September 2006
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It’s probably fixed…

Is it raining?  No, it’s just the poker gods pissing on me through a sieve.


Could my timing be any worse?

Played at Gutshot on Wednesday this week, back to the £30 + 1 rebuy tournament.  Everything went so right in the first 20 minutes that I knew I was doomed to not get very far.  With pocket kings twice and hitting at least 2 pair on most of the flops I played I was up from 1500 to over 4000 by the end of level 1.  Even when I hadn’t hit the board, I was betting and picking up more pots than I thought would be possible in one round of a super-fast tournament.

I’d never actually counted my chips up to this point, for once taking note of Kenny Roger’s advice, but had to take stock after losing with TT against a desparate all-in AT.  The all in was about 1200, and it left me with about 3000 afterwards.  But things never recovered after that.  I peaked way too early and by the time the crap shoot came into effect my timing had become just dreadful.  Seeing KTs in mid position I moved in for my remaining 2500 – blinds coming round were 250/500, and there were still 40 players remaining.  "I have to call that" is never a phrase you wanted to hear, especially when it leaves the caller obviously pot-committed.  Yet someone puts in a third raise and I’m left calling for clubs with something of a whimper when they flip over KK and AA.


Thousands of motorists in Stoke rejoiced and a million sat nav units simply sighed as the New Improved "D Road" was finally opened today.

This extract from The Sentinel, explains why it took so long, and why it’s been worth the wait, and the endless queueing.

Two-and-a-half years of traffic gridlock in Stoke-on-Trent came to an end today as the 40 million overhaul of the A500 was finished and the road was opened .… The complex project, which was started in March 2004, has involved diverting two rivers and a canal, building two 20-foot bridges and laying of 56,560 tonnes of new road material such as tarmac.

Journey times are expected to be cut by an average of four minutes at rush hour – and up to three minutes at quieter times.


Hooray for me winning through to the Sunday Poker Dome final on Mansion.  If I get 1st or 2nd in that bad boy then I’m on my way home to Vegas, to play on TV and in front of a live audience in a converted movie theatre.  I’m on a semi-mission with this one.  I’ve wanted to play the final for a few weeks but haven’t had many opportunities to get in it.  Had considered buying direct to the $215 final but decided not to, but there’s only one freezeout satellite each day at 8:15pm, which I seem to forget about and miss the start much more often than not.

The final four played very cagey for a long time, with not many hands going to a flop.  I was stealing plenty, even before that.  Much more often than I usually do, but I’d recognised the need to build a big stack when only two players were going to get anything.  The players eventually started to notice my relentless stabbing at blinds and began to fight back.  "Quit raising the blinds" said one.  Well, I’m sorry, it’s been working well for me so far.  But hey, now I know you’ve finally caught up so it’s time to change gears.

Well, first it’s time to get lucky, picking up KK against JJ and leaving us three handed.  And I have a decent chip lead now too.

With blinds at 150/300 Mr Please-don’t-raise-me pumps it up to 900 from the button.  I have AQ on the big blind and about three times his stack.  Here’s where I still haven’t decided whether I played the hand like a muppet or a genius.  Instead of putting the pressure back on him, I decided I was far enough ahead to get a bit tricky and try and end the thing.  I just call his raise, and the big blind folds.  The board brings J88 with two clubs.  I check and immediately call his 900 bet on the flop.  I’m not sure why, but I guess I could be ahead, or I could try and outplay him anyway.  I consider whether I actually have the balls to put him all on in the turn regardless of the next card but there’s hardly time before the turn brings another J and I move all-in.

Again, this is either stupidity or genius, and I’m still torn between the two.  I may well have the best hand, using the two pair on board and my ace high.  But there’s also a high chance I’m splitting, and so the bet is only good if he will throw away the same hand or one that beats mine.  He may fold an ace here, but it’s unlikely, and I’m almost certainly getting called by any hand that beats me, unless he is extremely tight and puts me on a J, then he might throw away a small full house or a bigger two pair.  But can I check-fold this hand now?  I don’t think I can, so I may as well bet it just in case I can get him to fold a winner.

The screenshot below tells the bizarre story.  I was ahead the whole way.  Therefore it was genius.  Clearly.


Caption Competition?

So I know I’m a bit slow with this one, because whilst Sky+ is diligently taping tonight’s NFL games for me, I’m still watching last week’s Monday Night Football from the DVD I made to watch on the train.  Once I’m actually used to travelling at 7am I’ll probably be able to watch things, but I’m not sure whether that will be before the football season is over or not.

Anyway, I was actually not paying much attention whilst I was playing a fixed limit Hold’em tournament on Empire Poker that I’d started by accident (but actually ended up finishing 20th from over 1300) and ordering myself a new cellphone all at the same time.  But somehow I was drawn to this caption which flashed up for all of about half a second.


I’m not sure what information the caption guy hadn’t been bothered to type yet, but the game was effectively over so he could well have gone home early leaving someone else to fill in the gaps.  Jacksonville were kneeling on the 1 yard line to run out the clock giving a final score of PIT 0 – 9 JAX.  Apparently the first time a Monday Night Football game had ever seen a single figure total score, and only the 5th time in history a defending championship team had failed to score at all.

I know I really wasn’t paying much attention so why do these really quite useless facts stick with me even now?

Hard work

Back from London and I played the Thursday night freezeout at Gutshot again. It’s looking like I’m going to be down there Thursday and Friday for the foreseeable future, which in terms of having a poker tournament to play in the evening should be just about perfect.

However I’m already starting to get frustrated with it, and I’ve only played it three times, cashing once and coming close the other two. Last week there were three tables left when I busted from just of 90 runners. This week I finished 17th from 98, with 9 getting paid. One coinflip can make the difference between money (and having to decide just how much you should tip the dealers in a self-dealt tournament) and just finishing early enough to get the last tube back (Barbican station closes at 00:30, and I was running through the barrier at 00:15).

For a £50 tournament, the structure is surprisingly oppressive. With a starting stack of 2500 and 20 minute blinds, you get an hour of poker followed by three hours of racing off random cards and trying to get lucky. When the blinds were 600/1200, the average stack was little more than 6000. It never really gets any better than this. Players drop fast, with an all-in on almost every hand. There’s almost never a smaller raise than the whole lot, even for the chip leaders who will only end up playing against a crippled stack that actually represents a fair chunk of their hard earned chips and leaves themselves crippled when a miracle four hits, or something.

I went home after facing a situation that I don’t think could have played out any other way. I hope someone will correct me if I was a complete donkey here. I am on the big blind with 6600 left, which is now falling behind the pack, but I haven’t had any kind of stealing opportunity for two rounds and playing 8 handed the blinds are eating me faster than ever. My blind is 2000, leaving me with 4600. A player makes a minimum raise to 4000 and everyone else folds. I look down at J9s. If I fold, I have a small blind of 1000 to post next hand and 3600 more which won’t do any damage, which would be a sorry option to take if my hand was completely hopeless, but in this situation J9s is much too good to let go. The only choice is whether to push all-in right away or call and move in on the flop regardless. I plumped for the latter, although I can’t really see the extra 2400 into a pot of 9000 ever getting any hand to fold. Maybe if the board comes AKQ I could force a small pair to pass. Unlikely though.

After fighting for nearly 3 hours to stay alive against the madness that was happening, my fate was sealed by a queen-high flop to give my opponent’s KQ an almost certain winner.

Obviously three of these is not enough to judge whether I have any kind of long term edge. Although there are some very good players there they make up only a fraction of the field of nearly 100 players. The dilemma I have is that I actually feel quite confident about playing this again, it’s just such hard work in the later stages – AND the middle stages! – that I just don’t know if it’s how I want to spend my evening when I’m working away from home.

On the road to nowhere

Played the EPT Baden satellite today with the W$ I cashed in from not playing the Dublin satellite last weekend.  Very tough game.  I raised once and folded to a reraise and after that they were all over me – two players in particular, both Scandinavian if you think that’s relevant….  Couldn’t get any respect and couldn’t pick up any pots uncontested, and never saw a hand to do any real damage.

Whittled away I end up losing a race in the most frustrating way. Can you believe the board didn’t pair?

Preflop: Hero is BB with Js, Jd.
6 folds, SB raises to t300, Hero raises to t1445 and is all-in, SB calls t1145.
Flop: (t2890) Jc, Kc, Ts (2 players)
Turn: (t2890) 5s (2 players)
River: (t2890) Ac (2 players)

Hero has Js Jd (three of a kind, jacks).
SB has As Qs (straight, ace high).

So I’m not going to Switzerland and I’m also not going to Vegas. 4th in tonights Poker Dome qualifier on Mansion. Which was much softer by the way, but you’d expect that for $22 instead of $475. I had aces cracked early on, fought my way back, ran into quads with a full house, managed to not go broke and almost recovered before finally going out 4th with 2 getting seats. A good performance considering the beats, but not enough to put me on the road to anywhere.

Living the dream baby

I am sitting in the Virgin Trains 1st Class lounge at Euston station, playing on PokerStars.

Free coffee, free biscuits and a 20% deposit bonus.

Does it get any better than this?

Is this the most undesirable building in London?


Music to watch Vegas go by (Part 1)

This is something I was toying with in Vegas for ages, then ran out of time before I could actually post it. So as a result it’s probably lost something in transalation. The idea was that I was trying to build the perfect ipod playlist for driving into and out of Vegas. Our house was about a 20 minute ride from anywhere, with the strip lights visible from about half way.

The first thing I found was that Vegas is just so intense that if the music you listen to driving there is too fast or too cheesy it just becomes sensory overload. Much of the music I would normally drive to is excluded this way; whereas Orbital’s Impact kicks ass when you are driving in and out of the tunnels around Birmingham City Centre, or you can use the pure cheesy goodness of anything by Flip and Fill to make almost any journey go faster, these didn’t last 30 seconds on my drive from Green Valley to the Strip.

I’ve allowed myself four different playlists – about 1h20m in total, depending on traffic signals – for four different occasions. There is no way I’d have been able to pick just four or five tracks for this so cut me some slack! It also means I get four blog entries for the price of one… 🙂 Until my web host (hey wait, that’s me!) tells me to take the illegal MP3s down, you can listen to the tracks in full! Oh and look, I slipped a few links in there that didn’t make the final cut too…

I actually do have a video tape of the drive in both directions (camcorder wedged in passenger seat headrest – ok, yes, it’s very sad) and I might edit it up one day with this soundtrack just to see how it works.

For now, here’s part one:
Driving into Vegas for a Night o’ Poker [20m57]

1. The Who – Baba O’Riley [5m01]
Teenage Wasteland. They’re all wasted!
This playlist has to be uplifting, without being too intense. The Who give us a perfect opener that builds slowly and has classic fast-a-bit-slow-a-bit moments that make your hair stand on end. I can’t take credit for this selection, it just happened to be on The Point one evening as I left. It wasn’t on my ipod before, but it is now.

2. Freeland – We Want Your Soul [5m07]
Watch these pituitary retards bang their fucking skulls together and congratulate you on living in the land of freedom
This is about as intense as it can get, so it has to come on the playlist before the Vegas lights are fully visible. For a song that requires your body to move in directions that are just not possible whilst driving, it’s almost dangerous to include it here. But it’s great.

3. Pet Shop Boys – The Soddom and Gomorrah Show [5m19]
It’s got everything you need for your complete entertainment and instruction. Sun, sex, sin, divine intervention, death and destruction.
A song about sin city, although admittedly not this one which still has plenty of destruction to make way for yet more new construction. Divine intervention need not apply. This one works just as well during the day as at night.

4. The Donnas – Take It Off [2m40]
Let me take you on vacation, just do it, you don’t have to ask. Go on and take it off, shake it off baby for me
The Donnas are the band The Darkness should have been. Classic, fun rock music. Which track I pick here really doesn’t matter, let’s face it this does all sound the same. I could just have easily put Andrew WK in its place, partying hard, except he’s just a little less sexy. Just rock out and enjoy this one for exactly what it is.

5. The Go! Team – Panther Dash [2m50]
A tune that somehow sounds like it’s ending before it’s begun. And then it carries on a bit longer. Impossible to explain, just click the damn link! This sounds great at any big hotel-casino when you are bombing around their service roads to get the car dumped quick as quickly as you possibly can.

A very near miss was Delgados version of Mr Blue Sky.
Runnin’ down the avenue, see how the sun shines brightly in the city.
But I assumed it’s always dark – or at least the sun is on its way down – at the start of the journey. If it’s still light, substitute this for track one and bounce around a bit.

Part 2 coming soon …!