April 2007
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I like to hip hop

I’m going to see The Pipettes tonight.

And I don’t care what you think, so ner.

Is this the best dancing ever to hit YouTube?

Not on TV again.

Not yet anyway :)

I played a satellite last night at Gutshot for the Party Poker World Open, one of those six handed made-for-TV efforts that wishes it was Late Night Poker.  I lost one race out of one, my AK not getting there against 77 and that was that.  9th out of 20.

The signs weren’t good for this one anyway.  It was Friday the 13th and I was 13th to sign up.  Yes, there was a player called Jason.  No, he didn’t have a mask.  (Edit: Jason came 2nd; it was Saturday 14th by then though).  It started at 11pm, and the fact that these numbers even got me thinking about that awful Jim Carrey movie is a very bad thing: 11pm is 23:00.  But wait, there’s more.  23 is 13 plus 10, and ten is the number of players starting at each table.  The televised heat starts on the 27th of April: 27/4, and twenty seven minus four is twenty sodding three.  We started with 3000 chips, the levels were 25 minutes long and my coffee cost £1.50 and tasted like bleach.  What was my point?

As it was a late start, I spent the first part of the evening playing the £25-£50 pot limit game, and I’m now eight for eight in winning sessions and, on average, up £60 per session.  I may consider retiring with my perfect record.  It’s only about a month until I’m finished working in London on a regular basis, and I’ll probably have to work in the evening the next few times I come down anyway, so I can easily walk away undefeated.

On the other hand, Vegas is T-99.  And I know nobody will get this, but what the hell…

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Double digits now, but it’s still over three months away.  What am I going to do meantime?  I’m still running hot at Gutshot.  A good chunk of my £54 profit last night came from my AK top pair not losing to a massive 62s flush draw.  I think he’d paired the 2 as well, so it’s obviously impossible to fold in that spot.  Yes, I did raise pre-flop.  How can I quit a game like that, even if I do owe it money?

Just time for a quick quiz for wannabe poker dealers:

Q: At showdown, the board reads 444Q2 and there’s no flush possibility.  Two players flip over K9 and K6 respectively.  Do you:

a) Push the pot towards K9.  The board didn’t help either hand, so the best hand pre-flop must be the winner.

b) Stare at the board until someone says either "nine plays" or "split pot".  It’s their money: they’re paying attention so you don’t have to.

c) Anticipate the possibility of a split from the texture of the board.  Read the damn hands like you’re meant to and chop up the pot before anyone gets chance to tell you how to do your job.

If you answered (c) please apply for work at Gutshot.

Seriously.  I saw split pots with three of a kind or two pair on board pushed to the wrong person by three different dealers.  Fortunately there were always plenty of nits who weren’t involved in the hand to have a contest to see who could yell "split pot" first.

Death on the house

If I may paraphrase the email message I had today Terrible’s:

"Once you’ve lost your money at our casino, we’ll help you kill yourself."

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas.


You only smile when you’re winning

Just found this when sorting through some old photo. I’d intended to take a sneaky picture of the giant Wheel Of Fortune Super Spin slot machine just inside the doors of Barbary Coast. This happy soul had other ideas about that, and perfect timing.

There are no accidents

This is the yummiest hand I’ve been involved in for a long time. It might be a little premature but I think I’ll name it my Hand of the Month. An occasional feature.

It could only be better if the guy married to his suited connectors had a bigger stack that he wanted to throw away. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and say his first raise was “creative” and his first call was “speculative”. The all in call is still suicidal, whatever way you look at it.

Why is this hand so beautiful though? It’s not just the all in call from a hand that was clearly way behind. My re-raise to $7 was perfectly sized in order to allow the short stack to come back over the top with just enough to re-open the action. I could then push and either play for stacks against the third player (it did seem like he liked his hand) or just take my aces against the short stack with some very healthy dead money.

I raised $5, he moved in for another $5.40. Just enough to make a full raise.

It’s so good, I’m going to pretend that it was intentional… ;)

PokerStars No-Limit Hold’em, $0.50 BB (8 handed) Hand History Converter Tool from (Format: HTML)
UTG+1 ($64.55)
MP1 ($29.75)
MP2 ($12.40)
CO ($14.25)
Button ($48.25)
Hero ($70.90)
BB ($51.95)
UTG ($34.25)

Preflop: Hero is SB with Ah, Ac.
UTG raises to $2, 2 folds, MP2 calls $2, 2 folds, Hero raises to $7, 1 fold, UTG calls $5, MP2 raises to $12.4, Hero raises to $70.9, UTG calls $27.25 (All-In).

Flop: ($118.05) 7s, Qs, 2d
Turn: ($118.05) Qh
River: ($118.05) Kd

Hero has Ah Ac (two pair, aces and queens).
UTG has 6c 7c (two pair, queens and sevens).
MP2 has Th Td (two pair, queens and tens).
Outcome: Hero wins $118.05.

No pair – five high

Here’s one hand from my Poker Night Live session.  Don’t wait for TV for this one, it’s much more exciting if you don’t see both sets of hole cards.  It’s the POWERHOUSE!

Click here to view movie

The drug of the nation

I’m playing poker on TV again!

It’s almost as exciting as being on an American cable show that got cancelled in the UK before my episode was shown.  This time I’m going to be playing online poker under someone else’s name with someone else’s money, but still – it’s on Poker Night Live!

Not only can you watch this from 9pm tonight (unless it’s cancelled in the next few hours) on Sky channel eight thousand and something, you can watch live online here.  Although the only time I’ve tried to watch their webcast before it was so blocky you couldn’t actually see what the hole cards were.  Then again, I was trying to stream it using the 3G connection on my phone – what do you expect?

I’m making up the numbers in a $25/$50 blinds no limit game, sitting down with two dimes.  Wow, looks like it’s a somewhat bigger game than I’d usually play, where a dime actually is 10c.  Ah, the magic of television.  The money is real, but every player in the game is a prop so it really doesn’t matter who wins or loses.

I’ll shatter two illusions in one go.  It’s also not live.  We’re recording about 2pm.

Tonight, Matthew, I’m going to be "Super Hero"…

Just can’t do it

So I tried and just couldn’t do it.  I started writing up my play-by-play for the GBPT Teesside £200 Freezeout and sent myself to sleep before I’d got half way.

So, believe it or not, this is the very short version - minus many of those pesky bet amounts and without most of the minor details about who was in the pot and from what position.  Doesn’t really matter, does it?

I nearly got in a mess early on with pocket queens.  I had one caller pre-flop and took it down with a re-raise on a J33 flop.  I bet, he raised, I thought and eventually managed to raise without moving all in.  The pot was getting far too big, far too quickly for my liking and even though I suspected the usual overplayed KJ, I didn’t like my hand that much I didn’t like the thought of being pot committed with that hand.

From the small blind, I raised six limpers with ace-king and five of them called – seven times the big blind!  Then I didn’t really know what to do on the ace high flop, out of position.  It got checked around on the flop, I bet the turn and check-called a small river bet.  He had jack high and I wasn’t quite sure where all my chips had come from.

I faced off against three short stacks before the blinds became silly: My AK beating AT; QQ losing to A6; KK actually dominating KQ.

I check-raised all in with a flush draw against an agressive player who had minimum-raised from first position.  I’d called on the button with AQ, the flop was three small spades and I held the ace of spades.  He thought for about a week before showing one card that made an inside straight flush draw.

I laid down A9s to an all-in re-raise preflop getting about 2.5-1 on the call.  I’d called with worse the night before, but this time I figured the chips I already had were more valuable given the speed the game was moving, but I thought about it for too long and as a result the big blind went up just seconds before it reached me.  By now, an average stack was less than ten big blinds, and I now had an average sized stack.

There was an early position raise and a short stack moved all in for less.  I found AK in the big blinds and re-raised all in.  The raiser folded so I got some change when I lost to pocket aces.  The short stack said he’d only looked at one card.  I said bullshit.  He said no really.  I said nice hand.

In the big blind for 4000 I had to call a push for 6100 more.  My Q9 lost to a mighty 94.  Racing off garbage like this is what poker is all about.

I moved all in with A6s and got called by AT.  The board brought K244… I called for another 2 or 4, but a jack was just as good, and I was the only person in the room who realised it was a split pot.  The dealer fumbled a bit but I got my money back.

It was folded to the small blind who moved all in and I found ATs on my big blind.  Instacall.  I lost to QT and went home via the late night garage for a consolation flapjack.

Choo choo

The most interesting thing I saw this weekend by a mile, but that’s not saying much.  The brick train sculpture in Darlington, marking the location of Britain’s first railway line.  Now the site of a Morrisons supermarket.

The KLF were right

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I’m still due some luck then.  Today it wasn’t a case of being crippled because I couldn’t win 50/50s, it was that I couldn’t win the hands where I dominated.  I finished 19th from 100, lasting long enough to collect the goody bag they gave out to the final three tables, but not long enough to collect any cash.  Still, I’m now the proud owner of a GBPT swimming bag which came preloaded with a t-shirt (size L, and not good enough to motivate me to lose that much weight),  a pen, a chip, a keyring, a pin badge and a card protector which is actually rather nice.  Oh, and the obligatory pack of cards, but the guy next to me spoke for everyone when he said "like I need another one of those".

I’ll probably post some pictures of the freebies when I get home, along with as much as I managed to photograph of the local places of interest. They’re not all that interesting at all – I was bored after not much more than an hour of driving round trying to find stuff.  I’d seen a sculpture of a train made out of brick, which "pushed at the boundaries of brick technology" – boy was I impressed – and a transporter bridge, apparently the world’s longest but so much less useful than a road bridge that you could cross at any time without stopping, instead of at fifteen minute intervals during the day and not at all at night.

Yes, it’s grim up north.  This far north anyway.  This is up beyond Yorkshire, where you have a city with rich Roman and Viking history in York, the fastest growing city in the country in Leeds and a lot of picturesque moors, which have only been spoiled by the occasional serial killer.  Up here in Cleveland, the world is stuck in a timewarp, and not in an endeering way.  Parts of the towns I explored could very easily have been the set for any period drama based in the 1970s.  It may well already have been used for that, I just can’t be bothered to check.  Getting back just now I filled my car up using a petrol pump that had a mechanical seven-segment display, none of your newfangled liquid crystal that’s becoming so popular with the rise of the pocket calculator.  Not quaint, just crap.

I also wondered if we were stuck in the 1970s after an indicent at the poker table.  One player had raised pre-flop and got one caller.  The board was queen high, the raiser bet and the caller called.  The turn brought another queen, the raiser bet again and the caller moved all in.  The raiser must have had kings or aces and eventually folded and the caller – a dark skinned fellow, seemingly of Indian origin but a Teesside local through and through – showed his king queen.  Disgusted, the raiser shouted across the table, "Why don’t you go back where you came from?".  For a brief moment, if felt like things might be about to get ugly.   "Whadeeya mean, like?", he asked.  "Back to that other table", came the reply.  Oh right, he hadn’t long been moved here.  False alarm then, probably.

I’m not writing a match report tonight, but I probably will.  I have to be in Hanley tomorrow afternoon for an eye test, and so sleeping before the three hour drive (Autoroute said 2h15 but I don’t believe it) is a good idea.  I have notes from all my key hands and this time there were a few interesting confrontations.  However, for at least the last hour I was there, the tournament structure left a person with an average stack less than ten big blinds, so there was no poker left to be played.  Short stacks had to move all-in with any old garbage and big stacks had to call them with not much better, and everything just went a bit random.  In the midst of that, I couldn’t get lucky enough to capitalize on the strong position I’d got myself into during the first four hours.

The tour hits Nottingham next month, I might get to have another crack.