Day One (Monday 21st May 2007)
A late evening flight from Birmingham Airport was made a little more interesting when me and my travel partner Dan Carter bumped into Mickey "the legend" Wernick, Dave "el blondie" Colclough and Paul "actionjack" Jackson as we were boarding the plane. Lets hope we don't draw any of them in the first round!
After a quick freshen up at the hotel, we headed down to the Casino to check out the draw and see the set-up. More British contingency to greet us as James "flushy" Dempsey tilts his glass towards us and we share a drink with himself and the aforementioned gang.
After a random Canadian approached us all saying we better be glad we hadn't drawn him, and Rob assuring him that his opponent had "won a WSOP bracelet", time for a quick cash game. Me and Dan sat on a 20/40 euro limit HE table for a quick session, happy that full handed we wouldn't clash too much. On a seemingly soft table I hit a couple of hands, but missed all my good draws (such as Kh 6h on an Ah 8h 6c board) and ended up about 50 euros up. Still enough to pay the bar tab for the evening.
I won't be playing my heads up match until Wednesday, but I was happy to find out it was against a super satteliter that qualified tonight. Tommorow I shall be cheering Dan on in his Bracket 1 match and entering the 1000 euro freezeout. Lets hope I can repeat or better my result from the same event last year, where I finished 4th.
Day Two (Tuesday 22nd May 2007)
A rather late night at the casino yesterday meant Dan's alarm going off this afternoon was rather unwelcome, but Dan had to be at the casino ready for his Bracket 1 match (I drew bracket 4 and play tommorow). After some trouble signing in (in which the lady who took in our drivers licences thought I was Dan Carter and Dan was James Atkin) I went onto watch Dan go onto an easy victory against his first round opponents. His oppenent decided to go all-in for 8,000 chips when the pot was 800 on a J85 flop with J2 when Dan had limped in with AJ and couldn't wait to get this chips in.
A 1,000 euro side event was up next, the event in which I placed 4th last year. Sadly there was no repeat performance as I was out early on a bad beat. In the 2nd level I called a pre-flop raise from the big blind with Q9. The flop came down Q9T rainbow. I checked to the raiser, and my eyes gleamed as he inexplicably bet 1000 into a 400 pot. I moved all-in for about the starting stack of 5000 chips. He called, and I commented "well, I'm ahead." It turned out I was right as he flipped over Pocket Aces. But before I could be too pleased about the situation, the dealer put an Ace to the felt and I was left to leave the table in disgust!
I spent the next couple of hours watching Paul Jackson play his heads-up match, which lasted well over three hours. Lets hope I dispose of my opponent quicker tommorow as I don't want to miss the Liverpool match! Paul was far superior to his opponent but his opponent turned out to be a card-rack and unfortunately Paul went out.
Onto rail Dan in the 1,000 euro. Dave "Devilfish" Ulliot happened to be on his table (unfortunately for Dan he was on his left) and kindly bought me a beer, though he said he wanted a Milkybar in return. Very funny Dave! I must say I'm not too upset the nickname "The Milkybar Kid" has already been comandeered by Ben Grundy.
I mangaged to gain back 800 euros in cash games throughout the day. Me and James "Flushy" Dempsy sat on 20/40 limit together and managed to do pretty well on a loose table. I actually managed to river my first 'live' Royal Flush, holding Kc Qs on Ac Ks Tc 2c Jc board. Dan went out on a bluff in the tourney and we went to grab some cocktails at the bar.
Bumping into Blue Sq sponsored Mickey on the way out of the casino we both uttered our sentiments about hoping to do well tommorow when we both play in the first round. We both play unknown players, who we assume satellited in, so we're hoping it's an easy ride.
Day Three (Wednesday 23rd May 2007)
Today was a day of highs and lows, Low because Liverpool lost in the Champions League Final; High because I won my first match in the Heads-Up competition.
As I was in the second set of matches I was spectating most of the afternoon. Sadly I saw pal James Dempsy lose his match after a very nice bluff didn't quite get through, and later losing a huge coin flip with AK against 77. Mickey Wernick faired much better, pulling off a huge river bluff to take a commanding chip lead. He seemed to be outplaying his opponent, which may have been what led him to move all-in with 67 offsuit for 10k (starting stack is 20k blinds were about 200/400) after Mickey limped with pocket nines. Mickey made the call and it came AKQ45 to take him through to the second round.
My match started at 6.45pm, disappointingly close to the 8.45pm kick-off for the Liverpool match. I took an early chip lead making some good calls with second pair. I don't remember many hands of note until the final hand, which thankfully came only 3 minutes into the Liverpool match which was nicely on a TV screen in the distance infront of me. At 300/600 my opponent made it 1800 from the button. I raised to 4000 with Ah Ks. The flop came down Ac 4c 5s, which I checked. He bet 1800, which I again made 4000. He moved all-in, I insta-called showing As Ts, and I took it down when two raggy cards game.
A hi-5 to Mickey and Dan Carter and I was straight to the nearest bar to watch the footie with the boys. They all took advantage of my confidence in Liverpool bringing home the trophy as I had 100 euro bets with Paul Jackson, James Dempsy, Rob and Jeff that we would do just that. They offered me a get-out of 90 euros each at half-time after Milan's jammy-as-hell first goal. I politely declined, saying how we were 3-0 down at half-time two years ago and would probably win 3-1. It didn't happen and after crying into my pint for a couple of minutes I hand over the 400euros I owe in lost bets. The cheeky bastards then announce it's also my turn to buy a round! Talk about kicking you when you're down!!
Despite Liverpool's loss I had a good evening drinking at the bars along the port with the boys, and new arrives Dan Carter, Mickey and Dave Colclough. By 3am I was completely trashed, and after having some munchies in the casino (I chose a tuna baguette for some unknown reason!), went back to the hotel to sleep it off before my match the next day.
Day Four (Thursday 24th May 2007)
Well I'm pretty gutted as I was knocked out in my second round match. Having woke up feeling rather rough, the day perked up as Brits Jeff, Rob and Dan Carter all won their matches. After a couple of coffees I was ready for my match against an unknown Russian.
It turned out to be a 4 hour epic match. This was partly because my opponent took years to make every little decision. I'm not being bitter but it was enough to drive our potential 3rd round opponent away who had come to scout the match! We yo-yoed for the chip lead for a long time but neither of us went below 15k in the first couple of hours.
Having played lots of small pots, two big pots took place in the 300/600 level.
In the first, my opponent raised to 1800 on the button and I called with pocket 5s. Bingo on the flop as it came Qc 9c 5d. I checked, he bet 1700, which I raised to 4200. He dwelt for a good five minutes, and I was hopeful I could scoop the match-up right here, but he folded.
A couple of hands later I got my first big hand, raising to 1600 with QQ on the button. He re-popped me to 4000. I thought for a minute before moving my chips in. Another epic dwelling session, which told me he had no Aces or Kings so I knew I was ahead. Once again though he eventually passed.
I made a good fold soon after, passing Ac Tc to a 4000 reraise, after I raised to 1600 from the button. He showed me Jacks.
On a neighbouring table I see Mickey Wernick shake his opponents hand in defeat. I'd seen him yo-yoing in chips throughout the match. Dan tells me he went out with KQ all-in preflop against A4. That was a bummer and I was hoping not a bad omen to Blue Sq players as we both went out in the same round (3rd round) last year.
However, I was feeling pretty good now with 25k, but he had a session of hitting lots of cards and winning small pots. It's now capped blinds at 500/1000. I missed an up-and down straight draw having called a bet on the flop, but he called my 2k river bluff with his flopped top pair, now 2nd pair, and had me at 18k.
I then defend my big blind with 8s 9d when he raised to 2.5k. The flop comes down Jc 8c 4d. I check, he bets 2k, I call. Turn is the 10h. I seriously consider check-raising here but flat call his 2k bet. The river comes the Jd. He bets another 2k, and I pass. He shows Q9! Good job the river wasn't a 7! But now I'm on the backfoot.
I proceed to have a sick run of cards. I can't hit a flop with any of my rags, and he raises a couple of pots from the button whilst I have 25 and 27 etc. Now he has a 2:1 chip lead. He now starts moving in every hand from the button. The best hand I folded when he did this Qd 7d, mostly it was J2, 46, 34 etc. I shoved in with hands like Ks 6s and picked up Ac Jc once to keep from drowning completely. One time he limps I shove with KJ off. More all-ins, more folds with me not finding so much as a King in the big blind. I pick up QQ on the button and suspiciously min-raise but he doesn't fall for it. But he shoves in from the button a couple more times to make up for it. I show my T3 and J4. I'm now shoving pretty much any two, although I pass an 83.
He now has me down to 5k. He shoves in one more time and I call him blind as I calculate I can't afford to fold and he's obviously going in with any two cards. This time he has A7 off. I flip over 84 off! It comes down 457, leaving me calling for a 6. Turn: 6!! I'm celebrating as he has no cards he can hit to win. River: 8. Shit. I didn't think about that. Sodding split pot! I announce I'm moving all-in blind from the button and do so. He calls with Q9 off. I'm happy to be ahead with K4 off. Flop KTx. I chant for a Jack. Fortunately it doesn't come and I have 8k. He keeps up his all-in record from the button, and I look down at 33. I figure that it's so unlikely I'm behind and there's a reasonable chance he could have a 2 or 3 in his hand, so I reluctantly call. He actually flips over 47 offsuit. Of course the 4 is the first card out and I can't find a crab to keep me in the game.
I shake his hand and am comiserated by the spectating Rob, Paul Jackson and Dan Carter. I go to discuss a few hands with the victor. He obviously likes me as he gives me his phone number in Russia rather randomly?! Then it's off for some food and back to the hotel to rue my luck. I guess it's onto thinking about the 2000euro event on Saturday night...
Day Five (Friday 25th May)
Didn't play much poker today as I was mostly watching Dan destroy his opponents in his two matches. He's through to the Quarter-Finals to play the Devilfish which is great news. All I played was the 300euro satellite into the 2000euro main event the next day. I raised up QQ early on, the big blind calls and it comes A38. Check Check, turn is a deuce. Check Check. River was another Ace and he sticks all his chips in, to which I insta-pass with my cards face up, he shows me A2. I don't pick up a hand until JJ which I raise up and the flop comes down Q85 with two spades. The big blind moves all-in, I think for a while and deem that he doesn't have a Queen and call. I was dead right, he had 55. I pay Mickey Wernick, sitting to my right, 50euros on a side bet for who would last longest and head to the bar!
Later on that evening myself, Rob Sherwood, James Dempsy and Dan Carter head out to the bars along the port having watched James win a seat in the satellite. We are joined by the Devilfish, who we assume wants to get Dan drunk and scope out his Quarter-final opponent! We end up on the spirts and are spending 50euros a round but have a good time of it all. Devilfish uses his stature to get us served food at the casino just as it is closing, sweet! Then to the hotel to sleep off the impending hangover.
Day Six (Saturday 26th May)
Another lie-in and it's soon down to the casino to play the 2000euro event. I rush around trying to get someone to lend me the cash 10 minutes before it starts because the cash desk apparently doesn't cash travellers cheques, which is pretty much all I picked up out of the safe, and the machines apparently don't like my Maestro and Mastercard either! Me, Rob Sherwood and James Dempsy manage to draw the same table somehow, having agreed a 5% deal with each other just before the draw, is that good or bad? James donks his chips with a huge semi bluff on Qd 9c 3s 7d board with 9d Td, not getting KK to lay their hand down. Soon after our table gets split and I take up my new seat to the right of the Devilfish. Great!
The other players on the table are complete donkeys, and I watch Ulliot pick off a bluff with Ace high, calling the guys TJ almost perfectly (he had 9T). I raise up 66 and lead out on a 277 board, but with two callers I give up the pot on the turn. One of them had A7, the other turned a flush. The game soon becomes mega-frustrating once antes are introduced, with everyone on the table having to be reminded each hand. One the 150/300 (30) level we played just 11 hands, 40 mins a level. I've dwindled to about half starting chips and limp on the button with Td Jd. Ulliot calls, and the newly chipped big blind plonks in some high chips. I tell Devilfish, he has a low pair and I need to take the 50:50 on. Fish folds and I find out I'm basically right, though he was a little stronger than I thought, holding 99. The flop comes down, 9Q2, which I'm not delighted about, but I manage to river a straight with the 8 coming down.
Now with 9k I raise up 44 to 1200 (blinds 200/400 )in the cut-off. Devilfish moves all in for about 4800. I tell him I have to call cos it's a coinflip and I have the odds. He claims he has the best hand and I don't have to call. I do anyway and he flips AQ off. Flop: AQJ and I don't improve. The guy to my right says "nice call" which is of little consolation! A couple of hands later I pick up AQ off myself and move all-in for my 4000 chips. Devilfish says he'll "let me have this one", i see him muck 88s and everyone else passes. 2 hands later I'm under the gun and the blinds have gone up to 300/600 , so I'm thinking about pushing any two cards. I look down and find Ah Jh, bonus! I move all in but know I'm in trouble when the button moves all in. He has Cowboys and no Ace or hearts takes me out the comp. At least the 50 euros on a side bet with Rob Sherwood for who last longest pays half the rake!
I go and hang out with Rob and James, the events manager of Mansion poker and Tony Champman's wife in a local resteraunt, and we end up spending most of the night drinking in the casino along with Mickey Wernick, Dan Carter, and the victorius Jeff Kimbler chatting away. We were intending to head out to some local bars but it was always "after the next drink" until it was too late. Nevermind!
Day Seven (Sunday 27th May)
Dan wakes me up nice and early in preparation for his Quarter-Final with the Devilfish. We head to the casino, and I head off to play some 20/40 limit as Dan is busy taking interviews and things, and I assume his match will be delayed based on Jeff Kimblers 7-hour wait for his match yesterday. I leave the table 400 euros up as Dan's match is starting. I see him take down a nice big pot, trapping with AA and let out a whoop which Devilfish gives me the harshest look for, I feel bad straight away as I have gotten on well with him this week so I dash off before I piss him off anymore. With my profit from the cash game I decide to play the 400euro Omaha. I was quite impressed to last 2 hours because I didn't know too much off what I was doing!
Dan comes along and tells me Devilfish was an "easy win", good work Dan. We now get to spend an extra day in Barcelona, which Dan will pay for as we made a deal if we had to stay longer, the person that was the reason for that would pay expenses. I kinda wish it was me having to cough up but nevermind! I end up getting Pot committed pre-flop in the Omaha in a 3-way 12000 pot with absolute rags (As 3s 4d 5d) and miss completely against the other two raggy, but superior, hands. I'm left with 1400 chips and manage to get it in on the last hand before the break with more rags, but don't hit. So it's off to the buffet to have dinner with Mickey Wernick. We have a good chat about Dan's chances of winning and about Mickey's notorious past experience of poker. He has me encapsulated in his stories of playing Johnny Chan and Stu Unger for ridiculous amounts of money. After our chat I head back to the hotel to sort out flights and hotel with Dan for our longer stay. I expect it's back to the Port for a few drinks tonight, then I'll be cheering Dan on in his semi-final match tommorow. I'll probably take the opportunity to play the 500euro event because the fields are so weak. The British contingence can't believe they haven't cashed here as every one of us seems to be so much better than a large majority of the players here. C'mon Danny Boy, take it down!!
Day Eight (Monday 28th May)
After a very good night talking about previous World Series of Poker events in Las Vegas and the like in a couple of bars with Jeff Kimbler, Rob Sherwood and 'Legend' Mickey Wernick, I wasn't too happy to hear the phone ringing at 12.30pm asking why we hadn't vacated our room. So I had to stumble down (in bare feet) and explain to them (as I had done the previous evening) that we needed the room another night. I sorted it out and fell back in bed, why did Dan get the easy job of sorting flights while I got stuck with the hotel, argh!
Me and Dan headed down to the Casino ready for his semi-final. He was playing perhaps the biggest joker in the world! This guy just could not sit still! I think he was loving the cameras a little too much. Dan looked well in control of this one, and made a great call all-in preflop with AsTs when the dude had shoved over his preflop raise with, you got it, 7s 4s. Of course he hit the 7 and Dan was on the backfoot. But karma sorted out the cards as Dan got all in with A3 off when this guy picks up KK. I had to read the flop 5 times before I truely comprehended it! "Is that 245? Is that 245? Yes?!!"... Bang!! Mickey punches me on the shoulder as I shouted for no pair on the turn so the KK couldn't boat-up. It didn't and Dan's flopped straight doubled him up, back to about even. Not long later Dan made the quickest call in history after limping with TT to hear the guy go all in with A7, and Dan won the match right there. Sweet!
A celebratory meal with the winner and Rob in the bar, and we went to watch the remainder of Jeff's match. He was playing well with some nice raises, and was fortunate enough to get all the money in with 93 on a 933T board against his opponents J3. More cheering from the English camp, and it's an all English final, guaranteeing the first English winner of this event!
The less successful me, Mickey and Rob went to play the €500 event. My table seemed alright, 4000 starting stack seemed good. I watched a guy lose most of his chips all-in against a made flush, but with a draw to the nuts. The very next hand I raise it up with AsQs, to which he moves in for about 900. I figure he's steaming and pushing any semi-decent hand so I call. Of course he has Ace-King. You know you're having a bad week when that kind of thing happens! I play a few pots but manage to hit nothing so I'm standing at about 2000. 2 people limp into a pot and I make up the small blind with KQ off. The big blind then moves all in or 5000 chips. The others fold and I'm left to think what the hell he'd make this drastic move with. I asked him if he had a low pair, but he wasn't kind enough to tell me. I called him to take on the coin-flip only to see Ace-King turned over once more. Roy Brindley on my right obviously thinks I'm a donkey as I leave my seat! Rob and Mickey faired much better but didn't manage to make the cash. As with Dan, Mickey lost on a bad beat with AT vs A9 but didn't have any chips left for karma to return him the favour this time.
The rest of the night was withered away in the Casino bar with the English possé, and me and Dan went back to the hotel slightly earlier than usual ready for the Final tommorow.
Final Day (Tuesday 29th May)
I finally went to see some of Barcelona today! Having checked out of our room at 12pm, me and Dan went to check out the well known Las Ramblas. The human-statues seemed much less impressive than usual, as I saw someone simply dressed as a Cow waving at people, and another with a couple wearing suits made of fruit to try and make money?! This was until the final statue at the beginning of the street. This guy was simply awesome. We stared at him for a good few minutes and didn't see him blink. I felt this was worth a euro, so I whacked it in the hat infront of this guy's platform. We continued to watch for a sec only to see a bemused spectator go up and pat this guys hand. No wonder the statue was so good, it actually was a sodding statue!! I decided to leave my single euro to someone more needy, but couldn't help feeling a little violated!
After a nice walk along the beach it was back to the casino for the final. It was weird to see two guys, who had been hanging out all week, playing for the most bizaare of trophies having said they'd "see each other in the final" having checked out their quarter-final drawing! The final was a little bit of an anti-climax and didn't last all that long. Jeff Kimbler picked off a bluff from Dan but the rest was just solid-standard stuff. Until the main hand which saw Dan check-raised when he bet on a Ks Qh 2d Ts board. Dan re-re-raised for a lot of chips. Jeff pondered for a while and called. The river brought the 9s, and Jeff bet out about 1/3 of the pot. Dan struggled for a long time but eventually called, only to much upon seeing Jeff's 7s 2s. Dan has been cursing this hand since as he said the only cards he loses so many chips over were the 9s and the As (he had the straight). Super-chipped Jeff went on to take the match. The English gang congratulated the World Heads Up Poker Champion and comiserated with Dan who nonetheless had a great showing and was taking home a great pay-packet.
After Jeff and Dan did all their press necessities, I went with them, Mickey Wernick and Rob Sherwood to be treated to a meal by the finalists. Well that was until I lost €50 playing rock-paper-scissors with Dan which more than paid for my meal. Mickey wasn't happy as he had taken a €20 euro bet with Jeff with 2-1 odds that I would win. I thought they were paying for the meal?! Anyway that was very pleasant along the seafront, then it was onto the Airport with Dan and Mickey to fly home.
Next stop: I shall be playing most of the Midlands Meltdown events next week, then onto Vegas for at least a couple of weeks soon after.
Barcelona wasn't particularly successful poker-wise for myself, but I had a fantastic time with the English lads, and it was great to see Dan and Jeff do so well. Hopefully I can repeat some of their sucess in the World Series of Poker!
Thanks for reading,
Day One (Monday 21st May 2007)