22/04/2013

Living the Dream

Neil Channing 'Bad Beat'

Pretty unusually I had a dream about poker last night. It was fairly vivid, in that I could remember the hands and the suits, but I'm not sure where we were. It was definitely abroad in a hot country, but the players seemed to speak English.

A young hotshot kid opened to 800 at 200/400(50) and two people called. I was in the big blind with the ol' Td-7d and decided that this could be a great spot to shove my 10,000.

The kid folded instantly and just as instantly the middle guy called. I distinctly heard him tell his neighbour:

"I don't really know why I'm calling. This guy always seems to have it and he hasn't played a hand for ages."

Marvellous. How do I always seem to find these people, even in my dreams, when I've also obviously made the effort to travel?

The small blind now gave it a full one minute and then called.

The ice cream turned over pocket fours with a "what was I supposed to do?" shrug and the small blind eventually revealed his aces.

Classy.

Sir, we don't play like that in my dreams.

The fours flopped a set and I made a backdoor gutshot and a flush.

I gave the slowroller a piece of my mind. By now my subconcious was telling me this was a dream and I could feel myself waking up, so I thought I may as well really slag him off. Even if he shot me dead I'd be awake in a minute.

I haven't really played much poker so far this year (for a professional poker player), and I also haven't written many, or any, blogs (for a Top Blogger in British Poker - Bluff Awards).

I started the year in Sydney and then Melbourne.

Both are great cities; they definitely each have a character of their own and it was really great to come away feeling that I'd gotten to know them both so much better. I can now go to either and walk around with the confidence of a local, which I really like.

It's obviously quite expensive to fly to Oz, but if you do get the chance I would highly recommend it.

Poker players often like to boast about how rich they are and I have noticed that whenever they go to Melbourne to play they always Tweet and blog a lot about how great the Crown is and how they look after you and are so hospitable and how they'll be back soon. I always assumed that this was just a way of showing other people that they can easily afford to fly thousands of miles away and live in expensive luxury hotels. I'm now starting to think they must be getting shitloads of free stuff from tthe Crown.

I'd just like to say how friendly everyone at the casino was and how I always love my time in Melbourne and how the Crown is one of the nicest places to play poker.

I actually did pretty good there.

In the first event I played, which was six-max, I got a double average stack in versus another double average stack. There were 120 left from about 450 and I had a set while the lady had a pocket pair of aces. However, she made a backdoor flush and after five recounts I was out by just a 1,000 chip.

The floor joined the scene as I was walking away and they were about to mash all the chips and push the pot. Another recount followed. I'd seen enough and was halfway out the door, but it seemed as though I had 1,400 left at 600/1,200(100).

By the time of the bubble I'd climbed to five big blinds.

With nine players left I was fourth.

I finished ninth with twenty seconds to spare before late registration ended in the rebuy event. I entered and spent the maximum. I got a bit lucky early and eventually came fifth.

The Main Event went great on Day 1 and really bad on Day 2. Some bad news from home between the days probably didn't help.

People that really don't know me asked me which Day 1 I was playing at EPT London. People that really know me said:

"It's a shame you'll have to miss it."

They know that even if the EPT is happening two miles away, there is literally zero chance that I would miss the Cheltenham Festival for poker.

The racing meant I missed most of the side events too, but I wasn't too upset as I was able to play the UKIPT.

Generally I love the UKIPT, but I hated this one.

The Vic has played an important part in my life and although I'm not there so often, it still has a place in my heart. I love the building and what it represents and I have a lot of good friends there.

It wasn't fun to see a major international corporate company come in and start taking over.

I showed up to play my Day 1 and was immediately forced to queue to get a player's card. I don't have a Nectar or Starbucks card and I only recently got an Oyster card. I think a lot of poker players just avoid stuff like that.

I was asked for picture I.D.

This isn't the US of A. We don't do that stuff here.

"Haven't you got your driver's license?"

"I don't have a car."

"What about your passport?"

"I'm not planning a holiday."

I walked two miles to play a poker tournament in a casino I've been a member of for 25 years. They have my details on their system? Why do I even want a PokerStars Live card when I don't even play on their site?

Two more people asked for picture I.D. and I finally sat at the table to play at 12.15 p.m. They hadn't dealt a hand yet as the dealer was checking all the picture I.D.s and we finally got our first hand after the clock had burned off thirty minutes.

I had been asked to take my phone off the table, don't have it on the rail, don't use it between hands when the first card has been dealt, and don't look at it in hands without stepping away from the table - even though I had folded - by four different dealers before anyone had even brought me a cup of tea.

You mean I am paying seventy pounds in juice plus three percent for the dealers that they just take and I'm going to be treated like shit? In Marbella you can throw in an extra four percent on top, making ten percent juice plus seven percent to pay for the floor staff and dealers. Would it be too much to ask that the multibillion-dollar international poker company pays the wages?

I thought the UKIPT had won the war over the GUKPT, but I have to say that the GUKPT London, which was held at the Vic a couple of weeks before was so much better. The dealers on the UKIPT are all supposed to be experienced as they travel around, but I saw so many examples of bad attitude, poor attention to detail, and failure to follow the correct procedures, yet, meanwhile, there was a zealous obsession with the exact change being made to put all the blinds out before they could ever deal a hand and a constant need to scold the children over using their phones.

I voted with my feet and didn't go back at all until the day after the EPT.

I did squeeze in a very nice cash session, though - which turned out to be my first one in the Vic for a whole year - before I headed off to Dublin to win the Irish Open.

I'll tell you how that worked out next time.

Neil Channing took on the Irish Open and played for the UK in an International Team Event, but now his whole focus is on the year's big event: Black Belt East End Live II.