Saturday, December 31, 2005


First off, happy new year all! Seeing that I’m writing this, I guess I’m not too big on all the end of year festivities. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big Christmas fan, but when it comes to the turn of the year, I’m a bit of grumpy git. Crowded clubs, overpriced tickets, rip-off drinks, not really my cup of tea I’m afraid. What’s wrong with getting pissed in the comfort of your own lounge?! That’s what I say.

Anyhow, back to the poker. I’ve been on a bit of a break really. Haven’t played a full session since a week last Thursday, 9 days in total. Not much of a cold turkey, but then again, 9 days isn’t the longest break in the world. Well, I ended the drought today by attempting to take advantage of the end of year celebrations. Yep, you got it, I’m one of those saddos who stay in on New Year’s Eve, lurking about online, trying to find a batch of good value comps. Well, I wouldn’t say I was too successful in my search as the only really decent value comp I could find was the Ladbrokes $100 rebuy which guaranteed $40,000. With only 156 players, this is pretty good value in my opinion, but Laddies obviously thought ahead by taking 10k off the guarantee. Even so, still worth entering.

Most other comps I looked at seemed to be reaching the guarantee. With the combination of sites reducing their pots and more players trying to take advantage of the lack of numbers, there was little value to be found. However, determined to keep myself amused, I registered for three comps:

Hold Em $100 NL freezout – 6k guaranteed
Hold Em NL $100 rebuy – 40k guaranteed
Omaha $10 PL rebuy

I was planning on playing more, but was a little tired so restricted myself to just the three. Also, I felt myself beginning to lose patience, so, unlike on previous occasions, I made sure that I didn’t enter more comps than my attention span could handle.

The $100 freezout, which found 60 players, was going great guns until I was dealt bullets. A harmless 3-4-3 flop looked good until I found my opponent with pocket fours. Out in 17th after playing a good comp. Always frustrating when a hand like that crops up, but I guess you just have to take it on the chin.

The $100 rebuy actually cost me $200 as I bought in immediately to enable me to see more flops. Once again, I was going great guns until two brisk hands dealt my demise. The first I was caught semi-bluffing when I check raised my opponents top pair with a flush draw. Of course, I missed. The very next hand I found Big Slick and overbet with a preflop all-in, secretly hoping that it looked like I was tilting. Well, one fella fell for the bait, but, unfortunately, I forgot that my A-K was still a drawing hand. His pocket sevens sent me packing and I really didn’t fancy a rebuy.

Still, I was chugging away nicely in the Omaha. Okay, there were only 35 players, but $450 for 1st wasn’t too bad. It was just a shame that top dog was the only position that would show a profit for the night. Eventually I finished up 3rd taking $180.80, so it could have been worse. Plus, I enjoyed it. The banter on the final table was fun and always makes for a more entertaining game.

So, there you have it. Sorry to bore you with all this, looking back, I really haven’t said anything particularly interesting. In fact, I’m drifting off just thinking about the waffle I’ve just written.

Suppose the important issue is that I’m playing poker again after such a heavy defeat last week. There’s always the fear that you’re gonna simply continue losing money, but I couldn’t let that stop me from playing. Anyway, I didn’t profit from the multis, but I played pretty well, so I’m happy.

Tomorrow is the real test. That’s when I hit the ring games again. A good start would really do me the world of good…

Clocking off now before I bore you all to death with my wittering.

Happy new year all.

Thursday, December 29, 2005


I’ve encountered some top notch players over the last 4 years, but I’d have to say that my toughest opponent is Julian ‘Yoyo’ Thew. Although I’ve known him for quite a while now, we’ve been offered few opportunities to cross swords. However, if we met at the table more regularly, I’m sure he’d cause me all sorts of headaches.

Over the last 2 or 3 years, Julian has developed into a mighty fine poker player. Calm, disciplined, and focused, he is perhaps one of Europe’s finest players. In fact, I’d go as far to say that he is capable of world class status and I truly believe that he could soon be challenging some of the game’s greatest names at the highest levels.

Personally, I never embrace the prospect of playing Julian. True, he’s one of the game’s politest players and it is always an honour to compete against him, but, if he were at my starting table, I’d consider his presence to be an early obstacle. I prefer a table full of tight predicable players, and Julian is anything but.

I’ve always considered him to be a sheep in wolf’s clothing. He looks so innocent, as if butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth, but given half the chance, he’d snap those chips away from you in a millisecond. The problem is that he’s so difficult to read. I find it really hard to put him on a bluff as he disguises his plays so well. With many players it is obvious when they’re on the steal, but, with Julian, it’s so much more frustratingly tricky. You know he bluffs frequently, you know he loves to pinch a pot, but you just don’t know when he’s doing it. This is a skill that few possess.

Last time I played Julian was at the Walsall Midlands Masters in the £200 event. I’d managed to avoid him all tournament, but, as we sat down for the final table, I realised that if I was going to win the comp, I’d probably have to outplay Julian at some point or another. Unfortunately, I never received the opportunity to even play one hand with him as I exited early in 8th. However, I decided to stop around and watch him destroy the rest of the table, eliminating the majority of the remaining competitors. Eventually, he kept his cool and patience to conquer Micky Wernick in a very intriguing heads up battle. His 18k payday for 1st was fully deserved and he never looked in danger of any other placing. More importantly, I don't believe there was anyone in the casino who wasn't delighted to see him rake the chips in victory.

Not once did Julian look as though he was going to exit that comp. He was stacked up right from the start, and this is something I witness from him on many an occasion. If Yoyo accumulates chips during a comp, he’s a real danger man, and you can bet your bottom dollar that he’ll be sitting on that final table when the smoke clears. I can’t even comment on how he plays a short stack, as I’ve never seen him with one. But if he did go down to the felt, I’m sure he wouldn’t hang around for too long, which might explain his current nickname.

Overall, what impresses me most is his table etiquette. He never moans, complains, or whinges and is always polite and courteous to the other players. This is a policy which I wish more would employ, but few do.

So, I really don't relish my future encounters with Julian. I hope we do meet again, in a way, as it means I could be on a final table. However, if we do bang heads, then I might adopt some of this lottery poker that I witness at lower stakes, as that way I may have a chance.

Friday, December 23, 2005


In keeping with catching my emotions as they happen, I’m writing now after just suffering a severe blow online. Up until this week, I’d yet to encounter a losing day, but now I’ve stumbled across 3 at once. I currently feel ashamed, angry, and disappointed. I can take losing money, but when it’s my own fault, I find it unacceptable. Usually I walk away from the laptop and forget about it within minutes, but this time, I’ve been beating myself up about it. Perhaps it’s because it’s my living now, maybe it’s because it was my 3rd consecutive loss, I could just be tired, who knows? Either way, I feel absolutely gutted.

All that hard work from the previous month, all that good play, all that resistance to tilting. Then I go and blow it all by playing like an idiot. For the first time in a long long time, I tilted. I didn’t just blow off a little steam, I raised the bar to the highest level of tiltness. Firstly, I started reaising preflop with rubbish in order to create action. I created action all right, but none of it was beneficial to my stack. Then every time I missed a flop, I tried a bluff, which always went pear shaped. If I actually hit something, I always seemed to be reraised by a hand which I knew was better than mine. But did I have the sense to release? Oh no, I refused to lay it down. I hit top pair with my AK, I know the reraiser has trips, so why on earth do I carry on playing the hand?! I even had a conversation with myself about how I should be laying the hand down, but I still didn’t listen. To make matters worse, I spread my titling over the four tables I was playing. I was doing all right on some of them, but I let my bad fortune on other tables effect my game across the whole board. Then, to tip it all off, I start racking off my chips. Instead of just taking my small stack and leaving the table, I looked for spots to gamble. All were stupid gambles, and all were deservedly punished. Sometimes, I make myself so mad it’s unbelievable.

I’m just not sure what’s wrong with me at the moment. I never ever tilt like this, so why now? Okay, I can honestly say that today I received the worst run of luck I have encountered in 4 years of online play. However, that doesn’t automatically mean that I should go on complete tilt and throw my remaining chips away. I’m full time now, if I do it again, I guarantee that I’ll give it all up and get myself my job. It’s that simple, what more motivation do I need?

Right, enough of the ranting. As you can clearly gather, I’m still furious with myself. Time to get a grip now. These things happen, nobody’s perfect. I thought I had tilting under complete control, but obviously I was wrong. I need a break, I won’t play till after Christmas, perhaps in about a week. In that time I will gather my thoughts and look back at some of the decisions I made. I was obviously fatigued, so I will sleep more and get myself into shape. Healthy body is a healthy mind, and I’ve ignored this recently. I just haven’t been thinking straight. Also, I’ll read some poker books to keep my brain active. Maybe watch some poker on tv, anything to keep me occupied.

Bottom line. Today I hit rock bottom, so the only way is up. I messed up, it won’t happened again, and if it does, I’m quitting.


Encountered another bad session on Wednesday.

Played for about 1hr 40 mins and lost $428.28

Looking back through Poker Tracker, I don't believe I made many errors, so I shall put it down to a bad run of cards. I missed 2 flush draws when I was pot committed in multiway pots. On another day, those draws bring home the bacon and I'm reporting of a tidy win.

I don't mind losing a session as long as i played well and didn't tilt. On this occasion I feel as though there are many positives I can take away with me.

(i) I quit rather than try to recuperate the loss
(ii) I didn't tilt
(iii) I didn't move up to the higher stake games

Also, I learnt a few things about my game.

(i) I raise raggedy aces preflop too frequently. I don't mind pushing them once in a while, but too often is dangerous as they rarely scoop a big pot.
(ii) I've been getting greedy. Making big raises on the river with monsters when I know my opponents are weak. If I stopped to think, the value bet would be much more profitable in the long-run.
(iii) Sometimes I call a raise with a pocket pair hoping to bust a big stack, then I realise my opponent is short stacked. By then, it's too late, error made.

Also, today I played 1 table of $1/2 Omaha High Low. Whilst not being the greatest player in the world, I like to think my game is relatively strong. Plus, it keeps things fresh. Could go mad playing Texas all year.

Anyway, pretty much broke even on the High Low. There was a fish sitting at the table who was trying desperately hard to give away his money. Twice he fluked a split pot on me.

One hand I was dealt Two Clubs. Flop came . Not too bad for little me. I bet and he called. Turn came giving me the nut flush and a full house draw. I bet the pot again. He called. River was the . I moved all-in and he called in a flash.

Hands were revealed, I showed my nuts for the high, whilst he flipped over three clubs for the low.

Bah. Humbug! Can be a frustrating game sometimes.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


For those of you still following my progress, here are the results of my first month in the game:

-- Live --

Comps = 5
Comp Types = 3 freezouts, 1 unlimited rebuy, 1 single rebuy
Total Buy-In Cost = £600
Total Registration Fee Cost = £66
Total Prize Winnings = £2900

Net Live Profit = £2134

-- Online --

Multi Comps = 2
Multi Profit = -£6
(including 1x $550+30 Cruise Weekly Final – fee accrued from Ladder Comps)

Cash Game Sessions = 16
Hours Played = 1204 mins (~20 hrs)
Average Session Length = 75 mins (1hr 15mins)
Longest Session = 207 mins (3hrs 45mins)
Shortest Session = 12 mins
Biggest Pot Won = $721.30
Biggest Pot Lost = $1004.40

Cash Game Profit = £718
Hourly Income = £35.78/hr

Net Online Profit = £712


Total Profit = £2846

Although I dumped $1400 yesterday, I’m still delighted with the outcome. I really can’t complain with earning just less than 3 grand in under a month. I do feel an added pressure from the folks to reach prosperous targets, but I think that they would be quietly impressed by those figures.

(i) Live Performance

Absolutely chuffed to bits with my live form. This month I reached two festival finals, 8th in Walsall and 5th at Luton. These were only £200 events, but with fields of 163 and 90 respectively, I’m happy just to know I’m performing well. It makes me think that I should play more big freezouts as I seem to have a decent success rate. I doubt many folk can claim to have cashed in their first three ranking events.

During the festivals, I managed to resist the temptation to play the more expensive events. At the moment, I’m not sure my bankroll can cope with the fluctuations. Fortunately, the live updates have kept me busy and enabled me to resist the temptation of investing some of my winnings on these bigger events.

I was also pleased to have hit 3rd at the Gala’s £20 single rebuy event. I loved this comp and it was reassuring to learn that cheap freezouts with reasonable starting stacks actually existed. If only these had been available to me a few years ago.

So, I’m in good form and reaching finals. No massive victories, but hopefully a big win is just around the corner…

(ii) Online Performance

as mentioned on a previous post, I have adopted a rating system by which I allocate myself a score out of 5 based on individual performances. Looking back, it appears that I started off well, but eventually finished the month playing poor poker.

When you encounter a streak of winning sessions, the inevitable losing day becomes that much harder to accept. Although to no dramatic extent, I have to confess to tilting on this occasion. Also, I didn’t quit when I should have. I was lethargic and clearly fatigued, but continued to play in an attempt to recuperate my loss. I was still playing relatively well, but this decision undoubtedly accounted for some of my deficit on that day.

I’m maintaining a solid aggressive game, and, on the whole, it seems to be paying off. There were times when I failed to let go of a hand, even when I knew I was behind. In addition, I have been raising preflop too frequently. In reflection, my profitable sessions have been when I’ve selected my opportunities more prudently.

Up until one particular day, my discipline had been pretty sound. Short carefully chosen sessions with plenty of breaks. Rarely have I played when tired or steaming. I’m yet to play drunk, but that does involve consumption of alcohol at some point. Suppose Christmas will be the true test.

(iii) Changes For Month 2

Not too many. I guess you don’t need to change a winning formula, just the odd tweak here and there. I will, however, make sure that I rectify the errors made on my losing day of online cash play. To achieve this I’ll need to:

(1) Be more selective in my preflop raising
(2) Refrain from titling whatsoever
(3) Don’t play too long and quit when I’m tired
(4) Assure plenty of breaks are taken
(5) Not chase losses or unattainable targets.

I intend to carry on playing online cash games and the odd live freezout. These are probably my strong points, so it makes sense for them to be my main focus of attention. Once my bankroll expands, I shall branch out to online multis and live cash games, but for the time being, I’m happy to chug along with what I’m already playing.

I definitely want to get myself fit and healthy again. I’m down to 9.5 stone, which is pretty light for me considering I was 11.5 at one stage. Suppose it’s all those late nights, a meal missed now and then, who knows? Anyhow, with Christmas dinner fast approaching, I’m sure I’ll pile those pounds back on in record time. I recall preaching in an earlier post, ‘Healthy body means healthy mind.’ Well, I still stand by that cliché and I fully intend to put it into practice over the next 4 weeks. Before you know it, I’ll be an Olympic athlete!

(iv) Targets For Month 2

I dislike setting financial targets in case I fall short. I don’t want to find myself trying to force bluffs or playing when I shouldn’t, just to reach a specific figure. Therefore, I’ll simply set my target to ‘profit’. At the moment, while I find my feet, I’m just happy making a bit of money playing the game I love. If I can keep things ticking over while I adjust to the lifestyle, I’ll remain a happy chappy.

Phew. Apologies for the long post. Hope it was of some interest. Guess it’s worth it though. It’s good to get things down into written form so I can maintain a realistic perspective on my progress. Before I finish, I really should just state that I have had an absolute blast over the past 4 weeks. I’m working when I want, sleeping when I want, eating when I want. I feel as though I’m in control of my own life and that the future is bright. Well, let’s hope so anyway…

Monday, December 19, 2005


I write 5 minutes off the back of a $1400 cash game loss. I’m having to really motivate myself to put pen to paper because I feel so deflated, but I thought it’d be interesting to discuss my thoughts so soon after being crushed by the world of online poker.

There’s a real sense of embarrassment in reporting losses. You’re happy to shout about any wins, but if a bad day arrives, you tend to keep it under your hat. However, if I am to be successful at poker, I can’t hide from my losses. I need to be realistic and face my bad days head on, otherwise I may never rectify any of the errors made.

(i) So how did I lose $1400?

A mixture of bad play and bad beats. The worst possible combination! Every time I hit top pair, I was reraised by trips. None of my pocket pairs made a set. My suited connectors failed to er… connect. If I bluffed a flop, I was called or reraised. If I hit 2 pair, four of the same suit arrived. Etc etc. It was just one of those nights where everything went wrong.

It all kicked off when AJ rivered my QQ, all-in preflop. Ouch! And so began the first of several beats. I won’t bore you with the stories, although I’m dying to go into great detail, but let’s just say that I was dealt a firm kick in the testicles on more than one occasion.

(ii) Did I play badly?

I’ve played worse, but that doesn’t say much. Speaking honestly, I’d have to say that I let the bad beats effect me. I didn’t do anything too ridiculous, but I called a few hands I would have normally folded. I carried on playing when I didn’t really fancy it, and I was reluctant to accept my loss. Although it’s part of my game, I’m pretty sure I raised preflop even more than I normally do. I was too eager to reduce my financial deficit, and this resulted in me trying to force through too many bluffs.

(iii) How do I feel?

Not too bad actually. I’ve had worse losses, and there’s no point in dwelling on what’s already happened. I won £300 at the Gala on Wednesday and I was previously $1200 up for the week online, so it’s hardly the end of the world. In fact, I’m still up for the last seven days. It’s just excruciatingly frustrating when you undo all that hard work. I’ll get it back, it’ll just take me slightly longer than it took to lose it. There are too many more important issues in the world and I’m not willing to worry about one bad night of poker.

(iv) What next?

I’ve decided to take a few days off. My last few sessions have been way too long, and I don’t want to reach the stage where I’m bored of playing. So, hopefully, I’ll return fresh and revitalised. I want my game to be in top form every time I log on, no excuses, and if this means taking time off, then so be it.

My first month of full-time poker finishes on Wednesday, so I’ll write up a progress report. I know I’m up, so I really can’t complain.

So, there you have it, I’ve been brought back to ground with a thud. Not a happy chappy, but as Eric said, ‘Always look on the bright side of life.’

Sunday, December 18, 2005



I reckon I can answer my own question now.

Just entered a mammoth session of cash game play. About 6 hours in all.

My head hurts and my eyes sting. I took no breaks.

Bad idea.

However, I didn't lose control of my emotions, even though I suffered some bad beats. Without going into detail, I lost $400 when my AA was rivered by KQ. Then, moments later, my made flush was outdrawn by trips with one card to come. $600 within seconds. Ouch. This is the danger of playing more than 1 table. A couple of outdraws and you've lost a packet within a very short space of time. Resisting tilt is then that much harder.

I was enraged at first, but managed to remain composed. I ran into some more bad luck with minor hands, and, at one point, was $800 down. I considered quitting, but decided that I was still playing well.

I stuck at it and managed to claw my way to being $150 up. I thought about stopping again, but decided that I had these guys beat.

An hour or two later, I was at a $600 deficit and seriously regretting my decision to continue. I probably should have stopped here, because I was becoming fatigued and making a few minor errors. However, I decided that, as long as my game didn't go completely down the pan, I'd play on and attempt another comeback. By this time, I think I was in the mindset of, 'I have to get back up to even', which is always dangerous.

Even though I should have quit there and then, I ended up being $100 up. A good result considering I was $800 down. I played well under the doom and gloom of bad beat city, but I still should have stopped playing earlier, if only to take a break.

Anyhow, a real yoyo night for me. I'm emotionally exhausted and ready to be tucked up in my kennel.


After a heavy week at Luton, I decided to take it easy on Monday and Tuesday in an attempt to recuperate. For me, playing tired always ends in tragedy. I lose money, I get narky, and I feel low. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one, so, for the sake of waiting a day or two, it’s not really worth logging on and hitting the tables. Come Wednesday I was back in the zone; fresh, reinvigorated and raring to go.

So what’s the biggest change in my game? That’s easy, and it’s made such a difference to my poker. Something so simple, but highly effective.

-- Knowing When To Play --

Before, I’d play whenever I felt like it. I could have been tired, mardy, whatever, but if I fancied a game, I’d play, whatever the potential consequences. These days I can’t really afford to do that. If I have an urge to play, but know deep down that my brain isn’t functioning as normal, then I have to resist.

This goes for tilting too. Every time I’m losing, I want to continue, even if that means playing badly. We’ve all been there. Devil Snoopy on one shoulder, angel Snoopy on the other. It’s hard to ignore the former, but if I’m going to be a success at this, then I have no choice. If I start tilting when I know I should be quitting, then I might as well give up now and head back to the 9 to 5.

It’s taken me a while to get the hang of, but I’m pretty sure I have developed the ability to stop playing when I’m vulnerable. Every time I lose a big hand, or I make a silly error, I ask myself the same question. ‘Should I quit? Should I quit? Should I quit?’ And if the answer’s yes, I’ll quickly close all my tables ASAP. If I dwell, then I risk changing my mind.

Yesterday, I decided to play a full session of ring games, about 6 hours in all. That’s quite a lot for me, as I tend to fatigue quite easily. Anyway, I just couldn’t get going. Every time I threatened to reach a profit, I’d take a hit. I had to keep speaking to myself, reminding myself that if I remain patient, then that big hand will arrive. Sometimes it’s hard though, especially if you set yourself a weekly target, or you’ve recently had a brief session which netted you a packet. But patience really is the key when it comes to online play, I’ve learnt that the hard way.

At one point during the session, I took a bad beat and dropped down to a $500 deficit. A few months ago, barring some extreme good fortune, this would have quickly turned into a $1000 plus loss, and all my good play from previous weeks would be tarnished by a day of madness. Yesterday, however, I just kept my cool and carried on playing my own game. I resisted the temptation to type a sarcastic comment in the chatbox, berate someone’s play, or argue with some idiot who won’t shut up. If I can refrain from doing that, then there’s no reason why I can’t prevent myself from titling.

In the end, I found myself $150 up. It isn’t much for a 6 hour session, but it was still a relief to recuperate such a deficit. I was proud of my patience and comforted by the knowledge that I was able to control my emotions, a skill that is excruciatingly tricky for any poker player to master.

I’m yet to have a losing day playing online, and I kind of fear that perhaps I won’t be able to control my emotions if things really do go belly up. It only takes those aces to be cracked a couple of times, for you to find yourself $800 down. So I guess my true test will be when a flurry of bad beats occur at once. Only then will I be able to truly say how strong my resistance to titling actually is. For the time being though, I’m confident that I’ll be able to jump that hurdle when I reach it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Ooh eck, I must be bored. Anyway, here's my top 20 of poker quotes:

(1) Once you start thinking you have nothing left to learn, you have everything to learn. -- Steve Badget

(2) If, after the first twenty minutes , you don't know who the sucker at the table is, it's you. -- Rounders

(3) Forget about a chip and a chair, give me hand and I'll stand. -- Warren Karp

(4) There is more to poker than life. -- Tom McEvoy

(5) Even a blind squirrel catches the nuts sometimes -- nickylala

(6) You can sheer a sheep many times, you can skin him only once. -- Amarillo Slim

(7) I'd rather be lucky than good. -- Lefty Gomez

(8) Cards are war, in disguise of sport. -- Charles Lamb

(9) People would be surprised to know how much I've learned about prayer from playing poker. -- Mary Austin

(10) Omaha is a game that was invented by a Sadist and is played by Masochists. -- Shane Smith

(11) The guy who invented poker was bright, but the guy who invented the chip was a genius. -- Big Julie

(12) In the Long run there's no luck in poker, but the short run is longer than most people know. -- Rick Bennet

(13) If you're not sure, you're probably in danger. -- Salvatore Allegra

(14) God does not play dice with the universe; he plays an ineffable game of his own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players, to being involved in an obscure and complex version of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time. -- Terry Pratchett

(15) Besides lovemaking and singing in the shower, there aren't many human activities where there is a greater difference between a person's self-delusional ability and actual ability than poker. -- Steve Badger

(16) Good moves are designed to be used against good players. A 'good move' against a bad player may well be a bad move. -- Bob Ciaffone

(17) A person should gamble every day, because think of how bad it would be to walk around being lucky and not know it. -- Robert Turner

(18) Poker is like life, most people don't learn from their mistakes, they only recognise them. -- C. Ariel

(19) All I know is, if the cards ever break even - I'm screwed. -- Rich Korbin

(20) Most of the money you'll win at poker comes not from the brilliance of your own play, but from the ineptitude of your opponent's. -- Lou Krieger


Fresh off a winning week of online poker, I thought I’d take my good form to Luton. I thought it best just to play a couple of events. With a festival around every corner, the costs can soon add up, and, although I’d had a prosperous start to my full-time poker career, I was determined not to become complacent.

First up was the £200 NL. Due to the restaurant remaining open for Christmas, the comp was limited to 90 players. Although this increased my chances of making the final table, I would have preferred more players due to the increased prize pool and the potential for a second day. As it stood, this was going to be a 1 night job. Pretty daunting as it meant that the comp was likely to be rushed, therefore removing some of the skill factor, although, in my case, that would probably be for the best.

With the exception of John Huston, I started on a pretty conservative table. Not too many familiar faces, but nobody was particularly willing to mix it up early on, opting to wait for the big hands instead. I had the honour of sitting opposite Mr Womble, Steve Walmsley, a truly pleasant fella who seems to get on with everybody. With that name though, I expected him to be playing garbage hands only.

I was fortunate enough to double-up early on. I’d decided to play pretty aggressively to accumulate my chips, but the poker Gods saved me the trouble. On about the 5th hand, Justin Turner, a Luton regular, raised to 250 from early position. Now Justin had just won a hand off Womble and, from my experience, most would rather stack their chips than start bluffing the very next hand. Therefore, I was pretty sure he held a couple of big cards. Everyone folded round to me and I peered down to see a couple of cowboys smiling back. In the knowledge that Justin had a big hand, and sensing that the players behind me were preparing to fold, I decided to flatcall to disguise the strength of my cards.

The flop came a very tasty K-Q-8. Justin checked. With that flop, I knew he had a piece of it, and was sure that if I bet he’d play back at me. There weren’t too many possible hands. He’d probably check QQ or K-Q into me. He wouldn’t raise 8-8, Q-8, or K-8 from that position. He could even have AA or AK. He can be very sneaky sometimes, and there’s no reason why he wouldn’t try to trap with a hand like that. The only other realistic possibility was JJ, but if he held this hand then I doubt I’d get any action anyhow.

Assuming that he had a big hand, I decided to bet 500 in order to entice a reraise rather than a cautious smooth call. As I had hoped, he stuck in 1500 putting the pressure back on me. I considered the flat call, but, at this stage, I didn’t fancy messing around so I stuck in my whole stack of approximately 4000. The added bonus being that he may consider this to be an overbet trying to push him off the pot. My thoughts were that if he had a hand strong enough to call a rereraise, then he’d probably call an all-in, especially considering he’d still have a few chips left from the hand he won off Womble.

Justin called like lightening with pocket rockets, obviously believing that I was either at it, or on an AK holding. Turn and river were harmless and I doubled up to 10k. If it were me, I’d consider folding his hand. He can be beaten by KK, QQ, 88, and KQ, all very possible holdings in this scenario, and so I’d say that he was slightly hasty in his call. What a great result, a dream start in fact. Whenever I double-up early on, I instantly feel as though I’m going to make the final table. I love being the chip leader on the table as it gives me the freedom to do what I want, when I want. So that’s exactly what I did…

I eliminated a fair few players with my newfound chips. John Huston, after he bet his bottom pair into my top two pair. Mateyboy when he made a preflop move against me with J4 against my JJ. Must have had a tikay moment there. And eventually Womble when his pocket jacks were outdrawn by my AQ. It was all going pretty well and I was quickly building a sizable stack.

One hand saw me raise preflop with 53 (don’t ask). Recent arrival Ariel Adda, who had never seen me play, dwelled and dwelled from the button. He counted out his chips, lined them up, and eventually flatcalled. Unless it was an Oscar winning performance, I assumed that this meant he had a hand worth reraising with, something like JJ, TT, AK, or AQ. The flop came a very tempting 346 giving me bottom pair with an open ended straight draw. Trap 1 checked to me, so I decided to check too and see what play Adda wanted to make. I didn’t see the point of betting into him. If he has the overcards, he’ll fold, and if he has the overpair he’ll bet forcing me to muck. This way, I can give him the once over and reraise if I feel he’s on a bluff. If he just checks his overcards, then I can get a free card and bet the turn if a blank arrives. Also, it will allow me to find out what the early caller has too without my conceding of chips. If he has trips, then he plays back at Adda and I get out cheaply.

Adda opted to bet the pot. Trap 1 mucked, and, sensing a bluff with overcards, I decided to push all-in. If he has TT or JJ, then he still may fold, but, either way, at least I’m putting him to a decision for all his chips whilst still giving myself outs if he calls. To my chagrin, however, Adda calls in a flash. Then he turns over AK. I couldn’t believe it, he’d put his whole comp on the line calling with ace high. My only guess is that he put me on a weaker ace or KQ, but even then he’s being slightly optimistic. Anyhow, 2 blanks came and I added another 10k to my stack, possibly making me chip leader again.

Before I know it, we’re down to 2 tables and I’m still one of the chip leaders with around 50k, perhaps only pipped by Tikay who had somehow built up a monster stack after previously being down to the felt. To my immediate right is Stuart Nash, my first time playing this fellow, and to his right, Tom ‘RED-DOG’ McCready. Now this was going to be tricky. Some good solid players, bigger stacks, and a few players who I don’t really know. I decided to tighten up a bit and see how the table was playing. With my stack, I didn’t see any point in getting too involved.

After a few of my marginal preflop raises were reraised, I finally found a quality hand in AQ. Then RED-DOG, who was pretty low stacked, moved all-in. I flatcalled to be met with Tom’s AJ. Great, I thought, especially when the flop came Q-9-rag. However, I tend to refrain from counting my chickens until the hand is over, and, this time, my eggs failed to hatch. Turn = T, River = 8, making Tom a straight on the river. My stack had been seriously dented, but at least they went to Mr DOG rather than a random player.

The very next hand I received JJ. I intentionally overbet the pot, hopefully to attract a reraise from someone who thought I was steaming. Luckily, the big blind moved all-in with QJ off and my jacks held up. Phew, a bad beat there would have hurt.

Soon after, QJ was to prove the demise of Tom too. I reraised his preflop raise with A9. Tom dwelled momentarily before deciding that it was worth the call with the chips he had left. In true poker god style, the board teased me with both an queen and an ace on the flop. Tom was out and I’d moved back into a strong chip position.

Before I knew it, Stuart Nash was eliminated by the ‘Silent Assassin’ Maurice Nicholson and we were down to the final nine. Remarkably, Tikay was still in, although he no longer had the chip lead. This honour was now in the hands of Maurice.

To cut a long story short, I couldn’t buy a hand on the final. The blinds had risen dramatically to 6k and 12k, and all the play from the game had evaporated. Few could bet the pot without committing the rest of their stack, and so it was a case of nicking the blinds and praying for a big hand to double up with. I did my best, but eventually found myself in boiling hot water when my all-in move with 62 found the small blind with pocket sixes. No help on the board, and I was a gonna, leaving the game in the capable hands of Tikay, who had a real chance of taking that 7 grand prize.

I was pretty gutted. I’d worked hard all day and played pretty well, but alas, I arrived at another bingo session. Suppose that’s what happens on a 1-day event, but, even so, it’s disappointing for a festival comp to end as such. When I give people my honest feeling regarding my 5th placing, I can feel them saying inside, ‘Greedy git. You won £1100. How can you be disappointed?!’ This is probably a fair comment, but I strive for that 1st place as soon as I sit down, and anything less is a failure in my eyes. That’s just my personal method of motivating myself. Also, when the structure is so top heavy, it’s immensely frustrating to take 5th prize when several grand is so close. 6th was £700 and 1st was £7400. That’s a mammoth difference of £6700 and way too much for my liking. Has that 1st placed finisher really played that much better than 6th to warrant such a gap? They played for 10 hours, yet it could have been one outdraw in the final table lottery. In my opinion, a flatter structure is required, nothing too drastic, but something needs to be done about what I consider to be a ridiculously top heavy pay-out. They flattened it last time, and from what I recall, it was perfect.

Still, I was overjoyed for Tikay who took just under 4 grand, not to mention the coveted title of festival champ. Also, for me, it was my hatrick of cash finishes from only 3 comps, so I have to be pretty chuffed with that record. A few more points and Micky Wernick will be looking over his shoulder, although I feel I may be running out of time this year.

So, all-in all, a successful week. I played the next night in the £200 PL, but received no cards and probably wasn’t as fresh as I could have been. I had a smashing time doing the updating for the main event. Tiring but fun, and it was terrific to see Foxy and Micky take home the big bucks. The bright lights of Luton had lured me in for the week, and I was happy they did. You can’t spend your whole time online, you need to get out and about to avoid becoming a permanent hermit. My only hope is that my winning days continue. I’m showing a nice profit so far and having a blast, so I guess I don’t regret my decision to play full time. How could I?

Sunday, December 04, 2005


Last Wendesday, I thought I’d get myself away from the computer screen and, yes, you guessed it, into the casinos. Low stake rebuy tournaments probably aren’t my most profitable of game choices, but I thought I’d have a go. Some may suggest that the winner’s edge is somehow lessened by the inclusion of nutters and a multiple rebuy option. Never!!

The time was 3pm and I knew Walsall held an afternoon comp to cater for all us bums, so I thought why not, could be fun. I grabbed my keys, switch card, and lucky chip, and opened the front door. ‘Wow! So this is what it’s like outside,’ I said to myself. Big blue sky, bright green grass, folk walking dogs. The great outdoors at last. I couldn’t wait to get into that dark smokey casino.

When I arrived, the place was like a ghost town. Just the odd straggler with nothing better to do than hang out at a Grosvenor. Kinda surreal in a way and it suddenly struck me that I was no longer working. Up til then, it had just felt like a looooooong weekend, but now I realised that this was my life. Poker, poker and more poker. Slightly disconcerting, but what the hell, I love this game!

After a while, Dani was able to conjure up the hefty sum of 26 players. Well, I suppose it beats the 170 I once played against on a Friday night. Maybe the lack of numbers will produce some good poker. My logic was soon dispelled…

1st hand. How many buy-ins? Six. Yep, six. Seven people had gone all-in with one lad raking in a 7k pot. People often say, ‘I hate to win the first hand’ Well, this fella didn’t seem too disheartened.

The state of play didn’t change. Players moved in with any 2 cards, played blind, and generally went for the bingo approach. The worrying thing was that I was one of them. Ah well, it was only a £10 rebuy. I wasn’t saying that after the 6th call for Dani.

I only won one hand all night, AK v AJ. Any other hand I played couldn’t hit a cow’s ass with a banjo. Yep, this was a game without any big decisions, no bluffing opportunities, and no real logical thought process. In fact, the more I play these rebuy events, the more I am convinced that it’s just one big lottery. I used to think that there was a decent level of skill involved, but now I’ve come to the conclusion that the skill element is miniscule.

I’d come out to this event to get away from the monitor and play some live poker, and hopefully have some fun. However, if you play a lot of poker, these sorts of games can simply turn into pure frustration and become a real test of patience.

What made it worse was that I was on a table of fruitloops. I had an old lady next to me who didn’t know what day it was. I recall her throwing down pocket queens in disgust when no1 called her flop bet. Did she raise before the flop? No. Was there an overcard on the flop? Yes. There was a king. So what was she moaning about? God knows. I told her that it could have been worse, someone could have had a king. Her reply? ‘Ah, that’s true.’ So basic logic does eventually reach some people. At one point she even refused to take change from a fella who had beaten her in a coin flip situation. Lovely lady, but completely mad.

On my right was a youngish lad, mid-20s. He slammed the table when he won a decent pot. For crying out loud, it’s a Wednesday afternoon £10 rebuy event, not the bloomin World Series. Get a grip!

Opposite me was D ‘Gooooooood Poker’ Sami. He’s just a nutcase fullstop. Really top fella, but completely insane in the membrane. My only wish is that I could understand what he says to me. Too often I have to guess and nod my head. Answering yes is always a safe option until the day they look at you as though you’re the crazy one.

Talking of bizarre people, whilst I was paying my entry, this one fella came up to me and said, ‘Can’t believe what happened to me last night. I had ace king and the guy called with ace three.’ I didn’t know what to say, I just sort of sighed. I’d been in the casino for less than 2 minutes, I hadn’t even payed in and I was already being forced to listen to a bad beat story. Argh!!! It wasn’t even a good one! Does he really think I care? Sometimes I think it may be worth setting up an agency where people have to pay to call you and tell you their bad beat story. I’m certain I’d make a million before the year ended. Oh yeah, I couldn’t resist saying, ‘So, did your ace king hold up?’ What a surprise when the answer came back negative. You wouldn’t believe this, but the opponent hit a 3, on the river!!! Have you ever heard a story like it?! Absolutely incredible turn of events… yawn.

So, what did I learn from my little day out at the looney bin?

Pokers a wonderful game, but it’s full of nutters!!!

I think that’s one of the reasons why I like it so much…


Well, first week over and I’ve just cashed out online for $1005.48. I’m well chuffed with that. I’d been hesitant in starting my full-time online career as I didn’t want to commence with a loss. Not sure why that bothered me so much, but I’m over the moon that it didn’t happen.

I’m open to making huge errors when I’m tired, so, after the weekend’s updating at Walsall, I decided to take Monday and Tuesday off. I have, however, played every day since Wednesday and I’m delighted with the results.

$1005.48 isn’t a massive amount in terms of professional poker, but its more than double I was earning back at the office. Plus, and this is the most surprising thing, it only took up 2 hours and 29 minutes of my time. Incredibly, that’s approximately $400 an hour. Obviously, that’s gonna drop like a bowling ball, but for now, it’s sounds pretty cool.

Before, I’d work 40 hours a week in a job I hated. This week, I’ve worked 2 and a half hours in a job I love and earned more than double. Blimey! I’m glad I made the change.

However, I can’t become complacent. I’ve done that before and ended up dumping all my profit, which then makes $400 an hour completely irrelevant. I must remain disciplined at all times. Don’t play when drunk, tired, bored, and so on. Give the tables my full attention and play my best at all times. No excuses.

The tricky thing I find when you’re on a good run is that you tend to treat your profitable sessions as the norm, so when that inevitable bad day arrives, you find it impossible to accept. This can then lead on to chasing, not taking your losses and finishing, playing angry, etc, etc. Not a place I want to be. Been there, done that, and it’s bloomin horrible.

This week, I’ve rated all my sessions at least average. There were times when I tried one too many tricks and a couple of hands where I chased, but apart from that, I’ve play good solid poker. My luck has been steady. Although I’ve received a couple of bad outdraws, these were balanced by a QQ v KK victory when I flopped a third Queen. The forth one on the river was a welcome surprise too.

Anyhow, I won’t blab on about individual hands, good folds, poor raises, etc. Just thought I’d report my progress over the first week and share my delight with everyone. I’m in good spirits and I’m thoroughly looking forward to playing Luton next week.

Just hope my good form holds out…


Once upon a time, on a dark stormy night, I had some trouble with Party Poker and their customer services. Without going into great detail, my play had been disrupted, mid-hand, by a check for bots, which subsequently folded my hand for me whilst I was involved in a big pot. Obviously, not too happy about the situation, I contacted Party demanding an explanation. What did I receive? An automated response about disconnections. Great. Thus followed numerous ignorant replies and useless emails. Anyhow, to cut a long story short, I got absolutely nowhere with a clueless customer service, blatently based abroad.

Onto yesterday's events, and it seems as though aliens have taken over at Party Poker!!!

Whilst logged on I noticed that I had $100 sitting in my bonus account. Out of curiosity, I contacted Party and asked them how I could get my grubby mits on this dosh.

The first segment of their email began as such:

Dear Adam,

To get the $100 bonus released to your real money account, you are required to play 700 raked hands by 02-DEC-2005 12:53 EST.

You have already played 458 raked hands. So, play the remaining 242 raked hands within the time specified.

What was the date of the email?? Yep, 03-DEC-2005.

I may stuggle to reach the 700 raked hands target within minus 1 day. Bit too tricky.

Yep, all sounds like typical Party Poker.

Just for fun, I sent a reply which read, 'How am I supposed to make the raked hands before yesterday?'

To my complete and utter shock, they responded with the following:

Dear Adam,

We apologize for the miscommunication in the previous E-mail.

We see that you had to complete playing the raked hands before the 02-DEC-2005 at 12:53 EST. However, as a courtesy, we have given a grace period of 24 hours for you to complete the raked hands requirement. But as even the grace period is over, we have gone ahead and released the bonus to your account as a courtesy.

Blimey! Aliens really have taken over!!!

How generous of them to credit my account with 100 bucks. Certainly not to be sniffed at. It was my fault, I should have checked the date previously, but they gave me the dough anyhow. What a shock, Party giving money away.

On top of that, they even spoke to me as if I was a human being. No automated response, and, most suprising of all, an apology. Wow.

So, maybe it was because they realised that I was a loyal customer, perhaps they were just in a good mood, or maybe aliens really were pressing the buttons that day! Either way, is this a sign that customer service at Party Poker has turned a corner?

Maybe, but I won't be holding my breath just yet...