Charlie Carrel: "It Doesn’t Hurt To Be Lucky"
Charlie Carrel has enjoyed some fantastic tournament results while in Prague, Czech Republic over the years. The €535,250 he collected for a runner-up finish in the 2016 EPT Prague €50,000 Super High Roller ranks in his top five live cashes to this day. You do not get your hands on that sort of money without a lot of skill and a helping of luck.
Carrel got lucky on Day 1a of the delayed 2021 EPT Prague Main Event on March 10. He was involved in a hand during Level 2 that should have seen him heading to the cashier’s desk to purchase a re-entry. As it happened, Lady Luck shone down on Carrel and he lived to play another hand.
The hand in question took place during Level 2 where blinds were 100/100, a hand Carrel described as "fascinating" and one that he says took in "every single element of poker."
In Carrel’s words, " a recreational player (Andreas Boelling) opens from under the gun to 300. Now, bear in mind he just opened to 700 with ace-king, meaning he’s got way fewer hands that are very nutted, at least from my perception. The hijack called and we call in the cutoff with pocket fives."
So far, there has been nothing out of the ordinary about the preflop action. However, that all changes when the action is on the player in the big blind.
"The big blind is a very, very good online playing but not so very good at live, he misclicks when he tries to put out 300; he puts out two fives [five hundreds] and one 100, so it makes it 1,100 which opens up the action again. No the recreational player makes it 2,800, which means that he could be trying to f**k ‘em around. He could maybe see that it was a misclick and is just trying to take down the blinds. So the hijack folds and it is on me with pocket fives, and it is a very difficult decision."
"Some percentage of the time, the recreational player only ever has aces, kings, or queens. Some percentage of the time he has 100% of his range, meaning he can have queen-nine suited, ten-nine suited, king-nine suited, there’s so many hands. I made my decision in the end based on the fact that this is a re-entry tournament."
Re-entry tournaments allow players to re-enter if they bust while late registration is open. Some allow the player to re-enter on the same Day 1, others allow re-entries on subsequent flights.
"That’s very significant in these kinds of tournaments. What a lot of players don’t understand is that when you have a huge edge on the field, on your first bullet, you can actually take quite a few higher variance spots, try and grind up a stack, and they try to do something juicy with it. If it goes wrong, you can play a lot tighter on your second entry."
Carrel clarified with the dealer that the Main Event is re-entry, and once the dealer confirmed this was the case, Carrel began pondering his options.
"My options are either to fold, play it safe, play tight. That’d be the standard play. To shove, which I thought would be a little bit off because there’s some percentage chance from our perspective that this big blind player who misclicked could have actually been doing some kind of angle and could actually have aces themselves. I thought shoving was the worst option, so actually made it 8,500 or something along those lines. The UTG player only had 12,500 total, so it's a lot of blinds; it’s over 100 big blinds. The under the gun player takes a few second before he goes all-in, so at this point we know we’re f****d but we have to call because we’re priced in with pocket fives no matter what. We spike a five on the flop."
Carrel not only flopped a set but improved to a full house on the river to give his stack a sizeable boost and send the under the gun player to the rail.
"The moral of the story is: even if you punt, it still doesn’t hurt to be lucky."
He may have gotten lucky in this hand but Carrel crashed out during Level 8 on Day 1a.