Cranbrook Poker Champion 2007

With the year coming to a close, and players about to run few and far between, the last few weeks have been pretty damn busy for the Cranbrook Casino, with games playing almost every night. As organiser, Alexis decided to have a tournament to end all tournaments on our usual Sunday slot. Enter the 2007 Cranbrook Poker Championship.

Interest was running pretty high, with the possibility of running 3 tables to fit the demand, but on the day quite a lot of the so called "champs" decided that an exam on Monday was excuse enough to bow out. So the field narrowed to 11, and a single table was decided on. A pretty kick ass barbecue was held before and the day was so good that we decided to play outside. So, suffering from meat sweats, the 2007 CPC kicked off with everyone on a stack of 1,940. Quite a random amount, but everyone had the same so it didn't matter. Prize money amounted to £55 for first place and £30 for second, but as every player will tell you (at least the nice ones) it's not the money, but the prestige. And this prestige was encompassed in quite a cool trophy.

The first half an hour saw some of the best poker ever shown at Cranbrook, with high-stakes bluffs flying everywhere, and two players busting out in style. I decided a tight tournament strategy was in order and played my hands when they came along, so my stack grew steadily.

After more than three hours play, the clear chip leader was Fabian, and more players started dropping out. With pocket 4's in the hole, I decide to raise it up pre-flop, and get called by Steve and Fab. The flop doesn't help much, but I raise it 200 to see where I am and hopefully get people to fold. Steve goes all in for about 700 and Fab calls. With around 2000 or so in the pot, I go all in for about 6500 or so to get heads up with Steve. For a minute I nearly die when I think Fabian's going to call, but he folds with what I find out afterwards to be pocket 3's. Steve flips over A-K, but I'm still favourite with two cards to go. The turn and the river do nothing for either of us (though the river was a 3 - close call), and all of a sudden I'm joint chip leader with Fab with Steve busting out. Nice...

Play continues until there's only Fab, Yi, and myself in it. Yi goes all in and Fab calls only to lose. The next hand Fab goes all in and Yi calls only to give all the chips he won back to Fab. With a bit of a grunge match going on Fab finally busts Yi out to leave it a heads-up with me. He's got a few more chips than I do, but otherwise we're even. Time to revenge all those honour tournaments from Edinburgh...

With the blinds at 200-400, there's a lot of bluffing going on. Fab's been catching cards all evening, and twice I fold pre-flop for him to turn over pocket Kings and Aces. Finally I'm big blind and Fab calls. I have Q-2 hearts, not something I'd normally play, but I get to see a free flop. Some random cards, J-10-3 I think, but more importantly two hearts. Fab checks and I raise it 1000. He goes all in, covering me. I'm thinking he has high cards, something like AQ, or AJ, and he knows I'm drawing. It's a protection raise, but I've got a lot of outs so I call. Fab turns over AK. Crap. Turn comes over - a King, not a heart. Crap. Then the river - an Ace, again no heart. About to go "crap" when I've realise I've just done a runner-runner and rivered a straight. Now, I'm the first to admit that I didn't deserve to win that hand. It's painful getting rivered, but ever worse getting rivered when you've just hit your two pair. Still, you need luck to win in poker, and I wasn't going to complain too much :)

That pretty much decimates Fab's stack and he's left with one or two thousand or something to that effect. He's pissed (understandably enough) and it's no more flops for me. He takes the blinds while I wait on a hand to call him all in with. What comes? AK suited. An all in hand if ever I saw one. I push and Fab calls with A-3. The flop comes down - 4-something-6. The turn comes - 5 of clubs. Crap. There's three clubs on the board, and Fab has the Ace for a flush, as well as any 2 for a straight, as well as any 3 for a small pair. He's drawing to, like, half the cards left in the deck. The river comes and blessedly does nothing for either of us and I become the Cranbrook Poker Champion 2007.

It was quite a day. A huge BBQ, a good session of poker, a day in the sun, a trophy at the end of it, and celebration pub visit. There is photos of the day floating around somewhere, which I'll put up once I have them. As soon as I go back to Ireland, I'm taking my camera back over.

What's next? Well, on my way to the WSOP main event, there's a £25 freeze-out in Naps. I'm sure they'll all be impressed with the trophy, especially if I keep pointing it out. "Actually, my name is Damian 'Poker Champion' Connolly."

Tournaments entered to date:2. Tournaments won to date:1. Hiyo...


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