I arrived at the Ricoh arena to find that we would be playing the main event in, what appeared to be, an underground bunker. I didn’t realise but they have a huge conference room through the sports bar that was hosting the Goliath, main event and side events. It was a decent location although lacked the atmosphere of the main card room. The main problem was the complete lack of an internet signal and just about one bar of phone signal which halted all communication with the outside world.
I had been looking forward to this one all week. I would be surprised if play many ≥£1K buyins in my life time. It really is a thrill to sit down with 120 other people knowing that one of you is going to walk away with a seriously large amount of money. I was expecting to find a field chocked full of internet pro’s and well known live faces. On my first table, where I was sat for all but an hour of day 1, I was faced with 6/9 players who had almost certainly celebrated their 40th birthdays. I did have a bracelet winner on my right, and a couple of young guys who were obviously solid but apart from that I thought I had a great first table. Lots of limping, and some bizarre post flop play, it certainly wasn’t what I was expecting.
I chipped up reasonably quickly winning lots of small to medium pots throughout Saturday afternoon. A standard mix of c betting and extracting value was the order of the day and it worked very nicely. In the past I have tended to do things that I wouldn’t normally do online when I play live. I think this is probably down to a lack of concentration – this time round I felt much more at ease and felt I was making the correct decisions. As we got further into the day, the table became tougher. Marc Wright moved two to my right while I was sandwiched between ‘Mad Turk’ and Stuart Fox. This was much more what I was expecting and I thought I held my own, keeping my stack nicely above average.
For the last level of the day I was moved to the feature table with Nick Hicks on my right and 3 or 4 very solid internet guys. I bagged up a very decent 50,900 which had me coming back at 22/44 and a real chance of going deep.
Very first hand into day 2, I raised AJ in early position and was called by a young aggressive guy on the button. I bet a low flop and barrelled the Ace turn to get the fold, up above 60K and feeling positive. The table was certainly tough. There were a couple of older players but the rest were young and talking about playing against each other in the high rollers on the OnGame network. I quipped in with, what I thought, were insightful observations on playing online poker. Little were they to know that I wasn’t the online phenom that I was portraying!
At around 4pm I was chipped up to 70K against an average of 65K at 600/1200. Lots of room to play and the whole table was really deep stacked. I checked the tournament screen and saw we were down to 35 players.
Old man UTG makes his standard raise to 3100. He had played a different style, peeling too much for liking and had randomly check jammed the river into a micro pot a few hands back. He was by no means a whale but certainly was the spot at the table. He was the second chip leader coming into the day but was certainly chip leader now and had around 180K.
I peel my cards spotting a red king. Squeeeeeze the other one back and another red king rears its face. And breathe…….
Folds round to me and I sit stoically… 20-30seconds, rifle chips, count out 8K exactly and drop them in the middle.
Old man looks across and me and says fairly quickly ‘I’m all In.’
Heart rate spikes…. Quickly check cards, Call. ‘On their backs please gents’.
He winces and turns over Queens and I quickly show my Kings…‘Holy crap… when I win this pot, I am going to have a top 5 stack with 4 tables left in a GUKPT!’
‘Think of the amount of WCOAP solid titanium bracelets Des can buy with 1% of £40K!’
Flop comes down
No idea what the other cards were. Villain looks pained and genuinely sorry. I gulp… trying to look dignified. The younger guys at the table give me ‘the look’, tell me how sick it is, how fun it was playing with me and offer their hands. I’m in a bubble of disbelief… shake a hand… disappear past the barriers with the rail giving me the same ‘look’. Back to the car, ring the girlfriend who tells me how well I have done to get that far….then just sit and breathe again.Shake it off
because there is always another tournament, always another spot at the table… always another hand to play. There is only one place that I can go where I can get a pat on the back, see some familiar faces and jump right back up on the horse.
Engine rev…its 4:30pm…. If I’m quick I might just be able to get into the APAT main event….