Monday, October 23, 2006


I'm just about to go to bed, but I've been up for about 28 hours straight.

I think I broke my record, well... smashed it to smithereens - I played online for 20 consecutive hours, no idea why.

This week I put 3k in blondepokerleague, Party Poker and Poker Stars. I broke even on blonde, lost 700 on Party (although I was 1,500 up at one point) and dumped 2.3k on Stars.

I reckon if I had taken breaks, played sensibly and remained focused, that figure wouldn't have even been a negative.

Ah well, you live and learn. 3k is a lot for me, but for some reason I'm not too down. I should be though, it's been one of my worst fortnights for a long time. Started just after the Gutshot when I started getting man flu. I took that into the Grand Prix and it affected me, I didn't feel like I could give it my 'A' game and, as a result, I fecked it up with some decisions that I would never have made if I was thinking straight.

Then, after the disappointment of the Grand Prix, I preceded to lose that 3k, which demoralised me gradually as the days went by. I'm hardly eating, I haven't been outside for about a week and I've lost the motivation to really care about anything.

However, I have enough wits about me to know that this isn't a bad thing. Sometime you need to hit rock bottom before you can come back twice as strong, and that's exactly what I'll do.

So, no poker for me. I'm not going to play live until the Walsall festival where I'll check my finances. If I do play online, I'll be dropping down a level. I'm not mentally healthy enough at the moment to deal with the fluctuations, so until I sort that out, I'll be playing at $1/2. Hopefully I can improve my game in the process too.

The problem I have is that if I ever want to take a break from poker, I can't. My editing and updating duties revolve solely around poker, so it's just not something I can really have a sabbatical from.

But, until I am fit and healthy again, sleeping well, eating 3 meals and generally feeling good about things, I'm going to try not play. It's difficult, because to maintain my bankroll I need to play, but at the moment, I'm losing, so I'm going to have to just take it on the chin and spend less dosh for a few weeks. My bankroll might drop a little, but I guess that's another reason for temporarily dropping down a level.

This ban has caught me off guard too. I had it easy before, but now it's not quite as straight forward. The Party Poker bread and butter have left me and I'm finding it hard to adjust my game to the new players on blonde and Stars. There are fewer on blonde, so table selection isn't as good and people are able to detect playing pattens on me. Meanwhile, on Stars, I find the players to be of a higher standard, making well timed moves and check-raising rivers. I'm not used to this type of flair, and it's costing me money.

But, I'm going to take it as part of the learning process. I haven't played well today, so it's too early to say if I can still make a healthy living from the game. I think I could grind it out, but I've got a girlfriend and spending several hours online every days just doesn't go down well. Similarly, I can't really play live regularly for the same sort of reasons, although I would love to and reckon I could earn buck or two.

Anyhow, I'd better get forty winks before I faint. Dublin on Wednesday ready for the EPT, should be fun. Hopefully I'll be in a good mood by then because updating's no fun when you're not quite yourself...

Nighty night!

Thursday, October 19, 2006


I'm 25 years old, and instead of being on the lash with the lads as I would have been in my younger days, I'm at home with the folks doing some work on blonde, barely acknowledging that it is in fact my 'special day'.

Quarter of a century, wow, is it wrong to start feeling old now? I think once you leave uni, every 5th year (25, 30, 35) appears quite depressing. I don't feel too bad though to be honest, I'm still in my 20's after all.

Every birthday, I go through the same motions. Huff and puff, sigh deeply before looking back on the year gone by to see how much time I wasted doing sod all.

Well, I guess this year's a little different. Although, admittedly, I am rather disappointing that I have failed to fulfil my potential as a live multi player, I have at least solidified my position as a regular winner of online cash games. I have been winning for almost a year now, and that, at least, should be consolidating news.

And then, of course, there's blondepoker. When I was celebrating my 24th birthday, I hadn't been to Dublin, Monte Carlo, Las Vegas, Copenhagen and so on. I hadn't played in a £1,500 comp and I hadn't met all the smashing people on forum. I didn't even know what I was going to do with myself if the poker didn't work out. Therefore, I really should be delighted with my progress over the last 12 months. I have to confess, it feels like an age since I undertook my first live update. Perhaps that is a good sign as experts reckon that you are experiencing many new things if your life feels like it's going slowly.

I've blown out my 25 candles on my imaginary cake. Here's to the next 25 years. Cheers!

Sunday, October 15, 2006


In a week where I have been hit by the flu, eliminated on Day 2 of the Gutshot Main Event, endured a frustratingly hopeless Grand Prix and been forced to accept potential financial losses due to Bush finally signing the bill, I was in desperate need of a pick me up. Unfortunately, it failed to arrive.

After logging into my preferred choice of site only to find that it was virtually baron, I decided to try a different site and subsequently deposited 3 grand into my account. Although I ran steady at first, I soon realised that the Poker Gods were treating me as a toy. In the space of a three hour session, I encountered the following losses:

5-5 vs 6-6 (Flop = 5-6-x, all-in on turn)
A-5 vs 8-8 (Board = A-5-5-8, all-in on turn)
A-A vs Q-Q (Q on Flop, all-in pre-flop)
A-A vs Q-Q (Q on Flop, all-in pre-flop)

I also ran A-A into another A-A, resulting in a spilt pot and had a number of K-K and Q-Q holdings met with an Ace on the Flop.

Now, at first, this may look like nothing more than a giant bad beat story, but I must confess to sucking out my opponent in the following hand.

I called a pre-flop raise with 5-7 of spades. Flop = 5-5-Q. I bet, he called. Turn = 9. I check, he bets, I raise and so on until we are both all-in. He shows 9-9, River is a 5. One outed!

I've never encountered such a series of dramatic hands in such a short space of time, and when it happens, I can't help but wonder, just maybe, that the ol' random generator isn't quite as random as I think it is. I know it's probably bollox and everyone says it, but sometimes I just wonder...

Anyhow, I ended up $350 down, could have been worse and I'm happy that I continually stuck my money in with the best hand, can't do much more. I'm battered and bruised and knew I had to stop before my emotions and frustration got the better of me, but I'll try again tomorrow.

Poker can be an infuriating game sometimes...


As you should all know, the ‘Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act’ was passed late one Friday night before finally being signed by George Bush, thereby confirming the new legislation as law.

As someone who relies heavily on online poker for an income, this is very disconcerting news indeed.

Although I simultaneously work for blonde, the majority of my personal income derives from online poker, a source which I have been utilising on a regular basis since last November.

I was profiting online prior to that date, but nowhere near to the amount I earn now, and it was this rise in financial gain that encouraged me to relinquish my job, resulting in 2 months of professional play before acquiring my editing duties with blonde.

Although I realised that the poker boom would someday come to an end, I never for one moment thought that it would disperse so abruptly. Due to an exceeding level of complacency, I assumed that even if numbers did fall, they would never drop to a level in which I would find it difficult to earn a substantial profit. However, losing 20 million Americans is a different kettle of fish, and a figure that could well spell the end for my online career.

A couple of days ago, I logged into my preferred choice of online site, only to be met with a baron lobby, painfully few in numbers. I tried to set up a few tables, but due to the lack of players, my table selection was limited and the average standard of player seemed to be well above the norm.

For almost a year, I have adopted the same strategy to online poker. Whenever possible and updating duties permitting, I boot up the laptop at around 2am, find 4x 6-handed tables in which I can sit down as the biggest stack among a selection of unfamiliar names, and play in a patient way that involves waiting for tired/angry/intoxicated American players to virtually give their money away. It’s a simple approach, but one that has worked almost flawlessly for quite some time.

With the new legislation finally put in place, the number of American opponents will inevitably drop dramatically. As a result, my strategy will be severely disrupted for the following reasons:

(i) From my experience, there appears to be a higher ratio of strong players in Europe.
(ii) Table selection will decrease, meaning that I may have to settle for tables which include one or two stronger players. It will also prove more difficult to be the biggest stack on four tables.
(iii) I will be forced to change my time of play, consequently losing my American customers who are tired/angry/intoxicated.
(iv) European players have a different style to Americans. I will therefore need to change my game in order to cater for this new type of opponent.
(v) The American sites will be obliged to target the European market, thereby resulting in a larger contingent of Scandinavians, a section of Europe that contains a high concentration of strong players.
(vi) I may have to play on a different site, one in which I am not used to. I have tried to switch before, but with little success. The sites I currently use and the set-up/presentation they adopt not only suit my own personal style, but are also user-friendly to mulit-tablers.

As a result of the aforementioned problems that will undoubtedly face me, I believe the profits I currently enjoy, and the lifestyle it allows me to lead, will be in serous jeopardy.

What angers me most about the situation is not the idea of the hypocritical discrediting of civil freedom or the underhand method of passing a bill though as an addition to a wholly unconnected legislation, but rather, and this is from a totally selfish point of view, the mere fact that I have spent four years trying to master a winning strategy.

I spent hours upon hours upon hours playing online poker with little, if no success. Whilst I lost at first, I gradually improved my game, for a while breaking even before finally stumbling across a strategy that worked, one in which I actually profited on the game I love. The road was long, and it resulted in a seemingly endless method of experimentation in which I investigated all forms of style and technique. But now, it looks as though I’ll have to start all over again.

This isn’t to say I can’t rekindle a winning strategy within these changing circumstances, it just means that I’ll have top put in some extra work:

(i) Note-taking is something that I don’t currently do. Although I tend to encourage it to strengthen your edge, I’ve never really found the need for it due to the high numbers of players that participate on my chosen site and my eagerness to avoid the sharks.
(ii) Compile a different strategy for tackling the differing styles of the European players. European players seem to be rather less predictable, semi-bluffing, reading hands better, not always bluffing missed draws and so on. All these changes in play will need to be re-assessed and my game to adapt accordingly.
(iii) Find out who the strong players are and avoid them like the plague
(iv) Become accustomed to a new site
(v) Improve at live multis

Over the past year, I have certainly developed a rather arrogant sense of complacency. I’ve trundled along without ever taking the prospect of an American ban realistically, simply believing that it would never pass congress due to the opposition it would surely face. But, of course, I have been proved wrong. Although ¾ of people back online gambling and various figures from within the poker industry have vehemently fought in its defence, the ultimate and saddening conclusion is that the government can do whatever they want, regardless of what the rest of the country think.

I suppose it’s not all doom and gloom, I’m still alive and, as Mr Idle once gleamed, one should always try to look on the bright side of life, so I guess that’s the only feasible way forward.

Although many online sites have excluded American custom with immediate effect, there are those, such as PokerStars and Full Tilt, who continue to embrace American players. Although this is likely to come to an end once the 270 day period is over, until that time, the inevitable result will be more players and therefore more table and player selection for European players. If I can adjust to these new sites who are still welcoming American deposits, then I may be able to profit considerably until the 270 day period draws to close.

Also, whilst numbers will initially drop, the American sites will inevitably target some of those European countries that have yet to fully embrace poker, such as Germany and Italy.

Asia is an untouched market in the online poker industry too, and there is no doubt in my mind that if this area is targeted, a lot of easy money will become available online. Unfortunately, pursuing these markets could prove time consuming and may not come into fruition until later on down the line.

Finally, poker remains a highly desirable and lucrative recreation. With a 270 day period allocated for polices to be put in place, I’m sure that various sites, companies and other interest groups will find exploitable loopholes in the legislation and various ways of enabling the general public to play online poker without the threat of conviction. After all, playing online is still a legal activity.

So, although I remain deeply concerned by my immediate and inevitable decrease in financial income from online poker, there is light at the end of the tunnel. It is going to require a combination of remaining positive and working hard if things don’t work themselves out, but the fact remains that even without the American market at my disposal, there will always be bad players, there will always be people tilting, and there will always be money to be made.

For now, I must confess to being disheartened, but I shall remain optimistic. It’s demoralising when your income is decreased beyond your control, but if there are still opportunities to maintain that level of income, you do whatever you can to snap them up.

What amazes me is the effect a political act can have on an individual located across the other side of the world. In comparison to those professional online players with mortgages, families and various other responsibilities, my concerns are incredibly minor. If anything, these recent developments have opened my eyes to the worldwide power of politics and the dramatic effect a simple legislation can have on so many segments of society. Players, clubs, magazines, TV shows, etc – they will all be affected by the bill and many lives may change as a result, it’s just a shame that the powers that be have ulterior motives that surpass any such concerns.

Only time will tell what will happen to the online poker industry, and although it could cost me money, it sure will be interesting finding out…

And as always, if anyone else wishes to voice their opinions on the new legislation and what it means to the future of online poker, then please feel free to post on the forum by clicking the 'view in forum' link below.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


What is it with the poker world that they feel the urge to add a pithy low stake comp at the end of a festival? I’m not complaining, just wondering why all festivals follow the same pattern.

I won’t dwell on the tourney too much - the 20 minute clock and 2.5k starting stack was pretty ruthless. I ran and Ace into Kings before the blinds forced me to shove it in with crap, which, as you will have guessed from my tone, didn’t triumph.

In hindsight, playing this one was probably an error. I was knackered, and forcing myself to play is probably the reason why I’ve spent the week coughing and spluttering, finally heading into the Grand Prix in poor physical condition. I think it burnt me out, which is ironic, as I took a week off updating to rest and play poker.

Danafish also played the event. She doesn’t play too many comps and is normally restricted to her $5 STT’s, so it was nice to see her at the felt. This is what she had to say about the tournament:

“I don't very often play live poker. I prefer it on the internet, where I can hiss and scowl at the computer when I lose, and shout "in your face!" at the screen when I win. Additionally, I'm still a little sore with the Gutshot for firing me from my job as a dealer there about 3 weeks after they opened, so I was slightly hesitant to allow myself to be bought into the £50 freezeout they were having as part of their festival. But snoopy had threatened me with the guns about it the day before, so I put aside my reservations and headed down to Clerkenwell.

I found the Beagle, who had gone out of the main event lamentably early in the day, lurking around the tables watching the people still in. I went over to talk to him, and something behind me tugged at my hoodie - it was tikay. To my shock, he was still in the £500. I almost didn't recognise him with chips, but it was smiles all round once my brain had come to grips with what my eyes insisted was the truth.

The Gutshot is a friendly old place and much nicer than it was during my brief employment there a few years ago. As well as acquiring the premises next door to house the big, no-nonsense card room for tournaments, they've also made the old basement card room much pleasanter, not least by ripping out the carpet on the stairs that smelled like the accumulated pee of ages. The aroma now lives on only in my nightmares.

Owing to snoopy's early main event exit and low boredom threshold, I'd got to the club early enough to have some dinner before the tournament started. I can thoroughly recommend the ribs. Other dishes may also be good, but every time I see the ribs on the menu, everything else pales into insignificance. Jen first introduced me to snoopy at Gutshot, and as I was sitting on the same sofa I was slumped on at our first meeting, eating a very familiar plate of ribs, I mused in a high-on-meat sort of way about how in the past six months I have been hopelessly sucked into the poker world, and what a fine old time I've been having here.

Anyway, the tournament.

I bagged me a bunch of chips early on with 8-9 suited, turned a straight, and got paid off by a gent who'd hit top pair. It was looking good. A few hands later I called an all-in with a pair of 10s, and a gentleman a few seats to my left, who had amassed a huge stack of chips by playing like a maniac, also called. I turned a set, but for some reason checked it down. I'm still not sure why. I think my inexplicable wussiness threw me for the rest of the tournament though, because it all went a bit wrong after that.

I basically didn't see a hand I wanted to play for about an hour, and eventually the stingy 20-minute blinds started to really hurt. The blinds leapt from 150-300 to 250-500 on my big blind, and with about 4,000 chips left I started to feel desperate. When everyone folded around to my button, I went all in with Jack Queen, and lo and behold, the big blind called me with either King Queen or Ace Queen, I can't quite remember what happened because my forehead hit the felt in despair as soon as I saw I was dominated. Ah well. That's £50 I'm not going to see again. Glad it was snoopy's and not mine...

In fact I didn't feel too dreadful about anything in particular as we headed back for a nightcap at Hampstead's finest late-night milkshake emporium. It had been a fun night, marred only perhaps by snoopy annihilating my Puzzle Bobble high score on my phone while I was playing the tournament, but I suppose it's nice he's found a game he can consistently win at. I suspect I'll be back at Gutshot before long. If only for the ribs...”

I’m glad I played the Gutshot week. Overall (travelling expenses aside), the week only cost me £89, and that isn’t to mention the Grand Prix seat I won for $400. I finalled in the £200, was unlucky in the £100 and made Day 2 in the Main Event, so even though I didn’t make my millions, it really wasn’t a bad few days.

What I will say, however, is that it was a privilege to play at the Gutshot. Although the waitress service was poor to non-existent, I feel obliged to highlight the high standards of the bar-staff and dealers, all of whom worked swiftly and efficiently. And then there’s Jake. I’ve previously had my reservations about his tournament directing skills, but this week he proved me wrong, making decisions with speed and authority, adopting a rather pleasing ‘My way or the highway’ attitude.

So, Gutshot challenge over. No big bucks but pride still in tact. That final table finish was crucial to me, if only to remind myself that I was capable of making the latter stages. Still, it hurts to get that far and not win it, but that’s poker I guess. I’ll just keep plugging away until I hit something, hopefully the Grand Prix will be the money shot…

Friday, October 13, 2006


Opportunities to play in a Main Event can be few and far between for many players, but when you work weekends, it becomes a virtual impossibility, especially with satellites predominantly being Saturday or Sunday evening affairs. However, this was my week off, and at £500, the London Poker Masters’ Main Event was an affordable chance to play a big comp, I just couldn’t turn it down.

Tikay, RED-DOG, chili, Wardonkey, vodkaredbull, byronkincaid, Actionjack, ACES, Jaffacake and co had all made the trip down South, now all we had to do was get a blonde name on the cup, easier said than done.

My starting table was a tough one. Off the top of my head, I recall Steve Bovis, Ade Bayo and Dave Barnes, just to name three, but what I really didn’t like about the table was that it was unpredictable, with an array of players who weren’t afraid to bet rags. The first example of this was when Ropesh Chehetry eliminated Rory Liffey. Ropesh had raised with K-8s pre-flop and managed to River a Flush after check-calling the Flop and Turn. Rory bet his Pocket Queens on the River and then couldn’t lay them down to the all-in check-raise.

Actually, this Ropesh lad, who was to eventually make the final table, was a menace right from the off. Sitting to my left, he was fearless and aggressive. I can’t help but recall Steve Bovis’ exit at the hands of Ropesh, the latter having his flopped full house paid off by Bovis’s backdoor straight. Again, Bovis couldn’t lay his hand down to the all-in raise and was sent packing by a young lad who had swiftly jumped into the chip lead with 30-40k.

Another Asian lad across the table looked dangerous too. He didn’t half get lucky though when he knocked out Dave Barnes (right) early doors. The Asian lad raised pre-flop and Dave, who had limped under the gun, and Mateyboy smooth called. Dave checked the Q-Q-6 flop, MB bet, original raiser called and so did Dave. Dave then bet out on the rag Turn, MB folded his Q-T and O.R called. River was a Jack, Dave checked, and O.R moved all-in like lightening for around 6k. Dave called with A-Q and O.R revealed Pocket Jacks for the full house. He’d somehow managed to do a third of his chips with the Knaves before fluking a fullhouse on the River. Dave Barnes’ expression could have woken a small child out of a coma. He didn’t look best pleased.

And then, of course, there was Ade Bayo, a charismatic, but bizarre individual who can often be witnessed kissing his guns and announcing “I love myself!” He truly is a Marmite type of character, you either love him or hate him, although I regret to reportthat the majority hate him, but I guess that’s exactly what he wants. As he admits himself, “People let their emotions get the better of them, I tip them over the edge and they give me their chips in an attempt to get rid of me.”

In fact, I endured a major tangle with Ade. After treading water for the first hour or two, I managed to jump up to 16k after Mateyboy tried to bluff a River for 2.5k. I made a good call with my Pocket Kings and won a nice pot. Then, not too long after, I called a min under-the-gun raise from Ade with 4-5 of spades. The flop came Qd-2s-6s. Ade bet 1.5k (about the pot), and I re-raised. Ade thought and thought before making a good call with A-Qo. Actually, he moved all-in, but it was only an extra 2 or 3 thousand for me to call. I missed and the 20k pot went to Ade, leaving me with just 6k. Perhaps I shouldn’t have made that move, but I didn’t fancy relinquishing a straight and flush draw, especially when Ade could fold his pair. I also feel I play a big stack pretty well, and this was a chance to jump up to 26k – I felt it was worth a punt.

But as it was, I’d dropped to 6k with the blinds at 200/400, not disastrous by any means, but I must to confess to sighing once or twice. However, the spirit of Mickey Wernick was on my shoulder, so I gathered my thoughts and set out about playing tight solid poker, waiting patiently for my opportunities and searching intently for that crucial double-up.

From here on in I didn’t once exceed my starting stack. I ducked and dived to stay alive, but most of my moves went uncontested. However, as the day grew long and the blinds rose, I was forced to survive 2 all-in encounters. First I sucked out on Ropesh with A-8s vs A-T (I Turned a Flush), before fending off Les Kerrigan’s A-T with A-Q.

I remember looking at the clock during the last level and thinking that it would be cool to make a second Day 2, but I didn’t really want to come back with nothing, so I kept moving my stack whilst it was big enough to make any potential call a costly risk.

And survive I did, ending the day with a paltry 7,500. Not much, but it was something. I’d received next to no hands, but managed to bring a new meaning to the word ‘grind’ – Mickey would have been proud. Even Ade complimented my patience, a prestigious honour indeed.

So, Day 2 arrives and, along with an incredible 57 others, I unzip my bag and deposit my chips onto the table. Only 4 hours sleep, so I’m a bit knackered, but awake enough to play a good game. Looking around, it looks like a good showing from blonde, although RED, chili and byron fell early doors, tikay, Wardonkey (left), Jaffacake, Trumper and Paul Jackson are all still plugging away, although the combined chips of that lot isn’t huge.

This honestly was a cracking event, but what really bugged me about Day 2 was the redraw. What was the point? With 57 players still remaining, it’s unnecessary and totally unfair on the short-stacks, one of whom was me. And, of course, out of the nine players on my table, I was allocated the big blind prematurely with the blinds at 500/1,000 and a running ante of 300 (I think). Bah, humbug!

When the blinds passed, I made my move, but this time ran into the Big Blind’s A-Q. However, I had two live cards and my speculative holding of 7-3o (ahem) managed to spike a 3 on the River, elevating me to the dizzy heights of 12k.

A round after (I survived one when my all-in with A-K went uncontested), I was under the gun with 4-5s. I fancied trying to push again, thinking that if I could just get this one through I’d definitely receive a call if I actually found a hand. However, it wasn’t to be, as I ran into A-Q on the blind… again. A rather unsavoury K-J-T Flop finished me off and that was all she wrote for the Beagle. I could have let it go, but I wanted to make a move, especially with the blinds riding high and the antes costing me 2,700 a round.

So, out in about 45th. Gutted but not distraught. I never really got going, but feel I played well with what I had. I just needed the last double up at what was a vital stage to shoot me into a good position with a playable stack. That’s been the story of the week really, the A-K vs Q-Q and K-Qs vs A-J in Event 1, the Q-Q vs 9-9 in Event 2, and then the 4-5s vs A-Q (twice actually) in the Main Event. I just couldn’t find that last piece of luck I needed to become a major threat in the comps.

I may not have cashed, but I feel I learned a hell of a lot from not just the Main Event, but the week as a whole. I pushed myself hard and was determined to remain focused throughout the week, an objective that I feel I achieved.

Whilst Frenchman Arnaud Mattern won the 27k first prize, blondeites Paul Jackson (right), Simon Trumper and Jeff Kimber finalled for 2nd, 4th and 9th respectively. Also worth a mention is Nick Hicks who bubbled for £1,372, not big bucks, but a good showing nonetheless.

So, my Main Event dream was over, but there was still hope for a small win to end the week. Both Danafish and I were signed into the £50 No Limit Hold’Em Freezeout, so hopefully a tiring few days could end on a high…

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Although I was planning on playing the whole week, I decided that a good performance in the Main Event was more important to me than trying to play every event unnecessarily, so, with the ‘big en’ only 24 hours away and 2 tough days of poker behind me, I thought it best to take a much needed and richly deserved day-off.

However, I’m as sick as the next poker addict, and couldn’t resist taking on the Grosvenor Grand Prix satellite on Blue Square, a potentially costly $200 No Limit Hold ‘Em rebuy event.

Entering the comp wasn’t easy though. Firstly I realised that I had no money in my account, then I found that my debit card had expired, and, after sorting all that out, RED-DOG, who was playing from the same IP address, suddenly chipped in with, “What happens if we’re on the same table, will it sit us out?” And so, with just minutes remaining 'til kick-off, we were back on the ol’ dog and phone searching for reassurance that we could play kafuffle free, assurance that thankfully came just in time.

To avoid all the boring details, whilst RED couldn’t hit a cow’s ass with a banjo, I was spanking it `til kingdom come with a ukulele, eventually sailing into the top 7 and confirming my seat in this year’s Grand Prix. $400 spent for a £1,500 seat, now THAT’S value.

I don’t know if times have changed, but I was ecstatic when I qualified for my last £1,500 Event, but this time, I just seemed to take it in my stride, as if it was nothing big.

Personally, the fact that I’m involved in the event is more important than the value, money or potential prize. Updating every event is fun, but sooner or later, you can’t help but succumb to the green-eyed monster, yearning to mouth-watering extents to be involved in every hand you witness.

It’s just a shame that the Grand Prix wasn’t a few weeks away, as after this one, it’s back to the tedium of the cash tables. Having something fun and exciting lying ahead helps life trundle along at a much less hesitant pace.

The Grand Prix has an excellent reputation as one of the few big Pot Limit Tournaments on the circuit. With a big prize pool and numerous ways in which to qualify, this one seems to attract a high concentration of sharks. As of now, Surinder Sunar, Joe Grech, Lawrence Gosney, Paul Jackson, Dave Colclough, Ash Hussain, Lucy Rokach, Alli Mallu and Stuart Fox have all qualified via various sources – a tough field indeed but, as I’m always saying, I’m playing for the glory rather than the money. I play ring games for cash, the spondoolies from tourneys are just a bonus. Enjoying poker is the main objective, and there’s nothing more satisfying than surviving a 250+ field.

As before, I’ve decided to stay away from the online cardrooms this week, mainly to remain fresh and avoid settling upon a cash game mindset, but also due to feeling under the weather. I seem to have picked up man flu from somewhere, I just hope I can dispose of it before Saturday.

I may be bruised and battered, but I’ve had a few laughs over the past several days. In an earlier blog entry I recall mentioning RED-DOG’s snazzy belt. Well, he approached me the other day and told me that NoflopsHomer was after one too, but has since decided that having ‘Floppy’ above his waist wasn’t the best of ideas, not unless he wishes to live a life of celibacy.

Speaking of RED, I had to laugh when he woke up one morning only to report a theft. According to Tom, the cat in Dana’s flat had swiped his socks during the middle of the night. For anyone who’s met Mr Cat, you’d be obliged to agree that at 17, she is one of the most lethargic and unthreatening cats alive, and to think that she would be involved in any kind of cat burglary (ahem) seems rather unbelievable. Plus, who’d want RED’s smelly socks anyhow? “I’m sure she’s had em,” complains Tom, “I reckon she’s got a sock nest somewhere”.

Actually, RED was on top form this week. After moaning about his endless run of near misses in the Grand Prix qualifiers, I enquired, “Do you find that the journey home goes quicker or slower when you’ve suffered a bad beat?” to which RED-DOG answered, “Quicker, because I go at 150 miles per hour.” Maybe it’s just me, but that’s been tickling my ribs all week.

My ipod amused me this week too. It sounds fabricated, but, on two separate all-in occasions, I genuinely had ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go?’ by the Clash and ‘Under Pressure’ by Queen pop up in the background. Seems like the ipod was having its wicked way with me. (ps check out the ipod piccy, the ipod's slanted but the frame's straight... feels wierd, huh? My poor head!)

When I play poker I often specifically select a self-motivation song. Come on, confess, you all have one. Well I’m not ashamed, mine’s ‘You’re The Best Around’ from the Karate Kid Soundtrack – a true classic and a real adrenalin pumper. During one of the breaks, I saw Ade Bayo popping on his ipod and resting his eyes, so, to make conversation I asked him who his inspiration was. I think he misunderstood me as he answered TJ Cloutier, either that or TJ has taken up singing.

Something that really brightened up my week occurred on the final table of the Grand Prix satellite. As we hit the last 8 (only 7 seats available), one of my opponents typed, “Come on snoops, say it…” to which I replied bemused, “Say what?” And then he hit me with, “STOP! BUBBLE TIME!” Now that’s when you know you’ve made it (okay, maybe not), but it made me smile. I dream of a day when the WSOP bubble period is announced over the microphone with MC Hammer himself exclaiming those immortal words. I’d soil myself with excitement!

But dreams are just that, dreams, I’ve got more realistic duties lying ahead, actually winning a comp for a start. Fresh, revitalised and full of beans from my day’s rest, the £500 No Limit Hold’Em Main Event was just around the corner – 168 players, 1-hour clock, decent blind structure… sounds good to me. I’m confident, playing well and in the mood for a win – was this going to be my time? If only I could shake off the threat of an ostrich revelation I might just have a chance…

Monday, October 09, 2006


This blog entry may have arrived a few days after the last, but the actual time-gap between the two Events was little over an hour.

Delighted with my performance in the £200er, but equally disappointed at failing to make the big bucks, I decided to celebrate/commiserate with even more poker – and this time my poison was Event 2’s £100 No Limit Hold’Em Freezeout.

After just four hours kip the night before and a day of non-stop poker, this probably wasn’t the best of ideas, but I still felt confident about my game and thought it would be jolly good practice for consecutive stints in more lucrative festivals.

With a 30 minute clock and a 4k starting stack, there was enough leeway to wait for a strong hand. Analysing the standard of the opposition, I soon realised that this was a strategy that would pay-off sooner or later.

And pay-off it did, as I soon amassed a pretty decent stack of 8,000, remaining patient and playing any pots I entered aggressively.

Although I appeared to be playing well, I did require a hand from the Poker Gods. The button raised to 1.5k and I moved all-in (for an extra 6k) from the small blind with K-Qs. His bet and body language seemed pretty weak, perhaps a weak Ace at best, so I was confident he’d fold. But, alas, I was wrong, and, following a lengthy stint in the think tank, he looked me up (for virtually all his chips) with A-5. Stonking call I thought, but, whilst I was questioning my poker face, I soon learned that it was merely a case of ‘Nurse! Pills, please!’ as I watched him first call for half his stack with Pocket Sixes, and then, after he’d fluked that one, call a chunky pre-flop all-in with A-8. “Loose cannon,” as one of his victims remarked.

Anyhow, suck out I did, and with a King on the flop, I was up to a rather menacing 18k and confident of progressing deep into the comp. In approximately 15 hours of play I’d never required a suck out (excluding coin-flips of course), so I refused to feel even the slightest bit guilty.

But woe is me, it just wasn’t to be, as soon after I received a nasty combination of bad beat and full rubdown. With the blinds at 500/1,000, Mateyboy made it 4,000, the Maniac smooth-called, and I moved in for my 18k with Pocket Queens, no messing. Rather unnervingly, the original raiser called, only to sooth my anxiety temporarily by revealing Pocket Nines. An extra 11k for his tournament life – as Ed Giddons commented, it was a terrible call.

And, as so often happens in this game, the nine hit the flop and I received the full fireworks display, one which that seemed to last right up until the moment he finished me off with K-2 vs my J-8s. Not a pleasant experience, but I can take it, as a regular on the online cash tables, you have to be numb to both the table talk and the outdraws.

Although I’d already cashed that day, I was absolutely gutted to exit in what was a massive pot - probably the biggest pot of the tournament and one which would have given me a huge chip-lead with just 30-40 players remaining. I was dying to make an impact at the Gutshot, and a second Day 2 appearance would surely have achieved just that.

But dwelling on the nearlys gets you nowhere in this life, so, I lifted up my head, kicked my heels together and set off back home, ready to return the next day for Event 3, the £200 Pot Limit Omaha Freezeout.

Friday, October 06, 2006


After a vomit inducing roller-coaster ride online in which my bankroll endured fluctuations that would bring a tear to Phil Ivey’s eye (okay, maybe tikay’s instead), I set myself a little challenge…

-- give the online tables a seven day rest and play the whole of the Gutshot week --

The Gutshot adopt a quite wonderful philosophy to their Festivals in that they give the players what they want – low stake, but well-structured freezeouts at affordable prices. And hey presto, this is what they came up with:

Wed 4th Oct -- £200+20 NLH F/O
Thu 5th Oct -- £100+10 NLH F/O
Fri 6th Oct -- £200 D-C PLO F/O
Sat 7th Oct -- £500+50 NLH F/O
Sun 8th Oct -- £50+5 NLH F/O
Pretty good, huh?

Armed with a fearsome (cough) blonde team made up of Jen, Floppy, RED-DOG and my good self, we arrived at the Gutshot in good time for our pre-match warm-up. I couldn’t help but catch sight of Tom’s waist, which was sporting a rather snazzy ‘REDDOG’ belt. Very flash! He offered to acquire me a belt to don my mid-region (vanity does not concern me), but after being initially keen, I suddenly realised that it would probably return with ‘sloppy’, ‘sonopy’ or ‘poonsy’ in shiny silver letters.

But belt fashion aside, we had a comp to play, and I was deadly serious about making an impact. I stopped playing online on the Sunday to ensure that I didn’t go into battle with a cash game mindset and I enjoyed a good night’s sleep the day before, even participating in the blonde comp for a bit of cheap multi-table practice.

And it got off to a cracking start when RED-DOG (right) thankfully persuaded me to give the one-card turnover satellite a bash. I’ve never played one of these before, but it seemed like good fun, and it was even more fun when my Q-7 flopped a flush. Woo!

128 players sat down in all, all keen as mustard to get their grubby mitts on that 7.5k first prize. Among the rabble were a few familiar faces; Ade Bayo, Ian Woodley, Steve Bovis, Bob Clarke and Willie Tann – the latter seated on my starting table.

In fact, Willie Tann built his 6k stack up to 15-20k in ultra-fast time, seemingly winning every pot he entered. One in particular saw Willie limp and then flat call a Mateyboy raise. Willie checked a Qs-As-7s Flop, MB raised, and Willie re-raised. MB then dipped into the think-tank, before eventually being encouraged into re-re-raising by a gleaming Willie who commented, “You can’t have the flush if you’re betting that flop.”

And of course, it was Willie who’d flopped the flush with his 8s-6s and shoved in his chips quicker than a sheep in Robert HM’s garden, finally being payed off by a pot-committed MB who held Ac-Kc. Oops.

And after just under an hour, I had my botty spanked by the wily veteran when I raised to 350 pre-flop with 6h-8h. Willie (left) and the Big Blind called and the three of us saw a Th-7c-4h - a double belly buster flush draw, crikey!

With around 1.1k in the pot, Willie bet out 1.5k and I made it 4.5k, leaving just 800 behind. I didn’t think Willie would overbet with nothing, in fact I thought he’d made a set or two pair and was hoping I had the overpair. But even though I thought he was strong, I couldn’t see how I could pass with so many outs.

After Willie checked the Turn and River, I checked behind him just in case he was trapping with the mutt’s nuts. The Tannster turned over Qh-Jh for the second nuts and I was down to the felt and left to ruminate on RED-DOG’s advice - “what would Mickey Wernick do?” Answer? Not roll up a ciggy, but regain his composure, remind himself that he’s still alive and patiently wait for an opportunity to double up. And low and behold, a round or two later I was up to 3.500 after surviving an 8-8 v A-K and a A-K vs A-J confrontation. Wallawallabingbang!

And from this position I never really looked back, gradually adding to my stack with various hands and several good calls, eventually hitting around 25k. The blinds started to creep up though, and before long (including a few chips lost here and there), I was back down to 10-15k, unable to find a hand or an opportunity. But then, with the fellow to my right raising with 8-8, I made my move with A-K and hit an Ace first card to finish the day with 26k and, most importantly, a bag! “I’m always last to bag,” moaned Tom. These oldies are never happy, even with 59k!

Although Jen suffered a late exit with Ac-6c vs Td-Th on a raggy flop with two clubs, the rest of the car made it to Day 2 with Floppy grinding like a true grinder with a degree in grinding from Grind University in Grindsville, sneaking into the final session with 12k.

But alas, it wasn’t to be for the Flopster (right), as Day 2 failed to deliver him any big cards, finally forcing him to push in with the monster that is 6-5 suited. Sure enough, he was called by Pocket Sevens and flopped the rather dismal 8-4-4. Great, drawing to running sixes or running fives, and just to entertain the crowd, Turn = 7, River = 7. Zoiks! Even an Irishman sitting on a giant rabbit’s foot wouldn’t get out of that one!

Meanwhile, RED-DOG was running steady, keeping his head above water until he made an unfortunate error with A-8, raising without realising that MB had already stuck in a raise. Forced to re-raise, RED-DOG was relieved to be up against 7-7, but failed to hit, consequently dropping down to 30k. A few rounds later and Bob Carolgies was out, running K-Q (utg) into Steve Bovis’ A-Q.

As for me, ah you’ll see, slam your body down… sorry, oops, not sure why that song’s in my head. Anyhow, as for me, I doubled up and down in quick session, first eliminating MB with A-J vs K-8 when he tried to nick my big blind, before giving 30k of it back to an all-inner with A-K vs Q-Q. Win this one and I’m flying, but I just couldn’t find my Ace or King when I needed it.

From here on, I ducked and dived my way to the final table, eventually making the last 9 with 39k. And with 8 left, it was all over. Moving all-in uncontested with rags (including the Full Wilson) on more than one occasion, the Poker Gods proved that they work in mysterious ways by actually giving me a half decent hand for my swan song, but unfortunately my K-Q suited was no match for Bovis’ A-J on an A-x-x-Q-x board.

12 hours of poker behind me and I’ve earned a rather creepy £666 for 8th position, a figure in which I decided to modify by simultaneously handing over a $5 Gutshot chip at the cashier, thereby receiving a rather more pleasant and unthreatening £771.

Yippee, a final table, but the bottom line is that I felt good about my game and was brimming with confidence. If there’s one thing that I can’t stand, it’s thinking that I can’t play, but after this performance, I am confident that when I put my mind to it, I can be mix it with the best of them.

Next stop, £100 No Limit Hold’Em Freezeout. Bring it on. In fact, I only had an hour to wait, but I guess we’re all sick poker addicts at heart…

Monday, October 02, 2006


Sometimes when you feel low, playing poorly and losing money, it’s hard to get back into the groove, but this week I have been more determined than ever to stop the rot. I have suffered knocks before, but always come back twice as strong – this time proved no different.

Although I haven’t been at one with the Poker Gods of late, I am experienced enough to realise that it was my game that was at fault, not my luck. So, with this in mind, I set out on re-assessing my game and making some minor adjustments in order to return to winning ways.

Whenever I endure a bad run, I find taking a break and studying the game is often a sound strategy. However, with my frantic schedule with blonde, and the potential loss of cardroom income caused by the recent gaming legislations, I have to snap up my opportunities to play, whether I’m in the mood or not.

To prepare for the night’s session, I made the following decisions:

-- Eat a meal beforehand so I don’t become peckish during the session
-- Play one ten-handed and 3 six-handed tables instead of my usual 4 x 6-handed affair
-- Raise slightly less with my big pocket pairs
-- Stop calling pre-flop raises with marginal and potentially dominated hands like Q-T suited and A-Jo
-- Concentrate on avoiding crying calls
-- Ensure a break is taken after a maximum of two hours
-- Cease play at 7am.
-- Focus on every single hand, avoiding any rash decisions

With my new strategy set in stone, I ambushed the tables from 1.30am to 3.30am, and then 4.30am to 7am. Although it wasn’t all plain sailing, I played good solid poker, making few errors in the process.

The next night, I did exactly the same, utilising the aforementioned adjustments I had made to my game the session before, and, low and behold, I won again.

Overall, I finished the weekend over $2,000 up, a cracking result and an hourly wage that would make Bill Gates’ eyes water (well, okay, maybe not).

In online poker, there’s nothing more satisfying than bringing an end to a bad run. True, my losing streak was barely a week old, but as I have few playing chances these days, it was one I needed to stop if I am too maintain the lifestyle I currently enjoy. Sometimes you have to be careful at $4/2. With the huge fluctuations my personal style causes me to endure, it can only take a run of several losing sessions to place your bankroll in a tender position. Thankfully, I have avoided that situation for quite a while now, but I don’t intend to return to it. I was bust once, and I want to make sure that I’m not only never broke again, but also continually playing with a sufficient bankroll.

After playing semi-professional for almost a year (the first few months of that period was fully pro’), the most important lesson I’ve learned is that of re-evaluating your game as much as possible, even when you’re winning, but especially when you’re losing. If you're focused and determined enough, you can always fix any flaw in your game.

So, keep your head screwed on tight at all times, be aware of the current state of your game, and ensure that you modify it when need be. Continue to ignore the pot-holes in your game and you will surely continue to lose, but be smart enough to be constantly re-assessing the way you play and you will soon return to winning ways.

Complacency and disillusionment are a dangerous combination, especially when you’re losing…