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Donk Till Dawn

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I’d love to be posting a bad beat story about my very early exit from last night’s freeze out at Dusk Till Dawn, but the truth is I married pocket Queens a little too early and paid off Aces. Played the hand very badly and got all my money in when the only realistic hand I was beating was Ace-King and even then I only win it half the time. It did, however, leave me with plenty of time to sample the cash games at the mecca of UK poker.

The only game going was a £1/2 NLHE (as most of the players were still in the MTT) but thankfully another chap was sat waiting for the game to start. I sat to his left (standard) and it turned out to be a good choice as he was tilting worse than I was. It was a really fun, chatty table and it was quickly filling up with equally tilty players, moaning about bad beats and splashing their chips around.

I played very well when we were shorthanded, pretty much playing any hand I had position in and winning a lot of pots uncontested. When the table filled up that obviously wasn’t as easy, and it started getting boring. A full ring live cash game is pretty dull to someone who players 2, 3 or 4 six max games at once, and this brought out the gambler in me. I’d never even consider playing a hand like J-10 or K-7 sooted out of position in a raised pot normally, but I felt the need to go a little crazy after not getting dealt aces for at least 4 minutes.

‘This will liven things up’ as I raised 7-5 of hearts under the gun. It certainly did as I got four callers. The flop came a very sexy 6c8c9d giving me the second nuts in a pot that was unlikely to have included a 7-10 hand. I made a very amateurish check, and found the next guy betting pot, the next guy calling, followed by an all in and another all in. I never even worried about the 7-10 and got all my money in, only to be called by the rest of the remaining money.

And what a gin hand it was, I was up against a set of eights, a set of nines, a flush draw and king high who claims he was priced in. Second nuts held up and not only did I scoop the massive pot but I had wiped out the table. Nobody had enough or wanted to reload and they all stood up and left, leaving just three of us at the table. I’m not sure I ever won a 5 way all in online so this was a bit of a landmark for me in a live game.

No skill involved in that hand by the way, I gambled and got lucky. Just thought it was pretty sick.

Anyhoo, the very next hand I played my rush and lost a shedload of it, flopping a king high flush against an ace high flush and giving a chunk of it back. One of the vacant seats to my left was quickly filled by a funny little greek guy and I have no shame in admitting he completely outplayed me. I wouldn’t necessarily a better player than me, but he was very positionally aware and utilised it against me very effectively.

I left with only a marginal profit but having had plenty of fun. I certainly hope I have the foresight to not overplay queens like that again this month or it could prove very costly. (I also hope this doesn’t mean I start raising up 7-5 under the gun when I get on TV to try and make myself the new ‘Gus’ –I’d have to drop a few stone before I could make such a claim).

Big Feb

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From today, my online game takes a back seat for a while as I have some very important live tournaments coming up. I’m off to Dusk Till Dawn tonight to play in their £100 freeze out which attracts a lot of big names. Next Saturday I’ll be there again for their monthly £300 deep stack event which I plan on going to pretty much every month.

But on the 6th is possibly the biggest game I’ve ever played. The PartyPoker European Open. Its a 6 handed studio heat that is being broadcast on channel 5 and features some of the biggest names in poker – Phil Hellmuth being the obvious draw. My first heat won’t be easy, I have two Irish Open Champions - Liam Flood and Marty Smyth at my table. I have to come 2nd to progress to the next round and a shot at a £100,000 first prize. As a result, I might have to drop my usual NLHE/PLO cash games and concentrate on 6 handed SNGs for a week or two, as they most closely resemble the format. For a while last year, I crushed the 6 handed STTs on Stars and was in the top 5 on sharkscope for them – so hopefully this might be the very small nugget of edge I can claim in an event I am a big underdog in.

Then finally I will be more than likely playing in the Walsall Leg of the Grosvenor UK Poker Tour. I made a plan to play in every other event of the GUKPT using rakeback and it looks like I’m generating enough to just about do that.
February is the shortest month and it looks like one of my busiest, stay tuned to see just how out if my depth I am as the cameras look down on me in London.

Killing Phil

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Taken from my column on www.thehendonmob.com

Last week a press release went out announcing that 11 time bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth was coming to England to play in next month’s Party Poker European Open. I’m not sure that there will be armies of screaming girls to watch him as he gets off the plane but there is no doubt that his arrival in the UK is always a headline worthy event amongst the poker community. The press release also mentioned other noteworthy players who will be playing; Neil Channing, Roland De Wolfe, Ian Fraser and many other UK regulars. I was shocked, however, to see that one name was missing from the press release.

Mine.

Ok, that was just really a tenuous link to tell you that I’ll be making my debut in the televised studio tournament arena next month and playing in this event. Of the 72 players enrolled, chances are that I would rank at best 71st in terms of my likelihood to appear at the top of a press release plugging the tournament. Of course I could be grabbing all the headlines if the cards fall my way on the day, but I’m probably more likely to end up looking like a complete tool out of his depth or ‘just another internet qualifier’.

I haven’t actually qualified online for this event, luckily the nice people at VC Poker don’t seem to think that the ten pounds the camera adds to me will put off potential customers and have agreed to buy me into the event. Although the pressure is off for me in monetary terms, I must admit to being more than a little nervous about having Jesse May poking fun at me when I attempt in vain to outplay the Poker Brat.

I’ve played against a great deal of the players in this event before and have played against some of the best in the World over the last two years. But I’ve never played against anyone in front of a camera, rigged up to a heart rate monitor and having the infectious laughter of Jesse May and friend resonate around a studio as they see me get bullied out of a pot. I actually think the pressure of playing when people can see your hole cards adds a new dimension that certain players like Ian Frazer and Liam Flood excel at and I clearly don’t (yet).

My television experience thus far:

• I was once on ‘down your doorstep’ – a feature on The Big Breakfast which was hosted by Mark Lamarr. I was 14 and he asked me what I was doing outside Debenhams. ‘Going into Debenhams’ was my witty retort.

• I believe you could see the back of my head in the Manchester leg of the GUKPT on channel 4 last year.

• Last month I was a guest on Sky Poker. Soft core porn magazine columnist Grub Smith made fun of my hair.

At present, my biggest fear is much more towards looking like a complete knob on television than it is on busting out with no pay day. Don’t get me wrong, if I had a choice of looking like a donkey and making it to the final, I would of course take it over heroically bubbling and getting kudos from the commentary booth. I already have a few stock lines which I am going to use in the event that I make a bad call, they include:

“I thought you were on a flush draw” (Classic line, got me out of the woods a few times)

“This would be a sick call” (ie. I can’t lay this middle pair down)

“I think I’m live/think I’m priced in” (The people in TV land can’t see how much these chips are worth, I’ll make it look like I’m pot committed)

If you see me make a well timed joke at the expense of another player, chances are that it was actually a strategically planned and well rehearsed routine I’ve been practising for weeks with my girlfriend. This is another secret fear of mine: that I might try and come across too much as a ‘character’ at the table. Should I find myself seated with Mr Hellmuth, I think I am the exact sort of person that would be guilty of the practice of ‘Phil Baiting’ ie. trying to put him on tilt with a cheeky comment or showing a bluff, so I will forever have a legacy on YouTube.

I’m looking forward to the challenge though, generally I make money by finding awful players to play against but I most certainly won’t have that luxury this time. I’m sure the odds on me winning the event will be right down there with whichever novelty celebrity turns up as they seem to do, but at the very least I’ll get an extra line on my Hendon Mob Database stats, even if there is no money at the end of it.

Watch this space to see how I got on and when to expect my ‘Phil Baiting’ video on YouTube.

Result!

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Well, I certainly needed cheering up after doggy heaven got a new resident, so if anything was going to do it, it was this:



It was in fact a pretty awful game to watch, rather a case of the least shit team won it, rather than an amazing performance. Watching it with 4 blades make it all the sweeter and hopefully this can send us on a decent run of results now.

RIP Oscar: 1998-2008

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Its a very sad day today as the Carter family dog, Oscar, had to be put down today after a serious stomach problem. He would have been ten this year and he really was the friendliest dog in the world. We got him when he was 6 weeks old, which is not normally allowed because he hadn't properly 'imprinted' with his mother - this is probably what made him such a great dog because I always thought he thought he was a person, which would explain why so friendly and obediant he was with every human he came into contact with.

Best dog ever, we named him Oscar after the boxer Oscar De La Hoya, who had beaten the shit out of Julio Cesar Chavez the night before we got him.

They say bad luck comes in threes

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This is in no way a bad beat post. I could make a case for how I could have gotten away from what has just happened to me with ease (as well as making a convincing case as to why I was really unlucky) - however this post is purely to document one of the single most crushing feelings I've experienced as a player. Its probably a mistake to be writing about it now as it happened about 12 minutes ago and I'm still reeling.

I'd just had one of the best weeks (and best months) of my playing career. After the Omaha win on Stars I have had a fantastic run at the NLHE tables on Party and Tilt and this week I can honestly say I crushed pretty much every game I played. So I've been sat around this weekend toying with what to do with all this extra wonga.

With a few hours to spare before din dins, I loaded up Full Tilt as my girlfriend was taking down the Xmas decorations (Now I am really wishing she had asked me to help instead of beng so bloody considerate). I started three tabling the six max $2/4tables and suffered three bad beats literally at the same time:

Table 1: I flop three tens (T9 in my hand) and mateboy hits a four (44) on the turn to give him fours full after 2/3 of the money had already gone in.
Table 2: Pocket Kings loses to pocket sevens which become quads
Table 3: I flop a set of fours against a nut flush draw, which in fact hits runner runner to make a straight.

As I said above, I actually think I played two of the three hands less than perfectly (Table 3 was a sicko though) and in fairness I'd had no bad luck at all in the past week or two, so this was certainly due and in individual cases I would have shurgged my shoulders and just reloaded.

But for all three to happen at exactly the same time on each of my three tables was probably the sickest thing I've experienced. £700 lost in quick succession, which is very small compared to the amount of money I've won this week and much smaller than the biggest single pots I have lost in my life. I've still had one of the best weeks of my life even after this, yet I still feel like I've been punched in the stomach by my mother in a house of worship.

Normally also I have a great ability to hide my tilt in company, but right now the missus is hiding all the sharp objects in the house.

New Year Resolution (Or why poker has made me a Fat Bastard)

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Taken from my new column on www.thehendonmob.com

In this day and age of obesity and type 2 diabetes, there looks to be very little chance that “I am going to lose weight” will be knocked off the top spot for the average westerners New Year’s Resolution list. I personally don’t like new year’s resolutions by definition, any good intention is doomed to fail by calling it such a name, but I will be one of the porkers trying to reduce one’s porkiness in 2008, whether or not I call it a resolution.

Poker is essentially a desk job, whether you are at your PC or in a casino. Like many of you out there, the sedentary life of a poker player may well be the reason for why I have gone up a belt size and conveniently ‘forget’ to weigh myself every Monday morning. I wouldn’t say I was fat, but I used to be in really good shape and I’m much closer to fat than I am to those glory days.

And a ‘poker gut’ is not a rare thing to see in a card room these days. I often complain that when a casino has ten or eleven players to a table it is too many people from a ‘playing’ point of view, but now I’m starting to think that my real problem is the actual physical space. Those tables were probably designed to fit eleven normal sized men comfortably, but didn’t properly look at the poker players demographic when they did. Is my love for shorthanded poker actually a just an appreciation of being able to stretch out and let everything hang loose?

I’ve been at a tournament before when a portly gent busted early from the competition, tried to make his way out of the card room and literally couldn’t. All the players in the surrounding seats were also fat chuffs and nobody had enough space to clear him a path out of the poker room. It wasn’t until another played busted and we were able to move a table or two subtly and strategically that he was able to leave.

Despite nobody able to give an inch to allow their fellow man to leave the card room with dignity, I’m pretty certain it would have been a breeze to clear the room if they just went and announced the buffet was open. I can’t think of many places where being at the back of a queue means you are probably going to starve, than it does at the buffet of a poker festival. I was in London this year at the WSOPE and chuckled every day when, without fail, it would seem that occupying positions 1 and 2 of the front of the buffet queue would be Jimmy Fricke and Greg Raymer (How do I know? I was usually right behind them in the bronze position).

Yep, this poker is a sedentary lark which I want to do something about without reducing the time I spend at the table. I’ve toyed with turning my PC into some sort of exercise bike powered poker machine but I’m scared I might sweat on my mouse and misclick at a crucial time. If Dusk Till Dawn could open up a little gym in their backroom that would help too.

But I turn to some of less fat poker players based in the States for my real inspiration to shed the pounds while winning dollars (geddit?) in 2008. While most people were shocked at the sums of money Erick Lindgren won during his crazy golf prop bet at the WSOP, I started to ponder how much weight he lost in the process. Patrik Antonius and Gus Hansen have a much publicised high stakes tennis match planned, which is another great (and much safer) way to combine exercising and a love of wagering big sums of money (I’d still need some hefty plastic surgery if I were to come close to replicating those two particular poker studs).

There have of course been a multitude of weight loss bets that have been a staple part of poker folklore. I’ve even noticed a thread popping up on the Hendon Mob forum proposing a community based weight loss bet. I for one am more than up for this and will happily listen to anyone who wants to make a big bet that I can’t lose X amount in X days, can’t lose more than them, can’t lose more than them with a 6lb handicap etc etc - though I must admit a more ‘long term’ bet would be a better solution which would probably stop me from downing a cocktail of laxatives for a week solid.

It’s probably a bit sad that I have to resort to begging the poker community to gamble with me that I can make a diet work, but maybe that’s what a lot of poker players need. Poker is the reason (or at least excuse) for the two or so stone I’m trying to shift and at least this way I can spend time at the gym and claim it to be ‘work’.
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