European vacations

By: Daniel Laidlaw

It’s been a few months since my last blog and in that time my focus has mostly been on tournaments, as it ended up being for the majority of the year. I did a month-long Europe trip in October and have just returned from a couple of weeks at EPT Prague so now seems like an appropriate time to discuss the experience of playing European tourneys.

Prior to October I’d only been to Europe once before (for EPT London in March) and wouldn’t normally want to travel from the Asia Pacific region for EPTs since 1) it’s not the highest EV choice after travel expenses, as Edison discussed in his recent blog and 2) the process of travelling sucks (as opposed to actually experiencing different places, even to the limited extent typical of serious poker trips, which is great).

However with the EPT London, WSOP Europe, and WPT Paris schedules aligning to make a single month-long trip to London and Paris possible, plus the necessity of having to exit Macau for 30 days over that time anyway, I decided to take what for me was a pretty big punt and fire off ~100k AUD worth of buyins over those three series.

After managing not to lose (after action-swapping) on that trip, the decision to go to Prague with my Macau room mate Jeff Rossiter was more whimsical, based partly on having had a taste of European success, hearing positive things about the city of Prague, and having nothing significant planned for December anyway. It actually proved to be one of the most enjoyable trips I’ve been on, due to a combination of my own positive mental state, the accommodation, venue, professionalism of the whole EPT set-up, and the city itself (old-world beautiful).

Since the start of October, I played a total of 21 tournaments in Europe for a tiny pre-swapping loss despite making four final tables, which demonstrates just how difficult it is to win without binking something, and why you’re a favourite to lose on any given trip. For all of our touring party Europe was a series of near-misses, as we fell just short of big scores or victories on a number of occasions: Jeff, Martin Kozlov, and David “Professor” Yan falling 5th, 9th and 12th respectively in the EPT London main, Jeff finishing third in the WPT Paris high roller and 9th in the EPT Prague high roller, and Marty coming fifth in a WSOPE PLO event and runner-up in two side events.

My best results were 6th in a WSOPE NL event and 8th last week in the WPT Prague main event. But my most frustrating result was coming 4th to stone bubble the 5k euro Omaha Cup, which got just 27 runners, at Aviation Club in Paris after being 2/5 with a big stack and 77k euros for first. Marty convinced me to change my flight to include this tourney at the end of that trip and in hindsight it was ridiculous I didn’t have enough confidence in my PLO game to put it on my original schedule, as PLO tourneys in general are very soft and the standard of play at Aviation Club in particular was, shall we say, less than world class. In this one about a quarter of the field qualified the previous night in a live satellite which – cool story alert – I also bubbled.

I’ve continued to work on my PLO game though and felt like I made some progress at PLO tourneys recently with how I played during deep runs at Prague (12th in the 5k championship, 9th in a side event).

In general, based on an admittedly small sample size of five series this year, I now think it’s a complete myth that Euro tourneys are tough. Yes, they are obviously tougher than equivalent buy-in events in the Asia Pacific region, but the absolute standard of play is still not that high. I suspect some people see an increased amount of preflop aggression compared to other places and conclude that equates to strong play, which is definitely not the case. There is also more spew and more button clicking and a large number of mediocre regs who are still poor postflop, mimicking bad exploitative strategies, which if you construct your own ranges correctly is really profitable to play against. I would love to play more EPTs if it weren’t for the travel factor – being based in Europe would have a lot of upside.

Despite the tyrannical distance I’m already committed to going to PCA for the first time in January, after which it’s back to Australia for the Aussie Millions!

Follow Daniel on Twitter @Choparno