June 2006
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Leicester Gala

Leicester Gala is one of the better UK casino cardrooms I’ve played at.  It has a few quirks: most oddly the tables are all 8-seaters, so with house dealers that’s no more than seven players to a table.  Every game is dealer-dealt, which is excellent.  Even the £10 game on a Monday night has a house dealer – fantastic value.  Every tournament is a freezeout with a decent number of chips and 30 minute levels.

They also don’t allow cash games, so the side action is in the form of a seven-handed sit and go.  Unfortunately because the card room doesn’t make any money – let’s face it, how could it? – the dealers are called off to run blackjack and roulette and that jackpot stud poker carnival game as the tables break.  So last night (£20 tournament) after I was eliminated early I ended up hanging around for two hours to get in a sit-and-go.

Actually this is the first time I’d been eliminated early at Leicester – I’ve had reasonable success before.  The cards just weren’t going my way though.  I’d gathered a few small pots when I see AK with the under-the-gun player raising all-in for 500 chips.  Blinds are 100/200.  There’s still 5 players to act so I reraise to 1500 to isolate and he shows KQ.  The ace on the flop just helps to fill his straight and he doubles up. 

That player doesn’t last much longer and gets replaced by somebody celebrating his 19th birthday with free champagne.  I raise under-the-gun with KK and he reraises me the minimum from the big blind.  I move all-in, figuring the stacks aren’t deep enough to play the flop confidently and he calls with AJ.  The flopped ace leaves me with about 800 chips and the table breaks.

I’m all in first hand at the new table with 89o and it does the job.  Next hand I see A9 and do the same thing but get called by a donkey with K4s who hits 2 4s and sends me packing.

So after playing for less time than it took to drive there I decided to try a £20 sit-and-go.  These games have 10 minute levels so you can’t hang about.  Fortunately I didn’t need to, seeing AA very early on.  I called a small raise, feeling that the table was a bit frisky, and sure enough a player moves all in.  The original raiser calls and I rush to get my chips in to calls of "he’s just calling for value".

I’m delighted to see 88 and AT, and my hand holds up to eliminate two players!  The luck continues as I knock out player number 3 with the mighty KJ on the big blind.  Usually I’m not good enough to play KJ, but with a free play and flopping top pair against his, erm, total bluff I’m somewhat ahead.

Heads up I have a 3-1 chip lead, which is only about 8 big blinds by then.  I offer a deal, and he refuses – either he thinks he’s great or likes £100 coinflip – but the bad karma rule doesn’t work this time. 🙁

Key hand comes with my 9T in the big blind and a free play.  Flop is 788 and I move all in.  He instantly calls, asking if I have a 7.  I don’t really understand the question – a whole bunch of hands are beating his ace high, 4 kicker!  So in fact I’m slightly ahead here with 14 outs and 2 cards to come, but it doesn’t happen.  I’d be betting this hand almost always so I don’t think it’s awful to push in this situation with hardly any chips to play with.

Received £40 for my trouble though, which almost paid for the night, and I got to play some short-handed poker (albeit briefly) which is always good practice.

One thing to remember if you are planning on playing at Leicester is to get there early. Very early.  Registration opens at 6.30pm for an 8pm start.  The capacity is 56 players (8 tables of 7) and when I arrived at 7.20 I was number 46.  I’ve missed out a couple of times – the Monday £10 game tends to sell out before 7pm.

Running Hot to the WSOP! [Part 1]

This post is serialized and I’ve already posted the next parts.  Just a cheap trick to try and get you to come back tomorrow really 🙂

In case I didn’t mention it yet, I’m going to Vegas in the summer and whilst there I will play in at least one WSOP event. Whilst Claire was on a mission to get into the Main Event (and yay! she did it!) I’ve only had a few goes so far and haven’t done particularly well.  I’ll still have a few cracks at this, probably on PokerStars or Full Tilt, who are running satellites on the weekend before the event with 150 and 100 guaranteed seats respectively.

I also wanted to try and justify to myself playing a satellite in Vegas.  These come in two flavours – $225 with $200 rebuys (1 seat for every 50 buy-ins) or a $1060 freezeout (1 seat for every 10 players).  Strangely, I’m much more comfortable with the idea of the freezeout than the cheaper rebuy.  It’s not a bad structure and a one-in-ten chance of getting through seems achievable if the wind is blowing in the right direction.  Plus, so close to the main event, these games are going to be buzzing, and if I can’t make it this ill still be a great experience.

I wanted to win entry to WSOP Event 37 – $1500 No Limit Hold’em, which begins 2 days after we arrive in Vegas and is the last Hold’em event before the big one.  It’s not a brilliant tournament with just 1500 starting chips, but a slower structure than the $540 and $225 second chance tournaments that take place every night which I’d also looked at as alternatives, just so I could get a piece of WSOP action.  This one also has the added bonus of being an actual bracelet event!

There are a couple of ways to qualfiy directly for the preliminary events – Bodog and Pokershare both have satellites, but they’re at silly times.  You can also use PokerStars FPPs to buy in, but I would need to go flat out, and I’m still getting killed in their limit games (you don’t earn points half as fast playing no-limit) so that’s not an attractive option.

So I decided to just pick some tournaments and go for the cash to make my entry fees.

First blood was last Monday 22nd May – I played a $20+$2 shootout on Party Poker, which if you’ve not seen these is quite a strange format.  Each round is a single table tournament with the top three winning money and progressing to the next round.  The game ends as soon as there are three players remaining, with the highest chip count taking first place, which coupled with the fact that you take your chip count to the next table means you can’t just sneak through.

I finished 1st in round one for $44.31, second in round two for $47.06, second in round three for $90.36 and 3rd in round four for $201.06.  Total profit on the night was $360.79 – not a bad start at all.  The eventual winner was super-aggressive and that strategy worked for him.  I actually lost with 99 against his 96 offsuit.  What can you do?

I do like this format, and the strategy to not only survive but win enough chips to be able to survive in later rounds is an interesting one.  I’ve played a couple more since – getting money from rounds 2 and 3 respectively.  I’ll win it one day 🙂

Total profit (so far!) from Party Poker shootouts: $411.30

[T-50] Updates updates

Well if I’m finally going to start updating this regularly I need an idea of what I’m going to write.  Oh my god, it’s another poker blog.  Just what the world needs.  Well if nothing else, I need to keep updating regularly so that I qualify for the mighty "blogger tournaments".  PokerStars just announced one of these, but unless I come up with two month’s worth of fake posts I’m not going to get in that one… 🙂

So why am I doing this?  Mainly I have a terrible memory.  Really bad.  If something isn’t written down, it never happened – so I’m starting to write things down.  I’ll probably spout some random thoughts now and again as well as bore the world to death with my poker antics.

The impetus for getting off my backside and doing this – is that I’m going to be in Vegas for 4 weeks in the summer and I wanted to keep a diary of that trip.  I actually made the same journey last year, and kept a blog for a couple of weeks of it but lost momentum – probably the desert heat or something.  This time Claire is keeping her own blog – on account of getting into the main event of the World Series of Poker – and for those who have too much time on their hands it might be interesting to read both our accounts of the trip and see it from two different points of view.

I also remembered that I scribbled the makings of a travelog from a previous trip to Vegas in Summer 2003.  If I can fish out these notes, I’ll use them to fill the space when I have nothing else to say.  Might be interesting for any other Vegas geeks out there… you never know.