Tuesday, March 14, 2006


I've just written this for my bio on the new blondepoker page. It's all a bit self-absorbed, but I thought some of you might find it of interest. It's pretty much about how I got started in poker. No Brunson-esque anecdotes here I'm afraid, but for the younger readers among you, there might be a few things in here that ring true. Hope you find it an interesting read. Also, I've just realised that I've never posted a pictue of myself, so here I am, likkle me. This was actually an intense moment at Rob Yong's house whislt I awaited my opponent's decision. Can you work out if I was bluffing or not?

Wow. Where to start? It feels so vein talking about myself, but, what the hell, let’s give it a crack.

After a boring 19 year existence in sunny Brum, the poker bug gnawed its teeth into my young innocent 20-year old flesh in the city of Nottingham, where I had just started a degree in Art History. Now, the fresher’s year at Uni isn’t renowned for being the most enduring, so there was plenty of time to encase myself in my newfound passion. On one occasion, I recall spending the entire evening at the Gala Casino, not even slightly worried about the exam I had the next day.

One rainy day, my good friend Stu Smith and I were testing the Internet waters in the Derby Hall computer room when we came across a well-known site in PokerRoom.com. After hearing about this poker lark from my bro, and catching the odd, and now legendry, episode of Late Night Poker on Channel 4, we decided to give it a bash. Fortunately, this was poker without the downloadable software, which meant the Uni would never learn of our gambling exploits.

When people ask me where I first played, I confidently answer ‘Boston.’ When met with the expected looks of perplexity, I swiftly inform them that it was the ‘location’ of an online table at PokerRoom.com. For a period of 4 or 5 weeks, Stu and I would set up camp in the computer room and plan our day of pokering to the extreme. Hours upon hours would be spent on play (?!) tables trying to master the game. How we were able to be so entertained by such long periods of play money games, I will never know, but that was the magic of the game, and a spark that I fear will never quite reignite to its fullest.

Once our online game had been perfected (or so we foolishly thought), we ventured into the live arena. Both nervous and shaking like jelly in the Artic, we took our first anxious steps into the Gala cardroom. A mere five-minute journey away from the Uni, it felt like the natural route to take.

Smoke filled and greeted by many a ‘Who are these young schmucks?’ face, the Gala was an intimidating place. If you think it’s raucous now, then you should have been there 4 years ago. With the exception of a young lad called Ed, and my dear brother Jammer (just), we were the only third generation players present. In fact, the whole ultra-aggressive style hadn’t yet developed and many a player were still adopting a super tight strategy. For Stu and myself, this worked well, as the nucleus of our knowledge had derived from the books of Cloutier and several of the other ‘old school’ mentors. We were very ABC, but for beginners, that wasn’t bad, and, for this type of setting, it was to work pretty well.

Whilst Stu cashed on his very first effort, I won the event outright (something that is a rarity these days – winning outright, not just me winning that is) a few weeks later and took home what was then a very tasty 1500 squid. It was official, we were hooked. Big sweaty men, smoke that tore the lining off your lungs, and more c-bombs than I could shake a stick at, what more could any human being want?

I joke, but for once, I felt at home. Every elimination felt like a firm kick in the testicles and each day commenced with me checking the schedule in the hope that today was a ‘Gala night’. My obsession grew to such an extent that even friends were left out in the cold in favour of a night of gambling. Tragic, but true.

After improving my game each and every night, I suddenly hit my purple patch. For a skint guy playing off his student loan, winning 1500 was massive, but to encounter a run of wins was humongously ginormous. Within the space of a few weeks, my bank account had shot up to the 5 figure mark. Completely out of the blue, but definitely welcomed with open arms. A Friday £20 rebuy win followed by a six way split in the then renowned £100er on my very next visit had meant a nervous trip to the Uni bank with 4.5k in my inside pocket. Why I took the bus I’ll never know. It sounds like small change compared to the sums of these days, but for me, I felt like Henry Hill. (although I’m closer to Harry Hill)

With both Stu and I starting to cash at every opportunity, the whole Hall seemed to become obsessed with the game. Late Night Poker was a permanent fixture, home games were now firmly in place, and trips to the Gala seemed to recruit another addict on each visit. It was awesome and I loved every minute of it!

By the time I’d left Uni, I’d earnt a pretty hefty sum off the game. Nothing huge, but for someone like me, it was pretty big. I think I was one of the few who were fortunate enough to escape work during the holidays. No standing behind bars, working in shops, or stacking shelves in the local Asda. Nope, I’d escaped all that thanks to Poker, and, in hindsight, I should have been more thankful.

Perhaps that lack of gratitude was to be punished via the dark days I experienced post University. After leaving with a 2-1, I was at somewhat of a loss. Not knowing where I was going, who I was meant to be, or what I was supposed to do, I convinced myself that my future lied in playing poker. I took a part time job with my Dad whilst I set up stall at Grosvenor Walsall and opted to play every single tournament possible.

One problem. I couldn’t win! I cashed on my first ever visit to Walsall, but from them on, barely a dime crossed my palms. Wrongly thinking I was invincible, I’d stopped learning. Books had been shoved aside, and every hand on TV was met with a feeling of ‘he played that wrong, my way is right’. You have to stay open minded in this game, and my mind was firmly shut at all the wrong times.

After splashing out most of my previous winnings on a car, insurance, widescreen TV, Hi-Fi, and other such luxuries, I suddenly found myself very short. I was playing games that I couldn’t afford, and I was soon bust. I’d failed to leave myself any financial room for a bad run (of luck AND play).

Sometimes you need to go broke in this game before you can better yourself, and that’s exactly what happened to me. A whole year wasted because I was naïve, cocky, and ignorant. Doh!

As a result of this sudden revelation, I took a bit of time away from the game, got myself a tedious, but oddly rewarding job, and revisited the drawing board. I was virtually penniless, so I started playing the £5 rebuy at Walsall. It was painful involving myself in the mindless weekly chip throwing contest, but I had no choice. Grit my teeth, knuckle down, and start winning again. After a month or two, I won the event and took home around a grand. Soon after, that grand turned into 2, and then it went from there. I was back! ‘Never again’ were my parting words.

A year on, and I’m playing the game semi-professionally after quitting what was only ever going to be a temporary job. After stalling for so long online, I’ve finally cracked the Internet and worked out my own personal system for winning. My live game is improving all the time and I enter each tournament better equipped mentally than the last one.

The other segment of my life is filled with trips to EPTs, Grosvenor Festivals, and any other tournament tikay wants me to update on. I am thrilled to bits with my position on blonde and I am truly thankful to both tikay and Dave for giving me a shot. I hope I have repaid them by the bucket-full. I LOVE being a part of the circuit and I am utterly grateful for every day that I am involved in the live poker tour. It really is that much fun and for the first time in a long time, I kind of feel alive and as if my life has some kind of direction.

Long may it continue. I’m hooked. Always have been and always will. Nurse! Injection please.


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