Thursday, March 27, 2008


A few people have been asking me when I'm going tp publish some of the interviews I've done this year, well, one of them, my surreal encounter with Humberto Brenes, has just been uploaded onto the blonde poker homepage. Also there is my one-on-one will super geek Bill Chen, not to mention Floppy's recent exchange with EPT Prague victor and French frogster Arnaud Mattern. To read any of those interviews, please click the links below.

Humberto Brenes

Bill Chen

Arnaud Mattern

For those of you who subscribe to poker magazines, or, like me, have a tendancy to stand there shamelessly reading them in Borders, then please feel free to check out my recent article in WPT. This month I'm discussing legendary blogger Ed Hollis, which might be of interest to you guys because, well, you read blogs, obviously, otherwise you wouldn't be reading this. I tend to be at the back of magazines, although I haven't worked out if this means anything or not. Is there a page hierarchy in mags?

In other, and deeply sadder news, I've been informed that I don't possess the biggest chops in poker. Rumour has it that John McCririck is still alive and kicking with the mega chops on full display every time he hits the felt. I may have to chop the chops while he's sleeping, or perhaps put a horse's head in his bed just to send him a message.

This is me upon receiving the bad news...

Anyhow, shameless plug over.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I haven't cut my hair since last May. As a result, I think I might have the biggest chops in poker. I knew I'd win something sooner or later.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


I started this blog in November 2005, and since then, I don’t think I’ve ever gone over two weeks without posting. Due to a challenging update at the Vic and a hectic stag do in Amsterdam, I haven’t been that interested in playing online, but the truth is that poker has bored me this month. When you both work and play poker, it can sometimes seem that your life revolves around a deck of cards. As such, burn out is always a danger.

Playing heads-up cash is a gruelling task and can, at times, be seriously demoralising. When you’re winning, everything’s peachy, but when the chips are down, it can be a depressing game. I think the repetitiveness, mammoth swings, and general lack of interaction make it a really tough game to tackle, but I remain confident I can beat it. I had a great February, but a poor March, and a succession of bad beats and bad play have left me feeling rather empty. I’m fully aware of the idea of variation, but as someone who earns money outside the realm of playing, I find it difficult to play when I’m not enjoying it and I just detest the idea that I’ve eaten up hours of my life losing money, even if I am to gain it back later on.

What triggered this post wasn’t my frustration with the tedium of poker, but LuckyLloyd’s comments on my last entry about ‘The Big Spin Up’ and taking a shot. This is a topic that has always lingered on my mind, and I’m still not sure what the best approach is for me. One day I’ll feel like shoving it all in like that dude who gambled everything he had on the spin of a wheel, whilst on other days I’m happy to grind it out in front of the lappie.

Jen opted for the former last year. Her strategy was to spend everything she had on a big comp, and then again a couple of months later until she won something. Although she was aided by sponsorship and a subsequent cash in the Ladbrokes European Ladies Championship, she eventually won the Green Joker Poker event in the summer for €30,800. Now she is playing all of the GUKPT and many major events across Europe such as the Irish Poker Open.

Personally, I don’t like the idea of being out of the game, never having a bankroll, and just hoping that when you have saved up enough cash to take a stab at a big event, it’s the one where your luck is in. The variation in tournament poker is so high, that you need to be playing multiple events, not just several a year. You could be the best player in the world, but still not find that big spin up for years.

I’ve done both. I’ve spent hours upon hours in front of the computer grinding out the cash games, I’ve also splashed out on events such as the Midlands Masters, the London GUKPT and the GJP Deepstack, but sadly to no avail. I believe I’m good enough, but coming up short on those particular occasions and not being able to afford the next GUKPT because that wasn’t ‘my time’, is ultimately rather disappointing.

Instead, I believe the most favourable approach for me is to allow the current crop of major events to pass me by, as painful as that may be, and spend as much time as a I can earning money working within the business and focusing on building up a formidable roll online. Like most people, my goal is to play the entire GUKPT tour, the World Series Main Event, the Irish Open, and so on, but I don’t want to have to rely on the big spin up, in case it just doesn’t occur. Poker should still be here in 2009, and I want to be a big part of it, so perhaps that should be my year.

A non-poker project that I’m currently involved on nearly payed off recently, but the deal fell through at the last minute. The pay off would have come at a great time and allowed me to attend many more festivals in a playing capacity than I currently do, but it wasn’t to be. I think that extra boost to the bankroll would have done me the world of good. Sometimes if you’re playing a major event knowing that it might be your last opportunity to win big for a few months, it can hamper your confidence, and I think that’s another reason why the idea of gambling on a big spin up isn’t for me.

The upcoming weeks are going to be pretty chaotic for me and won’t leave me with much time to play online. I have a wedding next week, a Dusk Till Dawn update the week after, then it’s off to Monte Carlo, and then I’m on holiday in Chicago with Dana. Upon return, I’ll have a week to catch up with my work, before heading off to Vegas for a month to work on the World Series for PokerNews. As such, it looks as though my plans for building up my bankroll the old fashioned way will have to wait until July. That sounds a long time away, but at least I’ll be keeping busy and earning a bit of money in the process. The only problem is, when I get paid that money, especially the lump sum for my WSOP work, will I then spend it on, say, the GUKPTs in Luton and Bolton, the Irish Series of Poker in Waterford or even the Master Classics in Amsterdam? The brain says spend the money sensibly and grind, but I have to confess, sometimes the heart persuades me to gamble…

Friday, March 07, 2008


Last weekend I made a last ditch decision to head up to Dusk Till Dawn for the monthly £300er. I only had a couple of hours to get there, and the Ford Fiesta does tend to make a strange rumbling noise when it reaches 70, but I was in the mood to gamble.

I made it in pretty good time in the end, but when I reached down to grab my shoes, I realised that I’d accidentally picked up my toilet bag. Now, that may seem like the mistake of a simpleton, but I have a tendency to place a lot of my belongings in plastic bags, thus concealing the identity of their contents. Anyhow, imagine my shock when I tried to squeeze my feet into a toilet bag. Not only that, but I’d travelled all this way like a coked up Nigel Mansell only to risk being refused entry.

At 26, you don’t expect to experience those anxious teenage McLovin moments where you’re nervously wondering if the bar all your mates are in are going to accept your fake I.D., but that’s how I felt, and I really couldn’t bare the humiliating journey home at such short notice.

Back in my school days, one approved strategy was to beg some random lass to go in with you for extra credibility, and I thought the same could be applied here. Cue the arrival of Julian Thew. Hallelujah! Who better to go in with than an EPT/GUKPT hero and someone who had previously entered the Gala Casino in open-toed sandals and a Pauline Fowler cardigan?

With Julian by my side, I confidently approached security, but a big foreboding hand soon obstructed my path as Julian waltzed in unhampered. “Sorry, you can’t come in with trainers.” At this point, I attempted a number of different strategies, ranging from begging, lying and pleading total ignorance, but nothing seemed to work. We even debated in detail the rule about ‘no sportswear’ and whether this included my black Nike trainers. “But I’ve never played any sports in these,” I cried. Funnily enough, that didn’t seem to work. “But I’ve travelled all this way, I thought I’d be okay like this.” Nope, that was a no go too.” “But I genuinely don’t even own any shoes.” Oh gosh, this really isn’t looking good.

“I’ve only been here once, and that was at the press tournament on the opening night.” Oooooh, this perked up a few ears on the sidelines as another chap from behind the desk said, “Well, okay, we’ll say this is your first time and let you in just this once.” Phew! Even then, there still seemed to be a standoff with the first security guard seemingly stuck in refusal mode, but after the other dude repeated himself, I quietly crept in thanking my lucky stars that I didn’t have to about turn and head home.

I won’t bang on about DTD, I’ve already blogged about how great it is. Everyone is always sucking up to DTD for various reasons, so I won’t repeat myself. It’s excellent, there’s no doubt about it, so say no more, if you haven’t been, just go.

An impressive 170 players turned up. On my table were Ironside, Rana Gurnam and Lucy Rokach. I won’t bore you with my entire hand history, but will mention a couple of hands.

The first one involved Lucy. With a stack of 13k and blinds at 75/150, I raised it up to 500 with A-To and received two callers, one of whom was Lucy on the button. The Flop came Ac-Qs-7d. I checked, Lucy bet 1.5k, Mateyboy folded and I flat called. Turn was the Js. I checked again and Lucy bet 3k leaving herself just 3,150 behind.

I dwelled up for ages, which probably annoyed a few people, but I’m determined not to allow other people’s impatience to force me into making the wrong decision. In the end, I put her all-in and she called with 7s-5s which hit a 7d on the River. This obviously frustrated me, but I’d made the right decision which was ultimately the most important thing to me. It would have been easy to back out of that hand, but, as I do in online cash (hence hectic swings), I felt I was ahead and stuck with that belief. I don’t want to play scared poker.

I grinded my way back up to 17k, before dropping down to 8-10k. At this point I’d noticed that Rupert Elder was raising it up in the same sort of position each round, and was probably playing a wide range of hands, so, with blinds of 300/600, I pushed from the small blind with 9-6o after Rupert had made it 1,500. I was pretty sure he was going to fold, but he gave me a spin with 5-5 which stood up.

I’ve thought endlessly about this, and whichever way I look at it, the bottom line is that I made a mistake by overestimating the fold equity in the hand, which, considering he called with Fives, didn’t really exist unless he had was on a complete steal. I actually thought he’d only call with Nines or above, so I guess I simply misread my opponent.

Apart from that final hand, I’m really pleased with how I played in this tournament. I made few errors, read the game well and grinded when I needed to. On the other hand, I did feel kind of depressed, not because I was out, but because it reminded me of all the tournament poker I’ve been missing out on and how perhaps, if I just played more, I could take a big comp down. As someone who spends so much time working beyond the felt, I sometimes worry that the tournament scene is passing me by. I grind out a decent enough wage online, but the glory and competitive nature of tournaments is something that I find attractive. I’d hate for the poker buzz to one day disperse and find that I missed out on these opportunities and failed in my goals to play big events such as the Irish Open and World Series of Poker. Sometimes the urge to jack in all my work responsibilities and become a full time pro is overwhelming. Never say never, I’m still a gambler at heart.