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Welcome to the North

I don’t get the A1(M).  There are motorway parts that are just two lanes and non-motorway parts that are three lanes.  Aside from making life difficult for learner drivers, what’s the point?  One sign on the way up this afternoon advised me that "narrow lanes remain in place for my safety".  Clearly much safer than those pesky wide lanes.  And why is Scotch Corner signposted from 40 miles away when all that’s there are two roads and a Travelodge?  I was somewhat underwhelmed.

So today begins by two day poker trip to fabulous Teesside.  I’m staying near Darlington in a very new looking hotel right off the A1(M).  It’s nothing fancy, but it would do just fine for anyone considering the Alan Partridge lifestyle in this part of the country.

Did I know how to use the swipe card to get into the room, the receptionist asked me.  "Isn’t it just …?", I asked, accompanied by an obvious action.  I started to wonder whether electronic door locks were just too modern for northern England.  If training was available, could I get a certificate?  But in fact it was me who is behind the times.  First time I’ve seen this: you have to put your key card in a slot on the wall to turn on the electricity.  Great for the environment I’m sure, but no good when I needed to leave my iPod charging when I went out.

So onward to Stockton I went, and there’s not much to report really.  I got about half way, lasting 3.5 hours.  I lost two out of two races and that was enough to do me in.  No interesting hands.  Sorry.

I’m still not sure if the real reason I busted was that I was hungry.  I’d arrived at 6.30 for a 7pm start, but there was no food available until after 7.  Although I did see someone else order food at the table, I was never really comfortable enough about my chip position to do the same, and glad I didn’t too as it took over an hour for a chicken salad to arrive.  I was holding A7s in the big blind and after everyone folded to the small blind, he moved all in for virtually the same chips that I had.  7k to call, blinds at 500/1000 with a 100 ante.  Eight handed, 2300 in dead money on a 7000 call wasn’t that great, but his range was that wide that I figured I could be ahead often enough to make it not a dreadful call and to go much further in this tournament now I had to gamble to get ahead.  He turned up KQo, the flop brought an ace and a king, and he hit a second pair on the river.  With a classy hand clap and a little scream of joy.

I just crunched this through Poker Stove.  Getting 9-7 pot odds I needed 44% pot equity for a breakeven.  A7s is 43.9% against a range that only includes any pocket pair or any ace.  If he would push with any other hand than these – which he surely would, and should – then it’s apparently a +EV call.  If he’d push any two cards in this spot, I’m 60.9% to win.  Doesn’t make me feel a whole lot better about busting with ace-rag (actually it was the next hand, I had 275 left and forced all in on my small blind) but it turns out that I’ve made worse decisions.  Maybe I’m just in denial about my subconscious desire to go broke so I could get a burger though.

For the first two hours I was playing on a table that was so well padded it felt like a bouncy castle.  Chips would not stand in stacks of more than five or so unless you used the rail to prop them up, so players just started to gather mounds as they won pots.  Three tables were built like this, apparently – someone must like foam.

Whoever chose the chip colours needs to be shot too.  I can live with non-standard colours (altough why the hell not just use a tried and tested scheme?) but they need to be better thought out than this.  25s were red and 100s were purple, with the Great British Poker Tour logo taking the majority of the face of the chip so the value numbers were tiny.  These two looked virtually identical, even close up.  500s were green and 1000s yellow and with the grey edge spots – the same colour on every chip – being bigger than the amount of chip colour left visible on the edge, it wasn’t exactly easy to see at a glance how many chips another player had.  Even the cheap composite bought-off-ebay chips that they poured over Michelle from Liberty X would have been better.

Anyway, back tomorrow.  Same structure, more money.  And it’ll be my turn to get lucky.

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