Monday, December 24, 2007

Mind Boggling

The Vic now has an electronic list as opposed to the old board where you went up and scrawled your initials under whatever game it was you were interested in playing.

Sounds like a good thing and I guess it is. But (you knew there would be a but, after all I am a Vic regular and we are all known for our endless moaning) it's a load of rubbish.

In, say, the Wynn poker room in Las Vegas, you go up to the floorman and ask him to put you on their computerised list. He says, "No problem buddy, there you go", and that's it. Well naturally the Vic has to make a mountain out of a molehill and getting your name on the e-list now requires some sort of receipt with a bar code on it which you now swipe into an infrared-type-thingy-like-wot-they-have-in-sooopermarkets.

I mean, seriously, WTF? Did the higher-ups in the Grosvenor organisation think, "We better make it a bit of a hassle to go on the list, after all we don't want just anyone to have access to it, maybe terrorists will get their hands on it and then we'll have a serious situation on our hands."

Another consequence of this e-list is that you cannot now see any of the names on it if you are sitting in a game. Or how about this one? There's no facility for a Transfer list so various members of staff just remember it in their heads. Yes, I can't see that leading to any arguments...

To be fair, I was told that eventually the system will be tied into our membership cards, but I still don't see the point of that either. What if you've forgotten your card? What about if you're a guest and therefore haven't got a membership card?

I'm sure the new e-list will improve, and I know their hearts were in the right place, but still the mind boggles.

Talking of the mind boggling I saw an extraordinary hand in the no limit game. Pre-flop there were a bunch of limpers and then a raise. The action is on Michael Arnold who now goes all-in for about £400. Fold, fold and John with the cravat calls all-in for about £200.

Now I know all you Vic regulars are thinking, "Michael's got aces, maybe kings if he's feeling frisky, and this John geezer has made another ridiculous donation to the Arnold coffers".

But no! Mr. Arnold lost the pot to John's pocket 10s. "Oh right", you're thinking, "Michael went a bit potty with AK suited". Guess again, Mr. Arnold's hand was, in fact, the powerhouse that is.... 23 off-suit. Yes! I swear on my baby daughter's life.

Hugo the dealer took credit for Michael's super-flairy all-in move, by making an earlier comment that Michael wasn't up to the standard of play found in the £250 games these days.

JQ came over to have a look during the hubbub that is an all-in coup and his reaction of mouthing, "What the fuck?!?" when he saw Michael Arnold's hand said it all.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Apparently I'm a Slow Roller...

I've noticed there's a new regular at the Vic who seems to primarily play the 100 NLH game (this has a minimum sit down of £100 and a max of £600). He seems a bit eccentric and talks a lot and wears what looks like a cravat, I think I heard someone call him John, so that's what I'll call him.

Anyway I'm playing in this game and I make £11 to go UTG (blinds are 1/3 btw) with AA. Fold, fold and now John moves all-in.....for £600. Sweet, as Fred Carle would say. Everyone folds back to me and I obviously call with the boots.

As soon as I said call and moved my chips over the line (I had John covered btw) he flips up QQ. Now I guess this John is used to tournaments on TV or something, but I only ever turn my cards up in all-in situations like these in tournaments, not in cash games, and many other regular cash game players would do the same.

The flop comes down K J T, but I manage to fade his six outs and as soon as the river has been burned and turned I show my hand and then get told, "Nice slow roll".

Jeez, I know it sucks to lose a pot, and this John doesn't seem like a bad guy, so I guess he said it in the heat of the moment, but who out there thinks I slow rolled him? I would never do such a thing, even to a player I loathed and thought of as a complete and utter drak (there's a few candidates out there, don't you worry about that!).

I've been playing long enough at places like the Vic to know that I don't ever want to show my hand unless it's at the showdown. If John had outdrawn me I would've thrown my hand in the muck facedown and told him I had deuces or something; isn't this what poker is all about? Playing your cards close to your chest and all that?

When I first went down the Vic I used to show far too many hands, especially nut hands - I guess I wanted to be liked and crap like that. I'm still paying for that mistake now many years later.

On another note I'd just like to congratulate my mate Neil Channing for winning the £1,000 NLH freezeout - not only for the win, but his third big final in a row (Bristol Gala Grand Final and Blackpool GUKPT just recently). Surely his name is all over the GUKPT Grand Final trophy?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Mistakes Part 3

100 Pot Limit Holdem, the Vic. I have £1800 in front of me and I'm in the small blind (technically the small blind as the blinds are £3/£3 in this game). There's a raise and a few callers so I decide to call with 5s 6s.

The flop is 5 6 T with two diamonds. Ok, bottom two, shall I get cute and check to the raiser? Nah, this particular pre-flop raiser is not guaranteed to bet and a free card for all these schnorrers would be disastrous, so I lead out for £60. There's a fold and now Ashley Alterman, who's in front of the raiser, makes it £160. Everyone folds back to me. Shit, what have I run into?

Now I'm quite friendly with Ashley and respect his game. I'm pretty sure this respect is a two-way street (might not be, he could consider me a complete egg which is fair enough too). Anyway, the point is I know Ashley is not fucking around and I guess 99% of the time his raise here means a real hand. That's not to say he isn't capable of raising with the square root of fuck all here by the way. Plus he has about another £700 behind.

Oh boy, for him to have limped early position and then call a raise which then merits a raise on this flop, he must have either a set or straight and flush draw (like say, 7d 8d, which I'm a small dog to). Fuck, my hand doesn't look too good so I fold and decide to wait for a better spot.

Ashley being the mate he is flashes me the boots as he mucks his hand. Shit! I was miles ahead. Wow, he played those aces pretty sneakily, not like him at all. Why didn't he re-raise before the flop when the action had got back to him?

Why? Because he never limped in in the first place. He was the original pre-flop raiser, not the guy I thought it was. D'oh! Well, I deserve to lose for not paying attention. What a costly error. And I got what I was looking for which was action for my big hand, it's just that I thought the action was supposed to come from somewhere else...

The Vic famously used to have a "moody" rule whereby you weren't allowed to talk about your hand. Thankfully they got rid of that rule, but it has to be said that the floodgates are now truly wide open.

I refer to this as later on I had the dubious pleasure of playing in the No Limit game with Will who has taken talking about one's hand to new levels. I have to say I actually found it sort of amusing after a while, especially as he kept making 10-13 BB size raises before the flop only to always find sandbaggers waiting in the wings.

Quite often it was Ken Wong who has not been playing down the Vic too long yet has already accrued a load of good results in all the various daily tournaments. Will would make his standard huge pre-flop raise with plenty of chat about how great his hand was and then the action would get back to Ken who would then casually slide about £200 worth of chips all in. This must have happened about ten times and Ken gradually built his chip stack up to over a carpet just like he would have done in a tournament.

Every time Will would go into a huge dwell up and song and dance about he actually had a real hand and how could Ken do this to him, but every time he would fold.

There's another new player in the Vic who is quite vocal, but unlike Will this guy is pretty obnoxious. Neil Channing told me a good story about this loudmouth as I left.

It's the £250 PL game and Loudmouth is playing snug. He limp-reraises from early position and is heads up with the star in the game. The flop comes down something nice safe for an early limp-reraiser like say 5 3 3.

All of a sudden the waitress appears with Loudmouth's dinner. Now instead of taking a tenner off of his stack to pay for his lobster thermadore or whatever it is they all eat there these days the Loudmouth asks Neil if he can borrow a tenner! Hmmm, is that a tell or what?

As Neil said, it's a real nit's dilemma. Do you just swallow and pay up for your dinner there and then or are you determined to extract full value for your aces? Of course he could have just told the waitress he was in the middle of a pot and that he'd deal with her afterwards, but I guess his hand was so good that he got caught up in the moment.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Not a Great Spot

I played in yet another Omaha Hilo tournament last night at the Vic and found myself sitting in between Adam Heller and Tony Bloom. Marvellous, not what one would call a great spot. No wonder I never get anywhere in these stupid tournaments.

A funny moment occurred when the Lizard made a comment about the rugby which he was keeping an eye on during the comp. Some guy who I think was called JJ butted in and started telling Tony, "What, you didn't lay New Zealand like everybody else?" and so on. So this loudmouth wants to start telling Tony Bloom how he should be betting sports?!? The look on Ashley Alterman's face at this moment was well worth the £385 I paid for the tournament.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

WBCOOP

Online Poker

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker!

This Online Poker Tournament is a No Limit Texas Holdem event exclusive to Bloggers.

Registration code: 4815317

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Poker Content

I played some poker at the Vic recently and got lucky in a hand. Super satellite for a seat in the EPT main event, 3000 starting chips, blinds are 25/50.

About the fourth hand in there's one limper and I raise to 150 in middle position with As Jh. Both blinds and the limper call. Flop comes A 7 5 with two spades.

They all check to me and I bet 500. Both blinds call with the big blind giving it a small dwell. The limper folds.

Turn is another 5 and they both check to me again. I look at my stack and think, "Fuck it, it's a dumb super satellite", and go all in. The small blind thinks for a while and folds.

The big blind now goes into the tank and folds his cards face up, saying, "It's too early, I can wait". His hand? A 7!

Friday, September 14, 2007

I Can't Believe It Part Two

I went to the Vic to play in a satellite for the upcoming EPT and of course it was an hour later than advertised in the brochure that I got from them in the post. That sort of thing is par for the course so I wasn't that bothered. At least I'll be all relaxed and definitely in my seat for the first hand. For some reason there is a rule in this country that if you're not in your seat for the first hand of a tournament you're out.

But wait! No longer. Since the general relaxation of some of the gambling laws it turns out that you can show up late Hellmuth-style for the comp and miss out those tedious early levels. Wow, progress at last.

That's not all. They're now allowed alternates in tournaments too, so you still have a chance to play if you get there late and the tournament is sold out. First they relax the dumb dress code and now this, soon you'll be able to buy the button...

Michael Arnold called me over as if he had something important to tell me. It turns out that he is a very good friend with big time pro Jeff Lissandro from way back in the day and that Jeff had a sob story for him. Apparently Lissandro wrote a couple of stories many years ago and gave them to a female friend to see what she thought. Nothing came of it and he forgot about it until Rounders appeared on our screens. According to Mr. Arnold, Lissandro claims that he wrote Rounders and was ripped off by this woman.

Michael felt compelled to tell me because I used to read screenplays and assess whether they were worthy of future development into full blown movies(it's called coverage in the trade) and naturally this must mean I have some clout in the motion picture business. I guess Michael doesn't realise that Hollywood treats it's writers with utter contempt and that being a reader is barely a step above that.

Now I'm not saying that Lissandro is wrong; maybe he did write it and some femme fatale stole his story. A quick glance at the credits shows that the writers were David Levien and Brian Koppleman. There's an associate producer called Tracy Falco and an executive producer called Kerry Orent although those names do not necessarily mean they are women. Why would you want to claim you wrote Rounders anyway?

I guess my next entry will be about the Vic as well as I'm planning on playing at least one event and some cash in their upcoming festival which culminates in the London leg of the EPT.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I Can't Believe It

I went to the Vic last night ( hmmmm, it seems that I only update this blog after my occasional visits to HQ) and I can't believe it, but they've finally got rid of their stupid fucking dress code. Yes, you can now show up wearing jeans, T-shirt and trainers!

They had relaxed the jeans rule a few years ago, but you still had to wear a shirt or something with a collar. Did the Vic suddenly realise that they aren't in Monte Carlo and in fact most of their punters are desperadoes who couldn't give a shit what other people are wearing?

The dress code never really made a difference anyway as certain poker players still looked like tramps. Before anyone has a go at me I freely admit that I have always looked totally scruffy.

When I got a seat in the game I found myself sitting next to Tom Gibson who told me quite a funny joke. Now it has to be said that Tom is pretty good at telling jokes, so maybe it won't be quite as good when written down on the screen.

Q. What's the difference between a poker dealer and a stagecoach driver?

A. The stagecoach driver only has to look at four arseholes while he's working.

Well, I thought it was funny.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Wall Of Shame plus a few other Vic Ramblings

I went to the Vic the other day and noticed they've had a bit of a refurb. The colour scheme is fairly vile, but what is quite fun is a mural of the London skyline on the back wall. If you look closely you can see that it is made up of poker players' faces, a mix of Vic regulars and famous European and American pros. I must admit to feeling a bit left out that my pic isn't there considering I was at one time a pretty hardcore regular, but then again I hardly go there anymore at the moment and it's only my pathetic ego that's making me think like that, so what difference?

Anyway, I made a comment that it reminded me of that portrait of Myra Hindley by Marcus Harvey that was made up of children's handprints which caused a furore at the Royal Academy a few years ago and naturally some wag made a joke along the lines of the wall painting in the Vic being more evil as it was full of thieves, rapists and murderers. Some other wit then made a joke about the mural actually being a picture of everyone that Brian Stander owes money to. Hmmm, maybe I'm glad I didn't make it onto the Wall of Shame.

As I was waiting for a seat I sweated Willie Tann as he played in the £250 plo game. I received a masterclass when he raised before the flop with 3 4 5 6 double suited (diamonds and clubs) and then bet the pot when checked to on a K T 9 flop which contained two diamonds. His only caller was Lisa Hawkes out of the small blind. The next card paired the board and Lisa checked. Willie quickly looked at the £375 he had left and then bet £150. Lisa ummed and errred and made a comment about how that bet scared her more than if Willie had bet the pot. Willie replied that he wanted her to call of course. After more hesitation Lisa called. The river made no difference and Lisa checked again and now Willie went all in. After a long dwell up and some good verbal from Willie along the lines of, "You can see my hand afterwards if you want" Lisa finally folded. Ok it's all standard stuff, but it was a good reminder that you need to leave yourself enough money to bluff with on the river. Plus all the excellent moody which was highly convincing. Willie could tell that Lisa was conflicted and leaning towards folding, but something was telling her that maybe her hand was a winner; he just encouraged her in the right direction (for him).

All this moody got me thinking me that one negative aspect of poker is how we all become two-faced bastards. How many times have we become friendly with a live one? Commiserated oh so sincerely when the star has done his chips? "Unlucky, you're just running bad" and all that sort of shit? I say all this because later on I found myself talking with a player (who I like incidentally) about a mutual friend of ours and he started going on about how our mutual friend was a terrible loser. As I heard myself agreeing I suddenly realised I was actually chatting to one of the worst losers of all time! This is a player who if he goes behind just a tiny amount steams like crazy and starts chasing like you wouldn't believe. Did I say, Hold on _____, you're a much worse loser than ol' so and so? Nah, of course not.

I'm now reminded of another Vic regular who once said to me that he thought he was a really disciplined player. I nearly choked on my cup of tea. This was a guy who was a known card flinger and whose emotional state can best be described as 98% tilt. He always blamed it all on bad luck, not actually realising that continually chasing your losses by raising out of position in the blinds when several other players who know you are completely cracked up have limped in is not what most reasonably good players would describe as "disciplined".

Speaking of disciplined, DY was there and he was telling me all about the e-poker table at the new Ladbrokes Casino down the road. Of course it's faster and you get loads more hands and all that malarkey, but I hope it doesn't take off. Maybe I'm an old fart, but it just wouldn't be the same. And just so you don't think I'm a Luddite I remember being quite excited about internet poker when it first started. Anyway, I then noticed that several regulars were missing - Declan Devereux, Michael Arnold, Fred Carle and Alan Abrahams. Maybe they were all down the Ladbrokes getting the lot...

Friday, June 29, 2007

Vegas

My annual jaunt to Vegas and the WSOP is over. There's not that much to say as I didn't really hang out that much at the actual WSOP itself. There's a strange phenomenon of being less in touch with what's going on in the Amazon Room and the WSOP when you are actually in town. I played one event, the $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha Hi Lo, and a couple of single table satellites (one of which I chopped with the Champ). The worst beat of my trip actually occurred before I got there with my flight being delayed for twenty four hours meaning I lost a whole day of my holiday.

Faces I ran into included John Duthie (he was on the same flight and the Champ and I cadged a lift off him in his high roller limo courtesy of the Bellagio), Ali Sarkeshik, Philip Marmostein (on my left in the PLO 8/b comp), Neil Channing, the Hendon Mob, Al Rappaport, Warren Wooldridge, DY, Andy Ward, Jon Shoreman (busy cracking away at the 300/600 Badugi and Deuce games and in the final of the Deuce to Seven Triple Draw w/rebuys as I write this), Carlo Citrone, Dave Barnes, Michael Greco and Roland De Wolfe.

The highlight of the trip was having it right off on a machine (Wild Taxi) with the Champ on my last night. At one point we had over 20,000 credits in the hod, but finally cashed out with a little over 15,000. As we were playing nickels this meant $750 - woo-hoo! Small beer compared with all the gambling and poker going on around us (in fact, that night Vicky had really had it off on the Blackjack; discretion won't let me write the number, but trust me, it was an amount similar to a decent tournament win) but as it was our biggest ever machine result the Champ and I were quite excited.

While we were playing we also experienced the machine railbird. A rather sour faced middle aged and (surprise surprise) over-weight woman hung around watching us play. When our total was around 7,000 credits she expressed surprise that we weren't going to cash out. It seemed like she wanted us to cash out so she could either try to borrow money or she knew that the machine was hot and wanted to play it herself. After hanging about for a few more minutes and realising that we weren't intending to stop she stomped off muttering to herself. Not long after her departure the Wild Taxi hit 20,000 credits. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but I think that woman knew the machine was ready to spew $. The Champ and I agreed that those machines are utterly addictive.

The Champ and I also had the pleasure of meeting top poker author Michael Craig (you know, The Professor, The Banker and the Suicide King). Of course, he was only interested in meeting her, I just happened to be there. He was a very nice guy and he gave us both a copy of his new book which is The Full Tilt Poker Strategy Guide: Tournament Edition. I've only skimmed a few parts of it so far, but I have to say it looks really good (and I'm not just saying that because he gave me a copy). In fact, Michael is living proof of his own book as the day we met him he had just come 7th in Event 40, the $1,500 Mixed Limit/No Limit Holdem at the WSOP.

As for poker, I certainly played a lot of it, pretty much all $2/$5 No Limit Holdem. I did intend to play a little bigger i.e. the $5/$10 game, but that particular game at the Wynn (where I stayed) is a lot tougher than the $2/$5. I was going to go to Bellagio to play their $5/$10 game as I heard it was a lot softer than the Wynn, but I never got around to it. In fact, this was the first visit to Vegas where I haven't gone to the Bellagio. DY was moaning that there were too many tryers and I have to admit that maybe the games at the Wynn weren't as good as last year or the year before, but I still played in at least two utterly blinding games, so maybe he got unlucky (although I suspect DY just wants all of his opponents to be playing for the first time ever without even having an idea of the rules - of course, then he'd complain that they were all unbluffable or something). Seeing as the Wynn is a nice and well run room it attracts its fair share of locals and pros, all of whom seemed very friendly and good to play with. I especially like the veteran players like Burt and Billy and Jackson - the latter two being Good Ol' Boys whose southern wit I particularly enjoyed.

The only memorable hand was one I wasn't in. Everyone folded to the button who made it $15. The small blind folded and the big blind called. Flop was J T 7. I can't remember the betting, but there was at least 3 or 4 bets and raises before the big blind finally stuck it all in after a long dwell up and a few speeches of the "You flop a straight on me buddy?" variety. The button was now forced to call after putting so much money in himself and allowing the pot to grow so big. Anyway, I figured it must be set over set or top two versus a set or a straight versus a set. Obviously I'm a complete idiot as the big blind had pocket Queens (fair enough) and the button made all that action with....7 9. Naturally the river was nice big fat 8 and the button won a very nice pot.

Monday, June 4, 2007

I Love The Vic

So my girlfriend and baby went away for the last few days and what else is a guy with time on his hands to do but spend all that time down the Vic? The room is now all upstairs, but otherwise it's business as usual. There were some new dealers, but the core staff were still there - Joe, Caroline, Brian. Many familiar faces were there - Fred Carle ("Sweet"), Declan, Michael Arnold ("One seat here!"), Willie Tann, Trevor Cole, Ashley Alterman, Panni, Lawrence Windish, Lou K, The Champ (of course, it's now her second home basically), Andrew Georgiou (who wasn't wearing a scarf - it must be summer!), Pedro, The Bish, Costas, Martin Baader, Mick "The Clock" Cook, John Kabbaj, Janis and her mother, Peter Benson, David Binstock, Mr. Chu, Alan Abrahams, JQ, Rick Gladding, Mike Wilner, John Duthie and DY to name a few.

I assume they all asked where I have been because they all miss my brilliant repartee and company at the table rather than the ease with which they can win pots off me. There are also a few new stars who I won't name out of politeness and discretion. As usual everyone was bitching and moaning about their favourite cardroom. There are at least two new waitresses since I last paid a visit. The games are as good and as tough as ever. They seem to have a regular £100 no limit holdem game going which has a maximum sit down of £600. Why there is a cap on this and not one on the pot limit game I don't really understand. Yes yes I know that management don't want the punters to do their money too quickly, but if you think it can't go fast in the pot limit game then you better take up scrabble or something.

Everything is Holdem now - I briefly played in the pot limit Omaha game, but it kept fluctuating between full and five or four players with no real list. Twice I saw Murray Brown and Ray the Taxi Driver sitting around forlornly waiting for the Dealer's Choice game to start up, but that's another game that seems to have died. It's a shame really as at one time those were good games. It seems all the Omaha/DC players like Sirhan, Ali, Celim, the other Ali, Mason and Hyder and a few others have all been gobbled up by the Western. I hear that Hyder is barred which could be the reason that the Dealer's game isn't running at the moment. One of the dealers told me how much he hated dealing the Omaha because all the players were such "miserable bastards". Hold on, I resemble that comment. Joking aside, he might have had a point. You know the Omaha game is dead when even a stalwart Omaha player like Mike Wilner says that you just have to play Holdem now. Having said all that there was a blinding Omaha game on monday night that was still going strong when I left around 4am.

I witnessed an interesting incident between a pro and a star in the £250 plh game. On the turn the pro bet £500 and the star, who was quite vocal and animated, called. As he was calling it looked like he may have flashed his cards. I was standing nearby and saw nothing. I'm trying to say it looked accidental to me, but I could be wrong. The pro now protested that the star had exposed his hand to the player next to him and asked for a ruling which he got in his favour. The pro gave the star back his monkey, but took the rest of the pot. The star was quite upset and nearly left the game. I think it was poor form and bad for the game by the pro to get this ruling. I guess the pro could not have had much of a hand as he was unhappy at the star calling (for starters, why is the pro trying to bluff a star? Obviously a bad play against a known non-believer). The pro should have taken his lumps and not made a fuss. Plenty of opportunities to get the money back plus more from the star during the rest of the game.

Here's a hand I played from the £100 plh game. I limp utg with pocket 6s. The next player raises the pot and a load of us call. £75 in the pot. Flop comes Kc 6d Qc. The blinds check and I lead out for £50. Folded around to Alan Abrahams on the small blind who now raises up to £200. Sweet. Unusually I had Alan covered - I had about a Grand and he had £340 left. I raised again to £400. He called. Turn is the 4c. Great. I bet out of turn by mistake (basically I knew his last £140 was going in no matter what - there was about £900 out there) and he called. Last card was another rag club that didn't pair up the board and he wins with 8c 7c. Nice hand Alan. Oh well, I guess I was looking for action with my hand and I got it.

A great new development is that they now give comps for the restaurant to regular players. JQ and I had dinner at the pleasure of the Vic. I couldn't believe it. Also on sunday at around 5pm the waitresses bought around a load of free finger food, spring rolls and stuff like that, for all the players in the card room. WTF?!? The Vic are being nice to the poker players, wow. If they're really on the ball they'll introduce player's cards like in the States (I know they're doing this at the new Empire Casino in Leicester Square). I wonder how long it will take management to go in that direction? At least ten years after every other casino in the country no doubt. I can already hear Jeff Leigh's response.

I love the Vic and it's regulars. It's still the only cardroom in the British Isles where you are guaranteed a (legal) cash game from 2pm every day. Everybody moans constantly about how badly the room is run, but I don't see them going anywhere else. The Vic should count themselves lucky that all the new rooms springing up around London are run by people that don't understand poker - they all think it's about tournaments. Deano who was an excellent dealer at the Vic now runs the new room at the Empire. If anybody can give the Vic a run for it's money it should be him.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Barcelona

To the Gran Casino in Barcelona where I was working at the World Heads Up Poker Championship. Started by Jon Shoreman seven years ago this was my second time in the OB van doing the spotting (this basically consists of telling the director who the action is on, any interesting or good hands, and specifying what stats to show).

Last year I was there for a week and managed to get loads of poker playing in, but this year we were filming three matches a day, so it was harder work and quite knackering. The highlight was an excellent semi-final match between Daniel Carter of England and Carles Llado from Spain. The likes of Mickey Wernick and Dave Colclough were raving about Dan and for once the hype was lived up to. Dan is probably one of the best poker players I've ever seen and the fact that he's only nineteen is even more impressive/sickening. His composure and reads at the table were outstanding. Shoreman and I had a blinding bet on him to win the trophy before the quarter finals at 7-1, so of course he got unlucky during the final and lost. It wasn't lost on me that when I started playing poker seriously (that is, playing in casinos against strangers) Dan was around 7 years old and is already light years ahead of me. How much there still is to learn about this infernal game!

After the final I managed to get in a decent session of2/5 blinds no limit holdem where I had the rare pleasure of flopping quads twice and getting on both times too. The second time was especially sweet as it was a three way coup with both my opponents paying me off on the river. Wow, what a game eh?

Later I sweated my old mate Robert Binelli in the final of a WPT satellite. The atmosphere was raucous to say the least with several drunk locals cheering their pals on. The staff eventually gave up trying to quieten the crowd and keep them away from the table. There is no way their behaviour would have been allowed at somewhere like the Vic or in Vegas. It was a total zoo, but it also has to be said it was all in good spirits.

One moment that said it all for me was when Robert knocked out a woman by catching a two outer on the river. She reeled away from the table in shock and basically burst into tears. I felt her pain and anguish - tournaments really can be cruel. She went off and got herself back together and came back into the room to a round of applause. The TD and several other players all gave her consoling hugs; quite touching really. Meanwhile her husband was still in the satellite getting dealt Aces, Kings and AK during the crucial late stages.

Because I was funking for him, Robert of course went out in 4th place, missing out on the WPT seat. I felt gutted for him; I know how much he wanted that seat. He was easily the best player at the final and deserved to win it. He told me that when they got down to four handed the shortstack asked for a grand each off the other three to take fourth place. Naturally the others declined. When Robert became the shorstack he asked the same player for the same deal and was met with silence. So typical.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Bigger Deal Book Launch

To the Loose Cannon Club last night and the launch of Tony Holden's new book Bigger Deal. A freeroll tournament was held in its honour and first prize was a seat at the main event of the next EPT event in Barcelona.

Naturally your humble scribe came nowhere. What do all you eggsperts think about this hand? Starting stacks were 3,000 and the first level of blinds were 25/50. It's the second level and there's a couple of limpers including Cindy Blake (aka The Moll, Holden's ex-wife). I'm in the small blind and find the ol' A7 offsuit. I complete and the big blind knuckles (as Roy Cooke would say). Flop comes out A A 4 with two hearts.

Now if there's one thing I've learnt in these sort of freeroll promotional type tournaments is that there's no point getting clever or fancy and trying to outplay all the novices that are the majority of players at these things. Just play straightforwardly and you'll get the chips. Except I forgot that in this hand and checked. The big blind checked and Cindy Blake bet around 300. Back to me and I call. So does the big blind. Hmmm, how many Aces are there in this deck? Cindy earlier played AK very aggressively with a large pre-flop raise and huge bets on the flop and turn, so I figure she doesn't have that, but Ace with a better kicker than mine is very possible.

Anyway the turn comes the deuce of hearts. Great. I check again and so does the big blind. Cindy fires out a bet and now I feel like I'm beat, but make the call anyway. The big blind calls too. Wtf does he have? Surely A 4 or 4s full would raise now? Last card is the Jack of Hearts which doesn't really change too much except that my 7 kicker is a heart - great, I've got a 7 high flush. I check, the big blind checks and Cindy checks. Well, I'm not surprised she checked as she shows us something like K 4 for two pair. The big Blind has A 6 with the 6 being a heart. Wow my flush is good and I've won the pot thank fuck, but I'm wondering how bad did I play this hand? How did the big blind and I not get all our chips in there? If I bet out on the flop (which is what I meant to do, but had a brainfart instead) Cindy folds and maybe the big blind and I play a big pot. Then again, maybe I played it fine, I don't know.

Faces in attendance included Neil "Bad Beat" Channing, The Champ, Jesse May, Warren "Goldenfish" Wooldridge, Michael Greco, John Duthie, Catman, James "Slicker66" Hipwell, Conrad Brunner, Mad "Mad" Harper, Al Alvarez, Mike Magee, Sonny Osman, Matt Born, Joe Saumerez Smith and Val "Green Fingers" Low. It was also good to see Roy Houghton again and hear his familiar style of tournament directing. Other notable prayers included Mel Judah, Sir Clive Sinclair (who I meant to say hello to, sorry Clive in case you're reading), one of Hale and Pace and Melvyn Bragg (!). Sadly Lord Bragg didn't play in the tournament.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Rohan = Forrest?

So I was watching an old movie on TV this afternoon, A Letter To Three Wives, when the following scene occurred. A sassy maid and her friend are playing seven card stud; the maid goes all-in and her friend makes a crying call, "What ya got?" "Ace High" "Ace What?" "Ace Nine", the maid says triumphantly and indeed her kicker is good.

This reminded me of a few years back at the Vic when all of a sudden Francis Rohan turns around excitedly to me and Adrian Holmes from the next table where he was playing what was probably one of the last seven card games in there. "I just called a pot sized bet after cards and won with deuces! Deuces! Ask Beebis! You can't bluff out old Francois, eh? After cards with deuces! I'm different gravy, eh? This lot will all be eating catfood soon", he gleefully told us.

This in turn reminded me of a pot I saw on an ESPN broadcast of the $1,500 buy-in WSOP seven card tournament from 2004. Ted Forrest finds himself heads up against Chad Brown and there's a pot where he checks and calls a bet from Brown on every street. When all the dust has settled Ted's pair of deuces are good. Ted went on to win the bracelet. So the point of all this is obviously that Ted Forrest is at least as good as Francis Rohan aka Simply The Best.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Semi Off Topic Musings

My girlfriend and I recently had a baby daughter and had a lot of trouble coming up with a name for her. We had two choices, but couldn't agree which should be her first name. She then had the idea that we'd play Gin and the first to 100 points would get their choice of first name. Now bear in mind that I actually showed her how to play the game. Also, she proudly told me how she trounced her grandmother at Gin; her grandmother being a little old Jewish lady who has spent her whole life playing Gin and Bridge. Another factor is that when I first taught the missus Gin she went on a hot streak and won a few games off me. Basically what I'm saying is she thought/thinks she's some expert at the game and that I'm a complete egg. So we start playing for who's choice of first name for our little angel and after about three hands I've got about 52 points and she has yet to get on the old scoreboard. The next hand I knock after about six or seven discards and now she flings her cards at my face! And of course our daughter's first name is her choice. Hmmm, I think I need a good tournament director.

That story reminds me of my ex-wife actually. When I got into poker properly (about twelve years ago now) she also took an interest in the holy game and was a pretty good player. Sometimes we would play heads-up, but somehow these games always deteriorated into arguments. We could not bear to lose to each other. But I think our greatest moment as husband and wife was one night when we were staying at a friend's cottage in Wales. We had found a backgammon set and started playing. Now the ol' ex-wife was a pretty good backgammon player too although she didn't like using the doubling cube so we always had to play the whole game through which can be a bit tiresome (we never played for money anyway so it probably didn't matter that much, but I used to find it a bit annoying). I can't remember what happened (I'm sure I was losing) but all of a sudden the board and all the pieces are all over the floor and we're screaming at each other. We never played backgammon or poker against each other again.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

$2,000 added

The good folks at Poker Verdict are putting on a $2,000 added tournament on PokerStars on tuesday 13th March. Read more about it here.

If you're like me then you won't be that keen on tournaments but this is only $20 + $2 to enter so that's not bad val-yoo.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Ruling!

What I've always found funny about poker players is the way they pride themselves on being unconventional and living on their wits and so on. This is basically true about many of the "characters" I have played with over the years, but what I find amusing and ironic is that very often these self same rebels and iconoclasts can turn into nitty pedants at the drop of a hat. I am of course talking about rules. Let's face it, poker is a mine field when it comes to the correct procedure and don't get me (or every player I know) started on the etiquette issue.

Many a poker game I have been in has often been derailed by a full blown mass debate (geddit?) about whether or not player x's hand is dead or should player y's raise go or how the burn card should be exposed because player z saw a flash of it and he thinks it's the 8 of clubs and then we expose it and it's usually the Jack of hearts, that sort of thing, you know. Or worse, some story about an utterly dull coup from some other game and then everybody has to chime in with their 0.02c and the game you're in comes to a screeching halt. Obviously this stuff doesn't apply to online play, so all of you online players can have another reason to be smug. Having said all that, here are two interesting situations. I was at neither game, but have heard the relevant details from reliable sources (especially the first hand as I got it straight from the horse's mouth. It involves Jon Shoreman again - typical, soon this blog will probably only be about him).

Hand 1.

€200/€400 Deuce to Seven at the Aviation Club in Paris. Jon bets on the end and is called. He says nothing and tables his hand, 86475. The dealer declares that an 8 has been shown and the villain throws his hand away. His cards are touching the muck, but retrievable. Naturally all of you shrewdies out there have noticed that Shoreman's hand is a straight which is not beating much in 2-7. Of course, this being Paris and a relatively high stakes poker game it takes a while before somebody points this straight out to the dealer and the player who has mucked his hand. Who do you think Bruno awarded the pot to?

Hand 2.

£100 Holdem at the Vic. The board reads 444xx and the villain goes all-in for a small amount into a fairly large pot (let's say £50 into £500). Hero flashes the case 4 and then calls. This is all done in one swift movement. Villain calls for a ruling claiming that the hero's hand has been exposed and therefore dead. Who was the pot awarded to here?


Answers

In hand 1 the pot went to the villain. Hmmm, what's that about locals always getting the rub of the green? (Jon has taken great pains to tell me that Bruno always tries his best to be fair, and I've noticed that too the times I've been to the Aviation, so I'm not actually suggesting anything. Plus I really like the Aviation anyway). Seriously though, the pot here should be awarded to Jon, don't you think?

In the second hand the villain also won the pot. Having written it down it looks a bit more black and white and seems clear the villain should get the pot. According to onlookers at the time it was clearly an angleshoot on the villain's part and their desperate gambit paid off.

Friday, February 9, 2007

A Good Beat and a Bad Beat

I currently play in a half pot limit game run by Jon Shoreman of pokerineurope.com. The buy-in is a monkey and it's dealer's choice. I also play in another game hosted by The Champ aka Vicky Coren. This is pot limit, also dealer's choice, but with a much smaller buy-in of a bullseye.

Vicky's game actually used to be my game and it's where I first befriended The Champ. Anyway one day we were a bit short of players so I said I'm sure Jon would play even though it's about twenty times smaller than he usually plays. Jon comes along and buys in for a grand and basically raises every pot. But that's not the point of all this.

One of variants we play is Knightsbridge which Jon made up. It's triple draw split Badugi and Deuce to Seven. Got that? Just in case it's not clear, the pot is split between the best badugi (look up the rules somewhere if you don't know) and the best Deuce to Seven hand. Jon being the inventor of said game is of course not only an expert at it, but a total luckbox too. Somehow he and I have gotten all the money in before the last draw ( well, I was all-in) and we turn our cards over. We have very similar hands. Jon being the smart-arse he is tries to talk business and while I'm trying to work out who is the favourite (no doubt he saw it immediately) he turns his last card over and sees he has a really good two way hand (76532 for the Deuce and a 7532 badugi). Now, of course, he says, "Too late, never mind, good luck with your draw". I'm feeling a bit dazzled by the speed of everything and a bit annoyed he didn't give me more of a chance to assess the situation. My hand at this point is 7632 badugi so I basically have one out which is the 4 of diamonds. I give my cards a good old s-q-u-e-e-e-e-e-z-e. Maybe I can hit a 5 to at least get a quarter, I think, feeling a bit glum. Hold on, this baby is red and it's got a peak. Maybe it's the ace of diamonds and I can get half, I forgot about that one. Boom! It's the 4 of diamonds and I scoop. Ship it baby! I must admit I got a little over-excited and couldn't resist saying, "Fuck you Shoreman!" (obviously we're friends and Jon is a good sport and understood my euphoria in the heat of the moment). Wow, a one-outer, can't remember the last time I hit one of those.

Well, fast forward to last Wednesday and now I'm playing at Jon's. It's the very first hand of the night and we're playing six card hold'em double flop (got that?). I min-raise utg and get a few callers. The top flop is Q 9 8 with two hearts and the bottom flop is 7 2 3. My hand is QQ72xx (sorry, can't remember the other two). I lead out for a pony and now Jon raises to £75. Heads up and I call. The turns are an 8 on the top and a 3 on the bottom (for those of you that are confused I now have Queens full on the top and Queens up on the bottom). I check knowing full well that Shoreman is about 1-10,000 to bet. Sure enough, he has a bet and then I stick it all-in. Now it's Jon's turn to look a bit glum. "Oh ok," he says sounding a bit deflated, "I call". He has three 3s on the bottom and a straight on the top (also three 8s). When the bottom blanks off Jon says, "Am I freerolling?", which by the way, should be his bloody catchphrase he loves saying that so much, and bang! off rolls the ten of fucking hearts giving him a fucking straight-flush and the whole bleeding pot. Fuck. Of course he actually had two outs to scoop - always has to have an edge, the bastard.

Oh well, what goes around comes around...

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Stop Press

As you may or may not know, I work for a website called pokerverdict.com. They are currently promoting several invite only tournaments with added money at different poker rooms they are affilliated with. Coming up is a $20+$2 tournament at PokerStars with $500 added tonight (1st feb) at 8pm (GMT). Tuesday 6th feb is $40+$4 at Party with $400 added and thursday 8th feb is $20+$2 at Dream Poker with $700 added. These have been pretty good value - if you are interested in playing these then go here. This will give you all the details plus the passwords and what you need to do to enter. The few we've had recently have not had many runners plus the majority of those playing are from the Poker Verdict office and they are basically DEAD MONEY. Good Luck.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Mistakes part 2

Or when some other bastard in the hand doesn't act according to your plan. PLO online and I min-raise pre-flop with an Aces buster type hand (I min-raise with loads of hands pre-flop in omaha so don't have a go at me about that please), one caller and now a re-raiser most likely with aces. I call as does the other player. I hit the flop with an up and down straight-flush draw; obviously not as good in omaha as in holdem, but definitely good enough to check-raise the pre-flop raiser with. I check and here is where it all went wrong - the player who just called along all our raises before the flop now bets out. Hold on, that wasn't part of the plan. The re-raiser, who I thought was my target all along, now folds and the action is back on me. Instead of slowing down and re-assessing the situation I charged ahead and check-raised anyway and then ended up getting ironed out by two pair with a better flush draw. It's the sort of mistake beginners make; the old syndrome of falling in love with your hand and not thinking about what anyone else has.

Friday, January 26, 2007

£50 Says You'll Watch This

Did anyone see this? Presented by Hardeep Singh Kohli this was three semi-humourous programs about gambling. I haven't seen the episode about poker yet so cannot comment on that, but something in the first episode caught my attention.

The program makers managed to film an interview with Brian Zembic which I think is quite a coup. Zembic is a latterday master of prop bets and most famously won $100,000 by having breast implants for a year. In fact, he likes his breasts so much he has never had them removed (something about how it gets him twice the amount of pussy...) and a whole documentary just about him would be good viewing.

Anyway, in the course of their interview Brian asks Hardeep if he wants to play table tennis for a little money. Hardeep says yes and quicker than you can say an earful of cider Brian has won $500 off our hapless presenter. Hardeep now got quite upset and told Brian off for hustling him. Zembic even offered to give Hardeep back his $500, but Hardeep just walked off whingeing.

I could be wrong of course and maybe Hardeep was doing a "bit" and being humourous, but it looked to me like he had the genuine hump. Right, let's think about that. You interview the modern day Titanic Thompson for a program about gambling and then throw your toys out of the pram when he hustles you. Not only is that pathetic, but it's just plain rude.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Mistakes

There's a lot of talk about stack sizes in tournaments, but it can be just as relevant in a cash game. This is a mistake I've been making quite a lot lately. I've found myself with a good hand that probably plays best heads-up and now the player under the gun who has a short stack raises. "Great", I think, "Now I'll just re-raise and thin the field and me and the desperado will play this hand out". However, the big stack behind me who is a total calling station that only respects serious heat now cold calls this double raise. Here is where I realise my blunder when I see the shortstack going all-in with his re-raise being an amount less than my raise (in other words, I re-raised him £50 and now he goes all-in for £63 or something annoying like that). Now I can't raise again and will have to play a large pot out of position to a nutter who I will need to flop good against. Of course what I should've done is notice the short stack's chips and sized my re-raise accordingly so that I can get another raise in.I've done this live and online at least five times recently and I write about it here just so that maybe I won't do it again.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Vic Players Part 3

I must admit I'm starting to bottle it now. A couple of people have said to me about my recent posts, "Cor! You went a bit close to the bone with what you wrote about so and so". Originally I thought to myself if I couldn't say it to somebody's face then I wouldn't write it, but I forgot when you write something and put it down on paper (or on the net in this case) it becomes about ten times stronger.

I remember Neil Channing writing a piss taking comment about Dave Barnes in one of his pieces on the Hendon Mob and not understanding when Dave got the massive hump with him. If this barb of Neil's had come up in conversation Barnsey would've just laughed it off and told him to fuck off or whatever. Which I guess is the point - by the time the subject can reply everybody else has read the offending words.

Ok that's all really obvious and I knew that already, but now that I've thought about it some more I've realised I can't face the Mad Monk or Tony Bolton coming up to me and shouting at me the next time I go to the Vic, so I think my Vic portraits will have to wait a few more years.

Coincidentally, I was at work when Nils Batty rang me up. This is an old Vic player whom I hadn't seen for at least 4 or 5 years and it just so happened that I had written a little profile of him. It was nice to catch up and also ask his permission for what is going to be the last one of these for a while.

Nils Batty

Nils was an extremely good NLHE tournament player and I’m sure if he hadn’t gotten married and had kids, and thus faced all the responsibilities a “normal” life brings, he would have done very well on the whole international tournament scene. I learnt a lot about tournaments and poker in general from talking to him. He hated cash games and admitted to me he lacked the bottle to play them successfully (although I’m sure he could’ve been good at cash if he’d really wanted to).

Nils loved smoking and drinking and he and Adam Hine and Ben Chapman were always last to their seats in any of the weekly tournaments. Back then the Vic had three or four comps a week (the memory is a little hazy here, we are talking ’96/’97) and it seemed like one of those three always made it to the final table. The Vic used to have this crappy notice board (sort of like they have in old pubs, with white plastic letters) and the three of them loved seeing their names up there. Ben and Nils were very competitive with each other and they never soft-played each other like you see so many other poker friends do.

They also loved gossiping/bitching about the other regulars, which, let’s face it, is not only de rigueur when you start spending most of your time at the Vic, but also great fun. Not only was Nils very good at NLHE tournaments, he absolutely loved playing them, really thriving on the tension around the bubble. “If you go all in, it’s fuckin’ impossible for them to call unless they find a hand!”. Nils plays online these days and I heard he managed to build up a bankroll from literally nothing by winning a load of freerolls.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Vic Players Part 2

Mark Mead

When I first went to the Vic, two players really intimidated me, Declan Devereux and Mark. Both were from Tooting (just like many of the great legends of the game in America seem to hail from Texas, it seems as though many of the top players back in the day at the Vic hailed from Tooting) and both were really tight, strong players. Mark had a trademark cackle and was very good at befriending the stars and making them feel good about gambling and just playing poker in general. My first impression was that Mark was maybe a bit of a thug, but that was a clever fa├žade to hide the fact that he was actually a really solid player. Seven Card and Omaha are his best games and he always excelled in the £50 or £100 games where he sat deep. As I got to know him I found that, even though I didn’t want him in the game, I didn’t mind playing with him as he was always really funny and could tell you who the stars were (and how to play against them now and again). His favourite joke in Omaha would be to ask, “Were those deuces double suited?” and then he’d let out that distinctive and infectious laugh. He was a big pot head and I’m pretty sure he spent every night in Rousseau’s after the Vic shut getting stoned and playing whatever variant of Omaha they spread there. He also had a way of saying “call”, dragging out the vowels, that never failed to amuse me every time. I guess I learnt quite a lot from watching him and Declan play, I certainly aspired to play as well as they did. Out of the two, I would say Declan is maybe more versatile. I remember Mark once told me that if he wasn’t playing poker he would be on a building site, so I guess he’s done well out of the game. He hasn’t been to the Vic for at least 4 or 5 years now, I hear he now just spends his time getting stoned and playing online, no doubt getting the absolute lot.


Roger Jones

Now dead, Roger was an excellent Seven Card player who also made the occasional foray into the odd Hold‘Em tournament. He was also exceptionally good at crosswords. A very nice man who didn’t suffer fools gladly (a cardroom not being the ideal place to spend time in then) I’ll never forget his exasperation at players who didn’t know it was their action, what was in the pot, what the bet was etc. A sarcastic “How much?”, often delivered as an aside to me or any other halfway competent player who was nearby, was his standard way of coping with some idiot (usually another regular who had been playing for at least 20 years). He once won a pot off Andrew Georgiou at Seven Card with a flush. When asked why didn’t he raise with his hand, Roger replied, “What? Raise a Bubble showing an open pair? You must think I’m mad”. He once came up to me and said, “I’m not taking the piss, but are you a Latin scholar?”. Unusually for him, he was stuck on a crossword clue; I wish I could’ve given him the answer.


Kenny Miller

With his massive hooter and hang dog looks, Kenny was always easy to spot. A nice guy who, when I first started playing, seemed to make a final table every week. Kenny seemed to have two leaks - the dice (many a poker player’s weakness - as Mick “The Clock” Cook once exclaimed, “How this game has ruined us!” ) and staking Alec Rowley (I may have his last name wrong). Alec was an awful poker player who had a stream of bad beat stories, quite often involving the craps game at Charlie Chesters. Kenny was soft spoken and very stoical, winning and losing with equal grace. I’ll never forget one time at the Stakis when everyone was sitting around waiting for the tournament to start. A backgammon game was in progress and most of us were watching. One of the players rolled double fours and I heard Kenny mutter under his breath, “Hard eight”. A true gambler through and through.