Generic end of year post

As 2007 draws to a close, its tradition to blog about the year gone by and make a few goals that one will never stick to.....

So here goes.

2007 was possibly the best year of my life, if not the best than a worthy second to 2002 (I partied a lot and punched way above my weight in the opposite sex department basically). I moved in with my girlfriend, which has been brilliant. I left my old job at Norwich Union to play and write about poker and both have been financially very rewarding.

Poker highlights were probably winning a couple of big buy-in tourneys on Stars and a brief top 5 ranking in the $100-300 6 max SNG leaderboard on Sharkscope. I also had a deep finish in a GUKPT and a couple of final tables at Naps in Sheffield. The best thing was definatly my 4th place finish in the Omaha event at the Pokernews Cup in Australia – sharing a final table with Lee Nelson and Tino Lechich in my first ever Omaha tournament (I won my 2nd one the other week on Pokerstars).

So I’m not going to get too greedy with the plans for 2008, if I can replicate the last 12 months I will be happy enough. As much as I would like to win a WSOP bracelet, I’ll be aiming to find weak cash games and good value tournaments as a priority. For example, I was toying with playing every other GUKPT event this year, using my cash game rakeback – but now having seen the schedule I’m more inclined to use the bi-monthly £1000 to enter several side events on the GUKPT tour, they look that good. Especially the Omaha events, this is an area I think I have an edge in despite only being a decent PLO cash game player – plus it’s such a rare tournament game I could realistically get in the PLO European Rankings for an ego boost.
So here are a few plans for the year, if I achieve only a few I’ll be happy:

Win a Satellite
Despite playing in plenty of big events, I’ve always either bought in direct or been sponsored, I’ve never actually won an online supersat. I won my seat live in last month’s Waterford Open, but I would at least once win, maybe a GUKPT seat, just to say I have.

Win a Ranking Event
This is pure vanity, and I don’t care what the event is, but I really just want a trophy. After a 3 way chop this year in a festival at Napoleons we played just for the trophy and I went out first of the three – I really wanted that damn trophy even though I got the exact same payout. Tournaments are as much for show as they are for dough and I want to break this duck as soon as possible.

I’ve really really got into my pokertracker in the last few months and I’ve fixed a few leaks. I enjoy studying too, so I am hoping to dedicate several days a month to just studying my game and others. The harder you work the easier it gets. I'm even toying with getting some top level coaching and/or coaching someone myself.

Irish Open 2008
It’s not really a ‘good value’ event, in that lots of great players will be there, but this is an event I covered this year with Pokernews and it just looked so much fun. I’m not usually one for playing in events where I doubt my ability to win, but I’d make an exception at this one. Hopefully by winning a supersat and crossing two off the list.

Keep doing things other than playing
Unlike a lot of poker players/writers that I know, I am a player first and foremost. Writing is just something that fell on my lap, but now I’m established I never want to give it up. I love writing and I think I must be the quickest writer in the world – I can write so much in such a short space of time (Which is why it often looks like I’ve written whole issues of WPT Magazine). Playing is always my priority but I want to increase all these great opportunities I’ve been given as a writer – maybe even one day a book (I reckon it would take me a weekend ).

The above is really just pipe dream stuff, my real aim is to lose weight, see my friends more and continue to win enough money online to put food in my mouth and keep my girlfriend in new shoes.

Humbug continued

Without doubt, the lowest key Xmas I've ever had. Not a bad thing as I didn't really want a big hoopla, but Im glad its over.

Spent the bulk of it in Norfolk with my girlfriends family, which was fine but you do realise how important ones own family is when you dont see them at Christmas dinner. The TV was shite all Xmas day by the way.

A distinct lack of poker pressies this year, which is a good thing because another year of getting 100 poker chips and 'How to play Poker: by Mark Strahan' would really take the piss.

I was really chomping at the bit when I got back to my beloved laptop yesterday after 5 days without poker. Typically I went on a bit of form just before Christmas and I'm glad to say I havent forgot whatever it was that was making me win when I got back last night. The NLHE on Party is so weak that I have already come out of my hold'em 'retirement' for the time being and now have a struggle to decide whether to play PLO or hold'em.

Sky Poker

I havent yet watched my appearance on Sky Poker on Monday, I dont want to ruin the illusion that it went well. I actually think it did, though my opening interview was a bit painful. I flopped a full house as soon as they turned to me and I probably looked a confused donk. They then went and took the piss out of my streak, which made me feel like it was school all over again.

It was fun, not sure I would do it again though, it was a long slog. I was pretty shocked to hear that 110,000 people watch that show, so lets hope I didnt look a twat.


Thankfully my big stars win the other day came around Xmas, it meant that I was able to do something I've always wanted to, actually treat my parents. Right now a big fuck off high definition TV is sat in my lounge waiting to be wrapped up - a signal of my gratitude as a son and the success poker has brought me this year.

Omaha ha ha ha

PokerStars Tournament #69523219, Pot Limit Omaha
Buy-In: $200.00/$15.00
36 players
Total Prize Pool: $7200.00
Tournament started - 2007/12/15 - 12:30:00 (ET)

Dear DaveShoelace,

You finished the tournament in 1st place.
A $2,880.00 award has been credited to your Real Money account.

You earned 198.09 tournament leader points in this tournament.
For information about our tournament leader board, see our web site at

Thank you for participating.

Since Australia I've had a pretty lukewarm couple of months at the table. Hold'em cash I've been a loser in, though SNGs have kept me afloat. Omaha has been my cash game of choice and after my big win in the Pokernews Cup, I've been toying with making a big switch over.

So I entered the weekly $215 Stars PLO tourney last night purely for fun and without sounding too cocky, it was probably the easiest tournament I've ever played. The field was tough, but I recognised most as hold'em players and with a lot of PLO cash under my belt, I think I had a real edge.

It helps when you get aces 6 times and they hold up 6 times. Thats a tough enough venture in NLHE, but its near impossible in PLO.

The only thing that was putting me off making a full PLO switch was that finding the 'fish' is tougher, because they get fleeced once and never play again. My poker tracker database has about 3 PLO donkeys that keep on playing, but my hold'em has 100s of them.

But, I am now really starting to think that the best value games, the best place to find the PLO fish, is possibly the medium-high stakes PLO tournaments. I reckon 60% of the players I played against last night were NLHE tournament specalists trying to add to their Pocket Fives rankings. For a $215 tournament, some of the hands people were commiting too were awful. I actually think a regular $0.25/050 PLO player could crush some of these PLO tournies.

Of course, I have the plan to win a big live tournament next year, so I'm going to have to stay as much a NLHE player as I can, but last night was a sign that 2008 is going to have twice as many hole cards as 2007.


Well I have about 3 days to shift a few stones. Not really, but on Monday I'm a guest on Sky Poker. I'm on the same time as Snoopy so hopefully we can bounce off each other, as they say.

Funny old few weeks. I've felt like I can't win anything, I always seem to end a session down and felt pretty pissed off about it. But looking at my poker tracker records I've actually made a tiny profit, mainly from a good week of Omaha which looks like its going to be my regular cash game for a while.

Not bought a single Xmas present yet, I actually just want to get this part of the year over with, humbug etc. Its been the best year of my life, both at the tables and away from them, but its hard to concentrate on playing at the moment with all the festivities and other things going on.


A little piece of history


I said winning the first one would be an honour, I also said after a few drinks last night being the first person to spill booze on a DTD table would be something, but last night I made my own bit of history. Yep, I am officially the first person to bust out of a Dusk Till Dawn tournament.

Last night was the Media night of DTD, free booze and freeloaders all coming along to celebrate this momentus occassion. I must admit, I almost came in my pants when I arrived. The club is huge and looks amazing, even the tourament monitors are the very best HD screens. It was certainly well worth the wait.

It was only a free roll,so I dont really care about the bust, in fact Im glad I can say I was first. I sat next to Dave Colclough, out of position to him again just as we were at GUKPT Manchester. First hand I get is kings and he cracks it with Jack-Eight when he flops trips. The next hand I flop two pair and go out against a set of threes. Most of the party hadn't even sat down and I was gone, back to the free bar.

I played a couple of SNGs while I was there, they were pretty crapshooty but fun enough. I came 2nd in my 2nd game, losing to Pokernews buddy Mel Lofthouse but winning enough to cover a nice meal this afternoon. It scares me just how much time I could spend here, being as DTD is a very quick drive down the M1 for me.

I'm back again tonight for the £100 freezeout, hopefully last night was just a case of getting my bad luck out of the way right now and, most important of all, getting another line on the old Hendon Mob Database.

No Ireland Flag on my Hendon Mob for me


Tournament poker is a cruel sport, that at least is my opening line for my excuse for not coming home with a an Ireland flag on my Hendon Mob database. Fortunately I won my seat in the supersat the previous night so it was a relatively inexpensive weekend for me.

The supersat was funny. I've actually never won a seat in any type of satellite before, so this was a nice duck to break. We got down to the bubbler and a guy on the next table had once chip left and it was coming to his big blind. Unbelievably people were still limping into pots at my table, completely unaware of satellite strategy. I actually flopped a flush at this point with three big blinds left, thankfully I didn’t have a decision to make. The one chip guy flopped quads in his big blind but went out on his small blind.

The next day I had a tough draw against this woman:

Her name was Anne Colley, a Scandi and a maniac. She would call with any draw, any pair etc etc. She sucked out on about 5 overpairs in the first hour and built up a massive stack. After a while I reckon I had her susses and I had position on her. Very slowly and surely I took pot after pot from her and went into day 2 7th in chips.

The next day did not go so well. I couldn’t get started. I kept getting marginal hands like pocket sixes or ace-jack and would be reraised off them. That was literally the story of day 2 for me, I slowly got my stack dwindled down into nothing and ended up making a suicide push into a pocket aces. I'm not unhappy with how I played, but I'm pretty certain I could have played better.

The next day was the same story, I played in the side event and built up a big stack again. This time round at least I can claim a bad beat story (although a marginal one) when I reraised with queens and got called by ace-jack.

My old mucker Jen was very unlucky not to win it, she really is the deepstack queen and worth a bet at the next Green Joker Festival in February.

Great weekend, not really in the mood to play poker at the moment. I have Dusk Till Dawn to attend next week two times and it would be very cool to take down the first DTD title.

Roll On Waterford

I'm off to Waterford on Thursday and it couldn't come quicker for me in playing terms. Since my big score in Australia I've been hot and cold online and playing somewhat 'distracted'. I've got a few little hush hush side projects on the go as well as my writing at the moment and its been hard to concentrate on my bread and butter cash games.

So Waterford should be good, 15,000 starting chips and its rare I loose my focus in a live game, so any losses will be my own fault. I also have an added incentive to win the €40,000 first prize, its made out of Waterford Crystal and I am under strict instuctions to bring some Waterford Crystal back for my mother. Watch out guys, I'm playing to win.

I'd love to get a decent cash in Ireland, I've donated more than my fair share of money to the Irish Poker community so I think I'm due a reasonable cash from one of the three events. This would also get a nice looking Ireland flag on my Hendon Mob stats, which we all know is so much nore important than the money :).

I notice I'm at the standard 225-1 to win the main event, which is more than fair as there will be plenty of players with a better live record than me. If the market was open and the odds were good enough, I would fancy to put a little bet on myself to make the final table, I've got a pretty good record of doing that in the few festivals I've played this year.

Next year should see me making a bigger effort on the festival circuit. At the moment I'm making enough so that a GUKPT event every other month wont break the bankroll. I dont remotely fancy any events further a field than that as the EPTs and such are simply no value whatsoever. The Irish Open is another no value event which I would actually love to play in next year, I think I might try and satelitte into that one.

And as soon as I get back from Ireland the countdown to sodding Christmas begins.

Finally over the jetlag

My weak hopes of winning the Pokernews Cup points race were scuppered when, like most leaderboard type gigs, the overall winner is the guy that wins the main event and thats that. I really wish I had booked my trip for just another day so I could have played in the last side event, ah well.

The next thing on the poker calendar is the Blondepoker Waterford Open. Like the Green Joker Festival, its a crazy irish deep stack affordable event which should be as much fun to lose as it is to win (not really). It clashes with the GUKPT Blackpool event, which I am now starting to wish I'd have played, but Irish poker is way too good to pass up.

After which, I have just had my offical invitation to the opening night tournament for Dusk Till Dawn, which I've been looking forward to for oh....2 years. Its a stones throw away from a pizza place called Tipoo which I frequented as a student when I lived in Nottingham, so will have something to look forward to when I bust out.

Australia Trip Report Part 2


I'm back home and feeling A-OK after pretty much three days without sleep. The plane was ok, somehow the films were all different on the last flight and I was treated to 'Hot Rod' which is probably the funniest film of the year. One guy nearly died on my first plane and had to be revived, on the 2nd plane I had to wrestle a mobile phone out of the hands of a young Chinese guy that couldnt understand English or the fact that its very dangerous to be texting your mates at 30,000 feet.

The wedding was bordering on perfect. It was on a beach on the best day of the year, weather wise. The bride look stunning, the groom looked cool and we even saw a whale jump out of the water, almost as if it had been organised somehow.

Of course, as soon as it got to the dancing stage of the night it was just like any other wedding Ive been to. A bunch of pissed up Ozzies dancing to 'Land down under' by Men at Work capped the night off.

So I arrived in Melbourne on Monday and my hotel, in the Crown Casino, was the best Ive ever stayed in. Brilliant view, luxury room and every thing I could wish for (though the porn was pretty soft).

I'm not an expert Omaha player, Im a winning player, but really a hold'em man. My strategy is simple, wait for the nuts and let an idiot pay me off. So I entered the $200 PLO Rebuy event purely for the experience. By the end of the rebuy period I had played only a few hands, got myself to average and added on. I had only invested $400 and one guy at my table must have stuck in $3000.

So I opened up a little at the freezeout stage, I managed to triple up with quad aces at one point (runner runner to boot) but rarely went above the average. To my amazement I managed to 'fold' my way to the money, and somehow folded my way to the final table.

Now, I do think I played well pre-cashing, but it dawned on me after that I had NO CLUE WHATSOEVER about Omaha end game tournament strategy. I didnt know what constituted a pushing hand and what didnt. Normally at a final table that included Tino Lechich and Lee Nelson I may have been intimidated, but its hard to be intimidated when you have no positive attributes that could be cast into doubt.

I finished 4th for $8700 and was dissapointed I couldnt fold my way to the title. Tino won it and was probably the best player on the day. I think I deserved to cash but didn't really deserve to make the final table, especially not 4th.

So I was pretty knackered after this, it was day two and the final was just after noon, after going to bed around 4 am. It was about 5pm when I busted and I had already preregistered weeks ago for the next event starting at 7pm, so I decided to just hang around and wait for that.

500 players registered in total for the $230 NLHE, which meant I was potentially in for a long night. I decided to go for it and build a big stack, even found myself all in with just a pair of jacks early to do this. Before I knew it, 350 players were gone and another cash was looking good.

I was totally fucked, I looked like a zombie at the table and was using all of my resources to make poker decisions. It was actually the best I had played live in a long time. I sat keeled over, barely able to open my eyes and occassionally mustered the energy to say 'all in', but I cashed easy in the wee hours when we got down to 50.

As the time dragged on another final table was in my sights, I had built a bigish stack but the structure was so fast that I ended up all in with pocket tens against King Queen soon enough. The flop was merciful, in that it spiked a king right away instead of shafting me on the river. I was out in 14th place for nearly another grand and was totally devastaed.

I really wanted to make back to back final tables more than anything, I currently am looking ok in the Pokernews Cup leaderboard and a second final would have probably secured me winning it and the Aussie Millions package that comes with it.

So my last day in Oz was spent getting pissed and playing a cash table, with also very pissed Nick Wright from WPT Magazine. We were rowdy, straddling, doing our best Sam Farha impression and throwing all the money in with nothing. Somehow, despite being both wankered, we both managed to take a grand from the Aussies here and avoided getting our heads kicked in too. I actually played pretty well for a drunk and its a good table image to exploit if you can pull it off.

Poker in Australia is great. The standard is pretty poor, the people are very fun and the Crown Casino is the best Poker Venue I think that exists outside of Vegas. I came back $11,000 better off, which is not bad considering I went for a mates wedding.

I have treated the missus to a Nintendo Wii when I got back, we have both deluded ourselves into thinking its a valid form of 'exercise'.

Australia Trip Report Part 1

I'm halfway through my Australia trip and most of the guys are sleeping off a hangover mixed with sea sickness. I am just as ill but am trying to walk it off to get a better sleep tonight.

The flight was, relativley speaking, a doddle. 22 hours in total and despite slighty cramped, the service was second to none. Having already seen all the films I had to settle for some godawful sitcoms instead. One very poor australian one about some dumb bitch that cant pay her rent, another ABC american one about a 'single career girl that cant find Mr right' and the American version of the Office - which is part genius part akin to the raping of ones grandmother in a house of worship.

Eventually I started to watch the new Kevin Coster film, which alas sent me to sleep. That will be on a loop for my flight back.

Sydney is a lovely city. Like London or New York but without the hecticness (Is that a word?). I managed to find the time to play a little cash at the Star City Casino. Although I dropped nearly $500, let me tell you, the standard of play is awful in Sydney.

Any raise gets called by at least 3 players and you cannot get an Ozzie off a pair, in fact, you cant get an Ozzie off queen high. I had two big hands cracked by three outers to lose my money, but had a very nice time regardless.

Im in Byron Bay right now, a small hippy beach town. Its fantastic, completely unspoilt (Well, it was spoilt in the 70s and hasnt been since) and relaxing. Had a little too much beer last night and found myself in a trio of friends puking over the side of a dingy today. We were supposed to be 'whale watching' but the combined hangover and sea sickness meant the only thing we were watching was last nights barbeque as it left our guts.

Im off to my mates wedding tommorow and then over to Melbourne for a week long session at the pokernews cup.

Hopefully I can at least break even from the country whose poker skills I have been so quick to ridicule.


I'm gearing up for my trip to Australia, which starts on Saturday morning. We're flying with Singapore Airlines, whom are apparantley the dogs bollocks, however I checked out their film list for October and I've seen all of them. That should make the 30+ hour flight go quickly.

I went shopping today for a few travel essentials, including summer clothes. The good news was that summer clothing is in the sales right now, the bad news is that I have unwittingly bought a load of beige and khaki gear, which means I am going to look like Indiana Jones while I'm out there.

So I arrive in Sydney for a few days, then off to Byron Bay for a few more and my friends wedding. I end in Melbourne where I am playing in the Pokernews Cup, where I will also be sampling a game called Crazy Pinapple which Im looking forward too.

As much as I cannot wait, and as much as really need a good break, right now I am playing the poker of my life on the ipoker cash tables. I know it seems silly, but whenever I'm running good I always worry that any sort of break will see me 'forget' whatever it is that is making me win. I just came back from a two week break at the WSOPE and if anything the break made me play better, so maybe this is a good thing.

Either way I've got some nice extra spending money for Oz (assuming I don't donk it all off between now and Saturday)

Finally recovered from the WSOPE

It took me a week to get over the WSOPE. 12 long days and nights made me very ill, I'm still coughing my guts up every now and then. Thankfully no more live updates for me for a good while so it wont happen again with a bit of luck.

I played in the Napoleons mini festival the other day, the same one I chopped a few months ago. No such joy this time around, I didn't get dealt any good cards (which is not a good enough excuse) and got frustrated and played badly. I ended up shoving a weak ace into Ash Hussein who very rightly busted me with queens.

I just cant seem to get started with tournaments and SNGs at the moment. Thankfully I have been raping the cash games on Blue Square to make up for it. Not sure why I can only do well in one for the other, but I've decided to commit to cash games because I'm getting sick of the swings I get in SNGs.

Which is why, for the time being only I'm sure, I have turned my back on Pokerstars. For about 6 months I have won more than I thought possible in the six handed SNGs on Stars, I even got myself into the top 5 of a Sharkscope leaderboard for a while. But I'm getting annoyed with the massive swings I take. So I have cashed out my money, traded in my FFPs and gone to ipoker.

With cash games my profit is slower but steady (Except as I write this I've just lost a huge pot with my set against a flush draw). I also think that to get the all round best poker education you have to play cash games, as tournaments can be a bit 'shove and hope for the best'. The game choice on Stars is 2nd to none but there are way too many LAGs and too many educated players, even at the lower stakes. Ipoker looks like a great little fish frenzy.


12 Days in the Big Smoke at the WSOPE has taken its toll. I am now (glad to be) back home and have made myself ill with the non stop standing for 12-16 hours at a time for 12 days. I don't entirely enjoy live updates, however the pokernews team and interface we used were so great that it made it enjoyable enough.

Now, I'm quite naive about London and would have planned my journey so differently knowing what I know now. Obviously my hotel would have been different from the get go. Also, I wasn't aware that the tube actually closed, which would have stopped me getting a hotel 3 miles away from the venue. I would have also made sure my new hotel had a laundrette service - as I ended up buying some cheap clothes from primark because it was easier and cheaper than going to a dry cleaners.

It was a fun enough WSOPE. Tony G is a really top bloke and I was glad to be working for him, gutted he didn't win the PLO Bracelet. Getting to know and work with Snoopy and Pauly MgGrupp was also lots of fun, having only really read them from affar before.

I really wanted John Tabatabai to win the main event, I watched him take apart Gus Hansen before the final table and thought it might have been his year - though maybe Annette winning is better for poker in general.

I'm having a few days off now to recover, but should be doing the Napoleans Mini Festival starting this weekend. I made a final table in the last two so hopefully will be 3 for 3 this time round.

You get what you pay for

For the last time ever I will base a hotel booking on price alone. Of course you wont be seeing me at the Ritz anytime soon but the other day I learnt, as I have done many times before in different situations, that you get what you pay for.

I’m in Central London for the World Series of Poker Europe (Yes, I know, silly name). I’m getting paid by the good folks at Pokenews and rather than making an expenses claim, I simply am getting a bigger fee and have to make my own arrangements. I then hit upon the brainwave that the next 12 days would be a money saving exercise, and thus would leave more money for me to spend on nice things for me.

So my shit ignorant eyes sparkled when I saw a room as cheap as £30 a night slap bang in the middle of London. Packed it, booked it, fucked off as they say.

I arrived just as the Police where grilling the Hotel owner about one of their staff. When they left she gave me the bad news that she made a mistake and booked me into a room with no bathroom and I would have to use a shared bath and toilet instead. Already gutted I carried my suitcase up 7 flights of stairs and walked into a room, nay, cupboard, that made my student house in 2001 look like a palace. The bed looked like a loaf of bread with a tea towel on it and this sink looked like, well, I have no analogies for that but it looked fucking awful.

So I went to the WSOPE VIP party and made sure I got as pissed as I possibly could, not for fun but to not care anymore as I lay in that ‘bed’. I come home wankered and manage to sleep a little. Waking up with a hangover is made thrice as bad when its in a total shithole like that. There was no way I was going anywhere near the bathroom and I hate to admit that I pissed in the sink like I assume many have done before me in that place.

I packed up my stuff, went downstairs, nobody was there so I left a note and the key and did a runner. I then proceeded to smell for the rest of the day at the Empire Casino until I checked in to the most glorius Travellodge I have ever seen (Actually, it’s the worst but that doesn’t matter right now). I had a shower and my god never has a lukewarm, wonky shower felt so good.

The WSOPE so far has been interesting. I met my hero (and sort of boss) Tony G and was surprised he knew who I was. I also got interviewed by the Sik Tilt boys so maybe I’ll have a link to that soon.

Back to the casino for me, HORSE is boring and confusing but the buffet was ok, I don’t care right now because at least I am clean again.

Behind the Rail - The Curse of the Blogger

Taken from my Pokernews column - Behind the Rail

Last year I went part time at my old office job to concentrate on playing poker. It went well and I also started writing more and more, which was also proving financially rewarding. At the start of this year I left the 9-5 forever and I spend about 40% of my time writing about poker and 60% playing. When things are going well I tell people I’m a professional poker player and when they are not I’m just a writer.

This Thursday I put down the cards and pick up my jotter pad and pen where for the next 12 days I will be one of those people you see hanging round a poker table trying to guesstimate the amount of chips Daniel Negreanu has. Poker blogging, as it is known, for Pokernews at the WSOPE.

Poker blogging requires one to wander around the tournament floor and count how many chips the players have. It’s about looking out for some of the craziest hands and bust outs and then reporting them back in real time on your website. Anyone who blogs about poker is a poker player, and a good one at that, they have to be to report it back effectively.

Blogging is loads of fun at times but unbelievably frustrating too. When you are equally used to being the one sat at the table, having to stand behind Roland De Wolfe as he contemplates a call can be demoralising. I liken it to being a League 2 footballer having to be a kit man for the England squad during the World Cup – you tell yourself you would do anything to be there but you think you’re above it when you do.

The most hugely frustrating thing about blogging is standing watching the action as some internet qualifier is making some of the most amateur moves at the table. You see some plucky Scandinavian min reraising with king-seven, getting lucky on the flop and scooping one pot more on their way to a fortune and you wonder how the hell you came to be jotting it down on a notepad.

Sometimes you just want to scream out “Just call you idiot” or “That’s it, give me your cards, you can’t play anymore, GIVE ME YOUR CARDS!”. Watching a cagey heads up match is the most frustrating, I know these guys have millions on the line and every decision is crucial to them, but don’t they realise that we want to go out and drink after 3 or 4 exhausting days watching them? I have a friend who got into trouble with the website he blogs for when he screamed “Throw a diamond out there, please god throw us a diamond!” at the table during hour 8 of a gruelling heads up match.

Of course I’m making it sound awful but in fact, its tremendous fun. Bloggers are a fun bunch and the chance to meet some of the greatest players on the planet is worth the journey alone. I’ll be looking to score a few pictures stood next to Ivey, Negreanu and Brunson on my trip and thus losing any credibility I may have had.

The WSOPE is quite simply the biggest event outside of Las Vegas and I cannot justify £10,000 of my bankroll to play in it, but I wouldn’t miss it for the world. You can see all my WSOPE Live Updates here.

Edinburgh Festival


I've just returned from my first ever Edinburgh Festival and would recommend it highly to anyone. I've always wanted to go to the Comedy Festival since I was a teenager and it didn't dissapoint.

After a 4 hour train ride we arrived and started drinking on the Edinburgh mile watching the street performers. It was a bit stressful at first because we had no bearings at all but found our way to the first show, Swingers, a play about, well swingers. It was ok, nothing special and regretably no boobies to report.

Then on to see none other than Frank Skinner it a tiny little venue. He was very good, did a cracking paedophile joke (which is the in thing at the moment with comics) and his banter with the crowd was top notch. The next show was a bargain, the BBC Stand Up show which featured 6 comedians including Adam Bloom who was good as ever. 6 comedians for 10 quid was great and they were all ok.

Now for the shite, Phil Jupitus. His show called Phil Jupitus reads Dickens was a little too literal than we imagined. We expected either a funny take on the work of Charles Dickens or him to crack jokes between paragraphs.

Nope, he just opened the book and read from it, for an hour, and he only stopped when his stopwatch went off. Call me a philistine if you want but an hour of watching a man read from a book is not entertaining and to charge a tenner for it is arrogant.

Thankfully Rich Hall and Phil Nicol were both excellent and nearly wiped the memory of a fat man reading a book from our banks.

Great week and christ did we walk, I bet we did 6-10 miles a day. Regretably most walks were to resteraunts or pubs so any benefit was swiftly nulified.

We're definatley going again next year.

Behind the Rail: Is Poker Cool?

Taken from my Pokernews column Behind the Rail

Of course it is.

When I tell people I make a living playing and writing about poker its always a mixed response. Surprise is always there, some people are fascinated, others are sceptical, some are jealous and some pity me. Whatever their own issues with the game, the also have a preconception about what a poker player looks like.

Some get very excited, women especially. They think Monte Carlo, James Bond, Tuxedos and men that can afford to buy them a lot of shoes. Some guys have images of you out until the wee hours every night with a bunny girl on each arm. Poker is cool.

Then there is the other, pole opposite, preconception. That poker players are in fact, nerds. That poker and Star Trek go hand in hand, their image of a poker pro is of an overweight bespectacled man playing online in his parents loft.

So which is it? Of course we all think poker is cool, its what we do. Fishermen think Fishing is cool, Landscape gardeners think lawnmowers are cool and darts players think Phil Taylor is their version of the Fonz.

Poker is Cool

The casino is an iconic image of cool. Its open til the wee hours of the morning, serves alcohol and has a lot of beautiful women walking around. Las Vegas is the gambling mecca and, although cheesy, is undeniably cool.

The casino and gambling in general has an element of danger to it, and danger is always cool. Whether it's the danger of losing your money or the chances that Robert De Niro is going to take you into the back room and smash your knuckles in with a hammer, there is always an undercurrent of risk, which is cool.

We then have the players who epitomise cool. The Devilfish is arguably cool, he looks like a James Bond villain and has a quirky name. Gus Hansen is one of those guys that men want to be and women want to be with. We even have our own bit of Hollywood in the form of Jennifer 'I can't believe she's nearly 50' Tily.

But the number one argument in the favour of cool is a recent one, James Bond. Casino Royale is the best Bond movie and rebranded the franchise with a grittier, harder and cooler Bond. Poker replaced Baccarat in this remake and, if we forget the final hand, Poker was painted in a complementary light. If Bond plays poker, poker is cool.

Poker is for Geeks

For every Gus Hansen, there is about 100 22 year old virgins who make a small fortune in their bedrooms while their Mum makes their dinner. For every Phil Ivey there is a Phil Hellmuth, for every Antonio Esfandiari there is a Phil Laak. If you go to any ranking poker tournament there s invariably a few spotty kids and a lot of overweight men.

The catalyst for all this is of course the internet. The internet is cool, because of its endless possibilities, but people who use the internet are not cool, because of the lack of a social and sex life. I'm sorry but if you spend most of your day infront of a laptop in your PJs then you are a nerd in the majority's eye.

Just like drugs are bad, mckay, so is problem gambling. It's very hard to argue that poker is cool when it can be linked with problem gambling. Drinking too much, smoking too much and doing drugs are all things those of us with a public conscience should go out of their way not to glorify, so even though we would all say Poker is not gambling in its purist form, perhaps its linked just enough for us to be irresponsible to say its cool? I'm not sure.

But perhaps the main argument poker being cool comes from something we all learnt very early at school. That Maths is very very uncool. Nobody liked maths at school and we were all well within our rights to bully the kids that were good at it. You don't need to be Carol Vorderman to play poker but you do need a solid understanding of odds and probabilities, and that I'm afraid is enough to warrant your head being flushed down then toilet by the older boys.

Napoleons Summer Festival £300 Freezeout

This was the first time I've played live since I chopped the £200 event at the other Napoleons last month, and I cant believe I've gone all this time without a live game. Only 60 people turned out for it (as most of the players are at the Gala Leeds event) but it was a very tough field, including Ash Hussein, Tony Kendall, Paul Gourlay, Barry Neville and Julian Thew.

I had a nice steady tournament, never really got short and slowly kept my chips above average throughout. When it got to the final table bubble I was actually 2nd in chips but a few moments of madness saw me nursing the short stack.

When we got to the final I got all in against the only person shorter than me, lost and found myself with 200 chips when the blinds were 800-1600 and the average stack had about 30,000. Amazingly I managed to outlast another player to take 9th place instead of my destined 10th.

It was a fun little comp, even though I did have to suffer the embarrassment of nursing less than a blind for an obscene amount of time. I also had the pleasure of playing at the same table as Julian Thew who is a true gent (unlike the dick who was sat next to him at one point who I wont name).

Its great playing in Naps now they dont allow smoking anymore.

Behind the Rail: Poker, the solution to problem gambling?


Taken from my UK Pokernews Weekend Column - Behind the Rail

This week I interviewed WSOP finalist Jon Kalmar and what a thoroughly decent chap he was. He told me that before he played poker he was gambling a lot and beyond his means. Then poker came along which presented a cheaper way to curb his gambling urges and eventually became a hugely profitable career for him.

This mirrors my own experience of poker (if we omit the $1.25 million WSOP cash). I used to gamble quite a lot (although to be fair always within my means) – I'd bet on football, boxing, TV shows and would go to the casino with friends quite a lot. I even convinced myself I was 'good' at blackjack as it is a house game I am actually up on. All in all I was a losing gambler, apart from boxing bets which I'm still very good at because I'm a big fan of the sport.

Then came poker. Of course it was gambling for a long time while I was having to learn the hard way that Queen-Five isn't the monster I thought it was, but after a playing for a while and reading a fare few books I started winning and several years later it is my career. Like Jon Kalmar I rarely gamble in any other way, I still bet on boxing, I rarely bet on football and I never play on casino house games anymore.

It would be easy to say that I'm simply getting my gambling 'fix' from a new outlet but I'm not sure that is the case. Getting good at poker has replaced my urge to 'gamble' with the urge to 'win'. With gambling the rush is in the moment of anticipation when the wheel is spinning, the outcome is almost moot, but with poker the rush is in the winning.

I was rarely accustomed to winning as a gambler (though that did make a big win special) but I am when I play poker (which does mean losing streaks hurt more). Now I don't want to gamble because I see it as a waste of money, money which could be better used playing poker.

I'm not alone in this viewpoint either; I know a lot of people who no longer gamble after they took up poker. There are of course plenty of players who are the complete opposite and can be found at the roulette table during the refreshment break at tournaments.

If you look at the Dusk til Dawn situation right now I think it highlights my point perfectly. Poker players want an option away from the casino to play poker, they want games to be run with good blind structures and where the floor staff has no hidden agenda to get them down to the blackjack tables.

The only people standing in the way of the clubs opening are of course, casinos, who want to be able to contain poker players within close proximity of house games If Dusk til Dawn eventually does open hopefully it will go some way to proving the point I am making; that poker, although a form of gambling, is radically different to sports betting and house games, that it is closer to chess than it is to blackjack.

So let's start a culture of getting poker out of the casino, not entirely of course, so we can show the uninformed majority that if anything it is a solution to, rather than a cause of, problem gambling.

Boring continuation post - no actual content

The Pokernews thing is going very well and Pokernews in general is becoming massive. We've got a forum starting on the UK site now, have a stanglehold on the WSOP blogging and the mypokernews section is, although a blatant myspace rip, proving very popular.

People talk about going on bad runs on these blog thingies which I hope I never do, but I am going on a boring run ie. I win a game I lose a game I win a buy-in I lose a buy-in etc. At least I get the most out of rakeback so I guess that means I'm up.

Not much else going on, I am playing in the Summer Festival at Napoleans Sheffield next week and then off to the (non poker) Edinburgh Festival the week after.

I'm the luckiest idiot on the planet

Last night I returned from Stevenage and my friends wedding. It was a cracking little affair and I was very proud to be the best man. It nearly turned out to be the worst weekend of the year though and let me tell you, there is no greater feeling than breathing a massive sigh of relief.

I went to be measured at my local Suits You about 2 weeks ago and went to pick up my suit last Wednesday. I then headed down to Stevenage and it wasn't until 11.00pm on Friday night that I glanced at the suit I'd picked up.

It was 2 sizes too small.

The look on my girlfriends face instantly told me there was no way I could wear these garments as I struggled to put them on and indeed take them off. I was close to tears and started swearing and punching some of the fixtures in my hotel room. What followed was a pretty sleepless night as I lie awake thinking I had ruined my best mates wedding.

I came to the conclusion that maybe one of the ushers had it and they had got mixed up. So at 8 in the morning, unable to reach them by mobile, I went down to my reception and got the poor girl working there to ring up every hotel in a 5 mile radius to see if they were there. I eventually discovered that all their suits fitted perfectly.

So sounding a complex mixture of angry and desperate I contacted Suits You at their head office. I explained the situation and told them I essentially had 4 hours for them to rectify their mistake.

"The only way you can get a replacement is if you were able to get to our main warehouse" the young guy told me over the phone.

Shit, I thought, that could be anywhere. "Where is it?" I asked.

"Boreham Wood"

Shit, that sounds miles away. Not knowing where that was punched the postcode into my TomTom. I stared in fear as it calculated the route for me.......

7 minutes it said.

The bloody main warehouse, the only place I could get a suit in time for my friends wedding, was just over 1 mile away. If I had stood on the roof of my hotel I could have seen it no problem.

So 10 minutes later I was trying my new suit on kissing the ground the bloke working there walked on. By 9.45 I had a new suit and got back to my hotel in time for breakfast.

My girlfriend saw how I was upset the night before and was a total star. She kept reassuring me, telling me it wasnt my fault, hugging me, telling me it would be ok etc. As soon as we got the suit she let rip "you bloody idiot how can you not try the suit on before last night! etc etc.

When I got back to the hotel I kept breaking into either dance or laughter. I can honestly say I experienced my lowest and highest point of the year in a 12 hour period. I was so elated by the remarkable good luck I experienced that I had no nerves at all about my speech, which went very well indeed and included a few jokes at my expense for the earlier suit shenanigans.

Words cannot express how lucky I got, of all the places to find out I had the wrong suit hours before a wedding I managed to pick the hotel nearest the only place in the world that could rescue me.

No complaining about bad beat stories from me for a while.

UK Pokernews and Danny from Hear'say

Had a lot going on of late (besides the fact that I have barely left the house) - the big news is that I have just been appointed by pokernews to be their senior staff writer for the UK.

I write freelance for them anyway and have a genuine love for the website, having seen it grow from a tiny little site a few years ago into arguably the biggest online poker resource in the world. The live updates are also superb and becoming the most user friendly and attractive ones in the business (Theres a good chance I'll be on the other side of that during the WSOPE in September).

The rest of today I will be spending writing my best mans speech, which is due in on Saturday when I go to Stevenage to send my friend into holy matrimony. I've left it a bit late hoping that my brief (unsuccessful) venture into stand up comedy will carry me through.

The best part about the upcoming weekend is that Danny from hear@say (remember them?) is a friend of the bride and I get a chance to recreate this picture of me harrasing him from my clubbing days about 5 years ago.

PKR - Bridging the Gap between live and online? Nope


When it first came out I said that I would never ever play on PKR. Online poker gets enough of a hard time from live players that I thought an online poker room where you can ‘give off tells’ and wear virtual sunglasses at the table would be one cyber step too far. But last night I went to see the new Die Hard film (surprisingly good by the way) and saw an advert for PKR on the big screen, I decided maybe I should have a look to see if I was missing out on something.

When I play online poker all I care about is the money in front of a player and my notes on them. I have no interest in their hairstyle, the 600pkr point sunglasses or whether they have done a virtual chip riffle in front of me. However I actually spent a good hour last night kitting out my virtual me and developing some trademark taunts for my table.

When I was at the table I must say it was a lot of fun, however, the furthest thing from my mind was playing poker. I wanted to play every hand, just so I could show a bluff and do my trademark dance, I would call bets I never would normally and favour going all-in just because you can ‘stand up’ for the showdown. I also found myself leaving a juicy table because I wanted to change my ‘voice’.

The only thing that ever tempted me to play PKR previously was because I envisaged very fishy cash games with newbie players who are attracted to the video game element of the site. I was right, but regrettably I was one of the biggest fish. A game like that has so much going on unrelated to the hand in question that you cannot help but be drawn into acting, showboating and general tomfoolery. Game selection isn’t all that great either, another sign of PKR as the recreational players hideout.

I’m not going to lie, it was fun and I will play again, but purely to let off steam than to make money. I’m sure that there is money to be made on PKR but I’m more than happy just to save up enough PKR points to give my little man a Stetson hat.

Gay Rag and Bone Men


It’s Wednesday and I’m only just recovering from the weekend, a stag party in the nation’s capital. I was the best man and let everyone down by being the first person to turn in on the Saturday night session, which was pretty grueling, not in the drunken sense but physically.

After a previously sleepless night we made our way into Kings Cross to do a pub crawl of the central line; one pub per stop on the 27 stop tube line. The icing on the cake was that we all had to buy one top and one hat from a charity shop for less than a fiver and randomly assign these clothes to each other.

The session was grueling not because of the fact we were drunk, or hungover, but because after no sleep the night before we found ourselves doing a lot of walking trying to find pubs that were open. A lot of the stops on the central line were in the Business and Commerce districts and nothing was open on a Saturday, which meant that we were often wandering round aimlessly trying to find a backstreet pub. I think we must have covered a good 7 miles at least and it didn’t help that we were all dressed like Gay Rag and Bone men.

I’ve never been one for dressing up like a plonker for a night out and was a bit hesitant. It didn’t help matters that I was given the bright boobtune top and pope hat but when there is a large group of you it takes the sting out of it. The truth is, in any other city you’d feel a berk and put on obligatory Geordie accents (an easy way of communicating “we are on a stag do”), but in London nobody batted an eye lid, in fact half the people in the pubs looked like they were with us anyway.

Still a good time was had by all, especially as it looked like it was set to be a disaster when we were stuck on the M25 in the pissing rain listening to reports of severe weather and terrorist attacks on the radio. Now I have a month to prepare for the best mans speech.

I'm backing Phil for the big one


3 months ago I was from the school of poker that loved to see Phil Hellmuth lose, carefully edited television coverage (and occasional childishness from the Brat) made us all believe that we could go to Vegas and beat Phil and put him on tilt.

Then I interviewed him a couple of months back and……well, nothing had really changed much. He was a very nice guy but he still managed to tell me he was the greatest player of all time before I had asked him much, I still thought he wasn’t as good as he thinks he is.

I’m not sure exactly what it is that’s changed, I certainly hope its not to do with the fact that I have his phone number in my mobile, but I really want him to destroy the WSOP this year. The introduction of so many stud/razz/Omaha/hi lo games this year seems a cynical way to ensure a pro gets a bracelet and to an extent the hold’em events are ‘expected’ to be won by nobodies.

Maybe by doing so well so far in the huge NLHE fields in some way has restored my faith in the pro vs the field. Perhaps its because its nice to see somebody I’ve heard of at the final tables and that makes poker a more enjoyable spectator sport. If Phil could win another bracelet or maybe make the final of the big one then surely this is can be our ‘for’ argument in the is poker a game of skill argument that we all have at times. That a pro can win the main event before and after he poker boom and that it doesnt matter that there is 100 or 10,000 players, as long as you beat your table.

He would of course, be unbearable if he actually won the big one, but maybe poker needs that? Moneymaker, Raymer and Gold all seem to have been one hit wonders and although Joe Hachem has proved his is a genuine champion of the sport; perhaps we need the Poker Brat to raise the bar for the large field generation of poker.

Phil is 7-1 to place higher in the main event than any previous champion; I think that is the safest bet to take this year at the series.

The Saver - The worst business decision in poker

While 95% of the poker population are already in Vegas I humbly made my way to a local poker festival in my home town of Sheffield. In all honesty it was a pretty poorly organised affair but a very nice bunch of people to play with. It also helped that I made it to the final 3 and we did an equal three way chop of the prize money. We then proceeded to play for the trophy and I went out the very next hand. I don’t normally do deals and always want to play for the win, but I was a significant short stack at the time and the deal worked out perfectly for me.

One deal which I wasn’t pleased about occurred a few hours before, when we were down to 11 players. With 10 places being paid and a number of very short stacks, everybody wanted to agree to a ‘saver’; a deal whereby the price of the original buy-in is taken from the top end of the prizepool and given back to whomever goes out on the ‘bubble’. I did not agree to this and it didn’t win me any friends.

“You obviously don’t make many finals” one guy told me

“You always do a deal” another one said.

“Is it fair that someone gets all this way and gets nothing?” was another comment.

I don’t actually have any objection to the £200 entry being taken from the prizepool, my objection was down to the fact that the bubble is one of the most significant and profitable part of any tournament. During this time I was raising every hand at my table and everyone was looking at me daggers:

“What are you doing?” they were asking “this is not the time to be bullying, we are nearly at the final” – I actually thought I was going to be chased out of the casino.

I had a healthy stack and the bubble was the time to turn it into a monster. Many players do not play optimally on the bubble when they know they can fold their way to the money and there is a hell of a lot of dead money to be picked up. The fact that everyone was objecting to my bullying and there not being a saver only spurred me on to do it more, because it was obvious I would get away with it.

I was in Ireland last month having a Guinness fuelled chat about this very situation with well known players Mick McCloskey and Matt Tyler, we all said the same thing, that the ‘saver’ is the worse business decision in poker. We all agreed that if you are the chip leader on the table during a bubble and a short stack goes all in on your big blind and you have aces, you should still fold. The reason being is the small amount of chips you get from shorty is nothing in comparison to the pot after pot you can take from the medium stacks at the table who are desperate to fold their way to the money.

The players were telling me that the saver speeds the game up towards the final table because the action is looser, which is true, but that is not what I wanted at all, I would have been happy for an hour long bubble because of the potential pots I could have scooped along the way.

Where I and the rest of the field differed was they were thinking only of the guaranteed return they were getting, whereas I was thinking about the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place prize pool. I wasn’t interested in getting another £150 back on my buy-in I was looking ahead to figures with another zero on the end and wanted to build my stack to get to play for those prizes. In the end it was causing such a stir that I caved in and agreed to the saver, which in retrospect worked ok for me because it helped us make a deal which worked out in my favour later on.

It was actually a really nice little tournament and despite not making many friends on the bubble the final table couldn’t have been more fun. A really friendly bunch of people and maybe that was why they were so keen to introduce the saver. It’s a very close knit poker community in Sheffield and maybe I should pay heed to the way in which they were all looking out for each other rather than keeping all eyes on the big prize.

I’m still never agreeing to another saver again though.

OK Donk! You and me heads-up


One of the many things that online poker has introduced to the world that rarely happens (rarely, it does happen) is the challenging to heads-up matches from people you have rubbed up the wrong way. In poker, this has become a modern form of duelling, you suck out on somebody and enrage them to the point that they challenge you to a heads-up match, usually for stakes larger than the game you are in.

I had this happen to me today, I limped with pocket aces into a guy whose blind I had been stealing constantly, I knew he was due to take a stand against me, he shoves all-in with ace-ten and I call and bust him from the SNG. “I’m waiting in a $200 HU match for you, come on you p ussy, me and you know d ick, you scared?” etc etc etc. I’m not sure why he was so annoyed at me for beating him with the best hand but he stuck around for the rest of a lengthy Sit and Go berating me.

This rarely happens in casinos, largely because A) Heads-up games are not available most of the time and B) You can actually see each other, I assume most of these angry people are short, Napoleon complex, and wouldn’t dare challenge a bigger man to a heads-up match in case he suggests they just go for an honest punch-up instead. I elected not to join him, partially because I was on a bubble in the SNG and also because I found it funny that he wouldn’t leave my table and was enjoying disappointing him. The question is, should I have gone into the match?

Now, ego is no reason to go into these games, I felt I had no need to prove myself and if you readily accept these challenges to prove yourself then you will never be playing your ‘A’ game. Is it potentially a profitable game?

If you are well versed in heads-up matches, then it is a definite yes, if someone you have already bested challenges you to a game you excel in then you surely will come out on top most of the time. If not then it simply isn’t worth it.

A good reason the take the challenge is that your opponent is definitely on tilt, I’ve only met one person who actually plays better when they are angry so unless its that guy then you are going to get them mano vs mano when they are not 100%, the best possible time to get heads-up.

If, like me, you are at a crucial stage in another game, as you likely will be because of the initial challenge, then you have to weigh up the expected value of the game you are in compared to the heads-up match on offer, the chances are the game you are in will be more profitable because you will have this players chips and the prizes on offer will be more than the doubling of your money a HU match offers.

If the match in question is at a stake higher than you are bankrolled for (and they often will be as is the nature of the challenge) then you certainly must not take the offer, even if you do win this is not a long term profitable strategy – playing above your bankroll in an emotional tear up is a recipe for disaster.

So the next time you are childishly challenged to a heads-up game, swallow your pride and simply ask yourself – is this profitable?

If all else fails, insult their mother.

Swallowing a grenade

Losing $1500 in two hands sucks. Losing $1500 when you are sat watching a DVD (Fantastic Four) with your girlfriend and you are pretending that you are not playing online poker is devastating. The temptation to throw my laptop across the living room is hard enough when I am alone so keeping it under tabs when in company is very very, well, painful. It felt like I'd swallowed a grenade. I excused myself to go to the toilet and just sat there looking for something I could punch that wouldn't make a noise. I couldn't find anything and somehow managed to contain my rage til the following mornings very early session on the punchbag at my gym.

Although I would take that experience again over watching the latest Pirates of the Caribbean film again, that was 3 hours I'm not getting back.

The Green Joker Poker Festival


I'm back from Drogheda, Ireland, after giving the locals a lesson in blowing a chip lead in both the €1080 event and the €550. The Green Joker Poker Festival held at the Drogheda card club was by a country mile the best tournament I have ever played, with a structure to die for (15,000 chips and no running antes).

As mentioned I donked off any early chip lead in both events and went out on day 1 of each, had a load of fun though and my good friend and subway sandwhich buddy Jen Mason won the main event and €30,000. Even though I bust out early, I and every player there was happy to have played, because the structure allowed for creative play, seeing lots of flops and being able to get away from hands. People need to know about this tournament because it needs to grow, if you have ever hated the crapshoot stage of a tournament, get yourself to the Green Joker Poker Festival.

No fun in the sun for me

Many people think that giving up the 9-5 grind and making a living in the world of poker means that glorious days like this are to be revelled in. After all I can go to bed late, sleep in and take a walk in the park next to my apartments if I want to when the rest of the world is clockwatching at work.


Every day you are not making money seems like a wasted day, so this morning (after a visit and a cuppa at my Dads)when the sun started shining I was sat playing SNGs til noon. I am now sat indoors gearing up to start writing something.....anything, with the noise of children playing in the park and the knowledge that I have spoken to a grand total of 4 people today - which is something of a working from home record.

The next few days will be a lot more social for me, though still probably exempt from the sunlight, as I head to Ireland for the Green Joker Poker Festival. It promises to be a juicy affair with a 15,000 starting stack and no running antes - though 200 crazy Irishmen should still make for plenty of action.

When I get back, I plan to get excited about this film:

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