If I was the sort of person who only judges things by the total winnings accrued in poker tournaments, I might come to the conclusion that I've not had quite as good a 2009 as I had 2008.
In order to try and improve my year generally I thought I'd go to Dublin. Maybe it's the only place I can win.
Paul Spillane was again pretending to organise the IPO, while really his excellent team at BoylePoker ran the thing like clockwork, despite him. They managed to get 1,440 players this year, including the now traditional, enormous load of froggies, people from The Netherlands, the mandatory load of Scandis and even people from Luxembourg. I was a bounty and here mainly for a fun weekend, but I wanted to win it just as much as anyone.
I've heard of people booking cheap flights to Dublin for a quid and I'm pretty sure it is possible. I'm just not really that organised though. My average flight to Dublin is normally at least a bottle. This time I broke all records by booking just two hours before I was due to take off, throwing some stuff in a bag and rushing to Heathrow. They let me in the lounge to enjoy the one-hour delay and I reflected on how I could be 8,000 miles away for the same money.
On arrival I dived straight into the €50 side event and got busted pretty efficiently, so I was able to head out for a few drinks and a bite to eat with the excellent line-up of Andy Ward, Paul Parker and the Paper Boy. By a lucky coincidence the Boyles’ crew were in the same restaurant so the bill was taken care of. Those shrewdies knew to close it as they left though, while we were just deciding on our after-dinner liqueurs.
If I had to choose a tournament this year to run like God in it probably wouldn't be the IPO. I do love the event, but I guess I might select the WSOP Main to raise with 7-7 and flop 7-2-2 after getting six callers. I'd probably pick Monte Carlo to raise four hands in a round and then pick up Q-Q the first time somebody shoved on me, and I'd definitely consider the WSOPE Main to flop flush over flush on the first level.
Just as I was moaning to myself about being lucky I found Q-Q and did the lot to an aggro guy with A-A. I now started to realise that I'd really wanted to win it.
The rest of the weekend was spent catching up with old friends. This year's been so hectic I really have been bad at keeping up with everyone. It was great to cheer for Jesse and Chufty who both went deep, and it's always fun to sign autographs and pose for pictures. It helps to remind me how lucky I've been. I also sat in a cash game for a bit while slightly drunk. I don't normally play much 2/5, but at one stage I was wondering why not, as I looked set to bust the table. I ended up fading a little as the early hours set in, but I got some wages.
I decided not to fly back to London but to stay in Dublin. I had a stack of emails, Facebook messages and messages on Black Belt Poker to deal with and as I would be returning the following weekend anyway, I thought I'd save the carbon footprint and do them in Dublin.
It was really nice in the end. I bumped into some lovely people, got enormous amounts of sleep, ate a lot of room service and really caught myself up.
I did venture out to play poker one night. I took a trip to the Voodoo Club, which is a kind of Gutshot in Dublin. I played the €25 turbo tournie and the €1/2 cash game, in which I dug a big hole and then dug my way out. It was fun, there were lots of people there, mostly new to poker, who were eager to learn and improve. They all seemed to enjoy it a lot.
On the Friday I checked into Citywest. I remember going up the drive and thinking warm thoughts about the place and the happy memories I have about my times there. I played the small super-satellite for the Winter Festival €1,500 main event, purely as a way to avoid drinking for a night. I got busted on a mistake quite close to a seat, but I was happy enough.
In the morning I relaxed with a swim, a steam and a sauna and then went off and played the best I've played in any MTT this year.
During our last break at 10.45pm I went to my room to get some cash. I'd left all my money in my briefcase. The Citywest doesn't have safes in the rooms and I'd meant to take it to reception to the safe there. It was a bit late now.
I don't really want to talk too much about the robbery. I'm a bit upset over it and obviously felt I'd been specifically targeted. I'm clearly an idiot for leaving it in my room and there isn't much I can do. I was also unlucky to be on the floor with no CCTV and to have had such a lot of cash.
My head went a bit for the last two hours of play that night. I ended up with a small stack which staggered on for a little bit on Day Two until I managed to lose it and rush to the airport. I'm a bit sad that my memories of the place have been tarnished a little and it makes me less keen to rush back there. The Irish Open is moving in 2010 and I guess I'll never go back to Citywest now.
Back at the Vic I found myself calling a raise with Ad-Qh from the big blind. A flop of Kh-Js-Ts seemed to match well with my hand and so I made a small bet. By the time it got round to me four people had shown an interest and two were all in. I got one of the other two to shove his lot in as well. Two blanks later and I was out of it on robberies for the week.
The biggest tournament of the week for me was on the Sunday. I'd spent two months trying to get people to grab themselves $5,000 that I was giving away in a freeroll on Black Belt Poker. I'd managed to persuade 275 hungry faces that it was worth staying in on a Sunday to get some of the loot. My other friends must just be too rich, very lazy or quite probably both.
It turned out to be a fun night. I thought I ran good in the IPO but I ain't seen nothing yet.
I was particularly pleased at knocking out Nik Persaud in eighth. It saved the company $200 for his bounty. I was also glad to finish second for $500. If I just knew how to play heads-up I might have really given us a cheap promotion.
Maybe my year is changing, which is lucky as it's nearly November 7th...
Neil Channing is off to Vegas, to watch poker.