02/02/2009

Living is Easy

Neil Channing 'Bad Beat'

Generally I'm an enormous fan of poker bloggers. The reporters who follow the tour round from casino to casino giving updates on chip stacks and colourful reports on the day's activities are an integral part of the whole circus now. I try to be helpful with my chip counts, and to point out things I've noticed that might be interesting for them, and there are a few who I'm always really pleased to see. I do have a pet peeve though, and that's when the reporters start to add too many opinions on people's strategy, and generally comment on how they think the game should be played.

In the $1500 bounty tournament the PokerNews man was continuously complaining about the amount of action on our shootout table. He didn't feel like the limping and seeing flops, as well as the small-ball poker through the streets, or the raise and take it (rather than raise, reraise, rereraise), was what ought to be happening at all. He also alluded several times to the fact that this was a worse standard than could be found on the internet. I wouldn't have minded but I was seventh of eight in chips on the table and this was actually the way I'd chosen to play. I also didn't appreciate him vocalising his views within earshot of the table. Writing them was bad enough. I started to think that if he was such a bleedin' expert why didn't he pull up the $1650, quit his reporting job and sit down and give us a poker lesson.

In the end we played three-handed for an hour, I reraised with Q9 and K9, running into AK and QQ and beating both of them. I then knocked that same poor guy out when he called off with 77 against AK and I rivered a straight. PokerNews managed to miscount my chip stack and didn't realise I was second in chips going into the final.

I played so well in the rebuy event and got nothing, and played nowhere near as well in this bounty event to finish 5th. We took a long time to knock anyone out (a floorman came to discuss it with the PokerNews blogger and they concluded we had no gamble, at which point I suggested he could sit in, and I'd take over his role of standing around trying to look busy). There were one or two hands which I could have played differently and the massive relapse of my cold didn't help. In the end I was pretty dissappointed to get $31,500, but at least it meant I would now have a free trip.

Thanks to the excellence of the UK's blogging fraternity I was able to follow the GUKPT at Brighton. Somehow I'd managed to invest way more than the 5th prize from the bounty event in this one. I'd need a result. Not for the first time it all came down to Ramsey.

Ramsey Ajram was such a shy young lad when he started regularly coming to the Vic. His mate Rory Campbell was cracking away in the 10/25 game but Ramsey was so modest and sensible, accepting the fact that the pony max sit-down was all his bankroll could stand. I was relieved to find he lived round the corner, as I started to worry he was stalking me when I couldn't nip out for some milk without bumping in to him.

In recent months we've teamed up to get him into some bigger games and however badly I'm doing I can always rely on Ramsey to report in with a profit on the week. Since he seems to have cracked the cash games I thought he might as well send himself as insane as the rest of us by playing a few tournaments with his profits. Wouldn't you know it?, it turns out he's pretty good at these too. He might just end up being one of the greats. If he can avoid running his aces into nines and finishing 6th that is.

Enthused by Ramsey's effort I head into the $10k Aussie Millions Main Event determined to enjoy myself and to be patient and take advantage of the great structure (20k starting chips, 90 minute clock). Obviously I start making massive squeezes with AQ and AJ after about an hour. For those who have never played this tournament before I would highly recommend it. There are an enormous amount of qualifiers, playing the type of event they have no experience of for a big prize. These guys wouldn't pass two sixes with a shot-gun at their head so when I'm taking them on with AJ you have to ask "Who's the dummy?"

Eventually I get back to average and get a great table move. Three to my right is a businessman determined to make day two at any price, to his right a lady who plays pretty conservatively but maintains her chips without showing a hand and on my left a guy who must have entered the satellite because of a misclick. On my right are three young whizzkids who spend their whole time giving free poker lessons and never missing a chance to talk about fold equity/ranges/reshove requirements and to loudly point out their views on the other players. I figure they are unsure of me, they can see I'm too old to be an internet legend, yet they've never seen me live. They decide I can't really play.

It's perfect. They start to really squabble over the blinds to my left, opening from earlier and earlier position with lighter and lighter holdings. I'm able to make squeeze after squeeze and there's nothing they can do. I then flop two sets and get to show them down and now they are convinced I'm just running good. Every time I decide not to reraise the lady seems to have a hand. One guy reluctantly fold to her when she just limit reraises.

Eventually when I raise the ladies blind with my pocket kings she reraises me. I just call and then check-call her all in on the flop. She has A5 for no pair/no draw and I shake her hand while she looks a little sheepish.

It's twenty minutes from the end of the day and I let the lady leave before turning on the kids.

"She was 3-betting you boys for fun all day! A5! You must be sick about the one you laid down when she clicked it back at you. Every time you guys made a move she put it in your eye. You might want to review your four-bet shove range there."

They didn't seem to find it quite as funny as I did.

Day two was decidedly less amusing. It came down to two hands. In the first I raised to 2200 with AA from the cutoff. I had over 75k with the average at 45k and had raised twelve of the eighteen hands we'd played so far. The button made it 7200 which you would do with JJ against a serial raiser. I now made it 17,200. He called after some thought, leaving himself 30k. I checked the K,8,2 rainbow flop desperate to not lose AQ or JJ/10,10. He checked behind. when the deuce paired on the turn I bet 10k hoping to get him to move-in which he did.

The man who said "good call" when the jack fell on the river was utg+1 in my exit hand. He called the aggressive chip leaders UTG raise and I made it 10k to go from the button with QQ leaving myself 18k. The original raiser folded and having just called with 99 before this genius now chose to reraise and set me in when I can't fold. He's obviously very good at flopping sets.

The two hands were painful, the first beat was one of my worst ever, but it's always easier when you know you played right and there just wasn't anything I could do.

I'd just have to content myself with the last couple of small events, some lovely meals, days at the beech, a day at the races, another at the tennis and long, lazy summer afternoons by the pool.

Neil "Bad Beat" Channing has a few more days lolling about before coming home to work hard at starting BlackBeltPoker.com