It's not all just gravy this staking people lark. After the celebrations that followed James' second place in event #2 there's been quite a lot of heartache.
Tony Phillips has been a sponsored PokerVerdict pro for just a short time now. He's very young and inexperienced, but the people there have great faith in his abilities, and hope they've spotted his potential early. We had always thought of him as a no-limit hold 'em player though.
The $1500 PLO freezeout gives you just $3000 in starting chips on a one-hour clock, so it's like the World Championships of short-stack omaha. Really Chufty should be the enormous favourite here. With ten people left it's looking good for "our" man Ginger Tony. He's second in chips behind the massive chip leader Vanessa Selbst and he's miles clear of the third. A couple of guys have only three or four big blinds left. She'll know not to tangle with him and he needs just to avoid her to make the final.
AAQ9 doesn't seem a bad hand to reraise the chip leader with, surely he's telling her he's got aces. She's only committed about 15% of her chips so you'd think she might pass 89JK. Whoops, she's called. Good game, nice hand, well played. She'll be alright.
Tony's taken it very well, I'm proud of him really. Hopefully by now he'll have realised it's a result he can be proud of and there's plenty more time to do even better.
More pain was to come via RiverDave. In fact a lot of pain in my poker life comes from RiverDave. Two years ago at the WSOP Dave turned $27 into $500,000. I sweated and strained through virtually every dollar, funking hard for him all the way. I wasn't really around so much when he turned it back into $27 again, but I did get temporarily excited again when he turned his frequent player points into another six figure sum.
With around one hundred people left in the "round of each" bracelet ($2500 half PLO, half PLH) there were so many people I'd have been happy to see win it didn't really matter.
Coming into day two Henning Granstad was second only to the legend that is RiverDave and Jeff and Alan were hanging in there too. Looking down the list I couldn't fathom how I'd failed to buy a large share in Nick Gibson or JP Kelly but I was (sort of) funking for them also.
With 50 left Dave had a massive lead and with 27 left he was still third. His demise started to feel inevitable though as with 18 left he slipped to last place. In the end Dave was a commendable 10th. He did well to last that long with the chips he had, and he was only one slice of luck away from a final table. I know he was pretty sick.
While I was happy to see the one-armed pirate (maybe he can get a hook?) Max Pescatori win his second bracelet, it doesn't really feel like a European win, given that he lives in Vegas. It's also a bit sickening that Italy are leading the Brits 1-0 in bracelets. At least he's a (semi) Vic regular.
A couple of days before all this Dave had asked me for $1280 that I owed him. He called me and asked if I could send it via PokerStars as there was a tournament he wanted to play. I couldn't access my computer at the time, so I made what some might call a bold, and slightly dangerous decision, and gave Dave my password so he could transfer the money to himself.
It wasn't long before I was back online and I noticed the transfer was successfully done. I had the email from PokerStars to confirm wishing: "Good luck to you both."
A little later I was writing some emails and I noticed another one from Stars. Again they were wishing RiverDave and I the best of luck and I seemed to be transferring him $5000. Marvellous.
At this point a normal person might pick up the 'phone and engage in some sort of discussion or even a light argument, but I'm just too soft really. I decided to go and have a swim and leave him too it. By the time I went to bed that night the people of PokerStars had wished me so much good luck I knew I must be due a bracelet soon.
Dave hasn't done all the money. Three times he's transferred it back, and once he was down to just frequent player points. I just spoke to him and he's promised to lock himself in his room at the Bellagio, working away, until PokerStars wish me one more large slice of luck after which I'll immediately change my password.
My own poker has just been hard work really. I got an email from my mum the other day. In the last eighteen months or so my mum has become a massive poker nut. She follows all the updates on Blondepoker and looks out at a couple of forums. She's delighted that PokerNews now deem me a "notable player" so that she can read the odd mention about how my QQ got murdered by 10,10 for a massive pot.
Mum's advice was simple really. Stop rushing about. Make sure you're mentally, as well as physically, prepared for each tournament. If one goes wrong, take time to forgive yourself, regroup, and be ready to take on the next one in the right frame of mind.
Last week I played the $1500 NLH 6-handed which was Event #9. Making day two of that meant I wouldn't be playing # 11, the $5000 NLH Shootout, one of my favourite events. For a while I was toying with playing both. On the day of the "round of each" I played the $2000 NLH Event # 23 at noon. I had a plan to gamble and try to get chips or get busted and play the PLO/PLH at 5pm. In the end I played for ten hours without ever getting chips and was busted long after the second event started.
A friend emailed to point out I was going all "high-roller". He describes the playing two events at once brigade as the true WSOP sickos. He thinks I've nearly made it.
Mum's not at all keen on this though. She thinks it's impossible to have the right mental attitude to do well in one event if you're thinking about another. Having taken onboard all the good advice I've decided to just focus on the table in front of me and play as well as I can. Despite 2700 starters I managed to cash in the huge Saturday Event #27. I was pretty gutted, but also proud of my 123rd place. You might think Jc4c2c was a good flop for Kc9c, but it wasn't to be.
I took a couple of nasty beats in other tournaments in the last week, but I'm sure I'm playing well and my patience and concentration has been excellent.
Yesterday 2300 people started Event # 32, another $1500 NLH. Many of the people are among the worst players I've ever seen in my life. I still felt an enormous sense of achievement to get through about 2100 of them though.
I've played fourteen events so far and this is my fourth cash this year and eleventh life-time. That last stat is one I'm pretty proud of.
I'm sure mum will be pleased to hear I'm eating and sleeping well and giving myself every chance to make the final.
Neil Channing will probably turn down the Full-Tilt dollars and stick with the lucky PokerVerdict shirt if he somehow makes the final.