With the Grand Series of Poker descending on Porto Carras last month, WPT Poker magazine’s Duncan Wilkie reports back on his own very Greek tournament odyssey in the $1,500 main event
It felt like the scene from 300. Sitting down in the GSOP Live Greece main event I knew that there were that many brave warriors – 257 today and 43 survivors from the previous night – between me and my goal; triumphantly lifting my first major title.
It was a truly herculean task, and one that would be made all the more difficult by the starting field. While yesterday had seen a comparatively gentle array of local Greek players, today’s line-up was made up mostly of qualifiers from the OnGame network.
As such my starting flight was never going to be a walk in the park, but matters were made even worse when the one empty seat at my table was filled half-an-hour late by a German $10/$20 cash player with whom I had shared a cab from the airport.
Fortunately, as the early pattern of play developed I realised that I had been gifted a small mercy by virtue of the fact that I had position on the three players at the table I considered the most dangerous, so I made a mental to note to mostly avoid them.
However, even without tangling with my German friend, a good aggressive Bulgarian and a Greek PartyPoker qualifier, I still found my stack moving in the wrong direction after several missed peels until I flopped a monster hand against an UTG opener.
Electing to flat-call the player’s raise out of the small blind with pocket jacks, I subsequently flopped a full house and proceeded to win a huge pot [see Key Hand boxout] to catapult my dwindling starting stack up to the dizzying heights of 28,000.
Unfortunately that was about as good as it got and after having to lay-down AKo to a tight Greek player on T-T-9-9-4 board when he fired both turn and river barrels despite me being the pre-flop aggressor, I was carted off to a new table with 23,000.
It all went downhill from there as I found myself repositioned to the right of two chipped-up aggressive players who made life incredibly difficult for me over the next few levels as I struggled to build up any momentum and increase my flagging stack.
Through a combination of going card dead at precisely the wrong time and getting owned by my left-hand man whenever I tried to open a pot light, I found myself down to 16,000 and entering the 30bb re-shoving territory as the end of play approached.
This at least made my decisions simpler, but with the blinds and antes eating into my stack and a fellow player managing to find a fold to a 12bb raise with pocket nines, I limped through the day on 15,800 – 4,200 less than I started play on ten hours ago.
It was an interesting experience making Day 2 with less chips than I started with and not one that I would ever care to repeat as, after a couple of successful shoves, I got my 18bb in with AJs following a mid-position open just an hour into the day’s play.
After asking for a count my opponent made the call with AQs and despite a jack on the flop, three spades on the final board handed them a flush and I joined the ranks of Day 1 casualties now sunning themselves on the beach nursing gratis cocktails.
With such a nice resort to explore at my leisure, elimination certainly wasn’t the bitterest pill to swallow, but what I wouldn’t have given to instead be in the shoes of Spain’s Sergio Marti Aguilar, who two days later took the GSOP final table by storm.
Arriving at the nine-handed final second in chips, the Spaniard was a calm and collected presence throughout – even in the face of the unpredictable aggression of chip leader Stefan Genchev – and he duly reaped his reward with a famous victory.
Having seen his AK hold up against Genchev’s KQ in the final hand, Aguilar received rapturous applause for his performance as he lifted his first major live trophy and was noticeably awe-struck as he posed for photos with his €78,447 winner’s cheque.
After composing himself, Aguilar vowed that he would return to play the GSOP Live Prague event in December where, with a bit of luck, I’ll be able to give the tour’s latest champion a much better run for his money.
For a more detailed report of the final table and all other days of the GSOP Live Greece, visit WPT Poker’s blog at: www.wptmag.co.uk/gsop.php
Event: GSOP Live Greece
Buy-In: $1,500 + $150
Total Prize Pool: $517,500 (€374,453)
Winner: Sergio Marti Aguilar
First Prize Won: $108,428 (€78,447)
Key Hand: The House That Jacks Built
My hand: Jc Jd
My stack: 17,950
Opponent’s hand: ?? ??
Opponent’s stack: 29,500
Board: Js 5h 5c 9s 6h
Though for the most part, chips were pretty hard to come by for me in my first GSOP Live event, I did manage to win a big pot early on by taking a deceptively passive line with pocket jacks. Facing an UTG open of 300 I decided to just flat-call out of the small blind when the action folded around and the big blind came along for the ride. I did this for two reasons, namely that I am out-of-position with deep stacks against a competent opponent and also that pocket jacks don’t actually fare all that well against an average player’s UTG opening raise. An auxiliary benefit of playing my hand this way is that it disguises my holding, so when the flop came Js 5h 5c I had the perfect spot to extract at least two streets of value. Checking is the standard play here against a pre-flop opener – especially with such a big hand on a dry board – so I did so any my opponent bet 625 into 900. Not knowing too much about their hand at this stage I thought it was too early to check-raise, so I just called and the big blind folded. The 9s added a flush draw to the board but changed little else, so I again checked and my opponent responded by betting 1,250. As a lot of pairs and decent aces would now check behind for pot control, I thought their range was now heavily weighted towards overpairs and ace-high flush draws and a raise was in order. I made it 3,000 and they called, allowing me to fire a 3/4 pot value bet of 6,000 on the 6h river with a high expectation of being called. They did so and quickly mucked.