Wednesday, May 30, 2007


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.