Thursday, August 30, 2007


With 90 minute clocks and 20k starting stacks, I’d been looking forward to the Gutshot Series of Poker for a few weeks and come the weekend, couldn’t wait to hit the felt.

At one point during the comp, I recall Ash Hussain commenting, “I like good comps, but this is too much of a grind. If it were a WPT, I’d grind all day, but not for this money.”

Yes it was a grind, but I enjoy playing live whatever’s at stake. For me, it was a challenge, a test of endurance and a battle to see who could maintain their focus for the longest, because one slip-up, and your whole stack, not to mention all those hours of hard graft, could go down the drain.

My starting table was tough. I noticed a poster on the wall reading, “GSOP: Just like WSOP, but just better value.” Being the cynical fellow I am, I asked myself, “Is it, is it actually ‘better value?’” I didn’t recognise too many on my table (Nik Persaud and Jon Hewston the only two), but there wasn’t one single player who couldn’t play. In fact, the whole 120 strong field was high on solid players – Sunny Chattha, Karl Mahrenholz, Praz Bansi, Jerome Bradpiece, Ade Bayo, James Akenhead – some really tricky customers, and even the non-familiar players knew what they were doing. This was probably one of the strongest fields I’d ever come across.

In this sense, I concluded that the GSOP wasn’t better value than WSOP at all. If anything, it was worse. Like its American counterpart, there’s no added money and a there’s a registration charge, but the World Series probably has a weaker field. What the poster should really say is, “GSOP: Just like WSOP, but just cheaper.”

Without boring you with hand details, I survived Day 1 pretty comfortably and was one of around 45 players returning for Part Deux. I was just above average with 52k, but never once rose above that figure during Day 2. I’d lose a hand, win a hand, lose a hand – basically yoyo between 52k and 22k.

This is where the grind came in; I think I must have grinded for 10 hours before finally departing at the hands of Hughey. With just 25k left and blinds at 1.2k and 2.4k with a running ante of 300, I pushed in over the top of his 6.5k pre-flop raise with T-9o. I had to make my move at some point so, considering I thought him to be weak, decided that T-9 was a worthy hand with very little chance of being dominated.

He mulled it over for a while, counted out his chips and tapped the table in a “Good move, you got me,” kind of gesture. However, perhaps eyeing up the gamble, he still called with Pocket Sixes. I Flopped a Nine, but a cruel Six hit the River and I was out in 16th, just outside the money. Boy, does this game tease!

I was admittedly devastated to have lost a coinflip after grinding patiently for 10 hours, but that’s poker, it just wasn’t my day. I was happy with the way I played though, believe I did the best with what I had. I received very few hands and hit little flops and didn’t receive Aces or Kings once over the course of the two days.

In my last 5 comps, I’ve been all in 5 times in total, and each time it has been my exit hand. So basically, I just can’t seem to win a showdown. The fewer showdowns you face, the less chance you have of being eliminated. The structure minimised this, so kudos to the Gutshot, but let’s just hope that I can start winning those few that I do face.

Saturday, August 25, 2007


Just a quick post to report that I came up short in the £100er too. Played okay, made some good moves but perhaps called too much and dribbled away a few chips unnecessarily. Couldn't seem to hit too many Flops, but I'm sure I was bluffed off a few too.

Remained patient and found A-K with blinds at 100 and 200. All-in for about 1k, called by A-K, split pot. Sigh! Very next hand, found A-K again. Moved in for 1.1k and same guy called in the small blind with Q-T (?!). K-6-7-8-9 board. Double sigh!

Discounting the £50er (which I prob won't bother with now), I have one bullet left. Bought in for the Main Event on Thursday and looking forward to playing what is possibly the country's best tournament.

Oh yeah, I was a tad derogatory to the Gutshot on my last post, so how about some positives. Decent dealers, pretty good service and the £100er started dead on 8pm, which I liked.

Toodle pip.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Well, that's 200 squid down the swanny.

I felt crap when I woke up, and it was pouring when I 'alighted' (as the voice in the sky says) at Farringdon. Couldn't get my hands on an umbrella, so by the time I reached the Gutshot I was soaked through. The material that my trousers are made of is the thinnest in the world, so I had to spend most of the tournament playing in wet boxers. Great! And if you've played at the Gutshot recently, you'll know that it's the stuffiest most humid cardroom in the country. So I was hot and bothered right from the off and in no frame of mind to play my 'A' game.

At one point, one of the players said he felt faint and dehydrated and asked if they could move a fan towards him. He was metaphorically slapped across the chops with a wet kipper and told that it just wasn't possible. "We've only got a couple of fans," replied the TD, "and people downstairs are complaining about the heat."

Glancing down at the puddle on the felt that had formed from the drips deriving from the ceiling and knowing that the residue water would probably slide in if they were to go with my zany idea, I hestiantly suggested, "Could you not open one of these windows?"

To my suprise, the inevitable opposing comment wasn't delivered with the explanation I expected. Instead, the reason why they couldn't open the window was because it would make the air conditioning ineffective. Air conditioning? AIR CONDITIONING? What air conditioning? If there's air conditioning in this room then it's already f***ing ineffective. I'm sweating like a rapist in here!

"You'll get a fan when you get to the final table," he jokingly added. "It'll give you incentive." Oh marvellous, what a treat. In the meantime, we'll all suffer in silence in this Gutshot desert. Sweet Jesus of Nazareth, what do we pay our registration fee for, not to mention £3 at the door just to get in? Now this is going to be a bit wild, and I genuinely don't want to cause too much of a debate at the next board meeting, but could they not purchase an extra couple of fans? By Jove, I think I've got it!

Anyway, back to the tournament. 100 runners was the max, but I think they squeezed in (probably quite literally I expect) another table of 10 and allowed alternates to step in during the first hour. It didn't take long for one of those lazy-can't-be-bothered-to-buy-in-til-the-very-last-minute players to show their face, one guy on our table exiting on the very first hand of the night.

He raised it up from utg+1 and received two callers. The flop was Jack high with two hearts. He bet and found one caller. The Jack of hearts hit the turn and Mateyboy bet again. This time, his opponent raised another couple of thousand. The original raiser dwelt up for a while (I would have loved to have seen his warped thought process during this period) before pushing all-in. The other player called and flipped Kh-Qh for the flush, Mateyboy showed A-Jo. Board failed to pair on the river and Mateyboy had done his 6k already. The victor apologised and offered his hand, but Mateyboy shook his head and buggered off. Well, at least he took it well!

I'm no expert, but I think he could have got away from this by, if not folding to the raise, simply checking the turn. The board had three to a flush so he could easily be up against a made hand. Also, calling a pre-flop raise and then again on the flop suggests a possible set to me, so maybe a check-call would have been better. Either way, it's the first hand, no one's going to be pissing about with rubbish. It's possible he could, at a stretch, have K-J or Q-J but I expect he'd smooth call the turn, especially considering he has position.

I noticed that there was no 75/150 level, which was disappointing. Made a big difference to me too; at 100/200, raises start to cost a little more if you haven't built on your stack and with just 30 min levels on a 10-man table, you don't have too much time to accrue chips.

I played the £100 freezeout last Saturday, and I'm sure they had the 75/150 level. Seems odd to include that level for a cheaper event. Admittedly, there were antes later on, but it doesn't seem right for the first few levels of a festival event to be worse than the weekly comp.

I noticed that this was a 1 day event too instead of the 2 day affair that it was last year. I think if the Gutshot want to maintain the title of 'the only name in poker', then they need to insure that their side events are just as well structured as the year prior. Last year, the £200er was probably the best event around for that price, not this year. I'm sure the Main Event will still be the biz though.

I exited in flamboyant style on Level 3, I think it was, with the blinds at 100 and 200 with a running ante of 25. I'd yoyo-ed around early doors, but cold cards, poor flops and the cost of a round had seen me drop to 3k.

Mateyboy raised to 800, two people called behind him, so I decided to move for my 3k with a rather vulnerable T-5 of hearts. I had a tell on the original raiser, so was pretty sure he was folding, which he did. The second guy I thought had something like a small pocket pair (he'd called similar raises with such hands before) and would also fold, which he did. The third player, who had around 8k, seemed pretty tight, so didn't worry me too much, but, unfortunately for me, this is the chap that called.

He gave it the ol "Oh, go on, I'll still have my starting stack, blah, blah, blah" before calling and showing A-J of hearts, making my flush draw defunct. I was happy to see live cards though, but I failed to hit and was soon exiting stage left.

I like to remain sceptical, so I'm willing to analyse my play. In hindsight, it was probably ill-timed. As Mickey Wernick always says, "Wait for a better opportunity" - this was too risky and I'm not sure if an extra 2.2k was enough to get three players to fold. However, I thought I was in with a shot and was willing to gamble in order to have a realistic chance of winning this comp. I'm happy to grind, but I play well with a stack, so thought it worth having a stab at the 2,950 that was already in there.

I was gutted, as always, on the way home and spent the whole journey trying to work out if I'd made a donkey move or not. I decided upon the latter.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Not too much exciting has happened recently. mainly because I've been busy live updating the NPL Main Event. I did play online for a few days and earn $600, which was cool, but then I had to work for PokerNews.

I haven't worked for PokerNews before, but their software is pretty slick and easy to use. The only problem is that I can't say certain things or make subjective comments regarding people, venues, hands, etc. At one point, I recall contacting the supervisor and asking him if it was okay to use the title 'Girl on Girl Action' for a headline when Maria Demetriou eliminated Jennifer Tilley. The response was inevitably negative.

Speaking of Jennifer Tilly, I can't imagine how she found her way to the Loose Cannon Club. Only 34 players (which was actually more than Roy Houghton expected) turned up for the Main Event. I guess she was somehow contracted to play, as I'd expect this would be pretty small fry for her. Either way, I was happy, she was wearing a light blue thong that I accidentally spotted - she gets the Beagle seal of approval.

On Day 2, our photographer raced up saying, "Hey, I just looked on the Internet, and it say's Jennifer Tilly is 48." I already knew this, but the photographer simply couldn't believe it, and in truth, she looks mighty fine for someone nearing half a decade in the world. If I look as good as that at 48, I'll be as happy as Larry, whoever he is. Actually, hold on, if I look like that I will have undertaken a sex change. Gulp.

Peter Gould won, and he was probably the most well-known player on the final. There were some big names present though: Tony G, Roy Brindley, Dave Colclough, Gary Jones, just off the top of my head. Oh yeah, Roland de Wolfe too, he was having a needlathon with Tony G and the banter was rife, although admittedly friendly and light hearted.

Not a hand went by without them two verbally poking and taunting each other. I remember Roland taking a pot off Tony G and making the comments, "Ring BMX, it's bike time" and "I'm going to take everything you have," both of which prised a rare smile out of me.

Speaking of Roland, I had to laugh when he said in the taxi home that a £2.5k entry wasn't very big for him. It's not that he's a millionaire or anything, it's just the mentality that big gamblers seem to possess. As he put it, "When you gamble with such huge amounts, it doesn't matter if you're rich or broke, 2.5k just isn't that much."

It sounds stupid, but I can understand what he means. I haven't got a massive bankroll in comparison to some of the bigger players, but lost a 5k pot online the other week, and wasn't particularly bothered. I remember the day when I misplaced £3 at school and was gutted for weeks.

It reminds me of people like Dubai, Nik Persaud, David Benyamine and so on. They can be affluent one day and penniless the next, but whichever it is, they won't hesistate in splashing out or buying into that big comp. Even if it's their last dime, they'll take a shot, and it won't affect their game one bit. If they lose, then so be it, they'll get a backer for the next comp, but nevertheless they're gonna try spinning it up and see how far they can go. It's a cavalier attitude to poker, but it's one that I can understand. It's probably a lot more exciting than grinding too, if not slightly more risky.

Well, taking a shot is what I'm planning to do this week. I noticed the Gutshot Series of Poker is back on Wednesday, even if they are soon to close down. From what I remember from last year, the structure for these events, especially the Main Event, are awesome and give skill every opportunity to prevail. Also, 3 days of poker in the big one is too much too refuse, so I plan to play the whole week which will set me back just under a grand.

A grand is probably a big amount after dumping a load online recently, but as with Roland, it doesn't feel like much, so I'm going to give it a crack. I guess this is one thing that's changed with me recently - my value of money has disintegrated and I'm simply not overly fussed if my money goes down the hole. However, I finalled in the £200er last year and made Day 2 of the Main Event, so let's see if we can't spin it up and raise the bar that little bit higher.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


Binge Day 5 – Broadway Birmingham

The last day of my mini binge was pretty inconsequential and rather anti-climatic. I accrued a nice stack of several thousand during the rebuy period before being forced to push later on with J-T under the gun. I had more than a pot raise in me, but found an instant caller in the Big Blind who couldn’t release K-T.

Slightly frustrating, but it didn’t really bother me, as long as I’d played well, which I believe I did. The most crucial point was that it confirmed one thing for me… after several months out of tournament poker, very little has changed. Yep, everything is just as I left it. People still make dodgy calls, players suffer from bad beats, opponents go on tilt and I still use words like ‘sound’ and ‘bloody hell’ when I return to the Midlands – nothing changes.

One thing that definitely isn’t threatening to change is the lack of any permanent set of rules. I was initially shocked to hear that the Broadway were inexplicably moving the shortstack, but then I simply accepted it, knowing full well that due to the lack of governing body there wasn’t too much anyone could do about it. In this sense, the big casino wigs still have a monopoly on the game and can make whatever rules they want, and until we see the DTD doors open, they’ll probably revolve around getting the tournament finished so people can play the House games. Fortunately, there are some genuine poker fans organising tournaments, such as Rob from Grosvenor Stoke and Jonathan Raab at Blue Square – what we’d do without these guys, I just don’t know.

Vitally, numbers are still as good as they were since I last played in December 2006. As 2007 commenced, many were somehow predicting the end of the poker boom, especially with the interest in televised poker waning and the recent Internet bills in America, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

The WSOP received record numbers and attracted over 6,000 to the Main Event, which surely would have been double if the government hadn’t stuck it’s schnoz in. Meanwhile, the introductory of two major Tours (GUKPT and GBPT) this side of the Atlantic have sent the poker community into a frenzy with everyone eager to take advantage of the added value, bigger fields and prizepools, and opportunity to get their mug on the box.

Then you’ve got the cardrooms themselves. Even when people were suggesting that interest in poker was drawing to a close or that there were “no new players”, places like Torquay, Plymouth and Moortown Leeds started showing their face and saying, “Hey, there are lots of people who still want to play poker” and providing us with even more venues from which to play the game. Just take a look at the Walsall £300er, still garnering over 120 players for one comp. If this is the poker boom coming to an end, then I must be seeing things.

On a personal note, I’ve certainly missed the game. I’ve been focusing my attentions on work, but that desire to play tournaments has been gradually burning away at my starved flesh. The best thing was that I still experienced that adrenalin rush, still loved making someone fold the best hand and still got a kick from when I made a great call. That and the fact that anyone can win on any given day is surely what keeps the game alive.

Of course, the heartache remains. From taking 2.3k at the Broadway, I then went on to donk myself out of the Walsall £300er and give away more than enough to my virtual enemies on the blonde poker cardroom, but that’s poker. Poker is a rollercoaster ride, and an emotional and demoralising one at times, but it’s one that I’m happy to be on.

With this in mind, I’m pleased to be returning to the game with the buzz still present, not just in me, but around the community as a whole. People still love to play poker and have a genuine passion about the game, and unless something drastic happens, I can’t see this changing.

Here is my final record for the 5 day binge:

Day 1: Grosvenor Walsall -- £30 NLH 1xR/B = 8th for £90 = £25 profit.
Day 2: Gala Notts -- £50 NLH 2xR/B = £100 loss
Day 3: Broadway Birmingham -- £20 NLH R/B = 1st for £2,300 = £2,258 profit
Day 4: Grosvenor Walsall -- £300 NLH F/O = £330 loss
Day 5: Broadway Birmingham -- £20 NLH R/B = £60 loss

Total profit = £1,791

-- THE END --

Friday, August 10, 2007


Villain = $2,545,34
Hero = $2,443,30

Villain = small blind = $5
Hero = big blind = $10

Villain raises to $35k, Hero calls with 8s-4s.

Flop = 6d-4d-6c

Hero checks, Villain bets $45, Hero calls.

Turn = 4c

Hero checks, Villian bets $135, Hero raises to $270, Villain calls.

River = Ah

Hero bets $730, Villain raises all-in for $2,098.30, Hero calls.

Villain wins the $4,988.64 with Ac-6h.

I'm sure many people will label me a numpty, but looking back, I'm not overly ashamed. There was a lot of history to this hand, we'd been playing for hours. The way he played it was completely contradictory to the way he had played the whole session, so much so that I even suspect someone stepped in for him for the last 30 minutes. I say this because he wanted to leave, but I persuaded him to stay for an extra half an hour. Oh, the irony.

Whoever played the hand, they played it exceedingly well in my eyes. He bet out his trips and flat-called a re-raise on the Turn. I don't recall him once making any of these moves in four hours of play, which is why I was bamboozled into thinking I had the best hand.

I was sure I was ahead, so much so in fact that I was prepared to bet the River and call a re-raise. I thought he had a middling pair, or an Ace (if you look at the A-J hand from before, this is certainly possible), and so thought that I could prise some extra money out of him by betting the River. I even purposely bet a figure that allowed for a bluff re-raise, I was that confident. We'd be enjoying some friendly banter leading up to this hand about lack of bluffs shown. He accused me first of not bluffing anymore, and I denied it profusely because I wanted him to stay. I then said the same to him, saying he hasn't made a move for ages.

I won't defend myself here, I made a boo boo for a big amount of spondoolies, but what I will say is that based on the history of the session, I can understand why I made the moves I did In hindsight, I think I should have checked the River. Even if I'm confident, it's a lot of money if he does move all-in.

I would appreciate your thoughts on this hand.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Well, this is a blog, so better report the rough with the smooth.

Was cleaned out on blonde poker today, lost $4.7k, pretty much to one guy in just 4 hands.

Heads-up 5/10.

(1) I had nothing and bluffed every street after the raggy board made 4 to a straight and a possible Flush on the Turn. He'd raised pre-flop so I thought he didn't have any of it, but he'd made a Flush with A-Ts. Pot was 2k.

(2) I raised from the button with 8-5s, he re-raised, I called. J-8-5 rainbow Flop. He bet, I raised, he called. A Turn. He bet $300, I moved all-in for $900, he called. Jack on River, he wins with A-4. 3k pot.

(3) I raised from the button with A-Js, he re-raised, I called. A-x-x Flop. He bet, I called. Jack Turn. He bet, I pushed all-in, he called. King on River, he wins with A-K. 2.5k pot.

(4) I raise from the button with 8-4, he calls. 6-4-6 Flop. He checks, I bet, he calls. 4 Turn, he bets, I re-raise, he calls. Ace on River. I bet several hundred, he pushes all-in, I call. He wins with A-6. 5k pot.

Lots of history behind them hands, but there you have it, was going so well online, but back to the drawing board. Probably restart at $2/4, will have to check my finances.

If anyone wants to know why I played a hand in a certain way, then please feel free to ask.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Binge Day 4 – Grosvenor Walsall

Although tempted to make my debut at the Star City Casino in Birmingham, the lure of a £300 double chance freezeout at Walsall overshadowed my lust for 5 consecutive days in 5 different casinos and before I knew it, there I was, back in the all too familiar compounds of Junction 10.

Now and again a quality tournament pops up that is capable of drawing big crowds on a regular basis. Back when tikay donned a brown barnet, the Gala Nottingham’s £100 rebuy was the highlight of the month. It used to make a packet and attract players from all over. With £100 now seeming like a splash in the ocean and options for poker community going through the roof, the Gala’s £100 rebuy has dropped off the radar allowing the monthly freezeout at Walsall to take hold of the reigns.

And why shouldn’t it? 2 day event, 7.5k chips, 45 minute clocks, every blind level under the sun, satellites throughout the week – this really is a low stakes players wet dream and one of the best ‘affordable’ freezeouts available. If there’s a comp that I’d advise an amateur to splash out on, then this is the one.

When I started playing, there were no freezeouts, just £20 and £30 rebuys, so variance truly was a factor back then with long, dry spells a familiar occurrence. Nowadays, the cream can rise to the top a lot quicker with the likes of Stoke, Blackpool, and Cardiff, not to mention all the side events at the Festivals, following suit with similar freezeout tournaments.

When I arrived, the usual motley crew were there: Karabiner, tikay, Thewy, Ash Hussain, Pete Singleton, Lucy Rokach, Mick Jones, Simon Zach, Nick Slade – all the usual suspects. On my table were Ben Callinan, Mad Turk and Rajesh Modha, so I knew I was in for a rough ride.

I won’t bang on about the ins and outs of my tournament, it won’t be anything you haven’t already heard in the endless blogs out there. I pretty much hovered around average for most of the comp, before the cards seized up and a mistimed all-in re-raise against Zippy Aslam cost me my comp with about 40 or 50 left. I thought he was weak, was mistaken, and paid the price. Simple as that really. I probably could have been more patient, but I like to go with my gut, if I’m wrong, then c’est la vie, I’ll make sure I’m right next time.

I do wish it hadn’t been Zippy though, he seems to be my nemesis. Whenever he’s at the table, I always exit in dramatic circumstances. I actually found it a little embarrassing going out to him, mainly because I respect him as a player. His Kings v my T-7s, I Flopped a flush draw and Turned a Ten, but part of me didn’t want to make my hand on the River. I don’t think I’ve ever felt like that before in a showdown, I hate making mistakes, so perhaps I just felt I deserved to be out of the comp.

But enough about me, the most interesting hand I witnessed involved Lucy Rokach, and it ultimately led to her demise. She’s limped in late position only to re-raise the button bet on an A-9-8-J board after everyone checked the Turn. The button and I both folded, only for Doc, a tight, but calculated player to push all-in under the gun. Lucy quickly said something like “Let’s gamble” and shoved in the rest of her chips with K-J, but Doc’s A-Q stood up.

There were a couple of things that interested me about this hand. Firstly, the check re-raise from Lucy on the Turn seemed very suspicious to me. I’d called the initial button bet with A-6 in the big blind and was severely thinking about re-re-raising Lucy for what would basically be my tournament life, but Doc was still to play behind me and could easily have held a monster.

From my perspective, Lucy’s play didn’t make any sense. I very much doubt she’d check two pair twice, and would imagine she’d raise pre-flop with any hand that would have made a set. In this sense, I deemed it a squeeze play after Doc and I had flat called. Doc said he would have folded his A-Q if I’d have moved over the top, so a missed opportunity I guess.

The second thing that raised a Beagle eyebrow was Lucy’s willingness to gamble after she’d been caught with her pants down. She knew she was behind, but was happy to stick in the rest of her chips in hope of catching something on the River. She didn’t even hesitate, clearly not a fan of grinding.

After the tournament I posted a thread on blonde about the pros and cons of double chance freezeouts. Personally, I prefer straight freezeouts as people play with more fear as they know they could be eliminated from the comp in any one hand. With another 3.5k behind them, they seem happy to play more freely and thus become less predictable and harder to push around. Of course, the flipside means that they may throw more chips your way on draws or marginal hands, but that also relies on you finding hands.

I believe all double chances should prohibit players from taking the second set of chips straight away. If everyone does it, which can happen via the domino effect, there doesn’t seem much point. My preference is to take it as soon as possible. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I believe I have the edge on the average field (ie, in the top 50%), so why wouldn’t I want to garner the maximum amount of chips from the hands I win. The weakest player on my table won early pots, so I deemed it even more imperative to grab those extra chips early doors.

As I’m sure you’re already aware, this comp was won by Thewy. I’m sure he played superbly, but they always say you need to get lucky to win any comp, and get lucky he did, pushing all-in under the gun with Deuces, running into Queens and Kings and outdrawing both. Ouch. But once he’s got those chips, you’re in hot water.

Thewy’s had an incredible few years and it’s great to see him still donning the William Hill logo. He may not have performed to his capabilities on the ‘big stage’, but Thewy’s record in £300-500 freezeouts is second to none. I don’t know if there’s any particular correlation or whether it’s simply coincidental, but either way, I wish he’d tell me how to win them instead of £20 rebuys.

Sunday, August 05, 2007


Binge Day 3 – Broadway Birmingham

My third consecutive day of poker and different venues each time, I felt in fine fettle heading into the Broadway £20 rebuy, and not too fazed by my sudden onslaught of pokermania after 7 months on the bench.

From my standpoint, the £20 rebuy fest is a much underrated tournament and one that is wrongly categorised as a mere crapshoot. Poker is all about adapting to various situations, including the tournament type. There’s admittedly a lot of variance in small rebuy comps, but if you play them correctly, you’ll come out a winner in the end. The likes of Julian Thew, Ash Abdullah and even tikay are proof of this, the £20er their bread and butter back when I were a tax-dodging student in Nottingham.

It seems to me that there is a market for written teachings on these smaller comps, especially when so many people play them. It’s not just a ‘lottery’, there’s an arsenal of skills required: how to gamble during the rebuy period, when you should take the add on and when you shouldn’t, not tilting and going crazy on rebuys, when to push, which blinds to attack, striking a deal – the list is a lot more extensive than people think, and if they were to stretch their mentality beyond the self-soothing bingo theory, they’d eventually begin to prosper.

One of the reasons why a £20 rebuy can be profitable is the laxity of the field. A large contingent fall into two simple categories: gamblers and tilters; when the two mix in bad beat bedlam on a boozy “It’s the end of the week so I’ll let myself go” Friday night, you’re destined for a huge ‘high value’ pot. The Broadway in particular benefits from this combo, 110 degenerates somehow producing a 9.5k prizepool and mammoth £3,680 first prize. Yum!

Amongst the rabble were a few tough players: Ben Callinan, Steve Jelinek, Wayne Fitzpatrick, Darshan Sami, Marcus Bebb-Jones, Des Jonas off the top of my head, but even some of them deem this small fry and gamble like there’s no tomorrow. Frankie Knight was present as always. A tight, solid, old school player, you know where you are with Frankie, but he must have a few moves in him as he frequently cashes. He’s known as Mr Vegas to many and has been a prominent figure in the Midlands for decades. If you ever need a Vegas contact, then Frankie’s your man. He told me that he managed to swindle a luxury room at the Horseshoe for just $28 per night, so he obviously knows who to speak to.

The Broadway remains one of my favourite casinos. Good service, prompt starts, friendly staff, dealer dealt tables, swift waitress service, great facilities and a sensored flush in the loos, it really is the bee’s knees, and Raj is most accommodating whenever I play. Apparently they have the second safest car park in the country, just behind one in Derby who I believe will soon be sending muggers over to Brum to ensure they hold onto that top spot.

The free halftime dinner is a nice touch. Chicken, rice and chips seems to be the norm, but it fills a gap. It’s a long pause though, 30 minutes they give you. As a born cynic, I expect it’s so they can prise the most out of the roulette wheel, and why shouldn’t they, people don’t have to play the house games, and they are the crux of the business after all.

Broadway is far from perfect though, and is likely to be surpassed by DTD who look set to raise the bar even further. The £8 sessions on the cash tables sting, dealers seem to work long, unsociable hours for little reward and there’s a guy in the bogs who I simply refuse to tip. There’s no way I’m paying anyone for the privilege of relieving myself and I detest that awkward moment when he holds out a hand towel and I say, “It’s okay, mate, I’ll use the hand drier… (because I’m too stingy to tip).” I’m battling through the guilt though and standing my ground, I just hope that he doesn’t think I have a hand drier fetish.

Whatever you make of the above, if you’re part of AdamM’s crusade, I’d advise you to tred carefully. Yep, you guessed it… “Move the shortsack!” Whatever the poll says, I’m with Adam on this one, moving the shortstack seems a little harsh. You end up having a seat of death, especially if they move from the button to the big blind. Plus the same guy can keep jumping from one table to the next without even paying a blind. Surely taking the big blind is the fairest, but cynical hat on again, I guess the Broadway aren’t too fussed about fairness and just want it done and dusted.

As for the comp, I played well with very little and predominantly yo-yoed before finally stumbling upon the following hand. With two tables left and the shorties taking it in turns to push all-in to stay alive, Steve Jelinek limped from the small blind and I checked the big with 4-2. K-3-5 Flop, check check, Ace Turn, he bet, I called. Rag River, he bet, I raised all-in, he called quicker than a sheep in RobertHM’s garden and proudly revealed Pocket Kings. Hehe. This gave me some chips for the final where I eliminated two players at once with Aces to give me double anyone else’s stack.

With 4 left and just 20 minutes on the clock I was offered a deal: they get £1,500 each and I take £2,300. I’m not a massive fan of deals, but I was getting £500 more than second, so accepted knowing how easy it would be for me to have my stack sliced in half.

I’ve won lots of rebuy events for similar figures before, but this one was particularly important to me. Earlier on in the night, someone commented that I was bottom of the barrel now that Jen was winning, which hurt a little. In fact, I hear that quite a lot at the moment, so I was pleased to prove to myself that I could actually play a bit too. It’s one thing others thinking you’re a donkey, it’s another when you start to believe it yourself.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


Binge Day 2 – Gala Nottingham

It always warms my cockles when I take the monotonous journey up the M42 to Gala Notts. They’ve got the Stanley Circus up and running now, but I had my eyes firmly fixed on Maid Marian Way and nothing else. After spending every waking hour in the joint during my student years, it has been cemented in my heart, and every time I return I rejoice in the fun times I experienced there.

I’ve said it many times before, but Gala Notts truly is the most fun place to play. Perhaps due to the cardroom being segregated from the rest of the casino, the place is brimming with banter and personality that really gives the venue a character and buzz that so many places are lacking.

Unfortunately for DTD, this might prove problematic. People don’t like change, especially when they enjoy where they already play. DTD might offer better facilities, structures, and whatnot, but people become institutionalised, even in a cardroom. There is a real sense of community in there, and I fear many of them will be wary of disrupting that. I also suspect that some of the successful regulars will be doing their utmost to persuade punters to stay, if only to protect their income, in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if management were asking regulars to assist in this way.

I first played a comp at the Gala on 13th Jun 2002. It was a £20 Pot Limit rebuy, as were most events around that time, none of these £10 rookie nights or £30 freezeouts to break you in. I was pretty lucky though as I had the full student loan to gamble with, and boy did I spend it. It wasn’t until 31 comps later when, on the 23rd Jan, I won my first comp for £1,580. It only just about got me back into the black, but at the time, I was over the moon to have won such a large amount ‘gambling’.

I can’t explain how much enjoyment I prised out of the Gala over the three years. I was a 3 days a week man and even brushed aside outings with friends to partake. I only lived 5 minutes away, so temptation didn’t have to journey far. There was something romantic about it all. Whilst all my friends were begrudgingly undertaking holiday jobs, I was busy playing poker, having the time of my life and prospering in the process.

Notts Gala wasn’t without its faults though. Management were never too interested in the cardroom and didn’t offer too much in the way of ‘treats’. There were a few cases of cheating too, which unnerved me, but I’m sure this has occurred in numerous venues nationwide. However, with a lack of dealers, it remains a worry.

You seem to encounter a lot of arguing at Gala Notts, no deal going by without the inevitable ‘who can yell louder’ contest. I even saw fists fly once, so blood can certainly boil at times. It’s a tense atmosphere for beginners, and you have to be pretty hard skinned to start your tournament life there. However, recent times have seen the introductions of lower stake freezeouts, which have helped immensely.

You should keep your wits about you outside. I used to run home if I’d won, as Lenton Road in front of the castle walls was a creepy and nerve tingling jaunt if you were heavy pocketed. I think I recall AdamM being attacked there. He’s a black belt, I think, but there were three of them so he was always struggling. I don’t think I’ve ever gone down on a Friday night without witnessing a drunken townie and his Chavvy Mrs screaming at each other outside, and that car park’s a bit daunting too, it’s like something out of Doom or the weird bits in Silent Hill, and I wasn’t overly surprised when my brother told me that he caught someone breaking into his car.

But back inside, the banter makes up for it all. Unlike my trip to Junction 10 the night prior, very little had changed, especially with the clientele. Of course, they’ve lost a few along the way, but the faces are still there. The first one I saw was Raj from Leicester. He’s best buds with Chippie, and you won’t meet two nicer guys. I remember Chippie’s first ever comp, he was on the booze and talking like that guy from the Micro Machines ad. I remember him trying to sell conservatories to the whole of the table, but I don’t think he had too much success. From that day on, he was a regular. Raj is a lot more laid back, but a top bloke all the same.

Venturing in, I ran into John, Rob (Fran’s pops), Javid, Ed 'The Kid', 'Bag of Bollox' Ali, Sean, Bookie Jim, Steve Read, Pete Linton, Nik Hicks. The list is endless, and I couldn’t believe how many people I knew. Even Ash was there playing Backgammon with Richie, just as they had been a couple of years back. It’s as if once they’ve lured you in, you can never leave, and I know how they feel!

Yes, the cardboard numbers in a bag have been replaced by a snazzy plasma screen and the grubby felts of yesteryear have been replaced by brand spanking new GBPT tables (although I had to laugh when I saw they were using the same old crappy chips), but everything else is like I’d never left. Even Benz is still there, although slightly less hairy and running around in the former shoes of DTD’s Rob (Nightfly).

As for the comp, it was a £50er with two rebuys, which was pretty cool, but I wasn’t here for the comp per se, I was here to have a laugh and reminisce about some of the good times I used to enjoy there as young fresh-faced student. There was only one player at my table that I didn't recognise, and that said it all.

I plummeted out in unspectacular circumstances, but unlike many places, I hung around for a bit, ordered some food, watched the cash games and had a chat with various folk, one of whom was Jeff Hill, Junior’s dad. Greg’s a working man now, but his Dad’s still playing, and recently gave the World Series a shot for the first time, cashing in two events including the senior’s event which drew an incredible 1,800 runners.

It’s this aspect that I like, being able to exit the comp and have a chat with any number of people. There’s a real social aspect that keeps the Gala Notts ticking, and this is why I still love playing there more than anywhere else in the country. Win or lose, it's normally a hoot, and that's what it's about.

Dana sent me this still of the Simpsons. Apparently that's me on the left, fuchsia shoes an' all.