Sunday, 30 August 2015

Live is Alive!

It’s been a while. I’ve been blogging regularly on blonde poker - if you’re not a member, you should be, it’s a great forum, really friendly and full of characters. I’ve had a diary / blog there for over 4 years now. 

But after a very lively summer I thought I’d blog here about what I’ve been up to, and some revelations I’ve had lately. 

Poker is not dead!

Live Poker, at least. I’ve just come back from Barcelona, where I spent 10 days playing unbelievable tournaments. Here’s a few numbers for you. 1700 in the 5k EPT Main event, a record. 500 in the 10k EPT Hiroller, a record. 3400 in the 1.1k Estrella main, a record. Staggering stuff. 

100+ waiting for 3/6 and 5/10 cash games at all afternoon/evening times. With stakes running up to 100/200 both Holdem and PLO. Some jaw dropping hands witnessed, even in the 10k. 

Needless to say I cashed in 0/7 events! I did win my seats to the 5k and 10k though which saved me a lot of money! 

Neymar turns up to play a few events!

And back home the action has been great too. London is finally living up to my expectations. Great hold’em games and omaha action buzzing too. I’ve played some of my biggest ever pots in the last few weeks, some good, some bad, been absolutely loving it whether I win or lose (actually, mainly win!).

Vegas? Well, I had a very exciting time cashing in the main event for the first time. What a thrill that was. I was all-in with 1060 left and 1000 paid vs my roommate Scott! My 88 vs his AK. QJ on the flop, but it bricked off. I can honestly say that was the most nervous and sweaty and relieved i’ve been during/after a poker hand ever! 

That was the highlight of an otherwise terrible trip to be honest!

So Vegas, Barcelona, but you know where I’ve had the most fun playing poker? Yup, you guessed it, Dusk Til Dawn. A trip there never fail to deliver. The festivals there bring the most fantastic atmosphere, the staff that work there and people that I play with there are just so friendly and fun, and the action in the cash games and value in the tournaments are second to none. The WPT in November is the next big festival there, hope to see many of you there. 

Revelation #1

There is a big myth in poker - that the hardest people to play against are the best players. The best players are not the ones doing sick turn check raises or overbetting the river every hand. The best players are the ones that make money off you without you realising, and you never win it back. They fold correctly, call down correctly and value bet correctly. You don’t feel under it vs these guys, they don’t have you sweating every pot you play vs them. But you never win vs them, theoretically, of course. However, people much prefer to play against them than the “sicko’s” that put them in tough spots all the time. 

Revelation #2

Daniel Negreanu was asked about why all the super hirollers have more fun at the table than in regular events. I expected him to say because everyone knows each other, which is of course part of the reason, but he gave a much more interesting answer which rings true in my experience. You can check out the interview here

Not that I’ve ever played a superhiroller! But in the bigger buy-in events I have played, the atmosphere at the table is so much more relaxed and friendly than in smaller events. If you did a graph of buy-in level vs words per table, it would be a U-shape. With the smallest buyins being friendly and relaxed by nature - almost exclusively recreational players, to the medium buyins being populated by mid-level pros, semi pros, pros who can’t beat the game anymore, recs who take it too seriously etc - this is a breeding ground for surly and moody players, who don’t take their headphones out to ask where someone is from, or join in with a table joke. And then right up to the top, where you’ve got the cream of the crop, the most successful and intelligent players, and successful businessmen, doctors etc. Both of these groups are likely to be highly emotional intelligent too (what DN touches on), so conversation naturally flows. It’s no co-indicenece that these guys are there, so why not take a leaf out of their book, you might even enjoy it as well...

Monday, 20 April 2015

2015 so far...

It's been far too long since I updated this blog, due to an extremely hectic start to the year. I say hectic, I think if I ever got a real job then I'd find out what "hectic" actually means - a poker player's "hectic" is when they have to set an alarm for a midday tournament, and only have 1 hour sitting in bed browsing social media.

Some genuine excuses came from moving house (and country).

We left Barcelona in late January, and lived out of a suitcase until April 1st and am now fully settled in the London.

View from our new flat

I went to Deauville for the EPT which was pretty disastrous. I took a shot in my first EPT hiroller which was encouraging, but yielded no success. Played all side events and main events, and came away penniless.

That was rectified in Nottingham during the Sky UKPC festival. A good run at the cash games and cashes in all three events I played (main event, hiroller and second chance) meant I was out of the hole for the year.

March was all about finding a place to live in London, we stayed in an Air bnb place for that month whilst we got a place sorted. It was extremely stressful (again, poker player "stressful", I imagine) and made me dislike all estate agents, but we were finally sorted.

The new place
Just in time for a little trip to Malta. No good personally, but had a swap with roommate, Keith who won the 2k IPT hiroller for 140k so it was just about a profitable.

I had a period where I got pretty addicted to open face chinese again - playing 8 tables, first thing I did in the mornin, last thing I did before I went to sleep etc. Was pretty bad! I have since successfully gone cold turkey and quit completely and feel much the better for it!

We've settled nicely into the new place. Victoria has a job dealing in the Empire, which she's really enjoying. I've been playing plenty of cash games, and just had a week in Nottingham for the UKIPT, which was great fun as always. The highlight being the 5 a-side football tournament. 8 teams of poker players came from as far north as Scotland and as far south as London for this prestigious event. DTD formed a team and we made it to the final but lost to Tim Chung's Birmingham. Was great fun. Here's a brilliant (if I say so myself) video of the controversial semi final clash with Mad Turk's "Broadway".

Been going through my bi-annual personal crisis of whether poker is the right career for me, thinking about doing something else etc. Hoping this will trigger the same heater that the last one did!

Doubt I'll blog again until after Vegas, I have no trips planned for the next two months so will just be getting my head down and grinding cash, learning russian and getting fit.

Good luck at the tables everyone!

Friday, 19 December 2014

Winter Heat!

I played my last hand of poker for 2014 on Sunday evening and thought it was about time I updated this blog as it's been almost 2 months since the last one.

Since then I've spent 3 weeks in England for the WPT, 2 weeks in Prague for the WPTN/Eureka/EPT and a surprise Christmas treat for Victoria - a few days in Paris. 

It's been absolutely incredible. I've ran absolutely golden. And had so much fun. Remarkable coincidence...

In Nottingham I won the WPT Second Chance and came 4th in the 8-max side. I also picked up my first online piece of silverware, shipping the ESCOOP 4-max on In Prague I won the WPTN Main Event for my biggest score of the year. 

It was so good being back in England. Seeing my friends every day again and actually enjoying playing poker. I can grind a 10 hour cash session in DTD and have the time fly by win or lose. In Barcelona I'm checking my watch and phone between hands and putting in a 3 hour session is a struggle. I spent 5 days in London for the Unibet open and really enjoyed it there for once. I usually hate London, but I think living around the outskirts might be the next step for us. 

In essence, the trip made me realise that England is my home, where I belong, so that's where I want to settle. 

Prague is always an absolute blast win or lose. I love the food, I love the buildings, the markets, I even love the winter chill. We had a apartment which the following group of renegades came and went: Stato, Steve Warbs, Thigh, Mitch, Fat Scott, Ben Dobson and of course Fred Wise. There was numerous other members of the British poker playing community out there and everyone seemed to come together on two big night outs during the trip. Still remains in my top 3 stops on the calendar, up there with Vegas and Barcelona. 

The Poker is just immense, a 1k or larger tournament every day for 2 weeks, record breaking fields, so many chances for a big score - I love it. And I'm not the only one...

I like to recognise big wins and heaters by doing something immediately that'll be a tangible memory to that success in the future. Treating friends to a big meal or night out, going on a holiday, splashing out on something. I feel that variance is so sick in this game that if you don't enjoy the good times as much as is sensible (or more!), then it makes the bad times so much worse. In 2013 I didn't cash a tournament £1k or larger. That could happen in 2015, and I won't feel like I deserve a new laptop or a holiday in Egypt! That's how my mind works - I am pretty nitty in downswings! I really feel like if I don't do things like this then what's the point? 

In this case the main thing was whisking Victoria away at a moments notice on a plane to Paris. I haven't been there since a school trip over 10 years ago, and I guess I had faint memories of indifference which is why I've never bothered to return. How wrong they were. 

What an awesome city. Some not very original photos below, but has to done right?

Back in England now for Christmas, having a long overdue extended break from poker. 

Merry Christmas Everybody! 

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Settled and Unsettled

So life in Barcelona has been a bit different to how I imagined.

I imagined myself playing 40 hours a week of live cash games, getting stuck into some big splashy games, becoming fluent at Spanish and eating tapas everyday.

I've actually barely played 40 hours since I've been here. I haven't noticed much improved in my Spanish despite putting in some decent work and only really eat tapas when we go out. Games are OK, certainly better than anything I could get in England, but I've found I've just lost my motivation to grind them. They are tight and passive, rather than loose and splashy so it's a case of grinding out xbb/hour and I've just lost interest in that.

I feel like I've been there done that with live cash now and I'm looking for something more challenging and fulfilling to do with my life. I still get a massive rush from playing big live tournaments, and love the cash game banter at DTD where I know everyone and can play with some of my best mates. But I just don't enjoy playing here at all really.

Instead I've been playing loads online! I thought moving to Spain would be the end of my online career but I've been playing more than ever. Really like the Spanish sites and it means I can play from home and spend more time with Victoria instead of leaving her alone every night which is nice.

I had some nice success at a recent WPT National festival here, chopping the hiroller heads up so it's nice to hit a some (more!) form coming into all the upcoming tournaments I've got planned. Been sat still here in Barcelona for way too long, I skipped EPT london and aside from a weekend in Andorra, haven't been anywhere for ages!

Next week I head back to England for the WPT at DTD. Spending about 3 weeks there. Then I might head to Amsterdam for the MCOP. Then in December it's Prague which is always huge. It'll be my 5th time there, always love it. Yet to have a big result though, surely it's coming this year!

So there's some really exciting things coming up and plenty of chances to finish the year off with a bang.

I love living here, it's such a sick city in so many ways. I've been keeping fit and eating well, definitely in the best shape of my life at the moment. I love the feel of the place, the atmosphere in the street, beach, squares etc. I love the food and the weather and I'm getting better at Spanish.

However I don't think it's a long term solution. I think I'll be back in England in February. Where and for what? Now that's the question...I do think though, that my days as a professional poker player are numbered.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Barcelona - the adventure begins!

So I've moved to Barcelona! I've finally done it. Been homeless since March, so had 4 months of living out of a suitcase going from hotel to hotel, apartment to apartment and now I've finally "settled" somewhere.

I chose Barcelona because it made sense from almost every angle. I love the city. I love the language and always wanted to be fluent. I love the weather. I love the food. And crucially, Victoria loves all those things about it too. It has very good access to everywhere major, especially to England and there is a decent enough live poker scene. 

It's not without it's downsides of course. No major online poker sites can be played there, the Catalunians make it difficult for foreigners to settle, and the language barrier is a short-term obstacle to getting involved fully, making friends etc. 

But when cash games in England are as dead as they are, and I had such a strong desire to make a change, Barcelona just ticked every box. 

A group of us spent 2 weeks there for the Estrella/EPT week.It was an absolutely mental festival, with every event breaking attendence records and the place buzzing every day. Poker went fairly disastrously until the most unlikely get-out occurred and turned into my 2nd biggest ever score! the 5k main went terrible, as did various 2k and 1k sides. And then it came down to a 1k re-entry. It started terribly, I lost half my stack and then blinded out for a few hours, shoved a bowl with A5 and got called by AJ. I got there, made day 2 with 16bbs and my some status on fb about what a sorry state of affairs it was that given all the sick tournaments I'd played that trip and all my hopes were resting on 16bbs in this! And then just ran like absolute god and came 2nd for €80k! What a silly game this is. 

The rail that didn't get kicked out

2013 was such a terrible year for tournaments I don't think I even cashed a £1k+ buyin comp! Whereas this year I've had tons of deep runs, cashes, 10-30th place finishes in huge field £1k+ comps so I feel like I've been knocking on the door of something like this. It felt amazing and I was just so lucky that day, I can't grumble about my luck for a while after that! 

We had a pretty sick night in Opium, Sebastian Ingrosso was playing and there was a good group of us all out till the small hours. Several people misses their flights home as a result! Victoria and I didn't even have a flight home, we just stayed out here! 

We have an apartment 60 seconds walk from the beach in a lovely authentic Catalan street in the Barceloneta region. 

My walk to "work" is a lovely 10-15minute stroll along the beach, with the beach on the right and some of Barca's coolest clubs, bars and restaurants on the left. It's hard to feel bad about life with that commute. 

I'm playing live cash most nights, a mixture of €3/6 holdem and €5/5 PLO! Ive never played much PLO before but decided that most of the money in live cash games is in PLO these days rather than Holdem and I'd like a new challenge. I'm definitely at that stage where we all were once with Holdem - just starting out and running like god so we think we're amazing but we're definitely really shit! Yeh that's me. I'm basically trying to play really tight whilst learning, but applying holdem principles and being aggressive when ranges are capped etc. Also by playing hands that make nut flushes, or nut straights you end up being on the right end of "coolers" much more often that those playing looser pre. That's the idea anyway, and I'm getting some tips from some seasoned plo pros which is very useful indeed. Really enjoying it anyway! 

Coming up: 

I'm currently in the Dordogne, in France on a family holiday, then there's a big night out in Nottingham to celebrate everyones recent success (so many people who've been due binks / heaters have got there lately, esp shout out to Jack and Thigh, both were "due" for so long!) so that'll be awesome to celebrate. Then I'm staying in England for a week because a) can grind WCOOP in England not in Spain, and b) Mitch is getting married! Then back to Barcelona for a few weeks until I guess EPT London. 


I rarely make poker goals, but I have some fitness goals at the moment. One is the 100 pressup challenge - where you have 6 weeks to build up and by week 7 the idea is that you can do 100 pressups. October 1st is the date I aim to do the 100!

Good luck everyone!