05/07/2010

One of the things I often bang on about when talking to people about the WSOP is adapting. I have often noticed players who are very bad at playing the correct type of poker against the people on their table. I see a lot of very talented younger, Internet players making the same mistakes over and over. They describe situations as “standard” and attempt to play the game purely “by numbers”. They don’t see that in the live environment we are playing a different kind of poker and that the game is about people. Many of these players are not allowing their undoubted talent to shine through, and I see them losing their chips to way less talented players, because of a simple failure to adapt.

James Dempsey is someone who I hope is learning to adapt. He is clearly very talented, but was definitely guilty of approaching live poker tournaments as if they were exactly the same as online ones. He was also a little guilty of thinking that the aim of the tournament is to prove that he is clearly the best player on the planet.

I’m glad that he’s started to realise that it’s all about making money and I think maybe his bracelet came from that realisation. I was pleased for him. The singing disturbed me a little though. I was busy trying to bash up Americans.

While I was pretty happy for James, I was absolutely delighted for Chufty.

Richard Ashby has never been one to want to prove that he’s the world’s best. He’s always gone for the modest approach.

When I worked for IG Index as a sports trader, Richard worked on the financial desk. Traders often used to doze off during the night shift but Richard’s duvet and pillow were considered to be taking things too far.

Poker became Richard’s new career and he rose through the stakes very quickly. The rise was a little too quick at first, but Richard had the humility to drop down and grind his way back up from the smaller limits to the $25/50 Pot Limit Omaha games several times before he managed to play them regularly without going broke. The last time he fought back to $25/50, he made the further climb from the foothills to the pinnacle and became a regular in all the online nosebleed games.

I’ve lost count of the number of times that somebody has told me how lucky Richard is or how he’s certain to go skint. I’ve watched him in action though. I’m pretty sure that some coaching from a top online player could iron out some technical flaws in Richard’s game. I’m also certain that it’s very difficult to find somebody to teach you to have the natural flair for the game that Richard has. He’s also very smart and he’ll undoubtedly iron out his own flaws as the years progress. It would be pretty hard for a player to learn to have the heart and gamble that Richard has.

Most of those people who say that he’s a luckbox who is sure to go broke have won nowhere near as much as Richard made last year alone, and will never ever make as much as he is really capable of doing in his life.

Although he is modest and self-deprecating, I know how the criticisms he gets do hurt, so I’m sure that winning a bracelet will really help in confidence. He’ll be even happier that he won it in Stud - a game he loves to play.

My own week was spent breaking all my own rules and making the mistakes I’ve been spotting in others. I was just thinking how Jon Turner, who was on my table in the $1500 Six-Max last year also, plays way too many pots and three-bets way too often in the first level, when we got broken. I then proceeded to play way too many pots on my new table.

In this event I was out with T-7 of diamonds on a T-7-3 board. The guy had T-T. In the $1,000 later in the week I had K-Q on a flop of K-Q-8 against a guy with 8-8. In the Pot Limit Omaha, I turned an underhouse. In all of these pots if I wasn’t being honest with myself I could convince myself I was unlucky. In truth, though, I should never have been in any of the pots. In all three I was underestimating my opponents and attempting to run over tables that didn’t have people who could be run over on them. In between those ones I got busted from the $5,000 No Limit Hold’em, an event where I was weak and quite poor, and the $2,500 Six-Max, where I broke a rule and got extremely busy with two sevens very early on simply because I found my opponent annoying and arrogant. That’s the way to teach him, Neil, give him all your chips.

I’m such an idiot sometimes.

I was somewhat happier after the $2,500 Pot Limit Omaha event. I got busted after just a few hours, but I felt like I really played well, I was concentrating much better and I was genuinely unlucky this time. I walked to the Rio full of confidence the next day.

Event #30 on Wednesday 16th was one of the $1,500 No Limit Hold’em events I may not have played. With a choice of the $5,000 Six-Max at noon or the $2,500 Round of Each at 5pm on Thursday, it would be annoying to have to come back on Day Two of this one with few chips. Maybe it was this feeling of “get chips or get out” that helped me to really go for it, or maybe it was just some grit and determination I dug up from somewhere.

I got my stack to 15,000 quite quickly and was not going to stop there. For three hours I played around seven hands a round and I went from 15,000 to 6,000 to 15,000 to 7,000 and back to 15,000. I was betting at everything and playing some poker that alternated between genius and deranged.

I eventually broke through. The third time I got back to 15,000 I quickly took my stack to 36,000 and then to 52,000 at dinner. The chip average was showing at 13,000 and soon after eating I had it up to 87,000 with the average at 16,000. I was clear chip leader of the 880 players remaining. I would end the day with 117,000. It felt great.

On Thursday I dismissed thoughts of playing the $5,000 Six-Max and Day Two of the $1,500 simultaneously and I wasn’t going to think about the 5pm Round of Each. I was expecting to go deep in this lying fourth of the 300 left.

Within 20 minutes I’d lost a race with A-K versus J-J which sent me down to 35,000. I would have had 170,000. The average was now 50,000. It was so unfair. I’d made thousands of decisions in hundreds of pots on Wednesday, I’d been so in tune and I’d got myself into a great spot. Now, one coin flip had meant I would soon be out. Tournaments are so stupid.

Just as the Poker Gods tortured me they now decided to rescue me. I got it in with Q-Q versus J-J and A-K to get back to twice the average. Eight hours later and we were bagging for the day.

In the last three hours, I’d gone from three-bet shoving and getting it through with 4-3 off against a guy who reluctantly folded pocket threes to winning a couple of big pots to take the chip lead with 35 left, to struggling for two hours while watching Carlos Mortenson scare the pants off of everyone, while I slipped to half the average. I was then dealt the hand to eliminate Carlos, one of my true poker heroes, right at the end of the day.

I would be coming back with an average stack needing to see off 20 people. It didn’t sound that hard. For the second time this summer I could go to sleep and dream of the bracelet.

My diary has got a bit behind. I’ll try and catch things up soon. For those who prefer their news up-to-the-minute, follow SenseiChanning on Twitter.