August 2006
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A quickie in Leicester

It’s 5pm and I get a message from Geoff asking if I fancied going to Leicester to play the £20 tournament at the Gala tonight. I did, so I rushed to leave and even then nearly missed out. I was 45th to register (maximum 56) at 45 minutes before kick off. Geoff told me the night before (the even more popular £10 game) they had essentially opened registration early by giving everyone in line a ticket with a number so they could come back at 6.30 and queue up again in the same order. Just like getting your cold meat and pork pies at Tesco.

I didn’t last long, failing to find any opportunities to start with, then having to push with 88 twice in quick succession, flipping against AK (and winning) and AQ (and losing). So I stuck my name on the list for a £20 sit-and-go and waited a good hour for them to find a dealer that wouldn’t be making the casino more money on a blackjack table.

The SNGs are intense – 7 players, 10 minute blinds and only 2000 chips to start. I wasn’t going to mess around, and got them all in with 99 early on, called by 44 and holding up. Three players fell in the first 7 hands. A drunk aggressive guy called Wayne – it was his birthday, so he’d been on the free champagne-style pop – wanted to own the table, but I found the perfect opportunity to show him who was boss. Poker rarely feels as good as this…

Getting a free ride with Q7 in the big blind, I see an unsuited flop of 752. I bet the pot (500) and he calls. I check and let him bet at the turn, which is a rather scary K, but somehow when he makes his bet of 700 I know I have the best hand. I don’t know how, but I understand now what it means now to trust your reads. The all-in check-raise move I made in that spot is something I could never have done six months ago. I was actually so sure I was ahead that I wanted him to call! After nearly a day he eventualy folded and I showed the 7, asking (in that extremely cocky way that lawyers only ask questions they already know the answer to) if it was good enough.

I didn’t get much resistance for the rest of the game, and managed to pick up blinds and small pots uncontested the majority of the time. Wayne actually wasn’t a bad player and made a couple of quality laydowns. I felt certain I was going to get a drunken payoff when I hit a flush with 2345 on board. Wayne laid down his ace-five straight. Or maybe he was just weak-drunk…

Down to two players and we were fairly even in chips – roughly 7000 each and blinds were 400-800 so I jumped at the chance to chop for £70 each.