I once lived with English poker professional Chris Moorman, who has won more than $20 million dollars from poker tournaments and is widely regarded as the best online tournament player in the world.
Moorman is a poker savant, who has a brain like a sponge and passed on a lifetime worth of tips, tricks and guru-like advice when I was a professional poker player, struggling with my play.
After busting* the $1,100 buy-in Main Event at Sky City's Auckland Anniversary Deepstack Championships last weekend, I spent a bit of time thinking about how Moorman would evaluate my horrendous bust-out hand*.
Eventually, I took solace in one of his favourite lines "If you don't look stupid at the table from time to time, you're doing a lot wrong."
Read more: Auckland grinder wins $38,460
With that in mind, let me share my journey through the Deep Stack championship Main Event:
Scroll to bottom for glossary for poker illiterate
12.30pm: I find my seat at Table 10 and recognise poker professional James Honeybone, the winner of the Main Event in 2010. There is a young guy from New York sitting on my direct right who lets slip that he plays cash games at the casino every night, and I can tell by his play he knows what he's doing. The standard of play at my table is noticeably higher than my experience from the $2500 Festival of Poker Main Event two months ago.
3.30pm: The antes* have kicked in and after three hours of playing safe and tight I decide to get stuck in.
With blinds at 150/300 the action folds around to New York (who has 30k) in the Hijack position*, who opens the betting to 700. I peer down at K10ss and make a raise to 2000 (also playing off 30k) in position. New York calls and we see a flop of A57dd. He checks, I bet 2600 and he raises to 5,900.
Right, time to think about what he is representing. What hands would he play like this? I don't think he would ever check raise the flop with AK or AQ, and with AA he would likely four-bet* pre flop. So, 55,77, A5, A7 or a draw or bluff. I think he is more heavily weighted toward draws and bluffs and I have a feeling he is messing with me, but after thinking about how much to raise for about 40 seconds, an old bloke at the table gets restless and calls 'CLOCK*' on me.
Despite having played thousands of tournaments online, I am still very amateurish in live tournaments and quite rusty in general play. I got a little frazzled by the old boy's call, shot him a 'what the heck' glare and then reluctantly folded, justifying it by thinking I could find a better spot. New York proceeded to show 67. He was bluffing with the best hand. Damnit.
4.30pm: I don't get involved in any major pots for about an hour, until the old bloke (playing off 25k) limps in from the Hijack at 300/600 and I look down at A8dd.
I've seen him limp then fold a few times before, or call and then fold to a flop bet, so I decide to bump it up from the button*. I make it 2,000 and it folds back around to him and he thinks a little before calling.
The flop comes down KT6 with two spades, he checks and I bet 3,200. He struggles with the decision, but eventually calls.
My feeling is that he is weak, maybe with a ten, a weak K or a draw and that I can barrel* him off his hand.
The turn is a 4 of diamonds, and he checks again, this time I bet 5,200. He sighs, leans back in his chair and then after about 30 seconds says "I wouldn't normally but I'm on a royal flush draw so I kind of have to." I'm not buying it and shoot back - "OK mate, love the chat."
The river* is the 6 of spades, competing the flush and pairing the board and the old boy leads with a bet of 2,000 into a pot of over 20,000 with about 11,000 chips left in his stack.
This is the point where my poker strategy went from gusto to busto. I can't call because I have A-high, so my options are really either fold, or fold.
However, I talked myself into thinking he had a weak K or a 10 that he was cheaply trying to get to showdown with. I talked myself into thinking he would not lead so small if he did hit his flush. I talked myself into thinking he would fold if I put him all in.
Wrong on all three counts. He quickly called my all-in raise, then flipped over AQss for the nut flush with a big smile on his face. "Told you I had the royal flush draw", he said.
I was left with just one big blind, but there was to be no miracle comeback story as I busted out the very next hand in a four-way pot.
The Auckland Anniversary series has been running since 2007, and this year's Main Event drew 128 entrants, around 50% of which qualified through satellite tournaments. It was also a repecharge event meaning players could enter on day two if they busted on day one.
The tournament was won by Ben Rendell, who scooped $38,460 for his troubles.
Despite my disastrous bluff and bust, I had a great time at the tournament and am already thinking about another slice of advice from Moorman for my next poker adventure - mistakes are fine as long as you learn from them.
Glossary for the poker illiterate:
Busting - Getting knocked out of
Bust out hand - The hand I got knocked out of the tournament with
Barrel - If you have made a bet in one round and then make another bet in the next round, this is called firing the second barrel. A third bet would be called a third barrel.
Antes - Money placed in the pot before the hand has begun
Hijack position - A player seated two seat to the right of the dealer
Four bet - The raise of a re-raise
Clock - calling the clock means to challenge a player for taking too long to act
Button - The button or dealer button is a chip that shows who the current dealer is. The position where the dealer sits is also called the button. We also say that the dealer is on the button.
Nuts - The 'nuts' is the best possible hand in any given situation.
Flush - A flush is a poker hand consisting of five cards of the same suit.
River - The fifth and final board card in Hold'em is called the river or 5th street.
To use in a sentence: My bust out hand happened pre-antes, when I bet from the Hijack position, got raised by the button, four bet because I had the nuts but then he made a flush on the river.
1) Ben RENDELL $38,460 (Auckland)
2) Brett UNKOVICH (Auckland) $25280
3) Ace KING (Auckland) $15220
4) Simon WATT (Auckland) $12380
5) Steve SMITH (Rotorua) $9800
6) Matt CARTER (Auckland) $6320
7) William ROGERS (Auckland) $5160
8) Colin GERBES (Hastings) $4520
9) Anthony YALDEN (Hastings) $3740
10) Alicia SALE (Auckland) $3350
11) Ray WALKER (Rotorua) $2580
12) Shane CHING (Auckland) $2190