July 2006
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Leicester Gala

Finally I manage to drag myself out of the house for a live game of poker and whizz along the A50 towards Leicester. For some reason, my sat nav keeps telling to turn round. It wants to take me on the M6 to the M69 for some reason. This way is never used to be the quickest even before the A50 bypasses (bypi?) were completed and it’s never tried it before. I think the heat was getting to it.

Getting to Leicester early is essential. It frequently sells out well ahead of the start time, plus they do a very nice range of burgers. I had the Texan burger this time, which comes with bacon and cheese. This was a change from my usual Stilton and Bacon Burger, which as you might expect comes with bacon and a different type of cheese. There’s definitely a pattern, but I haven’t been disappointed yet.

I register for the game at just after 7pm, for an 8pm start, and there’s already 27 players in, which isn’t bad as you can’t register until the night of the tournament. In total there were 49 players when it kicked off, with seven tables of seven. The usual capacity is 56 (8 tables) but I think this might have been a sell out at 49 tonight as they were short of dealers. My table kicked off without a dealer and Old Steve (not me being rude, it says this on his name badge!) the cardroom manager had to deal for a few minute whilst they borrowed someone from a roulette table. Not even a mention of us having to go self-dealt even for a while.

It’s a pretty uneventful night for me, and I think I’d underestimated how fast this tournament moves, having enjoyed reasonable success with it in the past. Although I couldn’t remember if the 150/300 blind level used to be played, or I’d just gotten lucky early on when I’d played before. They coloured up the 50 point chips after level 1 of (50/100) – and then stormed up to 100/200 then 200/400 before things start to settle down.

I survived a potentially early bath when I folded 89 on my big blind after a raise and a call. I just didn’t think I had the chips to defend with a very mediocre hand. When the flop comes TJQ I’m thinking I’d be screwed if the raiser had AK. In fact he had QQ but the other player wouldn’t lay down AT and the turn K made him the nut straight.

Apart from one situation, where I was fairly pleased I had the balls to make what I thought was the right move, nothing particularly exciting happened. Sitting on the big blind with 1800 chips left, the player to my left min-raises to 400. One mid-position player calls and the small blind calls. I look down at 77 and I really want to call and hope to catch a set, which is probably the best value play. But looking at my situation I decide that it’s worth a crack to try and take the pot down right there. I figure the two callers are probably weak, and I have enough chips to stand a chance of pushing them off a mediocre hand by making it 1600 each more to call. My worry obviously is the min-raiser to my left and I don’t yet know what that means, but being left with 1600 after a call and not hitting a set – 1500 after the small blind – and blinds going up to 200/400 soon this feels like a perfect opportunity to pick up some dead money. If I don’t run into a bigger pair and barring some really manic overcalls, I’m either taking down 1400 uncontested (almost doubling my stack) or going 50/50 with a decent overlay.

So I move in, and all three players fold. I’m back in the game.


I can’t get enough chips to deal with the oppressive 200/400 level. I see AJ and raise, to end up racing with a short stack. His K6s gets there and I’m left with 1400.

Then I’m left facing playing the next hand or putting in half my stack in blinds. I take a quick peek and feel that QJ is good enough. The player to my left instantly calls 1400 cold, and the big blind also calls. After they check a flop that doesn’t help me, the player who called 1400 preflop bets at the dry side pot and I figure I’m done. He actually has A4 and hasn’t paired yet, so I’m still alive but drawing thin and I don’t make it. The vast majority of times he’d be doing me a huge favour here with the donkey bet, but as the big blind told me she’d also folded QJ it made no difference.

On the way home at 9.15 – not great, but that’s the way it goes I guess..