Different Strokes

In case anyone asks me where I was when the news of Black Friday came through, I can actually remember quite clearly. I was standing by the side of Warren Lush, the P.R. supremo for Party Poker. ‘Lush the Gush’ can occasionally be guilty of ever-so-slightly overeacting to a story, but I think, in this case, we should forgive him for being excited.

"It’s happened," he said.

I was just about to start playing poker. I was planning to play poker for stakes higher than I’ve played this year, for 48-hours. Now all I wanted to do was get on the Internet and read about the FBI and the end of poker as we know it. I wanted to see if the two biggest sites were going bust, if people I know would be thrown in jail and if owners of European poker sites who have been refusing US players were about to become really rich.

First I had to deal with the Party Poker Big Game though.

I played for 14 hours and I made two lay-downs. Both were totally standard lay-downs I would usually make. I felt that both would be scrutinised on the Internet and I’d be labelled a nit. I would make them again tomorrow.

I lost a big pot with A-4 of clubs on a flop of A-4-5. Annette had been raising with 2-3, obviously.

After 14 hours, the public voted me off at 10.30am. I was doing £8,000.

At 11am, I went into the commentary box and I stayed there, chatting about poker with my good friend Jesse May until 1am.

At 1am, they dragged us away from the microphones. I can remember two occasions where Jesse had asked me a question and when I came to answer the flop was not the one that I remembered seeing when I last looked at the screen.

I had been expecting to play for 48 hours so I didn’t book a hotel. Luckily, Roland [De Wolfe] kindly let me sleep in his room. It was quite a big double bed so there was really no need for spooning and the snoring probably kept him at bay.

After nine hours sleep, I woke and immediately began watching the game on the Internet stream. Roland was now on the screen on my computer.

I went to Nandos and ate with James Mitchell and Luke [Schwartz]. Apparently, I’m weird as I always eat steak in Nandos.

Now rested, washed and fed, I got the old judo suit back on and went to play again.

This time, I made two non-standard lay-downs. I’m sure both would get me labelled a nit by certain people on the Internet. I’ll probably only get called that for one of them though. It was a tricky hand and I thought I could be folding the best hand, and that maybe Toby Lewis wasn’t a person to make big folds to. I had to decide though and I decided to fold. The other one was easier and I was right. I probably saved myself £15,000.

In the end, I lost £20,000. It was £20,000 of my money though. Some people thought I’d played way too tight. What I did notice is that most of the winners that weekend played tight with their own money and most of the losers played like they were having fun with other people’s.

After a few days of reading every single item about online poker I could find on the Internet I was off on my travels again.

The Irish Open was a total blast. I got through day one with slightly more than the average and I played pretty well throughout apart from an hour or so on Day 2 where I played pretty badly. In the end, I busted a few spots away from the bubble having grinded the short stack like a man with no food in his fridge.

I find these days that I’m loving the commentating as much as I am playing and over the weekend some people were very complementary about that. Paddy Power provided a live stream and Emmet and Bex were kind/foolish enough to hand me the microphone. They didn’t get it back. The live stream had a live chatbox. I found it a little demoralising to be commentating while reading a constant stream of the cruelest insults you can imagine. I soldiered on though. Haters gonna hate.

I did feel I ought to play some more poker, though, so I late-regged for the 1,000 Euro side event. I was going very well in it until a few hands from the end of Day 1 when a sick cooler gave the guy aces at exactly the same time as I was dealt Q-7 of clubs under the gun.

I came back on Day 2 and played like a man with no fridge. I managed to get from 20 percent of average 30 spots off the money to in the money with double average. I was only able to convert that into a min-cash though.

I had followed the final throughout and watched as John Eames was knocked out early. I was glad I turned down the side bet with him – I think he’s too good now and I’ve quit – but was still sad for him. I didn’t speak to him as I didn’t have anything to say that would help much.

When Surinder [Sunar] came second, I told him that we needed to get him to watch some training videos about playing a 20 big blind stack. He was a bit disappointed but he played very well.

He’s a funny character, Mr. Sunar. He’s been around forever and it wasn’t until we were teammates in the Poker Nation’s Cup that we really started speaking. I find him a total pain in the arse and somebody who is good to talk to in about equal measure. His game definitely doesn’t get the seal of approval from many players who don’t have in excess of $4.5 million in tournament cashes. A lot of them haven’t even got close to his $750,000 in the last three years.

I find No Limit Hold’em interesting because so many different styles can be effective. Luckily for Surinder and also for me, there are players that will never get that and, luckily for Surinder, he will never care.

Following his min-cash, Neil Channing thought he’d strike while in form. He’s taking some Black Belt Poker patches off to Madrid for the EPT Grand Final.