17/09/2008

A Short Break

Neil Channing 'Bad Beat'

A few people have asked me why I haven't written a diary recently. Some of them have said very kind things about how they enjoy reading about my travels, and that they've been wondering what's been happening lately. Others are probably secretly thinking, (and hoping), that I've been doing my bollocks and I've been too miserable to write. I did actually hear recently that I lost £85,000 in the Vic in August and that I was doing a good job of losing all the Irish Open money. Although I have tried hard to lose over the last three days, I still seem to have a little bit left.

After Vegas I really needed a break. Everywhere I went, (obviously I only went to places that were infested with poker players), people would constantly ask how I got on in Vegas. Some would ask me if I enjoyed myself. They were really missing the point. I am actually one of the few people I know who could really ENJOY forty-nine nights in Vegas playing twenty-four WSOP events, going back for six day twos and playing six other tournaments. Day after day of setting off with a shot at it. A chance to win hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions of dollars and to achieve immortality. At least poker immortality. Day after day of outlasting 2600 of the 2700 players, getting to the stage where you can really sniff it, and then having it torn away from you. It's really mentally tough to wake up and do it all over again the next morning.

Some might say I've had my luck for this year and that I shouldn't expect anything else, but I know that it doesn't really work that way, and that if you apply yourself anything can happen.

The other aspect of my trip that was tiring, but very profitable, was the staking. People seemed to think that I'd just quit and pull the plug on the whole team once James had got me a result, but I could never do that. The boys were relying on me. They'd made their plans around me, and if I'd offered to help someone by backing them I must honour that obligation. At one stage it looked like it might be slipping away, but Marty's result helped a lot. I also backed a lot of excellent players who, despite not winning anything major, were able to control their losses, or break even by good money management and playing well in satellites and smaller games.

Although I ended up well in front on the backing it caused a lot of work and phone calls and that admin was one of the reasons I couldn't get a break after Vegas. I stayed in London tying things up, collecting and paying out money. I tried to get back into routine in the cash games. It was hard. During my trip I'd made a policy decision. I wasn't going to spend ridiculous hours grinding away in the Vic anymore, but I was going to try and organise a bigger game there, and try to make the same money in less time. This plan has generally been ok. The games are routinely £25/£50 nlh now, with occasional ventures into £50/£100. We only get the game going around three days a week, but it runs for fourteen hours at a time and is very popular. When we "just" play £10/£25 now it seems a bit small. It seems a long time ago that we were debating whether having a £6 straddle in the £3/£3 plh game might kill some of the players too quickly.

Now that I'm not playing every day, I'm able to rest and prepare more. It may sound ridiculous, I mean basically I'm just sitting on my arse playing a game, while nice ladies bring me soup and tea, but these sessions are totally exhausting. Each game is very important now and I have to deal with much bigger variance. I'm having to explain to people that leaving the game on one of these days, to have dinner or a drink, isn't possible, and I'm struggling to not answer twenty phone calls during my session. The variance is obviously the other main change.

A couple of years ago a daily swing of £2500 was pretty big and I would grow my bankroll gradually with no long downswings. In this game it's common for someone to lose fifteen or twenty grand in a session and coping with that is difficult, particularly if you're not going to play for another four days. I've been in this game a little while now though and I think I can manage.

Since May I've played just two European tournaments, which is why I'm not too disappointed at slipping down the rankings list. I always knew it'd be hard to win that one unless I was prepared to totally change my life. The trips to Luton and Bolton were just what you'd expect; I hated Luton as much as I usually do and Bolton was a long way to go for a bad beat. I also didn't have a lot of luck in the PokerMillion, but I had no regrets as there didn't seem much I could do and I felt I played really good.

I finally had my little rest. Seven days of staring out of a rain-splattered window and a ton of sleep. I wouldn't say I'm looking forward to this month of poker madness, but I'm ready for it.