08/07/2008

A friend of mine helpfully pointed out that casino hosts do not constitute REAL friends and funnily enough I never called Darrick to go for a drink, organise a fleet of helicopters to the canyon or grab us a large table at Tao. I also never played dice again this trip, although I did put in a couple of short spells on the blackjack. I also noticed that James has Darrick on his speedial - I should speak to him about that.

Instead my energies became totally focussed on the World Series of Poker. I'd never really heard of Nikolay Edvekev before this trip. I think I'd seen him pop up at the odd EPT event, but he's only been around about a year and he never really registered with me.

After the near-miss in the PLH I was starting to become aware that I might be able to have an impact on the series via the number of cashes I was getting. Obviously it's way better to win a tournament, or to finish pretty close, than to achieve a minor cash and merely double your money. There's no way I was going to actually play deliberately to try and cash - one of the most strategically successful tactics in tournaments is to push hard around the bubble when others are tightening-up attempting to lock up a cash. I felt though, that by sheer determination and willpower, in setting out to cash, I could achieve a higher level of concentration and give myself a better chance to win. I was attempting to will myself a result.

I certainly was aware that Roland De Wolfe had cashed six times at the WSOP 2007 and that five people currently tied for the record on eight. My cash in the PLH was my fifth from seventeen events and with about seven more events on my personal schedule I had a shot at achieving immortality. The only thing stopping me was this damn Russian. Everywhere I looked he seemed to be playing a tournament, and in every one he seemed to be impossible to eliminate. Pokernews christened him Nikolay "The Cockroach" Edvekev.

There was nothing else for it I'd have to play the $1500 PLO8 tournament. I barely play the game and have never played it in tournament form, but luckily they only really play it as limit out here, most the field are clueless, and I had a secret weapon.

The drunken lesson that Scott Fischman gave me while simultaneously playing blackjack and Casino Texas Hold-'em lasted so long that he became a bit too tired and emotional to wake in time to play his best event. It didn't really help me much either. I felt a bit guilty that he missed it, I tried to follow his advice but I just couldn't hit a draw. We did have a fun night taking the piss out of Scott over the stories of him being skint that are always on 2+2. He didn't seem to mind and told us about the elevator in his new house.

If I couldn't get one by skill, maybe I could buy a bracelet. I set off with a pocketful of thousand chips and a bellyful of gamble to the $1000 with rebuys. The rest of the table weren't really in the mood to gamble though, and most of my powder stayed dry. I got myself to double the average for a modest $4000 and a very promising looking squeeze situation may well have worked if the original raiser hadn't had aces.

The Thursday $5000 Six-Handed was the event everyone talked about the most. As in past years there wasn't a person in the Rio who didn't mark this down as THEIR specialist event. I was more realistic and remembered that last year's event had one of the toughest fields of the whole series. It was the fact that I was drawn on one of the easier tables in the room that made me most disappointed about my performance. I made a completely amateurish play to get eliminated and had allowed myself to lose vital focus. I was very upset and would usually have taken some time off, but with the record in mind, I just ploughed straight on into the next event.

On Saturday I finally joined the elite of sickos and entered a new event, even though I was through to day two of the previous one. I was able to play two hours of Event #49 before going over to my ten big blinds remaining in Event #48. It all seemed a bit of a tight schedule but I made things less frantic by getting knocked out in eighteen minutes of the Friday one. The second one took me twenty-four hours longer to bust in, I was eventually forty-third of the 2718 people, which locked me up my sixth and seventh cash. It also meant I was to miss the $10k PLO where "The Cockroach" was clocking up cash number ten.

At that point I decided to sit back and relax. I'd just have the one $1500 NLH and the main event to play now and if I couldn't get my eighth cash out of those two it just wasn't to be.

As for winning money, I might have to rely on my horses in the $10k PLO. I wasn't feeling too confident and James' second place in Event #2, and a large chunk of the money that went with it, was seeming to be a long way away. I had shares with four people in this tough field. Maybe some of the luck that being The Irish Open Champion can bring you would come my way. 

Neil "Bad Beat" Channing is hoping to outperform all his "horses", with the help of his lucky PokerVerdict jersey, in the Main Event.