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


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.