Being a first timer to manila I was quite excited about travelling to a new city, trying out the local cuisine, playing a PokerStars live series, playing in a new environment with players never encountred before and more significantly to test our abilities and see if we have progressed with our game from our last visit to Macau and use this experience to learn and improve going into future events.
I remember after checking in the hotel we briskly were off to the tournament venue ‘City of Dreams’ casino to register for the opening event and I was trying hard to contain my excitement and not make it obvious:) IT was a 10k php warm up 1mil guaranteed event which had a decent structure and superb value, the day ended fine bagging around 28bbs into day 2, we played solid giving us enough time to get a feel of the table before making plays and steered clear of awkward spots. Day 2 started off great and we ran our stack to over 35bbs, it was 10 away from the money and after playing aggressively and running up our stack with a no showdowns we get it in pre with KK against a Taiwanese guy who covers us rolls over AA. And we bust just short of the money.
Well, On to the next one we register just in the nick of time before the registration ends of the 2k php rebuy, motivated and playing in the zone we were building a good stack from the get go and with down to 2 tables we were amongst top 5 stacks, the stacks were shallow and the average stack was around 18bbs when 13 were left, we had around 20 bbs when a small blind big stack player shoves allin folded to him and we pick up AQ in big blind and call off he shows down 56ss and hits a straight we lose a significant pot busting in 13th to bubble and contributing to 12 smiles who made the money. We were gutted to get close twice in a day and get out in this fashion but it wasn’t tilting as much as we had been playing well throughout the day.
The following day there were 2 events the 2.5k KO bounty and the 5k freezeout. In the 2.5 KO bounty we busted in level 5 when we reshoved 14bbs with AJ to a opener who showed down AK. We made a run in the next 5k freezeout assisted with a few good table draws, 25 places paid we made the money with a decent stack and with 2 tables remaining and 3 Indians still in and we had a good sweat going with Dhaval Mudgal on my table and Rohit Bhalla on the other. We busted in 16th place where we got it in pre with KK against 1010 and the opponent managed a straight. Rohit Bhalla finished 13th and dhaval in 2nd, just short of the title for India in the series.
I was contemplating on skipping the 25k 6max event the next day and taking a day off as we were almost half way through the series and the events we had chosen to play where on back to back days there after but we went for it and registered to the event and dabble in the 6max format live after quite some time. I am overall comfortable with my 6max online game but with no information on players we weren’t very active early on and played smallball and worked on picking up tells observed player moods and after setting a good table image decided to opened up our game a bit more and expanded our playing ranges against weaker players and didn’t open too wide into the tougher opponents in big blinds and tried to keep it uncomplicated. 18 players made day 2 with 15 paid, and entering day 2 I didn’t sleep that well with all the anxiety especially with the memory of bubbling the opening events was still fresh in my mind. Sameer Rattonsey a fellow mumbaikar made day 2 also and was playing pretty solid, we both made the money and were going well until sameer got out 12th. I made the final table which was 7 handed and my first on Asian soil,it was special but sadly short-lived as we got it in with AK pre against a player who calls our allin from BB holding KQ, for a pot which would have got me back in this tournament with 3rd in chips but we had to settle for a 7th place finish which I was happy with but just cant help but wonder sometimes of the sweat wich cold have been..
The following day was the main event and there was a buzz of the numbers crossing 500 and it did not disappoint as eventually after the combined flights there were 585 players entrants in total with a huge price pool with over 6Million php up top for it. We played the Day1A flight, where the day would end at level 9 with blinds at 600/1200. The starting stack of 20000 was big enough to allow a lot of play and comfortable for recreational players and regs alike. We ran up our stack to 50k in the 3rd level of play and maintained it till Level 9, just 20 minutes we misplayed a hand looking back where we raised with JJ and after picking up 3 callers we face a 3.5x 3bet from this Estonian player in the big blind, now the mistake was instead of 4bet shoving against that very opponent (who was on his 5th or 6th glass of white wine) we flatted and folded his open shove on the flop of Q103, we still had 30k in chips which was still not bad but we lose a allin soon after holding JJ again against AJ who clips and A on the flop, left with 9k in big blind we shoved to a CO open with KQ he has AK and we bust some 10 minutes before end of days play in 3 hands, super tilted especially because we made a mistake in game.
The concluding 2 events were the 25k megastack and the 15k KO respectively.
The 25 megastack had a great structure, I got decent table draw in the initial few levels where we chipped up from the starting stack of 30k to about 37k where I was moved to a table which looked more like a home game with dhaval, Madhav Gupta, Aditya Sushant. There was more of chatter than poker during that time and we were all playing quite standard except Aditya Sushant who was mixing it up. We lost a pot to dhaval a few orbits in where we raise utg + 1 with A10ss and dhaval on my left 3 bets we peel probably a mistake as his 3betting range against us is pretty tight anywho the flop brings KJ4 with a gutshot and backdoor hearts , we check and dhaval bets close to 30% pot we call and turn went check-check and we bricked the river and check folded to his river bet. Another hand where we lost chips was where UTG+1 active player raises, gets a caller we are in high jack and we lookdown at AQo and 3 bet around3.2x to get it in with the UTG+1 and to possibly fold to the flat caller if he decides to come over the top, unexpectedly we get cold 4bet from a tightish player from big blind which ended the hand. A few orbits later we got into a big hand where we call an allin on the river and the opponent turns over AA. Except for the initial boost nothing much went our way maybe we played this one a bit spewy and a few pointers to take from this one but was fine with my game overall.
The last event was the 15k KO and had a fast paced structure, we never picked up any hands and grinded down to 14bbs where folded around CO active player limps, on btn we have A5 and decided to shove 14bbs here as thought we had enough fold equity as the limper with a weak range never gets the right pot odds to call and we were playing tight to get folds a lot here and we chip up to close to 18bbs with dead money, now the big blind goes into a tank he was a good player and after much deliberation re-shoves around 20 bbs, the limper folds and the good player had A9 a little too thin but it worked out for him and it held to knock us out.
Overall I was happy with what manila had to offer with variety in food and great value for money staying options, met a lot of elite players through the series and I did manage to try out some authentic oriental food, loved it.
Playing throughout the series made me re-evaluate my game wider, into make some adjustments in certain spots I came across and confident about some plays I have been working on with Pocarr, all n all its work in progress.
Our return flight was on the 10th of august giving us a day to be at home and reach goa for the India Poker Championship (IPC) series which starts on the 11th. I land goa on the 12th to play the entire series from the 5k freezeout onwards.
As expected IPC didn’t disappoint neither with numbers nor structures and the success was evident with all the hardwork put in by the entire IPC crew.
With the usual 5k, 10k, 30k and 10k Sunday variant schedule, there was a high roller event added to the schedule which brought in a lot of buzz. Ofcourse, the 5k and 10k shattered guarantees the main event too was the biggest yet held on Indian soil.
We busted quite early on in the 5k and 10 event. In the 5k, we started off with the starting stack of 5000, we won a small pot early on but were quite card dead throughout, at blinds of 200/400 we shove a7o folded to us in CO with 4700 in chips and guy behind picks up KK and get out. In the 10k freezeout, I open from utg+1 to 225 with JJ at blinds 50/100, guy after me calls and a aggressive player 3bets to 750, folds to us we 4bet to 2450 eff stacks 8k (not wanting to repeat the mistake we had made in the appt main in a similar spot against an aggressive opponent), the caller folds and aggressive opponent flats, the flops brings 832 and we have an almost potsized bet left behind and we get it in and the aggressive player tables 88 for a set and we get out in the 2nd level even before we get chance to call for service.. It was the biggest 10k held in goa crossing the previous number of 307 to 319
The next day was the high rollers and we really wanted to make it count and add some POY points with this bigger buyin. There were 140 runners for the event which more than doubled the guarantee. We started of picking up small pots to increase our stack and later got a big double up with AA against KK, at last we were on the good side of a cooler situation! We made day 2 with more than 30bbs and about 6th in chips overall, with about 15 people paid and 18 making day 2, surprisingly the bust outs came in quick and we were in the money in about first half and hour of play. Reaching the final table of this one was quite a grind and the stacks began to get shallow as the play slowed down quite a bit when 12 people were left, after about an hour or so we reached the final table with the shortest stack. In the very first hand utg opens and utg+1 we shove 12bbs with 88, the player in big blind rejams and the initial raiser calls making it a 3 way allin with 88 vs AK vs AK, we win that hand and now am about 4th in chips. After a few more levels and 6 left, we lose a couple of key hands to bring us down to 16bbs and in a hand later we defend a CO open with Q9ss and the flop comes Q82, action goes check-check, the turn brings in 5 and we shove snap calls us with KQ for a better kicker. And we leave this one in 6th place, happy with the result but a few more spots would have done a world of good as the prize jumps where huge.
The 30k main event was underway and I quickly register into it and enter at the 3rd level of play which was fine. At blinds of 150/300 utg + 2 shoves for 4500 folded to us in small blind we call with AJ and the short stack had K9ss, we lose that pot and are down to 10500, we were looking for good reshove spots but wasn’t picking up any hands and didn’t want to get it in bad as doubling from 20bbs to 40bbs was huge in such a structure. After a few more blind levels at 400/800 we had 8600 in chips, a good aggressive player opens from HiJack and we have 89o in big blind and we defend, the flop brings in A96, and get it in with 10bbs and the opponent tabled A6 for 2 pair.
The last event of the series was the greed event, with the bounty dynamic and shallow stacks the play was fast paced in this one, at the 6th blind level we reshoved a 10bb shove with A10 from Hijack we had about 16bbs and the player in big blind calls with AQ, KJ vs A10 vs Aq, and we get out with no bounties.
It is always like playing at home whenever you are in Goa so it didn’t feel like a long time away from home but has been a hectic schedule the last 20 days nonetheless. A lot of Indian regs are off to Macau for the Red dragon and I have to skip the event due to other commitments but I wish them well and lets hope this time we get a spadie home.