08/07/2010

I used to sit at the table with Mike Ellis quite often. When he first started coming to the Vic I thought him a tremendous luckbox who obviously had too much money. He didn’t know it, but I’d decided that he was going to help with my plan to become rich. It was a plan I was hoping would reach fruition way more quickly than, up until then, it had been. I would always endeavour to get in big pots with him.

He would constantly bash me up.

I remember walking home six miles in the pouring rain, to punish myself for losing a pot with pocket kings to his 6-4 of clubs.

Luckily these days I live closer to the Vic.

Since Mike stopped being incredibly important and rich in the city, in favour of being a professional poker player, he seems to have stopped getting in pots with me.

I do still spend a fair amount of time sitting round a table with him having a good natter.

With 21 people left and an average stack I felt like I had a fair shot at my first bracelet. It felt like a better chance than in the shootout. The players weren’t nearly so tough. At 3pm when we started the guy on my right ordered a large vodka tonic. It helped me to relax to have Mike on my left.

As much as I like him, I hadn’t really planned to double Mike up. My A-Q was better than the original raiser’s hand, but I hated to have to call the extra when Mike shoved. The queen on the river gave Mike a set and left me with 400,000 with the average at 600,000.

I battled hard to go to 980,000 with the average at 900,000 and 11 left. We played two short-handed tables for a long time and the shorties kept surviving. It was already turning into a crapshoot when I called from the big blind with pocket tens for 60 percent of my stack. The K-4 of diamonds managed to get there and I was left with a short stack. It went in with K-9, which couldn’t beat A-Q.

As I walked away I saw them settling in at the final table. It stung a bit. That was a real shot. I felt sick.

Rather than sulk, I got up the next day and dived into the next $1,000 event. My 3,000 chips got to 65,000 by the end of the day. It was the second consecutive time I’d spent 80 percent of my tournament with a big stack. In this one, I was hardly ever on less than four times the average.

At one stage I was squinting to read the notes that the player on my right kept making on his iPhone. I could just about read what he thought of me: “Seat seven: Sick Aggro.” That was the proudest moment of the 2010 WSOP for me right there.

I was sad to miss the $10,000 PLH that Sunday but I’d be coming back on Monday with another serious chance and I didn’t want a second day clash of two big chances.

I did do my only “double dip” of the series between noon and 2.30pm that Monday. I played the $1500 NLH shootout. I thought I could polish off my table in four hours and only miss a couple of hours of the $1000 day two. On the last hand before the break I successfully induced a light four-bet shove from some crazy geezer. His deuces beat my AK and I had time to sing the national anthem with Mike before going into my day two.

The first hand of the resumption I got dealt AA. I then had KhQh, AQ, KQ, AcJc and AQ again within the first ten hands. The people at my table probably thought I was a Northern European loony. Over the first twenty hands I actually lost chips.

I got moved tables and I chipped up well at first, but then lost a succession of small pots. I’d had four times the average with 200 left and now I had just half of the average with 150 players remaining. I was very frustrated. You could definitely tell the buy-in was $1,000 and not $5,000 here, yet I couldn’t win a pot.

136th felt rubbish. I was surly and miserable when I cashed out. It felt like losing. I’d missed the $5,000 shootout, the $2,500 Razz and the $10,000 Pot Limit Hold’em because of going deep in other events and I didn’t have a final table to show for it. Maybe I should think a bit more about my schedule instead of just constantly bouncing into the next available Hold’em tournie.

Over the next few days I didn’t enjoy my poker. In one event I did hear the most arrogant comment of the entire summer. A guy who was incredibly cocky and annoying called a three-bet out of position with 9-2 of hearts and got an enormous stack in on a flop containing two hearts and a deuce. He won this massive pot against a fella with the A-Q of hearts and announced to the whole table:

“I’m sure you’re thinking that was crazy. You actually just can’t... I wish I could explain... no you won’t understand... what was going on there.” He broke off to point out that one guy might sort of understand (not me, obv), and added:

“Let me assure you, that was all normal and there was a lot going on there.”

Hopefully one day I’ll understand. Within seconds of winning the pot he remembered to stick on the badge of the training site he represents. Must remember to visit ‘Never Felted’.

I basically played badly in that one though. I also made a mistake in the $1,500 Pot Limit High-Low, a game I’m not great at but quite enjoy. I gambled way too much in the $1,500 and $1,000 ones I played that week and lost a lot in one $25/50 cash session at Bellagio.

I just wasn’t playing well. I needed a break. Obviously that wasn’t going to happen with the Series still raging on. Something would have to change though, before I’d be happy slapping down $25,000 to play just one poker tournament.

Neil Channing never really got the rest. The diary has at least nearly caught up though. You can follow up-to-the-minute Tweets from SenseiChanning and can also follow the main event at blackbeltpoker.com