Monday, July 31, 2006


Well, that about sums up last Wednesday night. In what ultimately turned out to be a rather eye-opening evening, your trusted blonde team decided to temporarily hang up their updating boots, throw back their hair and treat themselves to a long awaited night of fun.

Whilst Jen was livin’ it large at one of Antonio Esfandiari’s fancy parties (a magic act, among other things – ahem, the mind boggles – was on offer), this lonely beagle decided to prop up the bar in the Orleans, whilst, and probably rather foolishly, playing Paigow.

Now, for those who don’t know, Paigow is a House game in which you must form two hands from a selection of 7 cards (the 5-card hand must be stronger than the 2-card hand), whilst also beating whatever the dealer has to offer. If one of your hands wins and the other loses, it’s called a ‘push’ and you keep your money, otherwise you either double up or lose it.

Paigow is a highly entertaining game, mainly because you don’t have to risk much to have fun, and there’s always the anticipation of wondering if your seemingly crappy hand will survive. Even if you have a Ten high Paigow (the name given to a ‘no pair’ hand), you can still win if the dealer turns over 2-3-4-5-7-8-9. Highly unlikely, but it happened that night – and so did the Ten high!

However, as with all games, the introduction of alcohol can have a somewhat adverse effect on those initially minimal bets, and, after one or two tipples, you soon find yourself betting 10 times as much as you’d planned.

My poison that night was the cocktail ‘Mais Tais’, foreign to me, and considered to be rather girlie by the locals – a Vegas Bacardi Breezer I guess. Well, if it’s got alcohol in it, that’s good enough for me, and by my seventh order I was well and truly on board the Booze Bus to Hammersville. Bizarrely, the one I ordered from the barman (as opposed to the valet), was twice as strong - something to take on board for future booze missions.

After doing my particulars on the Paigow, it was time to take Dave and co up on their invitation and head down to the ‘House of Cards’ – a spendid structure located on the outskirts of Vegas.

After a short 15 minute journey, the taxi pulled up in front of a tall set of gates. I knew I was in the right place as Bullit Pete and Beppe (sometimes referred to as Michael Greco) were hanging around outside and wondering how to get in.

A quick phone call later and the gates opened. I couldn’t help but notice the sculptures either side of the drive, one of which was highly reminissent of my good self. I don’t like to brag, but I really do have the body of a God.

The big doors opened (all my ammo had to go into that job) and we were welcomed in, oddly, by a topless lass – was she not cold? I’m not even sure she realised she’d forgotten her top.

Anyhows, also present were Nottingham Nick (and wife Anna), Iwan ‘Buzz Lightyear’ Jones, Jeff ‘Nenobear’ Burke, David ‘dpommo’ Pomroy, Ben ‘milkybarkid’ Grundy, Des ‘Bling Bling’ Jonas, Paul ‘Actionjack’ Jackson Benwoo, Mickey ‘The Worm’ Wernick, Ariston, Womble, and Vicky Coren, not to mention household members Marc ‘Mr Cool’ Goodwin, Brian ‘The Rookie’ Wilson, Tony ‘Ribena Berry’ Chessa, and, of course, Dave ‘elblondie’ Coclough – all, shall we say, slightly sozzled.

So, off to the bar but, to my dismay, no Mais Tais on offer, so it was a risky switch to Vodka (ooh, mixing drinks, mother would be unhappy). Not to worry though, the bargirl had forgotten her top too, quite remarkable! I felt like covering her up with my over garment, didn’t want her getting cold now.

A quick glance around, later supplemented by a Mr Cool guided tour, and it has to be said that the ‘House of Cards’, although not quite as huge as first imagined, was highly impressive.

A beautiful outside swimming pool, a grand piano, poker tables, jacuzzis in the bedroom, their own chef – the list is endless really. Add to this the random selection of leggy blondes (my hands are clean!) prancing around, and you have quite the abode!

Jen, who’d asked me to keep texting her to ensure she was safe and not at a ‘funny’ party (I seem to recall her fear of mud-wrestling), arrived fashionably late. Not too long after, the bar closed and the guests were ushered out. I thought these guys were hardcore, It was only around 2! That’s oldies for you…

Not to worry, Jan Heitman and George ‘The Panzer’ Danzer (who we later found out had been named the Pokestar’s ‘fashion violator’) suggested a trip to Treasure Island’s ‘Tangerine’ club. With one foot already on the booze bus, Jen and I duly obliged.

I’m not really into poncey clubs with snotty guests, overpriced drinks and arsey bouncers, so I didn’t have the best of times here. Add to that the fact that I had to dash back to the Orleans to change my pink shirt (what’s wrong with pink?!), and it wasn’t a glorious couple of hours, plus it finished early! What’s wrong with Vegas?! I thought this was the city that sleeps, but everything seems to be closing well before beddie byes.

Armed with two highly intoxicated Swedes (where they came from, I still don’t know), we demanded that the taxi driver take us somewhere that was open. Where did we end up? Seamless. And for those with weak educated guesswork skills, this is a strip-club. Not really my cup of tea, and I couldn’t imagine it was Jen’s – although that claim would later prove more than false (I’d better keep stum on that one). Still, seeing as we were here, and they serve drinks, we thought we’d give it a shot.

Within seconds, we were being smothered by some young blonde stripper who took the more intriguing route of making friends, talking to us on a level and slowly working her way into our pockets.

To be fair, this girl was good. Before we knew it, she’d found out who was single, who was keen, and who was willing to go ‘backstage’ (I fell into none of those categories and just played dumb – at last, something I’m good at!).

Meanwhile, whilst Miss Blonde was being as nice as punch (probably for the chance to touch the guns – she should be paying ME for that honour though), two girls were dancing, rather poorly it has to be said, on podiums behind the bar. I had to laugh, now and then they got bored and just started chatting with each other. Still, I guess it was 6am in a virtually empty strip-joint – crikey, I thought I’d be at least 50 before my life reached that sad state of affairs!

After losing one Swede and one German (for entiley different reasons), we headed back to the Orleans. A drunk Jen somehow managed to cross the freeway, but couldn’t manage to hold her glass of water as we dined at the breakfast table. I remember the waiter giggling at our drunken states and Jen’s inability to drink liquid in a fluid manner.

Next thing I remember, I was waking up in my nice comfy Orleans’ bed, 3pm on the clock. Booze, strippers and the ‘House of Cards’ – was it all a surreal dream? The sore head and icky tummy suggested otherwise, but I wasn’t sure…

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Yesterday, I played in my first ever World Series’ Event – the $1,500 No Limit Hold ‘Em Freezout. With just $1,500 in chips, these Events aren’t renowned for having the best structure (the more shrewd players tend to wander down to the Bellagio or Wynn instead), but it’s still a WSOP event, and I wanted to make sure I had one to my name.

My preparation for the comp wasn’t tip top. For some unknown reason, I decided to play cash until 5.30am, proverbially doing my mutt’s nuts in the process, and then slept on The Tank’s floor due to losing my key card. Doh!

As a joke, I recall saying to Tank, “I have a little twinge in my back, how about I take your bed and you kip on the floor?” (Please bare in mind that I would never consider stealing Tank’s bed.) Well, our Scottish friend thought I was being serious and started making the bed for me! Crikey, guess it just proves what a top bloke he is.

With a crooked back and a body odour that could wake small children out of comas, I trundled back to my room for a most welcome shower and a fresh set of clothes. I’d only slept for five hours and so felt a little crappy.

Armed with a bottle of water and a bowl of fruit, Jen and I marched into the Rio, fully braced for our first ever WSOP event. I felt a little sick, predominantly due to my piss poor preparation rather than nerves, but I was simultaneously excited about playing. I just thought “One double up and I’m away”.

As we neared the cardroom, we noticed a long snake like queue protruding from the cashier desk. Blimey, how many people were in this?! Well, in the end, I think there were an incredible 2800 runners, including several hundred alternates. Wow!

I quickly found my seat on Table 78 and greeted the other players. No stars, but that was to my benefit. I didn’t want someone to be raising every pot, I much preferred to be seeing cheap flops in order to catch a monster. I’d thought long and hard about my strategy, and I’d come to the conclusion that, in the early stages, it really is a case of ‘there are no good hands, just good flops’.

I wanted to see flops with my pocket pairs, suited connectors and so on. In fact, I’ll call with almost anything if I don’t fear a raise. The table was pretty capable, but ultimately very passive, and I knew that if I kept pots small, I could nick the odd one, yet still go into milky milky mode if I actually caught something.

I decided that I wasn’t going to raise too many hands preflop and once or twice just flat called with A-Q and A-J. I couldn’t see these hands making too much money, but believed they could potentially lose me a decent proportion of my stack if I were to be outdrawn. Also, with just 1,500, the continuation bet on a missed flop could prove a costly one.

Overall, my table was pretty bizarre. There was a guy who suddenly decided to wear a lucky hat (he went out the very next hand), a chatty fellow named Walt in a Hawaiian shirt, an old fellow who played text book poker and grumbled under his breath at anyone who didn’t, a young shaky hand American lad who looked like he was on drugs, and a nerdy 20 year old who literally only played Aces and Kings. For once, I felt like the normal one!

For the first couple of levels, I reckon I played near faultless poker. I didn’t feel as tired as I expected and my ipod was keeping me fully focused. My first WSOP hand wasn’t a biggie. I called from the cut-off with T-5 of hearts, the flop came Ace high with two hearts, checked around, I bet the raggy turn and won. Cash me in!

There was an interesting hand with Mr Grumpy, who was amusingly donning a comedy jester hand – clearly compensating for his distinct lack of personality.

I limped with 4-5, flop comes A-3-7 (2 clubs). He bets 300, I call. Turn brings a 4, he bets 500 into a 1000 pot, I call (13 outs and a chance of a value bet if I hit). River comes a 2, but it’s a club. He bets 1,000. I dwell it up for while, I’d previously put him on an Ace, but now this bet didn’t make too much sense. I really didn’t think he had the flush draw though, especially with the Ace of clubs on the flop, so I called, and he turned over A-5 for the straight. Chop, chop. Phew. He moaned at my call for ages, but I thought it was a good one, especially because it would have left me with peanuts if I’d been wrong.

Talking about Mr Grumpy, he made a dumb move on his neighbour by re-reraising all-in with A-K on a raggy flop, only to run into an obvious overpair, J-J. Turn = K, River = J… to the relief of the table. Mr Grumpy had done his stack in unnecessarily and was virtually out. A valet then passed and commented innocently, “Lucky hat?” Mr Grumpy, like a spoilt kid, replied, “Not anymore!” and promptly removed the hat from his head and threw it to the ground. He was a big guy, so I had to refrain from laughing, but it wasn’t easy. I mean, come on, a grown man in a jester hat throwing a tantrum, sheesh.

Anyway, from here on in, I really didn’t get many cards to play with. As bigger stacks joined the table, opportunities were few and far between and seeing a flop was quite the rarity. I made a good call with bottom pair and managed to pull off a bluff with 3 high, but these were relatively small pots. I moved all-in a few times with marginal hands, but, fortunately, received no callers – although at some point or another, I really needed a double up to stay in touch.

There was one moment where I received the seemingly monstrous Pocket Ladies, but I, to the immense surprise of Mad Yank, opted for a fold. The rock in Seat 1, who had been smooth calling A-K, raised, and the even rockier rock in Seat 9 moved all-in. Seat 9 had only raised twice the whole competition, and both times he’d shown Aces, so I was slightly concerned about his first reraise. Also, he’d just doubled through, and I really couldn’t see him wanting to get too antsy in his pantsy without a mighty big hand. Everyone at the table reckoned he had Kings, which was my first guess, so I folded. Of course, you never know, he may have held J-J or A-K, but after sitting with him for a few hours, I really didn’t think so, and therefore decided to bide my time instead.

But alas, it wasn’t to be. I probably should have made the move a round earlier, but I’m not used to adding the antes to my calculations, and so felt I was a little short when it came to my final swan song.

With several big stacks on the table, and a guy who called each hand preflop (not to mention shouting ‘Ship it!’ after every victory), I was truly buggered and found myself praying for a hand that never came.

Instead, I was forced to wait til Ron Rose, one of the few players who I knew could fold, was in the big blind. Unfortunately, Scandieboy called my J-2 with K-J in the small blind and that was me done - 6 hours of WSOP play, and I was looking for a fork.

Speaking of Ron Rose (right), whenever I’ve watched him on TV, he’s been deadly quiet and conservative. Well, he thought he was ‘The Man’ at this table (way more gobby than expected) and there was a definite case of ‘I’m the star here’. I wonder if this happens with all the ‘name’ players.

With my good self gone, it wasn’t long before Jen joined me on the loser’s bench. I was biting dust just before din-dins, and she exited just after when she ran her Pocket Snowmen into Bullets. She was down to just 1,500 at the time so had to make a move, it’s just a shame that when she actually finds a hand, someone else is sitting with the nuts. Bah!

I’m not bitter though, $1,500 is not peanuts but, possibly due to it being a foreign currency, it really didn’t pain me to part with it and I never felt uncomfortable at the table as a result. Also, I had an absolute blast, even though I never really rose above 3.5k. To be honest, I was just grateful to have lasted 6 hours and gained a decent level of WSOP experience. Although I wasn’t scared to depart early, I really didn’t want to wave goodbye in Level 1 without winning a hand, making a bluff, or enduring the excitement of a raggy all-in.

If you haven’t yet played one, and you can afford to put up the dosh, then I’d fully recommend that you give it a crack. Yes, it’s not the best structure, and yes, your chances of winning are slim to none, but that’s not why I played. I had an absolute hoot and it was just nice to be seated at the table instead of behind the lappie.

I just wish I was in the Main Event rather than updating it. I truly envy you guys, so make good use of those 10,000 chips.

Ta ta for now

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


-- The Orleans --

A couple of days ago, Jen and I moved from the lovely Can Cun resort into the more gambling orientated Orleans Hotel. Compared to the rather garish sights of the Rio, I quite like this place. It’s full of bright flashing lights, but it’s not over the top and there seems to be less of a corporative influence.

Based a few miles off the strip, the Orleans remains a pretty popular place, with the Resort currently inhabited by a seemingly endless supply of basketball players (teenagers who seemed to have spent most of their childhood on a rack) and a most welcome scattering of beauty pageant contestants. In fact, last night in the elevator, Miss Florida complimented Jen by saying, in a bizarrely cutesy and suspiciously preempted manner (those child-pushing parents seem to have em by the short and curlies), “Your shirt is really neat.” I was so tempted to respond with “Yes, isn’t it just swell!”

These youthful (I do hope they’re not younger than 16) beauty contestants aren’t the only eye candy on offer at the Orleans, the waitresses are pretty tasty too. Whilst less glamorous locations such as the Horseshoe and Tropicana seem to be infested with tobacco chewing Russian shot-putters, the waitresses over here are mighty fine. And you should check out their outfits! Whoever decided on giving them all wedgies was a genius!

Whilst taking a brief hiatus away from the poker table, I couldn’t help but take a wonder around. The place really is huge, and so are the Subway sandwiches. I had a Meatball baguette, and it was bigger than my arm! She gave me so many options (type of cheese, baguette, sauce, etc) that in the end, I just said “You choose, I’ll go with anything”, although that was also partly due to the fact that I was having trouble understanding her accent.

-- Accents --

Talking about accents, I guess it’s true what they say, these Americans love the English vocal chords. I have no idea why, I can’t remember the last time someone actually requested my rather dim-sounding Brummie voice. The women seem to love it though. Boy, I’m moving over here, pronto!

I’ve encountered some amusing conversations too. The amount of times I’ve had to repeat my name is unbelievable, it’s not a complex one. At the Can Cun resort I took about 30 minutes to order a taxi because the dude behind the desk couldn’t catch my name. “Alan? Aaron? Ali? Antoine?” He even said Abdul at one point. Do I look like an Abdul?!?!

Whilst playing a tourney at Binion’s (they have a pretty cool 2am daily multi for $60 plus one $40 rebuy), one opponent even gave up on a conversation. After repeating myself three times, he eventually conceded “I’m sorry, I just can’t understand what the hell you’re saying”. Fair enough, it reminded me of when Paul Jackson was given a warning at last year’s WSOP and told “English only at the table”.

-- The Women --

However stupid and alien this language barrier makes us feel, it will always be a mighty useful tool in attracting the women. They just seem to swoon at the mere thought that you might be foreign. Quasimodo could come over here with a Cockney accent and still pull!

And we’re not talking about women from the lower end of the aesthetic spectrum either, these are top class babes, dressed from head to toe in, well, they’re barely dressed at all! It’s awesome! (for singletons – I’m a taken man)

If you have a hooker addiction, then Vegas is the place to be. If you reckon Amsterdam is the prostitute capital of the World, then think again. Every bar over here is propped up by some delightful totty sharing drinks with a slimy old codger. Not that I’m on the hunt or anything, but rumour has it that the hookers in the Bellagio and the Wynn are a sight for sore eyes. Good golly, if you do have the aforementioned addiction, then I hope you’ve got deep pockets.

If you’re like me, and you’re resigned to window-shopping due to having a lovely vixen back home, then you can’t go far wrong by hanging around the Rio. Just trundling around the back of the cardroom will provide a feast of visual eye candy, most notable of which, in my humble opinion, are the cowgirls outside Doyle’s Room.

Whilst the Full Tilt and BodDog hotties get seats, these Trojons have to stand for the whole day. Their commitment to the cause is highly admirable indeed. And I give them a big thumbs up for being located by my pressroom, resulting in my passing by every second. This may be the cause for such frequent posting of late.

In poker, some say it’s all about timing (A.K.A luck), and I had great ‘timing’ the other day when I managed to snap this classic piccy. The legend and his cowgirls, I’m tempted to blow this one up and stick it up on my wall I’m so proud of it.

-- The Weather --

I wouldn’t be British if I didn’t potter on about the weather. As you’ve all heard countless times, it’s roasty toasty over here, but what many don’t realise is that it’s like the North Pole indoors. It’s worth being ripped off by the million-dollar-a-minute masseuses just to keep warm!

I brought over a few pairs of shorts, but not once have I found the need to don them. It would be goosepimples a plenty in the rather brisk Rio cardroom, so they've been gathering dust in my bag for the least week or two. Having said that, I was presented with the rather amusing sight of a pale ‘I never see daylight’ Devilfish waltzing into the cardroom in vest and shorts. Boy, a bronzed Adonis he was not. And guns, he doesn’t know the meaning of the word!

Whatever you do, don’t walk anywhere. Mad Yank said he once attempted to ramble from Downtown to the Main Strip. A jaunt which took ten times as long due to the soldering heat and the umpteem mugging attempts. Defending yourself in a sauna doesn’t seem like much fun to me.

We did have one non-‘I’m going to die from this heat’ day. I thought it was a fireworks display at first, but on closer inspection, it was clear the Vegas sky was graced with the most stunning of lightening strikes. I’ve never seen anything like that before, truly spectacular.

-- The Food --

Coming from the land of ‘beans on toast’ and ‘fish and chips’, I always knew that the food over here would provide more than a slight improvement on my Brummie cuisine.

After spending time in Monte Carlo where I had to queue up for ages to purchase a viciously overpriced and poorly cooked burger, eating over here is a delight. Everything is oversized, (I couldn’t finish a hotdog the other day), instantly accessible, and served with a smile – compare that to the disgraceful service at Grosvenor Bolton during the Poker 6 and you really begin to appreciate the American’s level of professionalism.

The food service in the Orleans is worthy of a mention too. I ordered some Lemon chicken and within several minutes they were rattling my door. What I received was way over the top, but much appreciated; big plate of chicken, bowl of rice, two bowls of lemon sauce, a selection of savoury dips, salt and pepper, bowl of what looked like Twiglets, bottle of Tabasco sauce and a bottle of soy sauce. Aye carumba!

Well, that’s enough wittering for one day. I hope I’ve given you a little taster of what Vegas is like. Until next time, keep it real peeps.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


After the marathon that was the H.O.R.S.E Event, Jen and my good self decided to reward our hard work with a spot of cash. First stop was Caesar’s Palace in the centre of the strip.

A quite foreboding building, we were instantly greeted by the nefarious figure of Julius Caesar whose statue stood in the centre of the lobby. Resisting the temptation to take a corny piccy, we headed straight towards the cardroom.

Accompanied by the American born and now London based Ron ‘Mad Yank’ Fanelli, we waltzed straight onto a $1/2 ten-handed cash table, eager to show the Americans how to play the wonderful game.

To my delight, the table appeared to be somewhat intoxicated with one fellow acting like the proverbial newt. (He must have asked my name a hundred times before it finally sunk in.) Ron suggested that perhaps he wasn’t as drunk as he made out, especially after he folded for $1 in the small blind, but his constant F-bombing, shaking of hands with the cardroom supervisors, and general ‘be a pain in the arse’ skills seemed too convincing to question.

Now, Mad Yank is pretty infamous in England for his brazen behaviour. Well known on various forums and generally regarded as someone who isn’t afraid to speak his mind, he can fall victim to some rather unjustified bad press. True, he’s loud, but get to know the inner Yank and he’s really as mellow as the rest of us. However, his outrageous table presence, which is often nothing more than mere strategy, will always be explosive and boisterous – and why not?

After just several minutes, the ‘mad one’ was already causing a stir. Although currently an adopted Cockney, the table refused to believe that he was anything but 100% devoted to the stars and stripes, and so Ron announced that the next time his chips went in, he’d proudly sing Rule Britannia.

And would you Adam and Eve it, the very next hand, after a raise and a reraise, what does Ron look down to find? Yep, those lubberly jubberly American Airlines. As promised, he shoved in the chips and blew out the ol’ pipes “Rule Britannia! Britannia rule the waves!…” strangely enough, sounding quite mad.

And it worked! The second raiser fell right into the ‘he must be mad’ theory and briskly doubled Ron up with his pocket Kings. Now, if Jen or I had made the same move, but without the native singsong, would we have received the call? I’m not too sure…

As stated earlier, this was a rather intoxicated table, and a pretty weak one regardless. In fact, within just a couple of hours, I’d managed to scoop in a $1,000 profit! Pretty good going for a $1/2 game.

Although this predominantly derived from a K-K v Q-Q encounter on a K-T-rag-J-J board (the turn bringing a call from my all-in after we both checked the flop), the most intriguing hand came just as we were packing up to leave.

Ron raised from early position (to about $10) and received around 5 callers, one of whom was moi with A-T suited (spades). The flop came Ac-9c-6h. Ron checked, as did everyone else. The next card brought something innocent like the 4 of diamonds.

This time Ron bet $20. I glanced to my left, and, seeing as nobody else looked interested, just called, as I felt Ron had a strong pocket pair and may call a value bet on the river. I wasn’t too worried about an Ace here as I didn’t see why he’d check it on the flop.

I’m pretty sure the river was the 8c, but I’m certain Ron bet out $40. This bet baffled me. If he held K-K, Q-Q or J-J like I first thought, then why was he betting the River? At the same time, however, I really didn’t think he had the Ace, especially after his check on the flop, which therefore either meant he had a smaller pocket pair or was stonecold bluffing with a hand like K-Q or K-J. Anyhow, I had a feeling that he wasn’t strong, so I called and, to my surprise, he turned over Q-Q.

After a short trip to the cashier, I spoke to Ron about this hand and told him that I didn’t put him on Q-Q on the River due to his $40 bet. In response, he stated that his bet was based on ‘probability’.

Now by this I believe he means that he didn’t just think “this guy has this hand so I’ll make this play”, but more that “there’s a 70% chance he has this, and a 20% chance he has this, so the +ve move would be to do this”. Although this isn’t a strategy I employ (I’m more of a “I think he’s got this so I’ll bet this” kind of guy), I can appreciate such an approach, especially when it comes to ring games.

However, in this particular circumstance, I’m not sure betting out can be a profitable play, mainly because too many hands that call the $40 will be winning hands. If I have any Ace or something innocuous like 9-8 suited, I will call and win. And if I have 9-9, 8-8, 6-6 or 4-4 I’ll probably raise. Same with the flush or straight.

But what are my calling (and losing) hands that will win the pot for Ron. Well, I could have J-9 suited, I guess, but that’s about it. Anything else and I probably would have released to the $20 bet on the Turn. He’s seen me reraise with pocket Tens before, so I can’t believe he’d put me on Tens or Jacks.

What really raised an eyebrow was when he said that he’d have stuck it back up me if I’d reraised. This I considered to be a ‘hindsight based’ comment. If he thinks I’m bluffing, then he can just call. If he thinks I have him pipped with the Ace, then will a reraise force me to fold? Even if he has a set of Aces, which is unlikely if I have the potential case, then surely reraising on a board that dangerous is an unnecessarily risky move. Besides, I could actually have a monster.

Anyhow, it was an interesting hand that went my way (accompanied by a tongue in cheek (I hope) “give it to the donkey” comment from Ron). Mad Yank was a couple of hundred up from his early double-up and Jen was a $100 in the black from a missed nut flush draw which still managed to win come the river. A lucrative night all around, but fortunately for me, it was my turn to buy brekkie.

Next day (apologies I’ve lost track of which day is which), we quenched our poker thirst yet again. This time it was the Sahara.

Whilst Ron and Jen tackled the daily multi, I decided to try and increase my Vegas winnings even further by venturing into the cash game, one that was slightly less alcohol heavy, but still potentially profitable.

However, the cards didn’t really fall my way, and for the most of it, I rarely won or lost a big pot. So how did I end up $600 down? One giant $1,100 pot.

8-handed $1/2 NLH, fairly tight table, couple of loose players, including a young American in Seat 1 (let’s call him Hank). Hank seems pretty useful and not afraid to play weaker hands. We'd tried to outplay each other on a number of occasions, including a brief, but fun heads up session. In fact, the first hand I sat down I checked a set on the river and he bet $40 into me with 9 high, so I knew he could bluff.

Anyway, I have $550 in front of me and Hank has about $650. About an hour into the session, I receive 9d 6d. Hank raises to $8 (all raises in Vegas seem to be huge, this was minute in comparison), I call from the small blind. Everyone else folds. We hadn't been folding to each other's raises all night, unless they were big or involved other players.

On a flop of Qd-4c-7d, I check raised his $25 bet to $65, he called. I then check raised (again) the 8 turn. This time he bet $120 and I made it $320. After a lengthy dwell, he pushed all-in and I was forced to call for my last $140 or so.

He shows 6s 7s (2nd pair), King of Hearts on the River and that’s all she wrote. A $1,100 pot sails away.

Now, I’ve received several views on this hand, and the general concensus is that I played it incorrectly. Whilst Mad Yank (left) made the valid point that there is no story being told here that makes any sense with my two check raises failing to represent any kind of made hand (this guy knows his stuff), blondeite Dale added that, against a player like this, a check call on the flop followed by a bet on the turn is probably the best option. In hindsight, I think I’d have to agree with this approach. Dem boys speak sense.

My reasoning behind betting the Turn was no more than pure greed. I read him for a hand like second pair (I actually had him down for a pocket pair), and thought I could lure a few extra chips out of him before making him fold to my reraise.

My mistake was more in the misread of my opponent. As I later found out when he made a questionable call with a crappy pair against a flush draw and overcards, he certainly has a slight ego problem in terms of “I’ll show them by making an awesome call”.

So, against this player, I really should have refrained from making the pot so big.

Overall, I ended $600 down for the night, but $400 up for the trip. I’m not finding too many opportunities to play, but come the end of the $5,000 6-Handed Freezeout, I’m sure I’ll be back at the tables looking for a drunk tourist to finance my trip. Believe you me, there’s plenty around…

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


So, before we knew it, Jen and I were in the Rio Cardroom fully braced for the much anticipated H.O.R.S.E Event (Hold’em, Omaha Hi-Lo, Razz, Stud, Stud Hi-Lo – although for ages my brain was telling me that the ‘O’ was straight Omaha, Doh!).

Greenstein, Duke, Chan, Hellmuth, Seidel, Cloutier (left), Brunson, Farha, Negreanu, Mizrachi, Lederer, Matusow, anyone who’s anyone in the World of poker was there (except tikay of course), and they all had Full Tilt gear on too! I mean, c’mon, how many players do those guys sponsor?? Just greedy, give blonde some!

As is standard in WSOP Events, as soon as play drops to 15 tables, the media (except ESPN and Cardplayer) become mere mortals again and are forced to stand on the rail with everyone else. Well, in fact, we are normally trying to battle through a 3-layer thick crowd due to moving to and from the media room.

So, with chip counts and hand spotting made even more difficult than usual (not to mention the fact that it was a comp of mixed games), I was left hanging around the doorway waiting for players to pass come breaktime. As they rushed by (many dying for a trip to the loo), I tried my best to grab the ocassional chip count. Some were very accomodating, others not so.

Everyone likes a bit of gossip on what players are life off the TV screens, so, as this was my first encounter with many of the ‘stars’, here are a few of my initial impressions.
-- Chad Brown and Ted Forest = blanked me when I asked for the chip-counts – cheers boys!

-- Erik Seidel = seemed like a genuinely nice chap. Softly spoken, stopped to speak to me, and actually appeared to accept me as a fellow human being rather than a mere peasant. Top man.

-- Annie Duke, Mike Matusow, Phil Hellmuth = I’m sure their nice enough, but they clearly like to be the centre of attention.

-- Chris Ferguson = I wasn’t sure what to make of ‘Jesus’. He seemed very reserved and look absolutely exhausted. Perhaps he hasn’t been feeling too well this week as I haven’t really seen him around much. Still, if that lass he exited with is indeed his other half, he’ll soon be smiling again. Aye carumba! She must have been charmed by his carrot/cucumber/banana slicing skills.

-- Max Pescatori = admittedly, I wasn’t too sure at first, but after speaking to him afterwards, I quite liked this chap. His favourite card is the seven of diamonds, apparantly the most precious card in his homecountry of Italy, can’t for the hell of me remember why though.

-- Erik Lindgren = crikey, face like a smacked bottom. Cheer up ol’ chap.

-- Doyle Brunson = an absolute legend, what am ambassador for the sport. Always has time to sign autographs, shake people hands, chat to his fans – can’t praise him enough. I don’t normally get star-struck when I meet poker players as I really just see them as normal people and don’t like being lured into this idea of ‘poker celebrity’, but, I really was in awe of Doyle when I first met him - a huge character who really stands out in a crowd. Again, top man.

-- Phil Ivey, John Juanda = I have the utmost respect for these guys. Nieghbours in the H.O.R.S.E they sat quietly and just focused on their game, not worrying about the cameras or trying to make themselves known – just played poker. On the final day, it was truly bizarre to see Ivey queing up in the hotdog stand with a few bucks in his stand, especially when he was in the middle of playing for millions. Even the Grosvenor give free food to finalists! Very surreal.

Word association:

-- Daniel Negreanu = loud
-- Tony Bloom = quiet

-- John D’Agostino = shaven
-- Barry Greenstein = unshaven

-- TJ Cloutier, Brett Jungblut, and Howard Lederer = big green giants
-- Freddie Deeb, Jennifer Harman and Sam Farha = tiny oompa-loompas

-- Todd Brunson = comic book guy
-- Andy Bloch = Robin Williams

-- Josh Arieh = confident

-- Robert Williamson = fun

-- Gavin Smith = intoxicated

-- Scotty Nguyen = Fonz

-- Greg Raymer = fashion police (sorry, two words there, but c’mon, sandals, white socks, beige shorts and orange shirt – that pushes the antecool philosophy way too far)

-- Cyndy Violette = MILF (sorry, that is so uncooth)

Anyway, back to business – it was a top-class field packed with ‘name’ players, many of whom bit the dust earlier than expected. Nguyen, Negreanu, Devilfish all struggled early on, leaving lesser known chracters such as Antonius (left), Cassidy, and Allen Cunningham to take control at the top.

What your update team never expected, however, was a 20 hour session for Day 2 which would see us hit the sack at the bizarre an unexpected time of 9pm. What was more incredible was that veterans such as Doyle, Dewey Tomko, Chip Reese, and Tom Franklin were fairing better than many of the young guns, showing that you didn’t necessarily have to be under the age of 30 to have the mental and physical stamina to keep up. In fact, Doyle appeared as a fresh as a daisy!

And what a final table we ended up with - just what the ESPN doctor ordered. Reese, Brunson, Ivey, Bloch, Antonius, Cloutier, Tomko, Betchel – I’m sure Mr TV Director was quite moist at the mere thought of this bunch crossing swords, especially in a No Limit Texas Hold’Em Final. Speaking of which, I can’t be the only one who finds this ridiculous. Of course, we can all understand why it was changed, but that doesn’t make it right. They spend all week playing a wide range of games, displaying a variety of skills in a Limit structure where the best and most consistent performers will tend to come out on top, and then, suddenly, the whole comp is turned on it’s head and we’re back to lottery time. One word from this Beagle – grrrrrrrrrrr.

Anyhow, Texas it was, and after pre-final favourite Ivey’s second pair was outdone by Bloch’s flush draw, we were down to two, leaving Jen and I eagerly awaiting an early night. Yipeeeeee!

7 hours and 6 minutes later, we were still there. Shopping bags under our eyes, and knuckles dragging along the floor. I’m sure Jen started hallucinating at one point as I seem to recall her babbling on about how I was the coolest person in the world, well, something like that anyhow.

Equipped with blurry eyes and aching limbs, we watched patiently, yet increasingly frustratedly, from the stands (of which had become more and more baron as the heads-up progressed) and leapt up in shock when both players announced all-in. Blimey! Must have been a slip of the tongue!

Up to this point, there had barely been a reraise and most hands followed a similar pattern. Preflop bet, call, flop or turn bet, fold. Zzzzzzz. As Mad Yank said, “Is this a display of poker skill or absolute conservatism?” There was even the possibility that it was slightly contrived, just so the players could get a bit more air time and make out as though they’d been in this epic battle of supreme poker to which neither player deserved to lose. However, I think that idea may be a little too far fetched, it was most likely a question of ‘Please, please, please let me have the bracelet!’ as winning an Event is becoming increasingly more difficult as they years pass.

In the end, I think it came down to a flush draw vs top pair jobby, but by that point, I really didn’t care. They both seem like nice chaps, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t pining for a Brunson/Ivey heads-up battle, now that would make great TV. Brunson departed to a standing ovation by the way, which, of course, was fully deserved.

The clock once again read 9am and I’ve never loved a hotel bed so much. 3 days of hard graft, a shattered body clock, and my Vegas trip turning into a holiday in the Rio cardroom - time to play some poker myself…

Monday, July 17, 2006


Howdy, folks. Due to the inevitable pressures of live updating, uploading blogs, maintaining results & news, etc, I thought it naïve to commit to a diary of any kind, even if this is my first trip to Vegas. However, the more my eyes widen by what I witness over here, the more obligated I feel to jotting down a few thoughts. And, well, here it is, ‘The Beagle Bulltin’.

Jen and I set off for the bright lights of Vegas almost a week ago now and, although our journey was a relatively confortable one, we were unable to avoid the turmoil of US customs. Catching a connecting flight at Houston, Texas, this beagle was slightly concerned when he received a rather worrying call from his working colleague. “They’ve taken me aside for questioning,” she claimed anxiously, “the guy at the desk was too thick too understand why I had a U.S passport and called for security”.

Well, to everyone’s relief, Jen failed to receive the rubber glove treatment and was soon able to retrieve her passport after a few stomps of her little feet. Jen was born in Enlgand, but spent a chunk of her childhood in America, hence the shiny blue passport. However, this was too much for the US to comprehend. Nevertheless, she was released from her cell in short time, thereby enabling us to catch that second flight. Finally, we were heading for Vegas!

Okay, firstly, the weather. Even at nine stone I was sweating like a 20 stone marathon runner. Coming from Birmingham and spending most of my time away from the sunlight (many have accused me of being a vampire), I’m just not used to the soaring heat of Nevada. So, jumper off and ‘guns’ (my rip-roaring biceps) out and it was time to lure in that bronzed tan that alas is still yet to arrive.

I won’t bore you with details of my resort, it’s the usual affair, but I must mention the jacuzzi. For those that recall past updates, you may remember my various tales of jacuzzi woe. Well, this week has been no different as I simply couldn’t resist the temptation to give it another go.

Stepping bravely into the bathroom, I FIRST (not second like in Deauville – oops) filled the bath with water, sat down and pressed the magic button. Confident that I’d got it right, I lay back and waited for the fun to start.

ZOIKS! Once again, water sprayed everywhere and I was jumping around in the nod like a mad man (a sight that truly could wake small children from comas). Fortunately, the button responded well to my demands and I was able to deactivate the dreaded contraption. My mistake? I failed to realise that the jet at the back of the bath was at a slight angle and therefore higher up than the other ones. Bah!

I may have felt somewhat idiotic as a result of my encounter with modern bathroom technology, but I felt intellectually redeemed to have later made a stunning revelation. To our shock, all those sounds of crickets and other insects aren’t necessarily crickets and other insects at all. Corageously crossing the ‘We stop for no man, woman or child’ freeway to shop at the ‘Food4Less’ store, I managed to detect that those sounds were indeed deriving from the little water sprays that stop the grass from dying in the scorching heat. Fascinating stuff, huh?

Anyhow, a tasty meal (equipped with gigantic gerkin) and a much needed 6 hour kip later, and it was time to rise for the highly anticipate H.O.R.S.E Event.

My first venture into the Rio, a room full of stars even starrier than me (!), 1.7 million buckeroonies up for grabs, I couldn’t wait…