Saturday, February 24, 2007


With festival shenanigans at the Broadway and Grosvenor Walsall, I’ve been hard pushed to supplement my income with online sessions, but after Jerome Bradpiece took gold on Sunday, I finally received that chance. Following a much needed rest and a couple of days of catching up with admin duties, I booted up the lappie on Wednesday evening, ready for some hot 6-handed action. Unfortunately, due to a combination of fatigue (I’m really not sleeping or eating well at the moment), bad play (as soon as I check-raised an Ace high Flop with Kings when I was sure he had an Ace I knew I was playing crap) and bad luck (too many cold decks to bore you with), I managed to lose nearly a grand of my January profit.

But, undeterred and knowing that times to play were few and far between, I gave it another shot the next day, confident that I was feeling fresher than the day prior. However, whilst trawling though some recent forum pms, I found one message from Stuart Fox which read, in basic terms, “been reading your blog, gamble, give it a shot, I know you can do it”, which pretty much implied that I was capable of playing higher.

Although I’m a slave to discipline, I actually agreed, and for the first time in a while believed that I should brush aside my initial plans and up the stakes. For too long recently I’ve been plugging away at $1/2 for very little reward. I know I can play $4/2, I know I have won money at that level (I profited for 6 months ffs!) and I know that it’s probably an easier game. So, with that in mind, I jumped up a level and gave it a shot. However, the rise in stakes didn’t change my fortune and, after running Kings into Aces, and then a flush into a bigger flush in a hand that I’d raised pre-flop with suited connectors, I found myself another several hundred down and anything I’d earned in my few 2007 session down the pan in just a few hours.

At this point, and don’t ask me why, I thought “fuck it, why not have a real go, give it a crack and play a couple of big tables instead of four $2/4 tables.” Yes, the logic doesn’t quite work like that and bigger tables aren’t quite within my bankroll, but I’m short on time these days, I don’t have time to grind, so why not roll the dice just this once.

Anyhow, roll the dice I did, sitting down with $800 on two $5/10 tables, the biggest limit I have ever played – so if anything, it was going to be an experience of sorts. After playing tight for a while, I noticed two things. Firstly, the action was pretty slow and it was obvious that people just waited for hands to bust the idiots rather than mix it up and secondly, one of my tables had a player that was an absolute suicidal maniac. At one point, I saw him get over a grand in pre-flop with Q-J!!! For some reason, this numpty just wanted to shove it in with anything and hope for a double up. Then, for some unknown reason, another mug bluffed off all his chips to the calling station’s Aces, giving him over 4k – I was drooling at the prospect, because although he’d slowed down somewhat, he was still playing every hand in sight.

But surprisingly, my encounter didn’t come from him, but one of the tight players. I, and possibly mistakenly, managed to get my $800 in with Qd-9d on a Ten high Flop (two diamonds). Mateyboy had Aces and I hit my Flush on the Turn for an $1,800 scoop, bizarrely one of my biggest cash pots ever. I think by the time he moved all-in, I didn’t quite have the pot odds to call, and deep down I knew my overcards were useless, but I thought that if I could just get lucky this one time I could clean Mr 4k out for all he’s got.

Anyhow, although I took a few hundred off the numpty with a set of tens, (he called me down on Flop and Turn with A-6 (Ace high!) on a Q-T-9-2-K board), someone else took all his spondoolies and the game was officially dead. So, I sensibly (although I doubt any of my actions that Thursday could be deemed sensible) left the table with my 2 grand and cashed out. I’d got lucky with my flush draw, made some of my money back and experienced life at the $5/10 level – I had no complaints but thought it best to withdraw all my money before I did something even more stupid.

So there you have it, my weird Thursday, pretty out of character I think you’d agree but with my upped Blonde schedule, it has become clear to me that I simply don’t have time to grind. At the same time, I realise that if I’m going to play the $2/4 or above games, I need to be fit and healthy and prepared to make notes due to the fewer number of players (this wasn’t the case pre-ban), and at the moment, my mental state and lack of time is making it too difficult to fulfill these most basic of objectives.

Considering this, I have decided to take a short break. During that break, I need to think carefully about what I’m going to do regarding online poker because at the moment I’m loitering in the middle. I know I could make a decent amount of money if I had the time, but I don’t, and I can’t just keep popping in and out because I’m rarely of healthy mind to give it my best and the pressures of knowing that I don’t have too many sessions available to earn a buck are affecting my game.

When I know where I want to play, what levels I want to play at and how often I will be playing, then I’ll work out my strategy and ensure that I can give it 100%, because at the moment, it’s becoming a vastly unenjoyable experience.

I’m now working pretty much full time for Blonde, and it’s true what I said in my first ever blog entry, poker and work – they just don’t mix.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Seeing as though I spent most of my week at the Grosvenor Casino in Walsall, I’d thought I’d assess the structure applied to the comp, as whilst feedback from the Broadway Festival of Poker was that the structure was one of the best ever experienced, many were criticising the GUKPT’s.

Ten days ago, I was in Brum to update on the Main Event, and I distinctly remember Henning Granstad commenting that it was the best structured comp that he’d ever encountered and that he wouldn’t hesitate in returning for their next festival. “It’s great,” said the Norwegian, “the blinds are so small compared to the chips that bad beats are few and far between because players are given an extra chance to fold.”

Meanwhile, at the second leg of the Grosvenor UK Poker Tour in Walsall, Day 2 witnessed complaints galore and various cries of “crapshoot” and “it’s like this in the £20 rebuy”, the latter coming from Ash Pervais, one of the game’s most respected players.

However, whilst I must confess that a couple of levels in the GUKPT were all-in fests, I feel it would be naïve to simply describe the structure of the comp as a failure. Now, I’m not going to criticise the Broadway structure, quite the opposite in fact, I just think that due to the 2 comps being so different, it’s unfair to compare without taking into consideration the differing factors.

What many people need to remember is that whilst the Broadway made less than 100 runners, Walsall sold out for 360, and to whittle it down to 1, especially with the final table being allocated an entire day, is unrealistic without the structure putting any pressure on the players. Adding extra levels or extending the clock will simply mean that they will fail to achieve their objective in finishing the comp within the 4 day time period.

Also, when it came down to the final, where the big money is truly being played for, players were rarely under pressure to move all-in and this was reflected in the 9 hours it took to complete. In this sense, the final table structure was excellent, and Jonathan Raab was keen to point out that players had on average more big blinds than in Bolton.

The reason why the Broadway seemed so generous was that it had more chips on average in play, 15k compared to Walsall’s 10k. If Walsall had played with 15k, it would have taken a week to finish, and this was teased in Birmingham when we endured a 2 hour bubble and another 60 minutes for the 1st finalist to fall – it wasn’t until we somehow lost 6 men in 30 minutes that thoughts of a 5.30am chip count were vanquished. Imagine if the likes of Simon Zach, Shaf and Praz had been eliminated first, thereby leaving the tighter players in – we would have been there forever!

If my memory serves me right, the Broadway didn’t have an ante structure, and this can make a huge difference as people aren’t accustomed to them and don’t know how to adapt. As Neil Channing said in the live updates, “A lot of the people who have complained are simply not used to tournaments with running antes. I think it is a great development that the bigger UK tournaments are all starting to have antes now. All American and online NLH tournaments have a running ante and to me it just isn't a proper NLH tournament without them. I have no idea why they have not always been used in past Grosvenor festivals but I think a lot of the rocks who are not used to antes, and who were unable to adapt to a new situation were the ones shouting the loudest.”

Interestingly, Dave Penley added, “I am of the opinion that the total antes in the pot should not exceed the value of the big blind otherwise they are speeding up the tournament too much.” He then went on to say, “Maybe a couple of little timesavers along the way could lead to an extra level or 2 or reaching the goal of only the final being on Sunday.”

These are all good points (one could also argue that being able to play antes and the sharp increase in blinds is a skill in itself), but it doesn’t deter from the fact that there was one level in particular where almost every hand was an all-in and people were being forced to gamble after working so hard to build a stack. However, whilst the prosecution will use this as justification for adding extra levels or removing antes, I would suggest that the answer lies in selective modification instead of a drastic overhaul. Yes, it got messy during this level and there were many complaints, but we need to remember that many levels were very slow, so in this sense the problem lies in maintaining an equilibrium in which blind levels are tweaked in a prudent way which brings balance to the comp. Whether this be in lowering an ante level, altering a blind value or whatever, there is always a way of evening it out so that quality play is enjoyed throughout.

The key is in experimentation, nobody claims the comp to be perfect, and Jonathan Raab would be the first to admit that. This is only the second leg of what is becoming a vastly popular and respected Tour and we should give praise to the organisers who are eager to take on board the feedback. Jonathan himself added, “Having spent a lot of time thinking about what can be done going forward I feel it will be necessary to make some tweaks to the structure ahead of Cardiff and I thank you all for your opinions. They are all very helpful and we will consider all the options available to us before deciding on which changes need to be made.”

Let’s not forget that Jonathan did indeed respond to the complaints of the players, who are ultimately the ones that count, by freezing the antes. This was a tough decision for Jonathan who was in a tricky position - change the blind structure and annoy the short stacks who have just gambled and consequently exited or upset the current shortstacks who feel obliged to move all-in every hand. In my opinion, freezing the antess was an effective compromise and I feel Jonathan made a good move under pressure.

To conclude, I don’t think anyone would argue that the GUKPT in Walsall wasn’t a success. Red-Dog said, “Well teething problems not withstanding, the GUKPT is the best and most ambitious initiative British poker has seen in a long time. Congratulations to all involved” and I couldn’t agree more. Yes, the blind structure wasn’t perfect, yes there were some times when skill was minimised, but this can all be fine-tuned to produce an even better, yet still finishable GUKPT. With Raab and co at the helm, each event is guaranteed to be better than the last, but the key will be in tweaking the structure rather than making drastic changes.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


Apologies for not updating my blog for a while, I am still alive, it's just been a chaotic week with consecutive live updates at the Broadway and Grosvenor Walsall.

Watch this space and keep those eyes peeled.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Apart from the World Series, this last January was probably my most hectic month to date. First stop of the year was the Irish Poker Championships in Dublin where the Guinness is always flowing (like having a meal, so they say) and the shots are always doubles.

In aid of our budget, Jen and I (well, Jen really, but don’t tell her I said that) decided to take the bus, rather than a taxi. Big mistake because this place was in the middle of nowhere and boy did we pay. Three hours later (including 2 bus journeys, and a 30 minute walk – with bags on shoulder, grr!), we finally arrived at our destination, the CityWest Hotel.

Now, I won’t go into how nice the hotel was and so on because I am still bitter by the lack of food at night. For some reason, these hotels decide that they don’t like money and so refuse to serve food after 11. Great, hundreds of poker players (who, funnily enough, spend a lot of time awake post 11) walking around with faces like smacked asses because they can’t get any food – and I was one of them! I get up at 1pm, update all day, eat their crappy buffet and that’s it – no more food for me. The late finish means I don’t get to bed till late, so no breckie either. Hmm, gaining weight is going to be a lot harder than I thought.

Forgetting that and the annoying lack of any ATM machines (argh!), the place was all right I guess, and the bar (which was huuuuuuge) was admittedly very nice. Best of all though, the cardroom let us play a €50 Euro STT after the Main Event (dealer dealt – woohoo) which involved myself, Jen, Noel ‘BigCityBanker’ Hayes, LuckyLloyd, Pat O’Callaghan, Mike Lacey and er… Mateboy – winner takes all. It was a right laugh, but I think Jen and I were the only ones taking it seriously, as Mike would consistently make monkey plays, calling hands with Queen high and whatnot, although I think the monkey approach is his normal game if truth be told. Anyhow, to cut a long story short, I ended heads-up with LuckyLloyd, who, incidentally, is the chap that won the Green Joker Poker Festival. Final hand? 50p at the ready… A-A vs. J-T, of course, the J-T held up and I endured the walk of shame. All good fun, but I really could have done with that €400 first prize, however much the beer was flowing.

Back to the Main Event though, this was won by Irishman John Clancy, with American Scott Byrant a good second. I think Scott was probably the strongest player on the final, but John seemed pretty handy too. I remember one hand between Ciaron (sp?) and Keith Cummins. Flop was 9-2-3 rainbow and both players got into a raising war with Ciaron on 9-2 and Keith top pair. Massive pot that Ciaron did indeed win, I’m just not sure how Keith didn’t recognise that his opponent had two pair, everyone else did. Except for a stonecold bluff, which is unlikely due to the amount of raising on the flop, the only hand he could have was perhaps 4-5, and even that was a stretch.

What was most intriguing though was the play of the locals as a whole. Keith was a gutsy type of player who liked to make big calls (be they right or wrong), but boy, those Irish lads sure are loosey goosey – chips were flying everywhere. Forget Vegas, if you want to earn some money, go to Ireland. Some of the plays were truly bizarre. I think I recall tikay mentioning that some fella got it all-in pre-flop with Ace-Rag, and this was level 1!

They all drink like camels too. A moment wouldn’t pass without some guy on an STT standing up and shouting at the top of his voice. In fact, I think those STTs were the noisiest I’ve witnessed in a long time, but it appeared as though everyone was having fun.

I think ‘fun’ is the key word though at events like these, because whilst most people gave it the thumbs up, there are few who weren’t convinced, one of whom was LuckyLloyd (pictured - photo borrowed from the Antes Up site). On the last night, he was commenting that the people who like these events are recreational players, just there for a gamble, and that the festival wasn’t suitable for serious players. He mentioned the food, crappy cards, etc, but the most important negative he highlighted was the standard of the side events. Although he was unhappy with the shoddy way in which they were run (in truth, the TD’s really didn’t pay the €500 and €750 much attention at all), he was mostly critical of the structure, which quite frankly was one of the worst I’d witnessed. Although I believe they upped it by 5 minutes, the initial clock for the €500 was 20 minutes, which for a festival event is pretty poor. “€500 is a lot to many of these guys, they deserve a proper game,” moaned Lloyd. I think that says it all.

Ps. We took a taxi back.

Friday, February 02, 2007


Seeing as someone asked in a comment...

Due to a busy schedule, it’s a been a week or two since I played an STT, but this was never meant to be a ‘cram as many in as I can’ type of challenge, but more of a casual side challenge that would provide me with something different to do when the tedium of cash game poker caught up with me.

As promised in the opening thread, here are my results thus far:

1st = 16
2nd = 11
3rd = 9
Top 3 = 36
4th = 19
5th = 12
6th = 8
7th = 7
8th = 4
9th = 1
10th = 1

So, out of 88 $5 STT’s, I’ve made a gross profit of $171,00. Obviously, that’s not a huge amount, and the road to $1,000 is a long way off, but at least I’m in good form, cashing in 41% of the games I play.

It sounds bizarre, but I’m actually pretty pleased that I’ve encountered more bubbles than any other position, but, with that figure being twice that of 3rd but only 3 more than 1st, I’m assuming it’s a sign that I’m attacking at the right time rather than creeping into the money.

At first, this challenge was pretty fulfilling, but that was mainly because I was winning. As soon as I started to lose a few, I decided that it was time to multitable. As a result, it isn’t quite as frustrating or time-consuming, and because I’m playing 4 simultaneously rather than just the one with the tele on in the background, I’m more focused and less inclined to make an error, which can be fatal in STT’s.

Jen and Dana always say, “Why play Ladbrokes, the structure on their STT’s are rubbish?” Well, that’s true, but, ironically, that’s the reason I’m playing them in the fist place. If I were to play the better structured STT’s on Stars, not only would they take more time to complete, but I’d also come up against a better standard of players. From my experience, the weaker players love poor structures because it’s over quicker, they want action, not a good structure.

Whilst the general consensus is that a better structure enables you to outplay your opponents, I would say that a skilled player has just a great an advantage on the poorly structured STT’s because he can adapt better and will possess a stronger awareness of the increasing blinds. From what I’ve seen, players panic on Ladbrokes and feel they have to stick it in early, which means you can play a patient game and wait for big hands to cripple them with. On the flipside, they’ll play too meekly when it reaches the bubble period, which means your aggressive play becomes more advantageous than it would do with a good structure as the blinds are worth more.

Overall though, I’m enjoying playing these and they offer a nice distraction to the sometimes stressful sessions of ring game poker. The overall aim was to simply see if I could make a bankroll out of $5 STT’s, and although the variance is extremely high, I believe that with enough patience, I can reach that goal.

The question I want to answer next time is… can you make a living off them?