Short-Handed Shootout at U.K. Poker Open

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14 January 2008, Created By: Steve Wong
Short-Handed Shootout at U.K. Poker Open
I was excited to play the 888.com U.K. Poker Open, because of the unique setup: short-handed shootouts, where only the winner of each table proceeds to the final.

I think the aggression you need for playing short-handed makes me extremely well-suited to this type of play.

Earlier this year I made it to the final table of another short-handed event, where I got eliminated by Hoyt Corkins in a way that still makes me sick when I think about it: I was on the small blind with A-K; Hoyt makes it 32K to go from the button.

I was sick and tired of his aggression, so this was the perfect moment to make a stand and show the rest of the table I am not to be messed with. I pushed all-in for a good 500K more. Hoyt thought for a couple of minutes and decided to make the call with just 9-9, but the turn and river brought no A or K.

If I had taken that pot down I would have left Hoyt crippled to just a couple of chips and would've had my first bracelet within my sights, but fate decided otherwise. I still feel Hoyt made an error there jeopardizing his whole tournament with just a wired pair of nines.

The U.K. Poker Open was held in a strange setting: a television studio near London - Maidstone, to be exact, which is about 30 miles southeast of London. 888.com let me stay at the beautiful Marriott Hotel in Maidstone, where a shuttle service to the studio made sure we could move around quickly.

There are pros and cons to playing in a TV studio. On the one hand you can fully focus on playing poker, since there is no yelling and screaming by the crowd. On the other hand the cheers of the crowd can really help you "get in the zone."

The funny thing was that it was commented on for television while we played, so altogether it was a whole new experience. I'm glad that 888.com gave me the opportunity to play in this unique format.

The 888.com U.K. Poker Open was played as a shorthanded shootout with an interesting field: good online players, mixed with live tournament players and celebrities. Only the first player of each table proceeded to the final. The runner-up of each table got a second chance in a turbo shootout in which the winner could fight his way back into the tournament.

I was seated at an interesting table:

  • Rumit Samaiya (he had a familiar face and when I said I knew him, he replied: "Yes we played the Master Classics of Poker in Amsterdam a couple of years ago, when you just started playing poker, and now you are a poker celeb.")
  • Rob Key
  • Myself
  • Christian Zetzsche
  • Stefan Ronnlund

The structure was well-thought-out: the blinds were not time-bound, but hand-bound, and levels increased every 21 hands. With 100,000 in chips, we were reasonably deep-stacked.

I busted Katharine Hartree. I held Q-K off-suit on the button and I made a raise and Katharine re-raised all in from the small blind. She hardly played a hand so I thought my hand was toast, but I had to make the call anyway because I was priced in.

To my surprise she showed J-9 and I won non-improved with K high.

At that point we were three-handed with Rumit and Zetzsche. Rumit busted Rob Key and Stefan Ronnlund, so he was chip leader, with Zetzsche the short stack. Zetzsche moved all-in on Rumit with top two; Rumit made the call because he flopped bottom two pair. That got Rumit a little steaming. He lost all his chips eventually to Zetzsche, so Zetzsche was my opponent in the heads-up battle.

I think Zetzsche feared my play a little, because he didn't want to play flops with me, while I wanted to see a lot of flops, because I thought I could outplay him. We had been playing for quite some time when I found 6-7 off-suit and moved in, but Zetzshe found K-5 and called. I didn't improve, so K-5 won the pot and Christian Zetzsche ended up as the winner of this table.

I got a second chance in the turbo shootout. I had to battle it out with:

  • James Leebody
  • Eddie Hearn (who replaced Jamie Gold, who canceled just before the event started. The funny thing was, his father, Barry Hearn, was also at this table)
  • Barry Hearn
  • James Edwards
  • Ryan Fronda

Since this was a turbo tournament (blinds increased every seven hands instead of every 21 hands), I had to make moves. Everybody folded to my small blind and with A-7 I thought an all-in move was appropriate; however, my opponent in the big blind picked up A-Q. I remained unimproved again and had to leave.

I am very happy for the opportunity 888.com gave me to play in this tournament; it was an interesting format and I hope to be back next year.

I also woud like to congratulate Andrew Feldman for winning this event.

Now that this tournament was over for me, I had to repack my stuff because the Masters Classic was about to begin. After the Masters I will play The Irish Open and then on to the other side of the globe: the Aussie Millions.

I hope I can do some serious damage Down Under...

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