Eureka is a regional tour that takes in some awesome locations across several central and eastern European countries. This event was in Dubrovnik, a beautiful and historic city on the Adriatic Sea coast of Croatia. A location that I'd heard a lot of good things about but had never visited before. As soon as I found out that there was a PokerStars event there I marked those dates on my calendar.
Main Event - Day 1a
I chose to play Day 1a of the main event as this was the final day of the SCOOP online poker series. I expected that most of the better players would be playing that and then participating in Day 1b of Eureka. What I had forgotten though was that people can play on PokerStars using a mobile device these days, so almost every young player in the field was multi-tabling between live and online poker later in the day when the SCOOP Main Event began.
All of the Team PokerStars Pros who were playing this event had chosen to play Day 1b. I said to Nick Wright from the PokerStars Blog that it's pretty funny how "the Team Online guy is playing live and the Team Pro players are playing tomorrow so they can play SCOOP." He wrote a nice piece on how my day was going - Eureka3 Croatia: The ups and downs of Team Online's Dale Philip.
I got off to a bad start in the tourney, losing every pot I played. It wasn't long before I was down to just half of my 20k starting stack. Fortunately the structure was slow, starting with 400BBs, and my table was very good, so I still felt confident about building a stack. And I did slowly, but surely, regain chips.
There was one player at the table who played every single hand. Literally 100% VPIP. It's not often you see that these days at any kind of significant stakes. He would put in a raise pre-flop with any decent cards and limp or call a raise with everything else. He would occasionally fold to a 3-bet, but usually not. Post-flop he would call down with any pair. You would think this would be a losing strategy but he just kept gaining chips and putting his opponents on tilt with rivered gutshots and all sorts.
|Photo by Ivan Dabac / PokerStars|
My biggest pot came when this player was in the BB and I was in middle position with 88. I min-raised and he called. I flopped great on a 852r board. He checked and I bet quite a large amount, close to full pot. I felt that against this particular opponent I could just bet larger amounts with my very strong hands because he would call those bets just as often as he would if they was smaller, and he likely wouldn't catch on to this 'bet sizing tell'. I think it's fine to play in a way that is technically exploitable if your opponent isn't going to exploit it.
The turn was a 7, he checked and I but large again which he quickly called. The river was an 8 give quads and again I bet huge and he snap called and showed AA. I got almost 3/4 of my stack in but, and maybe I'm being greedy here, I still felt like I got unlucky. If he 3-bets his hand pre-flop like he's supposed to, then I call and I end up getting my whole stack in post-flop.
At the dinner break I had 40k from the 20k starting stack and was feeling good about things.
To my surprise the casino put on a complimentary hot buffet for the players every day. This was in addition to free bottled water and fruit juice being available throughout the event in two large fridges in tournament room. They really know how to look after the players there.
I gave this feedback in the players survey that asked 'what was the best thing about the event?' and 'what would you like to see incorporated in other PokerStars events?'. I said that would like to see the kind of hospitality shown to us at Eureka with the complimentary food and drink expanded to other PokerStars tours such as UKIPT.
The buffet was really high quality with a selection of hot meat, fish and vegetables, sushi, a variety of breads, fresh fruit and large assortment of desserts. Omnomnomnom.
As I sat in my chair after the break one of my opponents looked at me and said "you ate too much, I can tell by the look on your face.". And he was right. I need to stay away from buffets as I just don't know when to stop.
About half an hour after the restart I lost a 30k pot with JJ. I raised UTG and a Polish HUSNG pro in the BB called. I bet 3 streets J96-K-Q and he check-calls me down and showed KT for a straight. This took me down to 23k in chips. Maybe my river value bet seems a bit thin but I felt like he could figure me for barrelling on good turn and river cards and call me with worse.
Shortly after, against the same Polish HUSNG pro, I got a decent amount of those chips back. The aforementioned 100% VPIP player open limped and the Pole raised from the button. I looked down at A5s in the SB and 3-bet. The Pole thought for a long time before putting in a 4-bet that equalled 1/3 of my stack. My instincts were that he was bluffing, that he was smart enough to know that I know he was iso-raising the weak player in position and that I could easily 3-bet bluff him in this spot. After thinking about it for a while I 5-bet shoved and he folded instantly.
Our table broke, much to my disappointment but my new table still wasn't bad. I had a couple of young players around me but a lot of old men on the other side of the table. I got chatting to the kid on my left who told me he was a Swedish HUSNG pro.
An old man raised and I 3-bet him from the CO with A7s. The Swedish kid on the button then almost min 4-bet and the old man folded. Again, I just felt like this guy was screwing with me, but this time we had no history other than chatting to each other. Again the 4-bet was 1/3 of my stack. I ended up sticking it in and he snap-called with KK. Ooops. I thought he had me covered but he had a few BBs less than me, meaning that with the sizing, he was probably way less likely to be bluffing. Oh dear, pretty big mistake. Needless to say I didn't suck out, or run up the short stack that I was left with. So with 30 minutes left of the day it was GG for me.
The day after busting the main event I decided that I needed some fresh air and exercise. I got what I needed by hiking up the mountain that overlooks Dubrovnik, Mount Srd. There's actually a cable car that can take you to the top and back, so fat and lazy people can also get up the mountain for €11.
The view from the top was incredible. I could see all of the coastal area around Dubrovnik on one side, and the mountains of Bosnia on the other side. There was also a fort on top of the mountain which was important during the war in the early 90's and is now a memorial museum.
PLO Side Event
After my hike I had just enough time for a shower and a sandwich before rushing to the casino to play the PLO side event. My one live tourney win was PLO and I hoped to make it two. With only 39 players in the field, I fancied my chances.
I coasted to the final table with an average stack but in a field this small a final table does not equal a cash. Only 5 places paid but with 5 short stacks at the table I was in a good spot. Unfortunately every time a short stack got it in they doubled up. I also lost chunks of my stack on three occasions by raising preflop with double-suited slightly gappy rundowns, flatting a pot 3-bet from a weak player who had obvious AAxx, and completely missing the flop.
Then after being completely card dead for an hour the tourney was down to just 6 players, the bubble. I had a short stack of just 8BBs. The next closest in chips had three times as many as me. I got it in preflop with KKxx and unfortunately was up against AAxx. I didn't even get a proper sweat as the flop and turn gave me just 2 outs and I didn't hit one of them. So I stone bubbled.
Tired, tilted and hungry, I went to a restaurant close by that was recommended to me. I was the only customer so I though "great, I'll get served quickly.". I ordered some grilled chicken speciality and sat there on my own for 25 minutes, even more tired, tilted and hungry than when I walked in. What could be taking the entire staff of this restaurant so long to prepare my food?
I expected they must be working on some kind of elaborate meal, and then this absolute joke was served to me.
Basically just a small pile of grilled chicken in some pesto oil. No sides. I feel like I just got trolled so hard. Running worse at eating out than I do at poker, that takes some doing.
The next evening was the players party, held in a nightclub in the 600 year old Revelin Fort on the edge of the old city. With an open bar, just like at the buffet, I never know when to stop. Just as well I am a Scotsman and can handle my drink otherwise I may have made a fool of myself........
Photos by Ivan Dabac / PokerStars.
The players parties are always a great part of these poker tours. Even if you don't do well at the poker, you still have at least one good night out during your stay.
The next day I managed to recover in time to play the evening's Turbo Deepstack side event. Although I did register at the end of level 3 so it was really more like just a Turbo.
It was a fun tourney and a lot of the players I was playing with I had met at the party the night before so every table I was at was very chatty and sociable, which you don't get enough of in poker these days.
I was running pretty good and with 16 players left of the 119 starting field and it paying 14 spots I had an above average chip stack of around 16BBs. That was when the button shipped in 7BBs, I was in the small blind with 99 and shoved, and the big blind snap called. I was up against KK and 65s and didn't get there. So my 2nd live tourney bubble in 3 days. Very annoying. The buyins were pretty small, but after investing so much time and energy it still hurts to bubble. LOL live pokers.
Just like two nights before, I was tired, tilted and hungry. I went to a different restaurant this time and ordered a grilled chicken salad. This time it was served in only a few minutes. It was a plate of chopped lettuce, sliced tomatoes and cold pieces of chicken. Nothing else and no dressing. Just..... URGH!! This is what miserable feels like.
Thankfully I did find a great restaurant the next day and so I ate every meal for the rest of my stay there. With the previous bad experiences it wasn't worth the risk of trying anywhere new. If you travel to Dubrovnik you'd do well to avoid ordering anything from a menu that says "grilled chicken".
Game of Thrones Filming Location Tour
The next day, I was done with poker. There was just one last event but I skipped it to get outside and do stuff. I'm a big fan of the TV show Game of Thrones so I jumped at the chance to take a tour around some of the filming locations in Dubrovnik that were used for Kings Landing, the Battle of Blackwater and Qarth.
The tour isn't available to the public yet so it was just me and a journalist from Ireland. The lady who led the tour was a local with knowledge of when and where all the filming took place last year.
The fort that was used extensively during the Battle of Blackwater scenes was closed to the public but she was able to get the key from the man who looked after it and let us in. In the basement of the same fort was the most recognisable location to me, it was used as the House of the Undying where the warlock held the dragons in chains.
We also took a boat trip to the island of Lokrum which was used as a location for Qarth, and walk around the garden where they had the garden party.
On the final day of my trip I visited the beautiful country of Montenegro. What a great place. The town of Kotor reminded me a lot of Dubrovnik in that it's set inside a fortification and has a mountain overlooking it.
Of course I hiked right up to the top of that mountain and took in some sick views.
It was a nice end to my trip. I may have had a horrible time at the poker tables but with the great location, party and things to see and do, I still went home feeling like I had a good trip. That's what these events are all about.