Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Whilst in the Midlands, I thought why not make a return to the tournament felt and head down to Walsall. It’s not my favourite venue in the world, but it does the job, and Dani and Zak are always nice to me when I pop down.

Before I left, I played a session of heads up online cash. It was rather brief though. I sat down with $400 and said what I always say at the start of a session: “Focus, play tight, and just get a feel of your opponent first.” First hand I bluffed T-7s on a rag-rag-rag-A-rag board, firing barrels on every street including one pre-flop. Crikey, I’m starting to sound like Blue Scouse!

This put him down to a third of his stack, and moments later he was broke. He scarpered and I picked up my $609 and said thank you very much. Not bad for 5 minutes work and pays for my trip down the M6.

Set out early for Walsall. I’m always worried, the motorways are forever changing and I wouldn’t be surprised to see cones on my exit and a sign diverting me to the North Pole and back.

I reckon I can predict the outcome of tournaments from my journey there. If I dordle in the slow lane then I’m relaxed, but clearly daydreaming and not as focused as I should be. If I’m whizzing along in the fast lane, then I’m probably a little too uptight or angry to be playing my A-game. If I’m spending most of my time in the middle lane, however, then I’m in a good frame of mind and always seem to fair better. Of course, the correlation between lane selection and tournament performance is slightly unproven and doesn’t take into account luck, but I’d left my radio in the boot, so I had to keep my mind occupied somehow.

I was met by Liz at the door, a truly wonderful character and one that can brighten up anyone’s day. Mad as a box of monkeys and loud as a gong, but a star nonetheless. If you ever want proof of opposites attracting, then check out Zak and Liz. I’m sure Zak wheres the trousers in that relationship, and has Liz’s permission to say so.

Inside looked no different, except for the smoke. I could actually see the other side of the room and my eyes no longer stung. I’m all for this ban, I hate going home with smoky clothes, no one wants to do the washing after one outing, and why should we? True, the cardroom never permitted smoking, but people used to stand on the rail and let the smoke drift over, which, if you were on a table adjacent to the rail, was doubly worse.

They reckon that as the weather worsens, numbers might decrease due to people not want to stand in the rain smoking. This might be a problem with the bingo halls, but I can’t see that happening at the local casinos. Most of these guys are tobacco AND poker addicts and would smoke knee deep in poo if they had to.

The players at Walsall were mostly unknowns, which puzzled me. Jon Hewston, Ben Callinan, Darshan Sami, Andy Johnson and Satnam Sandu were there, but that was about it, the rest were unfamiliar. Oh, Alan Geddes was a surprise entrant. More familiar to the Luton clan, he’s moved up to the Midlands to be closer to his kids. He’s still single though and can play every day if he wants, which is pretty much what he’s doing. Was Tony Blair’s tennis coach, according to tikay and Tighty, but I still suspect they’re pulling my leg.

£30 freezeout, well, one rebuy, around 60 players. I don’t like to bang on about too many hands unless they’re mind blowingly interesting (which they normally aren’t), but what I will say is that the standard made me look like a Stephen Hawking on a good day. People were playing it like a multiple rebuy, and genuinely seemed slightly miffed when they used up both their 1.5k stacks after 5 minutes with rag aces and crappy flush draws. I stumbled into a bad beat for my first lot, and then raised to 400 with tens with the second to take the blinds or single out one opponent. 5 people (!) decided to call and nothing came. I did get lucky though, moving in from the big blind for my last 800 with A-5 after everyone had limped for 100. Didn’t expect K-3 and A-7 to call. Lucky I hit my quad fives then.

Took another bad beat and was down to 100 in the freezeout stage, but we’ve all heard the napkin story and the tired, old ‘chip and chair’ phrase. Well, it rang true here, I doubled up to 400, then 1.2k, then 2.5k… right up to 18k. At this point, it wasn’t about making the final, just winning so I could tell the grandkids I won with one chip. Might I just clarify that I don’t have any grandkids at the moment, I was making a future reference. Not to say that I want grandkids, Dana, just that… oh, forget it.

I guess several months away from the table can’t fend off at least a little ring rust. Alan Geddes limped under the gun and I checked the big blind. 9-9-7 Flop, check, check, Turn Ace. He bet 2k, I called, River Rag. He quickly slid in 6k to leave me with shrapnel if I called. I’d smooth called the Turn to induce a bluff on the River, but for some reason I second-guessed myself and folded my Ace-5. Don’t ask why, I guess I wasn’t sure in the end and knew I was still in good shape if I folded. He showed J-To for the bluff and I was left to rue my mistake. I knew he was at it, I should have called, there are very few strong hands he could have had. “You made me sweat there,” he added after proudly showing the bluff. I let him off the hook in this incident, good poker face, mind, looked like he was waiting for a bus.

Down, but not out, I crawled onto the final table with mainly low denomination chips, but was to soon suffer my demise. Getting low, I pushed from the button with K-Js (even though Alan had flat-called under the gun with Sevens), only to fall head first into a world of poo with Andy Johnson moving all-in behind me. His A-K held up and I was gone in 8th for £90. Paid for my night and I was glad to make the final after so long out (especially from just one chip), but disappointed not to win. I play every comp for first, so anything else is rather unsatisfactory.

Like Gary Glitter said (although not for a while now), it’s good to be back, and he’s not wrong. It was only a £30 event and a 1k first prize, but I’ll play anything, from a £2 rebuy to £1,000 freezeout, I’m really not that fussed. At the moment, I’m still learning, and I just want to win. I also like the challenge of winning at all levels. Way too many people mock rebuy crapshoots, but there is a skillset required to conquer both, and I’m keen to master the lot. From my early years playing £20 rebuys, I’d learned the game on these events, as did Thewy who became so apt at them before moving onto newer pastures. For this reason, I had my eyes firmly fixed on Friday’s £20 rebuy fest at the Broadway, but before then, a quick trip up north to visit some old friends…


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