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€250,000 Guaranteed at Ladbrokes Poker! – Ladbrokes Irish Festival! 2nd to 4th October 2009
The Irish Poker Festival will again be held at the best poker venue in Europe, the Irish National Events Centre (INEC) in Killarney, Co Kerry, Ireland. The INEC is at the heart of a vibrant hotel and leisure complex, which includes the famous Thai Angsana Spa. Ladbrokes online package winners will be staying at the Gleneagle Hotel which is adjacent to the INEC.

Last year every event was a sell-out, with a European record 832 players competing in the Main Event. After three days action, local lad Jimmy McSweeney walked away with a €100,000 first prize.

This year, the three day Festival will be held between the 2nd to 4th October and the €550 Main Event will once again guarantee all players a whopping €250,000 guaranteed prizepool. Players will start with 15,000 chips, one hour blinds and will earn European ranking points!

The €950 package includes the €550 buy in to the Main Event and 3 nights B&B at the Gleneagle hotel.

The Festival also includes two side tournaments, a two day €270+30 tournament Saturday 3rd October and a one day €150+20 tournament on Sunday 4th October. You will also have exclusive access to Ladbrokes hospitality facilities. Here you will find a games room with pool and darts to help you relax in between all the poker action.

In addition to the poker, the host town of Killarney is synonymous with Irish hospitality offering a great range of night-life associated with Irish music and having the craic! If you have not been to Killarney before, flights from Stansted to Kerry (KIR) are currently available for as little as £2 each way plus taxes but check online for all the latest offers.

So make sure you don’t miss taking a seat at the biggest poker tournament on the European Poker Circuit and winning the Irish Festival Package!

Getting Technical – Positional Play – By Roy Brindley
I told you this would not be a thesis on how to play certain hands in certain situations. How could it be?  Identical situations – hands, seating position, chip stacks, the size of the blinds – happen as rarely as a snow flake in a Vegas summer. I’m obviously surmising you know how to play the game of Texas Hold’em and want to take on board new ideas like a lungful of fresh hope.

If you have read books on poker doubtlessly you’ve digested plenty on ‘positional play’ which amounts to your position at the table for a certain hand in relation to the button (or the dealer) and the players who have posted forced bets, the blinds.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that when a person, who is first to act, makes a raise with the intention of making everyone pass in order to win the blinds, he has to avoid eight or nine yet-to-act players who could have easily picked up a very big hand. But doing so when you are the player on the button, you only have to overcome/avoid two players in order to collect their chips. This is what position is all about for me, none of this nonsense which is bounded around regarding the advantage of being second to act in any further betting.

Just imagine, a pot is raised and you call giving your supposed position when the flop comes down. What use is this position to you when your opponent immediately moves ‘all-in’?  Now what are you going to do with your middle-pair or an Ace-King, which has not become a pair?

Anyway, here is a tip which everyone should try when playing on the internet in order to improve their positional play; Place a post-it-note or something similar on your screen to cover your hole cards. Play the tournament completely blind of the cards you have been dealt.

Raise when in a late position (one of the last players to act before the players who have posted a blind bet) when appropriate and occasionally re-raise someone who you think is attempting a blind steel themselves.
Once you have made a few final tables in 300+ runner tournaments this way, I think you can safely say you have educated yourself enough to know and understand the value of positional plays.

So you are now playing Tournament Hold’em. You can do it without looking at your cards. You are taking every little piece of information in and, when it comes to your opponents, you have a memory like an elephant with the ability to quickly culture a feel for the game.

What about your table image? What about how other players perceive you?  As I’ve already mentioned, those old school players never vary their game and so their image never changes.

It’s real praise when you eliminate someone from a game and they say something like: “He’s impossible to read, he could have anything, he’s that kind of player!”

So how do you manufacture a table image which both confuses and also induces you opponents to either fold when you want them to and pay you off when you need them to?

Way too many people get a buzz out of showing a bluff and do so because of it. Yet opponents cannot help but take what they see on face value. Do this more than once and you are likely to be manoeuvreless because any chip you put into a pot is probably going to be challenged by numerous disbelievers – opponents who don’t believe you.

This is good when you pick up big hands because you are likely to get paid off. But when you don’t find good cards and your bluffs are called, you are dead in the water. It’s my belief that showing big hands when you have the opportunity to do so, especially in the early stages of a competition, is a far better way to go. The odds of being dealt a pocket pair are 16/1, a good pocket pair like Kings or Aces, 220/1 apiece and an Ace-King suited, 331/1.

So these premier hands are not that common and the ability to successfully represent one of them is as important as picking one of them up. It’s very hard re-raising someone who only plays a pot once every hour and, so far, when he has/does he has only shown pocket Aces, Kings and a three-of-a-kind.

As well as showing a big hand and a big bluff there is also showing a big pass. This is one nugget I really hate and will never do regardless of how right I think I am.
In passing, just what is the point of showing your opponent pocket Queens when you have raised and been re-raised? Or, similarly showing top-set on a board where a third diamond has landed on the river and you sense your opponent has filled his flush?

Showing big passes is collateral for future damage.  By announcing to the table that you are capable of mucking a powerful hand in the face of a big bet is simply putting a signpost around your neck saying “come make moves on me, I’m here waiting to pass.”

Incidentally, behind so many big passes is a poor call and Hold’em needs to be played with courage and conviction.

Let me explain: If an opponent raises and you call with Ace-King what grounds are there for passing to a whopping-big bet when the flop comes down 2-8-King (all different suits)?

If you do pass you have surely made a poor pre-flop call. I mean what did you want to hit when you decided to call the first bet? People often pass up at this point. I’ve never understood it.

Even if you do have the pluck and passion to call a big bet, possibly an all-in here, what were the grounds for just calling pre-flop?

The probability of you flopping an Ace or King in this situation – or any other situation where you don’t hold a pocket pair – is over 2/1. So, against a raiser with a pocket pair of any description, you are odds against making or having the best hand after the flop.
You are also odds against about being paid off any more chips if an Ace or King flops, especially against an opponent who is not prone to making bluffs or calling when he thinks it is likely he is behind.

So consider playing these ‘big Aces’ (an Ace with a high-kicker) aggressively pre-flop, as you could well have the worst starting cards but you also posses a hand powerful enough to make most opponents pass something like 75% of the pocket pairs.

It’s all about knowing your opponent. Once more, perception and understanding of your opponent(s), is all-important.