No More Champagne

Just in case you are in need of a good New Year’s Resolution and can’t think of one, I have the perfect thing. It’s obvious and it’s related to gambling. It’s just such a good thing to do.

Record your results.

If you don’t do that you’re mad. How can you know whether you’re winning and how can you correct any leaks that have appeared in your game if you don’t even know how you’re doing? If your figures show that you win in six-max Pot Limit Omaha but lose in full-ring No Limit Hold’em there’s an obvious solution. If you don’t have any figures…

A lot of resolutions are really hard to stick to, and this one, like most, has a small drawback…

…It’s quite hard to adhere to when you’re doing your bollocks.

It’s a bit like writing a diary in that respect.

Anyway, changing the subject completely, I could have gone to the Algarve in Portugal for a nice EPT during that second week in November. I had decided that I wouldn’t because the Vic were holding a £5,000 heads-up tournament and it was the start of the GUKPT Grand Final Festival. I didn’t really plan to play many of the tournaments, but the cash games should be good.

They were great as it happens. They were so great that I never got round to playing the heads-up and when it came to the £1,000 freezeout I chose to stay in the cash game for four hours and just blind off 30 percent of my stack. I didn’t want to miss a hand.

I wish I had. I could have had a great trip to Portugal, played every event without cashing and still had enough change to buy a nice car. I’d actually had four quite decent sessions and the games were just crazy. The damage was all done on one Saturday night. I lost two pots in 20 minutes. Winning both of them would have produced a win that 10 years ago would have been a decent annual return.

At least I could have a quiet day on Tuesday.

Super Tuesday is a regular thing on Black Belt Poker now. I played on the $0.25/0.50 table called NeilChanning, I played the $5 League MTT and the Midnight $3 Rebuy Donkament.

I absolutely cleaned up. I won over $100 in the 25c/50c and I haven’t run so good in any session this year. I even made the final of the league game.


I was really looking forward to the £3,000 GUKPT Grand Final. When I flopped the second nut flush 20 minutes in, it seemed like it might be my day. I folded on the river and saved some chips. Great. Now I couldn’t afford to see any flops.

Not for the first time this year my bust-out hand was inexplicable. Somebody could only play that way if they had no concern about their own tournament, and their only aim was to ruin things for me. I was quite upset to feel someone could be so personal. It’s only a game after all. My top set was never going to hold.

I was now too depressed to play for a few days. I fitted in another big win (for that game), on the Tuesday and commentated on the Poker Million final on the Friday. I did enjoy that. It was a buzz to be live on TV, Jesse is always fun and James finally got the massive result he’s really deserved all year.

That weekend I continued to avoid the big swings of the Vic. On Saturday I went to Ealing to play a £30 freezeout with 40 people. On Sunday I flew to Ireland to play a fundraiser tournament for the Monahan Harps. My intention was to sign up lots of players for Black Belt. I ended up reminding myself what it was like to play for fun, for a hobby, because you love it. I also won a €20 SNG.

With the exception of another exceptional Tuesday I didn’t play again until Galway.

The Irish Poker Championship becoming part of the new UK and Ireland Poker Tour means it’s now moved to December. It didn’t harm it one bit.

I played really well. It was definitely the best I’d played in an MTT since Vegas in the summer. It wasn’t my fault that the guy mistook his pair of fours for a hand.

So pleased was I with my play in Ireland that I rushed off to Nottingham to take one more shot at winning something in 2009. The ‘Monte Carlo’ was a £1,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em at Dusk Till Dawn for 300 players. Absolutely everyone was there. It was a fun event though, and there were a good number of smaller players who’d won their way in via satellites.

I played well on my tough first table and not so well on my not so tough second one.

When Simon Trumper announced: “Shuffle up and deal,” I reminded myself that the last train to London was scheduled for 9.30pm. It would be a good idea, if I were going to get knocked out, to do it before then. I had one other option though as Surinder [Sunar] told me he would be driving past my house if he were equally unfortunate.

At 9.40pm I left my table and stopped by Surinder’s table to see how he was doing. Of course he had a stack just below the average. He could make that last another week. I better get a hotel. I cheerily said:

“See if you can dust off that bowl of rice and give me a lift home.”

He was unlucky really. He flopped two pair and the other guy went mad with top pair on that exact hand.

We were home by 1am.

I managed only two other horrible, shitty cash sessions in the Vic before giving up for the year.

I did have an amazing 2008, and maybe some people thought that I had enough luck to last a lifetime. I never asked for it though. I’d have settled for just an average run. I’m grateful that I had such a good time, but I’d have swapped just a little of it to run just average in 2009. In the end it was tough, it was cruel, I was tested, I’m not really convinced that I passed, but it was a minor miracle that I got through it with some sense of sanity and some cash.

I’m definitely aware that I became a slightly grumpier old man through my experiences this year. I apologise if you met me and thought: “What a misery guts that bloke is. He looks so nice on the TV.”

I’m planning to do something to change that in 2010.