Yesterday’s Irish Open Semi-Final got off to a decent start. With direct buy-ins, forty players were in the competition, and the prize pool had seven tickets to the final (which was set to begin two hours after the start of the semi-final).
A4 was the hand of the day. I made my first two wins with 4♠A♣ and 4♦A♦ before a T♦Q♥ popped me up to more than twice the 3K starting stack. Then I took my first hit from an A♠4♠ that turned into a 5-high straight flush.
I had a dry card spell for a while and slipped back down to near the starting stack until things kicked into gear just before the break at the end of the first hour, with blinds at 50/100. I had a sketchy J♣8♣ but called a raise of 200 from UTG+1. The big blind called and there were three of us to a J♠T♣3♥ flop. Action checked to me in the cutoff seat and I bet 300 with both other players calling. 7♠ showed up on the turn, giving me top pair and a gut-shot straight draw. I put out another 300. The big blind called but UTG+1 gave up.
The 8♠ hit on the river. I had two pair but there was a potential flush on the board. I had 2,800 chips, covering the stack in the big blind by about 900. He went all-in and I called, and I was glad a 9 hadn’t showed because he had K♣Q♣ for an open-end straight draw. That was all he had, though so my two pair cleaned him out.
Ten minutes later, after the break, I got the Mutant Jack: A♠J♠. Blinds were at 75/150 and I raised to 300 from UTG+1, leaving 7,500 behind. The button, with about 6.150, re-raised to 1,050 and both the blinds folded, leaving me heads-up. I called. The flop was a somewhat worrying J♣9♣9♦ and I checked. The button put out nearly half his stack as a bet and I raised him all-in, seeing it as an attempt to push me off. He called and showed T♣T♥, giving me a one-better two pair. The 7♣ on the turn was very unwelcome, whaat with 12.5K in the pot, but the river Q♠ meant I was up to more than 14K, or 11.6% of the chips in play in the tournament. More on that later.
Another bluff attempt gave me my next bump in another ten minutes. I was dealt A♥7♥ in the small blind, at the 100/200 level. The only caller was UTG and when action got to me I raised to 400. The big blind folded, but UTG called and I was rewarded with a flop of 6♥4♥J♥. I wanted to try to get as many chips out of this as I could and checked. So did UTG. The 3♠ showed on the turn, which gave straight possibilities to anyone playing some low hands. I tapped the gas with a bet of 400, which was called. The flop was a somewhat unwelcome 5♥, which made it possible that my ace-high flush could be beaten by someone holding 2♥3♥ for a 6-high straight flush, but that’s pretty unlikely (although I saw a straight flush the other day). Since I had the 7♥ he couldn’t be straight flushing the other direction. I put out 1,000, figuring that he’d fold. Much to my surprise, he raised to 4,800. He either had the straight flush or a good fifth heart or a lot of bluff. I knew I had the best regular flush and took the chance he hadn’t bet out 400 on 2♥3♥. I raised all-in (I probably should have just called, he had me covered by several thousand) and he folded.
Eventually I was up to nearly 20K in chips with just under 1/6 of the chips in the tournament. I was the chip leader (and I’d been the chip leader for a period earlier, as well). I should have been satisfied. With seven tickets to the final, the average stack at the end of play would have about 17K. All I had to do was make safe bets to stay in the mid-teens—or in all likelihood, just fold—for the rest of the tournament. But what time was it?
It was hand 130, or close enough. On hand 120, I picked up K♦A♠. Great hand, much of the time but did I really need the chips? There were only seven at the table at 125/250/20. I was in the hijack seat and UTG+1 raised to 625. Me with my big, manly AK raised to 1,000. Everyone but the original raiser folded. A Q♥6♥A♦ flops and he, impressed by my magnificence checks, as do I. An 8♣ turns up, he checks and I bet 1,000, which is called. A 2♥ shows on the river and he pretends to have a flush, betting 2,775. I call. Not only does he have a flush but at best I would have been splitting the pot because he’s got A♥K♥.
Bad, sure but recoverable. I still have nearly 15K in chips. I’m still in the top three in the tournament. Five minutes later we’re still in the same level. I’m holding K♠Q♥ in UTG+1 and raise to 500. The hijack (with 6K in chips) and big blind (8K) both call. The flop falls 7♠2♣K♥ and I bet 500 when it’s my turn. Hijack raises to 2,000 and the big blind folds. The hijack only has 3,333 behind and I raise him all-in. Lucky him, because he’s holding K♣A♠. No queen shows up to save me and I’m down to 8.5K and in seventh place on the leaderboard, which means unless I can climb back up I’m probably out of the running for a finals ticket. That was hand 129.
Of course, my attempts to climb back up only submerge me further. The Mutant Jack fails me at one point to the tune of several thousands chips, dropping me below the starting stack. I manage to claw my way back into relevance with a Q♣A♣ and 9♦6♦ (which I wouldn’t usually play except I was in the big blind.
My last big hand came down to me in the small blind with A♥7♣ and the big blind with A♣J♥. The board was 5♣4♥K♥K♦8♠ and it was the jack that decided the outcome. After that it was just a couple more hands before I was out in tenth place with the smallest of the cash prizes.
As it was, we didn’t finish before the beginning of the Final. My elimination came tw0-and-a-half hours into the tournament and anyone who got a ticket to the final would have had to enter after that point. Nobody from our semi-final seems to have won either of the two packages awarded in the final.
The chart below shows my chip count throughout the 179 hands I played. The green line is the projection of my chips if I’d done nothing but fold after reaching the my peak, which would have been about 13,750 at hand 180. At the time I was eliminated—with just two more eliminations to go before the tournament was over—only three of the ten players had more than 14,000 chips.
Chip count chart for Irish Open Semi-Final 30 January 2011. Red line shows actual chips; green line shows projected chip stack based on folding only.
[Sam] Trickett was responsible for much of the mayhem during this stretch, eliminating four of the six players who fell during the bustout bonanza. He took 3.2 million into heads-up play against the 1 million of David Benyamine and the 700,000 of Erik Seidel. It wasn’t long before he scored a fifth elimination at the final table. Trickett moved all in with the board showing A♦T♠8♣A♠ and Benyamine made the call. Their cards: