Thursday, January 26, 2006


Well, I’ve been back for a couple of days now and I still can’t get over how long that final table was. Whenever someone went all-in, they won! As exhausted updaters, that can be so demoralising. Also, every hand seemed to go raise, all-in, fold. This happened on countless occasions and goes some distance to explain how it took 10 hours to whittle 8 players down to 1. I even recall Big TK looking at his watch and shaking his head. Good Lord, he must get bored directing all these tournaments.

Speaking of TK, he’s become ever so dreary recently. I almost drifted off listening to him announce the final table. ‘Fold, fold, fold, raise, fold, fold. Scandieboy wins the pot. Fold, fold, fold…’ and so and so on and so on. He must be suicidal by the end!

He’s certainly dapper though. It was boiling at the end yet he still had his suit jacket on. Reminded me of a Lee Evans show but without all the sweat. His suit didn’t have one crease and he wore a matching tie and hanky. Smooooooooooth. I think he could be the new Des Lynam.

Anyhow, back to the EPT. True, the final was a marathon, but overall, I’m pleased that it was because it means that the structure was good. I heard absolutely no complaints about blinds, clocks, etc, only praise. Therefore, we can’t possibly moan that it was too long. There was plenty of poker to be played and plenty of poker was played. Sounds great to me.

The two finalists deserved to be there, no doubt about that. Both Mads Andersen and Edgar Skjevold are top class players armed with all the moves. I can’t wait to see that Heads Up confrontation on the box. I’m sure there were some outrageous, but well timed, bluffs being played. I was extremely impressed.

One interesting story was that with about 20 competitors left, this Danish journalist came up to me and claimed that Edgar was going to win. I disagreed and suggested that Mads was going to be lifting the trophy. So, he said put your money where your mouth is and accept a small alcoholic wager. I agreed in a shot, even though I was offered 1-2 as a result of Mads’ larger stack. Well, Mads won, but I’m still thirsty. Yep, the bugger scarpered at the end. What a rascal. But it was good that my pick won.

It was a shame that there were so few British participants though. Of course, Ram, Julian, and Bad Girl should be applauded for their cash finishes. Also, a young lad named Thomas Grundy made it quite far. I don’t know too much about him, but I think he deserves a mention. Oh, and before I forget, my apologies to Blondeites doubleup and SuffolkPunch. I’m rubbish with faces and I’m sorry that I didn’t realise you were there. I managed to have a brief chat with Simon Young (SuffolkPunch) after his exit, but he was clearly devastated and not really in the mood to talk. I bet he enjoyed his TV interview with the stunner from PokerStars though. Hubba hubba. Down boy!

What I’d love to do for future EPT updates is perhaps allow someone to select a random player, maybe the one with the most ridiculous name. Then Jen and I could follow this guy intently and see how he gets on. A photo, maybe an interview, anything to give us someone to follow when the familiar names fall. We could make him our stand-in Blondeite, against his will! Could be fun.

Probably the most surreal thing about my trip was that I didn’t once step foot outside of the Radisson hotel until it was time to catch my plane. I’d been in this picturesque country for five days and lived pretty much as a hermit. It felt like a wasted opportunity really, but I was so engrossed in the tournament that it didn’t really bother me until now. Ah well, perhaps I’ll be given a chance to return next year, because it seemed like a lovely place. The view from my hotel window was incredible.

I’m back in good ol’ Brum now, back to the normal routine. Wake up at 9, shower, breakfast, pint of water, then hit the online poker for a couple of hours. Win or lose, I stop around 12, do some writing, then give it another shot in the early evening, perhaps another session before bed. Yep, back to the somewhat repetitive lifestyle that life in England can bring, but I’m not moaning, not one bit. I’ve just come back from Copenhagen after a great 5 days of poker, poker, and more poker.

The online lifestyle still feels fresh and I’m glad that it does because so many people were saying that I’d be bored within days. It’s still early days, but I predict that I’ll still be enjoying life this time next year.

It’s what you make it in the end, it really is…

Saturday, January 21, 2006


Hi folks. It’s 1:35 here in Denmark and I thought I’d just take a pitstop to retell some of my experiences and observations over the last couple of days. Today’s play has just this moment wrapped up with Xuyem ‘Bad Girl’ Pham plummeting into 9th position and thereby missing out on tomorrow’s final.

I’ll be honest, I’m bloomin’ shattered. This updating lark is always fun, but when you have to endure 4 consecutive days of hardcore railing, it can become mentally and physically tiring. When you are braced for something earth-shattering, nothing happens. When you sit back for a moment, 10 players get eliminated. You have nothing to report, the connection is fine. You have exciting news to share, the wifi whimpers before tossing in the towel. I love it all, but I can assure anyone who follows those reports that it’s a lot harder than it looks.

But that’s enough about the updating. I’ve overdosed on poker today. There are more important issues at hand. Like the lift for example, I’m really struggling with it. I’m not scared of them or anything, but they provide a really nauseating ride. With around 30 floors to the hotel, the lift goes hurtling up at an incredible pace and, when it reaches your destination, stops very suddenly. Even Jen’s ears popped on one journey.

I’d like to thank the Lord for letting us swindle our way into the free buffet. From what I understand, the press aren’t entitled to the free tucker, but, somehow, we’ve managed to ambush the buffet two days in a row. Tonight I went under the pseudonym of Julian Thew. I almost got sprung when one of the waitresses commented that I was too good looking to be Julian. Very fair point and I would have held my hands up in defeat if I weren’t so keen to get my paws on the lemon meringue. Just kidding Jools… it was in fact cheesecake.

Maybe it’s just this hotel, but Denmark seems to be the most expensive place in the world. On the first night, a Japanese meal between three cost in excess of 50 squid. No starter, no desert, and no pricey beverages. For that price I’d expect them to physically feed me too.

Similarly, Jen payed a whole pound for a single banana. It must have been hand picked that morning from a Caribbean banana tree. I’m just relieved we didn’t order a bunch. Imagine the price of a pineapple!

People here are so good looking. If you’re between 20 and 30, you’re obliged to have a fresh unblemished face with everything in the right place. The women are incredible. They all look the same, but that’s great. I’m not buttering bread on the wrong side or anything, but even the fellas seem to be aesthetically blessed. I’d love to see one walk in with a few spots or something, is that too much to ask? Stephen from the Gutshot team suggested that it was the fresh air. Very possible, but if that’s true, how do you explain the correlation between my perfect looks and smoggy Brum?

This evening was incredibly surreal. Whilst we were working away, a brass band of about 100 young girls in short skirts and white boots waltzed in. A big toot on the trumpet, a firm bash on the drum, and we were off. The noise level just sky-rocketed. They marched around the hotel and I had to pinch myself to make sure that I wasn’t dreaming. It felt like I was on the whacky baccy. One of the girls got lost and was wondering around by us. How you can get lost from a band of 100 is beyond me. She must have taken a wrong turning.

I think all the kafuffle had something to do with the Danish monarchy. From what I overheard, a new Prince had been born. He starts off nameless, so I guess he’s called ‘It’ for the time-being. Anyhow, everyone was here to celebrate his baptism and cheer on the future Danish King. All very bizarre, especially with an EPT poker event being played 20 yards away.

There’s a lot of drunken Danish singing going on tonight. It’s reminiscent of the hotel in Twin Peaks. Coincidentally, I think they were Danish too. Unfortunately, unlike the TV show, I can’t see an Audrey about. Bah.

I’ve been in Copenhagen for 4 days now and all I’ve seen is the inside of one airport and two hotels. My folks will be so proud that I’ve made the effort to see the sights. I need to remember my souvenirs too. My mother requested a Danish pastry, whilst pops asked for some bacon. Golly, would they ask me to bring back a curry back from India?

Righteo, I think I’m going to suggest a bit of online poker with Jen before beddie byes. Hold on, I said earlier that I’d had enough of this poker malarkey. Ah well, I guess the poker bug will never leave me for too long.

Nighty night.

Friday, January 20, 2006



Greetings to everyone who reads my blog. I feel I should thank both of you.

My online play is certainly being put on hold at the moment, but when you are given the oportunity to pop over to Copenhagen, you have to jump at the chance. I plan to get back into the online groove as soon as I return, but, for the moment, I'm just going to try and enjoy my venture abroad. Although I'm having to work quite hard, it's nice to have a change. Sitting staring at a computer screen can drive you mad sometimes. Hold on! That's what I'm doing now.

First thing’s first. Copenhagen is FREEZING! And I thought Birmingham was cold? Well, I was living in ignorance, because this place is even colder. I understand that every day has dropped below freezing, -7 Celcius at one point. A quick glance out of my window and I have to remind myself that I’m not in the Artic. There’s a good few inches of the white stuff outside (No, not milk). In fact, I’m pretty chuffed that it snowed. It doesn’t really affect us much because poker is thankfully an indoor sport, but it looks somewhat picturesque and helps make the trip that much more memorable.

But that’s enough about the weather, that’s an English topic. Back to the poker, which, is er… so much more Danish. Hmm. Anyhow, yesterday was kinda hectic. Not sure why I’m so surprised, but there are oh so many Scandies here and if they don’t share the same names, they are totally unpronounceable. What’s the deal with that? Way too many consonants. Can we have a vowel please Carol?

So, as you can imagine, writing the starting runners, or jotting down a quick chip list is a complex process and requires much focusing on your key presses. I doubt anyone would notice a Scandie typo, but it’s amicable to get these guy’s names right.

There were a few recognisable names amid the sea of gibberish. Barney Boatman, Julian Thew, Xuyen Pham, and Joe Grech were all present. Even Chris Moneymaker had made the long trip. A quiet fella who was dealt a horrific bad beat. His top set was outdrawn by bottom set on the river. Ouch!

I always find it surreal when I meet a select handful of pros. Devilfish was one. I met him briefly in Sheffield. I mean, I treat most famous players like normal guys and don’t seem to get too star struck. However, when I was at Napoleon's and Devilfish stepped up to the reception desk beside me, I found it very surreal indeed. Not sure what it is, perhaps it’s all those Late Night Pokers I’ve seen him on. It was odd.

Well, the same feelings occurred when I heard the familiar vocal tones of a Mr Gus Hansen. Perched right behind me looking for his table, Gus stood out like a sore thumb. The cameras and photographers swarmed his table and watched his every movement. I’ve watched him so often on Challenge TV that I found it really strange that he was suddenly right behind me. I think you begin to believe they’re not real, just characters on your box.

What I’ll be like if I ever meet Shania Hiatt, I have no idea. The words legs and jelly spring to mind though.

The night of reporting was relatively smooth. I did encounter some early connection problems, but a brisk reshuffle into the lobby solved that problem.

Although Moneymaker, Hansen, Fraser, and other recognisable names had dropped, we still had the likes of Thew, Pham, and Boatman flying the flag. My fingers were crossed for these guys, not only because they are top chaps (& chapette) but because I knew that viewers could lose interest in the thread. I mean, does anyone really care if Mr Pedersen or Mrs Bjorn win. We don’t know who they are, so why would anyone be interested in their progress.

Barney may have fell with around 60 left, but Yoyo and Bad Girl both made it to the end of level 9, thereby earning their passport into Day 2. In fact, Xuyem is currently tournament chip leader with 89k. Unfortunately, Julian is just below average with 24k after suffering a big loss when his low straight was outstraighted. (Add that to the poker glossary)

So, in less than an hour, the aptly named Day 1B commences. This time I shall be enjoying the company of Luske, Hachem, Vaswani, and Mr Burns himself, Dave Colclough. I sincerely hope that Marcel makes it deep into this comp. I’d love to see him play and I always think his presence lightens up what can sometimes become a dreary atmosphere.

Hopefully, if I find a spare hour, I’ll be able to report back tomorrow. For now, it’s almost time to set up camp in the press room, braced for another long day. Hopefully there’ll be a host of English faces for me to keep a close eye on. If not, well I’ll have to befriend some of the Scandies. I’m not too keen on that plan though. Young, rich, and good looking. Grr. I’ve only got one of them, and even that’s fast slipping away.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Just a quick message to say that I'm off to Copenhagen tomorrow for the EPT event. Very excited, it's the first time I've been abroad in years.

It's been ultra hectic today. Last night I nearly soiled myself when I noticed that my dusty passport was out of date by almost a year. I can't believe I didn't check!!!

Anyhow, after a nervous browse over the Internet and a few anxious phone calls, I managed to book an appointment at the Passport Office in order to renew ASAP. Where's the office?



Surely planting one in a central location like Brum would be a good idea.

Anyway, I set off to Scouse land at 6.30 this morning. An ungodly hour for a poker player.

Arrived in plenty of time, but still had to endure the hassle of finding a post office, taking the photos, etc.

Also, I didn't realise that you had to wait four hours for the passport application to be processed. For some reason, I'd got it into my head that they just dipped a dab of glue on the photo and Bob's your uncle. Bit hopeful really.

So I had to mince around Merseyland for 4 hours while I waited for my passport. It was bloomin' freezing and I was bored senseless. Everyone looks so Scouse too. Way too many kids in tracksuits.

Ah well, eventually I obtained my new passport. I was convinced that they were going to inform me of a problem on collection.

Regarding the rest of the week, it's gone pretty well. I got dumped out of a £50 freezout on Will Hill by a muppet calling my all-in with A-8, but I can't complain too much. I did have K-T off.

I managed to win the Gala £30 freezout on Sunday. I only really play it for fun and as a bit of practice. The £530 comes in handy though if I do hit the top spot. Coming first out of 65 players, however good they are, is always good for morale.

I think I played pretty well too. No shocking outdraws. I beat A-Q with A-9, but I also lost a massive pot with KK v AJ. If my memory serves me right, I was only all-in once. AK v 77 v AJ. The AJ was a tiny stack, but that second ace took away an out. I hit the flop though and more than doubled through.

Maybe I should go to the Gala more often. In my last 3 visits I've finished 1st, 3rd, and 2nd. Not bad. I hope it wasn't a fluke.

In the end, this comp went to a 5 way chip count. 1st was £530, so I only dropped £60. My chip lead was pretty substantial by the end. In the last few minutes, I raised virtually every hand. They were dying to reach a chip count and weren't going to play without aces.

Nice to see me hitting the final with the chip lead. This also occurred when I came 3rd. Okay, the calibre may not be top notch, but it's still a promising sign.

Right, enough of my inane waffling. Must pack!

Hopefully I'l expand on some of this in Copenhagen. The lappie's going with me so I'll try and keep the blog busy if I can.


Monday, January 16, 2006


I am beginning to detest deals. There is a real nasty side to the process of striking deals at the table, and I, for one, would be happy to back a no-deal policy within all tournaments. Unfotunately, you can't stop people from discussing them, it's their money after all. However, that still doesn't mean that I have to like them.

So why do I feel that they have become a cancerous part of poker?

(i) If deals are being made, it probably means that the structure of the comp is too top-heavy.
(ii) Youngsters, women, newbies, and so are often pressured into deals and sometimes even swindled.
(iii) The majority of deals seem to lead to incessant and petty bickering, if not a heated argument.
(iv) Declining a deal makes you a target. Your popularity declines and players may team up to eliminate you.
(v) Giving a saver not only takes potential money away from the chip leaders and best players, but can also change the structure and outcome of the comp.

I experienced point (v) yesterday afternoon at the Gala £30 freezout comp.

11 players left, I was the chip leader with a tasty stack in front of me. My table was full of short stacks who were all trying to hang in, if anything, just to tell their mates that they made the final.

Being very aware of this, I started raising virtually every hand, and picked up a shed load in blinds.

Then, one of the youngsters suggested a £40 saver for 11th. Everyone quickly agreed, eager to have a few coppers to show for their afternoon's work. I then said something along the lines of 'Well, that's not great for me though is it?' The table went quiet and I could feel a few snarls moving in my direction.

Predictably, one fella's response was 'It's only £40 though'. He gave me a dry look as if he couldn't believe that I'd been so petty about a couple of scores.

Not wanting to make any enemies, I accepted the offer for a saver and carried on playing. Unsurprisingly, I was unable to nick the blinds and within a few hands we were down to ten.

Okay, maybe £40 isn't much, but when you combine it with the potential chip lead I could amass by the final, that £40 becomes a hell of a lot more. It's a 20 minute clock with blinds of around 1500/3000. Now they really are worth nicking, and if no one's going to defend them because they're too scared of bubbling, I have a huge advantage.

Anyhow, I'm not overly pissed off, but these situations crop up at all levels, and I don't like it. You shouldn't feel obliged to accept any deal, but, sometimes, because of the points highlighted at the start of this rant, it probably works out best if you go with the flow.

I just think that if I'd rejected the deal, I'd have more chips going into the final table.

Ah well, I guess this is a part of poker that's here to stay.

Friday, January 13, 2006


No, I’m not in my car…

I haven’t posted much recently on this thread. I’d hate to think that I was filling up space with, ‘today I lost this’ and ‘yesterday I made that amount’. Boring if you ask me, but hopefully some of the stuff I write about is of interest. I try not to be too specific, preferring to discuss issues that most people can relate too.

Blonde Bash was awesome. When I play £30 for such a fun comp, I’m hesitant to take it out of my live bankroll as I would have stuck 30 squid in even if there had been no prizes. Even though I only played about 2 hours worth of poker over the whole weekend, (Yes, I went out early in pretty much everything I played) I was delighted to have met so many fellow Blondeites. All great people who more than lived up to my expectations. The only blip was the quiz, when we let the Scots win something, but hey, if they're shoddy at poker you’ve got to keep them happy somehow.

But, back to the poker…

After a few terrific sessions last week, I’ve suddenly hit a wall. I’m not losing money, but I’m not making any either. It’s kind of frustrating. I’m playing well, but those opportunities and situations where you double up just don’t seem to be cropping up. I’m hitting sets, but getting no action. I’m raising with bullets, but everyone’s folding. I just don’t seem to be catching anyone.

Today I won the grand total of $6.17. I sat down for a gruelling 3-hour session. No breaks, no TV, no distractions of any kind. I focused all of my attention entirely on the small screen in front of me, determined to churn out a decent profit.

If there’d been a microphone inside my head you would have heard the following thoughts:

-- Patience, patience, patience, patience, patience, patience, patience, patience… It’ll come eventually. Slowly slowly catchy monkey.
-- Don’t tilt, whatever you do.
-- Don’t start calling with marginal hands in an attempt to outflop someone. Keep playing a tight but aggressive game.
-- If it’s not working out here, move tables. You might just find a fish.
-- Snoops, you’re the best. Love you loads.

Well, okay, not the last one, but you get the idea. I sit there waiting patiently, constantly reminding myself of the dangers of pushing too hard for action. Four tables on the go, but nothing’s happening. I win the odd pot here and there, but nothing substantial. I can feel myself fighting the urge to start raising preflop with rags. Hands like A-7, K-T, and J-8 suited suddenly look like raising hands.

This isn’t the first time recently that I’ve merely broken even. Two days ago I made $8 from a night’s play and the day before that I made a similarly paltry sum. Yes, it’s still a profit and I really shouldn’t be bothered by it, but part of me would prefer to have lost a 100 or something. At least then I would feel like I’d been in existence for the last 3 hours.

You sit down, play a chunky session, and leave with a five bob note. You didn’t particularly enjoy it and there are plenty of more constructive activities you could have been getting on with instead. Personally, it makes me feel like I’ve wasted a valuable 3 hours of my life.

In fact, this is the first time in a long time that I haven’t enjoyed playing a session. It really was a grind, and a painful one too, but I guess I just have to accept that there will be times when I play a crappy session and come out with nothing to show for my efforts.

The lack of entertainment does worry me though. Countless folk who I’ve conversed with have said things like, ‘It’s not an enjoyable hobby,’ ‘It eventually grinds you down’, or ‘It’ll turn into work’.

My response was always, ‘that maybe true for you, but I’m going to be different. I love the game, have a great passion for it and won’t let anything jeopardise my enjoyment of poker.’

I still stand by that now, and if I ever get to the point where it really is becoming tedious, then, like any job, I’ll do something else. Today wasn’t entertaining, but you can’t expect every session to be fun. I’m still loving the game and as long as I keep playing live, do other things, and so on, I’m confident I’ll be sound as a pound.

For the time being though, I’m dying to get out of neutral. It’s like having a steering wheel in my undies. It’s been driving mi nuts all week.


Ps. Little tip. Stick ‘You’re The Best Around’ – Theme from Karate Kid, onto your I-pod. Play it before every session or live comp. It’s a real motivator and does your confidence the world of good. Failing that, you can ignore me and get a life.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Last night, some high roller sat down on a Will Hill cash table with in excess of 2 million dollars. This was a 150/300 limit game with the nearest stack holding around 40k. Now, is it just me or this a simple case of massaging one’s ego?

First off, why on earth do you need to sit down with 2 million? Are you hoping that some fish is going to pop down next-door with the same amount and double you up? Sorry, but I’m a bit short this week.

Secondly, this is a limit game. Agreed, the limits are rather large, but even so, it would take you a while just to give your money away.

Thirdly, is it wise to advertise that you’re a millionaire? Maybe I’m wrong on this one, I’m not sure, but I wouldn’t think it was a good idea to let everyone know that you’re exceedingly wealthy.

Perhaps he’s just been sitting there for the last five years, plugging away on that very table. Maybe he sat down with just a couple of grand. I guess it’s possible, but I think even I would have succumbed to temptation and cashed out.

My guess is that he’s stonking rich and wants to brag about his dosh. To be perfectly honest, while I’m sitting here being a grumpy so and so, I have to confess that I have once or twice sat down with my entire bankroll. It may have only been a mere 10k or something, but I just couldn’t resist sticking it all in front of me just to see what it felt like to be one of the big guns.

Not sure why I’m writing about this. It just felt so surreal to see someone seated with such an excessive amount in front of them. Completely bizarre. Made me think of how much good that 2 million could do, yet here it was, lying on the felt of an online cash table.

So, a very odd image, but I guess I’m not in a position to criticise. I too am a victim of the poker ego having sat in on a high roller’s game. I then immediately sat out and refused to play a hand. It was a complete ego trip, just to present the illusion of prosperity. It makes no sense at all now, but, at the time, it somehow made me feel quite good.

I can't be in the minority, surely...

Friday, January 06, 2006


My online gambling seems to follow a specific trend that forms a 5 step process:

(1) Win comfortably for several consecutive days.
(2) Endure a seemingly unlucky session where I drop a chunk of money, but somehow manage to claw myself back up to even.
(3) Lose a large sum of money in one day playing bad poker.
(4) Without realising, continue playing bad poker thereby resulting in consecutive losing days and an increase in deficit.
(5) Spend the next week crying into my soup trying to work out where it all went wrong.
-- Return to Step 1.

Well, at least I’m returning to step 1, but, either way, this cycle occurs way too often for my liking. Even as recent as the end of last month, I dropped my hard earned dosh by failing to acknowledge the vicious circle I was tangled in. So, what to do?

The key is Step 2, the mysterious clawback. I can’t be the only one who experiences this turn of events. It’s really odd because it happens so frequently. Play consistently well for the whole week, then encounter a massive scare in one night. Is it complacency? Is it poor poker? Or is it simply bad luck? I’m not too sure, but when someone highlighted the occurrence last week, it suddenly struck me.

My view is that we become submerged in a feeling of complacency, and when that inevitable bad beat or vicious outdraw arrives, we find it difficult to handle. Several days of easy poker, for easy money, against easy opponents, then boom, the poker God excrete on you from a great height. It’s understandable that we can be rocked when things suddenly go against the grain.

At this point though, we’re still in a fit mental state to remain focused on retrieving that money, still playing good solid poker. Thus, the clawback, and when it is eventually completed, there is a real sense of relief.

Next day, we’re back on, confident that yesterday’s fright was just a blip. But again, things start to go pear shaped again. This time, however, the clawback doesn’t occur and the hole just gets deeper and deeper until we either motivate ourselves to quit or just lose our bankroll.

Well, I experienced the clawback yesterday, and I was well aware that it was happening. Therefore, to prevent Step 3 from occurring today, I’ve decided to stay off the poker. Perhaps after a clawback, we just aren’t in the right state of mind to start winning again. Maybe this is why it suddenly goes wrong. Either way, I’m determined not to play today. I’ll return at the beginning of next week and start the ball rolling again, fresh and revitalised. Hopefully, this way, I can avoid another car crash and jump from Step 2 straight back to Step 1. Fingers crossed anyway.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


I didn’t have a career. I didn’t have a mortgage. No kids. No responsibilities whatsoever. However, going into poker full-time was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make. What was I letting myself in for? No future. No proven income. No job security. No credit flexibility. A life as a hermit perhaps? Some would see it as an absolute grind, a path of doom and gloom, one which is perhaps determined by how much money you can extort from the naïve gamblers in this world. Not a pretty picture, but probably one that was envisaged by my folks. And so, I can’t blame them for having reservations.

Although I held these concerns myself, I knew in my heart that I had to give it a crack, otherwise I’d always be left asking myself the same question, ‘What would have happened if I’d given poker a shot?’ So, here I am, writing now as a full-time player, and loving every minute, even the extreme lows. I embrace the challenge and I’ll do whatever I can to make a success of it.

Selling the idea to my parents wasn’t the easiest task. I wasn’t even 100% sure myself. It was a new venture and I was going in somewhat blind. How can I convince them that I’m doing the right thing if I’m not too sure myself? Anyhow, the pitch didn’t go down too well at first. My mother wasn’t overly chuffed. I think, like most mums, she still considers poker to be gambling and perhaps relates it too closely to bingo games such as Roulette and Blackjack. This, I can understand, and I think the majority of mothers share her view. Also, as someone who hasn’t been to the casino or witnessed a live tournament in action, the image of a smoky backroom is all too prevalent. Dark dingy atmosphere with cigar smoke swirling across the room. Ol’ Frankie Knuckles on my left, Psycho Pete on my right, perhaps even dogs playing snooker in the room next door. Not an inviting picture for a mother.

Pops, on the other hand, wasn’t as cynical. Fortunately, he has recently taken up the game socially and is beginning to understand the mechanics of the poker world. Poker is a massive recreation in England, and there are many commercial possibilities. It isn’t just about sitting in front of the computer all day and all night. Therefore, I believe that he can accept my passion for poker as long as I utilise some of my non-poker skills. Whether this be contributing to updating, writing reviews, or whatever, I think he can remain satisfied, if not overly impressed. If I just sat around all day playing online, then I think even I would go insane.

So, there you have it. The folks aren’t crazy about the path I have chosen, especially when you consider the fact that they basically paid for my GCSEs, A-Levels, and University Degree. However, I think that, deep down, they understand that I have to make my own mistakes in this life. In this sense, they are very supportive and I am therefore unable to fault them.

I’m still only a month or two in, so I guess I should readdress this question further along the line, when the dust has settled and the smoke has cleared. At the moment, I think it's very much a case of them thinking, 'Let's see what happens'.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Yipeeeee!!! Yahooooo!!! Whopeeeee!!! Weeeeeee!!!

Sorry, had to get that out of my system. Yesterday, after 4 consecutive days of severe financial loss, I finally stopped the rot. I’m precisely $944.47 better off and can safely say…

The Beagle has been unleashed!

It wasn’t the losing that was damaging me, it was the amount I was losing. At one point I began to panic and thoughts of ‘Crap. I’m gonna be back at the 9-5 if this carries on’ and ‘Maybe I’ve overestimated my skill at this game’ started popping into my head. I definitely felt a sense of desperation, and that’s always dangerous in this game. When poker is your only income, and you see your bank balance dribbling south, you can’t help but be slightly concerned.

The key was self-awareness of how I was playing and where I was going wrong. This is something that is crucial and a part of my game that I would have just brushed over a few months back. I shook myself and said ‘Cmon snoops! (well, okay, I used my real name) Get a grip. Work out what you’re doing wrong and do something about it’.

The biggest problem with luck and form is that it’s difficult to decipher between the two and sometimes it’s hard to work out whether you’re playing badly or just being unlucky. What you need to do is look back to when you are winning, and see if you’re doing anything starkly different.

For inspiration, I looked back at notes I’d once made from John Vorhaus’s ‘Killer Poker Online’. A great motivational book and I firmly recommend you look it up.

Here are a few quotes:

-- Don’t substitute action for passing a losing hand.

-- Don’t be greedy, be patient.

-- Don’t let your reality be coloured by your need to win.

-- Losing control? A hand you folded an hour ago looks like a hand worth raising with now.

-- You call a raise and a reraise before the flop with 5-6, knowing that you’re up against big tickets, but banking on stealth because who’d figure you calling with such rags.

-- You call the flop and turn with bottom pair, expecting to hit trips because you’re ‘due’.

-- You run hopeless bluffs, trying to get well quick.

-- You know – just know – that the next rack of chips will be the one that turns things around.

Too many of these comments rang true, and it was then that I realised that I was playing poor poker. I was playing desperate poker and trying too hard to win, when patience, patience and more patience should have been the key.

So, I decided to pull myself together and adopt a back to basics style. Although I enjoy and have found success in playing a loose aggressive game, I decided that I would only raise obvious hands such as AK, KQ, AQ, etc. To add at least some sort of unpredictability, I would also raise preflop with suited connectors above 45 and hands such as 6-8 and 9-7 suited. I wouldn’t chase draws, call big bets with suited connectors, raise with 6-3 suited preflop, etc. I would play ABC poker post flop, enforcing just the odd bluff and making few plays. All I had to do now was play…

After an enjoyable, but unsuccessful night at Walsall, I arrived home at around 6am. I was just about to pop my jimjams on when I had an idea. How about some early morning online poker? Well, I felt pretty fresh and I quite fancied the idea of catching the Americans at their weakest, so I thought I’d give it a shot. By 7.15am, I was around $650 up, which, considering the run I’d been on, was astronomical. True, my opposition was playing slightly looser at this time, but, instead of doubling up, and then dribbling back down, I kept my head above water and even built on my profit. I guess this was mainly due to my cutting out of all the bad habits that I’d picked up without realising.

Then, after a quick kip, I gave it another go. After losing $400 of my previous profit, I kept my head and eventually clawed my way back up to about a session profit of $300. So, overall, I was just under a grand up for about 3 hours play. Not bad for an hourly wage! Anyhow, although I earned less in the second effort, I think that’s the best online session I’ve played for ages. That, without doubt, is the most important thing.

I guess the key here is spotting your weaknesses early. Over time, I think you begin to improve the timing of those alarm bells that sit at the front of your mind. If I could employ someone to slap me round the face with me a wet kipper every time I was playing poorly, I’d probably stump up the dough. Sometimes though, you’re just oblivious to your bad habits and it takes a severe run of losses for you to get wise to the situation.

I know how boring journals and blogs can become when all people write about are their results. Saying ‘I was up $400 today’ and ‘I lost 5 STTs yesterday’ and so on is just not gripping to anyone but the author and his mother. Actually, I doubt even the folks would be that interested. So, I apologise for a couple of my last entries, some of them have done just this. However, I think yesterday’s success was worth reporting, because I learnt so much about how to deal with a losing run. I guess I realised that I still have lots to learn. Complacency can be a right bugger sometimes…

Sunday, January 01, 2006


Today marked my return to the cash table. Fresh, invigorated, and raring to go, I whipped out the ipod and braced myself for 2 hours of hardcore winning. Unfortunately, the cards didn’t fall my way and I ended up $177.87 down. However, I believe I played well and shall therefore put my loss down to bad luck and poor cards.

This may have been my fourth consecutive losing day, but I remain undeterred. There was a lot to take away from what was a tough session. Firstly, I didn’t tilt, even when morale was at its lowest. At one point, I was in excess of $300 down, and this would normally either transfer into a $500+ loss, or a small profit. This time, however, I pulled just a little back, which probably speaks volumes about how I am striving to change my game. This brings me onto my second point – I knew when to quit. Instead of battling past fatigue in an attempt to break even or claw my way back into profit, I decided to cut my losses and call it a day. And you know what, it felt pretty good.

Thirdly, considering the cards I was dealt, a $177 deficit isn’t too catastrophic. I’ve been on the receiving end of a lot of bad luck recently, but what differentiates a good player from a bad, is his ability to cope with the knock backs. Hopefully, I’m heading in the right direction. I must try to avoid the issue of feeling low when I’m losing, and high when I’m winning. I’m sure every poker player endures these emotions, but if I can just neutralise my feelings, whatever’s happening at the table, then the game won’t affect me as emotionally as it sometimes does.

According to Poker Tracker, my profits tend to derive from three avenues:

-- Pocket pairs that flop trips.
-- Open ended straight draws that hit on the turn.
-- Being dealt pocket aces.

Today all three of these were a rarity, which is pretty odd for a 2.5 hour session. I think I recall hitting a set on one occasion, but, apart from that, none of the others occurred. Therefore, I should perhaps look at the session as a success. I wasn’t given the opportunities to win big pots, so therefore could have finished off a lot worse. To be honest, I really don’t recall losing any sizable pots. There were two or three times when I was reraised out of a pot, and if that happens on more than one table, you can be $150 without even playing much.

For instance, one hand I raised to $8 preflop with A-T. The big blind smooth called. The flop came down A-J-2. He bet $25, I reraised to $50 and he moved all-in for $180. Not wishing to risk my whole stack on just the 1 pair, I opted to fold. This is probably a pretty standard play, but, if it keeps occurring, it can prove costly in the long-run.

As a side note, I think I’ve decided that I prefer to raise suited connectors preflop. I just think that flatcalling is asking for trouble. If you hit trips, you could be outkicked. If you flop a flush, you could be either already beat or playing against the lone ace. At best, if you make a straight, you could get paid, but how often? In fact, I’d rather hit the hand with something like 9-7, as it will be better disguised and more likely to win a big pot.

In contrast, if you raise preflop, you achieve a number of things. Firstly, you push off any of the hands that would outkick you if you were to hit trips. Secondly, you create the illusion of a big hand, so, if you do flop something, it will be extremely well hidden. Thirdly, it makes people aware that you are playing hands and not just waiting for nuts. If you only raise now and again, it’ll be harder to get paid off and opponents will find opportunities to trap you, safe in the knowledge that you are holding big cards.

Well, that’s my theory anyhow. I’m sure others see it differently.

There didn’t seem to be many fish online today. I kinda hoped that a few players would be hung over and not playing up to scratch, but everyone was pretty solid. A real cagey game with no one throwing chips away. It’s made me consider rising at 5 or 6am in order to catch the Americans at their weakest (and tiltiest – new word?). Think I’ll give it a shot after the Bash, just to see what happens.

Anyhow, that’s the story of the day. Just thought it was worth writing about considering it was a return to the fray after a week out. I could really do with stopping the rot, even if it’s only a small win. But I’m not down, quite the opposite in fact. I lost, but learnt from the session. Every cloud I guess…

Right, onto the Walsall £300 doublechance freezout. I’m in good live form and confident about my ability to win this event. Why not, eh? Let’s give it a shot.

Bye bye people. Will see some of you there.