It proved to be well worth the trip, as it ended up being the largest tournament in Europe's history.
Because of the ever-weakening U.S. dollar, the buy-in was the equivalent of more than $15,000. However, thanks to the booming success of the European Poker Tour, they were able to draw 842 entries for the tournament, creating a staggering prize pool of over $13 million with a first prize of $3.2 million.
There are few locations better suited for such a tournament, either.
The Monte Carlo Bay Hotel and Casino is an incredible resort with breathtaking views of the bay from each plush, luxurious terrace. But if you ever plan on going, bring plenty of cash... European luxury comes with a hefty price tag, especially in Monaco.
Their tournament room is by far the most beautiful one I've ever seen, especially when they pull back the curtains and one whole side of the room has windows overlooking the bay. It creates an effect that you rarely get to experience while playing big tournaments, since casinos tend to shy away from using windows so that you don't realize how long you've been at the table.
Although the $15k stack we started the tournament with was slightly less than most major events outside of Europe, the blind escalation was great and allowed for plenty of play.
Early in the tournament, I ran into one of those problems that you love to have. I had multiple situations where I had the nuts, or close to it, and merely had to decide the best method with which to extract chips from my opponents. As always, please feel free to reply with your opinion on how you would play the hands.
The first such situation came in the first orbit of play, so I obviously had very little info about the players. Eight-handed, with the blinds at $25/$50, the UTG player made it $125 to go. UTG+1 called. I made a loose call in middle position with J♠ T♣, and the big blind called.
Normally I wouldn't call an under-the-gun raise with J-To. But with stacks this deep, the implied odds are high and it's important to take a lot of flops and try to crack big hands and get paid.
A good example is when the flop comes J♥ 10♥ 10♦, as it did in this case. Deep down inside, I screamed, "GIN!" while acting as uninterested as possible. Unfortunately, my opponents' lack of interest seemed more genuine than mine - they all checked to me.
Although I would have liked to build the pot, it felt like a bet would take the pot down right here. I wanted an opponent to make a straight or flush on the turn, or at least pick up a draw to one. I decided to check behind.
A perfect card, the 9♥, came on the turn. The BB checked; UTG checked; UTG+1 led out for a small bet of $100 into a pot of $400. I raised to $500. The BB folded, and the UTG player proceeded to check/three-bet to $1,200. UTG+1 folded, and it was back to me.
Although there was a chance that he had turned nines full, I believed that he had most likely turned a flush. I doubted he would put the second raise with just a straight. If he had jacks full or a straight flush, I was just going to give him all of my chips and enjoy the sights that Monte Carlo has to offer!
I debated between four-betting to something like $3,200 and flat-calling. I was afraid he would be about to get away from a flush if I four-bet. I'd be missing value overall if he had a smaller full house, but I would be able to get plenty of value from both hands on a clean river. I decided to just call the $700 more, making the pot $2,900. What would you do?
The river was a terrible card, the 9♠. He thought for almost two minutes before checking to me. I bet $2,100 and he folded. After he busted out of the tournament, he asked me what I had had on this hand and told me that he had had an ace-high flush. He also said that he probably would have folded to a four-bet on the turn.
The second situation was extremely interesting, and I've gotten a wide range of opposing answers as to how it would have been best played from some of the top players in the game.
About an hour into the level, I'd pegged the UTG player as a very loose fish, mixing it up between loose-aggressive and loose-passive. The other player involved just arrived at the table, so I had no information about him.
Eight-handed, with the blinds at $25/$50, the UTG player opened for $500 (lol). The player UTG+2 said "How much is that?" to the dealer, and instantly made it $1,500 to go upon receiving the answer.
Like in a dream, I woke up with Ac-Ad immediately behind him. Effective stacks are $15k. What would you do?
Please post your opinions and I'll reply to your posts and give the result of the last hand.
-- Matt Stout
"All In At 420"
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