My Time of Day

Neil Channing 'Bad Beat'

With Tuesday's $5000 NLH firmly in the category of "only if I'm getting the lot" I was facing a week without a bracelet event. I planned to play some cash, get stuck into the World Cup and play a few of the smaller tournaments.

I rolled straight from the $2000 NLH into a cash game at Bellagio. For years the room here offered NLH as a $2/$5 game where the maximum sit down was $200 or a $10/$20 with a minimum of $600 where many people sat with $20k+. What they needed was a happy medium, and a few months ago that's what they started.

The $5/$10 NLH game is perfect as it contains almost no pros, who largely view it as too small. A table full of tourists sits down with the maximum of $1000 and pay $6 every half an hour to the house. Once the game has been running a while most people have $2500-$5000 and it's a pretty good game. Saturday wasn't my day though and I lost two large pots where I put it in pretty good only to be outdrawn. I decided to quit after the briefest of 14 hour sessions losing $2500.

The football coverage here is great. Four years ago it was difficult to see the games, but this time round they are all shown on ABC or ESPN and are on in every bar and sports book. Obviously I choose to watch from my hotel room where I'm never far from Betfair. The time difference means I only have to make the effort to get up at noon and ease my way into the day. The games go well and after each one I'm off to the pool.

I love the commentators, who try to talk about the game as if it's one of their sports. They smother us with stats and can't help mentioning deeefence and double overtime. They are constantly praising the referees as a way of showing us that they really know the rules. I love it. Much better than Clive bloody Tyldesley.

With no big tournaments to think about I get back to familiar WSOP territory for me. The late night 2nd chance tournament is a $225 freeze-out that starts at 11pm each night and gives around 200 desperados a chance to win around $10k before breakfast. With only 1000 starting chips and 30 minute levels the tournament is something of a crapshoot. I seem to have developed a knack of playing these ones since they started in 2004 and this week I do ok in them.

Monday night I'm busted in twelfth getting a bad beat in a pot that would have made me chip leader and on Tuesday I take Queens up against Aces but just crawl into the money.

For some reason I missed the money on Wednesday, but at least that gave me the chance to rise early and get myself over to The Wynn for their noon tournament. These are $330 freeze-outs Tues-Thurs and $540 on Friday. The tournament has 45 minute rounds with shuffling machines and so there is plenty of play. The field is made up of mostly tourists and I see virtually no pros there. I had a good fun table and got to play alongside Steve Danneman who seems a nice relaxed guy (probably easier with $4million rattling around your bin). I also played with his wife who made the final. She may be the best player in their house, but learning to pass A6 for a re-raise could take her game forward.

At the start of the final I was 4th in chips and my position was the same four handed. The only business discussed was by the bloke who finished 10th. He suggested taking something off the top for 10th which I obviously vetoed. He didn't look too chuffed when Mrs. D made a slightly dubious call with AJ to beat his QQ.

The three guys I was left with were all pretty good players but after I won a big race I went heads-up with a 3/1 chip lead. The other fella did have me worried and came back to take the lead 2/1 until I decided to forget about little pots and blasted him away.
$6500 was good for morale and I decided to strike while the iron was hot rushing straight to the Rio for the 11pm. I had never won two live tournaments in one day and I still haven't. My average stack on the final went in with QQ and ran into AA again. I was 9th for a meager profit but I still felt pretty chuffed.

Friday morning was a bit of a rush as I was moving from the Bellagio to the Gold Coast. The bloke who gets a dollar for repeating your destination to the taxi driver, at the Bellagio seemed surprised at this turn of events. It's alright for him, some of us are on a budget. With his average of $63 an hour in tokes for eight hours a day he probably doesn't have such matters to consider.

With my confidence high I was looking forward to the $2500 NLH. I found myself sat next to Mike Matusow and opposite Rob Hollink. Other than that it was a pretty good table. I started well and chipped away at a few smallish pots, getting my stack to 5k in no time. Rob soon tried a move that looked destined to fail and helped Mike to a big chip lead. Mad Marty was a brief visitor until my 10,10 beat his 6,6 and he was replaced by a bloke who has been on my tables a lot in comps over here. I find his constant aggression to be fairly mindless and think he's quite easy to trap. Unfortunately, I've never been the one to trap him. Today he gifted his chips to Mike who now had 50k while the average was just 6k. I was doing ok on 14k when we broke for dinner.

The next 90 mins was the most disappointing of the trip. I settled in and didn't play a hand for a while but then made two moves on consecutive hands. On both occasions I ran into a genuine hand and I had lost half of my chips to fall below average. There now followed an hour of 10,2/6,2/8,3 type hands just as the table was getting aggressive. My only decision was whether or not to call all-in with these hands. I kept choosing not to until I had almost no chips. I eventually got a chance to be first in with 8,9 against big blind Erik Seidel's A,4. I flopped an 8 and he turned an ace. I left the room feeling gutted.

A good night's sleep can often help and I woke up on Saturday, watched a bit of footy and carefully avoided being tempted to play the re-buy comp where a selection of people paraded their wealth and measured dick size. I went to the Rio later and was absolutely delighted to see my good friend Warren Wooldridge come third in the $1500 limit event. I was then almost as pleased as she was to see Sarah Bilney make the last two tables of the $2500 NLH. Rory, the Barracuda and I helped her celebrate at the fantastically named Tilted Kilt.

Neil Channing is sponsored to play poker tournaments by BetUSA.com and BetUK.com.