TightEnd: Could you tell us about yourself please?
Rich Offless: I’m 23 and single. I completed my degree in software engineering about 4 months ago. Since then I have been running a small web-shop and doing PC repair / IT help for people in my area. It’s getting time to look for a proper job though.
TE: What is your previous poker experience? Do you play live a lot and if so where? Online?
RE: I live in a bit of a remote area (time to move!) and it’s a couple of hours drive to any casinos. So, for this reason I don’t get to play live much. In total, I have only played 5 live MTTs. I went to Vegas for a week last year and played poker virtually non-stop, but only cash games (and 1 small tourney that I cashed in). I play a regular home game at www.chezger.co.uk which has helped in improving my live game.
TE: Do you have any previous poker successes?
RO: Nothing big! Live, my best result was 7th in APAT Europe in Luton. Online I play mainly cash games, but have won a few small buy in tournies and came 2nd for $2,600 in a slightly larger tourney.
TE: How did you hear about APAT?
RO: I had seen some info about APAT in poker player and on the blonde poker forum already. But when I started playing a regular home game the players there (The Duke and Shogun from blonde) had been to a few APAT events already and they took me along to my 1st event in Luton. I think I’m well and truly hooked now.
TE: This as your second APAT National Championship Final table in a row. How did this event differ for you compared to Luton?
RO: Both card rooms are excellent and both tournaments ran smoothly. The only downside of Walsall was I was stuck next to the air-con and shivering most of day 1! In Luton I finished day1 with just below average chips but started off day2 with an incredible run which put me 2nd in chips in what seemed like no time. Unfortunately from there I lost a few races against short stacks and made 1 mistake just on the final table bubble which set me back 170,000 chips where I tried to bluff Josh Sugarman before noticing he didn’t have enough chips left to be bluffed. I went to the final with around 270,000 with the average being 333,000 and decided I had to get busy to win and went out in 7th. In Walsall, I came back for day2 5th in chips with 20 players left. I hit the final table with 272,000 this time but I was in 2nd place and had more of a waiting game to play while the lower stacks made their moves.
TE: Talk us through Day 1. You got to comfortably above average chips, what were the key situations that enabled you to achieve this?
RO: My most lucky hand of the tournament, where I could have been visiting the bar at around the same time as Kinboshi and Shogun, was when I pushed from the button with 10 big blinds at 400-800 with A10 to be called by AJ. I hit 4 spades to stay in, and more importantly a needed double up. Not long after that I played a few flops and took a few small pots and found my stack at around 30k. Then, I raised 3xBBs in late position with 66 and the BB called me. Flop 6 6 8. We both check. Turn A. He bets out, excellent he’s caught an Ace I think, I call. River I don’t remember, he went all-in and I’m not sure I even looked at the river before calling. That put me up to around 55k chips and from then I felt comfortable. Until that is, Josh Sugarman, my nemesis from Luton, who had been at my table for half of day 1, pushed from the button vs me in the SB. I had QQ and no room to maneuver. I had been aiming to avoid races for my tournament life but I couldn’t see me folding Queens so in it went. He flipped KJ and failed to hit, I had him covered by a little and ended up with about 130,000.
The next hand, Jon Spinks pushed all-in for about 60,000. I was in late middle position and looked down at AK. If I called the 60k and lost I would be back down to where I was before and we were just 1 or 2 players off the bubble. I decided the difference between 130,000 and 200,000 was a lot less than the difference between 130,000 and 70,000 (in terms of play!) and folded. When everyone else had folded I flipped my mucked cards to the astonishment of the table. Jon Spinks kept stealing from then on, and had I have known which gear he was in the AK would have been an easy call but it was his 1st steal of many. Once he had worked his stack up to about 100,000 he put a bet out of 40k, which I called and took away from him on the flop. I much prefer winning pots with no showdowns!
TE: What were you realistically hoping for when you came back at the start of the second day?
RO: I was 5th in chips and thought a top 3 was a realistic goal. I didn’t mind if I went out early trying to get a chip stack capable of winning the tournament and with the flat structure and top heavy prizes this was my aim. Same aim as in Luton but this time it worked. I wasn’t afraid of going out (well, I was a little!) but I had made the decision that if I needed to push in I would, rather than play to ladder up at any time. I was also prepared to take on the big stacks and I was disappointed that the 4 largest stacks were on the other table to me as I knew I’d have to take them on sometime if I was to win, so it might as well be when the blinds are at the smallest and I have most play left in my stack.
TE: On the second day, the run to the final table was notable for your clashes with Andrew Tracey. Talk us through your view on that protracted battle:
RO: It was great playing a few flops against Andrew T (left). We have played a little before in some online events and had seen how good his records were I knew he was a decent player. In hindsight it would have probably been a good idea to stay away from him. The 1st call I made which cost me half my stack was JJ vs AA pre flop. It was a borderline call which had it been for my tournament life I probably wouldn’t have made. On 5k-10k blinds Mike Young bet 30k and I flat called, Andrew T pushed all-in and Mike folded. It was about 70k more and I had 80k back and could see my chance at winning a very large pot to set me up for a top 3 finish. I made the call hoping Andrew was making a play with AK or just to get lucky! I didn’t and Andrew T had a healthy stack while I had only 8 big blinds.
I think I stole a blind or 2, then limped in the SB vs Andrew’s big blind. He checked and we saw an all hear 7 high flop. My Qh7d was enough to go all the way with. I bet out and he re-raised all-in. I was committed and Andrew showed the Kh, so I had to avoid a heart or King to double through.
I limped later with A4 and saw an interesting 7 5 3 flop. I bet out, got raised a little, called saw a Q on the turn, got a free river 2 which made my straight. Andrew paid me off for a half the pot sized bet on the river. I think that puts me 2-1 up in hands vs AndrewT ;)
Andrew got it all-in on the final table with AK vs Darren’s AQ and was unlucky to go out. It certainly made it easier for me that he got knocked out.
RO: Once you made the final you were well-stacked but noticeably below a big chip leader. Again, what were your aims at this point? Looking around your competitors what were you thinking?
The average chip stacks was 223,000 with me on 272k. I worked out the average chips stack without the chip leader in play, which was around 130,000 this made my position seem much more secure. It all depended on how the big stack played. If he took lots of lose shots at knocking people out then I would quickly move down as some players double up. Mostly he didn’t do this and just stole pots pre flop and the other players stayed away. My aim was to slowly increase my stack and not take too many risks and just keep my self in 2nd place if I could.
TE: Looking on I thought you were the most active player at the final table. Is this your natural style?
RO: For that stage of the tournament and getting short handed I would have to say it is my normal style. I will play tight most of the time throughout the tournament but also like to see cheap flops whenever I can. I play plenty of Sit & Gos so I know when I have to change gears.
TE: : Yet at one stage people began to take you on and your stack dropped dramatically as you had to release to re-raises? Were you beginning to get concerned that players had "worked you out"?
RO: I wasn’t concerned that they had worked me out, but that I was going to have to call one of the re-raises soon as my stack got to 160k which was short. I could have called a few of the re-raises but my aim was to be 1st into a pot if I had a marginal hand and not the caller. So I laid down again, and then pushed all-in the next hand with A5 on the button. I got called by Darren with KQ. I was disappointed that he had called me as I knew there was a good chance I was going out that hand. But, I was in as good a situation I could find with A5 really. The double up got me back in the game and I continued stealing a few pots, the others just had a few hands all at the same time to almost cripple me!
TE: What was your thinking behind the mixing up of your game that you seemed to do eg limps in late position?
RO: I was trying to play some flops. I needed to win a lot of chips somehow and rather than get it in on a coin flip, playing some poker seemed to do the trick! No-one else on the table seemed to be interested in taking a flop it was mainly a raise or a re-raise pre flop that took it down. I called a few raises, but mainly limped. I figured doing the opposite to the rest of the table wasn’t a bad a tactic. I also like seeing flops and wanted to make the live updates more interesting.
TE: One of these unconventional plays was the key to winning the whole tournament in the end wasn't it? Talk us through the limp four handed on the button with Aces. Was there a stage post flop where you feared you had trapped yourself?
RO: I limped on the button, I had limped on Darren's big blind a few times and I felt he was especially fed up of missing the flops and me taking the pot down. I had chatted to some of the players in the brake, prompted by a short stack all-in with AA that went uncalled, and told them that if I got AA I would be slow playing it and taking a risk to make the most of it. So this was a premeditated move, and it was set up by previous limps. I didn't expect the betting to get so big though as we were 4 handed, 1 off the medals and jumps in prize money, and thought it might be a slower hand. I had a tough decision on the turn 9-4-3-J when Darren pushed after check raising me on the flop. As I said at the table, I didn't play it like that to fold, and I was prepared to go out if went wrong. It was the only time I got AA in the tournament and fortunately it worked out. In Luton I played them slow and the big blind flopped trips, but I had a few chips left and managed to get back in the tournament.
Once we were down to 3 player and I had most of the chips, I tried to pick on the players alternatively and whichever one had the larger stack. I knew both of them would be thinking about 2nd place and wanting the other to go out. I got re-raised pre flop a couple of times and folded what would have been a good shot at taking a player out for a couple of reasons. Firsly, I didn’t want to double 1 player up as the other would then feel the need to push. I also didn’t exactly want to take a player out, as this would change the dynamics of the game. At the moment, the 2 players were in survival and fold mode. As soon as I took a player out, the other would be in take a chance and double up mode, I wanted to make sure they were both as short stacked as possible before that happened.
TE: What are your thoughts now on your win a few days on?
RO: It’s excellent. I have been reading the live updates and reports and it’s great to have a record of how it happened. I’ve also been rethinking the hands to see if I’d play them any different. I have been getting loads of congratulations through, I am lagging behind in my responses, but will hopefully get back to you all at some point.
TE: And playing in the GUKPT next year…presumably that will be a the bigest buy-in competition you will have played?
RO: Sure is! APAT is my largest tourney entry so far ;) I’ll try and play some other tournaments in before I play the big one.
TE: Congratulations again!