Thursday, March 22, 2007


Last night proved to me what a rollercoaster of emotions poker can be.

With the transferral of the blonde poker cardroom to the Playtech network, I thought I’d deposit a couple of grand and hit the virtual felt again.

2k went down to 1.7k after the first couple of days, and last night, I found myself another several hundred down. I’d reached my credit limit of deposits and couldn’t play my usual four $2/4 tables, so tried two $3/6 tables.

After being cleaned out on one with 8d 7d vs. A-Ko on a 6d-Ad-9 Flop, I focused on just the one table (not much choice really), which, after a baron spell, slipped down to just $400.

I was missing everything, playing badly and feeling demoralised, but I noticed a few weak players on the table, so decided to continue playing, even though I was restricted to a paltry $400.

A couple of hours later I was on $2,850 after doubling up 6-handed and cleaning out an unknown player heads-up. From somewhere, I’d found a second wind and was playing some excellent poker against a player who was more than capable – but I had his number and simply outplayed him.

The final hand that took me from 2k to my final figure was a fortunate one in some ways. Pre-flop, I raised it up to $21 in position with 9-5 of hearts and called a re-raise of $66. A loose call perhaps, but I put him on an overpair and thought that if I hit, the mood he was in, I was going to stack him. Flop came 9s-6s-2s, he bet $108, I moved all-in and he called for his remaining $658.90. I overbet because I wanted him to think I was on the flush draw, but it was he who had the Ace with As-Qh – so it was a slightly suspect call from him. Turn Ah, River 4c. For a moment I was worried about A-9 or something, but when the money sailed my way, I punched the air and watched my opponent scarper.

This wasn’t my biggest pot ever, but it may be one of my biggest swings to date – going from $1,700 down to $400 and up to $2,850, a monetary span of $2,450. If I sound sombre, it’s because I’m tired and have to get up for the GUKPT Cardiff early tomorrow. However, the session was rather sobering, and I am in reflective mood.

I have no shame in confessing that while I was on $400, I began to write a blog entry in which I shared my woes and told of how I wasn’t going to play until after the World Series. However, as I wrote, my fortune changed and my account rose. My mood went from despair and frustration to delight and elation. It was truly bizarre.

As a result, it’s made me think. Yes, work is getting in the way, but the key is to modify the way I play online poker. The basic fact is that I don’t have enough spare time and I’m rarely alert enough to give it 100%, but if I lessen the length of my sessions, avoid forcing results and be more selective when I play, I will enjoy better success.

I think last night was a good lesson. It reminded me just how much of a rollercoaster ride poker is, but more importantly, that it’s not the end of the world. The poker tide turns oh so quickly, and you just have to accept it as a part of the game. As tikay said, “Lose 2k tonight, win 4k tomorrow. That’s poker.” I once possessed that mentality, hopefully I can rekindle it.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Just got back off a heavy week in Poland where Peter Willers Jespen and his girlfriend masseuse (yes, THAT masseuse) took home €325,633. It was all in zloty actually, but I still haven’t worked out the exchange rate. I do recall John Conroy saying he was a “half a zlotyaire” though.

But enough about that, it suddenly dawned on me today that I go to all these events, but too often leave out the juicy gossip. Sometimes I forget that not all those who read my blog are on the circuit.

Anyhow, as hinted at in the title, the key word in Poland was ‘booze’, and lots of it. Johnny Lodden and Peter Eicchart (sp?) in particular were completely off their trolley one night. That Lodden likes his drink, and last week was no exception – quiet at the table, but give him some ethanol and the beast is released. Just kidding, top man and pretty down to earth for someone so rich.

I heard one story that some idiot once challenged him online to a heads up game. You know how it goes, “You suck” “No, you suck” “Why not play heads up?” “You scared?” and so on. Anyhow, Johnny took up the challenge and asked, “Are you sure you have the bankroll?” to which Mateyboy replied, “Of course I do.” A couple of minutes later, this guy sat down at a table with 150k (or something similar) only for Johnny to sit with 4.9 million bucks. The muppet buggered off and was never seen again. No, I’m not one to suck up, but even I’d confess to being impressed by that.

Back to the booze though, the whole Scandie clan seemed to be loving the bottle. There’s a group of youngsters, two of which include Jonas Molander and Ramzi Jelassi, who were well up for going out each night and tasting the Polish nightlife, and even took Jen under their wing one night. From what Jen said, they tried out a couple of places (I think they were called ‘Platinum’ and ‘Opera’) but were refused entry in one for breaking dress code. I believe one of them flashed a wad of money, but it didn’t work in Poland and they were sent packing.

Talking of flashing money, how about this for a rib tickler. Norseman Sverre Sundbo was hanging around outside (fresh air, I guess) when he was approached by the police and accused of begging. Now Sverre might wear shabby trainers and well-worn jogging trousers, but he hardly looks like a tramp, especially with his boyish good looks that seem to make every female in the room swoon. Anyhow, in response to this, Sverre pulled out 10k from his pocket. What did the cops do? Accuse him of being a dealer. You have to laugh.

Returning to the ale, yet again, John Conroy certainly didn’t mess around come final night. Admittedly, he had just finished third in the Main Event, plus it was Paddy’s Day, so he had good reason to celebrate – and celebrate he did, pretty much by buying everyone in sight a drink, especially himself. The table in the Hotel bar was jammed full of drinks, whether people had ordered them or not. Every five minutes, an intoxicated PunkFloyd would do the rounds, and if you said, “No, I’m good” you’d soon find three vodka and cranberries sitting in front of you. Boy, the barmen loved him that night.

Some of his chat was hilarious too. He can be pretty quiet at the table, but get a few beers down him and he becomes Mohammed Shafiq, well, sort of. Unfortunately, I was also joining in with the festivities and may have agreed to call him ‘Rockstar’ Conroy for all future updates after he complained about always being known as a “Steady Eddie with no moves whatsoever”. Actually, before he was bladdered, he admitted that he reached third without doing anything particularly adventurous, just playing his usual solid game. “You don’t need to, the Scandies are crazy,” he added.

As with all poker venues, the local hookers arrive in their droves, and Poland was no exception. Whilst sometimes they’re slightly more discreet, they really weren’t here. In fact, there was a grubby lass, although fairly good looking, who sat at the bar for the whole of Day 2, saying hello and flirting to any fella that sat next to her.

At one point, a group of five Scandies (who I won’t name for my own security) swarmed round her, took her over to a couch and started chatting her up. About several minutes later, in trundled four more hookers – wow, that’s some coincidence! High heels, dyed blonde hair, short skirts, they all looked the same, all equally dirty looking – it really wasn’t hard to decipher their occupation. Anyhow, I scarpered before they left, but I think they may have stayed the night.

In fact, you’d be surprised how many poker players use hookers, and famous ones too. I won’t mention any names for obvious reasons. Actually, it doesn’t really bother me, they’re grown men, they can do what they want.

Guess what, back to the booze, and this time it’s Andy Black, who loves a drink as much as the next man, especially if the next man is Father Jack from Father Ted. Anyhow, Andy is great entertainment, especially when he’s sozzled, and there were slight suspicions when he announced an hour or two of the final table. Phrases such as “That’s the Ace from space,” “We have an Irish thingy (Conroy) here at the final” and “No cameras at this EPT, we’ll look back on this night with a fond sadness,” lured a rye smile out of virtually everyone. The philosophical comment I enjoyed the most was, “It’s a sobering thought to think that just one of these pink 10k chips is worth an entire human being,” and how can I forget that classic moment where he tried to explain the 5 cards in the split pot before giving up and just saying, “We have Queen Ten, no, it’s Ace, Queen. Oh, whatever, it’s a split pot.” Top man and a great laugh, made the final a lot more bearable – more of the Monk I say!

Dave Colclough was as present as ever, and he was saying that some of the cash games were fishy beyond belief. When I passed by, they were playing double flop Hold’Em (!) but I think Dave was patiently waiting for his fave game, 6 card Omaha. Interestingly, and I’m sure he won’t mind me saying this, he said this is his strongest game because so many “so called pro’s” don’t know how to play it. I recall he later mentioned the Devilfish, who isn’t Dave’s biggest fan, saying that it's not Ulliott's best game, perhaps playing it like 4 card Omaha too often. For Dave, second flushes and flopped nut straights which can be easily outdrawn are thrown into the bin straight away whilst others will push them to the max, and incorrectly so. He may be on a dry run in tourneys, but Dave remains one of Europe’s best Omaha players, so he’s definitely worth listening to. Oh, and if you want to know who Dave thinks is the best Omaha player in Europe, then look no further than Rob Hollink.

Okay, that’s enough, I’ve waffled on for far too long, just thought you’d like to hear a few fun anecdotes. Also, I guess it gives you an idea of what these events are like. At the table, they’re deadly serious (except, maybe Black), but off it, the players do their utmost to have a good time. Kudos!

Sunday, March 11, 2007


After spending most of the week either vomiting bile, drinking Powerblade from my bed or simply cursing the microwave meal that poisoned me, I wasn’t in tiptop shape come Saturday. My joints were aching, my head was throbbing and I’d barely eaten in three days, but this was my chance to experience the TV world, and whilst I was tempted to stay in bed and watch another film on the newly found, I didn’t want to miss out on what was a wonderful opportunity.

For those of you that don’t know, the Sky Poker Open is a brand new TV show on channel 846 that airs from 9pm onwards. A fresh new show, they invite members of the public to play a 500+ man £10 tournament from the comfort of their own armchair, either via the Internet or the all mighty red button on their sky remote. As the tournament progresses, the host and poker expert discuss the comp, analyse specific hands and talk about anything poker-related. Manwhile, three studio guests (one, namely moi, normally a nobody and the other two celebs) play from the studio with a bounty on their head. A simple idea, I’m sure you’d agree, but so far, it’s been a successful one, and with a balanced mixture of poker analysis and general banter, it’s become jolly entertaining viewing.

So, at 4.30pm, me and my empty stomach (or should that be ‘my empty stomach and I’?) set out for Feltham (where the hell that is, I still have no idea) only to arrive at the Tube Station to find out that the Charring Cross route was closed for ‘engineering works’, although it did take me 20 minutes of glancing bamboozledly at the ‘Waterloo (via Bank)’ signs and wondering why Bank was so ruddy popular today, to realise this.

Now, being a complete novice to everything London-related (mobile phones have only just reached Birmingham!), I swiftly sought the assistance of a member of staff, who directed me to London Bridge, which would then lead me onto Waterloo via the Jubilee line – so at least there was a relatively easy alternative, as being 2 hours later wouldn’t have looked too good.

Anyhow, after enduring a tedious (yes, tikay, trains are boring!) train ride from Waterloo to Feltham, I hopped off and unearthed my directions. ‘Take the first right’ – check, ‘walk down the road’ – check ‘…passed Tescos’ – che… “Nope, hold on, I don’t think Asda counts.” Er… “Tescos, where are you?…”

Well, it turned out that there were two entrances to the train station and, of course, I’d chosen the wrong one, so after an embarrassing ‘Waaah, I’m lost!’ phone call to Sky and a detour that turned the initial 10 minute stroll into a 30 minute jaunt, I eventually arrived at my destination – the innocent looking Aquiva Studios.

After signing what felt like a billion documents, I was escorted into the ‘green room’ (snoopy in a green room, who would have thought??), where I met Scott and Dean of Coronation fame. After I asked them who the ‘eck they were, we sat down and got chatting, a little about poker, but mostly about me being nosy and learning how Scott had been a stripper in the show and how Dean has being belted by Ken Barlow (now that’s something to put in your CV!) and snogged by that Sarah Louise Platt lass (now that’s something to tell your mates!)

A ‘behind the scenes’ camera crew were also present, and they were doing interviews and following us around in Big Brother style. To be honest, talking to these guys probably helped me prepare for the real thing. What I did notice however, was that the Cori boys were complete naturals, which did concern me a tad, especially when I went on to mumble and bumble my way through the interview.

Next up was the make-up (I believe the clothes department considered me a lost cause). “I’m afraid we’re going to have to put a LOT of make-up on you,” said the make-up lady. “I hope you like Dale Winton”, she sniggered. Gulping, I sat back, thought of England and prayed that I didn’t look too bad, although that image of Rodney Trotter getting trapped in the sunbed did keep popping into my head. A few minutes later and there I was, the modern day Bob Monkhouse, fresh off being tangoed and ready for action. At least I didn’t look like the cartoon from the 7-Up advert any more!

A quick tour around the ‘techie’ area where I couldn’t resist saying the comments, “Blimey, when does the shuttle launch?” and, in an ‘I really do watch too much Cribs’ moment, “So, this is where the magic happens”, it was onto the studio floor and the remarkable virtual set. With its sparse design, all-green surroundings and bits of tape on the floor, it’s nowhere near as fancy as it looks on the TV. In fact, it’s just a desk and few cameras with a bright green background – something that has to be seen to be believed!

Seated at the desk, the reality suddenly set in that I was going to be on live TV in about 45 minutes and, not surprisingly, my mouth became very very dry and I feared that my first words would make me sound like Phyllis from Coronation Street.

For some reason, I didn’t expect anything to happen till 9, but there was a decent amount of rehearsing where Richard Orford (boy he’s dapper) and Kara Scott (boy she’s hot) applied the words ‘yada yada yada’ at alarming frequency. They also pre-shot a couple of clips such as Richard introducing the show and the guests even had to come up with what were ‘action shots’ – I wished I’d kissed my guns in hindsight. Most amusingly, I will never forget Richard using the frightful term “Some hot finger on mouse action”, which, unfortunately, he never carried through into his live performance.

The clock struck nine, the green ‘live on air’ light glistened and the presenters were away. The cameramen (and women) glided around like figure skaters and it all went very quickly. I recall one cameragirl sliding up beside me only for me to inexplicably ask, “So, come here often?” Well, I thought it was funny.

In a matter of minutes the camera panned around to my mug, along with the slightly more refined thespian company beside me, and the brief introductions began. Now this is where I really started pooing bricks, but I just thought “Be yourself and you’ll be fine” to which I followed up with “Crap, that’s a foolish idea, be someone else!”

Before I knew it, the camera was on me and Richard was firing questions left right and centre. At this point, I have no idea what I said or how I said it, but I do know that it went very quickly. Very quickfire, so long answers or anecdotes were not a good idea. But I got through it, and we were away, whatever I said…

It was at this point that I realised that nothing was coming up on my screen, which was slightly concerning considering that we were meant to be playing a tournament. Soon after, it was made apparent that there were ‘technical difficulties’ and, although I was forced to answer an expected email from tikay regarding my FUCHSIA trainers, that was pretty much it for me. I did get back on at one point, but my chip stack had shamefully halved. I managed to double up with 7-7 vs. K-5 and even climbed to the dizzy heights of 3,300, but by this time, I think the show had pretty much been cancelled. They messed around with the software for a bit, sticking up promos to occupy the viewers, but the gremlins had truly invaded the system and had no intention of budging.

So, my debut at the Sky Poker Open had been an interesting, if rather brief one, but it was eye-opening to say the least. From what I understand, they don’t get too many days where it all goes tits up and they’re forced to come off the air, so I guess I may have cursed the show, much in the same way the Exorcist sets were forever damned – well, I certainly hope that’s not the case here.

What I did learn however was that you have to try new things, however wary you are about them. I was determined to give this a shot and whether I was starving myself, throwing up or excreting through the eye of a needle, there was no way I was going to miss out. Hopefully, with this episode falling short, I’ll receive a second chance and get called back where I should be fully fit and not accompanied by the apprehension that I brought with me the first time around.

It may have gone the shape of the pear, but it was an incredible experience that I enjoyed throughly and I’d do it again in a shot.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


Unfortunately, the $5 Challenge has been forced into a three-day hiatus, predominantly due to a bout of food poisoning. Virus, stomach flu, voodoo from someone I outdrew, whatever it is, it’s been pretty nasty.

I was periodically sick as soon as I woke up on Wednesday, rushing to the loo every 20-30 minutes. This lasted until around midnight, so by that time I’d hurled around 20 times – nice! My insides were hurting, my joints were aching, I had no energy whatsoever and couldn’t seem to get rid of the vile taste in my mouth caused by the upheaval of bile. Furthermore, no action with the Mrs!

It’s now 5am on Friday morning, and, thankfully, I’m feeling much better. I managed to consume my first meal in two days (well, prodded at a Shepherd’s Pie), and all those aches and pains seem to be gradually fading away, so I’m pretty sure I’m on the mend.

Wednesday was one of the worst days I’ve endured for quite a while and, surprisingly, it wasn’t induced by alcohol or doing my bollox at poker, although I do recall saying “Never Again!” before realising that I hadn’t been out on the razz the night before.

What was most worrying, however, was that I was potentially going to miss out on my appearance on the Sky Poker Open this coming Saturday. It’s still not a definite, but I’m confident I’ll make it – it’s really not an experience I want to miss.

For those that haven’t seen it, then it’s worth a watch, be sure to check it out on 846 (no, it’s not a porn channel) from 9pm onwards. I know tikay won’t be there, but I’m hoping Johnny Gould will be present as I recall many a fond student night being accompanied by Johnny and some crappy baseball. I wouldn’t mind if Helen Chamberlain was the host, to be honest, as I used to be a regular viewer of Soccer AM (pre-poker), so that could be fun too.

I’m no TV celebrity, so I fully expect to be shitting bricks come 9pm, especially with it being live and under the bright lights of the sky cameras, but I’m sure once I say a few lines of tosh I’ll be all right. I did a Poker 425 interview once in Luton, but that’s about it, so I’m still praying I don’t end up looking like a complete baboon. Still, to be honest, I don’t really care – what’s the worst that can happen?

If this opportunity had come a year or two back, then I think I’d be shitting through the eye of a needle all week (even without my current illness), but these days I feel I am a more confident person and am not as concerned with other peoples’ opinions as I used to be. Also, I’ve been going slightly mad recently thinking about life and death (sorry, that sounds intensely serious) and, for an atheist, that is always something that gets the heart pounding yet with a murmur of “Fuck it, let’s give it a crack!”

Either way, I’m going to give it a go and have as much fun as possible. Jen was the star of the show last week and she had a hoot, so I’m kinda looking forward to it now. Hopefully I’ll be a 100% come Saturday, even if I am a stone lighter from starving myself. I guess I’m one of the few to go on the box pleased with the “TV puts 10 pounds on” myth.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


For those of you still wondering, yes, I am still attempting this challenging and yes, I am still in profit, but only just. If you can recall, I was $171,00 after 88 10-Handed Single Table $5 Tournaments, and tootling along quite nicely. Well, I’m still up, but only by $222.95, not bad progress, but not quite the advancement I was hoping for after 165 STTs.

It’s been quite a painful journey, and although I’ve enduredd many a dry spell (at one point, I went 14 games without a win), I’ve always managed to hover, waiting patiently for that flurry of wins yet never really losing too many in a row. This may be satisfactory to an extent, but it sure is depressing at times, and seeing the hours pass by without having something to show for it is somewhat demoralising.

One of the reasons why this challenge can be demoralising is the fact that bad beats come by the bucketload. I won’t waffle on about specific hands, but if anyone ever says to you, “The worst standard is at the highest levels”, then you have my permission to bop them in the face, because at the $5 level, the standard is visibly shocking.

Whilst they are non-surprisingly defiant in the face of a re-raise, the most eye-opening aspect is their reluctance to release King high hands. Even faced with huge all-in re-raises, players still make inexplicable calls with hands like K-Q and K-J, completely unaware that there is less than 1% chance that they are ahead.

Another move I’ve noticed is the limp call with small pocket pairs, which can be highly irritating when you have A-K, get called by Pocket Fives and fail to hit. But such is poker at the lower limits, and it is these aspects that you have to accept, cater for and consider when deciphering a strategy.

My strategy is a pretty simple one: play like an absolute rock, only move in if I have a hand or am desperate, and then start putting my skates on with around 4 left. I say 4, because on Ladbrokes, players depart like lightening (4 exited in the first 7 hands one time). Considering my approach, the following information makes for interesting reading, the 0% (which I’m guessing has been rounded down) for re-raises and the fact that I barely ever reach a Turn or River showing just how tight I play.

Games won = 14%
Showdowns won = 50%
No. of flops seen = 24%
Win % of Flops Seen = 30%

Your Action:
Fold = 56%
Check = 17%
Call = 12%
Bet = 3%
Raise = 8%
Re-raise = 0%

Where You Fold:
Pre-flop = 68%
Flop = 6%
Turn = 1%
River = 1%

If anyone is a better analyser of stats than me and can identify anything interesting in the above information, then please feel free to make a comment. Oh, and of course, here are the positions I’ve come – oddly, I just played 15 STTs and came 5th in over half of them, but that’s still only 25.

1st = 25
2nd = 17
3rd = 25
Top 3 = 67
4th = 32
5th = 25
6th = 14
7th = 14
8th = 7
9th = 4
10th = 2

After just 166 STTs and considering the huge variance in playing these, I don’t think I can analyse the above information too much, but obviously, my tight style is resulting in very few 6-9ths and plenty of bubbles which is my most popular position. However, I don’t get too many seconds, which shows that I’m either very good at heads-up play (although it’s a little random on Laddies by that stage) or, and perhaps more likely, I’ve always got more chips than my opponent from playing aggressively.

And just for fun, a graph of my progress (pretty steady, I’m sure you’d agree):

Finally, before you sink into a pit of boredom, I have noticed that variance in $5 STTs is huge, no matter what your style is, so I have therefore been playing 6, 7 and often 8 handed to (1) keep me entertained and (2) fit more in so my profit increases quicker. But whilst this has enabled me to squeeze more games in, there are negatives, most notably (1) a sore head, (2) the potential for making unforced errors when multiple tables are short-handed and (3) an inevitable increase in bad beats, the latter of which requiring a very thick skin indeed.

Level 1: I flatcall 20 utg with J-J, MB#1 makes it 260, MB#2 calls, MB#3 also calls and I move in for 1,500. All three of them call.

MB#1 = A-Ko
MB#2 = K-Qo
MB#3 = 9-7o

Flop = 7-7-7

Well, it made me laugh, even if it did cost me $5.

Thursday, March 01, 2007


Thanks for all the comments left on my last post, all appreciated. Fruitypro’s was of particular interest:

“Hey man,

I think that you are talking a lot of sense regarding taking a break due to lack of time/focus. I also think that poker/work are pretty much mutually exclusive when it comes to doing both well. I guess it's where your priorities lie - obviously things are going well for you at Blonde so that's good and probably should be your priority.

One thing I did notice from reading several posts is that your bankroll management may be a bit out of line. I hope you don't mind me saying this - but as a regular 1/2 & 2/4 player myself I wouldn’t dream of sitting at 5/10 without a 50k roll. Maybe I just don’t have the gamble in me but I just don't like taking unnecessary risks outside of my roll. Also I wouldn't buy-in short...

I don't know if you are a Cardrunners member but if not, and you do want to get back into playing online seriously, I'd strongly recommend watching some videos on there. Many of your opponents may well be members...

Good luck on and off the tables,


‘Priorities’ is probably the right word, because so far my priorities have been clouded, as whilst intentions to play have been good, the truth is that my workload with Blonde Poker is too much for me to be effective at the tables. Yep, I can dip in now and then, but if I can’t give it my full attention as I could 15 months ago, then I don’t want to know. I’m the sorta guy who wants to do everything to the utmost of my ability or not at all.

Pre-ban, I could indeed dive in for just several hours a week and still make a great living. I didn’t have to make notes, I rarely made big decisions and I never had to spend hours upon hours grinding away, it was, in truth, easy. But now things have changed – tables are limited, there are a higher concentration of sharks and longer sessions are required to make the same wage – these are hours that I just don’t have available.

Having said this, I am still up for the year, but I know that if I am going to make the same wage that I did last year, I need to spend more time working out how best to attack the game, but I simply don’t have that time. If I did, I would make notes, identify and study the players, work out the best levels to play, find the best offers and so on – I know I could do it, but only if I give it my all.

Finally, in reference to my bankroll, I’ve always believed that I played way under my roll. Ever since I gave up my job in 2005, I haven’t once endangered my roll. I have been sensible, disciplined and although encountered the odd blip where I have gone all antsy in my pantsy, stopped before I committed poker suicide.

I agree that you need more than I have for $5/10, but this was just a one off where I fancied a change, a gamble and a new experience after grinding away at the lower tables – just to get a taste of what the higher stakes were like. Normally I play $1/2 or $2/4, dependent on the state of my roll. I play with $20k at $2/4, which I believe is more than enough, especially considering my style.

Many thanks again for the words of advice – if anything, I have certainly learned that whether it’s an office job and poker or a poker job and poker, work and playing the game I love just don’t mix, unless you want to lose that is…