Deep runs and unforgettable poker tournaments in Paris

A damn good start

As a poker professional, I constantly remind myself that it’s one big lifelong session and that worrying about short-term results is just as useful as worrying about the weather. However, when it comes to live travel, it’s always nice to start with a result. This is even more true for large month-long tournaments like the WSOP, where a bad first week can leave you feeling exhausted and only a quarter of your campaign behind you, while a good start can leave you feeling like you’re now have nothing left to lose. This is especially true if that result earns you more than your likely buy-ins for the entire trip, as was the case for me in Paris when I placed third for over 25,000 in the first 1k freezeout. This was my biggest Hendon Mob finish since my 17th place finish at an online WSOP event during the pandemic and my biggest live finish in over five years since my Party Millions final table in Nottingham.

The tournament itself wasn’t particularly memorable or notable other than the result, consisting mostly of a procession through a series of standard spots and flips that I did well enough to stay in. I built a stack early on, but extended card dies and table draws didn’t do it. Because I didn’t allow for much creativity, I collected a little less than average. Day 2 was a parade of standard shoves and re-shoves to keep my head above water but still below average until I got some heat on the second to last table and was able to apply a lot of ICM pressure so if After the final table was formed, I was second in chips.

I was very happy with my game, especially in the final

The final table was an up and down affair for me, with me fighting for the chip lead at times, only to end up with four chips remaining. I fought my way up to third place and then defeated the always impressive Ankit Anuja (who was a guest at the last chip race!) to move into second place. Then I managed to effectively reverse the post-flop against the other joint second flip and failed to prevail. However, overall I was very happy with my game, especially in the final. I’ve been doing a lot of specific ICM studies lately with my study friends Monica Vaka and Turlough McHugh, and I feel much more confident with two tables left when I’m able to implement them. It’s almost a relief when you get out with a standard flip because it means you don’t have to live with yourself after a big mistake.

FPS Main Event and High Roller

Next up was the FPS Main Event where I made it to Day 2 again and cashed in. In many ways it was a repeat of the opening event, except that I built and maintained a larger stack on Day 1, but ran out of steam earlier on Day 2. The event was won outright by former Chip Race guest Matti Moolhuizen, who is half of one of my favorite pairs in poker. Here’s a photo of something that looks like I’m officiating their wedding, but I’m actually signing a copy of it Poker satellite strategy for her at my first book signing years ago.

The last event of the trip was the FPS High Roller, but before that I got to participate in the VIP Invitational Tournament. Things looked pretty good to me and yours truly VegasSlotsOnline news Colleague David Lappin when I was the chip leader early on and he wasn’t far behind, but then we kept hitting aces and ended up in 8th and 9th with only seven paid out.

In the FPS High Roller I quickly built up a stack again, albeit randomly, as I got kings against aces and ace-jacks. I was just about to click re-enter on my phone when the QT-9 flop came, but running crosses gave me a flush and the winning hand.

A tortuous bubble meant I dwindled back to just seven big blinds before Day 2.

I was extremely cardless for a long time at a number of tables, one of which was perhaps the hardest I’ve ever played live (it involved Santiago Plante, Joey Weissman, Georgi Sandev, Leo Margets and Maria Lampropoulus). A tortuous bubble meant I was down to just seven big blinds before Day 2. Lappin had a much more eventful bubble that included a verbal altercation with Tom Vogelsang and Parker Talbot. Lappin wrote a whole article about it, so I have little to add other than I’ve noticed that many of the most avid watch callers are much less observant of other rules, such as no phones if they have cards, and not being able to talk about what’s happening in Affect multi-way pots.

I would also like to point out that the plenary handled the situation perfectly, quickly deciding that the clock call was inappropriate and admonishing the PokerStars ambassador who felt the need to engage in an argument at another table.

France is a wonderful host

I went to this event a little worried because even though I didn’t attend last year, everyone I knew came home with horror stories. The Stars live team has a track record of learning quickly from mistakes and that was clearly evident this year. Increased capacity and staffing ensured a very well-run event. I’m not a particularly patriotic person, but it gives me a certain national pride to see so many of the best live event contributors as products of the Irish poker scene, regardless of whether they were born, based or trained in Ireland their craft in Ireland.

Good old Irish efficiency and common sense went a long way

Whether it was head of security Tony, my namesake Dara Hanlon setting up the security wristbands, live events boss Dave Curtis overseeing everything, or the bevy of other Irish-based or Irish-produced dealers and ground staff involved in what they do, are the very best, good old Irish efficiency and common sense have gone a long way to overcoming the challenges of what is arguably Europe’s most regulation-friendly market. The things they want to ban, like tableside massages, tableside dining, big blind antes in PLO tournaments, paperless registrations or re-entries in all but the first flight, sometimes boggle the mind.

But there is also a lot to appreciate about France and the French. They are remarkably hospitable. They are remarkably tolerant of not being allowed to speak their own language at the table in their own country (something that wouldn’t surprise me if a regulation were to change, and who could blame them?). Their food and culture are second to none and they have a civility that other countries could learn from. This became clear when a lady on my table rocked the FPS high roller and no one was celebrating, much to the surprise of the watching bloggers. The older I get, the more aware I become of the creeping ageism I encounter on my travels abroad, but the French are famous for their intergenerational harmony and respect for their elders, and the only ageism I encountered on this trip, came from visitors.

Success on multiple levels

On a personal level, three prize money in three events and a podium finish felt very good and is a continuation of the growing confidence I have felt live recently. The event was also a great success for the organizers, both in terms of the number of participants and the player experience. PokerStars live events are also picking up steam after hugely successful EPT stops in Barcelona and Prague, the biggest ever UKIPT in Nottingham and now this one. They wisely abandoned the PCA in the Bahamas, long a curate on the schedule and an unpopular destination, and got their act together in Paris.

I heard that they too have learned from the mistakes of the past

Their next big event is the Irish Open, which I expect will also be a huge success, perhaps the biggest Open of all time. I hear they too have learned from past mistakes and have tweaked things this year to ensure side events don’t have to be canceled or octogenarians like Kevin O’Donnell are forced to play long days past their bedtime. Who knows, maybe they’ll even get commentators in the booth who know some of the local players or at least know how to pronounce their names.

My deep runs at all the events I attended left little time for socializing, but I managed to go to dinner with recent Lock-In guest Maria Konnikova on our first night there. Better still, she finally met Mrs. Doke, whom she had long suspected was a figment of my imagination, and we treated her to a shared rendition of our story of how we met, with a climax that seems to lie in it , how different our memories are in almost every respect.

I also really liked how many people I hadn’t met before took the time to share how much they had learned from the books I had written with Barry. An absolute highlight was the first personal meeting with Bert “Girafganger” Stevens. He doesn’t disappoint and Mrs. Doke has a new favorite poker player. I even found her in the room watching his videos and singing along to “Fire,” which she told me was her favorite song as a teenager.


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