Saturday, 7 November 2009

Back to Black

Leg 1 of season 3 in the Black Country Poker Club last night so a trip to West Brom for that, and their £15 Freezeout. Failed to make the final table after my pocket eights were no match for Steve Redfern's AK - with three 10's on the board I had boated up on the turn but the inevitable King on the river sent me walking. Always get them in ahead, sigh. Hilarious night ensued with new attendee (and Peter Kay lookalike) "Scouser" keeping everyone in stitches, with his witty and sometimes near the knuckle trash talking -much chat also surrounded his APAT ban where he appears to have offended the wrong people - I don't attend APAT events but I'm sure the tables are less enjoyable with him absent!

Heard news that The Broadway Casino in Birmingham had poor attendance for the Main Event at their Festival this week - only 33 runners for day 1A and another 43 players at the tables for day 1B, so that was disappointing and resulted in a massive overlay of nearly £26k. I might have gone down for the live satellites - they went in my diary when the Festival was announced - but the Main Event (had I survived day 1) was going to clash with the Wolves v Arsenal match, and as a season ticket holder that just had to take precedence!

Apparently the Festival organisers caused some controversy on day 1B, the start of which was delayed for over an hour in the hope of more runners taking part, but more significantly when allegations emerged that the management had entered a number of players on a freeroll basis - with the players getting 10% of any cash - just to boost the numbers. It's been alleged that the casino had to withdraw these players when the “paying” players found out and threatened to pull out themselves. After representations from some of the players the freerollers were withdrawn.

In the run up to this I'm aware that the live satellites were running on Sunday afternoons, with NO seats guaranteed, so I assume they were not well attended. Contrast that with the 10 seats guaranteed in a live satellite at Walsall earlier in the year for their leg of the GUKPT - which actually generated 12 seats - and it demonstrates the lack of ambition or the fear of guaranteeing anything. Value for money is the key.

The nature of the game has changed for sure - I remember one long-time player talking of his nostalgic recollection of the days when he would travel some considerable distance for a £25 or £50 game. Now you can throw a stone in any direction and have a fair to middling chance of hitting a casino with a decent £50 or £100 comp.

The £1000 competitions such as Broadway's need to be attracting people nationwide, not just locally, and I believe that the independent casinos need to have a link up with an online network to drive satellite winners to their front door. If I can sit in my living room and play a satellite for Estonia, why can't I do the same for what should have been a major event at the Broadway, once a venue where everyone wanted to play? OK, they want the locals to play live, but they need to realise their target market nowadays is far wider than just the Birmingham postal codes. I guess they are just scared that if they promote the online game they may suffer in the long run, without acknowledging the fact that the game now operates on two levels which are totally complementary.

The success of the GUKPT and Gala/Coral tours has been due in no small part to the numbers generated by online satellites, and people will travel the length of the country for them. Part of the reason for the overlay at the big DTD event earlier this year - I think - was their reliance on a couple of online mega-satellites, rather than regular events, two or three times a week, run for at least a couple of months ahead of the event, as done by the more successful tours.

Although it was slightly disappointing to hear that the casino tried to cover their asses by having their own horses in the race, which was something DTD made a big thing about NOT doing in May, to the extent of (as I recall) someone linked to Rob withdrawing, lest any accusations be made that he was doing just that. But Broadway (and DTD) at least had the guts to put the guaranteed money up in the first place, so if the punters dont support the event aren't they entitled to try and win some of it back? That seems a lesser crime than paying players not to play, to avoid a guarantee being triggered, as has been alleged in relation to another event recently.

With £1000 events running every month somewhere in the country, and the GUKPT at the top of most people's lists, Broadway's Festivals will need something else to trigger the right volume of players next year, if they dont just decide to give up, which would be a real shame. Hopefully they will consider an online partnership.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Oneway Poker

Went to Junction 10 last night for the Oneway Poker tournament held to promote the Romanello family's new online poker site, as well as (theoretically) to celebrate the Walsall card room's 10th anniversary.

Great competition, £150 + £15 buyin, 10,000 chips, 45 minute clock, so plenty of scope for play, and it was supposed to be capped at 140 runners. They managed to squeeze a few more in for a capacity crowd, and with alternates the final total was 168 runners.

My table was pretty tight for a few hours, with the possible exception of Pete "The Bandit" Evans, sat on my immediate right, who featured on the original series of Late Night Poker, coming second to Devilfish. He claimed one pot last night showing 58 off suit, and eventually exited (shortly after me) when he disbelievingly ran pocket 6s into AA.

Not being quite so inventive as Pete, and with nothing much to play with, the only notable hand for me was when a Chinese lad lad raised UTG preflop, one caller in mid position, and I flatted with pocket Jacks. The flop was an attractive J 5 5, and the original raiser led out for 600, mid position folds, and I flat call. The turn is an Ace and matey leads out for another 900, which I repop to 2500, hoping he has hit his Ace, but he folds. I never got higher than about 12k in chips as I couldnt get going. Lots of nice playable late-position hands - but in early position, which had to be mucked, by and large, and the one time I got AA I was in the small blind - all fold to me, I min-raise hoping that he will fight back and he folds.

My worst spot came when the table "talker" raised in mid-position with what was essentially a bag of spanners, I called with AJ, hit the J on a seemingly innocuous flop, he bet 2800, I reraised to 5600, he called, and turned a straight. I slowed down after his call and he was trapping so it didnt prove fatal, but it was somewhat crippling. From going nice and steady I was down to 1675 chips and then had to go on a pushfest - four times in about six hands, luckily with decent cards but as it turned out, mostly behind, and sucking out - within 10 minutes I had AQ against a disbelieving AJ in the blinds and was back up to 8100 - a workable stack but still well below average as the numbers were falling as rapidly as a £5 rebuy.

After that little burst I went card dead again and tried a few things that didnt come off, so found myself down on 4500 and needing a couple of double ups with blinds now at 300/600. One of the pros at the table, Steve Jelinek, limped under the gun and all folded to me. I looked down at AsJs. Paused momentarily and pushed. Steve lazily started counting out his chips and made the call with pocket 4s. Two spades on the board gave me hopes of a flush but none of my outs came and I departed in about 67th spot I think. Good comp though, I enjoyed it. Dont know whether a raise and a bet on the flop might have been a better strategy in that last hand, but with an M of only 5 I was definitely in push or fold territory. He obviously knew he was flipping but had the chips to call.

Had a good chat with Antoni Romanello afterwards and spoke about an affiliate deal for the Oneway site, so hopefully will have a special deal available by the end of the week. Watch this space.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Trouble in Paradise

Saw a notice on a forum about the launch of the Paradise Poker Tour, run by the online poker site, which kicks off on London in December. I have a long standing hatred of the Paradise site, since their promotion of satellites for the Scottish Open in 2008. To recap briefly, they advertised a series of tournaments leading up to a super satellite, with 10 seats guaranteed, each winner getting a €2500 package for the event in August of last year. The Super satellite was only a €109 buy-in so it looked very good value, even more so when I was able to win into that via a feeder for only a few Euros. When the evening of the super satellite came, I settled down to play it, along with only another 151 runners, and was quite pleased at the prospect of an overlay of €8541 or €9900 if you exclude registration fees.

Strangely, at the appointed hour, the tournament failed to start. Their helpline person said there was a technical problem that they were working on, and to hang on, they expected it to commence soon. I thought, that's funny, every other game on the skin is kicking off on schedule, but for a while at least I believed the lie. About two hours later, my final call to the helpline got the response that "Oh, that's been cancelled now, players will receive an email tomorrow".

In fact, no email from Paradise was ever received, but I heard on the grapevine that a new satellite had appeared in the lobby the next evening. This time the buyin was €165, not €109, and there were NO guaranteed seats. Everyone had been given a €109 tournament token, plus a cash credit for €56, to make up the difference. I used the token for a sit and go, withdrew the cash, and watched amazed as only thirteen players started the rearranged satellite - which naturally generated no seats.

I thought that was a huge mistake by Paradise - their pathetic attempt to save the overlay would surely backfire on them? Giving away the €56 Euro credit to everyone cost them €8456, not to far away from what the overlay would have cost, so it just seemed so stupid. The bad publicity would hurt them, I thought. I fired off an email to them complaining about them welshing on their promotion, and pointing out that the positive publicity of having 10 players wearing their logos at the event in Edinburgh, one of whom may well have won it, would surely have been worth the comparatively small cost of the overlay. Paradise/Sportingbet never even bothered to reply to my email, the poker magazines made nothing of it, for fear of offending an advertiser, which pissed me off, and I vowed never to play on there again.

Until today. I admit I was weak and tempted by the thought of a tour event in London with a £500 buyin. So I shoved a few quid on the site and played a feeder satellite. During the game I had the good fortune to hit my second-ever Royal Flush, which was very nice. The only other time it has happened was about eighteen months ago, on a 12c/25c cash table, and it earned me about $30. On this occasion, it would be nice to report that I went on to win the satellite, but that didn't happen, due to some muppet who limped in the small blind. I looked down at AQ in the BB and shoved, "arsenal110" clearly thought it was worth calling with K6 off and duly hit a 6, which decimated my stack. In the next three hands I had Queens beaten by 9h 10h (all in pre-flop, he hit a flush on the turn), Q5 failed to outdraw pocket 6s (yes, just a suggestion of tilt there, I'll grant you), then Ks9s let me down, allin on a KKA flop, when I found myself up against KJ and A6. Maybe me and Paradise really should just leave each other well alone.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

ECOOP Freeroller

A small reload on the Circus Poker skin, an iPoker site which I confess I am not in the habit of using, earned me a place in the first of their series of ECOOP V Freerolls, playing for three guaranteed seats in their Super Satellite, which will in 6 weeks or so offer a seat to the ECOOP Main Event, a package worth $1500, with a chance to win a share of $1,500,000. Not bad for nothing. From the Super Satellite there will be runners up prizes of seats to a couple of ECOOP V side events for 2nd and 3rd places.

Expecting the usual deluge of freerollers I was surprised to find only 47 players kicked off this event, but perhaps in view of the fact that you had to deposit SOMETHING in order to qualify it ruled out the Eastern European freeloaders who usually ensure that Latvia and Belarus are well represented in this sort of thing.

Opted for a "tight as a drum" and "milk the muppets" strategy, since I have learned the hard way that giving my opponents credit for having the ability to fold fourth pair is often an over-estimation of their grasp of the game, and until I think they have grasped this concept and embeodied it in their game I will continue to try to avoid being crippled or knocked out on a perfectly justifiable bluff. It's perfectly apparent that most continental players have only read as far as Chapter 2 "Top Pair Any Kicker", and trying to represent a straight or a flush will do little to get them to fold a weak, but winning, hand.

Enough of this, the short and sweet version of this story is that I have taken the first tentative steps towards achieving a monster payout by winning the freeroll and earning my place in the Super Satellite on 29th November, which will be a busy day, as I will have been to see the mighty Wolverhampton Wanderers humble Birmingham City that very afternoon.

The game itself was steady, I managed to amass a chunk of chips fairly early on, then took a serious dent when I ran QQ into the monster that is A7 off suit, pulling me back to the middle of the pack, but that sort of thing never bothers me much - I used to think "Oh, no, that's me blown it" and go hell for leather trying to recoup the lost chips, and my position. These days I dont give a toss, since it's only important to be in the first three at the end, and the chip leaders after two hours rarely seem able to achieve that miracle, probably because the loose way in which they acquire their chips in the first place leads to their ineviatble downfall, when they fail to change gears. That and a belief that that they have somehow donned a cloak of invincibility.

Noticed that Andy Gray, the cardroom manager at Stoke Circus, was also playing the event and was resonably well chipped up when we got down to two tables - took a look and he was the only active player on a table of sitouts!! Nicely balance by the iPoker network who usually manage to get the top three chip leaders grouped together before engineering a collision of biblical proportions. Or at least resulting in the utterance of the name of our Lord in less than celebratory fashion - "Jeeeeesus Chrrrrrrist"!.

Anyway down to the final table and Andy and I are pretty much swapping 2nd and 3rd places with around 10k apiece, as the chip leader, a Swede, has been sitting out for ages protecting his 20k stack. He came back into the game when he was blinded down to about 16k, at which point I went on a bit of a heater getting up to about 24k, and thought about sitting out myself. Not really. After robbing him of half his chips I took it easy on Andy on one or two occasions - folding to a reraise on a paired when he was probably at it, and laying down AQ on a 10 high board when again he was probably stealing with an overbet. I later had cause to regret this almost-soft play as once he got re-established he went after me big time! A lot of toing and froing when we were down to 5 left, but I had regained the chip lead by this stage. In the end ArhturDent1 in the SB made a move with 2-6 against juprok77 in the big blind, and got looked up with JJ - but the flop of 3 4 5 rainbow left the BB one of the two short stacked. Eventually the other short stack was first of the group to go, getting a call from Andy with Q7 against his JJ, only for Andy to flop two pair. Wasnt unhappy to see this guy go - he had made a couple of questionable plays against me in the early stages and had been the one to take a big chunk off me with A7 off before I put him back in his place.

Inevitably it was decided with a race. juprok77 UTG pushed with AdTd for about 4.5 k and I had to call with JJ, which held, despite two diamonds on the flop. So BlazingSaddler, ArthurDent1 and me made it through to the Super Satellite, which was nice.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Middleweight Champion

As a "Middleweight" in the Bluesquare VIP levels I was able to play the Middleweight $500 freeroll, which started with only 33 runners. Not too many familiar names in the game though Steve Holden (avillan) and toondavey40 (a GUKPT league regular) both made it to the final table as did I.

Steve kept pushing his short stack until he ran KT off into KK, and departed in 10th. Prior to the final table I got a nice double up through batsh1t, with KK up against his JJ - limped for 160 then pushed all in for 5700 odd to my raise to 480. I didn't take long to call and he failed to outdraw me, so I got a boost and he struggled for a little while thereafter but still made 7th place.

I built steadily with a steal here and there, gave a few away, sometimes my fault and sometimes bad outdraws, but ended up heads up with 77grant77 who played aggressively so I tried to do likewise. With a 3 to 1 chip advantage I pushed from the SB with JQ, he made the call with AT off, and I spiked a Q on the turn, after a 3-4-5 rainbow flop gave him a straight draw as well as being ahead. So he had to settle for $125, while I pocketed $200 for first. Not bad for nothing.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Dusk Till Dawn Visit at Last

Have never yet been to Dusk Till Dawn in Nottingham, so in view of my failure to qualify for their £250k Guaranteed last week, I decided to have a pop at the online qualifier last night for the £80K Guaranteed this weekend. A €20 tournament with 90 minutes of rebuys, and 50 - yes - 50 seats worth €375 (£336) guaranteed, and I figured if I qualified I could square it away with the girlfriend later. Dont know when I last got a chance to play on a Saturday (the GUKPT Newcastle weekend doesnt count cos I got knocked out on the Friday and just spent Saturday nursing a seriously bad hangover). Anyway, 227 starters, and I spent a long time grinding away with nothing. Had to take a rebuy at one stage when something I tried didn't quite come off and I ran into a non-believer when representing a flush (I got him later), but then settled into a decent routine and was around or slightly above average by the second break, at which point I took the add-on, because everyone else was bound to, and duly did. I was quite happy to be sitting in the top half of the field, because there weren't too many dropouts before the end of the rebuy stage, so a lot of play still left in the competition.

Eventually started to get opportunities to build my stack and got up to about 13k when the average was about 9k, then I got another chance to knock someone out when I had AK UTG+1, and the UTG player with about a third of my stack pushes. Mmmmh, I decide I need to win these races to improve in the competition and so push to isolate. If he has AA or KK he wouldn’t push unless he is very stupid or thinks the rest of the table are; if he has a lower pair and I miss, I’m below average, but no worse damage than that. Luckily I get it heads up with him and he showed AJ which didnt improve. Kicked on from there, I think the highest position I reached in the competition was 7th, with about 100 left, and I began to think I could probably fold my way to a seat. Although I didnt intend to try that, I must have jinxed myself with such thoughts because I went card dead for SUCH a long time it eventually became squeaky bum time as I kept falling down the leaderboard, and the blinds started to get huge to the point where it was a push or fold game for virtually everyone - 20th with 80 left - 36th with 64 left - 45th with 58 left - and every player was letting the clock run down, taking the maximum time before folding, in the hope that action on the other tables would see some more casualties.

It wasn't long before I was out of the magic 50 and desperate for something to push with. With a monster stack sitting two places to my right, who was raising just for fun, I had hoped for something with a little meat on the bones before I put my tourney down the pan, especially having bubbled for this tourney back in January. With just over 10K left in my stack, and blinds at 2000/4000 with a running ante of 400, I should have pushed long before this situation but really had been dealt nothing that I could put any faith in preflop, particularly in the face of a big raise from mid position (the “Hijack” apparently having moved to about seat 5!), and I finally find myself in the BB with K4os. So, naturally, all fold to the big stack on the button who raises to 18k, as expected, and the SB hides under the duvet with his eyes closed, also as expected. If I fold I have 6k left and will lose 2400 of that in the SB, and within a hand or two I'll have less than 1BB, so I'm pushing anyway, but a non-participating player types "odds" in chat box, to try and entice me to play it, for his benefit naturally, and I dont like that - I have found quite a bit of that sort of speechplay on DTD chat - but in fact he’s not wrong, I’m getting 3/1 and since they say you’re never that much of a dog with “any two” (the liars) I'm pushing anyway - so I let rip with both barrels of my spud gun and find the original raiser has JQos. Bugger me, I'm ahead. Then I hit my 4 on the low rainbow flop, even better. Sadly the turn and river complete a straight on the board so its a split pot. Survival is good enough at this stage, and that small profit from splitting the SB and the antes is enough to catapult me back up to 46th!

On the next hand i get pocket 9s in the SB, and all fold to the button who decides to fire it all in and he has me covered by 39 chips. Having just achieved a modicum of safety, he probably expected me to fold, but I was having none of that as there is nearly 12k in the middle before his bet, so just under 24k in total, so with just under 7k behind, once again I’m getting over 3/1 to call, so a medium pair is a godsend, and I have to ship it. I certainly wasn’t intending to faff around for another orbit only to find myself in the same position as before, so in goes my stack and I'm relieved to see he has pocket 7s rather than overcards, and my 9's hold, much to his despair. There followed a 2 minute rant about how that’s typical, the site hates him, he can’t win anything, always gets set up, been the same for months. Poor puppy. Grow a pair. So now I'm back up to over 33k, in about 14th position, and my seat should be safe. With 51 left, bubble time, I'm rooting for Stokie player Kev Bloor who is all in on his Big Blind on another table with about 2900 chips. The whole world is watching ..... well, everyone left in the tourney …… there is talk of collusion when another friend from AWOP, who is on the SB on that table, says he "can always fold". But someone else on the table doesn't like that kind of friendly talk and raises. Martin folds his 10 2 in the SB, and it is revealed that the raiser has AKs, with Kev holding 93 offsuit. Delighted to see Kev hit a straight to survive, unbelievably, and within a minute or two there is a car crash on another table and the bubble is burst. Instead of finishing, the game continued, so we had to keep going all-in till it finished, which is always a pain (and why do people fold their hands in that situation?), but after the all-in fest I ended up in the same position - 14th.

So, roll on Saturday, as I am looking forward to my first visit to Dusk Till Dawn having heard nothing but good things about the place. Shit, better tell the girlfriend. I'm just a little worried that they may have overstretched themselves recently, with big guarantees for their tournaments, resulting in big overlays, and big guarantees in the satellites into those tournaments too. There were 50 seats up for grabs last night, 227 runners, and another overlay. It cant go on - people may say the owner has loads of money, but it's not a bottomless pit and unless he's running the place as a tax loss operation he won't - indeed he can't - keep subsidising it forever. The place has earned itself a huge reputation, so I dont know why they go and shoot themselves in the foot with this apparent financial folly. For the £250k GTD "Main Event" last week, they clearly expected a better turnout, rather than having to underwrite a £70k overlay, and people have said perhaps the timing was wrong, but more importantly I think they relied on two big Super Satellites - one in April and one in May - each with 50 seats guaranteed - to pull in the crowds, and assumed the guaranteed prize pool would ensure direct buy-ins from all the usual suspects - surely enough top professionals (who weren't potless, or in Vegas already) would fancy their chances against a big field of amateurs? Well, apparently not. When the numbers failed to materialise they put on another "last chance" super satellite on the Bank Holiday Monday only two days before the event was due to start, but that smacked of desperation. So in three Super Satellites I think I'm right in saying they guaranteed 115 seats. But if they had spread those seats over two or three months at the rate of say 10 or 15 a week, they may have had a better chance of covering their costs, especially if they had opened up the satellites to the whole Boss network, rather than just their own skin. (If we can play for events in Estonia, or wherever, surely the whole of Europe could have a crack at coming here?)

They announced the three events in their Grand Slam series early enough, so why in God's name did they not follow the well-trodden route that Grosvenor and Gala use, of having two or three Super Satellites per week, pitched at say £50, £100, and £200, with loads of £5, £10, and £20 feeders into those for players with a limited bankroll? At least the registration fees from the feeders and satellites would generate some cash and may help to make up some of any defecit, and people would no doubt get into the way of playing them every week, the way they have with the established tours. Nothing to stop them throwing a "50 Seats Guaranteed" mega-satellite into the schedule somewhere if they feel like it, but plenty of people play for GUKPT seats with only one or two seats guaranteed, so why wouldn't they do that for DTD, regardless of where they live? It's no harder to get to Nottingham than, say, Thanet, Bristol, or Newcastle ....

Since everyone seem to be agreed (apart from a few Londoners who would get a nose-bleed if they came north of Luton) that this has the potential to be the best poker venue in Europe, it would be a real shame to see it fail as a result of less than perfect marketing. Let's hope they get it right for the next one in September, and start some satellites and feeders before the end of this month.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Playing for Vegas

Got up early - YES, REALLY - and happened to notice a $9 rebuy Stage 2 satellite at 10.10am on Bluesquare for the WSOP. Oh well, I'm only going to be drinking coffee for the next hour so why not? Duly won a seat in the $88 Stage 1 freezeout satellite at 1.15pm, which would hopefully lead to the $540 satellite to the WSOP Main Event in the evening. A decent start to the day, had a rebuy but didnt need an add on, as I was so far ahead by that stage.

So I sat down at 1.15pm full of optimism, albeit trying to cook lunch at the same time, and within 5 hands I was out having had my Aces cracked. Pot sized bets dont seem to have any effect on some players on the iPoker network - if they have an Ace it clearly ain't in their repertoire to consider folding preflop or at any other time. Flop was 4 4 5 - I bet the pot, and he called. He'd called my preflop raise from the blinds but with blinds still at 10/20 he could have done that with anything. I didnt fancy him for playing a 4 though, maybe 6 7, but had not seen enough of him to know. Turn was a 7, so I bet the pot, and he called again. In fairness I now realise he had both flush and straight draws by this stage, albeit on a paired board, and he was getting 2/1 after the turn, but he couldnt realise that even with 17 outs his straight or flush may not be good. The river was Q clubs and I banged it in, banking on the fact that he couldnt possibly have fished all the way to the river for a backdoor flush, but of course he had Ac 6c and rivered his flush. Despite my preflop raise he clearly didnt put me on pocket 4's, 5's, 7's or Q's, which was what I needed this time - not AA. Hey ho. Played another three WSOP Jackpot sit and goes, and managed to run up a sequence of, er, 2 wins, before crashing out in 4th to another hideous outdraw.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

State of Play

No pokering today of any consequence, apart from one of my infrequent attempts to build a bankroll out of nothing on Paddy Power in their mid-day freeroll, which resulted in me getting AK UTG in the first hand. These are usually mental affairs which are all in or fold virtually from the word go or at least until the lunatics get their come-uppance, so I raised, saying to my girlfriend "watch this, someone in late position will go all in, I'll call, and be out first hand". Predictably, the button did push, I DID call, but on this occasion the button had AA. Ah well, still stuck on $6.21, which is of course an ROI of infinity so my parents would be very proud.

In the evening went went down to Star City - not the casino, but to the Vue cinema - to see the film State of Play, starring Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, and Helen Mirren, and very entertaining it was too. Though quite how long the UK cinema industry manages to survive in the current economic climate remains a mystery. In a HUGE auditorium, there were 10 people watching this film. So the cinema took £70. Presumably they have to pay the distributors hundred of pounds every time they show a movie, so if that level of attendance was reflected in all other screens at the Vue, they must be taking a huge financial hit. Have been to see three or four films over the last few months, all on Saturday evenings, at different cinema chains, and I think the biggest crowd we have actually sat in was a massive audience of sixteen. Cant think of a reason for this, other than the fact that there are usually very few films that take my fancy so I havent been in the habit of going very often. Maybe other people, like me, have just got out of the habit of going to the movies. Or is the current decline in attendances due to the ease of access to downloads of pirate copies of movies? Whatever it is, it must be killing the live cinema.

Managed one short session of cash when we got back - just logged on to kill a little time - and only played 6 or 7 hands. Played and won a couple of small pots from the blinds then a few hands later got dealt KK. I just had time to wonder how I was going to get some chips in the middle when UTG+1 pushed all in - he was the guy who had lost the two earlier pots to me, and I had him covered, just, so banged my stack in the middle, thinking he would have played AA rather more cagily, and hoping he didnt hit what I assumed would be his raggy Ace. I needn't have worried, the rest folded, and his cards were revealed to be 3 7 off suit, I hit another K, he didn't river a straight or anything outlandish, and I doubled up. He didnt reload, so I just took the profit and retired to bed. All good. :-)

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

$5 Spam

Pokertime, a Microgaming skin, sent an email which I happened to spot in my spam folder, saying they had deposited $5 in my account to "welcome me back" to the site. I cant remember ever playing on the site, to be honest, but perhaps I did, so I the software and sure enough £3.34 was sitting there so played a handful of $2.50 10-seat Double Up Sit and Goes and cashed in them all, so the balance went up to £11 odd. They are not great value - $2.75 to win $5 - but if you fancy yourself as a 5-4 ON chance to come in the top 5 of a 10 handed game, it seems easy enough to build up a little cash. Just not sure if I can be arsed trying ut a Jesus challenge on another site!

Monday, 25 May 2009

Fog on the Tyne is all Wine

GUKPT Newcastle Day 1b and high hopes of having another good run like last year. Only 42 runners on Day 1a though, which was very disappointing and almost certainly spells the end of Newcastle as a venue on the Main GUKPT Tour.

Anyway, Friday didn’t go well, I was happy enough with the table, though quite a tough bunch. A few pro’s, some regular faces, Dara O’Kearney, two Irish Open final tableists in Nicky Power and Tom Dunwoodie, Greek Jack who was on my table at Walsall, George Geary and Dan Rudd, among others. Took a bit of a hit with QQ v AJ – Paul "Fatmarra" Moss hit the Jack on the flop and wasn’t folding, the turn brought the Ace. Check, check. It wasnt a big pot, Paul bet 300 on the end and I reraised it to 800, knowing he'd hit but hoping to represent trips, because he had been savaged several times in earlier hands and had always been beaten when he'd hit the flop big, so I was relying on his current insecurity. But he made the call with two pair, fair enough, no real damage done.

Then later in the 3rd level, with blinds at 75/150, I raised from the cutoff with AK – the big blind (Greek Jack) called, which to be fair he would have done with a wide range of holdings. Flop was AAJ with two hearts – hello, trips, very nice - I checked, he checks. The turn is the 4 of clubs, so now two clubs are on there as well, but I'm not too worried he's flushing. I check, he bets 300 into a 975 pot, which seemed a bit small but looked like he was trying to take it away with nothing, so I make it 1200, then he makes it 3k. Mmmm, I'm only behind to JJ, 44, AJ, or A4 - out of all the possible permutations of hands he can have, what are the odds he has those? Assuming him now to have a strong underpair, I push, only to find he has AJ. Dunno what the odds are of that but they are obviously not bleeding long enough. Should I have sussed he had the ace with a paired kicker? Discuss. It was a real cooler and hard - well impossible for me - to get away from, though I had a spooky feeling that it didnt feel right as I pushed my chips in. I guess you should trust your instincts - I had been hearing tales of AJ outdrawing people all week in the side events and it really was the nuts at Newcastle – the deciding hand on Sunday on the final table was AJ too. Que sera sera.

Played the £100 on Friday night but was just playing for fun (and drinking) so did no good there either – my eventual push with Ad 10d from the button running into QQ in the blinds. But a decent weekend and met up with some tour regulars, enjoyed a good chat with Dara O’Kearney and Mike Hill among others.

My mate Mike went into day 2 third in chips, but donked out in 21st spot for no money – largely due to a very bad (IMO) call from the blinds for half his stack with KJ when the cutoff had AQ. In fairness the cutoff had raised him 4 times out of the last 5 orbits. But he never recovered from that. As compensation, he subsequently headed home and won a package to the WSOP Main Event on Stars – a $215 shootout with 81 players - so it wasn’t a bad weekend for him overall. Jammy git.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Running Bad

Played a “50 seats Guaranteed” satellite for the £1000 event at Dusk Till Dawn last night (€65 buy in); thought it would be a breeze to coast to the top 50 since only about 270 played, however it was like a bingo rebuy so when I got my reasonable stack decimated, then zero’d, when outdrawn by two different muppets, with 20 mins to the first break, I didn’t throw any more money at it. There are two more big events there later in the year so I’ll have a go at them. Timing isn't right to be having three days off work anyway as the event clashes with a big IT implementation at work, which is almost bound to go tits up and require my presence.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Bingo Bango

Played a “50 seats Guaranteed” satellite for the £1000 event at Dusk Till Dawn last night (€65 buy in); thought it would be a breeze to coast to the top 50 since only about 270 played, however it was like a bingo rebuy so when I got my reasonable stack decimated, then zero’d, when outdrawn by two different muppets, with 20 mins to the first break, I didn’t throw any more money at it. There are two more big events there later in the year so I’ll have a go at them. Timing isn't right to be having three days off work anyway as the event clashes with a big IT implementation at work, which is almost bound to go tits up and require my presence.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Satellite Day and Night

Two bits of poker success yesterday, one big and one small.

Was killing time at home when off work not feeling particularly well, but (feeling a little better obviously) played a daytime freeroll feeder on Bluesquare and won that, which got me into another $5 feeder last night, which I also won, so fingers crossed my luck will hold and I may get a trip to Dublin out of it, as it earned me a place in the Grand Final (sounds grand, but it’s only a $55 buyin) of the European Shorthanded Championship Qualifying series on Blue Square, which takes place next week.

The big news is that at the same time as the $5 satellite, I was also winning a $2250 package to play at GUKPT Newcastle, by virtue of the $109 Rebuy Super Satellite on BlueSquare. That lasted a bit longer. Plenty of big names and GUKPT regulars in the field last night – Jeff Kimber (I had two interesting hands against him and knocked him out), Jimmy Morgan, David La Ronde, among others.

First hand of note against Kimber I raised to 360 (3BB) in mid-position with pocket 10’s, he was a couple of places to my left, and flat called as I expected. All fold to the button who pops it to 1380. I need a double up as I’m a bit below average and with 20-odd left need to get busy if I’m going to make a dent in this, and I put him on a squeeze so push all in. Kimber folds, saying after the hand he folded JJ – which he obviously didn’t fancy in what looked like being a three-way pot, thankfully he’s a good player – and the button calls and flips AK, which doesn’t improve.

Ten hands later, Jeff's exit hand was the standard iPoker “setup” (or so we sometimes like to think), but it happens live too. Anyway, I had AA in early position, raised 3bb, Kimber flat called again, 7 high flop with two diamonds and I put him allin, which he called with KK. Game over, Jaffacake.

The best part that while the pros were rebuying willy-nilly, I had got there for $21 the previous night in a $11 feeder with $10 add on. I took the add on last night too, so my total investment was $121, about £80, so a cheap way of qualifying and more than covered by recent winnings and the £420 expenses that comes included in the package.

Was kind of surprised that Jeff Kimber was playing a satellite at all since he is supposed to be sponsored by Bluesquare – but if his deal is all based on rakeback, rather than the company just shipping him tournament fees, that might explain it. Since he recently swapped stables from Ladbrokes to Bluesquare who knows how bad a deal he was on there.

Had to play it a bit careful because at one point a guy was moved to my table on my immediate left with a monster stack, which restricted my action. When we hit the final table was surprised to see he had gone, but the NEW guy immediately to my left had even more of a monster stack – more than half the chips in play with 9 left – so I had to keep out of his way, sacrificing my small blinds 3 times out of five on average, but stealing out of position so it looked more plausible than the standard button/SB raise. Had a swings and roundabouts final table, mostly building gradually but steadily, with a few dips, never really higher than 4th from 18 left, and had drifted down and back up again, there wasn’t much between us apart from the one chip mountain. But happy enough in 4th, with 3 seats available and $550 for 4th. Got a monster hand with 6 left – KK in late position and a player UTG raised to about 2125. I reraised to 5800 and he/she called, leaving 3.7k behind, so it was all going in come what may.

Thankfully it was a 10 high flop, she pushed it in with Ace 10, missed her 5 outs, and I scooped the pot, putting me a very strong second. Should have just sat tight then, but a few hands later the shortstack pushed for about 40% of my stack, I looked down at Ad Kd, thought I could take him out, pushed all in to isolate, and find I’m up against JJ which held. Pairs were mostly standing up against the big Aces last night. When I got low in chips earlier on the final table, my push with pocket 2’s got through against the AQ held by the lady mentioned above who went out with A 10. So I had to get back to being more careful … and being an innocent bystander proved to be the best policy, as it turned out.

First significant action with 5 left involved Roscopiko (he used to post on AWOP a lot, but he’s a North East player and they have their own forum up there now). He’d been bullying the table whenever the monster stack wasn’t involved, and obviously thought he was the boss. I was mainly folding to his raises but threw in the odd challenge, usually when I had some chips invested in the blinds. The one that stands out was when he raised my BB and I called him with 2s 3s. Flop came xxK, not a spade in sight. I checked, he bet, I called. Turn is another K, I bet half the pot and he folded. It was easy to see what he was doing, but I didn’t think it was worth taking him on too often though. I am quite happy to appear weak at the table, it may be one of my strengths, so when you do make moves they think you have it. Hopefully.

Anyway, we are five handed, on the bubble, and Rosco in the SB has raised Jimmy Morgan’s BB twice, only for Jimmy to push and he folded. This time his raise was just called and they saw a flop – 3 4 x – with a couple of low diamonds. Jimmy pushed with JJ, Rosco called with Ad2d – he had Jimmy covered, but not by much, and hit his flush on the river. Arrividerci Jimmy.

So with at least $550 coming my way, I set about ensuring that I didn’t do anything stupid so I would get one of the seats. I was probably short stack at this stage with about 16k, big stack 50k plus, Rosco 26k-ish, and the other guy maybe around 18k. Not worried in the slightest, quite happy with my short stack game as I get so much practice at it, but was kind of hoping that a couple of the bigger stacks would get in a tangle before I needed to make significant moves.

There followed some movement of chips in a bit of a merry-go-round, Rosco lost a stack of chips, some to me, some to the others, then he got involved in a scuffle with the big stack when the bully set him all in preflop. Rosco made the call with 77, and this stood up against the bully’s A4os, so Rosco is healthy again. Damn! Five or six hands later, the most bizarre thing happened. With blinds still only at 250/500, after nearly four hours play, Rosco raised to 2200 under the gun, button folds, I fold in the SB, and the big stack flat calls in the BB. Flop is A J x, Rosco puts out a continuation bet of 5500, big stack all in for 39k+. Rosco has about 14k behind, sweats it for a moment or two, then eventually makes the call with QQ – big stack had A6. It was the easiest laydown imaginable, and he didn’t make it. Since he was aware from the earlier hand that Ace Rag was clearly in the BB’s range to call, and the BB didn’t NEED to bluff (other than to represent AJ against a worse Ace), it was the wierdest call I have ever seen. Even worse than some of mine. Anyway, even if the big stack had lost, to a better Ace maybe, he’d have had 26k left and still be second, so he had nothing to lose, but more importantly nothing to gain if he didnt have a hand. So for saving me having to put in more effort, grateful thanks to the Geordie grinder. Better luck next time.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Training FTW

Intended to play a GUKPT satellite last night but events conspired to prevent this happening when a simple trip into Stafford to pick my son up from the station resulted in me hanging around for hours waiting for him.

His journey back from his mother's in Warwick was delayed as a result of the discovery, in Birmingham, of a guy tied up in a car surrounded by canisters of unknown stuff which were assumed to be a bomb. As this was near the main railway line, all trains were being rerouted through the Midlands and his train was being shuffled around various back tracks in the Midlands - at one point I think his train ended up near Northampton.

Would have been easier and quicker to have told him to get off (somewhere!) and go and pick him up. Ah well, never mind. And nothing to look forward to poker-wise next weekend either, ho hum. Would LOVE to be at Dusk Till Dawn for their £300 comp with a £60k guarantee, but sadly I have allowed myself to be talked into attending (and I cant believe I'm saying this) an amateur production of South Pacific, which my girlfriend's best friend is appearing in. Deep joy.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Calling Station

Bumped into a respected local player at Walsall last night when we both played the live satellite for GUKPT Manchester - only a £30 rebuy. At the break we had our customary chat and I asked if he was busy at work – no, he said, his construction business had gone bust and he had to lay off 600+ people. Oops. He was quite philosophical about it, and his spirits seemed quite up. Well, they were up until he clashed with the famous Dave Smith on a QQx board – Dave had Q8, he had Q10, all went in on the turn which sadly for him was the 8.

I felt I played very well and was chip leader with 4 left; but only one seat was available and £590 for second, so not a huge field. At one point with about 7 players left I made a hero call having raised with AQ UTG only for a young guy to reraise all in from the button. Well, I say young, he was early 30s maybe, but a hoodie type with a manbag, who played like he thought he was a pro, which he may well be as I think I've seen him on the tour. But I had been watching him and he was always betting big in position, never getting called down, so I dwelled for an age and made the call, telling him if he had it good luck, but it looked like he didn’t want any action. He flipped 6 9, both spades, saying he thought I could have laid my hand down, faced with a reraise. I would have done, to a less blatant steal, but didn’t say so. First card out was a 6 of course, but next one was my Ace, phew. A nice double through and he was walking a few hands later.

Much later it all went horribly wrong when we were four-handed – a "cool guy" with sunglasses who has been playing like a maniac is in the BB, I’m on the SB with As2s, cutoff folds, I raise, BB calls. Flop 952, I check, he bets, I look at him, look at the flop, reckon he’s missed completely (he was a K 7 kinda guy, had played that sort of shite aggressively all night, and his stack had been up and down, with big swings) so I push all in, looking grateful for the action. He insta calls with 98, dammit, with no thoughts about overpairs, sets, or better kickers. So I’m down to about 16k with blinds at 2000/4000.

Cant play the next two hands and then have to sacrifice my BB, 3 4 off suit facing an all in from the button, then I’m up against the moron again in a SB/BB confrontation and get KK, push, he calls saying he has “an ace” and proceeds to hit it on the flop. So I imagine he’ll be at Manchester – the other two weren’t at the races, probably chopped the 2nd prize money, and he was now seriously chipped up.

Had the pleasure of playing with the be-hatted Dave Smith on my left at the final table, and he went out in 5th spot. Never played with him before, and found him to be a very nice fella, but he was also talking about his ill health and said the prospects dont seem to good. After all his GUKPT success, life seems to have turned around and kicked him in the teeth, and he said he didn’t play much during the second half of last year as a result. Here's hoping he has a turnaround in fortune and things work out well for him.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Another GUKPT League Match

Tonight was another online GUKPT National League match - a £25 freezeout on this occasion, hosted on Bluesquare. I dont play enough of these to figure in the league standings at the end of the series, but it can be fertile ground for some cash and tonight proved to be so, with another heads up battle leaving me runner up, having lost the chip lead on the second last hand. No idea who I was playing - b2988813 doesnt give me any clues - but on the penultimate hand I pushed with KdJd - as you would, probably, only to run into AQ, which doubled him up, then shoved AT into A6 off, and he turned the 6. Sods law, second again, and $120 for my trouble. Better than nowt.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Broke the Broadway Duck

Had a mad week when I played poker live for what seems like the first time in ages – both Tuesday and Thursday – and actually made final table at the Broadway on Tuesday for the first time ever; it's never been a lucky venue for me, and though I've only played there a handful of times, now I have that mental obstacle out of the way maybe I wont be so negative about the place.

Screwed it up on the final table, obviously – was probably second or third in chips and reraised all in with AQ to a standard raise UTG who called it with AK and half my stack was gone in an instant. I had some history with the original raiser and knew he was capable of laying a hand down, but he was also a gambler, so his previous laydowns may not have been as strong as I gave him credit for.

It got harder after that, with blinds getting big, and my exit hand was a SB steal that went wrong – Jh Qh, Asian lad in the BB had me covered but only just, and when I pushed he looked at his cards and his face lit up like A 10 off suit was the absolute mutts nuts, and so it proved after his insta-call. But 8th is a step in the right direction.

Had a long chat afterwards with a guy in his mid 30's who said he was an accountant, but fancied himself to one day play professionally. A good solid player, to be honest, but I had knocked him out, when I made a move from early position with pocket 3's (silly me) only to have him sitting in the small blind and unsurprising decide to look me up with pocket rockets - but a 3 on the flop sealed his fate. Better to be lucky than good.

Back to reality when some kid at Star City knocked me out of their £30 Triple Chance Freezeout on Thursday in 16th place – he felt 9 3 off suit was a playable hand and made up the SB. I was BB and just checked, after a suitably long dwell to let him infer I had something that was worth a raise. With 9 3, though, he obviously then HAD to call my push on the turn, after a 2 7 9 rainbow flop saw me bet and him just flat call. The queen on the turn, which led to my push after his check, just wasn’t a scare card for this guy, who wasn't to know if his 9 was good – “I put you on the 7”, he said, pathetically trying to justify his call when flipping his cards to the amusement of the incredulous table, many of whom, on several occasions, had already commented less than favourably when this moron made the wrong call and just got lucky – notably when his earlier 2 8 off suit caught a straight.

Now, as if I would have let myself get into trouble with middle pair, huh? How unlikely. I had 2 5 off suit of course. And a 7 came on the river, so I wished his read had been right and I had been on the 7! Shocking play all round.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Stand clear, lemmings, I'm coming through!

Following on from my stunning success (not!) at Walsall on Wednesday, I opted to go to Star City instead of Stoke on Friday, because I noticed that their Friday rebuy had attracted large numbers the previous week and a huge prize pool. When I got there, I discovered why – the previous weekend they had been staging some big tournament for online players who had come as far as Sweden, and the ones who arrived early played the Friday night game, hence the boost in numbers and prizes. One London player apparently had 32 rebuys and needed to come 4th to break even. He didn’t make the money.

Only 65 on Friday, so never mind. Ended up on the same table as Jim “The Cod” Farrell, who I had done a chop with when we were three handed last time I played there about six months ago; no notable hands, KK during the first level of the rebuy period where I missed out on a few hundred extra chips – I raised on the bb after about 6 limpers, all fold to Jim, didn’t realise he was still in the hand and showed, so he kept back the 300 he was about to throw in lol. Silly me. Eventually bloody annoyed when I needed a double up and had my QQ called by 99, who hit his set, sigh. All fairly standard but pales into insignificance compared to what happened at the Broadway on Saturday.

Never really got going on Saturday, and at the break was bumping along with about 6.5k. (6k starting) Treading water for an age, card dead, making a few steals here and there but getting respect and taking the blinds. The guy on my right was a complete moron – been playing J2 off, K4 off all night, suffering big swings, down then up, pretty bad standard and obviously noted by the rest of the table. So with blinds at 300/600, and having bled down to about 5.4k chips, I made the mistake of just raising with KdQd UTG, instead of pushing. With an ‘M’ of only 6, my only move was a push really, and I thought about it, but felt sure I could get it through with a raise to 2400 as it looked like I wanted action, and probably wouldnt be in too bad a shape if I got it.

All fold to the genius, who asks how much it is for him to call – he’s only on about 7k at this stage so he cant afford to bleed chips any more than I can, but he elects to make the call. Flop is 334, one diamond, and he puts me all in – standard float bet, I gotta call for 3k into a 8.1k pot, but NO! He’s only called me preflop with 3 7 of diamonds, the muppet. And then spiked the 7 on the river just for good measure. First time I’ve ever risen from the table with an ill-tempered derogatory comment to my opponent. What a call preflop, I ask ya. A couple of others on the table asked him what he thought he was playing at with that call, but he was oblivious.

But muppet calls were the order of the day at Broadway – a friend of mine made the break with over 20k. How? He got dealt 9 2 off suit in the BB. Flop 8 9 10. All check to cutoff who bets 300. Matey “doesn’t believe he’s got it”, so reraises to 900. The other guy pushes – so he calls, saying aloud “I don’t believe you have it”. The guy flipped 10 7 for top pair and the up and down draw. My buddy hit another 9 on the river. Muppet!

Ran better online last night. DTD have moved from Crypto to Boss Media (IPN), and anyone who had an account and downloaded the new software could enter a freeroll last night for a seat in their £300 event at the Easter weekend. 514 runners I think, only one prize, and I came 26th. Might have done better if I hadnt been under pressure to go to bed, but the girlfriend had been away for 5 days, and was getting impatient watching me play online, so I just banged it all in with Ah 10h when the table luckbox had raised 4BB UTG – all fold to him and he made the call for another 17k with pocket 4’s, great call, I never hit and the 4 on the river was irrelevant. Still, felt OK on Boss again, I’ve been boycotting it/Virgin for at least eight months because I couldn’t win a sit’n’go on that network – the outdraws were so bad it felt rigged. And when someone calls a large raise on a cash table with 3 9 os only to flop a house you start wondering if they know what cards are coming. Still, may give it another go ..... stand clear, lemmings, I'm coming through.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Always Ahead, Just Not After The River

Went to Walsall last night for the £30 DC Freezout. Only 54 runners, went out about 20 something, home by 12.30. Card dead after the break, made one mistake when I limped in mid pos with Kh Jh only for buttton to push – huge range for him to do that as he was short, made the call for an extra 2700 only for him to have AK. Oh well. Still had 5.5k or thereabouts, but that hand took me below average for the first time.

Exit hand was annoying. Pocket 10s in BB, button pushed. SB has just doubled up with a ridiculous call holding AJ and outdrawing a decent player. So he decides to call. I go over the top and the SB makes the statement “jeez, what am I up against then?”. He calls anyway.

He had AQ. Original raiser had K7os. K on the flop – no probs, I’ll take the side pot – blank turn, and the inevitable Ace on the river. Goodnight Vienna. Had been playing well up till then. If I hadnt squandered around 3k on the KJ hand I may have had more chips to deter his call on my exit hand, maybe not. Either way I made the wrong play, even though I got them in ahead, with two opponents holding 3 overcards they had 9 outs to beat me and five chances to hit their outs, so I’m not favourite in that spot. Possibly Stoke Friday, Broadway Saturday. Girlfriend in Spain visiting her Dad so better make the most of it.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Southend Road Trip

A pain in the arse week with work requiring me to be in Southend and London. Had intended to play the £50 at the Mint in Southend on Tuesday night but a colleague wanted to play a lower-stakes game so we just went to the Rendezvous casino for their £10 rebuy.

Came 17th of 37 but just a bit of a laugh really, didnt take it very seriously, and crippled myself when I didnt believe one of the locals could have possibly flopped his flush against my trips. He had.

Now I need to start focusing on my satellites; have even been missing them out and no chance of qualifying for the Vic now unless I go down to London and play the £250 live Super Satellite. Not very likely, but a missed opportunity. Satellites on Wednesday Friday and Sunday don’t really fit in with my schedule these days, I’d better have a word with my lady.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

GUKPT Super Satellite

When I won my seat to this I joked that I'd run like god in the feeder so would probably be out first hand. Not so - I lasted 20 hands. The 19th hand was the sickener - UTG+1 I find AA which is always so pretty. A standard raise to 120 gets one caller. Flop Q25 with two hearts, I bet the pot (285) to discourage a flusher, he reraises to 720, I shove, he calls with KcQd, happy days. He then (of course) hit his K on the river for two pair. The five outers always tilt me and I did not reload. Next hand my pocket 4s are no match for 10-2, so I lick my wounds.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Feeder Fun and Frolics

Had the afternoon to myself; got a text from a pal to see if I was planning to play the feeder for a Super Satellite to GUKPT London, and I hadnt been but did log on and sign up for it. It was a $10 feeder for the Super Satellite which is on Thursday. No biggy really, but 81 runners, so a fair enough little exercise. Well, you don’t need that many attempts at satellites really, if you do it right. I used to always like to play my way into into the $250 FO on Sundays, but they have reduced the number of feeders to that (last year there used to be 3 feeders on a Saturday and Sunday afternoon which were often piss easy, now they are only on Friday and Saturday evenings, when I am out).

Anyway, I won the feeder (knocking my mate out on the bubble lmao) Feel that I'm in decent form at the moment, not that I have had a chance to play much – but ran all over them in that satellite, finishing with about 75k chips when my next nearest opponent has about 20k. multiple seats, so never played it out. Fingers crossed my run continues on Thursday, probably be out first.

Friday, 27 February 2009

GUKPT Walsall Main Event

Seeing the girlfriend multiple times a week has caused me to shoehorn poker out of my schedule more and more, and that’s healthy, but after yesterday at GUKPT Walsall I want to shoehorn it back in a bit, now I've got a taste for live play again.

I did REALLY enjoy the game yesterday even though I bust out just after 9pm. First 4 hours were on a table with James Akenhead, Dave Maudlin, Dan Carter, and a guy called Jeff who told me later he’d played on the first series of Late Night Poker (he did, I checked, he played one heat, which Malcolm Harwood won), and some other decent players whose names I dont know. One of the unknowns remarked that he wished the table would break because after the departure of some old guy who donked himself out in less than an hour he was finding it a tough table with not a bad player on it – if he wasn’t taking the piss that was quite encouraging to hear, actually I thought he was the bad player but there you go, he obviously had experience and knew everyone, but thought he was better than he is and kept getting himself into tight spots. In fairness, he then lasted longer than me. So, I was bumping along on above average chips despite having had no real hands of note. I had dropped down to about 8200-ish at one point when I got involved in a couple of hands then opted to give up on good draws on the turn, no need to be a hero, then got right back into it with blinds at 100/200 when there were two limpers on my BB, SB folds, and I have 2 7 off. I check, unsurprisingly.

With a pot of 700, the flop comes Q 7 7 – Lovely - I check – UTG bets 600, UTG+1 calls, I call. Pot 2500.

And the turn card is the case 7 - Whoop whoop, quadzilla. Have had them at Walsall before, always nice. UTG bets 600, UTG+1 folds, I just call, dont want to drive him away. Pot now 3700.

River Q. Mmmmh. I don’t put him on QQ, he’d have raised pre, so it has to be a QJ or KQ kind of hand, but want to maximise my return and don’t want him checking behind, so lob in 1500. He calls and shows KQ asking if I have the 7. Er, duh! I was tempted to do a bit of amateur dramatics with a “suppose we’re splitting this one then” but he might have smelled a rat. Think I got the maximum out of that – he had odds of 3.5 to 1 to see if his house was good, I might have scared him off with more, though it's tempting to think I would have got paid off with a 2000 or 2500 bet.

So I carried on quite comfortably and was nicely up on starting stack but despite this my stack was actually slightly below average when we hit the dinner break, and they split our table 3 or 4 hands before the break. I was gutted, as I was enjoying that table. My new table contained Marcus Bebb Jones, Iwan Jones, Tim & Pippa Flanders, Julian Thew, Greek Jack, another face I should know, but no name to go with it, and a couple of short stacks.

Went completely card dead for 3 hours, got jacks once with blinds 150/300, raised UTG to 900, Iwan called in late position and the blinds folded. Flop AKJ, check check, blank on the turn, so I reach for chips and he mucks before I'd even decided how much. Had to fold when some new guy on the table came over the top after I put 1700 in with top-pair-up-and-down-draw, so discretion the better part of valour and all that, as I had no read on him, and assumed an overpair. I was quickly getting eroded by the blinds so started pushing. Best hand I saw was pocket 7’s and picked up the blinds. Anyway, down to 3500 at worst, I claw back to 5.5k which is still crap – average about 16k now – and get AQ on the button. Marcus is the BB and he has been a cardrack, made some hero calls and they have been ahead on unpromising boards, but fair play to him and he has about 35k now.

Instead of pushing this time I just raise to 1600, which was bordering on stupid as my 'M' was less than 10, so I am a cats whisker from push-or-fold being my only serious options, and he was bound to play his stack against mine with pretty much any two. Marcus reraises to 3200 which he would do, so I push and he has AK. He would never have laid it down to a push from me so the result was probably the same. Naturally there was a K on the flop, a Q on the turn to give me a glimmer of hope, but no miracle on the river and I am gone. Julian Thew, who was shorter than me at one point, had better luck after I departed, and had a series of double ups finishing the day with nearly 30k I think. Not bitter, I think you’ll find.

Sunday, 22 February 2009


Girlfriend went home early enough today for me to be able to play in another of these GUKPT Online League things on bluesq. Came second (again). Crippled by a muppet call (again) when heads up – my AQ looked good against the optimist’s A6 till the low straight completed on the river. Then it was uphill all the way, managed one double up before he knocked me out. Hate it when they say gg after they play so horrendously themselves. Would it be out of order to say "I know, can't say likewise"? Still, got $177 for 2nd, it all helps. Looking forward to Thursday now and the GUKPT Main Event at Walsall.

See that Mickey Wernick has cashed a couple of times at the Broadway Festival but heard an interview with him last night when he sounded crestfallen after finishing 11th in the Main Event – he said he’d got involved in a pot with pocket 7s that he had to lay down and the guy showed JJ, so that was fair enough, but when he pushed with AQ he got a call from “some kid with Js9s, they like their suited cards”. Thought he was OK when he hit an Ace on the flop, turn J, river J. Now that's BAD. Then with next to no chips left he was all in on his BB with K3 or something and eventual winner Andy Bradshaw slow rolled a rag Ace to knock Mickey out. He seemed as if he was at his lowest ebb for years so he’ll probably win the GUKPT event at Walsall now!!

Friday, 20 February 2009

GUKPT Walsall

Drove down to Walsall for the Grosvenor's Live GUKPT Satellite, a £50 Rebuy with 10 seats guaranteed. Very comfortable all night, dont recall any significant hands of note, but the event resulted in producing 12 seats with cash for 13th, and I think I must have been lying 2nd or 3rd in chips when the bubble burst so the seat is in the bag and am now looking forward to my first outing of 2009 in the GUKPT next Thursday.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Omaha is cheating isn't it?

Well I accidentally registered for an Omaha tournament last night which was part of the GUKPT Online League series. Not my preferred choice, just saw it was a league match and signed up without paying too much attention. Only realised my mistake when I got dealt four cards, which whichever way you look at it, just feels like cheating when you are used to Holdem. 33 runners, and managed to luckbox my way to 2nd place for $161.25 and some league points, but should have won if "Mousebob" hadn't decided to make some dubious calls heads up, culminating in his decision that bottom pair (7s) on the flop was good (against my top two pair, AJ) and proceeded to hit trips on the turn.

Can only cite this game as being the reason for playing like a twat in the GUKPT London Super satellite, which started an hour later. The hand that crippled me was AK, naturally enough, with which I raised in mid position. The cutoff went all in, and since he hadnt done anything up until that point to warrant respect, I paused only momentarily when the SB also pushed. I had them both covered but only just, and foolishly made the call only to find the cutoff with TT and the SB also with AK. TT held and I was left with 25 chips which went in with the inglorious exit hand of 9-4 off, drawing pretty thin against 88 and 99. Chose not to rebuy and concentrated on the cheating game.

Not been playing much poker live or online of late as a new lady is in my life and my priorities have changed slightly, but my long range radar may have detected the first potential conflict, as the Irish Open - which was one of the events I wanted to have a pop at qualifying for - clashes with her birthday. Mentioned this to a friend, who had two suggestions, the first of which was "get her interested in the game", and the second was to still try to qualify, and if successful tell her I was already too deep into the qualification process before I met her to be able to get out of it.

I liked the novel approach of the second suggestion – which kind of translates as “lie to her”, always a sound basis for establishing relationships. I think I'll probably skip the qualification satellites as it is the Easter weekend anyway, and aim for the Killarney Festival later in the year. But if I DID try to qualify and succeeded I think honesty is the best policy and I would really need to take her along and try to make a weekend of it. The trouble is I’ve always felt sorry for the poor souls when I I’ve seen girlfriends/partners sitting in casino bars looking bored shitless. And always remembered the one at APAT Edinburgh in 2006, where a young lad had brought a decidedly attractive young blonde with him, and she spent the whole day standing by the cardroom door trying to look in and see him, cos she wasn’t allowed inside. Now that’s devotion. In his position I'm not sure if cards would have been my priority ......

Friday, 6 February 2009

Small Satellites

Started yesterday with a quick limber up in the $2K GTD on Bluesquare, frustratingly coming 15th of 155 for a modest $27.90. Still, a small profit is profit nonetheless. Followed up winning a Stage 2 satellite for the Irish Open, but the later Stage 1 satellite saw me crash out 12th of 44, so I was playing well, I thought, but not quite well enough!

In the evening played the $11 R/B GUKPT Feeder last night for the London leg Super Satellite. Only hands I can remember were when Steve Holden pushed to my AK raise with Q 10 and hit his Q, leaving me short for a little while; then when someone else limped and pushed to my raise on the button with AQ, as I pressed the call button I realised he was probably trapping with AK or a big pair – luckily it was AK - but I hit my Q and knocked him out.

Anyway, there was $103 for 5th and the top 4 got a seat in a Super Satellite next Thursday to the GUKPT in London (in which there is a $3500 package up for grabs). So I was in the top 4 and got my seat, knocking out the final player in 5th spot with A Q v 10 10 when I hit trips, and my seat into the $109 Super Satellite was won.. The chip leader was a real fish – Steve Holden got quite irate in the chatbox when he kept betting into the guy on a Q54 flop (thought Steve probably had JQ, KQ, but in fact it was KK) and the guy kept calling pot-sized bets – turn 2 – call – river 3 – call - you can see whats coming, he had A7 off suit, shouldnt have been in the hand and didn’t have the odds to call on any street but hit his runner, runner to outdraw Steve against the odds. Remember this guy didnt have any piece of the flop. Anyway, it seemed like Steve was on tilt after that, managed a double up with AJ against the same fish then the very next hand pushed all in to a raise with AJ again ran into the chip leader’s pocket fives which stood up. Mmmmm, Ace high, bye bye … though it's OK for some.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

What Goes In Must Come Out

Another 5th in a Bluesquare Online League tourney last night; this time a $5 rebuy which returned $65.60, must win one of these buggers soon, surely?

Got an email recently from a pal saying he had just taken down an online freeroll, the subject line being “A poker 'novice' (as if) wins”. That made me smile. I mean, for a bit of diversion, now and then I play freerolls on sites that I havent bothered to put money on, to try and kick off a Chris Ferguson style “Jesus” challenge. Like, I played a freeroll at noon on Saturday on Paddy Power and won 50c. Whoop! But anyway that’s just an academic exercise, I play proper tournaments too, and have a bankroll on other sites. But my buddy does seem to play at a smaller than micro level - saves up to play a $1 tourney, if he wins $10, he withdraws. To think he taught me all I knew. Before I learned a bit more.

Anyway, I think withdrawing small amounts is a bad plan. After withdrawing, I would never usually play on the site within a month. A guy I know has tracked his results over the last two years. He’s been profitable overall, but can pinpoint his three losing months in the last 24 to the period immediately following a major withdrawal. The only time he didn’t lose after withdrawing was when he spent 3 weeks in Vegas immediately afterwards and wasn’t playing online. There IS a doomswitch, obviously.

But however low stakes it was, a win is a win, and I emailed my friend back to congratulate him, but couldnt resist sending him this picture of my success in the $4K GTD on Bluesquare a few days ago - I could only manage 3rd but the $475 that brought home was a wee bit more than he earned!

Image Hosted by

Read a joke on a forum last night which I liked.I rang Gamblers Anonymous to check what time their meeting started. When they said ten to one I couldn’t resist having £25 on it ……

Monday, 26 January 2009

Half a League, Half a League ......

Yesterday decided to play the $25 Freezeout on Bluesquare which is part of their GUKPT National League series. (There are GUKPT seats and points available for league positions). Only 42 runners, but a lot of Bluesquare sharks in evidence. I’m getting to know who some of them are now, and am trying to refrain from calling them worthless donks if I know they are actually respected professionals. Struggled on final table, pretty card dead, but managed to get up to third, then had a terrible outdraw which left me very short. Managed to triple up fairly quickly, still had to work a short stack for much of the time, but hung on to get 5th (money down to 5th only) for $84 and a handful of league points.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Beats Going Out!

Felt absolutely shocking all last week with flu so hadnt been playing a great deal. Thought I was feeling a bit better on Saturday and toyed with going to Walsall for the satellite they were running in the afternoon to the £200 DC FO scheduled for Sunday. But I went for a bath at lunchtime and fell asleep in it, so didn’t make it to the satellite! Luckily I didn’t drown either, but I havent felt so wrinkly in years, that’s for sure. The shape of things to come .... Then I thought I might shoot down to the Walsall £20 DC FO in the evening or maybe the Broadway £30 DC FO, but at the last minute remembered I had won a token to play the $1500 Circus GTD (a $6.05 rebuy) on Poker770.

So I started playing that at 8pm, with my coat on, thinking I would donk out early and set off for somewhere to get a late buyin. There were 410 runners, got to the first break in quite a healthy state, with no rebuys, didn’t add on either, and won it after a long struggle heads up, taking down $898 – about £627. Not bad for nothing. Well, about four hours effort.

Weird Payout structure – $898 for 1st, $778 for second, less than $330 for third, about $170 for 4th , then 5th – 15th all got $87, and 16th – 35th all got $17. Thought the only fair thing to do was win it, really. There were some real wild swings when we were heads up, I went from massive chip leader to almost felted with some bad outdraws, then resorted to a push-fold game (mostly push) to inflict the same back on him. Eventually after regaining the chip advantage had a good hand stand up when I pushed and he made the mistake of calling.

Not going to play on that site again though – unless it’s satellites for EPT tournaments or stuff not available elsewhere – cos when I decided to withdraw my winnings it transpired that their “withdrawal policy” is to process your request a massive 96 hours after they receive it. So presumably I wont get my dosh for another 5 days after that. Thieving Frenchies. (But if you are interested in playing for free they will give you $50 if you sign up using the code 50DOL and email them to claim the no-deposit bonus, quoting the code.)

Monday, 19 January 2009

Running Like a Dog

Ran bad on Bluesquare last night - played a handful of games starting with the first GUKPT online league match. 77 runners, went out 75th when drawing to the nut flush and a gutshot straight with Ah Jh and lost out to the eventual tournament winner who just couldnt lay down K4 on a KJ235 board. Obviously having played that crap preflop he couldnt ever fold top pair - he made the big call on the river, when he found the K on its own was good enough. Who'd have thought it, eh? Oh well, nice result for toondavey40, guess top pair shit kicker stood him in good stead throughout.

Then moved onto the GUKPT $10 Rebuy Satellite Feeder. Was running OK in that then got slapped in the chops with several hideous beats - so what's new, its ipoker. Worst was when I ran into Codfatherace (Frank Romanello, I discovered later, the elder statesman of the Welsh fish family). Have played him before, calls with any two, bets and wont fold if he hits any part of the flop generally. Anyway, this particular hand I'm in the SB, he is BB, blinds are only 30/60, UTG raise to 180, two limpers so I complete with KhQh, Frank pays the extra 120 and the flop is 7h 5h 3d. With 900 in the pot, first to act, I push for 1090, Frank comes over the top and has 3c 7c, and the rest fold. I knew he had the 7 (bets when he hits) but I miss my flush and reload. I guess he had the odds to call preflop with any two but how many would bother with 3 7?

A bit later I call a standard raise with 10 J, hit my J, only to find the raiser Roy1005 has KJ. Dont know who he is but if Sharkscope is to be believed he's a fish with consistent low stakes losses on ipoker. Exit hand came just before the break when blinds 75/150 - min raise from cutoff, call from button, I push making it 1350 with 77, CodfatherAce pushes for nearly 4k, other two fold and Frank has A10, then wins the race when he spiked a 10 on the turn. I didn't reload, it was not to be.

Was simultaneously playng a qualifier for the ECPT Salzburg - a freezeout - and had an italian lunatic on the table immediately to my left who was all in at the drop of a hat - one minute felted, next chip leader, a complete yoyo. Raised preflop to 1800 (3BB) from the SB with 10s Js and got a call from the moron, no surprise there. Continuation bet on a 684 rainbow flop and he went all in - I assumed stealing - and was half right, he thought middle pair was good enough with K6, and so it proved. Oh well, very bad call from me.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Out of Darkness .....

Got a call yesterday from my buddy Mike Hill to tell me that he had qualified on Monday night for the £300 event they will run on 7th/8th Feb. The monthly 3-2-1 weekend is where they have a two day 300 comp, a one day 200 comp and a one day 100 comp over the same weekend. So I figured I would do likewise and played a satellite on DTD last night - not a site I've played on before.

The satellite paid three seats, and with four left, I was comfortable chip leader and thought my seat was assured. Then, taking the reponsibility for knocking the short stack out on my broad shoulders, ran QQ into KK for half my stack, so started to struggle myself. Not convinced the other three weren't playing as a team, because there seemed to some familiarity in evidence from the chat going on. I was 99% certain there was some chip passing going on between the new CL and the short stack, so pretty soon I become the shortie.

Then I got pocket 4’s on the BB and some looney goes all in on the button – which he had done about a zillion times on my BB – I called, and he had K4 off. And hit his K on the turn. I nearly threw the laptop out of the window. So I will play the sat again next week and hopefull wipe the floor with these scumbags in Nottingham. Well, at least I got my money back for 4th. Then went on a cash table and got slaughtered by (reminiscent of Stoke) 9 4 spades when the guy rivered a flush but got it all in on the flop when I had two pair. Does your head in, so packed it in at that point before I went on mega tilt.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Two French Duds

Was due to play two online finals this weekend for the EPT in Deauville, on the Poker770 site, having won my way into these for pennies before Christmas. However, was under a little bit of pressure to spend time on the Saturday at a social engagement, so I bit the bullet and headed off to Stratford for a night of dining, drinking, and so on. But not before I had made arrangements with a buddy to play my Saturday qualifier for me. Sadly he texted me before 10pm to tell me I had played crap, and was out in 62nd. He, on the other hand, simultaneously managed to come third in the APAT UK Online Poker Championship which was running at the same time, so perhaps his main focus was elsewhere. Last chance to qualify was on Sunday, and managed to avoid the donks for a long time but eventually saw an opportunity to double up with AQ against an optimist who had reraised me all in with A7 off suit which naturally earned him an iPoker special with a flush to the 7, and I put the French trip out of my head for another year.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Oh What A Circus .....

Well my last post was somewhat prophetic - played the Poker770 Monster Final on the 29th Dec with an EPT Deauville package up for grabs. Several hundred runners and managed to stay out of trouble for a long time but with slightly less than average stack and blinds at 200/400 I pick up As Jh in mid position and pop it up to 1200. All fold except the lunatic in the BB who pushes all-in, and given his past play and range I dont hesitate in calling - though naturally he has me covered. Delighted to see Ad 7c revealed, and a flop of Jd Qc 2c. Less happy when a 6c is revealed on the turn and naturally another club pops up on the river to give the moron a flush to his weak kicker, so I'm out in 116th. Thank you iPoker, the natural home of the runner runner flush and the outrageous two-outer. Ah well, two more chances on the 10th and 11th Jan but may hedge my bets my taking a stab at the qualifiers on Stars.

Blue Square are running a series of online GUKPT shorthanded games in January – they’ll count towards GUKPT rankings - a kind of Poker6 without the hassle of having to go to Bolton. Played a $10 rebuy satellite between Xmas and New Year for the $200 game in Jan, seat for 1st, $195 for 2nd. Came 3rd for nothing. Was well hacked off – despite the fact that with 5 left I had to sit out and drive my daughter into town, when I got back 25 minutes later, there were still 5 left. Made up what I’d lost through the blinds, was sitting nicely in 2nd with 3 left, then got outdrawn twice by a lunatic who eventually won the thing. Essex121 – he plays a lot of GUKPT qualifiers but I’ve never noticed him win anything before, and don’t think he’s played any of the GUKPT live events because I Googled him to see if I could find out who the hell he was, only to find he is some little guy who advertises himself on a gay contacts site. Didn’t recognise him from his picture – however, I need hardly say that he’s definitely not my type, too many legs. So after the satellite played a bit of cash $1/$2 for about an hour and finished $70 up.

Played the £100 DC Freezeout at Stoke Circus on 4th January. It's the first casino I ever played a live competition in and I always feel comfortable there. Though on a personal note I dont think I have been dealt a pocket pair there higher than Jacks since 2007. And none at all on my last two visits. But cardroom manager Andy Gray does his level best to promote the place and although there are sometimes the odd complaints about the structure - and often the standard of play - it's a well run place and is starting to be recognised as one of the premium Stanley venues.

Stanleys ran their Second Chance Classic - a £550 buyin tournament - at Star City in Birmingham last November, but I would imagine the group holding a major event at Stoke during 2009. As the biggest casino group in the UK it's surprising that it took them so long to get an online cardroom up and running - on the iPoker network - but now they have I believe they are looking at ways of breaking into the live "tour" market which Grosvenor and Gala currently dominate. Hard to see where their niche will be, with Gala hitting the £500 level and Grosvenor the £1000, so hopefully they will come up with something innovative rather than aping existing formats.

Anyway, the £100 Freezeout was very well supported - 228 runners, with alternates - but the standard of play was very iPoker-ish. Got good hands early doors which got me into trouble - just like the Star City event - AQ twice - first time I had to lay down on the river with three spades on board, then lost with the nut flush to a rivered full house with the other guy playing 9 4 off. Hey ho. Dont say you want those calls, please. Lost again with the nut straight on the turn to a different guy ALSO playing 9 4 off when he ALSO rivered a house. Just knew it wasnt going to be my day - good hands in position outdrawn by bad hands being played out of position all day long. And folding hands like A3 off in early position when it would have been my turn to river a house. C'est la vie. Maybe I need to loosen up a bit for Stoke.

Eventually with blinds at 300/600 and only 4200 in front of me, about a third of average chips at the time, I look down at 3 7 off suit in the BB. All fold to SB who completes. Flop Q 3 7 - all diamonds - and SB leads out for 600, so with two pair I bang my remaining 3600 in, hoping that he hasn't made his flush - what are the odds, eh, in a SB-BB confrontation? - and he dwells for a long while then announces "OK, I'll gamble, cos my wife's already out". Lovely, just what you want to hear. And he turns over two small diamonds. A seven or three was not forthcoming on turn or river so off to the rail I went.

Although I couldnt get a break all day I wasnt that bothered with the outcome and will play the competition again. Met up with some people I knew and enjoyed a brief mini-AGM of the Glenfiddich Gang with Brian Martin (aka MCFC66, aka Mole's Mate). Next meeting: Walsall GUKPT. By which time I hope I'm running better.