Monday, December 31, 2007


Barely played yesterday, felt like shit and I could definitely sense that my head wasn't in the game. As soon as my eyes went a bit blurry and I began making unforced errors, which was only after two hours, I called it a day. I think I might be coming down with the flu; sore throat, slight headaches and a mild case of the sniffles. I seem to have a little bit of everything, which is why it probably wasn't a good idea to go venturing out into the big wide world and go iceskating!!!

I was really hesitant at first. One, I've never iceskated before, two, it's outside, and three, I've never iceskated before! "Don't worry," soothes Dana, "everyone falls over." When we arrived, I didn't see one person sitting on their ass, instead they were whizzing around like Torvill and Dean on speed! I quickly tucked my shirt into my underpants and prayed to Ice Gods.

It was an odd set up really. Every year for two months, they reel out this rink, as if they have it folded up in a stockroom somewhere, and lay it out in front of the National History Museum. Then random people from across London pop over to skate round and round and round... and round and round on the ice until their hour is up. Then that's it. We humans really are an intriguing bunch.

It was actually quite fun in the end. My brief stint as a child with rollerblades had served me well as some of the techniques successfully transferred over to the ice. In fact, it was Dana who fell over, and now has two bruises to show for it. She bruises like a peach that girl!

One thing that did infuriate me were the other skaters. I could never really get into full flow or gather any speed because there were either people going slow (some even stopped!) to close to the centre and others, affectionately know as 'The Cocks', trying to show off by weaving in and out of those less exprienced than them. This meant you had to keep stopping and starting every second. God damn people, why are there so many of them!

Back to the poker, I actually was rather fortunate during the session, which is another reason why I stopped. I won a big coinflip with Tens vs. Big Slick and chased a couple of hands that hit the River, one in particular would have raised the odd eyebrow, but I knew I'd get paid off if I hit. Either way, I shouldn't have been in the hand and I was swelling up pots unnecessary, so I left before it got messy, even if I was only 30 bucks to the good.

It's strange how a profit can make some of my stats worse, but at this point in time, the hourly and daily rates are pretty skewed and won't signify anything until later. Also, leaving early gave me the chance to have a rest, catch up on some blonde poker work and spend some quality time with the Mrs. In other words, stay out of the doghouse.

biggest pot won: $786.00
biggest pot lost: $482.40
time at the table: 1hr 58min

profit = $34.59
blonde poker account = $2,453.96
$2,546.04 to go before the tax man goes away

Days played = 8
total time played = 31 hrs 50 mins
current $ per hour = $36.25
current $ per day = $144.25

Saturday, December 29, 2007


Poker can be an emotional acticvity. Last night, I snapped at my girlfriend rather inexplicably. I may have been reading a book about the 50 most prolific serial killers at the time, most of whom lacked any sign of remorse, but I know that if I hadn't been so mentally fatigued from my day's loss at the virtual table, I wouldn't have reacted in the way I did. In this sense, I sometimes wonder if I have the characteristics to cope with the world of poker and the discomfort it can cause. If I act aggressively to those around me because of a bad day at the 'office', then should I really be going to that office in the first place?

He may not have realised he was speaking about poker at the time, but Jimmy Greaves was spot on when he stated "it's a funny old game". As my money dribbled away yesterday like sand through a colander, I knew deep down that I should stop. I knew I was playing bad, I knew I was on a slippery slope and I knew that if I quit a few hundred down, I could easily get it back the next day. However, part of me is convinced that the world is going to end by the end of the day and that this is my one and only chance to retrieve my money, it's truly bizarre, and it's the one part of my game that has been weighing me down like a metaphorical ball and chain on a husband's ankle.

So, it is with a mixture of delight and sustained "grr, I shouldn't have been in this position in the first place" self-criticism that I can report a profit of $528.41 for the day for a running total of $2,419,37. It's weird to think that a couple of days ago I would have considered the current total to be disastrous, yet, given what has happened, I am understandably elated. It's a strange part of poker and the virtual money that we play for that I'll never fully understand, and really puts out a strong reminder to us all that poker is about the long-run, rather the immediate rewards.

Today's total wasn't easily to accumulate, not by any means, and it all started so catastrophically with the dreaded misclick monster peeping out from under the bed and rearing its ugly, unwanted head. In fact, it was the very first hand I played, and resulted in me calling $200 into a $100 dollar pot with 7c-5d and a board of 7s-2h-6h-Kh-Qs. Of course, he had the flush, and of course, I was whisking the mouse over to the 'fold' button via, foolishly, the 'call' button when my finger must have suddenly decided that it couldn't handle the pressure of merely resting on the button, and duly decided to press. Oh well, it was admittedly an infuriating start, but it would have been even more exasperating if I hadn't cleaned him out a few hands later with Jacks versus A-K. Luckily, he had ants in his pants, and I was winning coin flips, which is always a satisfying feeling.

To cut a long (5 hours worth) story short, I yoyo-ed up and down, peaking at $2,500 and unpeaking at $1,650. I won a $687 pot with Qc-Tc versus As-Jd on a 4c-4s-8c-Jh-2c board where I bet every street and $413 with a set of Eights versus K-8 on an 8-J-2-2-6 board. My biggest pot came in the form of another A-K/J-J coinflip, which once again fell my way for a lucrative $770.20. My biggest loss was a bit of a cooler, Ac-Kc versus 6s-6c on a 6d-5c-9c-As-9h board for $527.40. Incredibly, we both checked the Flop, but by the time I'd re-raised on the Turn, I was pretty much committed when he pushed. Plus, he could easily have had something like A-Q.

Looking back at my blog, I considered that perhaps I had a leak somewhere because I win so many big pots compared to the ones I lose, yet not a big enough overall profit to reflect those results. However, I then realised that this was to be expected due to my aggressive nature and that those big pots (eg. the set of Eights from above) wouldn't necessarily get paid off if I didn't splash my chips around and get my fingers caught now and then.

Today was a trying day. I experienced some terrible misfortune with made hands being rivered and sets running into straights, but I relied heavily on two vital 50/50's which thankfully came through. However, what pleased me the most about today was that I played for a long period of time, yet came up trumps. Whenever I play for hours on end, it usually ends in fatigue, tilt and a loss so heavy that it would make Santa Claus seem light on his feet, so finishing over half a grand up has led to the balloons being released, my performing a ridiculous dance and a very lucky night for Mrs Beagle. See, when I win, everybody wins!

biggest pot won: $770.20
biggest pot lost: $527.40
time at the table: 5hr 35min

profit = $528.41
blonde poker account = $2,419.37
$2,580.63 to go before the tax man goes away

Days played = 7
total time played = 29 hrs 52 mins
current $ per hour = $37.47
current $ per day = $159.91

Friday, December 28, 2007


Well, no one said it was going to be easy. I've learnt the hard way that poker can be gutwrenching, demoralising and depressing all at once, and today was no different. Unfortunately, it was due to a complete lack of discipline on my part rather than any deviant intervention from the poker gods.

It all started so peachy. I was up $500 for the day, playing well, had a good meal in me and braced to start threatening that $4,000 landmark. Then, I met Markus, and it all went wrong. Sitting with just $80, I doubled him up unnecessarily when I lost my concentration and re-raised his Turn bet with a Flopped flush draw, thereby leaving myself committed and forced to call when he pushed all-in with two pair.

You know you're playing badly when your opponent turns a paltry $80 into $750 without you even quite knowing how. At this point, I was just a couple of hundred down for the day, and should have thrown in the towell. However, I refused to quit and searched for more tables, possibly because I was (1) angry at having relenquised an excellent profit for the day (2) uable to accept my first loss for the challenge or (3) upset that I had allowed such a small stack to take so much money off me. In fact, it was probably a combination of all three.

In total, I played an abusrd 9 hours and 38 minutes, the majority of which I barely took a break. I convinced myself that with it being Friday, I should play on regardless of how I felt as there would be some easy money coming my way from the recreational players. This wasn't true, and although a few weak players did cross my path, the standard remained pretty high. The overwhelming factor, though, was that I was simply playing terrible poker and would have lost my money to pretty much any level of player.

I have mixed feelings at the moment. One is anger at myself for failing to quit early doors, and the other is resignation in the fact that I've dropped all the way back down to $1,890.66 in the challenge. The biggest feeling I have, however, is that of disappointment, disappointment in wasting an entire day pissing about in front of a laptop losing money. Life really does hang by a thread, so I just hate to think that I knew it was going tits up, but chose to carry on instead of doing something more satisfying with my time like walking around Hampstead, reading a book or simply spending some time with my girlfriend instead of ignoring her like I have done thus far.

However, I also acknowledge that what is done is done, and I'm a firm believer in looking ahead rather than dwelling on the past. In that sense, I'll be taking what little positives were left from today's session: playing at lunch time is much more profitable than night, and as soon as I detect that I am making unforced errors, quit playing, whatever my alter ego is telling me.

In terms of the challenge, I am concerned that I still have over 3k to go before I can pay off the tax man, but believe my game is good enough to retrieve today's defecit. It might take me another week, but I can do it. I'm a little worried that time is running out with my trip to Bahamas coming up next week, but I'm remaining confident. I hate failing at anything in life, so I'm determined to ensure that this isn't one of them.

I won't go through every major pot in detail as it reveals too much of my play and will probably just bore you needlessly anyhow. However, here is a brief list of the 5 biggest pots I played.

(1) $724 - I called a re-raise from the button with 8d-7s, re-raised his $60 bet on a Tc-8c-7d Flop, he called the extra $270 with Ah-9c. 3d Turn, 5d River, I win.

(2) $680 - raise, reraise, re-reraise, his call before he called my £290.60 push on a 3c-Qc-5h Flop. I had Ac-Ah, he had Ad-Qd, 2s Turn, 3s River, I win.

(3) $668.40 - He raised pre-flop from button with Ac-Jd, I called with 6d-4d, checked an Ad-£d-9d Flop, he bet $20, I raised to $60, he pushed for $263.20 more, I called. As Turn, 6s River, I win.

(4) $442 - I called a re-raise from the button with 9c-8s, re-raised his $48 bet on a 3h-8c-8h to $96, he made it $198, I pushed, he folded.

(5) $428 - I raise button with 8s-5s, he calls with 8c-8d, he check-calls 5h-8h-Jd Flop before check-raising the Kc Turn, I call Turn and $124 on the Ad River, I lose.

Makes you wonder how I lost all that money when I won 4 of the 5 biggest pots, doesn't it? The most worrying thing, however, is that if I'd lost hand (3), I think I would have blown everything in my account.

Bah Humbug!

biggest pot won: $724.00
biggest pot lost: $428.00
time at the table: 9hr 38min

profit = -$1,137.47
blonde poker account = $1,890.96
$3,109.04 to go before the tax man goes away

Days played = 6
total time played = 24 hrs 17 mins
current $ per hour = $20.63
current $ per day = $98.49

Thursday, December 27, 2007


Fortunately, our vigilante from yesterday was nowhere to be seen today, so hopefully his crusade to block me from every $2/4 table on ipoker was only temporary. However, just because Bruce Banner took the odd day off, it didn't mean he wasn't liable to go snooker loopy again, so I won't count my chickens just yet.

It got me to thinking - what would I do if this guy really did set out on a more long-term personal vendetta and make it his personal mission to stop me playing any games of heads-up unless it was against him? Is there anything I could do? Is he entitled to sit down at every single table? Is he allowed to follow me around incessantly? It's scary, but there are people out there who are prepared to go to these extents, and there really is nothing in online poker to prevent it from happening.

I have no problem admitting that he was a good player, and one that I wouldn't want to be forced to play. He was aggressive, difficult to read, and clearly playing at a level that he was super comfortable with. This unnerved me, and was the reason why I exited stage left. Also, why should I waste my time playing sharks when so many fishes roam the sea?

I honestly doubt he can be bothered now, but if he did decide to try and fuck it all up for me, then I'd have three options - either play another site, change my moniker or try and take him on, whether that be with the aid of a superior player to me, or via my own intensive homework on the guy. I hope no opponent ever makes me pick any of those options, which is why it doesn't hurt to be friendly with the good players. So, Annette_15, Mr Antonius, Sorel Mizzi - I think you're swell! :-)

My session today was pretty limited, as I found it increasingly hard to find a game. There seemed to be a lot of decent players floating about, and all the $2/4 tables were taken, which doesn't make sense to me. It's understandable if they all have one player seated, but if they're full, why not have more available at all times?

I did lurk on a $3/6 table hoping someone would sit with $400 or less. The full whack wouldn't have been catastrophic, as I've played a fair few hours at $3/6 and feel pretty comfortable at that level. This, hopefully, will make that jump from $2/4 easier if I ever decide to step up the ladder. It also means I have absolutely no qualms about $2/4 and can bully my opponents into the ground without worrying about the money if, say, I have to refill multiple times. I suppose playing at $5/10 and losing a $5k pot helps.

I don't recall any hands worthy of your viewing time today, but if it's a case of steady as she goes, then I'm happy with that, I'm not in the Bluescouse kennel just yet so don't need every pot to be a monster.

I'm still delighted to be up though, even if it's just $178.80 squid. One chap was a little awkward. I was $200 down to him at one point after he sat with $180, and even though I almost left, I just felt he had weaknesses I could exploit. So I stuck at it, kept my head and managed to felt him for that $200 and the original $180, minus the table tax. Spotting which players I can eventually beat and which will fleece me for even more is a truly tough skill to develop, but it's of the utmost importance, and, thankfully, I feel like I'm getting better at it.

Heads-up isn't always the most entertaining of poker forms as it can all become rather repetitive at times. Luckily, the human mind can be a tentative, emotional one, and I continue to be amused by some of the twaddle I read in the chatbox. I'm often being called a fish, so it doesn't bother me. In fact, I secretly love it when they go off on one, because it means I can publish it here, like this chap who started off making sense before ranting in tongues. I feel sorry for the letter 'n', it seems to have been singled out for quite a bashing in his momentary rage. I really should point out some of their awful grammatical mistakes though, if they're going to insult me, at least make it legible.

Mentalist: unreal
Mentalist: your lucky
Mentalist: incredible
Mentalist: ppppppssssss
Mentalist: fuclk
Mentalist: do not possible
Mentalist: nciowqdnfc wqerb
Mentalist: yetbvdtybrtv
Mentalist: nyur
Mentalist: n n hr y
Mentalist: n
Mentalist: h r
Mentalist: yn
Mentalist: y
Mentalist: nry
Mentalist: n
Mentalist: r
Mentalist: n

Another chap (yes, I really do attract them) was all nicey nicey for the whole game, before I eventually took him for the shrapnel he sat with. I was hoping he'd take it all in his stride and type 'good game' in the chatbox like an honourable gent. Unfortunately, it would appear as though our blossoming friendship was to come to an abrupt end as he simply wrote the word 'retard' before departing. Ah, I guess there really are no friends in poker.

biggest pot won: $293.00
biggest pot lost: $192.00
time at the table: 1hr 10min

profit = $178.80
blonde poker account = $3,020,43
$1,979.57 to go before the tax man goes away

Days played = 5
total time played = 14 hrs 39 mins
current $ per hour = $117.44
current $ per day = $344.09

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


I didn't think I'd be able to wangle it, but sweet baby Jesus of Nazareth, I managed to fit in some online poker over the festive period and can proudly boast two hours of Boxing Day heads-up fun and frolics. With Dana failing to rise until the eyebrow raising hour of 5pm, I tip-toed into my bedroom like a ballerina at the Nutcracker and hit the $2/4 tables with the enthusiasm of a child opening his Wii the day prior.

Again, I was pretty pleased with the way I played. I kept my focus and targeted the weaker players instead of venturing towards potentially stronger players when the action dried up. In terms of pots, my strategy of picking off shorter stacks is, not surprisingly, decreasing the size of my biggest pot, which was $441.20 today. Who would have thought a speculative pre-flop raise with 6-3o would clean someone out? Well it did, and after betting every street of a Q-5-4-7-6 rainbow board, my unfortunate victim was unable to release Pocket Sixes after a cruel Turn and River. Still, he never once popped out a raise, so I guess my agression was rewarded. Always makes me laughs when hands just get worse and worse for our capeless crusaders.

More notably, my smallest pot has remained thankfully small, which is, again, a sign that I am staying away from the big wigs. I did cross the wrong guy at one point though, when a a player that I had locked horns with before but didn't appear to have any notes on sat down at my table. His uber aggression had me in knots for the opening hands and quickly saw me down by $100 plus. However, he made a mistep on one hand and paid me that 100 bucks back, plus a little juice. At this point, I decided that I was uncomfotable with his unpredicable play and incessant pot swelling and decided to sit out.

Unfortunately, even though we were close to even for our brief bout, he didn't seem to take my departure too well and proceeded to follow me around ipoker, sitting down at any table I played at. In order to deter this personal vendetta, I tried to tell him that it was a compliment, but he was clearly snorting fire like the Incedible Hulk in a post office queue as he opened up every available $2/4 table and sat down, thus meaning that I coudn't get in the game unless I played him, which I didn't want to do. Sigh!

Meanwhile, other oddities were occuring in my chatbox. One opponent went ape at me for three lines, even using capitals, which is always a sign that they've lost it. His moans were unjustified, incidentally, he was a poor player and I'd been far from Kucky. I suppose typos are inevitable when you're bashing down on the keyboard like a pianist on smack.

Villain: FIXED
Villain: FISH

Then, later on, when I was in the Danny La Rue (rhyming slang for 'loo' - just made it up!), I returned to see this gobbledygook waiting for me in the chatbox. I've never played against or crossed paths with this mentalist, but he seemed to have a Christmas message for me. If anyone can work out which bit is saying "I hope you had a good Christmas", then please let me know.

Mentalist: lol
Mentalist: losee loser
Mentalist: men
Mentalist: little sexs
Mentalist: ahahahahahahahahaah^$$*
Mentalist: good or no good

Anyhow, back to business, I was up $329.37 for the day, which is awesome considering I only squeezed in a couple of hours before SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed) showed her coffee-hungry face. Meanwhile, I've added a couple of pointless stats regarding my current form. They're pretty much irrelevant at this stage and could completey change after one carcrash of a session, but they make me feel good about myself and I wanted to inflate my head as much as possible before I run into that inevitable losing session. 4 wins in a row, it's bound to come, for once I'm going to be prepared.

biggest pot won: $441.20
biggest pot lost: $119.00
time at the table: 2hrs 14mins

profit = $329.37
blonde poker account = $2,841,63
$2,138.37 to go before the tax man goes away

Days played = 4
total time played = 13 hrs 29 mins
current $ per hour = $114.34
current $ per day = $385.41


My Christmas was nothing of note. I received some lovely presents, had a wonderful meal and spent some valuable time with my girlfriend, but in terms of what I read this morning on the blondepoker forum, it was barely worth mentioning.

Unfortunately, not everyone had as enjoyable a Christmas as me. A good friend of mine, and fellow live updater, Rod 'Junglecat' Stirzaker, lost his father yesterday on Christmas Day. His mother lost her battle against cancer last Summer, so the poor guy has been orphaned in the space of several months.

Reading about his loss, it made me think about the irrelevance of a silly challenge to pay off the tax man and the value of money, which, as long as you are happy and have your family and friends around you, really isn't worth much in the grand scheme of things.

I hope he doesn't mind, but I've decided to reprint his thoughts on my blog so as to serve as a reminder that not everyone in the world had a happy Christmas. Please do take the time read it...

I'm not sure why I find myself writing this post but I feel like I need to get a little bit of stuff off my chest so I hope you will bear with me whilst I do.

2007 has not been a great year for me and my family. My mum died in the summer after a long, protracted battle against cancer. She beat it off twice but the third time proved one step too far and the aggressive chemotherapy she was treated with, left her weak, hairless and in pain during her last few moments. She was a very popular woman though my mum, and had her many friends and family round her bedside during all of her last moments on earth which was some comfort for our family as that is what she would have wanted.

Since my Mum's death, my dad has struggled a lot. He was very reliant on my mum in a lot of ways. His social life was built around what she organised, she cooked him healthy meals and provided a companion for him. My dad was always a very private man, a highly intelligent mathematician and physicist, he sometimes struggled to relate to other people as he found himself frustrated by their inabililty to grasp the complexities of science and philosophy as easily as he could. As a result he tended to have few friends and relied on my mum for much of his social contact. Once she was gone, he withered really, both mentally and physically. He was already in a fairly bad physical state, having had a triple heart bypass five years ago, and a gangrenous toe removed last year, caused by bad circulation brought about by diabetes.

In the last six months, whenever I travelled to london to visit him, he always emphasised that he didn't feel he had much time left. This is not a pleasant thing to hear from your own dad, but it proved prophetic...

Just under two weeks ago, he was admitted to hospital after being found wandering around ealing broadway confused and bewildered. The doctors ascertained he had suffered a heart attack but he was also suffering from an infection caused by a further recurrence of a gangrenous toe and perhaps most crucially, his kidneys were beginning to fail. He was treated well at hammersmith hospital but given the array of problems affecting his major organs and that most of the fight had been sucked out of him by my mum's death, it was clear that it was just a matter of time till he passed away.

That time arrived yesterday. Me and my older brother, with whom I was spending christmas, travelled up in the morning to see him at the hospital. We brought along some presents, intending to let him celebrate christmas as he had always enjoyed it immensely.

On arrival things looked bad. He was in a comatose state and the doctor explained that he felt my father was dying. I looked at my dad lying there. He had been an excellent sportsman in his youth, playing cricket and football at a high level, yet he now looked weak as a baby, with tubes poking out of various areas of him, struggling for breath and with several foul-looking, blackened, necrotic toes poking out of the end of his white bed sheets. An hour or so later, he took one last gasp, stopped breathing and as we all realised the futility of even trying to resuscitate him, I cried for the first time since my mum had died six months ago.

Various things went through my head as I stared at his lifeless body...I remembered my dad suppporting me when I was younger, taking me to Judo for 15 years, watching proudly as I played rugby for my school and London Welsh. I remembered stupid things he had done like showing off to us when we were kids by pretending to shove a prickly piece of coral into his head, before misjudging it and connecting, leaving him yelping and running off to fetch a bandage to stem the bleeding whilst me and my brother rolled around in fits.

I also felt some guilt at not having been there for him more during the six months after my mum's death. I remembered one occasion where I went to see him in this time. Typically when i travelled back to london, I would cook a roast dinner for my dad as he loved that, and didn't have the culinary skill required to ever make a meal like that for himself.

This time though, I felt tired and sleepy and couldn't be bothered to make a full roast so I just made some cheese on toast, knowing my dad wouldn't complain and would like it, but also knowing he would far prefer the roast.

Looking back at this, i felt so guilty and selfish that I didn't put more effort in. I really wish I'd made the roast now.

I feel slightly numbed now as I struggle to contemplate that both my parents are gone. I guess really I am lucky that I still have two brothers, who I am very close to.

I'm not typically given to coming out with maudlin, self-indulgent revelations like the one above but I felt like I needed to put this out in print, just to give some airing to the complex, conflicting swirl of emotions going on beneath me.

Although the tone of above is somewhat grey and depressing, I do feel that some good things have been highlighted in the last few days.

After we finished up at the hospital, myself, my older brother and his wife drove back to his house in maidenhead where I made a big roast with all the trimmings. As I cooked the meal I was attacked by my young nephew and niece, 3years and 18 months old respectively.

Although I haven't seen loads of my niece since she was born, she seems to have a strong bond with me and kept running over requesting to be picked up so she could fall asleep on my shoulder. I watched Alex and Simone fighting over their presents and generally running around like lunatics, screaming , shouting and clearly having a brilliant time and I thought that would have been exactly what me and my brothers would have done 25 years ago or so...

Life goes on. For the two deaths of my parents there are the two new lives of my brother's kids, exuberant and eager to take on all the challenges of the world. At a somewhat depressing time, these sparks of joy shone a light into the darkness I was feeling and went some way to turning my tears of sadness into smiles. At this moment after the past year, there is no price you can put on this, and no words that can relay the comfort the two little people have given me.

Thanks Alex and Simone and RIP my Mum and Dad, two of the best people I've ever met.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Every year's the same. I plan to buy all these cool, imaginative presents online, but before I know it, it's Christmas Eve and I'm racking my brains trying to think what my friends and family won't have to feign elation (bless them) upon opening. Socks, CDs, DVDs aren't much good in the Beagle household, has to be something imaginative otherwise it'll look like you haven't put the effort in. As for book tokens and that old "now you can decide which one you want" excuse - crikey, just give 'em the money! Gosh, when did the standard get so high?

At least I don't have to purchase stocking fillers anymore. For a few years, we had this zany idea that each family member would have a stocking and everyone would buy two presents to go in each one. How my parents got their foot into that door, I'll never know, but I'm glad it's a thing of the past, as it was a pain in the ass and just led to more trapsing around a crowd-infested shopping mall. Thank God for last minute trips to John Lewis!

So, after just five hours sleep and a miserable day in Birmingham city centre searching in vain for something 'original', I didn't particularly feel like playing poker. However, with my parents likely to slap me across the chops with a wet kipper if I play on Christmas Eve, and Dana likewise on the 25th, I thought I'd get my head straight and squeeze in a couple of hours.

Not much really to report, except that those initial couple of hours turned into four with the ol' blonde account yoyo-ing up and down for ages like a squash ball on a bungee. I did play some truly bizzare players, and ones in which you can't help but ask yourself, "Are they real?".

One guy was a calling station if you bet, and a betting machine if you checked. He seemed to do this whatever his cards, and his bets were never the pot. In the end, it was simply a case of waiting for a hand and betting each street, and trying to avoid calling each street with marginal hands. This went on for a while, but he didn't change his game. It would have been a masterstroke if he suddenly started to utilise his image and altered his game as I would have been tied up in knots. This is often a great way to tilt someone, because they never know what you have and will stay in the game because of your previously fishy play.

To give you one example of a hand, I raised it up to $20 pre-flop with As-Ks and he called from the button. I checked the Ah-Td-3d Flop hoping that he'd bet out, as he so often did and I could call it down, but he checked behind me. I then bet $36 on the 6s Turn, and then $100 on the 2s River, knowing that he'd call with any pair, and maybe even just King high. He called and showed 3s-2h. Grr! In the past, this would have pissed me off no end, and I may have became impatient and started raising unnecessarily and calling the streets down with hands like second pair.

Fortunately, I didn't do this, and he wasn't a cute enough player to make the change to his game to catch me off guard, so I ended up cleaning him out. It had become so predictable, and so mechanical, that I even opened up another table to multi-table heads-up for the first time ever. Incredibly, the second player was almost as bad, except that instead of being a calling station, he was a folding station and I was just able to batter him down without him ever really grabbing his balls and playing back at me.

In the end, I finished just over $500 up. As you can see from the size of my biggest pot, it really was a matter of grinding away patiently, whether it be slowly chipping away at the folding station by betting at every opportunity or taking multiple pots off the first guy by just betting every street when I found a hand. A true grindathon, but I was glad I managed to keep at it as it wasn't a quick process, and there were times when my hands were rivered, which resulted in my desperately trying to control my frustration.

At one point, my mother called me down for tea with the family, but I was tied against another calling station (although not quite as bad) and didn't want to give him up as he still had $300 on the table and it felt like free money. I initially said that I'd be down in five, but that five minutes soon passes. I didn't want to throw him back in the sea, so I rang the house phone from my mobile and asked my mom, who had been slaving over a hot stove, a very awkward question: " Will it keep?" We've all been there, haven't we?... I need help!

biggest pot won: $176.00
biggest pot lost: $156.00
time at the table: 4hrs 25mins

profit = $451.86
blonde poker account = $2,512.26
$2,487.74 to go before the tax man goes away.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Went to the chiropractor's the other day with a painful coccyx injury only to be told that my posture is terrible and needs to be rectified before it leads to major problems. This is easier than it sounds as I spend most of my time slouched in a chair, either working, playing poker or watching TV. Today my upper back was causing me terrible pain, so I was pretty miserable and probably shouldn't have played until later in the day. They do reckon there is a quick fix to my damaged coccyx, but the phrase 'via the rectum' soon put me off that idea.

This dude sat down with the max of $400. I'd never played him before, so thought I'd give it a crack. People who join tables are normally weaker than the snakes that lurk in the bushes. However, this guy was good, no complaints. Yes, he did have cardrackitus, and I couldn't hit a cow's ass with a banjo (who the hell gave birth to that phrase?), but my head just wasn't in the game and he took me to school. He was unpredictable, tight but aggressive and great at value betting. It was one of those games where I genuinely thought he could see my cards - whatever I did, it was the wrong move. My timing hasn't been that bad since the time I asked a girl I'd just slept with if she knew what herpes was. Okay, that's a joke, I would never do that, and I certainly don't have herpes. Got crabs though.

It's made me think twice about the value of playing those who enter the game with the max. On average, they just seem to be better, so unless I know them to be fishes, I'll probably just sit out in future and wait for a smaller stack that I can bully easier.

At one stage, I was over seven hundred down to this guy in less than an hour. Sigh, pretty demoralising to lose yesterday's profit in such a short time. I was gonna head off, but I was starting to screw my neck in and was gradually picking up a few reads. I thought that if I could just hit a nice hand, I could make some of my money back. Last hand - found Kings, raised it up and hit a set on an all heart K-9-x Flop. I bet out on the Flop and again on the blank Turn, at which point he made a big chunky re-raise. I pushed and he called with K-9, no hearts, so that was that, no chance of a bad beat. He left straight away, so he's not stupid, which is why I won't be playing him again. Pretty irrelevant now, but I thought he played the hand poorly - he obviously thought I was still steaming, which is what I was hoping he'd think. Neverless, I've marked him down as 'Avoid' and will aim to flee from the table quicker in future if I identify a player of his ability.

Was still down after that encounter, but clawed it back. One mug had me beat for quite a while, but he was pretty loose and couldn't seem to lay down hands, so I kept plugging away until I eventually cleaned him out for a $900 plus pot with T-9 vs. 8-6 on a Q-7-6-8-2 board. He played it terribly including calling an all-in on the River when it was an obvious fold, any other player and I probably would have value bet instead. Also felted some fish who sat with $250 but decided to shove it all-in pre-flop with K-J when I limp re-raised from the button with Kings. I guess he was in a festive mood. Either way, he's now top of my exclusive buddy list. If I can hunt him down again, it'll be goose on Tuesday instead of turkey.

That last win put me up by $100 or so for the day. I decided to stop at that point because I felt that if I dipped below what I started the day with, I would become frustrated and start chasing... and losing. Also, I hadn't eaten since last night's steak, which is never a good idea.

No chat to report I'm afraid, no one wanted to speak to me and I was busy trying to find the 'aids' guy to tell him that I was still alive.

I'm relieved to be up for the day, but simultaneously disappointed that it's only a few bucks. Xmas is upon us and it's hard to find time to play without appearing rude - family and friends don't always realise that this is part of my earnings.

biggest pot won: $913.00
biggest pot lost: $291.00
time at the table: 2hrs 17mins

profit = $140.24
blonde poker account = $2,060.40
$2,939.60 to go before the tax man goes away.

Friday, December 21, 2007


I don't post much about my online game, but I do play regularly. I used to make a nice tidy sum on Party Poker pre-US ban playing 6-handed $1/2 and $2/4 ring games. In fact, I found it such a doddle that I could just dip in and out at pretty much any time without any real need to pay attention, make notes on my opponents or study my game in Poker Tracker.

However, post-ban has been a different story, and the lack of numbers on Party have really affected my income dramatically. I can still make money, but not as much. Less players mean table selection is harder and almost every table has one or two tough players, many of whom will have made notes on me. With my work in journalism taking up so much time, I am unable to dedicate enough of my life to conquering these games and making the profit that I was before.

With this in mind, I recently turned my attention to heads-up poker to see if I can turn a bigger profit. They always says it costs to learn, and the same applies here because I reckon I've dropped a few thousand learning a few painful, but hopefully fruitful lessons. In that sense, I reckon I'm learning fast and can now make a profit playing $2/4. I tried all sorts of levels from $0.50/1 to $5/10 (including losing a $5k pot!) and even one disastorous attempt at $10/20, but concluded that $2/4 was the most profitable and attracted the most fish.

I won't go into depth about my views of heads up strategy or my own personal approach, but I believe I am now better equipped to start turning a nice profit. Naturally, variance is a big factor in heads up, but I reckon I'm heading in the right direction and every time I take a big hit, it's usually a combination of bad beats/coolers AND poor play/decision making. I'm gradually learning how to eliminate the latter.

Considering I received that stonking tax bill the other day, I thought I'd test myself and see if I could turn $1k into $5k, that $5k being enough to pay the liabilty for January 31st. I have lots of Xmas shopping to do this week and the Bahamas EPT to work at the start of January, so it's going not going to be easy, especially if the luck doesn't fall my way in the big pots. I've already got going on this, and did reach the dizzy heights of $3,600, but that was before yesterday's deathdrop.

As I do this, I shall post some quick snappy entries in here. I normally pen a chunkier entry every week or so, so this will hopefully make for a slightly different read. I risk becoming a less famous/popular, low roller version of Ed 'BlueScouse' Hollis, but it could be fun for a week or two so let's give it a crack.

Anyhow, after losing $2.3k last night, I won circa $650 back today. I didn't play particularly well, but good enough to be satisfied with my performance. After the bad beats and coolers of yesterday, it was nice to win a coinflip, although how two half-decent players got it in pre-flop with A-K and 9-9 I'm not sure.

I played a very unpredictable player for ages, and he was making some truly bizarre plays. One saw him push all-in on a 3h-3d-8d Flop with Deuces for $318 - there was only $48 in the pot! I duly called with 4s-3s and took it down. Later on, when I thought I had him in the shit, I Flopped trips with A-5 on a Ks-5c-5d Flop. I bet out, he raised and I called. I bet less than half the pot on the 4d Turn putting him on a middling pocket pair and hoping to keep him in. He called. River was a 3d, I pushed all-in for $295 into a $200 pot hoping to make it look like a desperate bluff, but he instacalled with 9d-8d. Ouch.

The funniest hand of the day was a fortunate one for me. I was on the button with Q-J after some pre-flop action. We both checked the 9s-8c-3c Flop, before I check-raised him on the 7h Turn hoping he would fold. He smooth called and then shoved in on the Th River with Pocket Jacks. Of course, I called and took down a nice pot.

I didn't like the way he played it, but it probably wasn't the best of times to say so as the subsequent chat shows:

Villain: luckyDONKEY
Villain: PEOPLE
Villain: LIKE U
Villain: SHOULD
Villain: DIE BY AIDS
Villain: FICK DICH
Hero: last few hands for me i think
Villain: FUCKKKK YOu
Hero: ?
Villain: OPFFFF
Villain: hit and run
Villain: GO AWAY
Hero: i have to have my dinner shortly
Hero: i think it's steak

I wasn't really planning on leaving, and steak wasn't initially on the menu, but I wanted him to think he didn't have long to try and get his money back and shove in the rest of his dosh on a marginal hand. He did ship it in, but had a flush draw against my top set. I filled up on the Turn and he scarpered.

Hope this entry was interesting. Let me know if it was and I'll carry on doing them, although probably with few hand desriptions as I don't like telling people how I play hands.

biggest pot won: $809.80
biggest pot lost: $789.60
time at the table: 3hrs 33mins

blonde poker account = $1,920.16
$3,079.74 to go before the tax man goes away.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Do blogs read better when the author pens his entry right after a big loss? Well, that's what has just happened to yours truly, a $2.3k loss in one night a chunky addition to what I owe the tax man. I'm not overly fussed, mainly because I've just lost what I made in the last three days playing heads up, so know I can get it back. Also, it was the result of a few nasty coolers/bad beats. I initially wrote them out in this line, but suddenly realised that it was (1) pointless and (2) of no interest to anyone, including myself.

However, the bottom line is that I didn't play well, and after a long fought out week of disciplined poker, made one crucial error - I played good players when no bad ones were available. And instead of scarpering once I received my cooler or bad beat, I re-filled and played on, which is stupid, because the sharks will skin me alive.

I knew tonight was coming, and I fought I was prepared, but I guess I wasn't. I think I just got greedy after such a good run. Anyhow, it hurts to take so many steps back, but I have to just accept it and go through the motions again. Back to the drawing board tomorrow - I'm confident I can get that $2.3k back by Christmas. I'll let you know if I do...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


... has been courtesy of the tax man who this morning, via my accountant, informed me that I owe £3.3k (3.5k inc. accounting fee) in liability for the new year. Ouch.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


After two years, millions of pounds and the odd heart bypass, Rob Yong and his team finally opened the Dusk Till Dawn doors on Wednesday 28th November. Unfortunately for the masses, this was an invitation only occasion and as a notable (ahem) member of the ‘media’, I was able to blag my way though the doors and witness first-hand what all the fuss was about.

As a former student of Nottingham University, I knew the area relatively well and reminisced on fond memories past as I heard the faint beating sound of cheesy house music emanating from the crappy neighbouring building that I used to frequent.

But whilst several years ago, I might have been vomiting up a kebab in the car park and allowing my beer goggles to chat up girls with more facial hair than a Yeti, today I was here for rather different matters, and those of the more sober kind. Yes, today was the big unveiling, the result of years of blood, sweat and tears, and I couldn’t wait to see what it had produced.

With fuchsia trainers donned, I was as anxious as an underage teenager preparing to unveil his fake ID as I passed the two security guards outside, my defence of “they’re fashion, not sportswear” braced to fall on stony ground, but, to my elation, they let me pass without apprehension. Inside, there was already a long queue of nosey parkers… I mean keen media members, all waiting to get their hands on one of those shiny black membership cards and feast their eyes on the delights that lay inside.

As I stepped through the glass doors for the very first time, I was not only greeted by select norkage handing out free glasses of champagne (bah, I drove!), but also an endless sea of tables forming an arched amphitheatre effect. To the immediate right was the bar and restaurant, along with a row of computer terminals, and on the left was the VIP Room and toilets.

The first figure I spotted was the unmistakable sight of Nick Whiten (right) running around like a headless chicken attempting to juggle two jobs: making sure the night ran smoothly and pursuing in small talk with his guests. As a suited and booted Rob Yong swanned in with a tired, but relieved expression, I also spotted the rest of the DTD crew in Yogi, dik9, Actionjack, Paul Zimbler, Chubbs, Adam O’Connell and Simon Trumper, the latter of whom was clearly in his element and enjoying the challenge. Trumper’s a top fella with a heart of gold, so best of luck to him.

Whilst I caught sight of Thewy, Womble and Simon Zach in the queue, also present were Jammer, Nick Wright, M Power, El Blondie, Chili, tikay, Nick Hicks, Fran Creed, Barry Carter, Mel Lofthouse, to name just a few, so there was a real community spirit in the air. But community or not, when Rob Yong announced a free bar due to the current lack of an alcohol license, the mere idea of ‘friendship’ was swiftly brushed aside as everybody raced to the bar, elbows ready to take a neighbour out if required.

Meanwhile, fruit juice in hand, I treated myself to a brisk tour of the joint. The place is very open plan, and predominantly captured in one single room, but the VIP room, which I believe is now reluctantly known as Rob’s room, lurked provocatively in the corner and I couldn't resist a quick peak.

Like most aspects of the cardroom, the attention to detail in the VIP room was remarkable. Magazines lay neatly across the table, drinks sat patiently in a central dip of the table (left) and a gleaming, and highly amicable might I add, barman greeted me as I entered. The room was cool, suave and sophisticated, and best of all, led on to a private poker table that looked out onto the rest of the cardroom. But do you really want people holding glasses up against the window and steaming up the sheen with their murky breath, I hear you cry. Well, not only is the room soundproof, but one flick of a switch and the windows go black. You can see them, but they can’t see you. Awesome, just like a James Bond film.

I didn’t get to taste the Nottingham cuisine of the restaurant and the bar was your average run of the mill bar, but I do remember the toilets being big enough to swing ten cats in and possessed a peculiar smell of biscuits. I checked for Chubbs munching away in a cubicle, but saw no sign of him or any trail of crumbs, but I did spot the all-important flush censor. Why pull when you can hover? Hmm, that sounds like a slogan for a dogging organisation.

Back in the cardroom, Rob Yong was addressing the crowd, thanking his team and adding, “It doesn’t look like much, just a few poker tables, but you wouldn’t believe the trouble we’ve had getting them in here.” And after the two Nicks had been presented a trophy for their efforts, the ribbon was cut by Rob’s mother, which I’m sure was an emotional moment for all involved.

“Shuffle up and deal,” announced Rob, and everyone ambushed the cardroom, ready for the media comp to commence. A new style of tournament clock hit the screen and the draw was displayed. Apart from my brother, I didn’t recognise anybody at my table, and I question how many of them were actually involved with the press (cough, splutter), but I expect many were simply friends of Rob who hadn’t necessarily played much poker.

One of those was seated next to me – a real, “oh, what the heck, who cares, it’s only a game” type of players. Well, although I wasn’t as amusingly disgruntled as one player whose pocket Tens had been outdrawn by his Q-4 all-in pre-flop, I was admittedly disappointed to be one of many victims of beginner’s luck. With our friend limping under-the gun and another player min raising, I decided to make a big overbet with Kings in the small blind. The rookie called, and it came an all heart Flop. I pushed, he called with Ah-2h and that was all she wrote – a debut to match the Shockmaster’s (one for the few wrestling fans there).

Although the tournament ran relatively smoothly for a first outing, I did notice that the dealers seemed a bit on edge and perhaps lacking the required experience. Our one made a few unforced errors at times and seemed unsure of certain rulings, but it’s early doors, and with Luton’s Alistair, Blackpool’s Kate and former Broadway supervisor dik9 at the felt, they’ll have more experience in that room than a Countdown audience.

The eventual winner of the tournament, I believe, was Ladbrokes’ Nigel Turver. He was joined on the final table by none other than Paul Jackson’s daughter, showing her pops how it’s done. She’s the spit of him, it’s bizarre. Not sure why though, could be the distinctive nose – it’s certainly not the good looks!

One of the things I love about DTD is the post-match action, ranging from big Omaha cash games to low level STT’s. Following the Vegas trend, the waiting lists are efficiently listed on the plasma screen and your name called out when your seat opens. I played two STTs, along with Pokernews’ Barry Carter, but again, these were fruitless experiences, coming 4th and 5th for nothing but a thinning wallet.

Whilst everyone was friendly, smiley and generally having a good time, the slightly hollow atmosphere of what, admittedly, is an enormous room, as the crowd dispersed was a slight concern. Fill it with an EPT or WPT cast and it’ll be buzzing, but with just 60 or so players a night tucked up in one corner, it could echo the seven dwarves stranded in the Grand Canyon.

After my pockets were empty and my morale in smithereens, I said my goodbyes, thanked Nick for the invite and hospitality, made my way through the safe (no more Gala dungeons!) car park and headed back down the M1 for the long, tedious two hour journey.

Overall, my stay at DTD had been a pleasant one, but one that had satisfied expectations rather than surprised me. The DTD saga has been ongoing for so long now that I felt I knew the club before I’d even been there. Like most, I was an avid reader of Rob’s diary and had followed the trials and tribulations of his seemingly endless struggle with a very keen eye, so already knew what the place was going to be like and how it was intended to be run. And from first viewing, they’ve certainly followed up on those initials promises.
Personally, I'm not a big fan of directly comparing individual cardrooms to DTD because the latter has only been open a couple of weeks, is solely focused on a cardroom rather than a casino as a whole, and is run by poker players rather than moneymakers. However, the truth is that DTD is just what the poker doctor ordered, and will hopefully shake up the competition. The local opposition clearly see DTD as a threat to their incomes, so will hopefully respond by treating their own poker clientele better as a result. Maybe then, the trend will spread through the rest of the country, tempting other casinos to better cater for the poker community.

I fully appreciate the work put in by many cardroom staff, but often find that many of the decisions are made from over their heads, and by the big wigs in suits who lurk in the background. Unlike Rob, they’re in it for the money, and as businessmen, that’s totally understandable, but in making their profit, I feel they have underestimated the effect of poker and the ability it has to reel in large numbers, many of whom will be big house game players, into their venue.

Dusk Till Dawn is, in conclusion, a magnificent creation, and although it's not round the corner from me, I fully intend to make the odd trip up to the East Midlands in support of their cause. Let’s hope DTD is a sign of things to come and the rest of the poker industry follows suit in running their establishments for the loyal customers that frequent them, rather than solely the pockets of the people who own them. Unfortunately, however, with the lure of the house games forever luring people through the doors, I’m not sure I can see that happening.

Monday, December 10, 2007


I've penned several interviews in my time with blonde, but I think my latest one with Paul 'Actionjack' Jackson is one of the more eye-opening and worthy of highlighting on this blog. As expected, Paul spoke openly, and adamantly on the subjects raised and was never afraid to say what was on his mind, and that always guarantees a superior interview.

I don't think I've ever linked to an interview on this blog, but feel they are strong points of the blonde poker Main Site. With that in mind, please feel free to have a gander at some of the interviews I have undertaken over the last year or two by clicking the appropriate links below:

Paul Jackson

Isabelle Mercier

Jon Kalmar

Neill Kelly

Dave Colclough

Chris Moneymaker

Bertrand Grospellier

Michael Langley

Greg Raymer

Joe Beevers

Simon Trumper

JP Kelly

Julian Thew

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


... is dump $800 to some lucky chap on a $10/20 game. He was sitting with a minimum of $400, so I did the same. It didn't click how steep those blinds actually were, but he obviously knew what he was doing. Bullied me off the table, I played scared poker, kept topping back up to $400 before doing $800 worth. Just shows how important playing at your comfort level is and how much more important the blinds are in that respect than the stack you have in front of you. What a fucking waste of money. What's most annoying is that I have reached some tiny deposit limit on blonde which says I can't take out any more money unless I send them all my credit card details. Pft.

What a donkey, it's even put me off going to Luton tomorrow.


Spoke to a guy from customer support who sorted out the deposit limit problems. I don't know how much I can stick in now, but I've decided to shove in $1,000 and try and build it up gradually - a back to basics plan of sorts.

I'm playing heads-up at the moment and trying to see if I can make it profitable. I reckon I can, but at the moment I am playing such bad poker that I'm losing on blonde. Tempted to stick to 6-handed on Party, which I know I can win at, but I remain adamant that heads-up can be more lucrative if I just get my head right.

This includes doing my homework on people, utilising Poker Tracker more and choosing my opponents more carefully. Most importantly, however, I need to improve my fitness levels. I don't know what it is with me, but that seems to be the most important factor to when I'm playing well or not, to the extent that it's even putting me off going to Luton tomorrow for the £200er. I'll see how I feel tomorrow, but I can't keep throwing away money when I'm not playing my 'A' game.

It's true when they say that it can cost money to learn how to play, and the same applies with heads-up poker, but I'm going to keep at it and see what happens. I think I have to start winning soon though otherwise I won't be able to carry on buying into big events such as the GUKPT. That's what I love to do, it's just a shame variance plays such a huge part.

I think the best thing to do is wait until I've finished updating the Luton Christmas Cracker at the weekend, give myself a couple of days rest during which time I write up all my notes I have on my opponents, and then give it another crack at, say, 1/2 and 2/4 instead of the 3/6 and 5/10 games I've been playing so far. It's all about discipline.