Thursday 21 February 2013

UKIPT Cork - Trip Report

Last week I flew to Cork, Ireland to play the latest stop on the UK and Ireland Poker Tour.

A direct flight from Edinburgh with Aer Lingus meant it was a quick, cheap and easy location to get to.

I chose not to stay in a hotel on this trip. I'm starting to learn how to travel without absolutely haemorrhaging money.

I found a highly rated Bed & Breakfast place called Acorn Lodge on the same road as the UKIPT event, about 10 minutes walk away, for just €40 a night. I booked 4 nights there for a total of €160. Compare that to a 4 star hotel that would have cost me €660. Travel is a skill game and I just shipped a €500 pot.

The B&B was lovely and greatly exceeded my expectations. I had a nice room with cable TV, free WiFi, en-suite with power shower, all the stuff you'd expect from a hotel really. The best part was the full Irish breakfast every morning, top quality, delicious and really set me up for the day.

After hearing from people staying at the Rocheston how their internet was unusable (something that tilts me more than anything) I was especially glad that I chose alternative accommodation.

I'm paying for all my travel and accommodation this year with FPPs (Frequent Player Points) thanks to the PokerStars VIP Club Congierge Service. Basically I send my receipts to and they deduct FPPs at a rate of 0.0161 FPP/$USD and credit my account with the cash.

It cost 19,576 FPPs for the flight and 13,160 FPPs for the B&B. I'll be keeping track in a spreadsheet and publish the totals in future blogs.

Main Event Day 1

The venue was sound, a massive conference hall with modern d├ęcor filled with poker tables. There was no alcohol being served though. Local law states that there's to be 'no gambling on licensed premises'. The sober Irishmen probably made the field a bit tougher than it otherwise would. I'd rather that my opponents were drunk and happily splashing their chips around.

There were a total of 387 players entered over the two Day 1's, which was pretty low and barely scraped over the guarantee. The previous lowest attendance this season in the UKIPT has been 550 in Bristol. The only thing that I can think of for such low numbers is that they scheduled it on Valentines Day, and loads of guys are under the thumb, so.....

There was WiFi available but the signal was so weak that I couldn't even connect. Neither could anyone else so I quickly gave up on that idea and just used data roaming on my phone to keep the Twitter updates flowing. With Vodafone it only costs a flat £2 for 25MB of data for 24 hours, which is decent.

The table was friendly with a lot of banter, most of it coming from Willie, a fellow Scotsman.

One of the Irish lads asked me "what is it you normally play online? just comps?". I was like "what are comps? like freerolls?", thinking comp stands for 'complementary'.

Nope, apparently that's what they call tournaments in Cork. 'Comps' is short for 'competitions'.

"What else would you call them?" another local asked me. "Tourneys..." I said, "I came here to win a tourney but I'll settle for winning a comp!".

© Mickey May / PokerStars
I'd barely gotten myself comfortable when on my second hand of the tournament I picked up QQ and lost 10% of my stack to KK on a rag board. Another player at the table said he was amazed that I lost so little, but with 300 BB starting stacks I'm hardly going broke with an overpair of queens on my first hand.

There was one player at the table that was clearly very inexperienced. He was playing every pot and at first I thought he might just be a good LAG player but then a hand came up where he rivered the nut full house and check-called, haha, absolutely astonishing.

I played a hand with him where I raised J8o on the button and he flatted me out of the blinds. The flop came 842r, which looked pretty good to me. The bloke lead into me, I called. K pops on the turn, bloke leads for same size he did on flop, I called. 8 river, giving us a board of 842K8, and the bloke lead for a decent amount. So I called and he showed me 84o for the boat. mbn.

Guys at the table were talking about the hand and asking me stuff like "can you believe he's calling out of the blinds with that rubbish?" but I just sat there quietly, trying to avoid talking about the hand. The bloke was obviously not an experienced poker player and he looked pretty happy about scooping the pot, so you just have to take the small defeat on the chin and let him have fun and play the way he wants.

I was down to 11K chips (from 15K starting stack) after a couple of hours but the structure is slow enough that I still had over 100BBs and plenty of room to make moves. By the end of level 4 I was back up to 15,050 chips. 50 chip profit for 4 hours of play, now that's grinding!

I didn't remain in the black for long though because the first hand after the second break I came back and lost a standard preflop flip with AKo vs QQ for a 10k pot.

Not long after that I was sitting with 12K at BB300 and there was an UTG raise to 600, and UTG+1 3-bet to 1500 with 3500 behind. I picked up QQ in middle position and flatted, trying to be tricky with the hope that UTG may isolate-shove with a wide range of hands. Cold 4-betting in that spot looks pretty strong and I think I can get more value out of my hand by flatting.

So I flatted then a tight player in the blinds that I'd played with from the start cold 4-bet shoved his 10K stack into the pot pretty quickly. I hadn't even witnessed him 3-bet so far so I had to think his range was super tight here, like AA, KK, QQ and AK, and I wasn't even sure about AK. The 3-bettor called pretty fast, clearly pot-committed.

I was left looking down at QQ with 8500 to call with about 16,000 in the middle. If I called and lost I would have only 2,000 chips remaining. I thought it was just too likely that I was up against KK or AA and folded. Seems like pretty ridiculous nitty fold when it's only a 33BB shove, but I hate to go against my instincts.

As it turned out, it was the wrong fold, as the 4-bet shover had AK and the short stack had AQ. Big sighs from me, especially when the flop came out all rags. K on the river though. Nothing like making the wrong move and it working out for you.

Soon after that hand the antes kicked in, we lost the looser players, and I started open raising blind whenever it was folded to me and barrelling most boards on most streets. Within two levels I had spun my stack up from 12k to 30k with barely a showdown.

Things got even better when I coolered Matt Heap pretty hard. He minraised UTG and I flatted with 77. He check-called me on a 752 flop and check-shoved the K turn with 55.

I ended the day with over 50K, with the average being 36.5K. Not a bad day's work.

Main Event Day 2

© Mickey May / PokerStars
After another full Irish breakfast and 10 minutes of fresh air walking from the B&B I flew out of the starting blocks on Day 2.

A lot of players were late so we played 5-handed and my tablemates were all older guys, which was nice. I got to steal a lot of blinds, then stacked a short stack with my top pair weak kicker Vs his nut flush draw all-in on the flop. Taking me up to 70K in chips.

That meant that we needed another player brought to the table. My day had started off so well, but then raise-happy YoYo Julian Thew sat himself down on my direct left with a big pile of chips. I believe my words were "oh dear".

I guess Yo-Yo-ism is contagious because my stack was up and down and up and down from that point.

I won some small pots to chip up a but before long I lost it all back in a 50K pot with AT vs 77 all in pre. I flopped the T and the bloke was halfway out the door as I watched the runner-runner flush get dealt out.

I then got it all back and more when there was an UTG raise and a player 3-bet shipped it in for 26K. I cold 4-bet shoved with AQ, which held against his A8.

Then I lost another >50K pot in a button vs BB battle. All the chips went in preflop and my 22 was looking good, still ahead against his A7o on the flop. We both then went runner-runner flush, which wasn't nice for me.

Since Julian is a more experienced live player than me by an enormous margin I asked him what he though of my chip stacking skills. He was less than impressed to say the very least. Admittedly, I was stacking in piles of 10s like a complete mug punter.

I took to Twitter, asking people to give my chip stacking skills a score out of 10. I think I averaged just under 3. :( Chip stacking is a skill game and I'm clearly a fish,

I was studying Julian's chip stacking technique, trying to learn, but then he made them all disappear. On the bubble no less. He took a brutal 2-outer on the river against Robert Sinclair, who is a good loose-aggressive player from Scotland, then shortly after that he shoved over the same player's raise with 33 only to get called by 55.

The UKIPT floor staff made the players stand there with their cards face down for aaaaaages before running out the board. That must be awful for the players involved. I think the players told each other what their cards were, but it's still a massive slowroll waiting so long for the community cards to be run out in such an important hand.

Loads of people gathered round and everyone that was left in the event was routing for Robert to win the hand and burst the bubble, myself included. Stacks were shallow and hand-for-hand was getting painfully boring. As we waited I noticed Robert's green hat. "Are you a Celtic man?" I asked. "Aye, I am", he replied. "OK, I hope you bloody loose this hand then!" I laughed.

I looked around expecting some chuckles but all I saw were about 50 Irishmen giving me the death stare. Uhh ohhh..... "I was forgetting where I am, sorry."

Robert won the hand and with 48 players remaining I got my first UKIPT cash. I think we lost about 10 players in the next 20 minutes after the bubble. The payout structure was pretty flat until the final table and stacks were shallow so everyone was looking to gamble.

I ended the day with 57,500 chips, barely more than I started with, and only 11.5BBs going into the next day at BB5,000.

I was looking for spots to shove in the last couple of orbits but frustratingly they just weren't there. On my direct left was Alex Rhys-Davies who is a smart online player that was ready to snap me off light when I shoved so I couldn't shove toooo loose. Regardless, I got no hands that were even marginal. There were spots where I could have opened-shoved like 60% of hands profitably but I kept getting hands like 93o and 42o.

I bagged up the chips and headed to the players party to wind down.

Players Party

At every PokerStars sponsored event there's a players party held in a nice bar/club. Usually when I go to a club it's with the intention of shipping a girl, but I know from past experience that these PokerStars players parties are complete sausage-fests. All the females there are poker WAGs.

© Mickey May / PokerStars

But the drinks are free (until the tab runs out) so it's good to just get merry and have a laugh with a bunch of poker lads.

When I got to East Village I met up with a bunch of the good-guys of British poker including Alex Ferguson, Paul McTaggart, Niall Farrell, Jake Cody and Jamie Sykes who told me that they had just been the victims of a drive-by water-bombing. Apparently a car drove up beside them and smacked them with water-bombs, and then another car drove up and did exactly the same.

So bizarre. I'm pretty sure that when I was old enough to drive I had given up playing with water-bombs. Although just as well this happened in a safe part of the world. There's a lot of cities where being the victim of a drive-by would result in more than just getting wet!

Usually when I drink I just like to drink straight Scotch the whole night but that wasn't good enough for these degenerates. Upon finding out that I'd never had a Jagerbomb, one was immediately placed in my hand and I was ordered to gulp it down.

After the PokerStars tab ran out we played rock-paper-scissors to decide who would buy the next round of Jagerbombs or Tequilas. We'd all shoot at the same time and the minority dropped out until two of us were left heads-up, playing straight rock-paper-scissors to decide who get's them in. I didn't lose a single game, ship the rungood. Meanwhile, Jake lost about half of them, eight-way.

At 1am we took taxis into the city to go to a nightclub called Havana. When we got there the bouncers basically closed the doors in our faces and said they were closing in 1 hour. It turns out that in Ireland the clubs close at 2am, which is beyond f-in ridiculous. Well, myself and Alex Fergie, being smooth-talking Scotsmen, smooth-talked them into letting us in. After they let us in we tried to tip them €20 but they wouldn't accept it. Nice. If that was in America they would have snap-called and asked for more!

We had a good laugh there with everyone merry and having a great time. I wasn't too wasted because I was alternating my drinks between alcohol and water, being responsible since I was playing poker the next day.

I reckon that I could still play an 11BB stack if I was in a coma, but you never know, I might have doubled up a couple of times and actually had to concentrate.

Main Event Day 3

© Mickey May / PokerStars
My table draw sucked. Only one player at the table had over 20BBs and the rest were between 9 and 18BBs. Everyone at the table were experienced pros with Dara O'Kearney on my left and Andrew Grimason and Liv Boeree on my right.

On the first hand I looked down at the A9o in the CO and shipped in the 11.5BB. O'Kearney on my left immediately re-shoved and I knew I was in a spot of bother. He flipped over AJ but the board ran out KT2-K-2 for a chop. Lucky.

A couple of hands later I got 77 in the BB and the CO shoved into me for 7BBs. Easy call, but somehow he managed to be holding QQ. So I lost that and was very much crippled.

In the CO again, I looked down at A9o, again. Liv Boeree min-raised UTG and I shoved for 5.5BBs. Easy call for her and I was up against Q7s. The board ran out blanks and I even had the flush draw by the turn, but the river was a nasty off-suit 7 and my tournament was over.

I finished 32nd for €1,710. Oh well, I'll save the real deep run for a bigger event.

I got a little bit of cash, got to meet a load of new people or people I previously only interacted with online, got some more live experience and had a lot of fun. So it was a good trip over all. What I didn't get to do was see any of Cork, other than that one nightclub, or any of the tourist sights nearby. It seems like a lovely place though and I hope to return.

The next UKIPT is in London in a couple of weeks and is the final one of the season. There are three Day 1's for this one so it looks like there will be a massive field and prizepool.


  1. Great blog guy, my poker trip reports are: Woke up, walked the dog (actual dog not a masturbation euphemism) Fired up Pokerstars played 36 tournaments for a profit of 4$, cried, turned on Playstation

  2. Ace move with the B&B, most of these in Ireland really look after you and are very reasonable as opposed to hotels. The flipside is that most hotels offer their residents a late bar and you can drink on til the early hours of the morning. Glad you had a good time in Cork and maybe you'll make another visit to Ireland during the next season of UKIPT.


  3. Nice accomodation and healthy breakfest also :))) I'm follow your blog from now on :)
    Good luck at WBCOOP!