Jeff Kimber’s GUKPT Blog
Jeff Kimber’s GUKPT Grand Final Experience
There are two things a Grand Final needs to be…Grand and Final!
As this was the final GUKPT of 2012, December’s London leg at the Vic had ticked the second box, but how grand was it?
Well, as I sat down on my starting table, the players to my direct left were Toby Lewis, EPT winner with $1.5million in career earnings, then James Akenhead, November Niner with $3.1million of earnings and Unibet Open winner Paul Vas Nunes, who has ‘only’ won $580k.
To my right was Talal Shakerchi, a regular in the highest buy-in tournaments all over the world, including the $1million One Drop at the WSOP.
In case that line up wasn’t ‘grand’ enough Michael Tureniec, another EPT winner with $2.8million lifetime later joined the table along with nosebleed online cash player Luke Schwarz.
I’m never one to be intimidated no matter how strong the line-up though, and having played with Ivey, Brunson, Negreanu and Dwan, I treated this table with respect, but no fear.
One of the reasons I enjoy playing against good players is poker is a game in which you never stop learning, and some of the little nuances of play were very interesting – Toby just called a big three bet from Shakerchi early with A-K on and got the maximum on an ace-high board against A-Q, while James got himself in a perfect position, trapping his opponent all-in on the turn with jacks against his queens, only to be reminded why the best players don’t always win, his opponent finding a jack on the river.
Toby also played brilliantly only to be escorted from the premises by the poker gods, snapping off Padraig Parkinson’s massive four-bet all-in pre with just K-Q and having the Irishman in a world of hurt, his Q-J dominated.
Two jacks on the flop ensured another good player left with a bad beat, and as day one progressed, things were getting easier.
My own day had proved a struggle after running into the nut flush of Ken Wong in level three.
I’d raised with two kings and set a trap on the K-8-3 rainbow flop, checking my top set to Ken on the button.
He bet and I just called. The turn brought a second spade but I of course still held the nuts. I check-raised, Ken called and we saw a third spade on the river.
I put out a stopper bet of around 6k but couldn’t find the fold when Ken raised it 10 more. I just couldn’t put him on a hand to bet that flop that included two spades as the king of spades was on the board, but his A-8ss had got there.
I managed a lucky double up on the table where the best hand never seemed to win, shoving my shortish stack in with 9-9 and rivering a set after the big blind woke up with kings, and even though I was below average, I was pretty pleased to have negotiated a tough session to make in through to day two.
I started the new day pretty well, though having a big stacked John Eames two to my right was proving an annoyance.
When he raised my big blind for the third lap running I decided to take a stand with my pocket deuces. It felt like a bad beat when he showed me two jacks, but the beat was to come when I managed to make a mighty flush with the deuce of spades and double up.
I was up to 60k at 800 1600 and finally had some scope to play, but again finding kings led to the loss of another big pot.
Eames had lost every all-in pot he’d played, but maintained a big hand by getting busy in between.
He opened another hand and I decided to smooth call with two kings for reasons of deception, inducing a squeeze behind, and because I like the pain when it goes wrong!
The flop of course came ace high, but I called John’s c-bet. I picked up a gutshot on the turn and considered betting when John’s checked but decided to keep the pot small and see a river.
Fifth street was no good and I decided to let my hand go having lost a third of my stack with my only big holding of day two dead.
Soon after our table broke and I joined another tough table, with eventual winner Sam Grafton and triple crowner Jake Cody.
I was just settling in for some of Sam’s panter (poker banter) when an old guy moved in under the gun for his 18bb stack at 1000 2000 and after everyone passed I snapped him off for my tournament life with A-K.
Before I could start to dream of finally getting to average stack with 35 left, my opponent’s A-T had found two tens on the flop and I was out of there.
At least I got to watch the live feed the following day to rail Jon Spinks, Chris Brammer and Dave Maudlin going for glory and ultimately Sam Grafton crowned GUKPT Grand Final champion for 2012.
With that victory Grafton will be invited to the Champion of Champions event in January in Luton that kicks off the 2013 GUKPT, before we all meet again back in the Vic again for leg one next February.
Building, Wielding and Losing a Big Stack in Luton
Building a stack in a tournament can be one of the hardest things to do, so having done so, losing a big stack without any financial reward can lead to a period of frustrated self-analysis.
With rising blinds and the concentration of better players strengthening the field making it ever tougher, a big stack should be wielded like a weapon, used to bludgeon your way to the final table and beyond, but at GUKPT Luton I wielded mine like a wet lettuce as I bowed out with a whimper and was sent home, tail firmly between legs.
Day one had gone beautifully. With just one day one, there were very few tables without at least a couple of very good players on them, and mine was no different, with Simon Deadman and Sam Macdonald both young pros with long records of domestic success.
Sam in particular has a reputation as one of the great stack builders in British poker, so I was looking forward to the challenge, yet by the end of day one, I’d built my 20,000 starting stack to over 100k, lying fifth of 40 with £45k well within my sights for first place.
After 45 minutes of day two, I was on the M1 on the way home. Where did it all go wrong?
Day one had been tough. As expected, Sam had been in every pot, and just when you thought you were getting the better of him, having four-bet him four or five times in response to his endless three-betting, he found aces against the kings of the tightest player on the table to make him dangerous again.
Despite buying back in after losing his first bullet, Simon, who got moved straight back to our table, never got going, and Sam eventually ran A-Q into the A-K of another young aggro player late in the day.
Earlier I’d run pretty well, risking half my 50k stack with queens in a four-bet pot, being five-bet all-in by kings but finding a lovely lady on the flop to boost my prospects.
The most interesting hand of the day was one I played as poorly as any, but in this game you never stop learning, and having talked this one over with a few fellow pros I know I should have played it differently and taken one of the many opportunities to win the hand I’d been presented with.
An aggressive player in early position made it 1600 at 400-800 from his stack of 50k. I was next to speak and looked down at two jacks and decided to flat from my 75k stack, for deception and in the hope and expectation that either the chip leader, a young guy who looked lively with a 120k stack, or Sam Mac, now nursing a 20k stack after taking a big hit, would squeeze in position behind.
Sure enough, the big stack made it 5100 and I started to play the hand through in my head, concluding that if the original raiser did anything other than four-bet, I would make it 15,000 or so and more than likely take the hand down there. (As an aside, some pros told me they would just flat and let him bluff off to them, but playing that deep out of position against a good player with a strong but vulnerable hand isn’t that attractive a prospect to me).
While thinking how the hand would play, a spanner was thrown in the works by an older guy who looked really solid (new to the table) who started tanking on the button, eventually cold calling 5100 from his 33k stack.
The original raiser quickly called and I had a think. I could still make it 15k, but I just felt the button must have a big hand, and queens seemed the most likely to me, with anything bigger four-betting and anything smaller going in the muck.
If I did raise now, I’d have to call off against the button even if I got passed the perceived squeezer, so eventually just called, even though this felt weak and like I was set mining with the fourth nuts preflop.
The flop came 8-5-3 rainbow and the first guy checked. I checked with really no idea where I was, the big stack checked, which was a bit of a surprise, and the old boy took a stab on the button, betting just 4800 into a 20k-plus pot, signalling either extreme strength or extreme weakness.
The original raiser passed and I opted to call. I think this is a mistake. In my head I had the button on queens, but that thinking is flawed. First of all it’s far too specific a read, and secondly, even if he has, what am I going to do on later streets, fold if he bets a brick on the turn?
My best option would be to make it 11k or so, get it heads-up and call off against his all-in should it come. If he has me beat, he does, but I can’t pass and calling just allows him or the big stack to take the pot from me if I do have the best hand.
The big stack had a bit of a dwell and eventually called too. The turn paired the three, and my check was followed by two further checks that convinced me I had the best hand. I was putting them both on A-K kind of hands….so when the river fell an ace it looked like the worst card in the deck and I checked.
The big stacked kid bet 11,500 and the old boy moved all-in for about 25k, making my fold an easy one. After a long dwell the kid eventually called, and he managed to beat the button’s A-Q with the mighty 2-3 suited for trip threes.
I think if I’d made it 15k preflop I’d have probably won the 20k pot there and then (though maybe the button would have sigh-called off his 30k and rivered me) but the main mistake was not playing more aggressively on the flop, when a small raise would get it heads-up and force the fold at a fairly small risk to my own stack.
Still, I rallied and was delighted to finish day one with 100k, a great start.
If that was a great start, day two saw anything but.
The first hand I played, I raised to 2300 at 500-1000 with A-9 in the cut off and was three-bet by a young kid with his hood up to 4800 on the button from a 30k stack.
I was fully intending to stick the lot in, but the big blind cold four-bet and we both quickly folded.
A couple of hands later, I found two sevens in mid position, raised to 2300 and the hoody made it 4800 out of his 25k. Folded back to me, I four-bet all-in and his two queens held on a 8-9-6-T…J board.
After going through the blinds, I raised the button with A-Q to 2300, the hoody made it 4800, I four-bet shoved, and was thrilled to see him turn over queens again.
With just 9000 left, I found K-Q and stuck it in, and the hoody kid went into the tank. I told him I’d love it if he knocked me out, and he duly obliged, flat calling and seeing the rest of the table fold, showing me two aces.
I’m not sure I could do anything different, apart from draw his seat and he draw mine, just a bad day in the office.
Perhaps my luck in the side events should have warned me not to get my hopes up in the main event.
In the £300 tournament, I just called a raise with two kings from a 30 big blind stack and four of us saw a flop of K-J-3 with two clubs.
The original raiser gave me a spin with his A-Q of clubs and despite missing his royal flush draw, my opponent found a club and no pair up and I was on my way.
In the £250 PLO I made the final and the relief of making the money was soon tempered by busting out in eighth place.
I called an under-the-gun raise with K-K-4-5 with spades and had a gamble on the J-3-2 with two spades flop.
The big blind called preflop too, and when the raiser bet the flop, we both moved all-in and were called.
The blind had queens with spades, so was drawing to two queens against my hand, but the preflop raiser somehow turned up with a set of deuces which held and a min cash was all I had to show for a week of playing pretty well in Luton.
I just hope as we move on to Blackpool I can keep building up big stacks and getting it in with good hands and maybe with a bit of luck another victory isn’t too far away.