Sunday, 28 March 2010

The good, the bad...

Had a really good week, mostly because of one amazing meeting on Friday. I can't go into it now, but suffice to say it's going to give PokerIdol a huge edge in the European market and allow us to DOMINATE an entire sector. Am so excited but trying not to be because, as I know all too well, deals are prone to falling through. God I hope this one doesn't, it would be an insane amount of fun.

Making good progress in other areas of the business too, although this week have had my first couple of negative attacks. I try extremely hard to be professional and to not take advantage of situations/people, but even then some aren't happy. Its a shame and I feel responsible for these bad feelings, but inevitably its going to happen. You can't please everyone.

After the meeting on Friday I got nicely drunk in some bars before railing the poker game in the casino till the early hours. I must say, chilling with a drink and chatting shit with poker players is great fun. Saturday I lay comatose for most the day, considering looking at cars but never moving out of bed until the evening, when I had some company for some wine and a movie. Watched Unleashed, a great slice of Jet Li action.

Yes, my car. Insurance money has cleared so must buy one before I spend it!

Today was mostly work and preparation for Wednesday, where I'm holding a focus group. Will have a group of 5-8 people and will ask a few Q's on our new promotions, so looking forward to that. Will be nice to get back into events by holding something small.

Other than that its another solid week of work. I really, really, really hope the potential partnership made on Friday can start moving forward. Like I said, super excited.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010


Hopefully this blog will be more coherent!

After last Thursdays lazy day I hit work hard on Friday. I worked pretty much solid up until 7 and then went to get ready for going out. I laid down and couldn't get back up. I drank all the energy drinks in my room but this made me feel ill. I couldn't miss some drinks though, so I finally got the 11pm bus into town. I guess I was only in for 4 or so hours, but I drank enough Rum.

Rum. It is slowly becoming my new favourite drink. To begin with everyone was hammering Sailor Jerry's and I hated it. However, one night out a few weeks ago I spent the evening chatting to a delightful Reading uni student (who has since deleted me from Facebook, after one mediocre date. Why!?) and was drinking it with her. Since then I've started to choose it over my old favourite Jim Beam.

Saturday with a slight sore head I played some poker round StevenH's house. We played a HA cash game and I hadn't played PLO for ages. However, I did spend a while studying it so my fundamentals are sound. I folded a couple of 2nd nut hands and made some good in-position bluffs when holding key cards.

The NLHE portions were a bit more crazy. I was fairly card dead and more seriously, brain dead. My feel for the game is pretty non existent these days and I don't think over hands anywhere near as good as I used to. In fact, I have started forgetting parts of hands, or not even factoring them in.

One great example is when I smooth called a raise on the button with 78s after a couple of other callers. Pretty standard so far. Flop comes 3x6c8c and its checked to me. I bet 3/4 and get check raised by Steve H. My thought process was, its a set or nothing, I'm not going to mess around, so shoved. While he was tanking something popped into my head 'Oh yeah, he raised UTG'. Great. He finally called with JJ and stacked me. How could I forget the whole of pre-flop play?

I won it back when I made my first straddle of the evening. The SB, a loose and aggressive player, raised me after looking like he might fold. Thinking I'm the king of reads after picking up on that girl in Vienna, I decided to 3-bet with 23o. He smiled and called. Flop came something like 982 and he checked. I had about 1.5 PSB left so just decided to ship. He thought about it and called with QQ. Well played by him and crazy play by me, but luckily I binked a 3 on the river lol.

After that not much happened, I shoved the nuts in PLO and made my opponent fold a huge draw, which I had blockers, great.

Game broke fairly early but being tired I went to bed.

On Sunday I didn't get any work done, instead I headed into town to by myself a 32" TV. I ended up with their cheapest one, a Samsung. Apparently the screen is as good as any upto £200 more, but the sound is poor. This is no issue as my sound is all external anyway. So with my bargain I headed home and arranged my new set up. This was the first time I got my new MBP into play and after a day messing with contrast, brightness and screen size, I was done. Here we go...

Pretty redic, but its great. My new set up is almost complete, I now just need the new wireless apple mouse (so sexy) and to sort my desk. Its hard to see in the pic, but my desk is a plank of wood on top of two very big speakers. At my last uni flat (god I miss it!) they had no desks and I saw no point in buying one of just a year as I had one at home, but it was a top floor flat with tiny stairs so no way of getting it up there. I was given the two huge speakers as they are shit, but they are two big solid bits of wood. To be they were the perfect size for desk stands, so I headed to MFI and bought a large sheet of wood for around £20. I cut it to size and before I knew it I had the most perfect desk ever. Long, strong and loads of leg space.

Over the year friends started tagging the desk and I used it as my notepad (look at the state of it). I love the memories (its dated 08/06/2008 as the date we moved out, wow) but its time to move on. Im going to make into a half poker table, with cup holders and proper elbow rest. Its going to be amazing when finished!

All thats left for this week is work work work. Am hoping for a quiet country drink either tomorrow or Thursday. Then on Friday I have a potentially huge meeting, so we shall see.

Good luck to all.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Black head

I am suffering from a weird condition I've come to know as black head. It occurs once a year, always on the 18th of March. I love Guinness and feel a necessity to drink it on the 17th. I am, of course, one quarter Irish and with my Grandfather passing last year it was only fitting I lift a few pints of the dark stuff in his honour. He didn't actually drink much Guinness, preferring Baileys. Topped up with Jamesons. Legend.

So today was not too productive as I've felt like I'm running at about 40% efficiency. I start to do some work, get distracted, do some more work, glaze over and daydream. Still, I got some stuff done. This week has actually been pretty good. I've been giving the go ahead to start planning my first big event.

This is super exciting as I've wanted to do this for the last year. I've presented the idea to other people and heard nothing back, so will be great to pull it off and throw it in their face. To everyone reading this, the event will benefit you immensely and be the first of its kind.

Played 3 squash league matches this week and lost them all. My game is coming along for sure and I feel as if I'm more skilful than my opponents. The problem is experience, I still don't have it and get stuck in certain spots. There are only so many great recovery shots you can do.

The nice weather is here. I cannot wait to hit the golf course again. I know I say it every year, but this WILL be the year I hit single figures. I've not had many gaps over the last couple of years, so my game is pretty strong still.

(this post is really bitty, like I said I can't concentrate, forget putting a coherent article together)

Good news on the car front, the insurance have paid! They valued my car over what I paid for it too, so I will get something a little better.

Ok, going to end this drivel there!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

And another thing...

Its fucking great to be back blogging, to being creative again. Only a few months ago I would only manage a few words, if anything at all. Now I could sit here writing all night!

Some hands from Austria...

Even though I summarised the trip in the Swedish article, I didn't actually include any hands. So lets add some actual poker content to the blog :) I will look through my tweets from the tournament (I always tweet big hands) and summarise the more interesting ones.

Day 1 I really didn't get any hands of note, so much that the only tweets are of me complaining about a boring table and being tired! Actually even on day 2, nothing too interesting happened. I doubled up three times early one, once with KK when crippled and then once with Q2. Yes, Q2. This was one of the two errors which occurred in my favour.

I was in the BB and a few people limped. Flop came A2x and the table checked. Turn was a 2 giving me trips. With 4/5 other players in the hand, I decided just to bet and get some money in there. A very quiet Chinese bloke to my left then made a very bad move. He shoved his single chip stack in, took his hand of, then put his hand back on and pulled the tower up leaving only a call.

Now, I looked straight at the dealer who was shaking his head and he explain to the guy it was an all in move. The Chinese bloke was vigilant, so the floor was called. Everyone explained the situation except the Chinaman who said he didn't make the move (he really did, everyone agreed). The argument carried on whilst I said nothing. A couple of times people asked me to speak up, but its really unfair as of course I want the all in to stand. I decided then to say nothing until the last minute if the ruling went the wrong way. However, the floor and dealer both agreed his shove counted and I of course made the call. He had A4 and I busted him.

A little while later, with the blinds only at 200/400 I raised to 1100. A really good player 3-bet to 7000, but then looked shocked at his amount, claiming it was meant to be a call. Again, I sit in silence as the floor comes over (I have AA) and again, correctly, rules in my favour. I shove for a little more and the guy is forced to call with KQo. He took it better, saying 'misclick' and probably making a mental note not to do it again. To his credit, I played with him for his entire tournament and he was by far the bet played I came across, a real pleasure to watch.

So I was running good with cards AND floor rulings. This helped me get really comfortable and I made my first and only 3-bet bluff shove. A woman to my right was on the button and after one limper she made a very subtle move to fold, but then raised. I picked up on this and was 100% sure she was weak. My mind said to me if you don't take advantage of this now, you should forfeit your chips. So I thought for a moment shoved the rest in (I actually probably hand the best hand with KJo) and she quickly folded.

I C-bet one hand and lost it and got moved to another table and did the same, after flopping an Ace with AT (no idea what I would of done if shoved on) to keep me around even. By this time I was on around 36k with the blinds 600/1200/100. I picked up AK in the cutoff and raised to 3100. The guy to my right, a super solid smoker, starting messing with his chips before shoving for around 40k. Wow. Here is a pic taken just before he shoved:

As you can see, 3 gold 1k chips and 1 grey 100 chip. Also notice me looking like a complete twat in the scalf. Smoking is horrible at the table and this combated it slightly. So now I have a decision for all my chips with AK after investing less than 10%. I've never laid down AK PF in a tournament before as I've never been deep enough. However, I've done it a few times in cash games, so do know how to do it. And in this spot, it just felt right. Why risk my while tournament on at best a coinflip? Im beating nothing in his range imo.

So I reluctantly folded. I'm happy with my decision too. At the table he told me he had a band hand, but later that evening he told me he had KK.

After that there were no real hands. Blinds and antes started eating me alive while I couldn't get a hand. I finally picked up AJ on the button and shoved, before the SB insta re-shoved. GG.

This weekend was fun. Got some drinking and chilled out after a solid weeks work. Was great hanging out with friends in Reading although I was a little sad not being in Vienna.

Am desperate to play some poker now. Going to try and get a couple of cash games sorted for this week.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Lord Of Mind

(I shall go back to naming posts after song titles if I cant think of anything)

Tired. Tired but motivated. Its easy for laziness to creep in, especially after a weekend away. I must say however, a bit of (almost) deserved time off and some partying has done me good. I feel relaxed after the weekend. It was great to meet the team, we got on really well, all enjoying a drink and some poker. Its always scary joining a new company, worrying if you will get on with your team mates. What if you love your job, but hate your colleagues? That wouldn't be too much of a problem for me as they are sunning themselves in Malta while I'm here covering myself in gloom juice and drizzle oil (Bottom references anyone?). However, there is nothing to worry about. Am very happy with where I decided to work.

I am starting to feel like Im making great progress with the job. Im still putting lots of effort in and am seeing some great results. We are taking on quality affiliates all the time and they will soon be able to take advantage of some unique promotions. One of which I conjured up and I must say Im super excited about it. Revolutionary is a strong word, but this could be close to doing that for hard working players. All will be revealed soon.

No real news on my car. Found out the Gym is a private members club, so the theft is classed as a burglary, same as a house theft. That is good then as its means I should get my insurance payout. I miss my car so much its crazy. Not so much the car itself, I wasn't really attached to it, but just having a car. Getting too and from Gatwick was a hassle, train, buses and coaches hours at a time. Driving too and from the airport is really easy being close to it, plus I always like drive home from Gatwick, the roads and nice and clean and its always a bit of a surreal drive. Hm, maybe its best I don't have a car for a while, lol.

So what's the plan this week and weekend? Well I'm going to work my nuts off after missing 3 days last week for Austria, then have some sort of epic food/drink session on Saturday night I hope. I should really organise something as I always leave it till the last minute and end up with nothing to do.

Going to watch the WSOPE now, its coming to the final episodes so I should see myself more often. What an epic trip that was. I will do a proper write up about the crazy story soon.

Austria Review

Austria was sick. I was asked to write an article for a Swedish (yes, Swedish, getting translated I guess) magazine, so will use that as the trip report. Hopefully I won't get busted for copyright. Its only a first draft anyway, few mistakes here and there.

PokerIdol Austrian Open

Flying from London to Vienna takes a little over two hours. A two hour car journey in the UK can take you to many different casinos all with the same rules and game. A similar timed flight can take you to other European cities where you will find a similar situation, low limit Hold’em, serious players and occasionally unwelcome environments.

The Montesino Card Casino, around 20 minutes from Vienna centre, was a whole different experience. Arriving at the mall complex that houses the Montesino, you have to walk past cinemas, a range of shops, bars and restaurants before reaching the top floor. Its refreshing to walk past some entertainment, some life, instead of the usual snooty casino front desk or half-sleeping slot gamblers.

Walking around the cardroom for the first time I was instantly transported to 70’s Vegas as I watched players smoking cigars at the tables and playing 30/60 Stud. A quick tap on the shoulder and I turned around expecting to see Johnny Moss, but it wasn’t until the waiter said ‘Sprechen Sie Deutsch’ I remembered I was in Eastern Europe.

Having played in many countries and casinos I was surprised to see such a big Stud game running outside of Vegas. The game was almost always running and was full by late evening. This was refreshing to see as I always enjoy playing other games. A few rounds of the smaller 3/6 game satisfied my needs.

The smoking was a little different. In the UK, we banned smoking from all public places nearly 3 years ago and I have become used to it. Having someone lighting up next to me then was an unwelcome distraction. The casino helped where possible by offering a few non smoking tables and asking smoking spectators to move by request, but this was little compensation. I believe in this modern age poker should be a universally non smoking sport.

After observing the locals and regular games, it was time to meet our hosts for the weekend. PokerIdol provided a welcome party where the Russian Standard and Red Bull never stopped flowing. This might be common for bigger tournaments, but for a medium stakes event it was a great touch. We talked late into the evening before being surprised with a special party only freeroll. Drinks full, we headed over to the card room and were greeted with smiles from the tables.

I have to say, the Montesino dealers are the best I have ever encountered. This can be attributed to the prestigious training school they run, so exclusive that completion doesn’t guarantee work at the casino. Every dealer was fast, efficient, polite and patient. I never saw one mistake, misdeal or miscount and had two big issues calmly resolved by the friendly card givers.

With a turbo structure, the action in the freeroll was fast and furious. Before long, the winner was decided and they spun the jackpot wheel, with PokerIdol honouring the prize landed. With sweat dripping off their nose as the arrow flickered past the €2000 top prize, huge sighs of relief were had when the bottom €100 was won. A few of us carried on the merriment with a €20 Sit n Go before retiring, ready for a day off relaxing before the Main Event.

Saturday came and the room burst into life late afternoon. Players from all over Europe descended onto the card room looking to win their share of the generous €50,000 guaranteed prize pool, fantastic value from the €550 buyin. As the clock struck 19:00 the room darkened before a frenzied light and sound show started. I look around, half expecting to see a WWF superstar enter the room. Instead, the tournament director took to the microphone and uttered the immortal words ‘shuffle up and deal’.

Looking around the room, you could spot the PokerIdol staff a mile away. One wearing a large sombrero and another wearing luminous sunglasses. This really captured the whole essence of the event. Sure, everyone was trying to win, but the sense of fun from the first night was still there. I’ve attended tournaments so serious that spectators have been blamed for bad luck. Here was different, an almost community spirit amongst the players. You were sure to know someone here.

And so I played my first deepstack tournament. We started with 15,000 chips and were treated to 60 minute levels, a structure better than lots of established tours. This allowed for lots of interesting (or new and experimental for me) plays. Slowly players started to drop out and after my second ‘toast’ of the night (even this was the best I’ve had) we were left with around 100 players.

On the second day the blinds started increasing and antes came into play. A few SMS messages to experienced friends on adjustments to make (this was my first experience of No Limit antes), I was armed with new ‘M’ calculations and really started concentrating. Player after player fell before we were down to just 32 players from the starting 120. My dwindled stack, eaten up by antes and badly timed moved, was pushed into the middle and quickly beaten. Out in 31st and short of the money, I was however happy with my performance.

I spent the rest of the evening railing the final table, cheering on my fellow British player who eventually finished 8th.

I expected to be nervous throughout the tournament. Sure, most players were experienced deepstack professionals and could probably read my mind, but the friendly atmosphere helped keep me calm. The PokerIdol Austrian Open was definitely one of the best events I’ve ever attended, fantastically run at a quality venue. I eagerly await their next location.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Dude, where's my car?

Last week my car was stolen. My gym has squash courts in a separate building behind the main building. There is no lock on the door, no reception and no lockers inside.

When I play I hang my jacket on the coat hooks outside the court and take all my valuables inside. For the first time ever I left my keys in my jacket by mistake. When I came out of the court my car was gone. CCTV shows the thieves walking across the carpark 15 minutes before we finished out game. Sadly the footage is too dark to use.

I was worried that my insurance would not pay out, however I was told today that because the gym is a private members club its classed as burglary, same as the home. That should make a huge difference.

Friday night I hit the dancefloor for the first time in a while. DJ Bailey was playing and I enjoyed a solid 30 minutes dancing. However, I started sobering up due to getting into town late and not drinking much. I do enjoy being really drunk when raving, so being sober lost me all my buzz. I then hit the casino and railed the live game whilst drinking more. I do enjoy that to be honest.

Saturday was a chilled night before a very interesting Sunday. I met a beautiful Hungarian girl, Tunde, for drinks in town. She is extremely interesting and fun to be around. We went back to hers as she needed to pick up her dancing outfit (more on that in a bit) and I met two of her 6 housemates, a Spanish couple.

The girl was very nice, but the guy seemed a bit funny with me especially when I told him I'm from the area. I guess if your dream image of England was red buses and bearskin soldiers but the reality was the Oxford Road, you would be pissed at the locals.

Tunde then took me to her Salsa night where she is the top female dancer. She went and got changed into the aforementioned dress and WOW. She blew me a away. Such a figure, when she walked across the room all eyes were on her. I ended up getting a little bored as dance after dance guys pestered her and her passion for dancing kept her busy. We parted later with a kiss in the cheek and are meeting again tomorrow. Who knows.

Today was a solid days work, but I still need to get more organised. Its becoming a real wash as I don't really remember anything, I just reply on iCal to tell me stuff. I think I need to be a little more precise with my notes and I should be fine.

Looking forward to this weekend very, very much. Flying out to Austria on Thursday for the PokerIdol Austrian Open, the first big perk of my new job. Vienna has always been a town I've wanted to visit and I'm excited to meet my new colleagues. It may seem strange to some that I've not meet the guys I've worked with for over a month, but with Icons we worked together for over 6 months before meeting! Its just the nature of the business, its very non bullshit. Why have a formal, nerve racking, time consuming, basically useless series of meetings if the person is obviously right for the job?

The guys all seem interested in some drinks and degen action, plus I'm escorting WPT magazine who will be covering the event, so will be fun to travel with a fellow Brit. Not planning on playing poker, but I'm getting paid this week. Heard rumours of private but affordable mixed games I can attend, so that will be tempting. Should be a cracking time all round.