Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Online poker can be the most mentally tiring game known to man, not only because of the thought process involved in decision making, but also as a result of the inevitable highs and lows the fluctuations can have on your emotional state. At times, it really is a case of mental warfare, and those who remain consistently disciplined during this sometimes exceedingly frustrating battle, will most likely be the ones who come out the other end smelling of financial roses (If there is such a thing).

It’s taken me over three years to crack the online game to an extent where I could play for a living if I so pleased. It didn’t just happen overnight, it took a long long time indeed before I was able to work out how to best approach the game, and I have the emotional scars to prove it.

Even though I’ve reached the stage where I am winning the large majority of my sessions, this weekend proved that my discipline, as solid as I thought it to be, still needs a slight tweak here and there.

On Friday afternoon, I told Danafish that I’d be giving the online game a bash at the weekend and promptly advertised my target of $1k in 3 days. She seemed surprised by the figure I blurted out, but I was confident that with some good ol’ fashioned grinding and the maintenance of the tasty form I was in, that I’d have no problem in reaching this figure.

So, full of confidence in my own ability, I booted up blondepokerleague late on Friday night and hit the felt. Unfortunately, however, I didn’t get off to the best of starts.

Now, I’m not one for rambling on about various hands, so I won’t, but what I will say is that even though I was dealt a couple of kicks in the testicles, I can’t complain as my discipline let me down big time.

For the first hour, I was running well, a couple of hundred up and feeling good. I took a break after 60 minutes, as I tend to do, and returned full of vigour. However, this is where it went wrong, I took two bad beats simultaneously on two tables for my entire stack, and, out of the blue, found myself $200 down. This is one of the pitfalls of multitabling, and if, as I sometimes do, you don’t successfully handle a big sudden hit, then you really should stick to playing one or two tables.

For some reason, I have a tendency to adopt the dangerous ‘don’t stop playing’ attitude which is centred around the following thought process…

“I’m a skilful player, I have an advantage over my opponents. Therefore, if I keep playing, I will, undoubtedly retrieve my losses. I’m going to stay seated until I show a profit, and take no breaks, as I’m so desperate to show a profit for the session. I can’t possibly end a session behind, even if the last several have all shown a financial gain.”

Does this ring true with anyone else? It’s probably the most self-threatening thought process I encounter in online poker, and one in which I still can’t seem to permantly eradicate.

Part of the above inner speech is true, but the problem is that it is dependent on my playing of my optimal game, which, when I refuse to take breaks, just doesn’t happen. Fatigue creeps up on me, sometimes without me realising, and I start to chase straight and flush draws, making loose calls, unnecessary raises, and ill-timed bluffs. Now I KNOW this WILL ring a bell with some of you.

So, to cut a long story short, I ended Friday several hundred bucks down. Great start, huh?! At one point, I did manage to pull myself, probably due to good fortune, back to a $100 deficit, but, I got it into my head that I HAD to make a profit of some sort, even though I KNEW that I was shattered and playing under par.

Why?! This has happened before, and, although I manage to modify my game for a decent length of time, I suddenly suffer from complacency, perhaps being too expectant of a profitable session. Well, not anymore. I have now inscribed in my head the following message…

“Take a break you idiot! And if you’re still playing shit, then quit. Tomorrow’s another day.”

I even skipped my fave TV programmes to try, in desperation, to win my money back. What a numpty!

Anyhow, with the above message firmly planted in my head, I rose the next day with a new, non-complacent attitude. And sure enough, that loss soon evaporated and I was not only smiling again and loving my poker, but several hundred up! Awesome. I played excellent poker, took my beats with composure, and ensured that I took regular breaks, especially when I felt fatigue was knocking on the door.

I even carried my good form and attitude into Sunday. There was no need to visit the Tilt Doctor, and I felt great. By the end of the night, and the weekend for that matter, I was showing a profit of $1,100. I’d reached my target, which, considering I’d been several hundred down on the Friday, was a hell of a relief. Kinda felt like I’d achieved something though, not just financially, but also mentally. My game had improved and I’d shown a profit. I couldn’t have asked for better. Sometimes you have to learn your lessons the hard way, and this was one of them. Fortunately, I identified my pitfalls early enough to prevent a humongous hit, something that I perhaps wouldn’t have been able to manage several months ago…

Whether I’ll need to make a similar tweak to my game in several weeks’ time remains to be seen. Hopefully, I’ll avoid complacency and my discipline will stay in tact. I guess we’ll soon see…

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


I have a confession to make. Last week at Blackpool, Jen and I were 30 minutes late for Day 2 of The Blackpool Championship, and, whilst tikay did his best to entertain the crowd, a skill that he is yet to master (ducks), it was clear to all that your blonde team were substituting the work ethic of updating for the sheer joy of the Big Dipper.

For this, I hereby apologise whole-heartedly.

However, back to the Big Dipper…

A bright(ish) sunny(ish) Sunday(ish) [nope, hold on, it was definitely Sunday] afternoon, Jen, Chili, Glen (Chili’s other half) and my good self arose from a rather cramped night’s sleep (you had to open the door to wipe your bum in our hotel loo) with a glint in our eye. Why the glint? Well, although I’d love to say it was due to the upcoming poker final, it was in fact a result of our anticipation for a bit of Sunday Dipping. Not skinny dipping, although I did unsuccessfully suggest that to Jen and Chili, but Big Dipping on Blackpool’s famous rollercoaster. So famous, in fact, that I can’t remember its name.

We rushed over, well, that maniac Jen did, to the Pleasure Beach (should be renamed the ‘Arghhhhhhhh Beach’) and rubbed our hands, excitedly awaiting our early afternoon of fun. I checked the time on my phone, and, to the joy of my heart, realised that there was over 90 minutes of fun to be had, an observation that I quickly announced to the group. Fruitloop Jen took one look at the biggest, and most life-threatening, ride in the park, licked her lips, and briskly directed us to the entrance. Boy, did Glen and Chili look thrilled when they witnessed the ride in action…

Led by Jen, we patiently queued up in a long snake-like line (you know, one that takes a lot longer to diminish than you’d think) and started clenching those buttocks in fear of a lack of bodily discipline. Although we’d all had a pretty ‘yeah, I’ll be fine’ sort of attitude, Chili, Glen, and myself were now starting to appear a tad sheepish. At one point, I’m sure I recall Chili grabbing firmly onto Glen’s hand and whispering, ‘Find a way to get me out of here and I’ll forever be at your mercy.’ Unfortunately, I doubt the eagle-eyed Jen would ever let such an escape occur.

As the line of Chavs decreased (not sure what it is about this place that attracts the now renowned breed), and we got closer and closer to the rickety carts, Jen’s smile and my frown widened simultaneously. Meanwhile, Chili was sweating like a racehorse and Glen, a champion fighter and general hard-case, was whimpering like a puppy in a bag. Still, no getting out now.

As we reached the front, and the cart tootled around, I took a glance at the passengers. The majority sported a ‘Get me off this damned contraption’ expression, whilst others were either wondering how their hair suddenly developed the ability to go spikey, or were frozen to their seat in a sheer state of shock. Either way, my tummy started to rumble in a way that threatened to reintroduce me to my full English brekkie.

So, bums on seats, and we were ready for the off. The part I’m always worried about is the moment the attendants, who are probably underpaid, don’t care, and have been doing the same monotonous job for several hour straight, run along the carts to check that the bars and safety belts are secure. The mere fact that they are chatting to each other and eyeing up women over their shoulder whilst checking strikes fear in the very depth of my heart.

But, brum brum, too late to worry about falling out now.

As with most rides, we start off at a leisurely pace, taking that familiar incline before the big initial drop. However, this seemed to be the most time-consuming incline in the world, and I seriously felt like it took five minutes to get up there. Before we reached the top, I’d already planned my diary for the following week, whipped out the lappie and typed up a tourney report, and grown a fully fledged beard.

Finally, we reached the top, and, although Jen was commenting on the wonderful view, I was slightly more concerned with the near vertical drop that confronted me.


I have to confess, I’ve never held onto anything as tightly before as I held onto those handle bars. I’ve still got two cylindrical marks moulded into the palms of my hand. Jen’s face had an expression of ‘Wheeeeeeee!! What a rush!’ but boy, that tear in my eye thought otherwise.

Admittedly, this is a cracking rollercoaster. The big drop is always at the start, often creating an anti-climax for the rest of the ride, but this one was different. It maintained a pretty high level of excitement throughout, and never left you bored. There was a point where it tilts you over onto your side, a bit where you can’t help but duck as you approach a tunnel, and a rickety to and fro segment where you feel as though you’re about to be flung from the cart.

Great stuff, and I’m sincerely grateful that Jen suggested the idea, even if I did ‘scream like a banshee’, although, at the time, I did claim that this was to make sure Chili and Glen didn’t feel left out. A minor fib there, I must confess.

As the ride redocked at its station, and the joyful faces of Jen, Chili, and Glen (Well, the latter two were more gasping in horror rather than joyful) departed from their carts, we rushed over to the photo booth… and yes, whilst Jen was loving it, I was screaming like a banshee. To my dismay, Glen purchased what can now be described as evidence, thereby resulting in my reputation as a strong-hearted fearless male being slightly tarnished, although that title already had the odd blemish.

So, why were we late? Well here’s my rather poor excuse…

Since my trip to Norway, the clock on my phone has a developed a rather bizarre tendency to go back in time in an attempt to fool me that I’m actually living my life at 2.30pm rather than 3.30pm. This happens at annoyingly random times and was the case on Sunday. Hence, why we arrived at 3.30pm.

But, in our defence, it was totally unintentional and it’s important for our viewers to acknowledge that we weren’t knowingly sacrificing the update to enjoy ourselves. That is, my friends, a big no-no.

Anyhow, one again, I apologise from the bottom of my heart and assure you that this faux-pas won’t happen a second time as I will never be given the role of time-keeper again. But, on the flipside, it was worth making the error just to see the look of horror on Glen and Chili’s face, even if it was echoed by mine…

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Sometimes, I wonder why I write this blog. Do people actually read it? Do I care if people read it? If someone speaks on a blog but no one is around to hear it, does it actually make a sound? Hmph. Not sure philosophy and poker mix too well, and, if they do, it's far too complicated for my simple brain.

Anyhow, a week or two ago I received a rewarding email from Ali of Virgin (nice fella, by the way). Within this email was an invite to a Virgin Poker Bloggers Freeroll. "Crikey", I thought, "Who cares if no one's reading my blog, I've got a FREE chance at a WSOP braceltet." Granted, it's not the Main Event, that would be ridiculous, but it IS a WSOP Event, the $1,500 NLH Event... Not bad for a freeroll, huh? And that's not to mention the free flight/accomodation and the 250,000 V-points.

So, who's in?? I'm kind of hoping I'm the only entry, but something tells me that there'll be a few familiar faces perched across the table.

Keep an eye out, the tournament takes place on the 11th May at 19.30. I quite fancy that seat, so watch out peeps... I'm a coming for that bracelet.

Sunday, May 07, 2006


It’s been over a week since my last entry, but this has been mainly due to the blonde Live Update team’s precarious venture into the middle of nowhere…

A few days prior to the outing, Jen and I had uncontrollable urges to accept the intriguing offer of Norwegian Poker Magazine’s BA Kildalen to cover the Norwegian Championships, an event, bizarrely enough, actually held in Sweden.

So, never ones to turn down a challenge, Jen and I took a 7.20 (eek – non-poker hour) plane to Oslo, a train to Oslo Central, a taxi to some random hotel, before a ‘sleep is a must’ 3 hour coach journey to Grebbestadeneren Schmerger (or some place equally Swedish in sounding). Where we ended up though, I’m not too certain. It was kind of like a Butlins ghost town, clearly empty due to the testicle freezing temperature and the vicious spits of cold rain that ran down the back of your neck.

After being greeted by the welcome sight of BA, we managed to settle into our loveshack-esque hut, whilst also accommodating a new recruit who needed a place to stay - Norwegian Tommy, a frustratingly good looking young gun who made his fortune on the net. How many of these guys are there?? Grr…

The actual tournament was staged in what can only be described as a huge gym… ideal in fact considering there were an impressive 315 participants turning up, one of which included Britain’s only representative, Miss Jennifer Mason. Unfortunately, as is evident from her own blog entry, Lady Luck failed to push her lever and Mrs Merton crashed out after several hours of play.

Without going into extensive and potentially tedious detail regarding the comp, some fella called Inspecta won, Mortyblack hit the runner-up spot, and online supremo, and one time 350k cash pot winner, Johnny Lodden took third. From the sidelines, it looked like a smashing comp, albeit self-deal, and one which I took great pleasure in updating.

A few plus points that spring to mind are:

(i) The friendly ‘no moaning’ atmosphere.

(ii) The surprising efficiency of the self-deal set-up

(iii) The way in which players were made to write down their chip count at the start of every break.

(iv) The applause for an elimination that alerted the tournament director/s.

(v) Seat tickets that players held on to.All-in-all, a cracking week which, although initially expected to provide an uninhabited space on the Live Update board, produced many a new member a many a new blonde enthusiast… which can only be a good thing.