Saturday, 14 May 2011

New Blog: Music and Poker

Got a little bored the other night so wrote an article. Enjoy!

Music and Poker

Walk into a cardroom or watch any poker on TV and you’ll inevitably see people listening to music at the table. This is a great idea if done for the right reasons. Occasionally though players will be doing so because they see others doing it, or even worse; to look cool.

Music a great way to accompany your live poker experience, but you must be doing it correctly.


There are three main benefits to listening to music at the table. First, it can help you relax. Listening to some soothing music can calm even the hottest headed person. Secondly, it can really help you focus. With the distractions taken away from around you, it’s much easier to take notice on what’s happening. Finally, it can stop you getting bored. Yes, we all love poker, but a cold run of cards can distract the most dedicated fan.

A non direct benefit can be misdirecting the players. If your opponents think you’re focus is elsewhere, they may try and pull some bigger moves against you. If you’re listening to music in the correct way however, you’ll have the last laugh. You can ever be extra sneaky and wear your headphones without any music playing. Just don’t let on!


Turn it on and stick it in your ears you might think is the obvious answer, but you need the right set up for poker. A decent pair of headphones is essential. You want the music to be prominent in your ears, but not so loud you can’t hear someone speaking up, or so loud it damages your ears.

In ear headphones are bad for prolonged use. You’re pushing them right up against your ear drum, often resulting in tinitus (ringing). Tinitus is when your inner ear is damaged; after a while it never fully recovers.

On or over-ear headphones are the solution. Sure they look big and clunky, but we’re not here to win a fashion contest. When choosing a pair, you want them to feature noise cancelling capabilities. This means the headphones eliminate the ambient (outside) noise around you, meaning you can listen to your music at a lower volume. My Bose Quiet Comfort 2 headphones have served me well over the years, but at £250 a pop for the newest model, they don’t come cheap. The JVC HA-NC250 come in at a more reasonable £85 and have an excellent track record.

Music player wise, there’s tons of choices out there. For me, I like to travel light, and can load 5GB of music onto my Blackberry which is more than enough to last a tournament.


Of course, music choice is very much down to taste. My preferred styles for poker are Ambient or Dubstep. Some of my favourite artists for the tables include Stars Of The Lid, Brian Eno, Burial and Clubroot.

Whatever your choice, make it relaxing and not a distraction. Don’t play your favourite rock ballards or indie anthems, you might end up folding a couple of blinds whilst you air guitar with your eyes closed (plus you’ll look ridiculous).


There is some basic etiquette to adhere to. Don’t have the volume up so loud it bothers other players. But most importantly, don’t let it slow you down at the tables. If you keep getting distracted and holding up the game, perhaps music whilst playing isn’t for you. Stay focused.

I couldn’t play poker without music. It’s an essential tool for my survival in tournaments and sanity in cash games. I always plan ahead however, taking the above tips into consideration, making it a benefit instead of a hindrance. Happy listening!

Monday, 9 May 2011

New Blog: Homework

Wow, nearly two whole months since my last blog. I've kept putting it off as it's been a hectic time! Settling down into the new job, new office, and finding somewhere to live. Time for a recap.

Firstly, the new job is going brilliantly, I couldn't be happier. The last few years have been a grind, but it's definitely paid off. A combination of more sensible hours, less pressure and having an actual team to work with has completely lightened my mood. Following on from the last blog, we ended up moving to the new office and it's excellent.

You might of seen it when travelling up the M4, one of the towers at Chiswick roundabout with the 'Missions Logo'. That's us! (well, on the second floor, on those 4 tables). Much more relaxing, comfortable, accessible, productive, just great. For me anyway. Couple of the guys now have to travel through London, which is always a nightmare.

For me I decided not to move into London straight away. I instead moved into a new house closer to the M4 in Reading, in a new development called 'Kennet Island', a stones throw for Madjeski Stadium. While some rough areas are only a 5 min drive away, being in a new build is super surreal! I got the master room (ensuite) for £475 all inclusive. Find that in London! Oh, the house has a bar too:

And our local is the luscious new Hilton Hotel, where we get 20% discount for being residents of Kennet Island. MBN2BME!!

London Live was a great success. We sold the event out at 400 runners, then sold it out again at 414. Throughout the whole thing I really wanted to play, but was doing my first stint a live blogger. Not something I'd really want to do again, I was fucking EXHAUSTED after the first day. I mean I was completely dehydrated. Luckily for me I had a half shift on day 1B and the Sunday I covered the 3 tables of High Roller event. Much easier! It was fun to watch some great players splashing chips around in a bit of a crapshoot. 3 tables went to 1 in a few hours and the FT didn't last long as it was chopped 5 ways! Thanks to all who attended. Hard to believe a handful of guys organised such a successful event, making live poker clubs/promoters jealous the world over! (smug alert).

For those who still haven't looked at Black Belt Poker properly, what are you waiting for! The first level after depositing, Orange Belt, has recently been revamped. There are now 4 exclusive Orange Belt Freerolls, awarding Merchandise, season tickets to our League, Academy Tickets and free stakes in our Black or Brown Belts. Incredible value! Oh, and if you work up to Black Belt, you can $10,000 a month to play the circuit. Pretty sick too.

With the more sensible hours I'm now leading, I've been able to play quite a bit of poker. Still nothing like the olden days (I would play live 4/5 days a week and grind 4+ hours a day online), but at least once or twice a week. To put that im perspective, I think I've played more this year than 2009/10 put together. Most of my sessions have been playing cash at either KC in Swindon or the Western. Results have been good, winning 7 our of my last 10 sessions. I have played a few fun tournaments though!

Black Belt sponsored a charity event called Villas 4 Vets, a charity set up and run by 2 Afghanistan soldiers. Sadly the turnout wasn't great, so I ended up going along to play. We were 7 handed and amongst the lineup was Black Belt Poker's Nik Persaud and UK superstar Toby Lewis! Toby had position on me and it was the first time I'd played against one of these young guns. Of course it was a turbo SnG, so I couldn't experience it too much, but what I was able to do was call down a little lighter than normal, confident he would C-Bet he double barrel a fish like me. I ended up getting heads up with one of the young war heroes and ended it there, giving him the prizes. Very humbling meeting this guy, 5 years younger than me, already done so much more.

I also went to play the £50 Deepstack at KC and ended up chopping it heads up! I played probably the best poker I've played in a tournament, playing a super duper aggressive LAG style and confidently so, winning so many uncontested pots. Ah, to remember the days of being a poor student, when I'd literally fold my way into the money, 1st place or go home now baby! There was however an 'incident'. A quiet, grumpyish older guy was sat at the table. I'd played him at cash before and he is basically a huge station, but nice enough. We even had a chat about his the work he does earlier in the evening.

As I said, I'd been playing super laggy. We were down to the FT bubble and playing 5 handed. With nearly 1/3 the chips at the table, I raised the button with 4c2c. He shoved from the BB, something he'd done a few times over my opening raise. I asked for a mandatory count just so I didn't look too weak, but found out I was getting 2/1 on a call. In a gambling mood, and with tons of chips (losing pot wouldn't make a difference), this was more than decent enough to call! I flipped my cards and he looked at me in total disgust. He only had QJo.

The window card was a 4, then a Q, then a 2! another 4 on the turn finished the hand and without thinking about it I put my hand over and said 'unlucky mate' (very genuinely). Noticing he didn't shake it I looked up and he called me a 'fucking prick' !!! I was super shocked, asking 'did you just call me a prick?' and he was like yeah, what you gonna do about it? He walked round the table and looked like he was gonna smack me. People quickly intervened and he left. I was in total shock, I don't even think I would of retaliated (the Uxbridge boys were there to back me up!), we're there for a friendly game, why be like that? Spoiled it a little bit, but taking it down for £64o made up for it. Obligatory pic of me stacking the chips (forward tower ftw):

I had a fun night at the Western a few weeks back too. I was playing (and busting) the evening tournament and saw that Sammy 'any two' George had come in. I went to get some chips for the cash game and heard Sammy shout 'find someone to play me heads up!'. I didn't even think about it before he added '...for £50!'. Go on then.

It was fun. He was quite animated, but also humble. Heck, you'd have to be to go from playing millions dollar pots with Tom Dwan to stressing over a £12 call against me! We played two £50 Freezeouts, I won the first, he won the second, after calling my 99 3-bet with 73ss and flopping quad 3's :).

I also won one of the Black Belt Poker league games, it was great fun! I'm not playing the rest of the games so the top spots are wide open. Winners get a % share in either Neil Channing, Sam Razavi or Richard Ashby in the WSOP ME, amazing prize. Here's my write up with a few interesting stories involving Jamie Gold and Paris Hilton:

I went to my best mates engagement party, the first one to 'grow up'. For years people have been telling me you reach 'that age' when all your mates start getting hitched. It's quite scary! Anyway, at the reception I saw the pub had a selection of Cigars, so I bought one and really enjoyed it. I've since read some reviews and bought a few to try, my favourite definitely being the Nub Cameroon. Just 4 inches long, but still takes nearly an hour to smoke and lovely smooth creamy flavours. Expensive at £10 a stick though! Have to limit myself to one a week.


Anna is still in the Philippines and I'm missing her like crazy. She's applied for a new student visa and will be here for some time, which is amazing. We're now waiting to see if she gets it approved. Horrible waiting game. I watched one of those immigration programs on Sky last night and they were letting loads of mugs in, she's always been very compliant, so why wouldn't they? I'm going to be crushed if she doesn't get it granted. Will be lots to think about. Here's a pic of here enjoying her homeland and looking beautiful as always:

TV wise I've been watching lots of UFC and getting back into the X Files. I was SUPER pumped for the Machida vs Couture fight and it didn't disappoint. Best knockout ever? Maybe. I've also been enjoying the Van Damme documentary. He seems like a very genuine guy with a very serious illness. My father had Bi Polar and it's not easy to cope with.

Music wise there's been lots of new bits but I'm honestly written out now so I'll just leave you with one of my favourite songs of the moment. Thanks for reading as always and send me a Facebook PM or email ( if any questions.