June 04, 2010
This is my blog. I aim to document some of the events in my life,
hopefully in an interesting fashion, and for the moment at least, it
will be predominantly about my attempts to make it in the poker world.
In doing so I hope to bring a little bit of discipline to bear on my
life; the necessity to produce even a weekly blog counts as structure in
my life, where so much of what I do is at a whim. I aim to bring more
routine, structure, discipline and professionalism to my poker life, and
this blog will be the canary down the mine to show whether or not I
have succeeded. I may do a future blog on routine and structure, but for
now I'll give you a trip report on my recent trip to Nottingham for the
U.K. & Ireland Poker Tour,
It was a week that could have been so different; from being all in on the bubble and perhaps going home empty handed, to playing a huge flip for over half the chips in play and potentially winning the UKIPT Nottingham, both scenarios were faced and either result a possibility. While my initial disappointment was very real and still lingers, I also feel a great sense of pride and satisfaction with my performance and ultimately with my result in fourth place.
One of the reasons I had chosen to play the UKIPT Nottingham was that some close friends of mine live in the city, so it was an excuse to both catch up and a way to keep my overheads down. Unfortunately, my host was going away for the weekend and was working during the week, so to give her a taste of the festival atmosphere we headed down to Dusk Till Dawn the night before the tournament to have a gander at the cash games, have a drink or two at the complimentary bar, and stuff our faces full of vol aux vents. My friends were surprised at how friendly everyone was, enthralled by the clink, clack, chink of the riffled chips, and simply delighted with all of the free stuff they could blag.
Though I was a little more tired than I would have liked, I was happy with my Day 1 start, and despite having James Keys and Dave Colclough at my table, things went well as I steadily chipped up throughout the day. That table did not break all day so I felt quite pleased to be able to get to know where I stood with everyone, pick on some of the weaker players and generally build a steady image that I could take advantage of. If anything, I learned from people like Dave, James, and Tom Middleton who was moved to my left near the end of the day. I ended the day with 46k, from a starting stack of 15k, and could scarcely have asked for a steadier day.
I came back on Day 2 full of confidence and determination to build on my steady start, and was again happy with my table draw, which featured the verbose Mad Marty Wilson, and the very aggressive Ben Vinson, who I had position on. Half way through the day I had built a stack of 100k through some selective three betting, picking up some nice hands, and picking on the weaker spots. One big pot that I played with John Eames set me back (see hands section) and when I moved table, Eames followed, again directly to my left and this second table was far more aggressive and contained a number of big stacks, and actually had 4 of the eventual 8 final tablists. By the time we got down to the end of the day, and hand for hand bubble play, I was one of the shortest stacks and was looking for a spot to get it in. As our table was as aggressive as it was, favourable spots were few and far between. Finally, one of my button shoves with A7 was called by 56 in the BB, while on another table AJ needed to catch up vs QQ. Unlucky Mr AJ was our bubble boy, I doubled to finish the day with the same chips that I had started, and I knew I needed to get lucky early the next day to go deep. Part of that luck is surely down to losing back to back credit card roulette in Nando's with John Eames, Jonathon Prested, Tom Middleston, and Phil 'the Tower'. Everything is a gamble in the poker world, so I could scarcely call myself a real player unless I'd drawn cards for the tab at a bar or restaurant and at least I can be thankful we weren't at Nobu. Given that John and Tom had been the villain to my hero in several of my most notable hands, I was starting to get the distinct feeling I was being hussled, but to be fair they were good guys and that CCR karma came in handy the following day.
Day 3 was the day everything went my way; an early triple up with JJ was the lucky start that was required, I took some risks and played aggressively to double up again without showing a hand, a cooler situation in my favour and one HUGE flip to give me a massive stack were all the ingredients required if you hope to win an event like this. I felt liked I played very well on Day 3, staying out of trouble, making some thin calls that stopped people playing back at me light and generally felt focussed and confident. That Day 3 rush ended with me eliminating the 9th place finisher and knowing that I would come back the following day as the chip leader. There was a flurry of phone calls as we were whisked away for profiles, interviews and mug shots and most of us were shaking our heads in disbelief that we had made it this far.
Coming back the for the final table I felt utterly determined that I was going to do everything in my power to win, and when the first few pots went my way it looked like it really was going to be my day. Having the world's greatest rail (weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee), phone support from the BBP team, as well as the flood of messages from friends and family following at home, all gave me extra resolve and when all is said and done I take satisfaction from the fact that I wouldn't really have done that much differently and hope I did everyone proud. The notion of effectively flipping a coin for Â£80k is a tricky one to get your head around and I am not sure whether or not I should be pleased that it ultimately doesn't faze me, though it probably ought to. The fourth place finish and the money that came with it, was undoubtedly my biggest poker achievement to date, but I hope it will not stay that way. As an admittedly relatively inexperienced live tournament player, I feel as though I have bags to learn, and improved hugely even in the week of the event both by trying to emulate and understand the better players at the table, and by picking the brains of those whose opinions I valued during the daily post mortem. Surrounded by good people, in poker and at home, I aim to work hard to build on this and make the grade as an aspiring professional, and to stand out in tournaments for my dazzling skills rather than my blazing hair colour.