October 2006
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One hand in my pocket

I keep finding three chips in my pocket that I came away with from The Vic last week.  A reminder to actually write down what happened on my first visit there, I suppose.

I usually play the 1 rebuy tournament at Gutshot if I’m in London on a Wednesday but the last week in each month is now the Team Gutshot satellite.  I didn’t qualify for any bonus chips (awarded for playing regularly or finishing on a final table) so essentially I’d be starting with a crippled stack

So last Wednesday I went to the Vic and played their £30+£3 freezeout.  I handed over two twenty pound notes and got a £5 and two £1 chips as change.  Naturally, I never cashed these in before I left.

Although I did actually forget I had them after I busted out, I may well have bottled it anyway for the sake of £7, hoping that I’d go again soon, get more change in chips and eventually have something resembling an amount worth cashing in.  Not that I’d feel quite right about even bothering to cash in £7 of chips there.  It’s a very swanky joint, considering it basically occupies the attic above Woolworths on a street of tower blocks.  Too much for me – I ran straight back outside after registering and found a nice cosy McDonalds.

With their scratchcard promo I won a McChicken Sandwich for next time.  You have to scratch off two panels from four to win (a 1 in 6 chance of winning, assuming there are only two symbols the same).  The card I won with had the matching symbols behind boxes 3 and 4, as did another I lost on.  I’ve since seen another three scratchcards which all had their winning symbols behind doors 3 and 4, but have just decided to try to lose a stone before Vegas (let’s see how long it lasts this time) so probably won’t get chance to see whether this is always the case.  I make it 1295-1 to find five out of five with the winning symbols all in the same position.  I’m sure Claire will correct my maths if I’m wrong…

Back to The Vic.  Back through the revolving door, and God forbid you push the door round yourself – they have someone to do that for you (this place is wasted on me – all I could think is how much they would save by investing in a door motor).  Back upstairs to try and find the other half of the cardroom.  The one I’d found, and registered at, had tables with numbers nowhere close to the one I was meant to be sitting at.  It turns out there’s more tables on the second floor, where I’d accidentally stumbled earlier to be greeted with stares of "you don’t really know where you’re going, do you?" from someone in some kind of uniform at the top of the stairs.  Ha!  Turns out I was meant to be there after all.

Regular tournaments are limited to 72 players.  That’s 8 tables of 9.  The worst way I can think of to describe the shape of the tables is like a 50p coin, but with two more sides.  The correct word, I always thought, was nonagon, although I’ve since discovered that enneagon is also acceptable.  I’d never heard that word before, and I’ve also never seen a poker table like these.  Not only were they an unusual polygon, they also had chip racks embedded in which everyone was using.  Stacking and riffling chips was possible, but I didn’t want to be the only one doing it.

The tournament kicked off very slowly, with 1500 chips each and 25/25 blinds, moving to 25/50 and 50/100 after 20 minutes.  Then it went mental, taking nearly ten minutes to remove all the 25 chips (I nearly said "green chips" instinctively, but of course they were some other colour that I can’t remember, but probably different to anywhere else) without stopping the clock and jumping straight to 100/200 for the remaining half a level then on to 200/400.

Double, double, double them blinds.  And so the crap shoot began, and I stayed lucky long enough to make it down to the last two tables, along the way apparently forcing 99 to fold on a very low board when I moved in with my pocket 8s.  KQo called me with his overcards though.  Can’t ask for much more.

Then with blinds at 600/1200, rising to 800/1600 within a couple of hands, and a stack that had dwindled to 4900 after a couple of rounds with no opportunities, I felt I needed to push with any two cards when it was folded around to my small blind.  For Harrington fans, my M is less than 3, and with 14 players remaining, the average stack of 7,700 was still in the red zone.  I ended up in very bad shape with my Q2 racing against QT and not finding the miracle it needed.  The poker in this tournament was long gone, and I didn’t quite get lucky enough.

And they’re still looking after another seven quid of mine.