Slovenian National Poker Championship


Few weeks ago I attended Slovenian National Poker Championship 2016 and here’s a little report from me.

Casino Perla

For the second time in a row the Championship was held in Perla Poker Room, which is the country’s biggest poker room. Supposedly it is also the biggest casino in Europe? At least that’s what their website says. This was my first ever visit here so naturally I wanted to explore a little bit. Decided I will do one round to see all the slot machines and other games they are offering. My plan was to go from one end of the casino, to the other and then just turn around and head back to the start.

Modern slot machines in Perla Casino

So I was walking and walking in a straight line, admiring all the modern machines they have and was thinking: “wow, this really is a big casino.” It was also fully packed. From what I gathered it was mostly Asians, Russians and Italians. So yeah, already walking for solid few minutes when I finally notice an exit sign. At last I can turn around and head back. But you know what… That exit sign was actually my starting point! “What the hell?” Somehow, walking in a straight line, I went from one end of a casino, to the other one and back, without me noticing making any turns. GG casino architect, GG. And also a little bit creepy, to be honest.

You know I’m not the biggest fan of live tournaments (for some obvious reasons), but I still try to attend national championship every year. Didn’t make it last year, but my first one was almost 10 years ago, when we still had poker events in Ljubljana. I only entered in Main Event, because any additional tournament would be too much for me, but 3 or 4 live events per year is a perfect amount that I still find them enjoyable.

And it was a lot of fun again this year! Of course I’m far from being a good live and/or tournament player, so I join these more for a general experience and to see some poker friends or guys from the poker forums. Buyin was 150€ and it attracted 196 players, which is pretty nice number to be honest. I know there were some talks years ago about the Main Event buyin amount, but I think 150€ is a good balance for an average Slovenian poker player. Any more than that and field would be much smaller, or any less than that and it would feel just like any other tournament and not a national championship.

Camera caught this fish as well.

So spoiler alert… I wasn’t crowned a champion 🙂 Qualified for Day 2, finished around 30th place at the end, out of the money prizes, but didn’t do that bad in general I think. Just by observing players around me I didn’t have a feeling to be among the worst players at the table, which is already a win for me! 😀 And observing and chatting with players is also my favourite activity at events like this one. So many different and interesting characters at the tables that I always come home with lots of new stories.

Poker stories to tell

You wanna hear some bad beat stories? Well I had AK on the button and this joker raises me … Just kidding. I rarely ever talk about bad beats and I don’t intend to start now. But I do find it compelling how many people like to share theirs, even though they met me for the first time that day. I know there are some guys at World Series of Poker having a booth and charging money to hear people’s bad beats. Seems like a really good business 😀

Oh well, I do have one series of events that I’d like to talk about, though. In the middle of Day 2 I got in a hand against an older gentleman. He was on a small blind and everybody folded to him, so of course he limped to my big blind and aggressive as I decided to be during the whole championship, I raised with 98s and flopped two pair. Bet something big, he calls. On the turn I was thinking how much should I bet to get some additional chips from him, but then he surprises me with check-raise all-in. I already put so much money into the pot and had only 5bb left or something stupid like that, but I didn’t want to go out of the tournament with “only” two pair. This was my longest decision ever in my poker career, I was thinking/tanking for a WHOLE MINUTE. Can you imagine? A minute! I even told him I got two pair and asked him if it was good, to see if I can get some reaction out of him (later he told me, he has hearing problems, so he didn’t even hear me what I was saying lol!). Well I folded, table went crazy how I can fold two pair and nobody believed me, so I showed my hand and so did my villain who hit his gutshot on the turn for straight.

from left to right in a matter of minutes
From left to right in a matter of minutes

So this hand got me crippled pretty good. Played an orbit or two, stole blinds once which almost doubles me up and then I was moved to a new table. First big blind came and I looked down to AA. I actually loled, because I would be calling with any hand whatsoever. Won against JJ. Very next hand on small blind I get QQ. Win against AJs. Very very next hand, AT on the button, played a postflop game and won against JJ and all of a sudden I was well above average. After this run of hands nothing much happened for me unfortunately. Called of few all-ins from shorties, didn’t hit anything and was being short myself on the final four tables.

Live tournaments

There was also some discussion on facebook whether events should or shouldn’t be re-entry. Besides Main Event which is freezout, every other side event was re-entry. My logic here is that Main Event in a National Championship like this must be freezout, without a doubt. For everything else… I don’t really care. Ok, that’s maybe a bit too harsh, because I do care. In ideal world, all the events would be freezout, but due to what’s happening in poker world lately, that is not realistic unfortunately.

Poker rooms of course want to make a profit or no one will ever organize National Championships anymore. Sure, there is something taken away by doing events re-entry, when people can (in theory), “buy a trophy” in smaller events, but this is a compromise over having no championship at all. For me re-entry would be very much +EV as well. I’m not playing many tournaments, so I’ll never make any decent sample size, so re-entering in earlier levels would be beneficial for me (if it comes to that, of course). Besides that I also need to drive +100 km to a tournament. I actually read that some people would even fold KK preflop, to not get knocked out early, which is crazy to think about.

Packed Poker Room

Thought of traveling and playing in poker tournaments sounds really appealing, like a dream job almost, but just by playing few events per year I see how demanding it is. Long hours at the tables, slow dealers, lots of noise, rake isn’t small, additional expenses, etc… Playing from your own home is so so so much more comfortable. Ok, it’s true that I was actually driving about an hour to and from the national championship and didn’t stay in a hotel like some players did, so that definitely adds to the demanding side. Nevertheless, even after saying all that I would still love to try it someday, if I get a chance. I was browsing through EPT Prague tournament schedule the other day (RIP ept) and there were lots of good events, specially the mixed ones that I would love to attend. But now with PokerStars gone, I can’t even practice mixed games anymore…