I played my first major live tournament of the year on Saturday. It was a €230 buy in International Poker Open in Dublin's Regency hotel.  With nearly 1,500 runners it is the largest field tournament in Ireland. It had many top Irish pro's and had a €50k top prize.

It's a relatively small buy in compared to other major tournaments but a pretty high buy in for me but I won the cash spun up from a freeroll so the entire trip from buy to hotel and spending money was entirely fuinded from never depsoting on the site.

It was a 300 BB starting stack and a 40 minute clock so pretty deep for plenty of post-flop play. I used my position wisely and tried to take in as much information as possible from the table. I quite quickly realised I was on a pretty tough table, with a LAG (Loose aggresive player) sitting either side of me, 2 TAGs further to my left, a tight passive calling station, another 2 TAGs and a TAG French or Italian guy who I later noticed ran pretty deep in the tournament.

I played the same tournament 2 years ago and I could run over  most players. This time it wasn't so easy. The 2 LAGs either side of me really restricted my play. The LAG to my left was a bad LAG. He raised almost any 2 but chased without odds and generally went to showdown where he was either lucking out or spewing chips. The LAG to my left also had a very swingy stack but he was really good, he could pick up tells and made good if not great folds and calls in the game. I did notice he ruffled with his chips when he was about to play a hand but sat back when he wasn't. Not a great tell however as he was involved with 50% of all hands.

The first few levels are like a sparring boxing match where everyone starts to get to know each other. I called with position with hands like 75s in multi way pots. When you're 300 BBs deep to can see a flop to a raise with hands like this because if you hit big you can get paid by others. Unfortunately for me I never hit or hit the low end of the flop and my hands went in the bin. It was a 30,000 starting stack and I never increased this amount throughout the tournament.

My first major hand was AKo in SB Blinds were 50/100 and. LAG to my right raised on the button to 300. I 3 bet in small blind to 900 and he flat called. I can't remember the flop but it was raggy and all low cards. I CBetted 1,500 and he called. The turn brought a J and I bet 2,100. Again he flat called. The river brought another J but a 3 flushed board. I checked and he checked and turned over QJo. This was my first indication that he wasn't a good LAG as I think he should have extracted value out of me with a bet on the river. He said to me afterwards he thought I had a flush which to my line of play I clearly didn't have.

My first major mistake came with AA. I raised in mp and good LAG flat called me. The flop came Jc4c3d and again I led out on flop. Good LAG flat called and the turn came Tc and again as my line above I bet again. Good LAG again flat called. The river came 9c and I was aware I was taking the same line as my hand above I checked the river thinking it was me that had the flush. I only looked at my cards once in the hand and I thought I had rivered the nut flush. I was sure that good LAG would try and take the pot with a river bet and as my line above showed weakness. When he bet I thought I had him and had a quick peak at my hand but to my horror it wasn't the Ac I had but the As. I tanked for a bit, I knew he would steal anyway and I called. He threw over AcQd  and hit a backdoor flush. Sickening but I was miles ahead until the river and he got lucky. I'm annoyed however that I spewed 2,100 chips at the end that I could have folded.

My stack was down to around 18,000 chips at the first break and after the 2nd break it got no better. Like online I was totally card dead for quite a while. I never had a pair and any reasonable hands had to go in the muck because of the 2 LAGs either side of me. I stole when I had a chance but never played to a showdown and thankfully maintained my 18,000. At least my tightness was noticed and I was able to 3 bet and take down pots with hands that I wouldn't normally 3 bet with.

At the 3rd break I knew I had to get active. I still had a playable stack at all times but my 300BB starting stack was only worth 20BBs at times. I was able to steal some pots but the first time I was all in was a 4 limped pot on the button. With blinds at 500,1,000 I shoved my button with AKs which was pretty standard and I picked up without a showdown.

2 hands later I was out. Bad LAG raised as he generally done and I looked down at 77 with 27BBs in my stack. I had a quick think and knew I was miles ahead of his range. My problem was I couldn't set mine nor 3bet the hand, my only other option was to shove. I'm a little unsure whether it was a correct shove. On the button it was an easy shove but with players to act after me it's not so clear. In any case I reshoved and had good LAG reshove over the top of me. I was sure I was crushed but quite happy when he threw over AKo. He didn't need to risk calling with AK as my shove would cripple his stack but it was a day at the races and I was marginally ahead. Unfortunately he flopped an A and my 54% went to 10% then to 5% and then to 0%.

I'm really happy with my play. I know I wasn't the best at my table never mind the tournament but I held my own. I made a few mistakes but I'm really happy I picked up some tells and judged the overall quality of the table. In the end my tournament ended with a coinflip but as we know online, to win any decent sized MTT....

GOTTA WIN THOSE COINFLIPS

I'm definitely gonna play this tournament next year and maybe just maybe play a Pokerstars tournament as well.

Good luck at the tables.