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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Ice-Age in Bremen

This weekend the Casino in Bremen hosted the "Ice Poker Tournament" - a deep-stack tournament with 5,000 chips and 30 minute blinds. Right for this weekend the winter arrived all over Germany and streets in Bremen had been very icy by night.

They held some single-table satellites the day before and as I was only 2 hours away from Bremen I gave it a shot. I wasn't too lucky in the satellites but it still was a good warm-up. I knew that several people from Hamburg (like Sebastian "Luckbox" Ruthenberg, Katja Thater and Jan) planned to attend but despite that the competition looked weak. Not that it was mainly bad players. They may be good cash game players ... but lot's of them had a lack in understanding of tournament play especially the dynamics of a deep-stack tournament. So I wasn't surprised that we lost 30 of the 74 players during the 20/40 to 100/200 levels (about 2 hours of play).

In Bremen everything seems to be a little smaller than anywhere else. Small streets, small parking garages and of course a small casino. They have a total of 8 poker tables. 4 of them in the main casino under very cramped conditions (two of them are converted BJ tables) and 4 more in a nice separate tournament area. Although the tournament was nice, there was a huge deficit in the organisation. More worse: the dealers made several mistakes and had troubles with some basic things like calculating sidepots and stuff like that. On the positive side they were all very friendly. But I know that they just started half a year ago with serious poker so I am sure they will improve soon!

Fortunately I wasn't sitting at one of the BJ tables but unfortunately outside of the tournament room. A friend from Hamburg who I met during the last two deep-stacks in Schenefeld was on my table, too. I didn't know that he was following my blog and I was surprised as he told me "... yes, I read about that in your blog". It's always nice to meet my readers ;-) Due to the outside location we were sure that the table would break sooner or later. Which was bad because it was a nice crowd at this table (I knew some of the players from the day before). Very chatty, lots of fun but still serious poker. That's how I like it!

Being card dead isn't such a big problem in these kind of tournaments but this time it was extreme: I played my first two remarkable hands after more than one hour in the 80/160 level. Still only marginal playable, but my raise pre-flop and my bet on the turn (I hit at least something valuable in both cases) got respect due to my tight image. Somewhat later I found JJ. A raiser in middle position and I re-raised to 3 times his bet. Everybody else folded and he went all in for just a little more and I called of course. I was delighted to see that I was up against AK and not a premium pocket pair. My Jacks held and we lost one player. JJ was my best hand for the whole tournament and the 12,000 chips I had at this time represented my tournament high.I had to pass on several opportunities due to raises/bets in front of me. The toughest was a missed full house: I held 56s in the small blind and decided to complete the blind. BB and one other caller. Flop came AT6. BB bet and I was forced to fold. Turn: 5, River: 6. I know that it was the correct move to fold against a high raise but it still hurts (especially as they produced a huge pot just with highpair / toppair). A 99 went uncontested and that was all I got before the table broke.

On the new table I arrived in a position to put up the blinds again (I just had done this before on the old table). Blinds had been now 400/800 and my stack went down to 10,000. Shortly after that this table broke too and I came to Sebastian's table. And yes, again I was just two seats away from the blinds! The blind structure in total wasn't bad but the levels 100/200, 200/400, 400/800 and 500/1000 are somewhat arkward. It would have been better to replace the 400/800 with a 300/600 level. Additionally the lack of antes was a bit strange for a NL deep-stack tournament.

On that table I got the same cards I got the whole evening: crap! - like 72, 63, K2, J4 and so on. I went all-in (down to 8,800 chips during the 400/800 level) with ATs and got no callers (not that I'm complaining here!). Back to fold-mode and I was down to 8,800 again shortly after. With the blinds (now 50/1000) just two seats away I went all-in with A9 in middle position (trying to represent a pocket pair). It was folded to Sebastian who called all-in for a total of 6,200. He asked if I have a pocket pair and showed AK. No help. We both rivered a straight but Sebastian was holding the higher end. Bad timing - I'm sure he would have had a hard time to call with AQ, AJ or less. Down to just 2,700 chips I went all-in immediately with A3 (I would have been BB in the next round) and was called of course. Bad timing again as I was up against AQ. No help, out on 27th in about 3.5 hours.

At the time I left, Katja and Sebastian were still in the tournament and Jan was already hitting the cash game tables. My friend from Hamburg was busted just one place after me and we had a nice chat while waiting for the midnight snack. I later found out that Katja went out shortly after on 21st position and I lost against the later winner: Sebastian Ruthenberg won the tournament and €11,100! Congratulations, Sebastian ... but next time think twice before you call my all-in ;-))

Talking about the so called catering: During the dinner break they offered some finger-food. It was nice but way to less to feed hungry poker players. As they got some complaints about that they obviously changed the midnight snack and offered Burgers from the nearby McDonalds. Sounds ridicoulous for a casino poker tournament? Well, the whole catering stuff wasn't planned very well and charging €15 for non-playing guests (free drinks and food) was somewhat hefty. But it seems they realized the problem and tried to find a fast solution. For that reason I think the Hamburgers had been a very good idea!

Overall I would rate this a decent tournament with room for improvements... If they do it again I most probably will try to play it again.


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