December 08, 2009

Ship the prop bet...

Once again, apologies for the length of time between updates. Was busy grinding for the rest of November with the prop bet, and have been doing a bit of house hunting recently as me and my girlfriend look to find a place a bit more suitable for a young child (not me, our baby). We actually found what looks like the perfect place today, so lets hope our application goes through successfully. It's such a pain in the arse being a Professional Poker Player in situations like this. I swear the estate agents would prefer you were on the dole, or perhaps a drug dealer of some sort, than being a Poker Pro. With no boss or accountant to speak of, I'm having to ship them 6 months worth of bank statements in an attempt to prove I actually make some money at this game. I don't really see why they should get to see what I've been spending my money on (fortunately I don't think I bought anything on recently), but as long as we get the house I suppose it doesn't matter.

After playing 3700 SNGs over the course of the month, I was able to take down the prop bet I had going with Longy and Moon&Back on Blonde. The thread went down quite well, and is here if you are interested. I used this topic as the content for my most recent column on UK PokerNews so won't say any more about it, but will direct you to that column here.

Still no news regarding the fraud on my Mastercard. The bank is "investigating". A mate has told me I should make a complaint if it takes too long so that they get their arses in gear. I might take this action soon as I really don't see why I haven't got my money back 4 weeks later (although in fairness they did say it would take 6-8 weeks to sort out. Slow goits!).

I ended up playing the Dusk 'til Dawn monthly £300 Deepstack event on Saturday. I played really well I thought, made a couple of nice moves, but after about 2/3 of entrants had fallen I picked up red Aces UTG, and after raising preflop had little choice but to move all in (against one opponent who had called my raise on the button) on the all spade flop. He also had little choice but to call with the stone-cold nuts, holding A9s. Fantastic.

I shall be travelling to Ireland for the first time on Friday to play the inaugural event of the PokerStars UKIPT in Galway, so I'm looking forward to that. It's kind of a reward for working so hard in November. It looks a good structure and I've been reliably informed it's a soft tournament even without considering the inevitable plethora of online qualifiers PokerStars shall provide, so here's hoping I run good one time!

November 18, 2009

£1500 of fraudulent transactions on my poker account

Last Sunday morning (8th November) I found myself subject to a call from the HSBC Fraud Department. This was not particularly unusual as I have had to field many calls from them over the past couple of years as they seem to view any gambling transaction as suspicious, and being a professional poker player it's inevitable there's going to be a fair few of those! This time though I was aware that I hadn't made any deposits recently, but just figured they were wondering if it was really me that kept ordering Dominoes pizza (our oven & microwave decided to pack-up simultaneously recently). I was 20-tabling on Pokerstars at the time, and not paying much attention, until they listed several transactions that I had no idea what they were.

Struggling to concentrate whilst playing, I told him these deposits were definitely> not made by me, and that I would ring back in an hour when I'd had a chance to play out all my tables. It turns out 18 separate transactions were made on my Mastercard totalling £1465 on the Victor Chandler website.

Therein follows frantic phone-calls to Victor Chandler and the bank making sure everything was blocked. I was initially given the idea that the bank were going to sort everything out and that the money wouldn't even leave my account.


The £1465 came off of my credit card and 10 days later I'm still in a bit of no-man's land. I'm waiting for dispute claim forms from the bank so I can claim this money back. Even then it's going to take 6-8 weeks to go through the process. I'm pretty sure any fraudulent transaction should be covered by Mastercard, but I'm not gonna rest easy about it until the transactions are struck from my account, or whatever has to happen.

VC's response has been a little unsettling. The first lady I spoke to, when I was still rather confused about what happened, confirmed unusual activity on my account (which had been dormant since April or May or something), and passed it on to the security team. I was then unable to get anybody to tell me anything, and was told that I would have to go through the Police to get any information.

I duly reported it to my local Police Department, but they said the bank and/or website would deal with it, and they would notify the Police Department where the fraud took place.

This is when I sent Nik Spooner, who runs Tetleyboy Affiliates, an e-mail as he was the guy who signed me up to VC on a nice rakeback deal. This guy is the nuts, and has helped me solve problems that were nothing to do with him in the past, and came through for me again as he got the Security team in touch with me straight away.

They seem to acknowledge that a fraud has been committed, but their language is a little too vague for my liking. They have informed me that the IP address where these transactions took place is in the UK. How this person has got into my account I really don't know, because I couldn't even remember my own details to log-in. I hope something is done to try and track this activity down, but right now I'm not even sure they don't think it's me.

So it looks like I'll be sweating getting this money back over the next few weeks. I just wish someone would guarantee me that I'll be getting refunded so that I can rest easy on this issue.

So here's a warning right now to make sure you keep your poker accounts as secure as possible. I'd recommend not letting any poker site save your card details as that's what has got me in the shitter here. I'm still unsure how they would have known my 3-digit security code on the back of my card, but perhaps they didn't have to enter that, I'm not sure.

All my money (well, all my poker bankroll at least, I still have money for food!) is currently on PokerStars, where I'm happier about it being, as they don't save your card details. I used to complain about having to keep re-entering them every damn time, but I take that all back now. The RSA-token I ordered with FPPs to increase the security on my account arrived today, and this seems like a really good way of ensuring you are the only one who has access to your account.

November 17, 2009

Wiiiiiii, my first Sharkscope star :)

I've been running like God the last few days (or at least, way above expectation) and it has helped push me onto the Sharkscope leader boards. Admittedly it's a little bit of a niché category (Total Profit Any Games 4-6 Table $5.01-$15), and admittedly I'm only in spot #20, so it's kind of like saying you were considered for an Oscar award in the "movies of duration between 92 and 94 minutes" and were 20th in line to receive it. Nevertheless, I'm pretty happy about it as it is the first one I've received.
Had Sharkscope tracked the Tribeca network in 2005/06, I'd have been a shoe in for one when for my Heads Up SNG results were v.good on there...and I was always close to being on the Boss Media network Total Profit list in 2007/08, but didn't play quite enough to ever get there. At least volume is something I've improved on this year! I've been using Sharkscope for several years, as a tool to check out other players on my table, but perhaps even more so to track my own results. It feels really good to have a nice and steady graph, it almost gives me more confidence in my game, and definitely makes me feel better about being a professional poker player.
With only 6 weeks left in the year I'm not sure how high up the leader board I'll be able to climb, but looking at my own stats I've only put 290 hours into getting there. This might seem like a lot, but I've already put in 90+ hours in the month of November alone, so had I been playing these 45-man tourneys all year, my star might even be that bit prettier.

Cue huge downswing following this brag post, almost certainly have bokked myself!

November 13, 2009

SNG contest is hotting up...

Apologies for another big gap in updates, but I've been keeping up the hardcore grind, and it's difficult to want to write about poker after playing a 9 hour session! I've played 1800 SNGs already this month, with this mini-prop bet proving good motivation to play as much as is reasonable.

Even playing that many, I am not currently in the lead of the 3-man contest to see who can make the most profit in PokerStars SNGs of below a $30 stake. Moon&back has been racking up the $$$ consistently and is edging it. Longy had a disadvantage in that he was unable to access his PokerStars account for a good few days, but despite that has caught up impressively already.

Current standings
1. Moon&Back (Pd: 1144, Avg. ROI: 26%, Profit: $3365)
2. Myself (Played: 1797, Avg. ROI: 14%, Profit: $3115)
3. Longy11 (Played: 878, Avg. ROI: 22%, Profit: $1892)

I'm really pleased with how it's going, and even if I don't win I'm happy that I'm seemingly making nice and steady money right now.

I could have been put in a bit of difficulty if an injury I sustained on Monday night had happened to my right hand instead of my left. I play a friendly game of 5-a-side football every week. We all have a stint in goal which nobody particularly enjoys. I made what can only be described as an awesome save against a very fierce shot from close range which was heading for the top corner. However it bent my hand all the way back and I was bloody worried because I couldn't move it for several minutes. It seemed to get better though and I called off my trip to A&E. However it turns out I only postponed it as I woke up unable to move my left hand, and after 4 or 5 hours in A&E, I had my hand x-rayed and it turns out I have fractured my triquetral bone in my hand.

So that's a spot of bad luck, but it seems to be healing up okay. I have to wear a splint intermittently but no cast or anything It goes to show one of the pitfalls of being a professional poker player, because if I did sustain a debilitating injury to my right hand (ie. mouse controlling hand), I'd be pretty screwed for trying to make money on the internet. Especially considering the format in which I play, playing 20 tables at a time.

I seem to have run pretty bad non-poker wise at the moment, but I did scoop a WSOP Final table sweepstake in which I randomly drew Joe Cada, so it's not all bad! Here he is pictured with my winnings from the sweepstake:

November 04, 2009

Mini-prop bet for November...

I have a lil' prop bet contest going on this month. Nothing major, but a nice bit of motivation for grinding. It's a three way dance between myself, and Blonde forum members Longy and Moon&Back. $250 in the pot each, and winner takes all on who can make the most profit playing SNGs of less than $30 in stake on PokerStars in November.

They both have pretty Sharkscope graphs, and good multi-tabling skills as well, so I think it's going to be a tight contest. Hopefully my ability to put in a lot of volume will help me through, although a server restart on PokerStars just as I was about to start my session today is a bit of an annoyance!

I've started well, racking up $900 or so in 450 games...but a real nasty downswing as I finished my last session, with zero cashes in my last 34 games, which is set to be my worst non-cashing streak in the 8,000 games I have now played on Stars. We're keeping track of our progress so far in this thread on Blonde.

With being a bit of a PokerStars aficionado recently I was pleased to read the recent news that it is setting up a Poker Tour in the UK & Ireland (called the UK & Ireland Poker Tour, ingenious that!). I can't see this being anything but a huge success, as all other PokerStars supported poker tours have been so far, and I look forward to trying to play as many
of the events as possible. With potentially large fields of satellite qualifiers, I imagine them being a fair bit of value.

Note that I have added a 'blogroll' of the podcasts that I listen to on the left hand side of this blog. These are great for making the grind of online play more bearable by having them on in the background, and I think they are all of great quality and worth listening to (and as I have mentioned previously, the 2+2 Pokercast is especially excellent).

Also it's only 4 days until the final table of the WSOP main event is played out on November 7th. Of course I will be routing for fellow Brit James Akenhead, and I also hope that Phil Ivey does well as I think it could potentially be good for the game if he does. I have a little vested interest in Joe Cada in the form of a sweepstake, so plenty to keep me interested in what goes down. I have been enjoying the footage of the 2009 WSOP which I downloaded from this handy lil' site so far, and although there's no way around finding out the results before you see the actual footage these days, it should make for compelling viewing.

October 31, 2009

Vienna trip report...

I finally got round to writing up about my trip to Vienna for the Greek Poker Tour. Me and fellow pro Dan Carter headed out there for a few days and had a really good time all in all.

Read all about it here...

Played 250 SNGs today and did quite well. Off to a Halloween do tonight and it will be good to have a few drinks and relax away from a computer screen!!

October 29, 2009

1400 SNGs in the last 8 days...

Okay, I'm rounding up, but 1384 still seems like a helluva lot!

I really have been grinding like crazy since I got back from Vienna. It was especially hard because I simply wasn't making any money, but I tried not to loose too much faith because I was owed a ton in EV. Although adjusted EV is something which is very useful for seeing how you are running in cash games, it's perhaps not as useful in SNGs. This is because it's hard to work out what the difference between the chips you have won and the chips you would have won had your luck been average in all-in situations is really worth. At least it's there to stop you going out of your mind when you are running bad.

Hold 'em Manager hands + chip stats, Oct 22nd-29th
(Have I really played that many hands in just over a week, gees!)

I think my choice to play some 180-mans was bad, as these require a different strategy to the 18-mans and 45-mans that I have been used to, so that $600 I lost in 85 $12 games was a bad experiment. Especially considering I had dismissed playing these because of the variance in the past.

The last few days have been really rough, as I have complaining about, but I finally had a super-good day today, which I definitely feel like I was owed. But just because you feel like you are owed a good day, doesn't mean you won't run bad for another week, so I'm just grateful things went right today and has perhaps given me a better mindset for the continuing grind!

All games played October 22nd-29th

I'm still going strong with playing essentially as many 45 man SNGs as I can throughout the day, literally doing a "9 to 5" (and consequently eliminating one of the perks of playing poker for a living!). I've clocked in between 200-230 each of the last four days. I'm hoping that my graph of 45-man tournaments is enough to keep me motivated to keep churning out such a ridiculous volume of games.

All 45-mans played on PokerStars, lifetime.

October 25, 2009

Having a tough time of it right now...

Apologies for the lack of update recently. With being in Vienna for a few days I was too busy enjoying myself to update, and since I got back I've been (to quote Colchester Kev on Blonde) grinding like a lap dancer on a guy with a fat wallet. I've hit a rather nasty downswing/break-even patch, and as some of you might understand, for some reason it's always more difficult to update when things are going badly.

I will be writing a trip report on Vienna for my PokerNews column, so will link to that when it goes live. I had a good time, and 'Wien' is a very cool place, but didn't end up playing as much poker as I was expecting. I ended up only playing the main event, in which I went deep and finished just short of the money, 33rd of 218 with the top 24 getting paid, busting on the very first hand of day two which is always nice(!).

I have really managed to get my volume up recently by waking up early in the morning, and just playing solidly throughout the day time. I'm not sure this is the fishiest time to play, but I'm really happy with the schedule, and think that the games I'm playing always have enough fish in them to make them profitable. I decided to move from the 18-mans, which although I was crushing a few weeks ago, I had become really stagnant in. I think I picked up some leaks, trying to exploit the bubble too much and stuff, and I thought it would be good to play some 45-mans which I have a really steady graph in. I forgot how good the synchronised breaks are for these tournaments, and I've just been playing 8 hours straight or so, which hasn't felt so tough with that 5 minute break every hour which makes all the difference.

Variance has gotten the better of me though, as I played some 180-mans as well, where a bad run can just crush your spirit. In 50 games I managed all of 1 final table. I also started off bad in the $27 45-mans, where only a few get running a day as opposed to the lower buy-in ones where I can play well over a hundred, I managed to not cash in my first 25.

I think keeping your game fresh is very important, as taking a break from the tables has re-focused me. I think you can go into auto-pilot mode all too easily when you play as many games as me, and you can pick up some bad habits. To use a lame analogy, if your auto-pilot mode has some 'programming errors', you are going to veer off course, so it is important to always keep 'replotting your course'. Therefore review sessions, with the help of SNG Wiz, are something I will make sure I find the time to do every day, as I had perhaps become lax on this before I went to Vienna.

I have found a schedule where I can put in 200 games a day without getting too stressed out.

I just can't seem to consistently win currently. I don't think it's related to my mad volume and I don't think there are too many flaws in my game. We'll have to see how things go because the "running bad" argument can surely only apply for x-amount of games, and that 'x' is getting rather damn large right now!

My Sharkscope graph helps to depict the rough time I'm having of it right now...

October 11, 2009

Getting up, getting money back & getting outta here!

New Schedule............
Progress has been made since my last post. Firstly, I have now managed to wake up four days in a row before 9am. This might not sound like much of an achievement, but my girlfriend would confirm that, for me, this is infact pretty epic. I'm thinking the new schedule is working well. I play 100 SNGs in my first session, have an hour lunch break or so, then play another 75 in the afternoon. This should allow me to play at greater volume, which hopefully will boost my income a decent amount. Of course the first day I woke up to hit this schedule PokerStars reset their server which meant I couldn't play until 1.30pm anyway! Since then, it seems to have worked well though...

"They say sleep is the cousin of Death. So my eyes wide open 'cos a dream is kin to ya last breath" - The Game

PokerStars refund............
I talked in my last post about the server problems on PokerStars costing me dosh, but they have fully restored my faith in them. They shipped me back the entry fee back for 12 of the 20 tournaments that I was affected by. I managed to save a cash in 4 of the other 8, so overall I definitely feel well compensated for the problem.

I'm off to Vienna!...........
I generally have a peruse on every month, and look at all the tournaments I'd like to go to, and usually never end up going any. This time though, I spotted that the Greek Poker Tour is being held in Austria (due to poker restrictions in Greece), and thought this could be a good chance to play a potentially soft tournament with soft side games, whilst going on a nice trip. It's a year since I last went on a poker trip, and with the World Heads Up Poker Championship not being held in Barcelona this year, it will be cool to go to a new place which has a card-room with a great reputation, and is supposed to be a nice city in general. The main event is €500+50 and with flights on EasyJet, it hopefully won't be too much of a hit to the bankroll. I've managed to persuade Dan Carter to come with me, and I'm really looking forward to this one. We jet off on Thursday. Wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii.

October 07, 2009

20 tables running and it won't connect, argh!

Will explain the title in a little bit...

I haven't been succeeding in putting in a great amount of volume as I had intended. I'm finding myself only playing one session a day when I do play. This is largely due to me sleeping in too late, perhaps due to the interrupted sleep I am getting due to the baby (4 weeks old now, and I shouldn't complain because he actually sleeps really well).

I need to stop going to bed quite so late, and getting up early so I can potentially do a morning session and an afternoon session. Either that or perhaps have a session of MTTs in the evening, say every other day or something. I find myself not wanting to play a hardcore 20-tables-at-a-time session in the evenings, so I need to implement at least one of these methods because I'm just not utilising the day sufficiently.

18-man SNGs played:
30th Sept: 60 (45-man)
1st Oct: 75
2nd Oct: 75
3rd Oct: -
4th Oct: 54*
5th Oct: 106
6th Oct: -
7th Oct: 100

*The asterix relates to the the title of the blog, as this session was cut short by PokerStars going 'down' mid session. My connection to PokerStars suddenly died and I wasn't able to log back in, which seemed to be a widespread problem that affected a lot of people on Sunday. It wasn't fun having it log me out whilst in the middle of 20 Sit and Gos, knowing I was being blinded off as I wasdeep in several of them. It's actually super stressful, as you feel like you are literally pissing money away. I thought I had protected myself against this kind ofthing, as I have a spare laptop and a mobile broadband dongle. Therefore if there is a power cut I should still be good to go (I think this is very advisable if you are an SNG or MTT pro), but unfortunately you can't really protect yourself against a server or software issue beyond your control.

I managed to get back on after 10-15 minutes on my laptop (I'm unsure as to why it would log-on there but not my desktop as they feed off the same router), and save a couple of them, but it definitely cost me a fair wodge of money. I'm still waiting to here back from support about being refunded for the buy-ins, so I will let you know how that goes, because I would certainly expect some form of compensation with this not being my fault. To be fair, PokerStars is usually spot on, so I'll forgive them this malfunction as long as I don't lose out because of it.

In my last post I was complaining that the shootout format dominates televised poker, well I stumbled upon this site recently, so now the plan is to download the WSOP 2009 footage and watch it on my iPhone (apologies for the blatant brag, I only got it a couple of weeks ago and haven't broadcast about it nearly enough!) before I go to bed etc. I find watching poker shows like this keeps up my enthusiasm for the game, and you definitely need some motivation when you have to face up to playing 25 SNGs per hour as I do.

October 01, 2009

Around the block, but inevitably back 'home'...

I've been getting back into online poker over the last week. I had my eye on the recent Poker Heaven SNG promotion, racking up as many points as possible by cashing in €20+2 10-man SNGs. I came 2nd in a similar promotion last year. It became apparent that there were two sick monkies going to come first and second who didn't think it was necessary to eat/sleep/wash so I kind of gave up with it. Also, having to contend with the dodgy Boss Media software was killing me, and I was running so below EV it was unfunny. I managed to hang onto fifth, despite quitting 4 days into the 7 day promotion. With the prize money and rakeback, I made a decent bit of dosh doing it, so I'm not going to complain too much.

I thought after a few days of using such bog-standard software, I might as well have another crack at playing the 45 and 90 mans on Full Tilt rather than just jump straight back to PokerStars. My decision to crank up to 16 tables straight away was a little silly, as it turns out stacking tables on Full Tilt is just not at all smooth. I managed to run like death with 1 cash in 21 games, with the software and also the length of the games (up to 2 hours to finish as opposed to about 1 hour for PokerStars games) and I was just rueing my decision to bother with Full Tilt and couldn't wait to get back to PokerStars.

So I have played a couple of sessions on there in the last couple of days, and I have come to re-appreciate how great the software really is. It's like when your missus goes away for a few days, and suddenly you have to do your own cooking and generally look after yourself and the house. When she comes back, you realise just how much she does and how much you need her.

I'm happy to call PokerStars my home, and I have no reason, nor desire, to stray from there for the time being. I ran sickly good in the two sessions I've had so far, which has helped me get over my reluctance to go back to the 20-tabling grind after such a long absence from the tables. I was kinda intending to set myself some kind of target for the end of October, but I'm not sure what's realistic. For now I'll just keep tabs on how many games I've played, and hopefully I can get the volume up as I've been eeking my way in steadily.

30th September: 60 45-man SNGs
1st October: 75 18-man SNGs

I've been watching a fair amount of poker on TV, with the Poker Million and Late Night Poker airing right now, but it's a shame so much of what gets aired is in the crapshooty 'Shoot-out' format. The European Cash Game 2 should be a nice break away from this, which is airing soon. The first series was well worth watching, with Eric Liu and Albert Iversen playing awesome, so it will be interesting how the new series goes down.

At time of writing the WSOP-E Main Event is getting pretty exciting with play down to 4 handed, with both Hitsquader Praz Bansi and poker legend Daniel Negreanu still fighting it out for the bracelet. I'll be following the live updates as this one draws to a close!

Also worth checking out is Daleroxxu's new blog, a SNG icon in his own right, has taken to interviewing other SNG icons such as 'JHUB3000' and 'Spacegravy'. Hopefully he'll be interviewing me in a couple of years time ;)

September 25, 2009

Poker & Parenthood...

In my latest column for UK Pokernews I reflect on how becoming a poker player has, and will, affect my poker play.

Please check it out by clicking here

Am just starting to get back to the tables after my "Paternity Leave." Have had a stab at the current SNG race on Poker Heaven, but it's not really going as planned, and the software is tilting the crap out of me. I think I might retreat back to PokerStars asap!

September 22, 2009

Shortstack survival in the EPO...

Apologies for the delay on updating, things have been pretty busy with the baby, as you might imagine. The only poker I've played since he was born was at the inaugral EPO last week.

I met up for a meal with Tom Rutter, Stu Rutter and Mike Miller before kick-off which psyched me up for the tournament nicely. I took to my seat just a couple of minutes late. I was pretty happy with the draw as the only person I recognised on the table was Scott O'Reilly, an old mate who knew all my Uni mates that played poker. It turns out I accidentally sat at table 36 seat 7, instead of table 37 seat 6, and in doing so ducked a table with Annette Obrestad and Praz Bansi on it! I didn't even find this out until the break, and by then they'd worked around it.

I was a little unlucky early doors, the only time I picked up Aces in the whole of the tournament was in the first level. I c-bet a J78 flop after being called on the button. He raised and I called. I then check-folded face up on the Jack turn, and he showed me AJ. In the third or fourth level I then had the unthinkable happen. Surinder Sunar, potentially the slowest acting person in the game, called the clock on me! This didn't exactly help me make what I think was the wrong decision to fold to a third barrel on a T8xKx board that was effectively for my tournament life (He bet 4k, I had 6k back and it was a 6k pot) having called an UTG raise with JJ whilst 1+UTG. I really, really wanted to call, as it looked like either nuts or air...with a very real possibility of air...but I just couldn't quite do it.

This was the last point in the tournament I ever had the chance to be above average chips. From this point I went on a somewhat remarkable run of being the short-stack, but doing just enough to survive. Once the 200/400 level hit. I rarely had more than 12 big blinds to my name. The MTT SNGs I play rely heavily on push-fold strategy, and I was very confident I could make my short-stack count, or at least make the correct plays at each point in time.

I picked my spots carefully, trying to avoid having to face an all-in showdown. Upon moving tables to eventual runner-up Michael Tureniec's table, literally every hand was open raised (mostly by him) and I just couldn't find a spot to shove. I'd look down at 44 or KTs and be rubbing my hands in glee at being able to shove the button, but that opportunity never arose and I'd have to fold to the open raise. I remember picking up 77 and thinking, finally I can re-shove on this guy...only for it to be opened and 3-bet infront of me!

Upon noticing my grind through the levels, always at the bottom of the pack but somehow avoiding elimination, people said to me I must have been really lucky, as I must have been all-in so many times. Whilst it's true I shoved in rather a lot, I was actually only at risk of elimination 6 times throughout the 2 days I survived in the tournament (which was 18+ hours of play):

Day 1
AJ > T4 at 300/600 (I shoved 3.8k from early position, big blind called)
AQ > A5 at 400/800 (I shoved the big blind after the small blind raised, he called)

Day 2
Q6ss > KJ on Ks 8s 6c at 1200/2400 (I check-raised shoved the flop from the small blind after UTG and the button limped preflop)
QQ > AK at 2000/4000 (I just about 4-bet shoved, he called the little bit extra)
AT tied AT at 4000/8000 (I shoved the button for 9 big blinds, big blind called)
24s lost to A6 at 5000/10000 (I shoved for 45k 5 handed UTG, fairly standard...)

My peak in chips was comically about 90,000 after I won with the Queens (there was 2 million in play, and at this point we were down to 2 short-handed tables, and this represented the first time I was slightly better than half average chips at any point in the tourney other than the early going. Consequently I couldn't be too disappointed that I bust in 10th place (out of 213 runners), although naturally it did kinda suck to miss out on the final table. I bagged £9k for the win, although having sold a fair proportion of myself I only took £3k of that. Still, this came at a very opportune time with the birth of the baby, and not having the time to play at the moment. I'm happy with the result, especially clinging on the way I did for so long.

How sick it would have been to win though. Not just for the £70k of the £210k first prize I'd have shipped, but also to see Mick McCool's face upon me putting a cheque for £50k in his hand, all because he asked me to help him out with his blog a couple of weeks back!

Me with Andy Greekfish

September 15, 2009

Ship it! (the baby that is)

For once I have a decent reason for not updating the blog recently, beyond "I can't be bothered" and "I'm running bad so lets wait until I run good again to post and make myself look infallible" (sad but true).

Yes the missus finally dropped the little-un (read on before you call social services), and gave birth to our son Clark Robert David Atkin. He weighed in at a fairly hefty 8lbs 1oz, and we are very lucky in that he is perfectly healthy and mega cute!

She went into labour at about midnight, and I watched a bit of poker on tele and pretended it wasn't happening whilst she went to have a bath downstairs. I dozed off, and she was rather considerate given her current state (I certainly hadn't been pre-warned about her being considerate in labour!), and
waited til 7am to wake me up and tell me to get my arse in gear as she was in sufficient amount of pain to go to hospital (a much better measurement than time between contractions if you ask me).

They showed us to our room at the hospital (admittedly it wasn't the Ritz,
but it wasn't too shabby at all), and 3 midwives, a snooze each (aided by diamorphine...hers not mine unforunately...though this was the only drug she had at all and was solely to allow her to sleep in the still fairly early stages, brave girl), and a good 2/3 of a John Grisham novel later (if I hadn't finished the book, I do wonder if I'd have been much help towards the end of labour!).

As a guy you almost feel guilty for how much you are doing when your partner is putting in so much effort and going through so much pain. It's almost like you're on a motorbike with a megaphone shouting "you can do it, keep going" whilst tailing someone running a marathon. Obviously not guilty enough to give her the motorbike (thank God this isn't possible, metaphorically speaking). So I got my pom-poms out, told her she was doing awesome (which was no lie, infact it was more of an understatement) and held her leg back as she laid on her side pushing for all she was worth.

"Oh my God, Oh my God, I can see the head, I can see the head, it's got a head Liz" was something like what I said shortly after. The actual birth is so surreal and inexplicable really. I am the most squeamish guy I know. I was sent home from school age 10 because I went pale as a sheet when our teacher told a story about her boyfriend's glass eye falling out. I was sent home from Sixth Form age 17 (yes, 17) after I got a splinter from a pencil I was using in English class right under one of my fingernails and
eyewitness reports suggest I literally turned green. However I went through the whole birth without batting an eyelid, even cutting a cord and taking the obligatory glance at the placenta (you tell yourself you aren't going to look, but you just can't help yourself). Admitedly I wasn't hugely pleased when I discovered blood all down my shorts and all over my favourite trainers, but I really wasn't bothered either. The joy of seeing your own flesh and blood safe and sound on your missus's chest is like nothing I've ever felt before, it really isoverwhelming.

It's all been a bit hectic since then. We've had tons of visitors and went for our first walk with the pram today. So far he hasn't been too much trouble, although with Liz breastfeeding she might tell you a slightly different story as getting up every 2 or 3 hours during the night can't be all that much fun.

I was expecting things would have settled down by the time it came round to me playing the English Poker Open, but with Liz being 11 days overdue it's fallen a bit on top of everything. It starts tomorrow and I'll be hoping that Clark can be that lucky charm to help me take down the biggest tourney I'll have played for a couple of years now.

September 08, 2009


How profound the words in my last post "a nasty downswing seems inevitable" were. I guess it's partly my fault because I decided to take a shot at the higher buy-in 18mans over the weekend when they had some traffic, and general standard of play appeared to be worse. However I have run really gross at the $25+2 and $55+5 games, and this has contributed to a $1k downswing and has killed my ROI and winrate. There's nothing wrong with taking shots sometimes, but I think this one came a little early.
18man tournaments
Having analysed my stats I'm still crushing the $15+1 games for a 17% ROI over 1100 games. There is a lower ratio of rake (6.25%) in this game over the other buy-in levels (8%), I'm not sure that makes all that much difference, but I think they may get less regs in as well, as the $25s+ perhaps get the regs playing 9mans filtering some 18mans to their play.

I'm a little bit worried I've picked up some bad habits, perhaps becoming too shove happy, so I am hoping to do some sweat sessions with some SNG pros over the next few days to make sure my game is up to scratch. Speaking of sweat sessions, I did a session with Matthew Pitt, who's blog I regularly follow, to help him with his game and prepare him for a staking deal. I think that was very productive, and he writes about it in his blog here.

Still no sign of the baby, the missus is now 8 days overdue. Sadly it looks like I'm going to miss Blonde Bash this weekend, which I was really looking forward to having never been to one before. But either the baby is only just going to have been born or will be being born over the weekend, and I don't think my girlfriend will let me miss the birth to go and get pissed and have a good time in Leeds. At least everything should have settled down by the time of EPO next week.

September 04, 2009

Crushing SNGs right now, and looking forward to playing the EPO...

I really don't want to 'bok' myself by posting this, but I'm just running sickly good at the moment. A nasty downswing seems inevitable. I'm running at a 20% ROI in 18man tournaments, mostly $15+1 buy-ins with some $27s and $6.50s mixed in, over almost 1200games. Not only that, but the first 200 games or so I think I was playing badly because I was integrating them with 45s, and struggling to keep track of the different strategies because of
playing so many tables. Now I'm playing exclusively 18 mans, which I will be doing at least until the fairy tail comes to an end!
18-man tournaments
Anyway, enough bragging. In other news I've recently taken on a couple of students and will be staking them in $6.50 games. Hopefully they can earn me some bucks while I sit around watching tele :) I'll be giving them some mentoring and hopefully they can replicate my recent good fortune in MTT SNGs. I've had bad experiences with staking in the past, but these guys pass my high requirements on the "don't-get-grimmed-o-meter". They've actually made me think about doing some coaching in the future. I think I need to prove myself a bit more results wise before I do that, but I think I would be really good at it. If anyone might be interested in this, whack me an e-mail or leave a comment, just so I know it's something that might be plausible.

Looking forward to playing the EPO in a couple of weeks time. There are a bunch of pros signed up, so there will be some toughness in the field, but I imagine the internet qualifiers will even that out. Just picking out the people I am familiar with there are a bunch of strong names:

Andreas Johansson, Andrew Teng, Annette Obrestad, Tony Cascarino, Chad Brown, David Tighe, Desmond Jonas, Doyle Brunson, Eric Liu, Gurpreet Nagi, James Akenhead, James Keys, James Mitchell, Joe Beevers, Karl Mahrenholz, Mo Muse,
Marc Goodwin, Michael Greco, Liv Boeree, Peter Charalambous, Phil Hellmuth, Richard Ellis, Rupinder Bedi, Sam Trickett, Sida Yuen, Stuart Fox, Toby Lewis, William Martin.

That would be an intimidating table draw if you had 8 of those guys sat with you! However with $1m guaranteed, it's sure to get more than the required 200 runners (to meet the guarantee), and fortunately I don't think they can all be of that calibre!

Still no sign of the baby, that makes my missus 4 days late, but that's not unusual with a first baby (she assures me she hasn't previously had a love-child). So my world isn't upside down yet!

September 01, 2009

Selling % of myself in the EPO & my gf still hasn't popped!

I have secured my seat into the English Poker Open today. I have had a surprising lack of interest in people wishing to buy a piece of me, but I guess it is a large ass buy-in ($5000+300). I was originally relying on this to be able to play the tourney, but with doing well recently I've decided to take the risk of not selling my action and playing whatever happens. If you are interested in getting a reduced price seat for the event, check out this page.

I'm selling at a $400 for 10%, $40 for 1% rate. This is effectively selling at a mark-down of 0.75:1 . I've sold about 25% so far, and am willing to sell up to 35% more. Whack me an e-mail or leave a comment if you are interested.

It will be really cool to play such a big event, it's been a while since I played a noteworthy tournament. There are a few big names being mentioned will be present, Phil Hellmuth and Doyle Brunson amongst them, but I'll be more bothered about getting a table full of qualifiers than playing with name players.

My girlfriend's due date was yesterday, but no sign yet. I am happy we hit September 1st because I was hoping he'd be the oldest in his school year as opposed to the youngest. It's a weird feeling waiting for something that you don't know when is going to happen. It's kinda like waiting for the toaster to pop, and if I'm around her when her waters break, I'm sure I will shit myself in the same way that I do when I'm around the toaster and it makes me jump!

August 31, 2009

To stack, or not to stack, that is the question...

Over the last few weeks I have been experimenting with a bunch of things to try and make playing poker as productive as possible. In my new PokerNews column I take a look at the different methods of displaying poker tables (tiling, cascading and stacking).

Click here if you are interested...

Had a bit of a family weekend so haven't played, and am probably going to find getting in any poker difficult over the next couple of weeks as my girlfriend is nearly ready to pop! It is actually here due date today. Does anyone know if last minute plane tickets to Venezuela are going cheap at the mo? Sod it, Mexico will do, surely they'll be cheap right now???!

August 27, 2009

"I have a straight....."

I just saw this posted on Blonde and I had to post it up. Now I don't profess to be a mountain of knowledge on Omaha, but you'd think if you'd made it down to the last 3 of a WSOP bracelet event (a $5000 rebuy, no less) you'd have some idea how to read the board!...

Perhaps what's more astounding is that this guy went on to win the tournment for half a million dollars!!!???!!!

In other news...I've had lots of positive feedback on the new blog, good to know my hard work hasn't gone unnoticed! Have written my 4th column for UK PokerNews on table layouts, which will go live on Monday and I'll link up here then.

Have played a little this week, not as much as I would have liked, but I have got my Sharkscope graph looking pretty again :)

August 23, 2009

New layout, and playing live seems so slloooowwwww...

I spent most of Friday slaving away changing the layout of my page. A little unnecessary I guess, it was fine before...but I've been getting a bit more traffic as of late (ie. not just me and hitting the refresh button repeatedly) and felt like improving things. I'm kind of hoping to turn my blog into a "poker portal", and making my blog a great bookmark to have for any poker enthusiast. Pretty much all the links on my page link to blogs or pages that I am fully aware of, or I have come across in my experience of playing. Hopefully anyone that does check out the blog from time to time prefers this layout.

It's funny, does anyone else do that thing of admiring their work? The last couple of days I'll have been browsing the internet and every so often clicked on my blog link, even though nothing had changed since checking it out 10 minutes previously, just to see how pretty it looks. I know it's not that great, but it was me that did it! It's like that shitty jigsaw puzzle you made in Year 9 in Woodwork, to everyone else it looks alright, but you're well pleased with it. I'm 100% sure I've listened to the songs I've recorded (click here if you're interested) 10 times more than anyone else (admittedly my only other fans really include my girfriend, her mum and a mate from Uni).

Poker wise, I've done barely anything the last 5 days. I seem to have been really busy in general. Having new windows and a front door put in took up one day, cos I didn't really want the guy doing the work to have to wait 45 minutes for all my tables to finish if he needed me. I spent a day+ upgrading the blog. It was my Dad and nephew's birthdays recently as well. I had this random urge to play some live poker last night though, and with my girlfriend doing something with her sisters, I thought I'd take the chance to go to Dusk 'til Dawn for the £50 freezeout.

Tbh I wish I hadn't bothered. It wasn't a good enough tournament to trek down to Nottingham for. The structure was rather turboey, with 20 minute levels, and felt comparable to the Turbo MTT SNGs I play on Stars every day (well, not this week, but generally). I still enjoy the
interaction side of things, but I've realised only a tournament with a good amount of play, and a bigger buy-in/prizepool is really worth playing. When you're used to playing up to 20 tables at a time, you probably play 50 times as many hands in an hour than you do live. When you lose your stack on a coinflip without being on another table simultaneously doubling up on a coinflip, the game seems somewhat futile. The fact that the last tournament I played had the WSOP Main Event structure (sadly not the main event itself!) didn't help either.

I bust like 3 hours in, having survived only on squeezing with any two cards when there were a couple of limpers. I thought I was out when I shoved 24 off from the small blind at 300/600 (50) with about 5.5k to have the also-short-stacked guy half heartedly say "I call" because he'd looked at one card and seen a King which, in fairness, was good enough. Of course when he flipped the other one over and it turned out to be another bloody King! With 1k left I shoved my 93s on the button, the small blind called and I caught a huge break when the big blind somehow folded. Obviously getting 8 to 1 on his money and the knowledge that I could have any two cards wasn't enough for him! I binked, and then the disheartening news that there was a break. Just put me out of my misery already!...

A5s in the cutoff first hand back and I obviously ship in after another shortie had shoved pre, and I now had a playable(ish) stack after beating her KQ (playable as in like 8 big blinds. No miracle comeback though as a few hands later, with an 1+UTG limper and the small blind making up I flop two pair with KT on KJT with 2 hearts.
The SB leads out, I ship in my 8k, the 1st limper passes and it turns out I'm against the mother of all draws, the Q4 of hearts. I lose the flip (it's pretty crazy to barely be ahead with 2 pair against Q high, it's almost like playing Omaha!) and I'm out. My intention if I bust was to go and play a cash game, but I couldn't really be bothered. I'd (kinda) got my live fix, and didn't think I could hack the slowness of it all. The good thing about playing so many tables is that it negates some of the variance you have to face.

Anyway I won't be able to play much live in the coming months with the baby very much on the way (Blonde bash aside, I've made it clear that I shall be attending that! For those who don't know what this is, it's not a kind of orgy, it's the Blonde Poker Forum Bash lol), so at least I've got it out of my system, but will wait for a decent tournament next time I play. Need to get grinding this week after a only playing a pitiful 3 sessions in the last week, and this week tweaking my blog layout won't take precedence over (hopefully) earning some money!!!

August 19, 2009

Sync Breaks + Podcasts = More pleasant grinding

I know I've gone on about them a bit too much now, but I just love the sync breaks that Stars have introduced in the last few days. I can cope with playing poker for a much longer period of time because of them, and I think I'm gonna start treating poker as more of a job...get cracking as early as I can drag myself out of bed (I've been starting sessions around 10.30am but I'd like to get that back to 9am or something), and just play as long a session as I can manage (100 SNGs over 5 hours I managed today, but I reckon 6 hours is a fine aim), then have the evening off.

Playing 1 session should allow to play slightly more games an hour, as I wouldn't have to go through the process of loading up as many tables as I eventually end up playing (I currently to set it to max out at 20), and then playing them out when I decide to finish my session up. Obviously I can change this up if things get in the way...I guess flexibility is one of the perks of this job and it would be a shame to lose that advantage. Also, with a baby imminent (apparently the mid-wife suggests within the next week...I'm bricking it!!!!!), it's very possible I won't I might not get the luxury of a single straight through session.

I've always been one to play poker in silence, in a bid to aid my concentration. I originally found listening to music distracting when I played Heads Up STTs. However grinding as I am, I have found listening to something makes each session much more enjoyable(or slightly less of a grind, enjoyable is such a strong word!). Now I spend about half a session listening to my music, and half a session listening to a 'Pokercasts' (you see what they did there?). The 2+2 Pokercast is well worth listening to if you're gonna be grinding for a couple of hours.