South Island Poker Champs

Moving on to Monday and the South Island Poker Champs with a first prize this time of $23000.
Simple Equation: I had to get in the money if I was to play the New Zealand Poker Champs, with a $3300 entry fee and $100,000 first prize.

I couldn't justify spending $3300 at this stage of my poker education and of course I would like some success in these events so the pressure was on to get a result of some sort to proceed further down the path.

Poker Glossary of terms

At my table was Stewart Scott again (Mr Aussie Millions), James Honeybone, who is well known, and another Aussie Champion I had seen earlier in the year winning a APPT Tour event on TV, in Sydney I believe.

I was certainly glad this particular guy was here as I managed to win 4 of 5 hands against him, every single one by re-raisng a weak bet, calling his bluff and with him walking into good flops for me and ultimately gifting me chips.

Also at the table was well known NZ comedian and Poker player (2nd last year) Mike King, another super aggressive player I had seen in action on saturday, a cagey old bastard who had killed me in the satellites with pocket ACES on one occasion and 3 other capable enough looking players.

My end of the table was certainly top heavy with these well known's and I was sitting right amongst them in the hornets nest so they would be able to get some good reads off me from close quarters
Knowing how good these guys are at reading body language etc, I was confident that if I got cards I would do damage as I could mislead them into thinking I was weak
I also felt that if I was able to hurt them with this strategy that they would be wary of me and make it easier for me to steal in between good hands.
This was essentially my strategy which if successful should have gotten me into the top 16 at least upon which time I would be come more aggressive.

Things started slowly for the first 10 hands with a guy from the other end of the table losing two hands to go down to about 6000 chips from the starting stack of 10000 chips
About hand 11 I looked at my cards and OK...9-9...try to see a cheap flop and go from there. 3 players remain after pre-flop betting with a small raise only so a pot of about 600 at this stage
The flop comes down. 9-7-5
The only hand that can beat me on the flop is 8-6 for a straight and the blinds have folded so I guess I'm looking good to take the pot.
I'm first to bet and bet 300 in the hope that someone will do a small re-raise upon which I can re-re-raise ALL In ideally
Instead of this the player who had already lost 4000- goes ALL-IN on me!!
The other player folds immediately and the action moves to me
Well I have established already that the straight is unlikely so I pick he has hit a pair of 6's or 8's to have a gut shot straight with a set of 7's or 5's.
The flush with two spades is also out there so a bit to think about.
Obviously he thinks I have A9, although I don't believe it mattered t him what I had

I already know that I am going to call
I slouch back in my chair, exhale loudly, remove my sunnies, pause for effect, then move forward to the table and call quite quickly
At this point the guy knows he is in deep shite
He flips his card to reveal 9-7, top two pair, no spades, and only a straight draw, runner-runner str8 to save him, highly unlikely.
The absolute best result I could hope for and he was drawing dead after the turn which was a 3.
Exit one player from the table, I now have 16000 chips, table chip leader.

Feeling good and congratulations on a nice hand and result are given from all round

Things settle down and the dealer deals the next hand, my big blind
I look down at my cards and the first one is an ACE, ooohh, a slow pullback of the ACE and ....
Fold, Mike King calls, call, Fold, call, fold, fold, call. Raise by me to 400.
Mike King immediately raises me to 1200. Fold, fold, fold.
Its about here that you debate whether I made a mistake or not by flat calling as opposed to going All-In and attempting a forced fold.
I was not keen on the all-in as you lose control of the hand and I had to put him on AK, AQ, AJ or any pocket pair 7's and above.
I was favoring mid to high pockets at this stage which could hurt me for the maximum in an all-in scenario
This made me a favorite I felt for 80% of post flop hands for the strength that he was showing so I took the risk

The flop came down 10 8 2
As he was now initiating betting I pretty much knew I was going to now take all his chips if he didn't have a set, which I felt sure he did not
I was first to bet and put out a weakish feeler bet of 1200, the same as his original raise.
As I knew he would, he re-raised me, to 4000 thinking his Q-Q was more than good, probably putting me on A-Q, A-K, A-J or even A-10

I flat called him knowing that he was well and truly pot-committed now. I didn't call him all-in yet as I wanted him to lead the betting all the way and have to show first when I called his all-in.
The next card came out a 5, one card to come.
I checked and Mike raised all-in with his remaining 3500 chips
I didnt move for 5 seconds, then placed my cards on the table in front of me.
I pushed in all my chips except for 1 and said 'Call'
Mike flipped over and slammed down queens with a pretty happy look on his face
I took in his look for a second or two, and not looking too sure about what I was doing
I slid my cards together, one atop the other and slid them to my chip stack. I turned them over so Mike could only see one card, the ACE
The smile was gone, replaced by a wondering, what the hell is this look.
Everything was quiet, the table wondering what my last card was, most of them thinking I had made a major blue I imagine.
I picked up my last remaining chip and tossed it at my cards, sliding off the ACE on yop to reveal ACE, pocket Aces, Mike King now well behind.

The table went oohh and the crowd announcer cam over to call the last card of the All in, Mike King needing to hit a Queen to avoid elimination.

I wait with anticipation and a quiet confidence knowing that I am now most likely the event chip leader and off to a great start with 24000 within the first 60 minutes.

The crowd announce calls it, the last card is An Ace, John Gower hits a set of Aces, Mike King, last years second place getter eliminated.........


Come back Monday to read more about the event.....and what really happened to my ACES........


So what really happened to my Aces...?

As I said Mike had raised my initial small raise in the big blind.
I instantly knew that he had a big hand, but I knew I had the biggest.
It was here that I had to decide to go all-in and try to end the pot there, or try and maximise my Aces.

A tough call to make, All-in and lose control of the hand if he called or flat call and risk getting beaten. I certainly wasn't going to raise and let him know I had a super strong hand.

After 10 seconds or so I just flat called and hoped that the flop would include an Ace or all low-ish cards
It came out KQ2
It was at this point that I thought...AA, AK, AQ, KK or QQ
Winning 2, losing 2 and drawing 1 the main possibilities
He raised to 4000, so he had 5200 in the pot and only had about 3000 left, so I felt that yes he had hit a set of 3 Kings or Queens and that I was losing.
With some outs and possibly still winning I decided to now try to make him fold if his hand was weak at all.
I called All-in and Mike called straight away.
Of course Mike hit his pair of queens on the flop to give him 3 of a kind.
I still had two cards to come however so I could still hit an ace to win the hand and 16000 pot.
Nope, no luck didn't happen.
I guess you can class this as unlucky although the option to fold after the 1200 bet was there. I had folded from similar positions before.
I do feel unlucky from the perspective of him initiating the betting and having the stronger hand.
I most certainly would have scored all his chips if the flop was below queens. He would have gone all-in at that moment I am 99% sure of.
I don't think the turn or river cards would have mattered too much if he was only betting as he would have been pot committed.
So yes that was a potential great start gone down the drain and now looking back on it my only real opportunity to make hay apart from the set of 9's the hand before
I lasted about another four hours, won some nice hands but no large pots at all.

Eventually I had to start going all-in and survived two of these, one hitting two pair on the flop and the other an Ace high flush on the turn.
A chap who had been moved to our table had just decimated an aussie player to KO him, (Constantine) in two straight hands and unfortunately I was next.
My last hand was KJ, an all-in bet of 3000.
This fella had A4 and called me without hesitation
I wanted more callers but the other two folded so it was just me and him
Flop comes down A74 to give him two pair, then a nothing card, drawing dead, then an ace on the river for a full house
I had come 32nd and the dream for Poker glory for 2009 Casino champs was over
It was a good experience and from what I had seen, I could not justify spending the $3300 entry fee for the main event 100K first although it did cross my mind.
However, after contemplating my position I thought better of it.
The option I decided upon was to get another year of experience, absorb what I had learned from these events and come back bigger, better and stronger and ideally a little bit luckier in 2010.
So back to the pub poker, which can be lucrative with 5 good sized events a year, and the odd cash game and cash league here and there.

*footnote*...Mike King got 3rd in the main Event and won $30,000.

John Gower

Another well known aussie on my table. I knew the face but not the name.
Turns out he had won over $1Million last year.
Sitting directly to my right I was able to hurt him a number of times by re-raising any of his bets, one in particular when an ACE came out which he tried to represent.
Unbeknown to him I already had one pair and the ACE made it two.
Grant bet 1600 on the Ace, then I went All-in with 4500
He folded and grumbled away for a minute or two to a couple of the other pro's.

I really enjoyed my tussle with Grant and was very happy to come out on top of him.


"Theory one proven again, no matter who you are, no cards, no result"

Grant Levy

Grant Levy, Winner of the 2008 Sydney Leg of the AAPT Asian Pacific Poker Tour.