26/10/2007

With both the number of EPT tournaments and the entry fee for each one rising this year, I had been planning to only play two or three events. London, and principally The Vic, is my home though, so this leg would always be the most important one to me. It was so good to have a local champion last year, and I'd caught myself secretly dreaming that this time round it could be my turn.

Having played great and run well to win a satellite seat, I showed up prepared for a long day. Twenty minutes later I began to feel a bit disappointed as I recounted my remaining 2200. I don't think I played the AcKc perfectly on a flop of Kd6c4c, but I think it was hard to not lose a few chips. The other guy was a bit of an old codger, didn't speak more than a smattering of English, and had earlier asked the dealer to remember to give him a hand while he nipped to the loo. By the time I realised he could easily have KK it was a bit too late.

I played well to fight my way back to 8000, but I was still being impatient and self-pitying. "Why do I always bump into these hands early on?", "Why can't I flop a set and get an early birthday present like that ice-cream?" I found myself asking more than once.

Eventually I played a 12k pot where I was in very good shape versus the same foreign gentleman as before. He hadn't said too much, but he'd looked a bit Spanish or Portuguese I figured. It wasn't until he chose to play his K10 like that that I realised he was obviously French. They ought to be made to wear berets and strings of onions just to warn you.

The week before the EPT Main Event had been a tough one for me in the cash games. I'd now got a bit of additional unplanned free time to try and turn things around. The fact that the room was full of super-rich, super-aggressive Scandinavians, and that I'd be playing NLH (as oppose to PLH) for slightly larger than normal stakes with some very fine hold 'em players, many of whom would often be drunk, made for a potentially interesting week.

In the end, not only did I turn things around, but I also enjoyed and challenged myself. The Norwegians who came to the EPT this year may be the nicest group of players I've ever come across. They won and lost large sums, drunk an enormous amount of alcohol and kept a smile and a good word for everyone. I'm hoping they come and visit again soon.

You'd think the next week would be a nice restful one. The games would be a bit quieter with far less tourists around, they would play much smaller with all the high-rollers gone, and I could just quietly build on the good work of the previous week. Alternatively I could take a few days off, give myself a well-earned break and mentally prepare for the GUKPT Festival which would be hitting the Vic in just a week or so. In fact anyone with the wealth of experience that I have of gambling situations couldn't possibly get themselves into trouble on a week like this unless they were a complete moron.

I did my bollocks.

I was so cross with myself for getting involved in big pots out of position against some of the Vic's tough stalwarts, and chasing after people who weren't really planning to gamble in bad games, that I decided to take it out on my money.

I spent much of the early parts of the GUKPT festival punishing myself. I was playing very long sessions day after day without a break, and I wasn't even playing well. When you throw in a couple of frustrating tournaments and one or two terrible bad beats in big pots, things were beginning to get me down.

We'd reached Leg 9 of the tour and, thanks to those nice people at PokerVerdict.com, I'd played them all. Unfortunately I hadn't cashed in a single one, let alone made a final. I'd barely been involved on any of the day two's and in the last three legs had not been required to post an ante. If I was going to get something going, it'd be nice to do it on home turf.

Unfortunately it was a familiar story. I got a few big hands, but I never got paid on them. I tried a few bluffs, my timing could not have been worse. I made a big call, he had his hand.

I would have to wait until Blackpool.

With two of the Vic's three big festivals virtually over I was facing the prospect of a few weeks of struggling. The games would be quieter, I was feeling burnt out, I wasn't even enjoying it.

I needed some time out. A night celebrating my old mate The Camel's 40th Birthday could be just the thing. Great company, good food and a bit of nostalgia should do the trick. The Camel even paid the bill!

It just didn't seem to work though. I found Keith's birthday just reminding me of my own impending milestone, and the targets and goals I once set, which I seem sure to not achieve by then. Is three hundred days a year at The Vic for the next 30 years all I have to look forward to? I was starting to become a right misery guts.

Luckily for me I've snapped myself right out of it. I obviously realise that my angst and melancholy are just self absorbed self-pity. My problems are fairly minor really. I have a good life, the freedom to do what I want and go where I want, whenever I want. I have lovely friends who care for me, and a family who I don't see enough of. Certainly all of these things are more important than any amount of money.

The losses I've suffered recently are really nothing. After a short break I'll start working on getting them back. Meanwhile I'll start working on regaining my perspective. Someone close to me has suffered real loss this week. I can't imagine the pain that they're feeling but my thoughts and sympathies are with them.

Neil Channing will be playing less poker this week, saving PokerVerdict.com some money.