Tuesday, November 29, 2005


A quick glance at the clock, then a look back at the other one. I might even check out the digital clock on my computer, perhaps that one is faster! Nope, they’re all the same and I have another 3 hours of boredom ahead of me. Guess I could always pop onto Blonde and see if anyone has posted. After all, it has been 2 minutes now, maybe someone has replied to my post. Nope, still the same, no change. I’ll just tap refresh then, click constantly until something changes. Wait a second, the boss is coming, I’d better flick over to a spreadsheet and look busy. Right, he’s gone, back to Blonde. Nope, no change. What’s the time again?

Argh!!! Then I woke up in a cold sweat. These scenes are still in my nightmares.

It’s been 10 days now since I quit the job and I have no regrets, none whatsoever. In fact, I’m absolutely thrilled with the way it’s all started. I was severely worried that I’d be spending all my time in front of the monitor, playing out potentially tedious online sessions, but that hasn’t been the case. In fact, I haven’t played one single hand online. It’s as if I’m on a junior-esque cold turkey, except without the cold and without the turkey.

Although I was officially planning to commence my new career yesterday, I couldn’t resist purchasing a seat in one of the Midlands Masters events. After scouring the options, I concluded that the £300 No Limit Freezout would be the most sensible option for a fellow in my position. I pulled out my ‘Live Poker’ debit card and swiftly purchased my golden ticket.

Tuesday soon came around and I couldn’t wait to get in and amongst the cards. No matter how much you love playing online, I don’t think you can beat the live experience. Meeting new people, spotting old faces, banter at the table, identifying tells; these are just a few of the aspects that I love and is what motivates me to keep revisiting the live scene, whether I deem it profitable or not.

Due to the high number of players, 163 in all (150 max – hmm), I was on a diddy reserve table. Reminded me of Christmas time when me and my cousins would be shoved onto the smaller kiddies’ table. Hold on, that still happens! Bah! Anyway, I felt like a giant for a while. I just preyed that no ‘big boned’ fellows drew the seat next door, otherwise I’d be crushed for sure.

Luckily, the only large competitor was seated opposite and I was safe, with a slim lad on either side. What a luxury! I had elbow room! A quick glance around and the only recognisable face was Ash ‘The Cash’ Pervais seated to my left. I don’t fear anyone, but it’s always a relief when there’re no dangermen around, just makes things slightly more reassuring. Moments before kick-off TightEnd had texted me to inform me that he was sharing a table with J ‘Wonderkid’ P, Burnley John, and Julian ‘Yoyo’ Thew. I didn’t offer to swap.

I’d decided before the comp that I was going to play aggressively in the hope that when I did get a hand, I’d have more chance of getting paid off. This is a strategy I often have to apply as many correlate youth with rockiness, so having your aces find a customer is sometimes a longshot. However, after a few hands, it became clear that this wouldn’t be too much of a concern. A young Geordie known as ‘Georgeous’ George and his buddy next door were playing almost every hand. In fact, I’m sure they had a side bet on who could knock the other out.

Apart from the action provided by these two, very little occurred on our table. Even ‘The Cash’ was surprisingly quiet. I’d built my stack up gradually to around 10k, picking up a few chips here and there. Then, suddenly, I got aces. There was a bet, a reraise from George, and then it was around to me on the small blind. Not the worst of situations to be in. I considered trapping, but thought that there was a good chance that I could get George to pay me off. I’d made a few moves on him earlier, so deduced that perhaps he was getting a bit ticked off with me. I stuck in a big bet and crossed my fingers. The original raiser folded and, after a long dwell, so did George. A tad disappointing, but nothing to get upset about. I had climbed up to around 13k from 7.5k, so almost doubled my stack by the break. Considering how tight and cagey these comps start, I was pretty happy with that scenario.

After the break, my table split and I was moved to a much livelier table. Almost every hand saw a preflop raise and few were interested in folding. One hand I was dealt pocket tens. An ultra-aggressive player raised, so I decided to reraise. He flatcalled. The flop came out Q-7-9. His checked seemed weak, so I bet. To my chagrin though, he move all-in. What could he have. I couldn’t imagine him flatcalling preflop with AA, KK, or QQ. Also, I think he’d bet the flop with J-J. On the flipside, would he really put all his chips at risk with a stonecold bluff, especially since I was new to the table and playing relatively tight. In the end I mucked my pocket pair and gave up almost half of my stack. I deduced that if he wasn’t trapchecking with AQ, then he was almost certainly being sneaky with 77 or 99. I may have been wrong, but, at the time, 7k was still a playable stack so I decided to let the hand go. Hmm – that one was on my mind for a while.

I’m not one to babble on about luck, but I definitely received a wink from the poker gods during this comp. Although I lost a chunk with AQ v KT, when I was low I made 3 outdraws, something that I rarely rely upon. First it was K4 v 99, then KQ v AK, and finally 72 (cough – don’t ask) v AK. All three beats raised an eyebrow or two, but there are different ways of assessing luck. Since the break, the best hand I’d seen was pocket tens. So does that make me unlucky too?

Anyhow, as I’d refused to let myself get too low, these double throughs had built me up nicely and I was given the freedom to play with slightly more panache. It was a bit of a yoyo experience at times, but by the end of day 1, I found my self on 35k and in with a shout. After the outdraws, I could make no complaints.

Day 2 arrived and I was eager to double up early, I just needed to scout for an opportunity. However, after a few all-ins found no callers, I was practically up to 50k anyhow. Junior had run into Kings, Andy Gomm had been sent packing, and before we knew it, there were about 12 players left.

Mickey ‘The Worm’ Wernick was dominating the table, but I was still managing to keep my head above water with 65k. Then came a hand which earned me a few jibes from the table and a couple of railers. With blinds at 3 and 6, I raised 15k with A8 off. Paul Hampton in the big blind had a think, then pushed in for another 30k. Paul is a very good player and capable of making a move with a hand like KQ, QJ, 66, etc, so I decided not to be too hasty in folding. Right, it was costing me 30k into a pot of 69k. That’s more than 2-1 on my money with a chance of knocking someone out. I could easily be a 50-50 shot and perhaps even ahead. Also, if I won the hand, I’d be up to around 100k and in a strong position come final table. I was here to win the comp outright, not sneak onto the final table, so I opted to call. Unfortunately, in all my blurred logic, I’d failed to acknowledge Paul’s acting abilities. I know Mr Hampton to be a very sneaky devil and not adverse to a bit of theatrics, so, in hindsight, I shouldn’t really have been surprised to have seen AK, a hand that most would play in a flash, not dwell over. No 8 came, I was left with 25k, and a few players told me how crap the call was. Ah well, I was still in.

To cut a long story short, I did manage to make the final table. I doubled up with 62 v AK and had a few all-ins unanswered. With 65k on the final table, I actually found a hand in the big blind when I met the cowboys. Mickey raised with AT from the button, the small blind move all-in with AQ and I pushed also. Mickey passed, the flop came down with and ace, and that was the end of me. After dealing out a few bad beats, I was on the end of a stinker myself, but I really wasn’t in a position to moan.

So £1500 for 8th and 480 ranking points. Not a bad start to the full-time poker career, but it still hurts when you exit the comp. I had my eyes firmly set on the 18k 1st prize, but it wasn’t to be. It had been a constructive learning experience and I was thrilled to see Julian bring home the bacon, even if he does deny knowledge of my 30% cut. Well, I guess it was worth a try.

To summarise, I’d played 1 comp since quitting my job and earnt £1200 in one night. Just think how many glances at the clock that is, how many times I’d be checking my watch, waiting for life to pass me by. I’d gained vital experience and had an enjoyable time doing so. I met some new faces in Booderham, 77Dave, and TightEnd, and some old ones in RED-DOG, Junior, Yoyo, and so on. Great fun, great days!

So, any regrets? I don’t think I need to answer that…

Ps. I also had a laugh with Ian ‘The Belly’ Oldershaw. How can a vegetarian get a name like that?! And I thought poker was complex…


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