Sydney Champs and the Online Grind

Ashton Cartwright Awesome Hair

Well Sydney Champs has been and gone, and we are in the middle of the World Cup Of Online Poker (WCOOP).

Sydney Champs was something that I had been looking forward to, as I’ve been enjoying the live poker scene quite a lot lately. Some of my friends had already had some great results in the earlier events, most notably the illustrious Rhys Gould winning the APW $550 tourney and scoring $18,000, while the ever-handsome Nick Polias and the ultra-muscled Tobin Ryall placed second in the teams event.

For the Sydney Champs Main Event, the buy-in was $1,650, and as I’m among the most frugal of individuals I decided to try and satellite in. There were life satellites for $330 running most nights in the lead up to the main event, so I decided to jump in those.

Unfortunately I managed to bust in 5 hands during the first satellite, Semibluffing in a 4-bet pot with 2 over cards and the nut flush draw (against a flopped straight alas). In the 2nd satellite I was on the reserves list, and didn’t get to a table until the blinds had increased several times, so my starting stack amounted to only 30 big blinds. . . and pocket Jacks on a 2-2-2 flop saw me bust against Pocket Aces within just 4 hands this time. Not my most sterling performances to date, and in the end I had to buy-in to the main event anyway.

I played on day 1B, and my table was moderately unpleasant, with “El Leatheros” and Logan English-Smith both on my table. No huge hands for the first day, and the three of us tended to avoid confrontations with each other. . . except for Logan very occasionally 3-bet bluffing me. Cause that’s how he rolls.

The day was all small pots for me. Played one 10k pot with KK vs AQ and won, but other then that it was a huge amount of raising preflop and then c-betting. . . general grindy stuff. Finished day one on $62,000, when the average for day 1b was about 40k, so that was all well and good.

Day 2 started off very well. I wont a nice 50bb pot with AQ vs AJ all in preflop, after which our table broke and I moved to the table of dreams! A couple ultra tight players on my left, and a couple of fishy calling stations on my right. One youngish guy who seemed as though he played a bit online (although that may just be my ageist stereotyping). I was sitting at about 100bbs when this hand occurred:

The young kid (who had been very active) raised 2.5bbs form the cutoff. Kamyar “Commie” Ekrami (the self-proclaimed calling station) flatted on the button. I was in the BB with AJo, and unsurprisingly decided to 3 bet, making it about 3x the original raise (not a big 3bet by any means).

The young guy instantly shoved his entire stack in (which was 32 bbs), Commie folded, and the action was on me. I was getting about 1.6 to 1 odds on the call, which is plenty for AJ generally. If the young guy was instead a tight player, then I may have even folded the hand, as the hands he is representing all have me crushed. Since he was a young guy however, and since it was such an obvious spot for me to 3-bet, I figured that he could be pushing all in here with a very wide range of hands indeed.

I made the call, and my opponent said “Yeah, you got me” before rolling 9-8 offsuit. Good times! The board ran out 2 3 4 6 with the river 9 however, and the young gentleman scooped a big pot.

The very next orbit, I ran my AK into Commie’s QQ, and lost the race. Standard. Never folding a hand that big to Commie, especially since I had bluffed him earlier in the day and he seemed keen to get his own back.

Unfortunately my stack had been whittled down a bit, and the blinds had escalated, leaving me with about 30BBs. I had a short stack on my left (9bbs) and we clashed when I jammed 55 into his 66 blind vs blind. Bah! Now I was down to only 21bbs.

21bbs is a stack size that lends itself very well to the all-in 3-bet or re-raise. Generally you will wait for a loose player to raise, hopefully get a caller, and then you can push your whole stack in the middle with any reasonable hand. If they fold, you usually pick up maybe 7 or 8 big blinds, increasing your stack by as much as 40% with no showdown. Of course the loose raiser may actually have a hand when you try this. . . but you can still get lucky and win, in which case you will have a bad-ass stack once again.

I was in a great spot for this, since I had the young, aggressive player two to my right, and Commie directly on my right, so I didn’t have to wait long for a spot to occur:

As expected, the young guy opened to 2.5bbs, and Commie the calling station did what he does best and called. I had 98 suited in the small blind, and this was definitely enough of a hand to shove all in with. Even if my opponent has a hand as big as AK, I’m still about 40% when called, and hands as big as AK don’t come around anywhere near as often as this guy was raising! Commie had been calling preflop raises with 56 off suit and other weak hands, so I wasn’t concerned about him at all.

In this instance, I re-shipped all in, and the young player instantly jammed all in as well. Unfortunate, but my hand isn’t terrible, and I might still be in good shape if he re-shoved a small pair (not unfathomable) Commie tanked for a couple of minutes, asked us both our stack sizes. . . and then, like a boss, decided to call as well. I roll my hand, the original raiser rolls AQ, and commie rolls KQs.

Not actually a bad situation for my 98 suited! Against those two hands I am actually 34% to scoop the pot, the AQ is 39.5% and Commie is only 26.5% to win, so I really wasn’t in that bad shape.

The flop came K Q 2, all of my suit, so I had flopped the flush. Awesome! Unfortunately another king on the river gave Commie a full house to scoop the pot. (he then went on to finish 3rd in the tournament).

Thus my Sydney champs run came to an end. Good fun though, and the calibre of live players is inspiringly soft, so I’m very keen to play more live events in the near future.

A quick note about WCOOP: I have an aversion to getting up early in the morning, and as most of these events kick-off between 1am and 5am, I really haven’t played many of them at all (just the opening day’s events in fact). I HAVE been playing a lot of the satellites into the WCOOP events however, and then when I win, just unregistering from the tournaments and taking the money instead. Satellites are traditionally filled with an abundance of weak recreational players, so getting involved in as many satellites as I can seemed to be the way to go.

I played a session in the evening last night specifically to play the satellites, and jumped in one or two regular tournaments at the same time. I was only planning on playing for about 3 hours, so I only joined turbo tournaments. I ended up winning about $1,000 from the satellites, and also came first in the $109 turbo for about $6,200, which was very pleasant. I rarely play in the evenings because there isn’t enough volume (I tend to get bored playing less than 20 tables) but with all the satellites running filling up my screens in the evening has become viable again, so it looks like I shall be doing more evening sessions for a while!

May head into the casino on the weekend. My friend Fel is performing some incredible musical act there tonight, so I shall definitely try and get in for that.

Jesse McKenzie is back from NZ, and is grinding away like a maniac as always. Good to have him around, as his commitment to the game quietly inspires us all. (He is standing next to me as I type this)

One other thing before: for anyone who has trouble finding good poker books in Australia, this is an Australian book site that I have started using. They have free shipping as well, and they are generally cheaper than any bookstore anyway. Highly recommended for anyone looking to expand their library.

Fishpond Books Australia

Till next time, best of luck!