05/12/2007

It's vitally important, as a professional gambler, to keep records. I've always been a stickler, throughout my "career", for writing lots of things on bits of paper. Much of the information has often proved useful, even years later.

People all have different methods of recording the data, some use computer spreadsheets, others have a proper record book, some a diary, while I prefer hundreds of scraps of paper covered in writing that is barely intelligible, even to me.

One prominent Irish player has a great system of recording his poker profits. One day he was talking about what a good time he'd had in the previous few months. The figures he was quoting seemed to stretch credibility just a little. In time-honoured fashion we allowed him to keep rabbiting on without showing any signs of incredulity, waiting until he'd left before all declaring that he'd obviously been talking shit. Only one of our number stuck up for him:

"He told me how his record system works. He only records the winning days. All that time worrying about losses is counterproductive, so he goes through life full of confidence."

The problem with my record keeping is that I spend so much time gambling that I never really stop to analyse my figures. What they would tell me, I'm sure, if I ever looked, is that the Vic, outside of the big poker festivals, is not as profitable for me as it is during them. There are days, that sometimes stretch to weeks, where the place just seems to be populated by the same old faces. While I find that generally comforting, (I can go away to the other side of the world and return several weeks later to find Andrew Georgiou still playing-over while eating the same sandwich), it is, I know, a bad situation fiscally speaking.

One of my favourite scenes in the film "Rounders" is where the New York crowd all end up on the same table in Atlantic City, playing against each other on a holiday weekend, while waiting for the fish to turn up. It's been a bit like that at the Vic lately, and you know things are going bad when the cannibals start eating one another. You also know you must be playing well when, despite these slim pickings, you're generally using the blue pen more than the red one.

Unlike Blackpool, this was a GUKPT event I was really looking forward to. No travelling and exes to worry about, a chance to play on home turf, some large prize-pools and I was in a bit of form.

The first tournament went very smoothly. One hundred runners is a good number for a one thousand pound freeze-out and I played pretty well on day one. I flagged a bit at the end, but was pretty happy to be going back with an above average stack for day two.

I was definitely the most aggressive player on each of the tables I was on that day. In fact I may have been the most aggressive player on any tables, anywhere in the World, live or online, that day. Thanks to a timely 50/50 and a nice full house I went to the final with plenty of chips. I managed to win a race for a third of the chips in play to knock out Davood Mehrmand, before getting a little lucky against Andrew Feldman to get to the last three with 70% of the chips. It was a pretty tough final with some excellent players but I just "knew" from quite early on that I was going to win.

I spent the rest of the night lapping-up the congratulatory messages, and was very happy and proud to finally win a biggish tournament at the Vic, especially as I had to defeat such a tough opponent as Julian Thew heads-up.

When we were talking about the forthcoming smoking-ban at the start of the year, we mostly discussed the health issues, the threat to civil-liberties and whether it might have a profound effect on the PLH game. What hadn't occurred to us was that the Rank bingo business would be left in tatters, there'd be a downturn in casino drop, causing a massive dip in the share-price, leading to enormous cost-cutting measures in all casinos. I had been all in favour of the ban, but now I was winning the first major festival event at the Vic, in my memory, not to have a trophy for the victor, I was dead against it. I'd have to settle for just the glory and the reddies. Just my luck.

The rest of the week was a blur. As part of my prize I won a seat in the Main Event and until then, I planned to put a few hours in at the cash tables. The games played bigger and wilder than usual and my good run of form continued, despite a couple of massive hands that went awry. In between all that I had the heads-up competition to think about.

Jonathan Raab has been someone I've known for quite a few years and I think he's done an excellent job for Bluesquare and Grosvenor in organising the tour. This heads-up tournament was another good idea of his and it was one I was really looking forward to.

In the first round I played DPommo. David Pomroy used to appear on the circuit all the time but since he started dating a 22 year old Page 3 model we just haven’t seen so much of him in Luton, Bolton and Walsall. We had a laugh and the cards made sure that I beat him.

My second round match was against another young internet player Josh Tyler. I think he was a bit disappointed not to beat an old codger, but he's always welcome to pop in for his revenge most nights from about 5pm.

The only person I really didn't want to play was Huseyen Yilmaz. Yilmaz is a young Turkish kid who, at the age of 25, has decided to make his way in the world by coming to London. He joined a language school were he lives in the Halls of Residence, in which he's very popular, alongside three hundred 20-year old women and fifteen guys. Every day he comes to the Vic. He plays very well, is very aggressive, gets the lot while half the room says he can't play (a brilliant skill to perfect), and is living the life. I hate him.

As it was we had a great laugh. Yilmaz definitely had a small edge in the good cards stakes, but he also outplayed me. We ended up in the cash game for the last four hours exchanging banter while he worked on his English. He obviously feels he knows me well now because he asked a question that has troubled him during his time in London:

"What is this doing my bullets that everyone complains about?"

It was some time before I realised that he'd heard people complaining about "doing their bollocks", and the way he's been running, it didn't surprise me that he was unfamiliar with the concept.

The festival ended with the 199-runner Main Event. The field was smaller than expected and had some excellent players in it, but I feel it was a good value tournament, which was really well organised and fun to play. I had an excellent day one, hitting cards, not getting unlucky and playing pretty well, despite suffering from a heavy cold.

I was pretty disappointed at going out early on day two, as I had a lot of chips and liked my table. The cold certainly didn't help, but I think I could mostly blame playing badly. I did manage to struggle in on Sunday to see some good friends in the final. We'd missed Barnsey while he was "having a rest" from The Vic and it was good to see him get a result. Ben Vinson has been playing brilliantly for a while now and I'm sure he'll be glad about his fourth place finish in a few days, even if he's not now.

When I spoke to Mike Ellis during an afternoon cash game last week he was unclear as to whether he'd play the Main Event.

"Tournaments are stupid." he told me, "Such a waste of time and nobody wins from them. I'm a cash player now."

Well played Mike. I'll see you in Vegas.

Neil "Bad Beat" Channing is taking-off for Vegas this week. He might play the odd tournament in his PokerVerdict.com red shirt.