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Kevin Vandersmissen is the latest player to have his name written into the history books as the winner of the longest-running European-based poker tournament; the Irish Open.

Vandersmissen started the nine-handed final table, held at the Burlington Hotel in Dublin, ninth in chips and many thought, myself included, that he would get his short stack in at the very first opportunity and either double up or become the ninth place finisher. Instead he bided his time, doubled up, played an aggressive yet patient game and walked away with the title.

By the time he had doubled up two players had already been eliminated, Philip Magennis and Andy Black. Both were eliminated in the same hand where Ian Simpson opened the betting to 56,000, Thomas Beer three-bet to 140,000 and Black moved all-in for 774,000! The craziness continued as Magennis called all in for 622,000, Simpson folded and Beer snap-called! Black held AsKs, Magennis QsQd and Beer a lovely pair of aces! The board ran out 2d-7h-Kd-7c-7d and Beer saw his stack swell to a tournament leading 2,995,000 after just five hands of play.

After that double elimination there was a slow but steady stream of bust outs, though amazingly Vandersmissen was not involved in a single one right until heads-up. Canada's Sam Chartier became the seventh place finisher when he ran AsJh into Simpson's AcKd the shortly after Jordan Lewis picked up the exact same hand (AcKd) and lost to the dominated KhJd in the hand of David "Dixie" Dean when Dean flopped a jack.

Six became five when Steve Watts opened to 128,000 from under the gun at 30,000/60,000/4,000a and then called when Simpson three-bet shoved for 1,494,000. Simpson held 7h7s which was racing against the AsJd of Watts. When the board ran out 4h-8d-8s-3h-Qs Simpson's sevens had stayed in front and Watts was eliminated.

Simpson was the next player to go despite getting his chips in as a substantial favourite. He three-bet over the top of Beer's opening raise then called when Beer shoved to find his pocket tens way in front of the 8s8d of his German opponent. However his lead was short lived because the Beer flopped a set on a 6d-8c-Ah flop and stayed ahead when the turn and river were the 5c and 9c respectively.

Heads-up was set when Dean's short-stacked shove with Kh5c was called by Beer holding As9s. Calling proved to be Beer's saviour because Vandersmissen woke up with pocket aces and four-bet shoved. Beer got out of the way and when the board ran out Ks-Jd-Td-Ac-Jc the one-on-one battle could commence.

Vandersmissen lead by 5,531,000 to 4,449,000 chips and he gradually opened himself a comfortable lead and then after the following hand he found all 10,400,000 chips in his possession.

Beer min-raised on the button to 160,000 and Vandersmissen called. The pair shared a flop reading 3c-9s-4h and Vandersmissen checked. Beer continued with a 200,000 continuation bet, Vandersmissen check-raised to 480,000 then Beer made it 800,000 to play. Vandersmissen then shoved for over 7,000,000 and Beer called the all-in! Beer flipped over AcKh and needed to spike an ace or king because Vandersmissen had made top pair with 9d7c. The ace or king failed to appear, in fact Vandsermissen caught an unnecessary third nine on the river and like that the 502 entrants in the 2012 Irish Open had been reduced to just one, Kevin Vandersmissen this year's champion.

2012 Irish Open final table results

1st: Kevin Vandersmissen: €420,000
2nd: Thomas Beer: €225,000
3rd: David Dean: €158,000
4th: Ian Simpson: €107,500
5th: Steve Watts: €78,000
6th: Jordan Lewis: €59,000
7th: Sam Chartier: €44,500
8th: Andy Black: €32,700
9th: Philip Magennis: €23,000
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The Premier League came to an end yesterday in the Montesino in the heart of Vienna, Austria when the eight-handed final table of the $125,000 buy-in event was won by the American pro Scott Seiver.

Seiver is one of the most respected poker players on the circuit. He is frighteningly good at cash games and equally adept at tournament poker where he has now won more than $4,700,000 in live events including an outright win at the World Poker Tour and a World Series of Poker bracelet.

At the start of the final table, which will be shown on Sky Sports later this year, Seiver started sixth from eight in chips but he played a patient game until he found a good spot to double up and once he had a playable stack he started to turn the screw on his opponents.

That double up came in a hand that saw Tom "durrrr" Dwan eliminated. British duo Sam Trickett and Mathew Frankland had already busted out when Dwan moved all-in from under the gun for 10.5 big blinds holding Ks6h and Seiver made the call with pocket sevens. The board ran out queen-high and as Dwan left the tournament area Seiver started to stack his chips and was now a force to be reckoned with.

Tony G, Patrik Antonius and Phil "The Unabomber" Laak were all sent to the rail in relatively quick succession whcih set up a heads-up battle between Seiver and Daniel Cates, the latter better-known to the masses as "jungleman12."

The pair started almost dead even in chips, Cates with a very narrow 1,295,000 to 1,245,000 chip advantage but he soon became a 2:1 underdog when he had no answer to Seiver's constant aggression. Cates finally made an all-in bet with sevens and Seiver called with KhQs. The sevens stayed ahead right up to the river but the river was the king of spades, winning the hand and the tournament for Seiver.

PartyPoker Premier League Final Table Results

1st: Scott Seiver: $500,000
2nd: Daniel Cates: $300,000
3rd: Phil Laak: $175,000
4th: Patrik Antonius: $125,000
5th: Tony G: $100,000
6th: Tom Dwan: $80,000
7th: Mathew Frankland: $65,000
8th: Sam Trickett: $55,000
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Over the weekend 502 poker players descended on the Burlington Hotel in Dublin and exchanged €3,500 cash for 20,000 tournament chips and the chance to become the 2012 Irish Open champion. Those 502 hopefuls have been whittled down to just nine and they will sit back down at 14:00 today and play until a winner has been crowned.

Ian Simpson is the man they all have to catch, his 2,007,000 chips enough for him to start the day as a narrow chip leader; narrow because David "Dixie" Dean in second place has 1,986,000 chips. Although these two players have almost 4,000,000 of the 10,040,000 chips in their possession the eyes of the media will be on the shorter stacked players Andy Black (808,000), Samuel Chartier (582,000) and Kevin Vandsermissen (492,000).

Black is best known for his fifth place finish at the 2005 World Series of Poker Main Event that netted him $1,750,000. Then in 2007 he came third in the Aussie Millions Main Event before finishing in seventh place at the European Poker Tour Grand Final in Monte Carlo. These three results alone make up more than half of the Irishman's $4,380,254 live tournament winnings.

Canadian Samuel Chartier is another extremely dangerous player and if he can find a double up early in proceedings he will most certainly be a threat to his opponents. He has spent a lot of time in Europe recently and has had some very impressive results including a final table appearance in the €5,000 buy-in Pot Limit Omaha event at the WSOPE, and no fewer than four final table appearances in EPT side events in February alone.

Bringing up the rear is Belgium's Vandersmissen who is viewed as many as somewhat of a loose-cannon. He plays an extremely aggressive style but like Chariter, if he picks up some chips in the first level or two after the restart he will be a force to be reckoned with and could stage an epic comeback.

Each of the players has now locked up €23,000 for their efforts in this tournament and any player making it to fourth place or above will help themselves to six-figures. The eventual winner, whoever that may be, will leave Dublin with a massive €420,000 and the title of 2012 Irish Open champion.

2012 Irish Open Final Table

Seat 1: Ian Simpson: 2,007,000
Seat 2: David "Dixie" Dean: 1,986,000
Seat 3: Thomas Beer: 1,319,000
Seat 4: Kevin Vandersmissen: 492,000
Seat 5: Andrew Black: 808,000
Seat 6: Philip Magennis: 632,000
Seat 7: Samuel Chartier: 582,000
Seat 8: Steve Watts: 1,519,000
Seat 9: Jordan Lewis: 685,000
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When I first started taking poker more seriously I always used to read about professional players logging eight hour sessions and just wonder how on Earth they used to manage it because I'd be defeated after 45-60 minutes of play.

Over the years I have managed to pick up some tips that should help you to stay at the actual and virtual felt for longer.

Make Yourself Comfortable

This is one of the most overlooked areas for players, especially recreational ones. They simply sit down on the sofa, log onto their favoured poker site and start to play. Unfortunately they fail to realise that is is important to be comfortable in your surroundings because if not you will first start to fidget around, then your seat will become uncomfortable and be an unwelcome distraction from the task in hand.

It is no surprise that some of the best online poker players in the world have invested in an expensive chair, numerous monitors, gaming mice and purpose built desks. If every part of you is comfortable you are naturally going to be able to stay in that spot for longer.

Keep Hydrated

Our bodies are made up of XXX% water and therefore we need to constantly replenish the stocks. Although drinking plenty of fluids has the undesired effect of needing to go to the toilet more often (only undesired whilst you are in the middle of a poker session obviously) it is crucial to keep you focussed and to keep your concentration levels high.

Just a small drop in the levels of water in your body can make you feel hungry, lethargic and your level of concentration will wane. Regular consumption of water will do you wonders not just in poker but in everything else that you do too. By the way, if you are actually feeling thirsty then the other symptoms described will almost certainly have reared their ugly little heads.

Avoid Sugary Snacks And Caffeine

Cans of Red Bull and shots of espresso go hand-in-hand with the image of a poker player but they are actually quite a poor choice of drink if you are planning on a long poker session. Whilst it is true that the drinks mentioned will give you a short-term boost due to the effects of the caffeine, in the longer term the caffeine will dehydrate you and you will get a "caffeine crash" where once the effects of it wear off you feel even more tired.

The same goes for foods high in sugar, the crash occurs with these because your body burns the calories in them much easier and faster than other foods so you get a short, sharp burst of energy followed by a low, sinking crash. During this second phase guess what happens? Your concentration levels drop, you feel tired and continuing to play poker is one of the last things on your mind.

Keep slow energy releasing foods like nuts to hand, fruit such as bananas are great too but avoid playing shortly after a heavy, stodgy meal because it will be difficult for your body to digest and will divert blood to your stomach and away from where it is needed; your brain!

Stretch It Out

Much like if you were on a long journey you should perform a number of stretches to keep your muscles subtle and to help prevent cramp setting in and to keep the blood pumping around your body.
People naturally slump and slouch in their chairs and that can make your shoulders ache and generally be uncomfortable. Rotate your shoulders clockwise and anti-clockwise, reach above your head, stretch your arms, back, legs and calf and when the breaks do come around make sure you leave your seat even if it is only to go to the toilet and grab some more water!

As a footnote, even doing all of the above will not mean you can go from playing 30 minute bursts to suddenly be logging 12 hour sessions but they will help you take a step in the right direction. Slowly build up your playing time and you will be build up your stamina like a sports person does.

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Viktor Blom is not the kind of poker player to do things by halves. When he first burst onto the poker scene he literally appeared from nowhere and started to play the biggest names in the business for the highest stakes possible at the time. Although the $500/$1,000 games have disappeared along with Full Tilt Poker the young Swede has been more than happy to play anybody at any time.

In the past year Blom, better known to the masses as his online moniker Isildur1, has taken on all comers in his so-called SuperStar Showdown and has been successful in doing so. In the SuperStars Showdown Blom and a challenger sit down at four heads-up tables of No Limit Hold'em or Pot Limit Omaha with blinds of $50/$100 and play for 2,500 hands or until one opponent loses the $150,000 they have set aside for the match. Until this weekend Blom had faced off in 13 matches and won ten of those, the only losses he sustained were on from Daniel Negreanu and two defeats at the hands of Isaac Haxton.

Haxton is widely regarded as one of the best cash game players of his generation, if not of all time, so many questioned Blom's sanity when it was announced he would take on Haxton in $1,000,000 special edition of Blom's challenge over the weekend. The rules were slightly altered from past encounters so whilst the duo still battled it out over four tables of heads-up No Limit Hold'em the blinds were raised to $200/$400 and the hand restrictions were removed. Instead Blom and Haxton agreed to play daily four-hour sessions until one player has won the others $500,000!

But How Much Did You Lose?

There were sections of the poker community and media, myself included, that thought Blom had bitten off more than he could possibly chew and that he would soon be finding himself relieved of half of a million dollars. But poker is a funny old game and not only did Blom not lose he completely obliterated Haxton and took his $500,000 in less than three sessions spanning just 5,030 hands! His win rate for this particular challenge, according to the PokerStars Blog, was a staggering $40,000 per hour! Nice work if you can get it!

Blom ended the first day, Saturday 31 March, with a lead of $198,438 and he extended that lead to $281,365 on Sunday 1 April then last night he completed his demolition and walked away as a $500,000 winner! Blom ran extremely well throughout the challenge but it was still an impressive achievement from the young Swede.

Shortly after the match had ended Blom was asked how it felt to walk away an an emphatic winner. He replied by saying, "It feels good. It wa sa tough game. Haxton played well as usual. Maybe he played a bit too passive."

Haxton has so far declined to comment.

Blom is now 10-4 in 14 SuperStars Showdowns and is in profit to the tune of $1,034,090. Love him or hate him you cannot deny the hyper-aggressive over-betting Swede is a joy to watch.
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Soooo Sleepy

02 Apr 12 13:00
I'm writing this entry from the dizzy heights of 35,000 feet onboard a Monarch Airlines flight from Milan to Manchester having had only two hours sleep and a ridiculously stressful time in Milan airport.

The EPT Campione main event did not get finished until around 04:15 in the morning so by the time I managed to get back to my hotel and had packed my suitcase it was 05:00 before my weary head landed on the overly soft pillows with a satisfying thud. Just two hours later and I was awoken to the screech of the alarm blaring out of my mobile phone. Time to get up. Time for a quick bath. Time to head home.

I met two workmates, Chris and Mantvydas, in the lobby and checked out of my room and jumped in the pre-booked Audi estate taxi that was parked outside, buckled up my seat belt and set off on the first part of my journey.

The car ride itself was rather nondescript, most usually are, with the exception of some old giffer almost taking us out from the side; though I am sure only I saw it as Chris was having a power nap and Mantvydas simply would not have cared because if the car had crashed into the Lithuanian man-mountain it'd have come off far worse than he would have. Anyhow, we arrive at the airport in plenty of time which was great as I hadn't eaten since 19:30 the night before and that, mixed with the severe lack of shut eye was making me feel like the proverbial bear with a sore head not to mention a little ill. At least being early meant we could check in then go grab some food and possibly an hour's kip. Unfortunately, on top of the 05:00 finish I was going to run bad at the airport too.

The queue for our single check-in desk was humongous, massive, gargantuan. Ok that may be somewhat of an exaggeration but it was a big line of people lacking in common sense that simply was not moving. Chris and I must have stood in the same spot for literally half hour before we were able to advance forward a suitcase width. Over an hour passed and then just as we neared the desk they had the bright idea to open a second and third desk, just as the queue was almost dealt with. LOL Italianments! At least that should have be it for all the queuing, time for food. Notice how I wrote "should have" because it wasn't, the waiting was far from over.

As we headed towards our gate, B by the way, we were greeted with an even larger line of people that was meandering through the vast hall, all waiting for their hand baggage to be scanned. This actually progressed faster than I had envisaged so I can't really complain I suppose but it is so tilting to queue up (which I absolutely hate) for over an hour only to be greeted by an even larger mass of people. Once I had out my belt back on so that the scores of Italians did not have to see my arse first thing in the morning Chris and I headed to another largish room and guess what's we did? That's right. We queued for another 15-20 minutes to get through passport control.

Once through there we had plans of grabbing something quick to eat but our Italian friends do not know the concept of quick so we swerved it and headed to Gate B where there was another f&*king queue! Aarrgghh!

I had my boarding card scanned but the shuttle bus was nowhere to be seen so we were ushered past the desk to a little, more cramped area to stand and wait, I mean seriously WTF dude. Eventually the bus turned up and our pony tail sporting driver got us to the big iron bird in a time Lewis Hamilton would have been proud of. How we got off the ground with the turd that was lodged in my sock I'll never know. I did have a bit of run good though because I had completely forgotten about booking extra legroom so I am able to stretch out, though this seat is über uncomfortable on my ass cheeks. However, my happy thoughts were soon replaced with cries of FML as the captain tells us, 20 mins after we're meant to be airborne, that we are delayed. Really. We finally took off at 45 minutes later than expected, had a bit of turbulence, I paid €10.30 for a bacon pannini, four finger Kit Kat and cup of coffee, bargain. Not the greatest food I've ever shoved down my face but it's done the job and woke me up quite a bit.

We only have around 20 minutes of this flight left now before we land in Manchester and I swear to. God my bloody bag better have made this flight otherwise I will almost certainly have to kill someone. Possibly myself. Then there is the train ride home which is notoriously jam packed on a Sunday so I wil be heading straight to First Class, hopefully with suitcase in tow, to upgrade my ticket so that I actually have a seat to sit in.

This little rant has gone on for longer than expected so I'll cut it short there and finish the second leg of my journey when I get home and have sampled some proper sized coffee. I am planning on playing in the weekly APAT game and the first of the low French SCOOP events but I reckon by the time I get home playing poker is going to be the last thing on my mind, but we'll see.

Thanks for listening to my rant, I'll be more cheerful next time out I promise!

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**Late edit** Nobody had to die because my suitcase made it to Manchester and I managed to upgrade to first class as expected. I completely missed both poker tournaments though as I was tucked up and fast asleep in bed for 1915!
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The European Poker Tour Campione Main Event is heading towards a thrilling conclusion after the 99 players who returned to the Casino di Campione yesterday afternoon were whittled down to the final 24 in the competition. The man who is the chip leader going into the penultimate day's play is Jannick Wrang.

When play resumes this afternoon Wrang will be the man to catch, his 1,742,000 chips enough to see his name displayed at the top of the chip counts and if past history is anything to go by then there is every chance he will be the name written into the history books as the eventual champion.

Just a few weeks ago Dane Mickey Petersen lifted the winner's trophy at EPT Copenhagen then just a matter of days later his fellow countryman Frederik Brink Jensen won EPT Madrid and now Wrang, also Danish, has the chance to make it a hat-trick of wins for Denmark.

If he is to go all the way in Campione he is going to have to navigate his way through some very talented players indeed, none more so than the man who starts the day second in chips Fabrice Soulier. The Frenchman, ranked 26th on the Global Poker Index, will un-bag and re-stack 1,230,000 chips when play gets underway and he is certainly a major threat to Wrang's dreams of becoming an EPT champion. Soulier saw his stack dwindle during Day 3 but he won a massive pot late in the day when his ace-ten spiked a hand-winning ace to crack Alexandre Andermatt's pocket queens to push himself over a million chips.

Other notable players in the field include Olivier Busquet who you may know better as livb12, the first player to have $1,000,000 profit from heads-up sit n' go tournaments. Busquet already has a World Poker Tour title and will be going all out to add an EPT to his already impressive CV. The articulate Busquet starts the day with a stack of 973,000, enough to place him seventh and certainly within striking distance of the current leader.

Other players to keep an eye out include Belgium's Koen De Visscher (858,000), David Vamplew (747,000) and Balazs Botond (646,000). Vamplew has a realistic chance of becoming the first-ever double EPT champion, something nobody has done in almost eight full seasons of the long-running tour whilst Botond is an unknown to most of those in the field but is ranked just outside the top 100 players in the world for online poker tournament play and has shown he knows his way around the table on more than one occasion this week.

Play gets underway at precisely 14:00 CET and will continue until the eight-handed final table has been decided. Who will make it and who will fall by the wayside? Only time will tell but ensure you join us tomorrow for a full recap of the action from the EPT Campione main event.

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When only 178 players exchanged €5,300 for 30,000 during Day 1a of the Campione leg of the European Poker Tour we just knew that Day 1b would be a monster sized field in comparison; and we were not wrong.

Yesterday a bumper crowed of 392 players descended and what we are told is the largest casino in Europe, made their way to the ninth floor and took part in the main event. The man who ended the day with his name displayed at the top of the chip counts was Nicolas Chouity.

Chouity, pronounced Shweety, shot to fame in 2010 when he bested one of the toughest fields ever assembled, the EPT Grand Final. On that occasion he finished first from 848 players, each of whom had paid €10,000 to play, and he walked away with the title, the trophy and the massive first place prize of €1,700,000! Should Chouity, who ended the day with 165,800 chips (enough for third place overall), go all the way in Campione he will add a further €640,000 to his already massive winnings total.

The Lebanese pro always seemed to have a large stack of chips in front of him the the moment the tournament started but it was two clashes with Vanessa Selbst that saw him catapulted to the top of the counts and send a disappointed Selbst to the rail. The first hand saw him flop the world with an open-ended straight draw and a spade flush draw to boot, the latter hit on the turn and he was paid off by his American opponent who from the table talk suggested she had a set. Then towards the end of the day Selbst was seen on the rail and overheard saying she six-bet Chouity whilst holding jack-nine but the hand she was trying to represent, pocket aces, were in Chouity's possession all the time! Ouch.

Another player who ended Day 1b strongly was Andrea Benelli who bagged and tagged 163,400 chips at the close of play, a total that will see him start fourth in chips when play resumes at 14:00CET this afternoon. To pay Benelli a major complement would be to say although he is Italian he does not play like one! He always looks cool and composed, has a solid game and can make moves when he needs to and now he is well-stacked he is most certainly in with a chance of becoming only the second-ever Italian EPT Champion.

Other players who managed to navigate through the minefield of Day 1b include a whole host of well-known faces such as a British quartet of former EPT champions in the shape of Toby Lewis, Liv Boeree, David Vamplew and Rupert Elder whilst the likes of Patrik Antonius, Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier and Eugene Katchalov are also still in the mix.

When play does get underway this afternoon there will be a total of 325 players in the vast tournament area. By the time play comes to an end, after what could be seven 75-minute levels, there will probably be around half of that but they will still be some way from the money bubble; which bursts when the 89th place finisher is decided.

There is still a lot of poker to be played in this tournament so make sure you tune in tomorrow to find out who has made it through to Day 3 and who did not.

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On The Road Again

26 Mar 12 07:46
Playing poker has taken somewhat of a back seat this past week as I just haven't really had the urge to log ona nd splash some chips around on the virtual felt and this week I probably won't get the chance either because I am on the road again, reporting on the Campione leg of the European Poker Tour.

Over the last seven days I have played no tournaments at all and only around 200 hands of cash games, as I say I just haven't felt like it. One of the reasons is because I have too much choice in what I can play now and that is something pretty new to me. Usually I only have a small bankroll online and that itself dictates what I can play but after my big win the other week a whole new range of games have become available to me and I guess I am a little spoiled for choice.

That said I am actually in a tournament as I type this blog post up, the APAT Online League. It is a $11 buy-in tournament that attracts between 300-500 runners and is a good laugh to play in. As you would expect from a game pitched at amateur players the standard of play is quite laughable but they're a friendly bunch and love poker; what more can you ask for. I've managed to cash in the first two weeks so hopefully I'll make a hat-trick of cashes tonight from my Swiss-based hotel.

What have I been up to since my last update? Hmmm. Well, I still have not had an alcoholic drink which I think is pretty immense and this has lead to me losing just shy of seven pounds in weight thought that is likely to be put back on as I have just polished off a 200g packet of chocolate peanuts! Ever since I gave up beer I have developed a sweet tooth, it's real;y strange because it happened to my mate Lee Davy too when he stopped. There must be something in beer that stops you wanting sweets or something.

I've also treated myself to a new iPad with my winnings and early indications say it's pretty awesome. I've hardly put it through its paces yet but I have tried to blog with it and it works and I have a nifty writing app that cost just £0.69 hat works like a dream and I am planning on using it at some point on this trip for some live reporting. It would be pretty cool to not have to leave the tournament floor in order to write up hands and get chips counts etc. OK, it wouldn't be cool at all, it'd be completely geeky and nerdy but whatever, that's cool in my book! I've got a remote desktop app installed that will allow me to play Betfair Poker from my new toy but come on Betfair get a dedicated app built please than I can basically do away with my laptop!

Actually that's a lie because I'd need my trusty workhorse to run Football Manager 12! Before I headed off to the airport I started a new season with lowly Grimsby Town, why I am not sure but I have nonetheless. I have no money to spend, hardly any decent players and naff all to spend on wages but hopefully my tactical genius will help the Mariners no end and I can get them back into League football again. Have you heard me? Jesus.

In fact I think on that note I will leave it there and maybe the poker gods will reward me with some playable hands in this APAT game. Probably not but here's hoping!

As always, thanks for reading and best of luck on the pitch, sorry at the felt!
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When a poker player enters a tournament they envisage themselves being armed with so many chips that they can play any way they want and even if they make a mistake it will have no lasting effect whatsoever on their chances of winning.

For the most part this never happens and players often find themselves sat there with between 15-20 big blinds and without a clue how to play with such a stack. Most people are aware that once their stack reaches 10 big blind then they basically only have one move in their arsenal and that is to move all-in or fold but what about 15 big blinds? Or 18 big blinds or 20 big blinds? What do you do with this stack? The answer, like most matters poker related is it depends.

In my recent deep run in the Grand Series of Poker (GSOP) Grand Slam I found myself with a stack of between 12-20 big blinds for the last 90-120 minutes I was in the event, which actually helped me somewhat because it is quite easy to play this stack size as it takes a lot of the skill out of the equation. You are no longer looking to play post-flop poker any more simply because you cannot afford to raise, be called, miss the flop then have to fold. Your remaining chips are just too precious, if they are lost then your tournament is over.

Observation Is Vital

When your stack size starts to dwindle and you find yourself sliding towards to dreaded 10 big blinds mark then you need to be even more aware of your own image and how your opponents have been playing too. If you have a completely crazy image then anything you open-shove 10-20 big blinds deep is going to be snapped off so you need to tighten up your shoving range but if you have a tight image you can get away with pushing a slightly wider range; but don't make it too wide.

In the aforementioned GSOP tournament I was down to 15 big blinds and had been dealt KcQc under the gun. Over the past hour or so I had hardly played a hand so anyone observing my play will have pegged me as a complete nit! We were also nearing another jump in the payouts and the table had not been calling off too lightly. All of this bundled together equalled one thing -shove! Nobody called and I picked up the substantial blinds and antes.

Later in the tournament I found myself in a similar situation except this time I had KsQs in the cutoff with a stack of 17 big blinds. Now instead of moving all-in when the action folded to me I simply made my standard raise. "But why?" I hear you ask; because the players and scenario had changed somewhat. For the past four or five orbits the only move I had made was all-in so my standard raise of twice the big blind should have set alarm bells ringing, especially with my stack size. Also, the big blind had started to show a tendency for three-betting on a regular basis so my raise made with the intention of calling off the rest of my chips if and when he came over the top of me. Unfortunately he opted to just call this time and we lost a few more chips when I hit a king on the river only for villain to show me Kh9h having flopped a nine and rivered the same king. Maybe if he'd been dealt Kh10h he would have come over the top and we'd have been in a great position to double up.

The next time you are short-stacked at the table try not to panic and if need be and a good spot does not crop up before the blinds hit you then don't just shove any two cards under the gun, pay the blinds and hope for a better spot during the next orbit. Yes it means you are more likely to be called and it also means that if you do double up then your stack is not as substantial but I would rather be moving all in with any two cards for seven big blinds with just the blinds to act than shoving 10s6c from under the gun with nine opponents to act just because I had 9 or 10 big blinds
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