Merit Western Poker festival re-cap

I thought I would wrap up my two-week blogging spree from the Merit Western poker festival by doing a re-cap post from the event. Safe to say that poker-wise it was an absolute disaster. I did however, enjoy the facilities a lot, and I met some amazing people. Some who provided some interesting insights, and even managed to change my mindset surrounding certain things.

Poker results (or lack thereof)

So let’s begin with the poker results. In total over the two weeks, I had buy-ins for roughly $25,000, and cashes for roughly $5,000. I did sell 50% of my action in both $5k’s and both $2k’s, which reduced the crash impact slightly. Overall I am quite happy about how I played during the two weeks, despite my results. I believe I punted a bit in a $660 satellite to the $5k main, in the hand described here:

It taught me a lesson to be more aware of table dynamics, and what is going on. It might also have been a pure ICM punt, as it was a very soft field. In very soft satellites you can often just sit back and wait for people to commit ICM suicide, while you as the short stack sit back and enjoy the show. Oh well, experience points gained.

I also believe my bust out hand from the $5,000 main event might have been a pip too loose. As described in the linked post, I got in 99 for 14 bb’s vs utg open and utg+1 13bb re-shove. In a tough online tournament, I think this would have been fine, but in a soft live field like this, I think I should have gone with TT as my bottom. We were approaching the bubble stages of the tournament though (59 left and 35 paid), so I think there is a case to be made for attempting to build a stack to boss people around (instead of being bossed around), as the bubble approaches.

The hotel and its surrounding facilities

As most of the time was spent around the poker table, I did not have as much time as I would have liked to explore the area. It was not until my last day there, that I actually got to sightsee properly around the hotel. The surrounding area was absolutely stunning, and I will for sure try to get back there for one of their events during the summer to enjoy it properly. There was a duck pond, a private beach, a beautiful outdoor pool area and a bunch of recreational activity options. I kind of regret spending as much time at the tables as I did, when I discovered how nice the area was. I’ll post a bunch of pictures at the end of the post.

New friends, new insights and new perspectives

I did end up making quite many new friends and acquaintances during the trip. I believe I was the only Norwegian there, and there was also no-one from Estonia (as far as I know). I had a couple of friends there (Andrew Hedley and Monika “HeyMonia” Zukowicz), but for the most part, I was left to my own and (luckily) forced to make some new friends! Some of these friends I gained some very interesting insights and perspectives from. Especially with regards to relationships, sexuality and spirituality (you know, classic hippie stuff). These insights and perspectives were so profound and interesting, that I will be doing some experimentation and changes in this area of my own life, going forward. As it’s a pretty big topic, I’ll write a separate blog entry about it when I get the time.

All in all

I am glad I made this trip, although the poker results could have been better. I’m not gonna whine about how bad I ran etc, but I am very confident that I was printing Sklansky Bucks (aka theoretical dollars), every time I clicked the register button over in the cash desk. Poker is a game of variance, and it’s important to take the downswings with as much grace as the upswings. I also felt a bit rusty in many spots during these weeks, and I found myself lacking a bit in confidence, based on this. I think for me personally this happens in periods where I have not been studying as much as I know I should be. December was a month filled with travelling (Copenhagen, Tallinn, Steinkjer (Norway), and Berlin), as well as moving to a new apartment in Tallinn. I got to do some study sessions here and there, but overall the volume (and quality) of studying was not up to par. I definitely want to be more prepared (if only for confidence reasons), before I make another trip like this with a lot of live grinding at fairly high stakes.

I just realized that this post became… lengthy. Shoutout to the most patient of you who made it all the way here, and thanks for reading! As I eluded to before, my next post will be more of a personal one, with some thoughts on sexuality, pornography, spirituality, relationships, self development etc. It should definitely be an interesting one, with a lot of oversharing. Anyways, links below if you want to connect. Feedback always much appreciated!


Oh yeah, here are some pics from the hotel and the surrounding area:

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