Blatch Scam and British Masters Final

What a crazy couple of weeks it has been poker wise, an upper followed by a real downer. 

British Masters Final Table
I really should chirp more about these things after having such a baron period in live poker last year, but I made my second live final table in a row last weekend. After the UKIPT side event I went to Leeds for the British Masters Poker Tour main event. It was a tale of two weekends, everything that happened to me on the table turned to gold and everything I did away from it turned to shit.

I have never driven to Leeds before but I know how bad it is in the City centre to drive around. This was proven to me when I arrived 1 hour early and Sat Nav telling me I was 3 minutes away. 1 hour later I had had enough of getting sent the wrong way for the final 3 minutes and decided to park my car and get a taxi the rest of the way (Turns out I pretty much drove past the place 6 times anyway). I also had to pay a taxi driver to let me follow him to my hotel at the end of the night, I was that tilted with the combination of the Leeds one way system and a suspect Sat Nav.

I didn’t sleep a wink at the hotel, I’m a bad sleeper at the best of times and the combination of 10 hours play and two hours watching England draw with the Yanks was enough to ensure I wouldn’t relax at all in the hotel. I was rough as a dog the next day and pretty ill (Reckon I ate something dodgy) but then I discovered the joys of Lucozade Alert Plus, a little concentrated burst of caffeine in a bottle. Wow, I have drunk redbull before and once took Pro Plus when I was doing exams, but this was the most effective energy drink I have ever had. Not only was I not tired anymore, I reckon I could have run home from Leeds. 7 hours it lasted, which was long enough for me to play and drive home. I probably wont have one again, I cant imagine they are good for you.

I also had toothache, my phone broke, I forgot to pack half the things I needed and a bunch of other FML moments throughout the weekend.

Onto the actual game and day 1 was a dream for me, I ran like god. I would love to say I played well but I think a trained monkey could have got to day 2 with the cards I had. I actually went card dead a bit towards the end of day 1 which meant I went back with an average stack, and then day 2 wasn’t much better, but I cant complain because I ran so well for the first day it would seem ungrateful. The final table didn’t go particularly well, it wasn’t a fishy final but for the most part it was very straightforward, you could raise and take it most of the time, unfortunately all the times someone seemed to have a reraising hand would be when I was at it.

7th for £1,380 was fine, but I really wanted to win it and for that matter, I just didn’t want to stop playing. The banter at the final and over the 2 days was great, we had all played each other quite a lot by the time the final rolled round and there were a lot of good natured in-jokes abound. The eventual winner, Ross Johnson, was a top bloke and we had played each other from the start of day 1 and got in some funny hands together. I think he probably deserved to win it too, he had a good solid aggressive game which I think was right for that level of competition.

I certainly will play a few more legs of the British Masters Poker Tour because the structure was very good and the atmosphere was just fun. I love the other tours and events we have but sometimes you find yourself stuck at tables full of dousches taking themselves too seriously, it was nice to be playing a tournament that was a lot more relaxed while still having something meaningful to win.

Christ, what do you say about this? If you haven't seen it already, check out the car crash that is the Neil Blatchly staking thread on Blondepoker. To summarise it briefly, a very well respected and well liked member of the Blonde forum that many of us know on the circuit has been conning a bunch of us for about a year, taking a total of between £120,000 off us in a sports trading staking scams.

It really reads like a stereotypical soap opera conman storyline, on reflection we all look really naïve for ever trusting him but believe me, he was very convincing on and off the forum. The guy we thought was a 'balla' is actually someone who was broke, close to bankrupt, claiming jobseekers allowance and stealing from us to fund his lifestyle. I wont even bother going any further on the facts than that because it is such a complicated, scary, sociopathic string of twists and lies I would never do it justice, deffo worth reading the thread if you ever have the time to cycle through over 140 pages.

I don’t expect to see my money back, more than anything I do not want to deal with him any more. I was very uneasy about writing the story up on Pokernews because it was quite close to home and also, if he is in fact someone with mental issues, I would hate for the publicity to send him over the top and he harm himself. However the eyes of all the online gambling world in the UK are on this and I couldn’t ignore it as a story, I actually think it would have been irresponsible not to  post the story as a warning to others and finally he does need to be exposed for this, unlike a lot of very angry people on the forums I don’t want to see him get his head kicked in, but he does need to be made an example of either in court and/or at least a shunning from the gambling community.

One thing that has probably come of this is I will probably never stake anyone again. I never really won a great deal staking but it’s a fun sweat while it lasts and you never know one day it might culminate in a big win. But after this I am not sure how I can ever trust a poker player fully again after this. Blatch was such a shock, he would have been in my list of least likely grimmers, so it has really damaged my view on this for a long time.

Edit: Daleroxxu sums up the story quite well in his excellent Blog here. 

Oh well, sod him. On to other things, the GUKPT is coming to Sheffield, twice, next month and I am pretty excited about that, although unlikely to put up a staking thread for it now :). 

Year of the Brits Part 2

Taken from my UK Pokernews Column

Reporting on, playing on and being friends with people on the UK circuit, I must say I am quite indifferent to people winning large sums of money. I’ve got friends who have won pretty big amounts in UK events and for the most part my biggest reaction is “Good, I can bag an easy interview then”. Occasionally I will be particularly pleased for an achievement by a player on the UK circuit and now and then I will be a bit jealous, but 99 times out of 100 its just business as usual for me.
Apart from when it’s the World Series of Poker.
It is probably the fact that I am about to explode with excitement that the World Cup starts this weekend that I am reminded of this fact, but I turn into a massive fan boy during the WSOP and am genuinely delighted for every bracelet, final table and even min cash UK players manage in Vegas. I’m not alone; there is something about the WSOP that makes every player in the UK genuinely excited by the success of other UK player, in a game where for the most part we are only ever really bothered by our own fortunes.

Poker is a very solitary game and no matter how happy you are for the players you like, you’d rather it was you. That changes when it’s the WSOP, it reminds me of supporting your local football team or your National team abroad – there is a really strong “It’s us against the World” feeling amongst UK players right now, or indeed “It’s us against the Yanks”, a victory for one is a victory for all of us. UK poker has been on a high since last year’s WSOP and British players have been taking down WSOPE, EPT, Irish Opens, Sunday Millions and more since.We could not have had two better players start the frenzy off than Praz Bansi and James Dempsey. Both very talented players and very popular figures in the UK. Praz for his previous success and HitSquad connections has been a real flag bearer for UK Poker. Dempsey has an iconic status on the popular Blondepoker forum and on the UK circuit. Every UK forum is going nuts, player’s facebook walls are getting hammered and every card room back home is talking about it. The rail at Dempsey’s final table resembled the banter we will see in every pub up and down the UK this Saturday for the England vs USA match and the excitement is reaching fever pitch in Vegas.
Will it continue? I am inclined to say yes. I think realistically matching 3 bracelets will be a fantastic result but there is no reason why we can’t beat it. The United Kingdom is a fantastic place to play and more importantly develop as a poker player, we have a lot going for us which is probably why we are doing so well out in Vegas.
We have some of the best poker communities around, whether it’s Blonde, theHendon Mob, AWorldofPoker, Sky Poker, BlackBelt Poker or APAT – all of which have a strong spirit of supporting and helping their players develop.
The UK is also somewhere where players can enjoy well structured, deep stack poker without breaking the bank. Dusk Till Dawn, APAT, the British Masters Poker Tour, the Grosvenor UK Poker Tour, the Pokerstars UK & Ireland Poker Tour, PKR Live, Black Belt Poker Live, the Sky Poker Tour Final and not to mention the plethora of affordable deep stack events over in Ireland. Just about every weekend players can locate a deep stack event in the UK for £1000 or less, which is probably why we are doing well in well structured events in Vegas right now.
There are loads of other things to mention of note, the fact the age limit is 18 not 21, the fact we don’t have to pay tax on winnings, the fact we have poker on TV every week (The Matchroom Shootout tournaments no doubt helped Neil Channing and Stuart Rutter go deep in the $5000 Shootout Event) and the fact that we have G Casinos, Gala Casinos and more in every moderately sized City. All of which has really helped encouraged people to play poker in the UK.
The more I think of it, how can we not bag another bracelet at the minimum by the time the main event comes around? We are behind the times in Stud events generally but keep an eye on all the Omaha Events and the $10,000 Pot Limit Hold’em because I think we will see some serious contenders in those fields, plus the $25,000 Six Max might be one to watch.
If I had to choose between railing a UK player at a big final table and watching England play a world cup match, England would get my vote and it isn’t even close. But other than that it’s a great time to be a railbird and I apologise to my missus in advance for how little she will see me this month as between World Cup matches I will be cheering on our boys and girls in Las Vegas while watching the Pokernews Live Updates.

Now let’s have another one please Lads.

Mini Final Table, Bookaments and WSOP Live Updates

I suck at updating this blog, particularly when I have something worthwhile to write.

Actually made a final table at Dusk Till Dawn in the UKIPT Bounty event on the Sunday, which I probably should have made more of as its been a long time since I played live and even longer since I made a final table. Came 4th in the end and shared a final with DTD owner Rob Yong, which was a pleasure. Even though he could wipe his arse with the first prize (He is a multi millionaire in case ya didn’t know) he was incredibly competitive, which is probably why he is so successful.

The book is nearing the end....I hope. This is probably why I haven’t been blogging lately, using up my daily word writing allowance on the book. I actually found myself in an interesting spot last month when I was interviewing Stuart Rutter for Pokernews. First of all, it was a fascinating interview because Stuart is a nice guy, a great player and speaks so enthusiastically about the game.

But after having spent 5 months working on a book about the psychology of poker, cowritten with the leading mental game coach in poker, I actually found myself probing Stu quite deeply about of his own mental game and doing my best Frasier impression in the process. I have learnt so much about the psychology of poker players in the last 4 months I just started probing in a way that I don’t think another journalist ever would. Asking the deeper reasons why he thinks its so important to win a tournament, how will he react if he doesn't win a bracelet this year and if he still wets the bed as an adult (Maybe not the last one) It’s not really relevant in the interview as I just stuck to writing up the usual GUKPT/WSOP gubbins, but whether Stu noticed it I don’t know because we went off on so many tangents including about 20 minutes on the mighty Owls and their League 1 prospects next season.

When I say poker psychology, just to reiterate I am not talking about how to put a player on tilt or give off false information. I’m talking about why we tilt, what motivates us, how to learn poker skill, how we handle variance, how to play in the zone consistently, how to increase the number of tables or hours you play, how to prepare before a session, how to warm down after a session etc. Jared’s material is so revolutionary (For poker) I think it will change the way a lot of players think about the mental game and I am really lucky that behind him, I probably know more than anyone else about his material. 

To give you an idea what I am talking about, most poker books will have maybe one section on the subject of Tilt, maybe a handful of pages. This book will have bigger sections each on 8 different types of tilt, plus further equally big sections on how to deal with it, cure it forever and how to use it to your advantage. The biggest problem we have is going to be condensing it enough so we don’t overload the readers with it all.

Anyway spamming over, now to spam what’s happening on Pokernews. The WSOP is underway and we have live updates a plenty all month, plus a ton of freerolls throughout (Including two freerolls to the Spanish Poker Tour). I don’t think the UK can replicate the massive year we had last year, but deffo think we can bag a bracelet in one of the more prestigious events, maybe two. 
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