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Barny Boatman
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Heads I Lose

The Prima Poker Tour 2005
Report by Barny on Tuesday, 24 May 2005 at 4:11 pm

It’s been a while now since I’ve bashed out a diary, so before I mention Barcelona I want to catch up on what happened since my last entry.

Monte Carlo was tense and exhausting. Normally when I look back at a festival I remember faces, incidents, drinks and jokes, the poker detail fade fast. Not this time. I was chip leader for a long time before one nasty beat put me on the ropes. As we got into the money I played myself right back into the game and I really started to believe I was destined to win it but in the end I wasn’t even close. I was gutted.

The Bellagio, for me personally, was also a huge disappointment. I must have put in about the most possible hours without a result including good runs in the PPT and the main event. In the 25 grander I did something I haven’t done for a long time. Having had a solid first two days I was suffering a very dry spell for the first few hours of day three. We were in sight of the money and I was so determined not to be under pressure as we neared the bubble that I lost patience and took an unnecessary risk. It cost me a decent shot at the second biggest prize of all time and I haven’t forgiven myself yet. Of course, Joe’s brilliant seventh place finish gave us something to celebrate and was no surprise to those of us who have been watching his game recently.

You need to be inventive to keep yourself amused at the Bellagio so full marks to Padraig Parkinson who came up with a great game that anyone could play. Two poker books were being displayed with equal prominence at in the hotel gift shop. One by a good-old-boy player turned TV presenter and the other by the Brattish Wunderkind who for a few dollars is prepared to share the secrets that, were it not for luck, would win him every tournament he entered. Lets call them Mike and Phil.
The idea was to make Mike’s books as visible as possible whilst hiding Phil’s. It was a constant battle of wits with the good natured gift shop staff, who never seemed to tire of rebuilding their pyramids. At the end of the week though the shop had shifted scores of Mike’s book whilst the only one of Phil’s that went was one that had dropped out of a copy of Playboy someone was browsing. Apparently the quick thinking punter bought them both, slipped the book back inside the mag and hurried off before anyone noticed his choice of poker literature. Obviously, Mike would not have approved of Padraig’s game if he’d known about it.

We went to Barcelona only to play the World Heads up and to rest a bit before the WSOP. Well, you will know from the results that we did at least get some rest in.
Ram was unfortunate to draw Ross in the first round and it was a case of patience overcoming aggression. Ross battled his way back from the felt in an epic second round match only to lose to a cold deck final hand. Joe faced Padraig whom he had defeated in the Irish Challenge. This time it was Padraig who hit the cards and Joe said it was a match he was just not meant to win.

I had a fairly easy time of it in the first two rounds, never going behind in either match. But in round three I faced the tricky Spaniard Raul who knocked me out last year. Early on he cracked my Kings and although I lost the minimum, that put me on the back foot. I never hit the front in three hours. When a heads up match goes against you, you often end up with the feeling that you didn’t get your share of cards but I did survive two all-ins before he finally got me, which makes it a fair result.
There were good runs by Pascal Perrault and Dave Colclough and as I write this the final match is in progress between Simon Nowab and Peter Gunnarson.

The World Heads Up is a great event and the organisation and coverage improve every year. However, there will need to be yet more changes to keep up with the changing world. There were more internet qualifiers there this year – including some great guys from Prima who had a good time despite their luggage not arriving until we were all out of the event – but while the field was strong, there were none of the big American faces, many of whom will have played in the $20,000 ESPN heads up invitational which was won by a certain Mr Helmuth (who as far as I know is still a director of the World Heads Up organisation!)

For the travelling player it does not make economic sense to play an EU2,000 event over nine days when you could be out in five minutes and the undercard only includes one biggish comp. It’s tough to balance the needs of local and lower budget players with an event like this but if it is to continue to be seen as the World Championship of heads up poker the buy-in will need to increase. Jon Shorman’s blind structures are, as always, excellent but if a way could be found to allow players to play more than one match it would attract a stronger field and arguably produce a more definitive result. Or to put it another way: The Mob might last a bit longer!

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