January 2008
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Dublin down

I am delighted to report that my first trip to Dublin – which of course involved a little poker – was an astounding success.  I’m about even.

I played at Cool Hand Luke’s, which is in the process of being converted to Gutshot’s Dublin venue.  The basement is already decked out with orange and black G-swirls, and has a fine internet cafe and deli open until 4am.  The casino and card room upstairs, however, are quite different – and different to anywhere I’ve ever played before.

It’s a very homely place, in fact it all just feels like a big house, like you’re playing in someone’s living room.  Very laid back, very friendly and very loose poker.  It’s just a shame I couldn’t find a hand to take advantage!

I went deep in the EUR 20 rebuy tournament, making the final table and just missing the money by 5 places.  This is an even more impressive achievement if I reveal that a massive six players started the game, although numbers had swolen to 18 at one point.

This hand presented an interesting ruling: at 25/50 and on my big blind (the cheek of it all) the player to my left raised to 150, his neighbour re-popped it to 500 and the next player moved all in for 1350.  A surprise fold next, followed by another re-push for about 2000.

The next player to act realised he had only been dealt one card and asked the dealer what happens now.  The floor came over and explained that theres’ no way it’s a do-over with all that action and he mucked his card without even looking at it.

Back to the original raiser who obviously didn’t like his spot and called a different supervisor over for another ruling on the same thing.  Just in case, I suppose.  Of course, he said the same thing – the action all stands.  "But you can play with one card if you want", he added.

Would he want to, facing three raises?  I’m actually not sure.  It’s feasible if he had a good card like a jack or queen.

However it was too late and Original Raiser realised that he could negate his positional disadvantage by getting all the chips in pre-flop and called, and four hands got flipped over for a marathon.  One of them actually had pocket kings, the rest all ace-rag and the worst one – A4, but it was sooted – spiked two fours to take it down.

After my elimination, the only game running was Omaha.  Short handed too – just five others when I joined the game – and as I’ve never played Omaha live before, this was going to be interesting.  I bought in for the minimum, sat tight, waited for the nuts and then showed it down for a 3-way chop.  Fantastic.  We all had the straight on the turn, but I was the only one with a flush redraw – does that qualify as a bad beat story in Omaha?

An American exchange student turned up wanting to play Hold’em and so the players agreed to change our game to round-of-each so he could join in.  The action was fast and furious in both games and I was glad I’d only bought in for EUR 50.  I’m actually a little more fond of the Euro now I’ve heard the Irish call it a "quid".  Take it a step further, call it a "pound" and tweak the exchange rate a little and I’m all for it.

After one player called off EUR 230 on the river with a set vs the nut straight in Omaha, he created an awesome tilt pot in Hold’em a few hands later.  Betting and raising in the dark for most of the hand against a player who flopped two pair with king-ten in the small blind, he was finally forced to look at his cards after being check-raised on the turn.  The board showed KT3A and, somehow the blind raiser had been sitting on ace-king all along for a EUR 800 pot after all the money made it to the middle.

It lasted about three rounds before we were back to just Omaha.  The token American had busted and went home, although he did last long enough to try to explain how the presidential elections work.  He must had made a good job of it too, as I actually feel like I have a clue now.  In the last hand of Hold’em I folded 35o face-up to a button raise on my big blind (realising I’d hardly played a thing and wanting to show why) only to be advised "that’s not a bad hand in a two-handed pot".  I’m not convinced – there’s only two hands it dominates, and one of them is The Powerhouse – but unfortunately it was too late to adjust my style anyway.

I carried on leaking at Omaha until my host for the trip (apparently I was there for work) joined the game, at which point I suddenly doubled up through him and then stacked him!  The most impressively bit was when my pair of kings and two spanners got there on the river on a QQ7AK board.  Hey, don’t blame me, I never pretended to know anything about this game!