Micro-stakes Mission: Week One

June 15, 2009
The Micro-stakes Mission

The Micro-stakes Mission

08.06.09

Starting balance: £10

14.06.09

Closing balance: £13.67

Word of the week is grind…
A good start to the challenge where I have managed a 36% increase to my micro roll.

Things we learnt this week:

Tight, solid ABC poker is what wins the money at these low levels.

Value bet your opponents to death.

When someone donk-bets into you and you have it, re-raise you WILL get paid.

Lots of micro-grinding makes you go stir crazy…

It will be a couple of months (hopefully) before I will be playing any ‘proper’ poker at these levels; and by proper poker I mean six-max cash.

As I am playing within strict bankroll management parameters and quite frankly can’t bring myself to grind it out in the $0.01/$0.02 cash games (I just don’t have it in me, I’d rather watch endless Big Brother re-runs while strapped into the Clockwork Orange social rehabilitation chair…) I have been playing a shed-load of $1.20 SNG’s. Some six-max, some full ten-handed, some of the Double or Nothings just to mix it up a little and have a little variety.

Now while the Double or Nothings don’t offer you a great return on your money (as you are paying 1/5 of your profits in rake :() they are great for growing a roll with minimum risk and play slightly differently to your standard SNG, being more like an online qualifier/satellite.
As I’m in the middle of writing a feature on this very topic I’m not going to go into too much detail here but will let you guys know when and where the feature will be published so you can see for yourselves.

I won’t be playing cash until I have $200 (around £120 at current exchange rates) in my account, then I can start playing the $0.05/$0.10 six-max games. Now while this might not be the giddy high-rolling heights that some players enjoy I am quite looking forward to it as I’m sure by the time I have earned enough to play these stakes I will be thoroughly sick of SNG’s.

After a week I have played 26 SNG’s broken down into:

6 Turbo six-max Double or Nothings for 0 profit
I tried these out and found that they get too crap-shooty on the money bubble with the fast escalating blinds and probably won’t be playing any more of these.

1 20-man $1.20 SNG for a loss of $1.20
See below.

2 30-man $1.20 SNG’s for a loss of $2.40
While I came close I bubbled both of these but was just taking a bankroll boosting shot with the profits from my six-max SNG’s. I would imagine I will take a shot with one or two of these a week depending on how I run as you have a slightly greater variance against more players. The return of $12 for first place makes them worthwhile I think.

1 ten-handed SNG for a profit of $3.80
The only reason I didn’t bother with more of these is that the six-max versions are quicker and you have to fight through less players to make the money, though I might mix it up and play a couple more this week.

16 six-max SNG’s some Double or Nothings, some standard SNG’s for a profit of $6.20
I found these the easiest to play and they gave me the best return. Now while my ROI for the whole week was only 17% (this will need to improve drastically) I am happy that I have finished up after the first week. I had to change my game up from my usual aggressive cash style and lost a couple of key hands at bubble time by not adapting to the micro-stakes styles (i.e. don’t bluff, you will get called…).
Hopefully now I have changed my game up we should see some better results next week.

Until then poker fans…

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Swings and Roundabouts

June 15, 2009

Well we’re off and running with the micro-stakes challenge. Check out my progress by selecting Back to the Future: The Micro-stakes Mission in the side bar.

After grinding all week with my free time I have made around a 36% increase to my roll.

Amusingly though in an attempt to blow off some steam after playing ‘proper’ bankroll management all week, I sat down on Saturday for a good old fashioned spin-up rampage on Eurobet’s PLO tables.

Having just recently finished reading Rolf Slotboom’s Secrets of Professional Pot-Limit Omaha I was intrigued by his short-stack approach to the game, which I decided to try out as part of my spin-up.

The tactic involves sitting in for to a game with the minimum buy-in (yes, I’ve joined the irritating hit-and-run short-stackers society), preferably with a strong aggressive player to your left (yes, you want them to have position on you).

Patience is the key here, you are waiting for a fairly decent hand like double-suited Aces or Kings where all four cards work well together.
Double-suited run-down hands are also good here.

You usually want to just call knowing the aggressive player will usually raise and get called in a couple of spots so you can re-raise all-in. Obviously you need to mix this up with some Button raises and re-raises when you have the goods as well so you don’t become too predictable.

Hopefully the obliging LAG should re-raise giving you some protection and taking the hand heads-up so you are getting around 3-1 on your money while being around a 60/40 favourite in the hand.

Obviously this is not an exact science and the key to success is picking your spots carefully. Occasionally you’ll be against two other players in the pot and while your win percentage may drop here you are still getting a pretty good return on your money for taking a favourable gamble.

The trick is not to get too greedy, as soon as you have doubled up and have enough to buy in for the minimum for the next level you leave the table and jump up stakes.

You can experiment with this strategy a little if you find a level you are comfortable playing at and I did just that at the $1/$1 tables running my $20 into around $160 in about half an hour before I hit-and-ran to buy into the $2/$2 game for $40.

The best part about this approach is the fact you are risking a little to win a lot in a short space of time, while still using some semblance of bankroll management: While you are effectively playing higher than your roll allows you should still only be risking around 5% of your total net worth.

The best way to ensure success is to give yourself a total you are happy reaching and then calling it quits and banking the money.

Poker is a game of swings and roundabouts - sometimes I spin around so fast I get dizzy...

Poker is a game of swings and roundabouts - sometimes I spin around so fast I get dizzy...

I pulled the plug after working my way up to the $5/$5 level where I had a quick double-up and finished $390 in profit for around three and a half hours work.

So effectively I managed to spin $10 into $400 – not bad work if you can get it. Kind of the anti-thesis to my micro-stakes approach, but then I had to play a game where I was free of the stringent constraints I had been playing under all week. I think that it’s important to mix it up online to stop you from going stir crazy, burning out and driving yourself insane grinding it out at the lower levels.

Going Live

While I have been enjoying moderate success online this month, my live game on the other hand has been a disaster.

While I enjoyed a fairly sizable win at Bristol’s £1/£2 ROE (round of each Pot-Limit Texas and Pot-Limit Omaha) I have had several back to back losing sessions where my sets have been outdrawn by gutshots, or people have just plain been refusing to fold for all their chips when the draw card fails to materialise on the turn, calling off and then pinging the river… Sick.

I’m enjoying (not sure if this is quite the right word…) my first losing month since January and only my third ever losing month since I’ve been keeping records. Unfortunately it’s also my biggest losing month to date as well. Not so good.

I’m off to Leeds on Friday to cover and play in the Coral British Masters Poker Tour so I can only pray for a reversal in fortune and an end to my losing live streak. Time will tell.

It’s odd, whenever I win online I seem to break even or lose live and when I am winning live my online game suffers. I will have to work to fix this strange correlation between cyber-space and bricks-and-mortar. Fingers crossed…

Being as I seem to be running ok on the old intermaweb I will also be attempting to satellite in to the Coral Tour £500+50 main event via the freerolls, $5 re-buy and $10 freeze-out. I’ll keep you posted.

As I will be working and gambling with reckless abandon on Friday and over the weekend I probably won’t be posting until next Monday where I will also be updating my micro-stakes challenge results as well.

Until that day folks…

Jumping Gigawatts!

June 12, 2009

If you had a time travelling DeLorean what would you do and where would you go? Aside from the obvious ‘back in time to last week so I could pick the winning lottery numbers’ that is…

Unlike Marty McFly and friends I’d forget 1885 and the old West – it might look cool but riding a horse gives you a sore arse and makes you walk like John Wayne, plus you stood a great chance of catching TB.

As a poker player I often wonder what it would have been like to play in the old West where cheating was rife and you were as likely to be outdrawn by a headcase with a Colt as by a fish with a flush (interestingly flushes were a late edition to the game of poker and were introduced around 1850 along with the British 52-card deck which is used today). Just ask Wild Bill about getting outdrawn… There’s a reason Aces and Eights is called the ‘Dead man’s hand’.

No, fuck that for a game of Cowboys and Indians. Myself, I’d go back in time nine years to early 2000 before the ‘Moneymaker effect’ happened  – where people were still all rubbish at poker and it was easy to win online.

Runner, runner flush... Damn it Marty! That's the third time I've had my Aces cracked this week. I'm thought this whole online poker nonsense was supposed to be easy...

Runner, runner flush... Damn it Marty! That's the third time I've had my Aces cracked this week. I thought this whole online poker nonsense was supposed to be easy...

It’s fair to say that the modern game of poker, especially online moves slightly faster than the 88mph needed to send the DeLorean back to the future and some of the outdraws you see on the old intermaweb leave you muttering more than just ‘Great Scott!’ under your breath.

But is it still possible to win consistently online? I think yes, it’s just the edge is getting smaller and the margins become narrower as everyone three/four-bets and seems to want to get it in so light.

The online game must be beatable as the new generation of up-and-coming professionals like Tom Dwan, Luke ‘FullFlush1’ Schwartz, Andrew Feldman and an army of others spin $50 into six-figure bankrolls, seemingly in a matter of minutes…

Well ok that’s a slight exaggeration but it got me wondering, being as Chris Ferguson and Daniel Negreanu managed to turn nothing into $10,000 and $10 into $100,000 respectively, is it still possible to spin up something from nothing – or more accurately a lot from a little?

Well in true Doc Brown style I’ve decided to conduct a little experiment – a micro-stakes experiment to be exact; here on my blog with a view to writing a couple of features on it for a few of the poker titles I write for.

So first of all I’ll let you folks know the rules and parameters I’ll be setting myself, but the general goal is to prove that online poker is still beatable. That and it’s a pretty good challenge to set yourself to prevent you from becoming bored and your game from becoming stale. After all if I can beat $1/$2 and $2/$4 six-max cash games how hard can $1.20 SNG’s and $0.05/$0.10 cash games be to beat?

Now I haven’t actually set myself a timeframe for this little jaunt into the microcosm of small stakes poker. Rather, I was just conducting it to see how long it would take me, more to prove to myself and others that the whole poker dream of rags to riches is still possible even in today’s highly aggressive game where your average player now actually knows a bit about pot odds, will have read a variety of poker books and is probably signed up to an online training site and is a member of poker forums like 2 plus 2 or Pocket Fives.

The Rules

The goal:
Phase 1 – Turn £10 into £1000
Phase 2 – Turn £1000 into £100,000

I will be starting with a bankroll of £10 (around $16 US dollars).

I am only allowed to buy in for a maximum of 5% of my roll for SNG’s and cash games.

No more than 15% of my roll can be in play at any one time up to a maximum of 5% per table.

If my stack is more than 10% of my total bankroll during a cash game I must cash out and find a new table.

I can only buy into MTT’s for a maximum of 3% of my bankroll.

The moment I have enough in my roll to move up to the next level I HAVE to move up.

The moment I don’t have enough in my roll to play the level I’m playing at I MUST drop back down.

Rakeback counts towards the challenge (bearing in mind that I am using only one of my online poker accounts for this experiment and will be playing only games directly related to the challenge/experiment with this account). After all in today’s online game where someone is effectively offering you a money-back guarantee you’d have to be crazy not to take it, right?

Feedback Frenzy

So there you have it folks, feel free to chip in with any thoughts, ideas, other weird things that can make the experiment/challenge more interesting, or just give me your opinion on what I’m doing.

I’ll be keeping you posted with regular updates in a sub-section of my blog (see the right hand side column under the tab marked ‘Back To The Future:The Micro-stakes Mission’) this will be separate to my regular blog where I will still be posting what articles I’ve been writing, where they’ll be published and also any other random topics I feel like talking about.

Let the games begin. Let’s see if these short-stackers can do 90…

MicroStakes-Mission

The Dragon Has Landed

June 1, 2009

Welcome back poker fans, apologies for the long time no post. I’ve been up to my eyeballs in work, some poker related, some not and have been working, writing and networking like a trooper in a successful attempt clear my workload before taking a well deserved working holiday to the poker Mecca that is Las Vegas.

On a work related note I’ve got a couple of articles due for publication soon. The first is a piece for WPT magazine on 6-card Pot Limit Omaha. Yes that’s right folks, all the mischief and mayhem of its 4-card brother only harder, sicker, faster and more swingy with bigger pots… While it may sound insane it’s also loads of fun and believe it or not, there is some skill involved. Read the feature to find out more; it’s in issue 43 out this month I believe.

I’ve just sold WPT a profile on Phil ‘Unabomber’ Laak, which should be out in issue 44.
Phil is an off-the-wall kinda guy, so we have an off-the-wall kind of feature – it was a fun one to write so I hope you guys enjoy reading it.

I submitted a ‘Heads Up’ interview with Roland De Wolfe and Juha Helppi to Poker Pro Europe, which should be out soon – I’ll let you know the details just as soon as I find out when it’ll be in print.

Congratulations to Barry Carter who has just be made the new editor of the UK’s Poker News. This can only be a good thing as Barry is one of the UK poker scene’s more prolific writers and I’m sure the website will go from strength to strength. Check out his ‘Get Carter’ poker blog.

Vegas Baby! Vegas!

Vegas Baby! Vegas!

Vegas Baby! Vegas!

On a slightly less work related note I just got back from Vegas this week after a ‘working’ holiday, well actually that’s not strictly true, more a holiday that I intended to combine with work but the interview I had scheduled has been delayed to some other point in the (hopefully) not to distant future.

This is not such a bad thing however as it gave me ample time to indulge in second favourite pastime, playing poker (the first being writing about poker obviously).

While I’m not going to go into details about bad beats and winnings, I came back with more money than I went with and have a few interesting statistics for you:

Out of the 8 Tafia members who went on the trip only four of us were poker players, that being said we did alright for ourselves and learned that the Yanks don’t like to fold middle pair much.

Welsh Busted: 5

Yanks Busted: 34

Brazilians Busted: 1 (I met two, one of whom was a professional pool player who is friends with Maltese snooker pro Tony Drago whom I didn’t bust, the other was called Hannibal – which I thought was quite a cool name, unfortunately for him he didn’t eat me alive…)

Of course take note that ‘Busted’ means taken down to the felt, not just beaten in a pot.

Hours played: 37

So that’s nearly a Yank an hour, rest assured folks next time we’ll do better ;).

A big hello to some of the American guys I ended up playing with, they were a friendly bunch. Most specifically Casey, a Vegas DJ who looked like Seth Rogan and showed my brother and I a great time taking us to an after-hours nightclub at 6am after a 7 hour poker session and getting us in for free.

Casey, if you’re out there bud you’ve got my business card, drop me a line as I managed to lose my wallet that night with your business card in it. Any fan of Human Traffic is always welcome in Cardiff, and yes, it’s just like it is in the film…

Also thanks to Boston Dan, a guy myself and Alan ‘Wheel Warrior’ Wicks ended up playing with all night. We got the whole table gambling like crazies and drinking Jagerbombs – a truly tremendous evening, especially as Alan and myself ended up with most of the money on the table when we finished playing at around 6.30am.

It’s a tough job but someone’s gotta do it 🙂

One Way Poker

What goes up must come down. It took me three days to get over my jetlag but I did manage to finish third in my local deep-stack tournament (at the Grosvenor, Cardiff Bay – location of the August leg of the GUKPT) the day after getting home, which was nice.

I was in Swansea over the weekend at Aspers casino for the launch of the Romanello family’s (yes Roberto and his brothers have decided to make their mark on the world of online poker) new poker website launch.

OneWayPoker.com is an iPoker skin so not only can you play on one of the internets’ largest poker networks you can also find some of Wales’ finest butting heads over the poker tables – and yes we do have some good players…

I spent most of the night ‘networking’ (a posh word for work-related drinking) and had an entertaining evening hanging around with Jon Kalmar who is a thoroughly nice guy. He’ll be hitting up Las Vegas from next Wednesday hoping to repeat chance with another great finish in the Main Event so I wish him the best of luck.

Aside from the Romanello family (including Roberto, obviously…) also in attendance were some of Cardiff and Swansea’s finest including Rana Gurnham, Marko Clarke and Neil ‘Six-card’ Shellard, Full-Tilt sponsored red pro Andrew Feldman, Marc Goodwin, Mickey Wernick and many more who I didn’t get a chance to chat to.

To Leeds and beyond…

Unless the poker gods smile on me in the next four weeks and grant me a WSOP package I will unfortunately be UK grounded for the duration of the Series.

I will however be keeping a close eye on the action and hope that the UK contingent do us proud.

We should have a fighting chance for bracelets this year what with Mr Channing and Mr Persaud’s Blackbeltpoker.com qualifiers.

Congratulations to Cardiff (well Newport actually, but if I was from there then I’d want people to say I was from Cardiff…) player Henry Griffiths who qualified for blue belt. While he won’t be going to Vegas (that was brown belt and above) he has got himself a nice deal for playing in some of the UK poker tours fine side events so we wish him the best of luck.

On a UK poker related note I’ll be heading up to Leeds next month to cover the Coral British Masters Poker Tour where I will be hoping for a shot at fortune and glory myself.

Qualify online at www.coralpoker.com, www.galapoker.co.uk and www.eurobetpoker.net for as little as nothing as they are running a series of freerolls from 6pm every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

There are a whole host of other qualifiers and the main event itself is only £500+£50 for a two-day deep-stack.

There’s also a £200 and £100 side event so for those without the bankroll to hit up Sin City, try Leeds. It might not be as glamorous but for quality British poker they’ll be some good play and the chance to win some cash… Show me a downside.

I’ll either be posting next on Friday or Monday (depending on my work schedule) so stay tuned poker fans.

And if all else fails, try Wales…

Three decades in…

April 27, 2009

Greetings poker fans and apologies for the lack of post on Friday – I did think, however it would make more sense to post after the weekend’s poker action at the GUKPT Manchester leg and the EPT San Remo.

So onto business:

First time’s a charm at the GUKPT

Unlike the 298 runners, I was unable to make it up to Manchester for the forth leg of the GUKPT due to work and partying commitments (it was my 30th birthday this weekend).

With £298,000 to play for and a seat in the £100,000 Champion of Champion’s tournament up for grabs the competition was always going to be fierce.

Some of the UK’s toughest pro’s were in attendance including:
Paul Jackson, Joe Grech, Dave Colclough, Surinder Sunar, Jeff Kimber, the Hit Squad’s Karl Marenholtz & James Akenhead, Leg 3 winner Martin Silke. Stuart Rutter, Ryan Fronda, Marc Goodwin. Ian Frazer and online whiz kid Chris Moorman.
With a field as a tough as this it was always going to be a tricky one to navigate, but in true tournament style – there can be only one…

And it was Simon Moorman (father of online tournament professional Chris Moorman) who walked away £88,630 richer.

GUKPT Manchester winner Simon Moorman. Images courtesy of GUKPT/Quentin Kozma

GUKPT Manchester winner Simon Moorman. Images courtesy of GUKPT/Quentin Kozma

Playing in only his second ever live tournament and first ever GUKPT, 52-year-old Simon from Essex defeated a final table featuring Surinder Sunar and GCBPT serial final tablist Dave Maudlin before triumphing over Finland’s Harri Isomaki (also playing in one of his first live tournaments after qualifying via an online freeroll for a 50,000% ROI…) after a short heads-up battle.

The irony of this cannot be lost on Moorman junior (Chris) who has so far been unable to translate his prolific online success to the live tournament scene, especially as it was Chris who bought his father into the tournament as a late birthday present.

“The only way I can top this is to win the main event of the World Series of Poker.” Chris commented afterwards.

The tour now moves on to Newcastle, where the 5th leg of this year tour will take place from the 18th-24th May, with the 4-day main event taking place from the 21st-24th.

Visit the GUKPT website for more details.
The Italian Job

On a more continental note, also on last week was the EPT San Remo main event where 1,178 players ponied up the €5,300 buy-in to compete in what has officially become the biggest major poker tournament ever held in Europe.

With an eye-poppingly massive prize pool of € 5,713,300 to play for and a star studded field to play through, this was always going to be a high calibre tournament, hence the picturesque wealthy setting – San Remo is just a 30-minute drive from Monte Carlo.

As well as the obligatory collection of ultra-aggressive Scandies including EPT winner Andreas Hoivold, young Mr Albert Iversen (see my forthcoming interview with him in Poker Pro Europe) fellow Dane Jesper Hougaard and 2007 WSOPE winner Annette Obrestad there was also a plethora of representatives from a multitude of countries.

Representing the US was last year’s winner Jason Mercier, Greg ‘Fossil Man’ Raymer and Chad Brown. Winner of the EPT Dortmund leg Sandra Naujoks was in attendance as were fellow Germans Benjamin Kang, Jan Heitmann and George Danzer.

EPT regulars such as Marcel Luske, Patrik Antonius were in attendance on Day 1B as well as Bill ‘The Mathematics of Poker’ Chen, WSOP champion Peter Eastgate, Ireland’s Marty Smyth, Liam Flood and Tony Cascarino, Wales’ John Tabatabai and Roberto Romanello, online super sicko Ben ‘Milkybar Kid’ Grundy, Richard Ashby, 2007 GUKPT champ Mike Ellis and I believe that Richard Kellett told me he was planning to play as well as many, many others.

In fact I could go on to list a whole host of different names from many, many different countries but I’m not going to as it would take up loads of space and not actually be that interesting, after all it is the action and adventure that actually matters.

EPT San Remo winner Constant Rijkenberg

EPT San Remo winner Constant Rijkenberg

And it was Dutchman Constant Rijkenberg who bagged the €1,508,000 first prize beating Finland’s Kalle Niemi heads-up in just five hands.

The 20-year-old Dutchman from Amsterdam is an economics student so I’m sure he will have plenty of plans to invest his winnings productively, probably none of which will involve blowing the lot playing ultra-high stakes.

The next leg the EPT Grand Final kicks off tomorrow (28th April) so it’ll just be the small matter of relocating the 1,778 poker players up the road to Monte Carlo for the €10,600 tournament and more fast and furious action.

Visit the EPT homepage here for more info.

No rest for the wicked

On a work related note I am busy with a Roland de Wolfe and Juha Helppi interview which should be appearing in Poker Pro Europe at some point in the next few months – I’ll keep you posted.

It looks like a busy couple of weeks for me as I attempt to clear my current workload before heading off to Sin City (Las Vegas, not Frank Miller’s black and white comic book dystopia) for a working holiday involving poker… lots of poker.

Also, big thanks to UK poker pundit Barry Carter for helping me sell some of my work and for all his invaluable advice on making it in the cut throat world of poker journalism.

Stay tuned poker fans – there will be more blogage as I have many more articles to sell. After all life (so I am told by my older friends) begins at 30 – so today is the first day of the rest of my life. I’ll let you know how it goes…

Wrestling With The Prose

April 22, 2009

Well, just finished the first of my many Irish Open features and am part way through another… It’s a good thing I like writing 😉

Unlike wrestling with the pros, you are unlikely to seriously hurt yourself when wrestling with prose – although I have noticed a disturbing tendency for my eyes to bleed if I squint too hard at the screen… Looks like a career as a Bond villain is assured; now all I have to do is call massive all-ins with Ace Six off-suit on the Button…

Just been reading the latest copy of WPT mag – I did quite like their feature on classic poker film hands but noticed a couple of omissions which I felt needed a mention (and perhaps a slating…)

The Sting (1973)

Floyd: “Doyle, I KNOW I gave him four THREES. He had to make a switch. We can’t let him get away with that.”
Doyle: “What was I supposed to do – call him for cheating better than me, in front of the others?”

 Eat your heart out 'The Real Hustle' Paul Newman did it first...

Eat your heart out 'The Real Hustle' Paul Newman did it first...

Any movie with Paul Newman in is always pretty classy, after all how can a man who uttered the immortal line: “Money won is twice as sweet as money earned…” do wrong?

(Bonus points for any who can name the film the above line comes from. Answers on a postcard ;))

This has to be one of my favourite poker scenes ever in a movie, where Chicago conman Gondorff (Paul Newman) is setting up an elaborate con against mob banker Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw – who also plays Quint in Jaws).

After Gondorff sends his girlfriend to steal Lonnegan’s wallet on the New York to Chicago train, he then proceeds to buy into Lonnegan’s private poker game with the guy’s own money. Now that is what I call a freeroll…

Being as Mr Newman’s character is a bit of a card sharp he proceeds to rinse the game for some serious cash, also finding time to hand out some classy rub-downs; a true professional 😉

Obviously irritated by this flash, smug player, Lonnegan switches decks (the old cold deck scam) to “bust that bastard bookie in one play”.

This is where it gets really classy, heralding back to the ‘old days’ of poker where cheating was as much a part of the game as card sense. It’s always tough to cheat a cheater though as Lonnegan finds much to his ire; Gondorff uses some slight of hand magic to win the hand and sting Lonnegan for $15,000 – which Lonnegan obviously can’t afford to pay as he’s had his wallet pinched…

Not being able to accuse Newman’s character of being an out and out cheat without revealing himself to be an unscrupulous cheating son of a bitch as well, Lonnegan is forced to bite the bullet, pay the debt, and is now easily manipulated into getting stung in an elaborate scam…

This is classy old school draw poker and cheating at it’s finest, and while I’m not in anyway advocating this as ok – it is a pretty damn good movie.

Lucky You (2007)

L. C. Cheever: You and I both know what the book says you should do, Kid.
Huck Cheever: Is that what you do now? Just play by the book? You might as well play online.

Don't make me angry and crack my Aces - you wouldn't like me when I'm angry...

Don't make me angry and crack my Aces - you wouldn't like me when I'm angry...

Unlucky you if you wasted the two hours needed to watch this rather lacklustre romantic poker comedy.
That’s a whole two hours you’ll never see again folks… I don’t know what your ROI and hourly rate at the cash tables is but I seriously considered invoicing the production company for loss of earnings and a severe cheese allergy.

The words romance, poker and comedy don’t really fit together that well… ask any poker player, the only regulars I see at my poker tables are overweight miserable old grinders – granted I don’t live in Vegas, but still, not the best combination for a film.

While some of the poker in this film is pretty realistic (most to be fair, though there is more than the odd ‘cheesy moment’) the final scene…

***Spoiler Alert*** (although you will thank me for this in the long run, now you don’t have to watch the film.)

God, where to start… Not that I didn’t appreciate the cameo by John Hennigan (aka ‘Johnny World’ because he will apparently bet on anything in the world…) that was kinda cool.

No the worst bit, the absolute out and out ridiculous scream ‘fuck off’ out loud in disbelief moment comes right near the end when our hero Huck Cheever (Eric Bana) folds (yes folds…) Pocket Aces on the least scary looking board… ever… to his father L.C Cheever who has… Pocket Kings.

Load. Of. Shite.

Now obviously that’s not the most objective statement in the world but surely even Doyle Brunson (who was the poker consultant) would give his son Todd a clip around the ear if he did that at the final table of the World Series of Poker.

Let me reiterate: the FINAL TABLE of the WSOP…
And the film says soft playing is okay…

Not cool, and not realistic…

Ok, rant over.

Razor Sharp Prose

On a work related and shameless self-publicity note – we have ignition!

Yes that’s right folks, my freelance website is now officially online, slightly delayed due to some technical issues, but online nevertheless.

Check it out: www.RazorSharpProse.co.uk
(I also have www.RazorSharpProse.com but that is giving me some grief at the moment, though it will all be working very soon.)

My shiny new freelance website

My shiny new freelance website

Feel free to check it out – all constructive criticism welcome, you can also check out some of my past work for the various poker mags I’ve written for…

Also, the latest copy of WPT is out (issue 42 with the Devilfish on the front cover) and this has my Pro on Pro feature with James Dempsey (aka ‘Flushy’) and Dave ‘El Blondie’ Colclough.

I think they’ll be putting it up on their website soon so will post up a link if and when they do. Link through to the feature here.

Well, I’ve still got me a great deal of writing to do folks, though a will be posting up a UK poker news update (nothing to do with the Poker News website at all) on my blog here at the end of the week – most probably Friday.

Tune in for updates and the happenings of the UK poker scene.

And don’t fold Pocket Aces to your dad at the final table of the WSOP, ever…

Irish Open Aftermath

April 15, 2009

Well the dust has settled, I’m back in sunny Wales and we have our 2009 Irish Open champion.

Congratulations to Christer Johansson who bagged himself a bankroll boosting €600,000 for his four days of hard play. The 39-year old Swede is a well-known online cash game specialist who plays under the handle ‘sendmemore’. Johansson triumphed over a professional-heavy field of 700 players, including such stars as Dan Harrington, Jamie Gold, Phil Laak, Marty Smyth, Ciaran O’Leary and Neil Channing.

TV presenter and former model Kara Scott finished in second place, taking home €312,600, with Andrew Pantling receiving €205,200 for third – which just goes to show that a monster chip lead will get you far, but won’t guarantee you the win. Such is the fickle nature of tournament poker.

It was a great weekend’s poker and the atmosphere surrounding the final table and the tournament was great. The Irish are always ultra-friendly and certainly know how to have fun.

As Phil Laak also pointed out to me over the weekend, the creamy froth on the head of a pint of Guinness is a miraculous invention and it is in fact true that Guinness tastes better in Ireland.

While my own time spent at the tables over the weekend (after I’d done all my work obviously…) may not have won me €600,000 I did actually manage to finish up.

Granted it was only €50 up for the whole weekend but a win’s a win as they say.
It was all going so well but a disastrous session at the tables on the Friday night saw myself and GCBPT Liverpool champ Zach Ford get crunched by some crazy Asian woman who was hitting every flop in sight; call a re-re-raise with King Jack, flop the nuts, call a raise with Ace Jack make quads… and it went downhill from there. In fact, the highlight of the evening’s play was retiring to the bar. Still, I was getting paid to be there as well so life’s not all bad 🙂

And on a positive note, I think I managed to drink my body-weight in Guinness.

Back To The Grind

Work-wise I have features and interviews coming out of my ears, but as any freelancer will tell you – this is a good thing 😉

I’m currently working on the interview I did with Albert Iversen and it looks like I’ve got that one sold so will let you know when it’s coming out.

I’ve also sold the Phil Laak feature and that’ll be published around summer time, probably towards the middle of June.

My website goes live at some point tomorrow (fingers crossed) though this is obviously based on no technical issues which always have a nasty habit of arising just when you least expect it.
Check it out: www.RazorSharpProse.com
I’ll stick a link up to it in the side bar of my blog when it goes live.

Off to the big smoke (that’ll be London) on Friday for some more work and a meeting with the editor of a new poker title – I’ll let you know more closer to the launch date.

I may or may not be going to the GUKPT Manchester, it’s all work dependent so I will be grinding hard for the next couple of weeks.

On a poker playing related note, I might even find time to play in my local deep-stack event on Thursday – the £60+5.50 10,000 starting stack at the Grosvenor, Cardiff Bay.
Being as I won this when I played in it two weeks ago, I’ll certainly be looking to repeat chance – fingers crossed…

Keep it real folks, and if all else fails, try Wales 😉

2009 Paddy Power Irish Open Final Table

April 13, 2009

Well here we are folks – out of the 701 runners we are down to our final 8:

Andrew Pantling         2,286,000
Lee Brooke-Pearce      998,000
Atanas Gueorguiev     990,000
Christer Johansson     755,000
Kara Scott                     701,000
William Kassouf         569,000
Andy Bradshaw         351,000
Bradley Verburg         217,000

Canadian Andrew Pantling has been our chip leader for the last two days and showed no signs of relinquishing his monster lead early doors.
Action has been fast and furious and we lost two players in the first orbit of the table.

First to go was Brit Andy Bradshaw who took down the first pot with Ace Jack. After looking down to see Ace Queen on the very next hand Andy raised again 124,000 total (with blinds at 12,000/24,000) only to see Bulagrian Atanas Gueorguiev shove all-in over the top.

Andy snap called and was understandably dismayed to see Atanas flip over Pocket Kings. There was no help for the friendly Northerner on the flop, turn or river and he was out in eighth place – still €56,000 should take the edge off a little.

Bradley Verburg was next to go – his all-in shove with Ace Two called by chip leader Pantling holding the mighty King Jack. A Jack on the flop put Pantling in front and no Ace come the river saw Bradley out in seventh for €74,000 for his four days work.

William Kassouf was next to fall to a spot of cold decking; after Atanas’ under-the-gun raise William shoved with Pocket Jacks only to see Atanas snap call with Pocket Queens. Despite turning an open-ended straight draw a blank on the river saw him out in 6th with €100,900 as recompense.

After being crippled losing a huge pot when his Pocket Jacks were out-flopped by the King Queen of Christer Johansson, Englishman Lee Brooke-Pearce was left with just a bowl of rice that he shipped on the next hand. Unfortunately his Eight Five of diamonds was no match for the King Ten of Andrew Pantling and Lee was out in fifth for €130,600.

Some stellar play on the part of the lovely Kara Scott has seen here edge into the chip lead as we take a break:

Kara Scott: 1,996,000
Andrew Pantling: 1,989,000
Christer Johansson: 1,407,000
Atanas Gueorguiev: 1,626,000

Unfortunately being as my flight is in a couple of hours I’ll leave you in the capable hands of the Paddy Power blogging team and the live feed for all your action updates.

Unabomber Caught

After days of patient stalking I tracked down Phil ‘the unabomber’ Laak for an interview – I sneakily waited until he was getting his portrait done and couldn’t escape my clutches ;).

Stalking the Unabomber

Stalking the Unabomber

As well as revealing his Irish heritage (he has dual citizenship) he revealed that he is a bit of a space cadet (his words, not mine) and an all-round off the wall kinda guy. We talked about Polaris and he openly admitted that he’d play poker in a cave in Outer Mongolia if that’s where the action was.

Well after an excellent weekend of poker I’ll be returning to sunny Wales with my interviewage where I’ll be spending the rest of the week glued to my computer working.

Stay tuned – I’ll keep you posted with my progress and let you know when and where my features will be appearing.

Irish Open Day Three Updates

April 12, 2009

The action’s really starting to heat up here at the Paddy Power Irish Open 2009 – with only 22 players left out of the 701 runners everybody will get at least €13,400 for their troubles, apart from German online qualifier Marcel Koch…

As the last remaining Paddy Power qualifier he has bagged himself a tasty extra €100,000 for winning their Sole Survivor promotion.

My clairvoyant abilities continue to grow in stature – after our interview yesterday the young Danish player Albert Iversen has been crunching the tournament and eliminating players left, right and centre.

His stack is now up past the 755,000 mark and he is running pretty hot – remember folks, you read it here first 😉

Canadian born poker player, journalist and TV presenter Kara Scott is enjoying a deep run, although is looking a tad short sitting on a stack of around 160k (the average is around 318k). Still she won’t have done her professional reputation or bank account any harm with her 22nd place or better guarantee.

The tournament chip leader is another Canadian poker professional – Andrew Pantling – and he has been pretty much bossing his table all day. So far Mr Pantling and Mr Iversen have not been at the same table, but if either player gets moved to the same table we could definitely see some sparks flying.

Bananaman

Another player who has been causing the sparks to fly is UK based player Andy Bradshaw, who has been on the televised feature table all day accompanied by a bunch of bananas (11 in total, one for each level, although he has managed to sell three of them already for a tidy profit of €3 – nice work if you can get it ;))

Mr Bradshaw has already had a few disagreements with another player at the feature table whose phone rang mid-hand. After kindly telling the guy not to answer it or his hand would be dead, the gentleman in question did and his hand ended up dead – the two players both seem to be doing an excellent job of winding each other up. Check out the live feed.

Neil Channing has just informed me life is good after realising that all the players he took bets on last night have been eliminated.
He and fellow poker pro Nik Persaud are preparing for the launch of their new Blackbeltpoker website feel free to check it out, it goes live in two weeks I believe.

Pro on Pro

True to my word I managed to track down both Roland De Wolfe and Juha Helppi for an entertaining ‘Pro on Pro’ interview. Obviously I don’t want to give too much away but thoroughly enjoyed the banter the two of them had. Roland admitted he is a sick individual, and that Juha is 32, dresses like he’s 42 and plays like he’s 72…

Hard at work rubbing shoulders with Juha Helppi and Roland de Wolfe

Hard at work rubbing shoulders with Juha Helppi and Roland de Wolfe

In true professional style I managed to not puke all over the table of the Citywest’s Asian restaurant while the two of them enjoyed their sushi (shudder… I’m not the biggest fan of fish so raw fish didn’t really appeal :().

Also managed to bump into Phil Laak and Jennifer Tilly in the same restaurant and he promised me an interview a bit later on so I’ll keep you posted.

Jamie Gold also seemed keen – he’s currently bossing his table in the €1,500 freeze-out. Interestingly, he revealed to Ireland’s Andy Black that the new rule changes in the WSOP (no talking during a hand in the tournaments) are all because of him – he seemed genuinely disgusted with the fact that he couldn’t use his poker banter to get additional reads on players, and to be fair – how much fun is poker if you can’t talk? You might as well just play on the Goddamn internet…

Right, well the tourney has just restarted after the dinner break, so perversely; I’m off to get some dinner.

More updates later…

Paddy Power Irish Open 2009 Updates

April 11, 2009

More action and adventure as the 2009 Paddy Power Irish Open continues.

Some big names have fallen by the wayside including Roland De Wolfe, Dan Harrington, Andy Black and Donnacha O’Dea.

There are 138 players out of the starting 701 entries and with €600,000 on offer for first place there is still fortune and glory to play for.

The UK’s Andy Bradshaw returned today as one of the chip leaders but has unfortunately gone out just before the dinner break. Actually correction there – Mr Bradshaw is still going strong and is in fact on the feature table as we speak (as of 14:39 Sunday 12th – well can’t be right all the time :()

The always-friendly Jon Kalmar has also gone along with around 100 others as we draw ever closer to crunch time.

Ciaran O’Leary has also hit the rail running into every tournament players worst nightmare; the dreaded Aces vs. Kings scenario with all the money in the middle pre-flop.

Read more about Ciaran’s exploits here at the Paddy Power Irish Open blog.

The €300 Omaha re-buy is in full swing with 115 players gambling with reckless abandon including Ireland’s Andy Black and the UK’s Dave Colclough.

Harrington on Hold ‘Em

Despite his exit from the tournament yesterday, I caught up with an extremely friendly Dan Harrington this morning, who gave me a great interview.

Harrington on Hold'Em

Harrington on Hold'Em

Without too many spoilers it was a really good interview where he revealed just what his fellow pro’s thought about him giving away valuable poker trade secrets to the general public, how he’s had to change his style since the release of his books, and why poker is just like business.

I’ll be transcribing the interview up just as soon as I return to the UK so watch this space for updates.

I also had the pleasure of interviewing a young up-and-coming Danish player by the name of Albert Kirk Iversen who has been destroying the high-stakes heads-up online cash games.

What’s that you say? Another ridiculously aggressive Scandie… but seriously this kid seems really focused and with three WSOP cashes (including a 3rd in the $1000 NLHE event) and a 4th place finish in the Budapest leg of the EPT it is only a matter of time before this guy takes down a major tournament and wins himself some silverware.

As well as discussing how to deal with 400k down swings and talking metagame, Albert revealed just how much work you have to put into the game to be successful at the top level. He’s currently in the midst of going deep in this years Irish Open so stay tuned for updates or check out the action on the Paddy Power blog.

On The Prowl For The Big Bad Wolf

With some great interviews bagged already, I’m obviously still eager for more so am in the middle of attempting to collar the infamous Roland De Wolfe for an interview – maybe even a ‘Pro on Pro’ interview with Interpoker sponsored Finnish poker pro Juha Helppi.

I spotted Roland playing Chinese poker in the Citywest’s lobby earlier so will see what I can do.

Phil ‘Unabomber’ Laak is still in the main event with around 40k in chips, so I’ll have to lurk on the sidelines to get an interview with him, but will be trying my hardest.

Jamie Gold is around as well so I’ll see if I can work my Welsh wizardry and pin him down for interview.

WSOPE 2007 runner-up John Tabatabai (a fellow Cardiff boy no less :)) has escaped my interview clutches this time around… next time gadget, next time… by escaping back to London to terrorise the internet once again, but as I’m in London next week for business it looks like I’ll be able to get an interview sorted with him as well – he seemed very amiable about the whole thing.

I’m off to grab me some of the Citywest’s fine cuisine so have to keep this blog entry like a pair of pants – brief.

Tune in tomorrow for more blogage.