation bet, and only look at my cards if that bet was called.

In one hand i did this, continuation betting on a flop of A95 and was called by a very tight player in the small blind.

The turn was 6 and he checked to me again, at this point i looked at my cards and had a rather unpromising K3 off suit. I think in the overall scheme of things and the likelihood of regaining the chips so far “lost” in the hand i should have made a flairy open fold but i made the typical “mistake” of many players playing the aggro-donk method (even though i was doing so with more control than most). I often tell people in poker seminars that to try given that none made hands will miss the flop about 2 times in 3 it does not seem sensible to try and make someone fold when you think they have a hand when there are so many opportunities to try and make them fold when they have not got a hand. So did i give up? Not at all, i decided he must have a weak ace and provided it is not something like A5 (i think he would have check raised rather than check called on the flop with better than 1 pair, unless he hit a set) if i bet big enough i could make him fold so i did and he shoved and i folded like a cheap tent.

I managed to get through to day 4 with a decent stack and soon made it down to the last 2 tables.

With 14 players left I was feeling very confident that I would get to the final table I had almost final table average stack and though I now had two decent aggressive players on my table they were in a position that enabled me to stay away from them if I wanted and battle with the less tricky straightforward locals.

I blinds were now quite high and so any raised pot was likely to be significant.

I raised twice from mid-position with JK suited and AJ suited and was re-raised by each of the good players. I was then in the big blind with 8cTc a fairly straight forward play limps for 16K in the cut-off and an equally none-tricky player raises to 40K called by the player in the small blind. I call for the extra 24K and the player in the cut-off also calls. The flop is Jc Ts 4d it is checked to the pre-flop raiser who bets 50K into a pot of about 170K. This seemed a weak bet and with the player in the small blind folding I could have re-raised here, though I was effectively bluffing if I did as I would not get called by a worse hand (except perhaps QK as the only hand that I was beating and that he would raise pre-flop with bet the flop with and call a check raise). I also had to consider the cut-off limper who would check with a hand or no hand so there was little information to go on with him though as he was none-tricky, it would not need a risky re-raise to determine his strength as he was very unlikely to bluff re-raise due to the weak nature of the continuation bet.

I decided to call and re-evaluate on the turn and the player behind also called after some thought. The turn card was 9c leaving me with second pair (which could have been winning on the flop) and now with an open ended straight flush draw.

I checked again (to get cheap information from my opponents from their betting pattern) the player behind checked and the player on the button now bet 90K (into a pot of 320K) now at this point I considered re-raising but with unsophisticated players like this the significance of the amount of his turn bet , In terms of appreciating the meaning of his betting pattern in relation to the strength of his hand, was better viewed by comparison to his flop bet rather than the amount in the pot (as would be a better comparison if dealing with say an experienced Internet tournament player).

I took the almost doubling of his bet to indicate that he liked the turn card and there was also a possibility that either of my opponents were holding QK which would obviously not fold to a re-raise.

So I called the player behind folded and we went to the river which was 2s. I did not see that there was much point in bluffing here as he obviously liked his hand and there was not a whole lot I could reasonably represent (I am not sure he would have engaged that type of thought process to be honest) he checked behind and showed a set of nines, which was a bit disappointing.

So now having been holding final table average chips 10 minutes later I was below average for the tournament and not feeling very good about the whole thing.

There was a nerdy “player” on my right who appeared to have little understanding of poker or civilized behaviour in the presence of other human beings (I think he must have been from Paris) he was generally behaving in a style that might be accompanied by words like “Californian” or Brazilian” and had moved all-in with ridiculous over bets 4 times in 30 minutes, on one occasion raising from the small blind to 35k then moving all-in for 300k on the flop of AT4 and when his opponent folded showing 9T.

I was in the small blind for 8K and a player in mid position who had just joined the table raised to 50K I called (with TT) and the all-in monkey next to me moved al-in for about 400K and the initial raiser folded and it was back to me to call another 350K into a pot of 500K. I would not normally like to play such a big pot with just TT especially against a field of generally average players. The fact that I was eager to get something going and had experienced a series of losing hands encouraged me to “take the gamble” and adding that to the fact that it as the table all-in monkey that had shoved also swayed me towards a call. He clearly did not want to play flops with anyone but I thought it seemed unlikely he would make such a big bet with say AA to QQ so I thought that as he would make such a bet with AK maybe AQ most pairs and also all bluffs I was probably unlikely to be worse than a coin flip (unless he had say JJ).

Even though the logic of the call is reasonably sound, I think (and I am not saying this with a results orientated hat on) it was an ill disciplined call due to a temporary lack of patience caused by the disappointment of losing several hands.

I called he showed Aces danced about a bit and fist pumped which I hoped he might get rewarded for by losing, but his hand stood up and I was now quite short.

A few hands later one of the other French players, who I had been advised was a good player, raised under the gun from 20K to 45K I re-raised to 190K (with 90k behind and clearly not folding at any point) and it was folded back to him and he called. The flop was KQT and he set me in. I reluctantly called but was please to see him show a very creative A4 off suit. I was back in the game now if my hand held but unfortunately the river was a J to give him Broadway and he proceeded to jump around fist pumping with some of his friends while I walked around the table shaking hands and wishing good luck to the remaining players.

I suggested to him that showing some class might have been appropriate but I think that was like telling Arsne Wenger to open his eyes when one of his players commits a red card offense.

I ended up with 8800 euros when the first prize was 300,000 odd, slightly better than a kick in the nuts but still very disappointing.

Sun, 12th December 2010

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