Saw a notice on a forum about the launch of the Paradise Poker Tour, run by the online poker site, which kicks off on London in December. I have a long standing hatred of the Paradise site, since their promotion of satellites for the Scottish Open in 2008. To recap briefly, they advertised a series of tournaments leading up to a super satellite, with 10 seats guaranteed, each winner getting a €2500 package for the event in August of last year. The Super satellite was only a €109 buy-in so it looked very good value, even more so when I was able to win into that via a feeder for only a few Euros. When the evening of the super satellite came, I settled down to play it, along with only another 151 runners, and was quite pleased at the prospect of an overlay of €8541 or €9900 if you exclude registration fees.
Strangely, at the appointed hour, the tournament failed to start. Their helpline person said there was a technical problem that they were working on, and to hang on, they expected it to commence soon. I thought, that's funny, every other game on the skin is kicking off on schedule, but for a while at least I believed the lie. About two hours later, my final call to the helpline got the response that "Oh, that's been cancelled now, players will receive an email tomorrow".
In fact, no email from Paradise was ever received, but I heard on the grapevine that a new satellite had appeared in the lobby the next evening. This time the buyin was €165, not €109, and there were NO guaranteed seats. Everyone had been given a €109 tournament token, plus a cash credit for €56, to make up the difference. I used the token for a sit and go, withdrew the cash, and watched amazed as only thirteen players started the rearranged satellite - which naturally generated no seats.
I thought that was a huge mistake by Paradise - their pathetic attempt to save the overlay would surely backfire on them? Giving away the €56 Euro credit to everyone cost them €8456, not to far away from what the overlay would have cost, so it just seemed so stupid. The bad publicity would hurt them, I thought. I fired off an email to them complaining about them welshing on their promotion, and pointing out that the positive publicity of having 10 players wearing their logos at the event in Edinburgh, one of whom may well have won it, would surely have been worth the comparatively small cost of the overlay. Paradise/Sportingbet never even bothered to reply to my email, the poker magazines made nothing of it, for fear of offending an advertiser, which pissed me off, and I vowed never to play on there again.
Until today. I admit I was weak and tempted by the thought of a tour event in London with a £500 buyin. So I shoved a few quid on the site and played a feeder satellite. During the game I had the good fortune to hit my second-ever Royal Flush, which was very nice. The only other time it has happened was about eighteen months ago, on a 12c/25c cash table, and it earned me about $30. On this occasion, it would be nice to report that I went on to win the satellite, but that didn't happen, due to some muppet who limped in the small blind. I looked down at AQ in the BB and shoved, "arsenal110" clearly thought it was worth calling with K6 off and duly hit a 6, which decimated my stack. In the next three hands I had Queens beaten by 9h 10h (all in pre-flop, he hit a flush on the turn), Q5 failed to outdraw pocket 6s (yes, just a suggestion of tilt there, I'll grant you), then Ks9s let me down, allin on a KKA flop, when I found myself up against KJ and A6. Maybe me and Paradise really should just leave each other well alone.
A small reload on the Circus Poker skin, an iPoker site which I confess I am not in the habit of using, earned me a place in the first of their series of ECOOP V Freerolls, playing for three guaranteed seats in their Super Satellite, which will in 6 weeks or so offer a seat to the ECOOP Main Event, a package worth $1500, with a chance to win a share of $1,500,000. Not bad for nothing. From the Super Satellite there will be runners up prizes of seats to a couple of ECOOP V side events for 2nd and 3rd places.
Expecting the usual deluge of freerollers I was surprised to find only 47 players kicked off this event, but perhaps in view of the fact that you had to deposit SOMETHING in order to qualify it ruled out the Eastern European freeloaders who usually ensure that Latvia and Belarus are well represented in this sort of thing.
Opted for a "tight as a drum" and "milk the muppets" strategy, since I have learned the hard way that giving my opponents credit for having the ability to fold fourth pair is often an over-estimation of their grasp of the game, and until I think they have grasped this concept and embeodied it in their game I will continue to try to avoid being crippled or knocked out on a perfectly justifiable bluff. It's perfectly apparent that most continental players have only read as far as Chapter 2 "Top Pair Any Kicker", and trying to represent a straight or a flush will do little to get them to fold a weak, but winning, hand.
Enough of this, the short and sweet version of this story is that I have taken the first tentative steps towards achieving a monster payout by winning the freeroll and earning my place in the Super Satellite on 29th November, which will be a busy day, as I will have been to see the mighty Wolverhampton Wanderers humble Birmingham City that very afternoon.
The game itself was steady, I managed to amass a chunk of chips fairly early on, then took a serious dent when I ran QQ into the monster that is A7 off suit, pulling me back to the middle of the pack, but that sort of thing never bothers me much - I used to think "Oh, no, that's me blown it" and go hell for leather trying to recoup the lost chips, and my position. These days I dont give a toss, since it's only important to be in the first three at the end, and the chip leaders after two hours rarely seem able to achieve that miracle, probably because the loose way in which they acquire their chips in the first place leads to their ineviatble downfall, when they fail to change gears. That and a belief that that they have somehow donned a cloak of invincibility.
Noticed that Andy Gray, the cardroom manager at Stoke Circus, was also playing the event and was resonably well chipped up when we got down to two tables - took a look and he was the only active player on a table of sitouts!! Nicely balance by the iPoker network who usually manage to get the top three chip leaders grouped together before engineering a collision of biblical proportions. Or at least resulting in the utterance of the name of our Lord in less than celebratory fashion - "Jeeeeesus Chrrrrrrist"!.
Anyway down to the final table and Andy and I are pretty much swapping 2nd and 3rd places with around 10k apiece, as the chip leader, a Swede, has been sitting out for ages protecting his 20k stack. He came back into the game when he was blinded down to about 16k, at which point I went on a bit of a heater getting up to about 24k, and thought about sitting out myself. Not really. After robbing him of half his chips I took it easy on Andy on one or two occasions - folding to a reraise on a paired when he was probably at it, and laying down AQ on a 10 high board when again he was probably stealing with an overbet. I later had cause to regret this almost-soft play as once he got re-established he went after me big time! A lot of toing and froing when we were down to 5 left, but I had regained the chip lead by this stage. In the end ArhturDent1 in the SB made a move with 2-6 against juprok77 in the big blind, and got looked up with JJ - but the flop of 3 4 5 rainbow left the BB one of the two short stacked. Eventually the other short stack was first of the group to go, getting a call from Andy with Q7 against his JJ, only for Andy to flop two pair. Wasnt unhappy to see this guy go - he had made a couple of questionable plays against me in the early stages and had been the one to take a big chunk off me with A7 off before I put him back in his place.
Inevitably it was decided with a race. juprok77 UTG pushed with AdTd for about 4.5 k and I had to call with JJ, which held, despite two diamonds on the flop. So BlazingSaddler, ArthurDent1 and me made it through to the Super Satellite, which was nice.