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March 16, 2006

Re-living the Embarrassment – The TV Horror Show.

Since the final of the William Hill Poker Grand Prix, which was filmed back in October 2005, there hasn’t been a day that hasn’t had me thinking back to the way I played and how it could have been oh so different had I just been a little more cautious, shown more composure and just taken it a little easier. I crashed out first in the final of the competition which I worked and played so hard to get to. It’s not the going out first that truly bothered me; it was the way in which I went out. I often lie in bed or sit on the sofa thinking of how I blew my chance at some serious money, recognition and maybe even the attentions of a lucrative sponsor. However, I never felt I could properly grieve for my loss and exorcise the demons until it aired on the TV and I got to hear what some proper players thought of my play (not that I consider or take note of the opinions of Lucy “shudda gone all-in” Wocach) but Andy Black is someone I have met a few times and have respect for and was interested in hearing his views along with those ‘players’ and friends that watched the WHPGP on the TV.

The general consensus amongst those I have sought an opinion from (and some that I didn’t) is that after building up an early chip lead, I then played my one massive key hand very badly in deed. For those that didn’t see it, - it went like this…

I raise 3 * BB from mid position with 10-J (everyone is playing really tight so I want to get busy early to try and build up some chips, and I assume everyone else has me down as ‘the tight guy’). I get called two seats later by Ram Vaswani, who has already called one of my raises and re-raised me once – I know he has drawn a great big target on my forehead and is deliberately going to try and outplay me – so I am in my mind ready to stand up for myself.

The flop came down as 8-Q-K (not bad, I have an open ended draw)…. but I am not sure what to put Ram on in his position. I should have led out here with a standard continuation bet but I didn’t. I guess it was because I felt Ram was going to re-raise me anyway and I was out of position against the only player on the table I didn’t want to get involved with – weak I know but I guess these were my reasons for not betting. I checked. After my check, Ram led out with a predictable 2/3rds of the pot bet. I seriously thought about check raising him here but I had convinced myself he may just call or move all-in and with it being early on in the game I didn’t want to over commit (I guess from Ram’s point of view that’s the power of being a known fearless aggressor and all-in merchant – it can occasionally stop people betting against you. I opted for a call knowing that if I could catch my open ended draw I would take the lead in the pot but I also hoped would leave ram with two-pairs or maybe he had a set of eights already – to tell the truth I didn’t really give Ram’s hand enough consideration, I was too busy playing mine and fighting off the bad play demons in my head.

The turn brought a jack, which leaves me with an open ended draw and a pair (albeit third pair) – I thought about making a bet here to try to represent something but I didn’t think he would believe me so I went for a check again hoping he would slow down and let me hit again for free. It wasn’t to be, he bet again but I read his bet as a weak follow up designed to get rid of me (I know he is capable of continually firing at a pot). With this in mind I wanted to define my hand here – did he have anything? – I check raised him another 3 times his bet – I wasn’t going to be pushed around. He thought for a moment and then called – I now knew he had a hand – perhaps two pairs (QK, QJ or maybe a set of 888).

The river was so cruel it almost brings me to tears. It came a 9, which made my straight on a no flushing un-paired board. I thought I really had him now and bet for value on the river fully expecting him to reluctantly call and show me something worse and shake his head at me catching up on the river but my daydream was broken by an immediate shout of “all-in”. OMFG, I couldn’t believe it and I almost shovelled the lot in without even looking up but I re-checked the board just to be sure. – No pair on it, no flush was possible; there were five cards there so we had definitely reached the end of the betting. Then all of a sudden, the horror hit me, although I had made my hand I had failed to account for the possibility of A-10 (which was the nuts), I had 10-J, which was the second nuts and I had assumed it was good enough (ram wouldn’t play A-10 in that spot would he?). I didn’t know what to do. I had no option but to replay the hand bet for bet in my head to check for the possibility that Ram could have A-10. The way he played it just didn’t lead me to that hand – it was the flop bet that fooled me – I thought he would check and take a free card on the flop but he bet his gut-shot draw, so I immediately put him on some of the flop and the fact that he only called my check raise on the turn with the absolute nuts totally baffled me. I really thought with the nuts here he would go all-in at that point. I eventually deduced that we had the same hand (10-J) – I told myself that he called my pre-flop raise with a good drawing hand and bet his open ended draw on the flop and when I checked again he bet his pair and open ended and then moved all-in on the river with the straight hoping I had a set of KKK or QQQ or something.

I decided my read was good and once I have made a read I like to stick with it. Although I wouldn’t normally call thinking it would be a split pot at best if the pot was smallish but the pot was huge, we had both put so much money in that getting my share back was definitely worth calling for. My other main thought was that I knew Ram to be a mover (just watch his heat – it was brutal) and I knew he wouldn’t be scared of going out first (see last years poker million heat too). He could well have been playing on the fact that I didn’t want to be first out and survival meant more to me than most of the players at the table. Third and probably worst rationale of all was that I didn’t want to be seen folding such a powerful hand on the TV and getting outplayed in front of so many people, I would never be able to hold my head high having been bluffed out of such a key pot with the SECOND POSSIBLE NUTS! – So I called and to my chagrin he showed A-10 for the F***ing coconuts. – Bollocks!

I have never been so deflated, embarrassed and full of disappointment at the poker table – nothing can get anywhere near the anger I felt at my own actions and the annoyance the poker gods for such a cold decked set up. I was inconsolable – it meant so much to me.

I suppose now its out in the open and the program has been aired I can begin to move on and forget about it. I will learn from how I played this hand and hopefully it will make me a better all round poker player and I will come out the other side a better man.


Blogger MrMoves said...

Tough luck Greg.

Ram is one of the best in the world, there is no shame in going out to him when you hold such a strong hand.

17/3/06 9:44 am

Blogger The Camel said...


For what it's worth I would have played your hand exacty the same way you did.

Poker is a game of mistakes, we all make them. I even heard Ram made a mistake once!

Don't be too hard on yourself.


17/3/06 8:39 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok it didn't work out....but you didn't play it that badly..honest!!

IT JUST DIDN'T RUN FOR YOU ON THE DAY....you played a great semi...so head up and move on to bigger and better...good luck!

18/3/06 9:57 am

Blogger Greg_'Junior'_Hill said...

thanks paul, keith and errrr..... mr anonymous.

i think given that situation again - i am deffo playing it different. - just fold preflop and eliminate any decision :-)

see you round fellas.

19/3/06 10:04 am

Blogger redsimon said...

Unlucky with the JT hand Junior. I did like the 23 sooted coup earlier though :)

20/3/06 9:06 pm

Blogger Greg_'Junior'_Hill said...

thanks simon. - once they both called twice i knew they were initially trapping with their trips but by that time i had the str8. - didn't want to get too busy on the end though as flush was showing and of course i had to fear a boat out there i suppose - it was funny seeing Ram's face when i flipped the 2-3 though :-)

21/3/06 7:44 am

Anonymous Pro-kid said...

Unlucky Junior

In your position perhaps the only way differently you could have played it was by beeting out on the flop, but like you said what do you do if your check raised?? I think it's just one of those hands where your destined to lose your money. If you saw Rams heats (which Im sure you did) he did have a habit of coming over the top of people with nothing and he probably thought you couldn't call without a ten in your hand. Don't worry about Lucy Rocach, I doubt very much she'd have got through to the final table. If I were you don't beat yourself up over it, you played a great game throughout the tourney and got to play against some of the best players on the European circuit

21/3/06 1:12 pm

Blogger Alex Martin said...

Greg, its just one of those things mate.

You said you thought about check raising on the flop, which in hindsight is a wonderful move. In the heat of battle though there was little you could do.

The problem is, his calling the turn with the nuts allows him to truly get your nuts on the plate when that river comes along bearing fruit.

You played AWESOME in the build up and as Keith says, mistakes are made, esp against Ram.

Dont beat urself up, you stood up and went with ur gut, which is more than about 95% of the players out there would have done.


22/3/06 11:02 am


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