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.