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The Ulster Tatler

My ramblings on my first hesitant steps towards poker obscurity,
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This is a very exciting time of year in Ireland, with St. Patrick’s day on the 17th of March and all the fun and celebrations this brings with it.  And it has to be said that when it comes to partying the Cuchulainns won’t be found wanting.  This is also the time of year when the fighting and feuding between Maeve and me enters its annual two week truce.  For those who are not aware of her, Maeve is the queen of Connaught, the fly in my soup, the mote in my eye.  It’s her and her army that me and the lads are constantly battling against on the Ulster-Connaught border.  Many’s a time I’ve thought of banishing that woman from Ireland, but unfortunately she’s very good friends with the Mrs, and if I so much as look at her the wrong way, she tells Mrs Cuch. the next time they’re at the bingo, and it’s the doghouse for me, and I really do mean the doghouse...

So Saint Patrick’s Day is upon us again.  A lot of stories and myths have grown up around Pat (as I used to call him), and I’m sure you’ve all heard about him clearing Ireland of all its snakes, spreading the Christian faith, etc.  What’s not so well known is that when he wasn’t gathering up adders, he could be found down at the local poker club trying to gather up chips, indeed it was poker that brought him to Ireland in the first place.  Most people believe he came to spread Christianity, but don’t you swallow that one!  He really came over to play in the Dublin leg of the EPT.  It’s also never been generally recognised that it was actually his poker playing that would start all the preaching and missionary work.  I remember the night well when he was playing some of the lads up in Enniskillen, and after a particularly bad beat, he threw his arms up in despair and shouted “Jesus Christ”!!  Well... we didn’t know who this Jesus fellow was, so he told us all about him, and the rest – as they say – is history!

Pat had the makings of a good poker player too, sneaky, devious, a bit underhand at times... but he had one really bad tell: his saintly halo!  Unfortunately for Patrick, whenever he was trying to pull a bluff his halo would begin to wobble, indeed if the bluff was dodgy enough it wouldn’t just wobble... it would come crashing to the ground and go tearing across the floor!  Now even legendary heroes such as myself have our weaknesses, and reading people at the poker table is one of mine.  However even I can’t really miss something like that, I mean let’s be honest, that sort of thing... it's a bit of a give-away!  And people think saintly halos are all light and fluffy, well don’t you believe that one either!  Pat’s was made of cast iron and weighed a ton!  Many’s a poor sod had his or her ankles broken while, lost in their own game at a different table, this thing would career across the room and smash into their legs.  Playing poker was a lot more dangerous back then...

So a two weeks truce between me and Maeve means I’ll have more time on my hands to concentrate on Pokerschool.  I must confess I have neglected it lately, I’ve been a bit tight for time but hope to make up for it this coming fortnight.  I have found time for a few games at Pokerstars though, and have been having a great time!  I really do think that the few courses I have studied at Pokerschool so far are showing rewards.  Take the little Sit & Go I played in last night.  The few really good hands I got I managed to get a good return on, but for most of the game I had to sit patiently and wait for opportunities to appear.  Nevertheless, I did make it to the Heads Up and decided that, having appeared to be very tight throughout the rest of the game, I would really let rip in the closing stages.  So I went at my opponent like an Irish wolfhound, tearing into him with big raises on any hand that looked even remotely worth a call.  Indeed I would have to say I was probably too aggressive.  One hand in particular was very nearly to lead to my downfall.  Dealt 10-7 of spades, I banged in a big raise and was instantly called by the other guy.  Out came the flop... three high cards with one diamond.  Well, God hates a coward, so I raised again, only for this guy to re-raise!  Suddenly I’m in a bit of a pickle... this guy must’ve hit something or he would definitely have folded, but I’m now so heavily committed that I’m going to be crippled if I fold.  So I call and pray something comes down on the turn and river.  The turn through down another diamond which totally missed my hole cards, so I check as did my opponent.  The river produced another diamond, again giving me nothing.  Now fully prepared for second place, and with nothing to lose, I pushed all in, hoping the other guy would think I’d hit a flush...  and he did!!!  Even though I personally think he was totally pot committed having put so much in already, he folded and I went into a huge lead.  And then, he just give up, he just sat out the rest of the game and I took what was left of his stack by calling everything.  Mrs Cuchulainn thought my bluff was a masterstroke, a touch of pure genius, and I won’t bother pointing out the fact that it was a bloody bad bit of playing that forced me into having to make it in the first place.

I’ve actually done really well this week, and can’t recall any major disasters to write about, although I’m sure there were a few scattered about.  As a beginner, I’m still playing on the play money tables, and there sure are some crazy characters to be found on them.  I have to laugh at the bingo that is sometimes played on the first hand of a game, when some sort of madness seems to possess the table, and half those present go all-in??  Some of these nuts do this with total rubbish, 5-2 unsuited being one that stands out from a game a couple of days ago.  And the really annoying thing, he actually hit two pairs and knocked out three other players.  True, two of them shouldn’t have been all-in with their hole cards in the first place, but the third was on pocket Jacks, definitely the best hand of the lot on that occasion.  So having gained a 4500 chip lead, our “hero” (although with me at the table, there really wasn’t room for another one) then decides to sit out the rest of the game, hoping to get into the top three obviously.  Well his little plot failed this time, a guy from the US proposed that the final three active players would play about until the sitter was knocked out with the blinds, so he got nothing that time.  And just why are some people so crazy to get Pokerstars playmoney anyway?

Anyway, Sunday being Sunday usually sees loads of the Pros online this evening, and here’s hoping Vicky Coren (my sweetheart, but don’t tell Mrs Cuchulainn) will be on the tables and beating everyone who tries to stop her from claiming the first prize.  If Vicky isn’t online, then Liv Boeree might so I’ll be supporting her instead ( I know, I know, I’m a wee bit fickle...).

Anyway, that’s it for now.  May you hole cards always be aces (unless your playing me when 7-2 unsuited would be more than enough).  That’s an old Irish blessing introduced by St. Patrick but again, now largely forgotten.




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