Hello everyone! I’m Jamie Flynn and I recently won the 2011 Student Masters tournament. PaddyPower asked if I would write a blog detailing my experiences from the Student Masters and of course I was more than happy to oblige.
The first time I’d heard about the Student Masters was before Christmas. Apparently, it was going to be a €100 event solely for students. The idea sounded good and it looked like it was going to be a tournament I’d probably play in. One day after Christmas however, I was chatting away to someone and he mentioned that PaddyPower were adding an Irish Open ticket to the prize pool. A €12,000 prize pool and PaddyPower decides to add an extra €3500 to it. All of a sudden, this went from a probable-play-tournament to an absolutely must-play tournament.
So the day of the tournament rolls around and I get off to a fantastic start. I miss two trains and manage to arrive in the Collussus club an hour late. Thankfully, due to the fantastic structure, this was only a minor inconvenience. I sit down at my first table and get off to a smooth start winning a few hands uncontested. My first big pot comes when UTG min raises. I flat call with the 4c5c. The flop comes Ac3c7c, giving me a flush, and a double gutshot to a straight flush. UTG bets out, I raise, and he pushes. I take a moment to just confirm to myself that I do want to put my chips in this early when I could conceivably be drawing to 2 outs. But of course, I do call. He turns up the KcKd and thankfully, the turn and river blank out and I’m up to 25k.
The next 2hrs or so are a bit of a blur poker-wise as I was concentrating more on watching Ireland deny England a grand slam. I saw that Paul O’Connell was 50-1 to score the first try in that match, so it had crossed my mind that morning to lob 70 euro on POC and hope he won me my Irish Open ticket. Fortunately, I didn’t put the bet on, and fortunately, Tommy Bowe scored Ireland’s first try (and fortunately, I still managed to win my Irish open ticket). Just as the match was finishing, I moved table.
The first big hand I pick up there is AK in EP. The blinds were around 300-600 and I raise about 1800 in EP and the C/O pushes for 7.5k. The C/O was another Limerick player so I think his line looks extremely strong. Despite this, I just couldn’t justify mucking AK, so I call and he obviously turns up aces. The aces hold and I drop down to 18k. I slowly chip back up to around 24k before the blinds reach 400-800.
Cue the rush.
It folds around to the C/O who makes it around 2200 on my BB. Before I look at my hand, I figure there’s a decent chance I’m going to 3-bet here. I look down and see aces. If I was going to 3-bet with nothing, I suppose it’s good poker to make the same 3-bet with aces! So I reraise to 6k. He insta-ships and I obviously call. He turns up A9. The aces hold up despite a bit of a sweat as the A9 picked up a flush draw on the turn. At first glance, it looks like a horrible play with the A9, but tbh, I’d never be too critical of someone for being over-aggressive. After all, I was going to 3-bet light there, and his play would’ve worked most of the time! A few hands later, I pick up 77. I raise to 2000 and the BB calls. The flop comes 753. BB checks. I bet out and again he insta ships. Easy game. He turns up A8 and thankfully he’s drawing dead by the turn.
From here, I build my stack up to around 120k. We’re now down to about 30 players from the 127 that started. The next big hand I play starts in typical fashion as I raise utg with 5d6d. The player utg+1 makes a small reraise. It folds back to me. The reraise is small, I have a big stack, a well disguised hand, and with the blinds and antes in there, I’m getting very attractive pot odds. Because of the extra small raise, I’m really thinking he has a huge hand here, kings, but more than likely, aces. So I call and the flop comes 567. I know, I’m running a bit above average. I check and he bets out. I make an overbet and shove it all in. I’m representing a straight draw and if he does indeed have aces, it’s very tough for him to lay it down. He calls and turns up….wait for it….aces. So if I win this pot, I have about 15% of the total chips in play, with 30 players left. However, the inevitable 7 drops on the turn and I’m drawing to 4 outs. I lose this pot but I’m still left with a double average stack. I manage to build my chips back up to around 120k without really having to show a hand. Time goes by and the bubble is approaching.
At this stage, we’ve been playing for 12 hours straight. I’m on the right side of any all-in pots I play at this point in the tournament, with AK v AJ, KK v QQ and KK v AJ all holding up. There was one interesting hand at this point that wasn’t just all-in pre-flop. The blinds were 800-1600. I made is 4100 from MP with 66 and the button called as did the BB. The flop comes K56 with two hearts. The BB checks. Betting out is probably the standard play since there are two hearts, but I decide to play it a bit differently and check. The button also checks. The turn is the perfect 5s. The BB bets out 6k here. I was quite impressed with the BBs game as he seemed to be a pretty decent player. The 6k bet here can mean several things. It can be a cheap bluff hoping to pick up the pot, an information bet with a pocket pair, or it can be trying to buy a cheap river card with a flush draw. Whatever it is, I think calling in position is definitely the best play. The river comes a blank and he bets out 6k again. This definitely looks to be a blocker bet looking for a cheap showdown. I make a reraise to around 23k. From his point of view, it basically looks like I’ve the nuts or a busted flush draw. After a long, long deliberation, he calls. He told me after he had TT which makes sense.
There are now two tables left and we are playing shorthanded. The bubble is upon us with 13 players left and 12 getting paid. At this point, I’m 1st or 2nd in chips with my stack fluctuating around the 200-230k mark (average is about 100k). Rumour has it that Paddy Power himself was watching at home on the live online stream. He couldn’t handle the tension of the bubble anymore, so he rang the Jackpot directly and instructed them to award a €220 ticket to 13th place. With that, the bubble was, technically, burst.
Play from here to the final table was quite slow. I’m raising slightly more than my fair share of pots, but generally speaking, there aren’t many flops being played, and most times there is a flop, a continuation bet takes it down.
We are on the final table bubble and playing 5 handed when I pick up AQ. Utg raises and I 3 bet. He shoves and I’m priced in. He turns up QQ. Before the board comes out, I’m thinking even if I lose this pot, I’ll still be 2nd in chips with a well above average chip stack. I’ll still be in good shape and still have a great chance at winning the tournament. However, no need to sweat it, I obviously get lucky and bink the ace. No matter how good are you, in tournament poker, you need hands like these if you’re going to win the tournament. This knocks out the 10th place player meaning we’re going to the final table with me having over 25% of the chips in play.
We’ve been playing about 14 hours now and the first final table elimination occurred when 99 and JJ got it all in preflop. The 9 came on the flop and unfortunately we lost our first player from the final table in pretty sick fashion. For me, the final table wasn’t too eventful. Most of the pots I played were relatively small, and I was content at slowly building my chips up. We lost 4 players fairly quickly (the only showdown I played was with my 77 holding up against KQ) and were down to 4-handed. With 4 left, play slowed a little bit. I was chip leader for all of 4 handed play, and the player to my right, Gary, was in 2nd. The other two, Johnno and Neal, were fluctuating between 3rd and 4th. Eventually, Neal got eliminated in 4th when his Ks7s ran into my A5 and Johnno went out when he pushed all in into Gary’s BB with A7 and ran into Gary’s aces. They were both fairly short stacked, so both are typical enough hands for this stage in a tournament. That left me and Gary heads up, with me holding a 800k-425k chip lead.
At this point, we decided to take a break and discuss the possibilities of a deal. 1st prize was €3000 plus an Irish Open ticket (worth €3500) and 2nd prize was €2400. Assuming the IO ticket is worth €3500 cash, a split based exactly on chips would have me getting €5100 and Gary getting €3800. We talked and deliberated a bit and decided on a deal. I was to get the €3500 ticket and €1500 cash, and Gary was to get €3800 cash. Playing poker for 17 hours straight did take a bit of a toll, so perhaps I wasn’t at my bargaining best. My main concern was to come away the Irish Open ticket, and I did that. If I had played on and not come away with the ticket after being so close, quite frankly, I would’ve been crushed.
As it worked, I think the deal was fine. The tournament had finished and I came away with 1500 cash, the 2011 Student Masters trophy, the title of Student Masters Champion, and a highly coveted ticket to the 2011 Irish Open. Overall, I have to be pretty happy with that result!
Overall, the tournament went quite smoothly for me. I picked up hands and ran quite well. Anytime I was bluffing I managed to get away with it, and anytime I value bet, I usually got paid off. I didn’t really make any ‘soul reads’ and I didn’t have to make many huge laydowns. As for the tournament itself, I have to give serious praise to PaddyPower, the Jackpot card club and all the people who had the vision and desire to create this tournament. I know it seems like I have to say this after winning the thing, but I really think the tournament was excellent. The structure was absolutely exemplary and it gave so much play. The concept itself really worked out well and everyone involved should feel very proud of putting on such a great tournament.
Looking forward, the Irish Open is obviously the next big thing for me. As far as live poker in Ireland goes, all roads lead to the Burlington Hotel on Easter weekend. I’m not sure people realise how badly I wanted the opportunity to play in this tournament, so now that I actually have the ticket, I’m delighted. All I know is, come Good Friday, when I’m sitting down getting ready to play in the 2011 Irish Open, I’ll be thinking to myself “at this moment in time, there is no place in the world I’d rather be than sitting right here”. Last year a Limerick man got unlucky to only come 2nd in the Irish Open. I’m hoping I can go one better this year and take it down!