I am Nilda Cerna, a Chilean living in London, I started playing home games in Chile a long time ago to continue playing cash at the casino in Barcelona. When landed in London I played a couple of live tournaments getting some good results, but basically was playing very tight-aggressive and watching how other players got in trouble until being in HU.
Last year, after getting a payout in an online MTT I decided to invest that money in online materials, which was good, I learned a lot, but I wanted to take my game to the next level, so I decided to find a coach and I came to John Bradley from UltimatePokerCoaching.com, who has a large experience in both, cash game and MTTs.
John and I have been working together on a bespoke plan, we’ve reviewed basic strategy concepts, such as bet sizings, Cbetting, turn and river play, barreling, etc to more advanced concepts. With the hand review he spotted the main leaks that were draining my win rate, he also advised me on which are the ones that also can get advantages, such as stealings blinds and pots. We started with cash games, as it was more suitable for my job schedule, to then move to MTTs over the summer (WSOP period).
As I played as a rec for a long time, I had lots of areas that I needed to improve, and most of them were very automated, so it’s more difficult to apply the change, however, I am determined to master the game doesn’t matter how long it takes!
Having John with experience in, both cash and MTT, allow me to understand both dynamics and how to play both, deep and short stack and how to extract the max value in every spot.
PokerStars Mega Series London
I qualified for the Main Event within the PS Mega Series in London from a £110 online sat. I played the day 1C turbo (30 min) passing to Day 2 with 38K (around 25bb) from a 30K initial stack, so, was more or less the same as getting into day 2. I was mentalised to double up as soon as possible, so I did it with K9s for a flush draw with I got, beating AA, and keeping me alive.
However, I didn’t slow down, the blinds were 60 min this time, not 30 as Day 1, but I love turbos, so I didn’t adapt properly and as soon I can, I went all-in with AJs, again chasing the flush draw and overpair, but didn’t get it. So went home with 53rd place out of 256 players, and 31 ITM.
Then on Sunday, there were three tournaments at low buy-in: The Women’s event £150, a Knockout £330 and a £220 re-entry, all of them turbos or hyper (20min, 15 and 15 respectively) I was dying to play the Knockout, I love this type of tournaments because you always can get bounties either if you are not in the money, but the idea of getting a trophy within a small field (the ladies) crossed my mind.
Having money is nice, this is why we play poker, but the trophy gives you the glory. So I asked John, what was his point of view and what he suggests me to play, he came with a very pro reply “small field means less variance and it starts early (12pm) so more chance you can get in another if you bust, plus it’s cheaper so you’ll feel more ok about rebuying” which made me a lot of sense, especially the part of the “less variance” as the Knockout has a lot, so I decided to join the Women’s event.
How I Won the Women’s Event
Nilda Cerna winning the Poker Stars London Mega Series Women’s Event
I went very mentalised on getting the trophy, so my idea was to play aggressive but not crazy. Luckily, I double up very early on the tournament with KK, UTG raised, I 3bet, UTG shoved and I called, of course, she showed AA. My first thought was “John was right, I am going to re-entry as it’s cheap” but then I hit a flush, so doubled up.
Since the beginning I took John’s advice of stealing pots, so I attacked the blinds lot, the more I get to know the other player’s styles, the more pots stold, such as 3 betting preflop to players who showed weaker hands before. At a time the lady on my left said “how come you are getting hands all the time” as I was stealing her all the BB, just that moment I had Ax so I showed the A… the next few blinds she kept folding her blinds quickly.
I was building my stack little by little due to winning small pots until a Korean-American lady joined our table, she was as aggressive as I am, so I slowed down a bit and tried not to get into trouble hands with her, she did the same to me, when we went to HU, we checked a lot, but with the rest a lot of 3 bet/jam took place. At some point, the croupier said “I haven’t seen a table so agro recently.”
This nice lady and I were taking all the pots until a third strong player joined. She was a bit tight, but when in the pot, she played aggressively, at some point, at the final table, I took a big part of her stack with AA, against her KK.
The field was small 30 entries, including re-entries, so, only five places were ITM. When we reach the final table we were three players with most of the stack and the rest short/medium stack, so they went basically shoving as soon as they can, and the three of us were kicking them out. I lost a lot of chips during this period but still managed to be within the three last reminders.
At this point, I decided to continue with the aggression and stole the most of the blinds I can, so I raised with almost every single card on the Button and SB, they either folded or called me if the flop was favourable for me to bluff I did it, so I was back with a decent stack to keep pushing. We didn’t wait that long to be on HU, they went all-in with A8 and A6 if I remember well, the nice Korean-American lady took 3rd place.
Poker Stars Mega Series London 2021 Women’s Event Trophy
The croupier announced the HU to the floor who came with the trophy and put it on the table… the other girl, from somewhere in Yorkshire, said “oh, there is a trophy?!” which I reply “this is why I joined this tournament” The trophy on the table put a bit of pressure, now she also wants the trophy. As she kicked out the other lady, we had more or less the same stack at this point, and both with an aggressive style, except that I was more able to still blinds than her, but, on HU a lot of things can happen, a small mistake from either side will put us with a very low stack or in second place.
We didn’t play so many hands until I was dealt JJ in the SB, I really hate them, I’ve lost so many hands with them, that every time that I see them is “oh, no, I am going to get in trouble”. So this time was telling myself, ”this is only a pair, I need to be able to fold them!”. So I raised pre-flop, she called. The Flop came something like 37T, I did my continuation bet, and she shoved. Here she could perfectly have a set, but I think she will want me to be in the hand if that is the case, we were 200K deep, so no need to trigger that amount of chips with a set, so, she wants me out. So, I guess she hit a pair, because no flush or straight draw, so I called, she showed K3, the flop and turn did not improve her hand, so I won the tournament and the trophy!
Now in perspective, I can say winning this tournament was a summary of all the concepts studied and hands reviewed in the poker coaching sessions, I was able to get the maximum value from strong hands, to fold the ones that didn’t have enough equity to call, get death chips and also stealing a lot of blinds. Getting this knowledge and experience didn’t happen overnight, was part of the long-term personalised coaching program set with John Bradley.
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