Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Letter from Doke (22nd November 2011)


Doke here again. I spent most of this week in Riga at the European Masters of Poker grand final. A very good Irish contingent travelled, most of them Team Irish Eyes players, but overall numbers for the final itself were disappointing. Speaking to the organisers after, they said they felt that a change was needed for next year, and that Dublin was the best place to have the grand final. There was also some debate as to whether the buyin to the final should be bigger than the other tour stops or not.

I played four official events without troubling the scorers. We got there in time to late reg for the supersat. This was a fast structure and I was gone fast when a bare K2s flush draw got there against my kq on a queen high flop. In the main event, I was drawn at a very Irish looking table, right beside Phil Baker and across from Noel O'Brien. I won a decent sized pot early on where I 7 bet shoved aces against a guy who had committed 45% of his stack with his 6 bet. With that much of his stack in I didn't think he was folding but he did, showing kings. I didn't really mind the fold as it meant picking up almost half his stack rather than risking the suckout. Mathematically there's not much in the difference between the two, When he folded, I had a stack of 23k 100% of the time. If he called, 82% of the time the aces hold and I have 31k (making my expectation 25420) and 18% of the time I'm crippled to 2k (making my expectation 360). Although my
expectation is higher if he calls (25780 versus 23k), from a variance reduction point of view I'd prefer to have a sure 23k at this stage of the tournament. A few people asked me why I didn't flat the 6 bet. I thought flatting for that much of my stack would make my hand look like aces at least as much as the 7 bet did, plus I can't be 100% certain I get the rest of his stack post flop. For example, if an ace (but no king) comes on the flop, he may decide not to put any more chips into the pot as there's nothing in my range now that kings beats. On the other hand, if a king comes but no ace, we are getting it in, so the flat allows him a free shot to outdraw me on the flop.

After that pot, I lost a big one to Noel when we both had overpairs to the board but his was bigger. Noel disguised his hand very well and I wasn't really putting him on an overpair. That left me with a reshoving stack as the blinds rose and the antes kicked in, and I eventually went for what looked like a good spot when Phil opened in the cutoff (which he was doing almost every time it was folded round to him) and I found AJ on the button. Once Phil snap called I figured I wasn't in great shape, and his AKs dominated me. I pulled ahead on the turn with a jack and thought I was still ahead on the river, but wasn't (my jack had given Phil a flush draw that got there on the river). At least my chips went to a good home, and Phil went on to be the sole Irish cash in 15th.

I also played the 500 side event, exiting on the second last table in a similar spot, reshoving a decent suited ace over a loose button raiser only to find myself dominated, and the 200 side event, where I also made the second last table going out reshoving a dominated hand.

Phil Baker organised a special sit n go with himself, myself, Feargal Nealon, Mark Buckley, Noel O'Brien, Jason Barton and 3 scandis. The structure was much better than normal in these things and it lasted several hours. It was a classic clash of styles, with the loose aggro players going at it tooth and nail in the early going. With the slowness of the structure and no antes, I felt tight was right, so I played very tight. When the dust settled, it was the three tightest players on the table left to battle it out. After I won a race to eliminate Jason Barton in third (Jason played absolutely superbly: perfect stt poker despite much ribbing on how few hands he was playing), I was headsup with one of the Scandis. I chipped up at the start, then was left short after I lost a 70/30 for the win. I recovered and then pulled ahead again winning a flip, and closed the deal getting it in 70/30 and holding this time. Only a sit n go but it was nice to get something out of the weekend.

This week is the Fitzwilliam festival and I'm planning to play most of the events including the main. Good luck at the tables - unless I'm at the same table :)


Monday, November 14, 2011

Letter from Doke (14th November 2011)


Doke here again. This week I didn't play live. My wife was visiting her relatives in France which meant not only did I have to look after myself but had been trusted with the task of feeding the household pets (a dog and a rabbit: I'm hoping there isn't any others I didn't know about). All of which meant I couldn't really leave the house for long periods so plenty of time to grind online when I wasn't feeding the pets.

On Sunday, I appeared on Dublin City FM's Sunday afternoon sports programme, "On The Ball". Again the not being able to leave the house thing looked like it might be a problem nbt in the end presenter Breifne Earley was able to ring me, and we had a chat about the recent tournaments in Ireland, and looked forward to Riga. Speaking of Riga, I'm flying out on Wednesday to play day 1A of the EMOP Grand Final on Thursday. There's a very good contingent of Team Irish Eyes players travelling too.

I was asked during the week what the best strategy is in low stakes online tournaments (anything with a buyin of €20 or less qualifies as low stakes). I could write a book on this (but I'm not going to) so just a few quick points on the main adjustments I make for lower buyins.

The biggest difference between lower and higher buyins is people fold less at lower stakes. You have to adjust for this and re-evaluate every play you'd make to see if it's still likely to be profitable. For example, continuation betting when you miss against a player who will call you with any piece of the flop any gutshot or any overcard is still profitable (as players will miss more often than not). Continuation betting against two calling stations, not so much. Continuation betting multiway and barrelling (continuing to bet) every street is just burning money. Three betting light versus one player who'll call but check fold if they miss is still fine, but forget elaborate squeezes. Players will limp or call with 44 and then call a 30 bb squeeze just because they have a pair.

One thing I notice amateur players pay far too much attention to is the average chipstack. Obviously it's nice to be ahead of the average at any time, but really it shouldn't affect how you play. All that really matters is your stack in relation to blinds and antes. That determines which plays are profitable and which ones aren't.

In case any online players missed it, there are three raked hand races left to run on Irish Eyes Poker in November from this week, with €4,000 in each prize pool. Raked Hands from Texas No Limit and Omaha Pot Limit, at stakes from 0.05/0.10 and higher, will count towards the leaderboard.

And for all Sports betting fans Irish Eyes have a New FREE sports info and odds service which gives IrishEyesSports fans worldwide a highly effective free digital service direct to your calendar meaning you are always sure of when and where your favourite team is playing or event is happening. See how it works at www.irisheyes.fixturebox.com

Good luck at the tables - unless I'm at the same table :)


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Letter from Doke (10th November 2011)


Doke here again. I played the JP mini WSOP series this in the Maldron
in Tallaght at the weekend. I made a decent start in the 6 handed but
ultimately went out near the bubble when my AK couldn't hold against
Stewie Samuels AJ. The following day I was back for the main event.
Tough table and card death meant I was happy enough to get out of the
day with just over starting stack. I hung around for much of day 2
with a similar stack, then started to chip up until I finally caught a
hand. I took a risk slow playing a set in a three way pot and reaped
the reward of a full triple up to move to over 200k. I continued to
chip up til I lost a big race, and then shortly after the bubble I
lost most of my stack with a rivered flush against a rivered house.
Another lost race eventually saw me bust in 28th for a min cash (I
also chopped the Irish Poker Boards Last Longer). The following day I
played the 8 game. The most interesting hand was against Kevin
Fitzpatrick in 2 to 7 Triple Draw and it ended rather bizarrely with
me mucking my queen high hand after Kevin declared his hand as ten
high. When the dealer spread his cards out popped an ace so he had
misdeclared his hand, but because I'd already mucked he was still
awarded the pot. My mistake I guess for mucking without seeing all his
cards. I never really recovered from this and didn't trouble the

I also did some livestream commentary with David Lappin and Iain
Cheyne on the main event final table. Team Irish Eyes member Colin
Gray was on the final table and hung on admirably with a short stack
for as long as he could. Well done to Ollie Boyce who claimed the win,
and all who cashed.

I got home in time to watch Eoghan O'Dea. Eoghan played superbly but
got unlucky when it really mattered. He did us all proud though both
in his play and his conduct at the table.

This week's most interesting hand was the hand that tripled me up in
JP's mini WSOP. I raised pocket sixes in late position and got called
by both the button and the small blind. The flop came down AT6 with
two hearts and the blind led out. People rarely do this with monsters
so I decided to flat call rather than raise and risk scaring him off.
I was also hoping the other guy would stick around. Even though the
board was very drawy with the possible heart flush draw and any number
of hands with gutshots (KQ, KJ, QJ, 98, 97, 87) I decided to take a
calculated risk to try to get the maximum value for my set. THe button
called too. With the pot now so big my plan was to ship most turns to
charge draws the maximum and protect my hand. However, the turn was an
ace, giving me a monster now and rendering all flush draws and
gustshots worthless, so when the blind led out yet again, I flatted
again. The button also called again. The river was a brick, the blind
led again and now I finally shoved. I figured most likely one of them
had an ace and the other a draw, but was pleasantly surprised to find
they both called with just the bare ace.

My next major live outing is the EMOP grand final in Riga next week.
I'm flying out from Dublin on Wednesday week with Phil Baker and it
looks like there's going to be a very sizable Irish contingent. You
still have the chance to qualify for this in satellites on Irish Eyes.

Good luck at the tables - unless I'm at the same table :)


Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Letter from Doke (2nd November 2011)


Doke here again. Well, after a bit of a break from live poker, it was
back on the horse this week. I played the Fitz End of Month where I
didn't really get going, and then the Irish Winter Festival in the
Burlington. Pretty much nothing went to plan in this one, even my
wardrobe. I'd qualified online for the Sole Survivor online so had to
wear the Sole Survivor gear. In previous years this consisted of a top
and optional hoody, so I turned up at the Burlington in my usual poker
gear thinking I'd swap my shirt for the tshirt and keep my jacket.
Unfortunately there was no tshirt this year: just a hoody. Matters got
worse when it emerged the hoody was far too hot to actually wear in
the room. And got even worse again when having got permission to take
it off and put it on the back of the chair, I found that the inside of
the jacket had molted onto my black shirt which was now covered in
green fluff. There's a rather horrible photo of this floating around

The poker didn't really go much better. I moved a little up from
starting stack but after dinner everything went wrong. A series of
small pots and minor setbacks left me short and having to push, and
when I did with AJs, I ran into AK. I played two side events without
troubling the scorers. I got a good start in both. In the last one, I
4 bet shoved kings into ace king which pulled ahead gamely on the
turn. That pretty much summed up my weekend on the poker front, but
you can't expect to cash every tournament and claim to be sane, and
given that this is already my best ever live year nobody should be
expected to put up with me whining about going a few games without a
cash. My good friend and Irish Eyes teammate Mick Mccloskey told me
that one of his many fans told him recently that his 10th Hendon mob
cash this year made him the most consistent Irish player this year in
terms of numbers of live cashes. Mick was feeling chuffed about this
until I pointed out I have 15 on my Hendon mob for this year :)

A few of my good friends went deep in the main event. One I tipped to
Neil Channing as one to watch for the future was Daragh "Other Daragh"
Davey. Daragh has a tremendous attitude and has all the skill
discipline and patience needed to get to the very top in this game. He
went deep in the recent European 6 max, and again here. He always
seems to get horribly unlucky in the end (this time he got it in with
AK v A4 in a massive pot with 20 left) but if he keeps getting into
position it's only a matter of time before the big one comes. Another
Irish Eyes teammate Feargal "MidniteKowby" Nealon got even unluckier,
losing twice to an underpair. Other honourable mentions to Colette
"Smurph" who went deep yet again, Niall Smyth who looked like a rather
unique treble was on for a while, and Chris Dowling who keeps popping
up at these final tables. I did some live stream commentary on the
final table and Chris was unlucky not to finally claim an elusive big
title. A big well done to Noel O'Brien who has only been playing at
this level a couple of years but showed himself to be fearless and
unfazed. Noel's on a bit of a run at the moment too and I expect to
see him at more final tables in the future. Noel told me in the bar at
the weekend he's an avid reader of these letters.

The ultimate winner was popular Northern Irish bookie, John Keown.
John's been a good friend of mine for almost as long as I've been
playing poker and like everyone else he's had to ride through his fair
share of lows so I was delighted to see him land a big score.

This week's strategy section is on the importance of stack sizes. I
saw a lot of amateurs making bad stack size related mistakes at the
weekend. The main big one was raising with 10 big blinds or less and
then folding to a reraise. If you have 10 big blinds or less, you just
can't be doing this. If you decide your hand is strong enough to play,
either shove all in, or raise and be prepared to call anything.
Between 10 and 20 big blinds, you should not be doing too much raise
folding either, so as a general rule only open with hands that can
take a reraise. You certainly shouldn't be 3 betting and then folding
to a 4 bet, as I saw one player do on the final table this weekend.
This is bad for 2 reasons: first you put in too much of your stack to
have to give up if you get 4 bet, and secondly when you do get 4 bet,
you're getting too good a price to fold anything.

Good luck to Eoghan O'Dea next week in Las Vegas. I was talking to him
at the weekend and he told me he was flying out Saturday morning to
give himself a full week to acclimatise. I think Eoghan has a
brilliant chance to take this down, in fact, I'd make him favourite at
the moment to do so, with Ben Lamb his main threat. Back home, we have
our own version of the WSOP with JP's mini WSOP to look forward to
this weekend in the Maldron Hotel in Tallaght. This is a brilliant
tournament, one of my favourite of the year.

Good luck at the tables - unless I'm at the same table :)