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Barny Boatman
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The wrong kind of rain

WPT LA Poker Classic, Los Angeles
$10,000 No Limit Hold'em
Report by Barny on Monday, 21 February 2005 at 11:14 pm

We’re in Los Angeles for LA Poker Classic and the first person I bumped into at our hotel was Padraig Parkinson who, by a million to one chance, had a funny story to tell. In one of the tournaments earlier in the week he had flicked his cards toward the muck and one of them had slid off the end of the table. Despite the protests of the dealer, and all the players who didn’t see how they could get hold of his chips while he wasn’t there, he was given a twenty minute penalty for ‘throwing cards’.

An hour or so later Sam G – the Mick McManus of poker – was involved in an altercation. The story is that he was attacked, and the two players went rolling across the floor and out of the door trading blows and insults. The penalty? Fifteen minutes. So, as Padraig put it, it’s a more serious offence to drop a card on the floor than a player. Of course, I carry around a large bag of salt for taking with Padraig’s stories, and at the start of the main event they announced that there would be an automatic twenty minute penalty for use of ‘the F word’. Personally I think calling someone a fish is part of the game, but there you are, we’re in the spotlight these days and you have to behave. One poor guy though paid a very heavy price for his taste in music when the floor man heard him singing along to some rap song on his ipod which happened to be making artistic use of the forbidden word. He had to spend twenty minutes off the table and the rest of the day listening to the Osmonds – just in case - .

One particularly daft rule that seems to have taken hold over here is ‘show one show both’. I’m sure it started as a deliberate jokey misreading of ‘show one show all’ but now its enshrined in the tournament directors manual, apparently to prevent players ‘needling’ each other by showing one card from a hand that didn’t get called. This in a country where ‘trash talk’ is an art form universally accepted as part of the game; and where – in cash games- players will show their hands to an opponent while considering a call and show them to each other when passing during a pot.

Having said all that, it is obviously a good thing to maintain and raise standards, which is why I was pleased to see the notice about dress code posted on the wall of the Commerce. Just as in Vegas it is very casual here. Jeans, T-Shirts, shorts, trainers…no problem. There is just one rule; No tank tops! Quite fishin’ right too.

Day one of the main event was long and tough. Our flight had started with a two hour delay and by the time we got to our hotel my body clock was already telling me it was time to get up. I got a couple of hours sleep but by three a.m. I was wide awake. The tournament didn’t kick off until 3.30 p.m. which for me felt like Horlicks time. I was happy with my starting table, the only ‘face’ was Scotty Ngyen a great player who was fresh from a big result in Tunica and – I think it’s fair to say – not particularly hungry. He played to the cameras a bit and was trying to win chips by the force of his personality. He retired to the bar early.

I never seemed to get a big hand or win a big pot but I built steadily all day to about thirty K before losing a big pot which put me back to square one. By the final level Ram and I were both snoozing behind short stacks on adjoining tables. Ram didn’t make it but I managed to hold on to nine thousand. Now all I needed to do was get back to the hotel and get a few hours sleep. Easy!

In Britain traffic chaos is routinely attributed to ‘the wrong kind of leaves’ or ‘the wrong kind of snow’. Here, they’ve been having the wrong kind of rain. It was 2.30 a.m. and three hundred people were struggling to find taxis in the tropical downpour, or get their cars out of valet parking. Our hotel is fifteen minutes walk away, ‘just four muggings from here’ as Padraig puts it, and I might have taken my chances with the desperados but the drenching wasn’t a risk, it was a certainty. Eventualy, I thumbed a lift and crawled into my bed at around three. Ten minutes later I was standing at the front desk with half the guests in the hotel demanding to know why the fire alarm wouldn’t stop ringing. Apparently there is a sensor on the roof which is always set off by heavy rain and there is nothing they can do about it. They don’t do irony in California but there is no way you could strike a match in this weather, let alone burn a hotel down.

Despite everything I was well rested for day two and was very happy with my game. By the dinner break I had around twenty five thousand, not far below average and very playable…I thought. Martin de Knipf winner of last years Belagio 25K event was on my right with the same size stack and he was doing a lot of raising; this was a good position for me.

With the blinds at 500, 1,000 Martin made it three thousand first in line and I moved all-in with Ace-King. He thought a while- a good sign- and then said ‘I think you’ve got tens or jacks or tens and I should call you. ‘You’re telling me you’ve got Ace-Queen?’ I asked him.’ No, he said. ‘Worse’. Now I knew I was in great shape and did my best to look uncomfortable. I wanted the call. In poker you should be careful what you wish for…you might induce it. ‘O.K.’ said Martin, ‘I’ll gamble with you.’ He pushed his chips in and turned over King-Queen off-suit. It’s not the worse beat in the world – he made a straight -. If there was a bad beat at all it was that this hand ever went to a show-down.

Sometimes it gets to you, and this is one of those times. I’m cold, tired, disappointed and there’s nothing to do. Well, not until tomorrow when they’re sending a limo to take us to a Hollywood party at The Scorpion Club. Tough, isn’t it?

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