Friday, September 03, 2004

Speed Poker in Estonia

I've never been to Estonia before. I've never played speed poker before either, so I cancelled my trip to the Hamptons for the weekend to play in the World Speed Poker Championships Satellite on Party Poker, this Saturday at 6:15 pm EST.

I won a $9 + $1 qualifier Thursday morning. I outlasted thirty other players and won a seat to the upcoming $200 + $15 satellite. The winner of that will get an all-expense-paid package for the World Speed Poker Championships to be held in Tallinn, Estonia in mid September. For every 25 entries in Saturday's satellite, Party Poker will be giving away a seat. The last few of these satellites had about 40-50 players. Party Poker gave away one seat and paid out cash to places two through four.

When I told my brother that I won a seat in the satellite, he said, "You'll enjoy Estonia. It's beautiful this time of year."

Welcome to Estonia!

This is the third time I won a Qualifier to a satellite. Last April I won two qualifers for the WPT Championships at the Bellagio... and grinded my way to 12th in one of the satellites, missing my shot at a WPT seat by nine places.

You'll know where I'll be on Saturday at 6:15. I'm gunning for a trip to a country I would never have dreamed about visiting. These satellites are always a crap shoot. But, I am looking forward to the opportunity for solid competition against some decent players.

Here's the tournament's website: World Speed Poker Championships. It explains what the hell speed poker is all about. Here's a bit:
In a nutshell - it's a poker tournament where the clock never ever stops running. The dealer deals and starts the 15 second player clock when the action is on you No time to think about all the possibilities or your hand is declared dead when the 15 second bell rings!!!

If that doesn't scare you - how about this? They have 2 dealers for every table - one to shuffle and one to deal. Hand rate is expected to hit 50 hands an hour, and it gets better!!!!

Did we mention what the "player countdown clocks" look like? Well you are going to love the look!!! 15 of the sexiest looking young girls in Estonia have been signed up to stand behind the players and hold the time clock. If that is not enough to put you off your game we don’t know what is.
For the satellite on Party Poker, it's just like a regular NL tourney... no shot clock, or a scantly clad Estonia beauty taping me on the shoulder shouting, "Faster, Dr. Pauly! Faster!"

I wonder if this is all a set up by the Estonian mafia? When we get there, they are going to drug us, then rob us of our kidneys and other vital organs for sale on the Russian black market.

So how did I win the Qualifier? I treated the 30 person tourney like a three table SNG. Recently, I had some experience playing three table SNGs, winning a 3 table $30 SNG once, and making the money in several $5 ones. The key to winning in three table tournaments is tight play in the opening rounds, then the ability to switch gears as soon as the tables get shorthanded, to jump into the fight and aggressively attack pots and steal blinds. And you must strike quick before someone gets KOd and the tables break and the empty seats are filled. Just before the tables break up (from 3 to 2 and from 2 to 1) there is often an extended amount of time when you quickly go from nine players to five players at your table. Being able to adjust your style of play on the fly is often a necessary factor in winning. Overall, well-rounded play is rewarded. The ability to play your best poker at a full table and a short handed table is a valuable asset. If you make the final table in one of these three table SNGs, you'll go through two periods of shorthanded play. That's the time to loosen up and play a lot more hands in late position. I also never limp in those situations, raising with almost every premium hand and even some marginal ones from any position. It's a great opportunity to add to a big stack or help replenish a thin short stack.

Levels 1-4: Basically, I folded everything. I won pots with AQs and AKs. I doubled up against K4o with suited Slick against a guy who played any ace, king, or two suited cards. I flopped a set with 55 and won a race with a guy who was on a flush draw. I only lost one hand (77 to K2) and it was a bad beat on the river. When it got shorthanded, I played a lot of hands in late position, often stealing pots with nothing after everyone checked on the flop. By the end of the fourth level, I was 2nd in chips out of 11 remaining players with T3760.

Levels 5-6: At the end of level 5, I made the final table and was happy to be third in chips. I decided to sit back and slow down. I folded everything in sight. The chip leader had a 3 to 1 advantage over me, and I was in 3rd place! I nearly doubled up against 10-9s. I had AQs and caught a miracle straight on the river to win and knocked out a guy. A few hands later, I took down KJs with AJs. With T9400+ I was second in chips with four players left.

Level 7: I thrive on three handed play, mainly because I think I'm the strongest when I'm heads up, and I'm eagerly awaiting to see who I'll go up against. I'll test players at that point to see how they'll react later on when it's heads up. Do they fold to raises or play back wiith a reraise? Do they slowplay hands? With AA on the button, I popped the pot for a ridiculous size bet. The big stack pushed me all in with 45s! I called and doubled up. I had T19,880 and was the new chip leader. When it got heads up, I had a 2 to 1 chip lead which I almost increased to 3 to 1 after I bombarded the guy with plenty of position raises. He folded everytime. The one time he played back at me, I had 55. I called his all-in and I was fucked because he showed 66. A five flopped! But my celebration was short-lived when a six spiked on the turn. The chip lead was gone. At the end of the level, I had 17k to his 13k.

Level 8: I won a pot with AKs to get back a 2 to 1 chip lead. A few hands laer I found suited Big Slick again. I slowplayed and I just called his small raise preflop. When an ace hit on the flop, I moved all-in. He called with A4 and he never caught up. He won $22.50 for his troubles. I won a seat at the satellite.

OK, that's how it happened. Log into Party Poker Saturday early evening if you want to sweat me. Look under the Special Tournament tabs: Speed Poker Championships Satellite $200 + $15. See you there.

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