Quarter Horse

In the world of Internet poker, it is considered to be morally and ethically OK to blind someone out of a heads-up match if they disconnect or are sat out. Maybe they don’t realise that you have started, they forgot they’d registered or they are asleep. I heard one story of a UK ‘player’ who frequently spends hours scouring the Internet looking for people who have forgotten to deregister from games before they log-off. Earlier in the year he ‘beat’ Isildur in a $10,000 heads-up SNG.

In the WSOPE six-max event, Chris Moorman was over an hour late on Day 2. With one other guy on his table arriving late, and an early bustout, the game was three-handed for a while. I joked with Chris before our heads-up match that he better turn up at 2pm on the dot or I’d definitely blind him away.

At 2.12pm Chris called me to say he was in traffic. He had no idea where.

I wasn’t sure what to do. At 1.55pm I’d been in traffic and I jumped out of the cab at Trafalgar Square and ran to The Empire. I was hot and flustered.

Jack Effel said that waiting wasn’t an option, a blind would be taken every minute and no cards would be dealt. It didn’t occur to me until afterwards that I could have just gone to Starbucks and agreed with Chris to start at 2.30pm. That would have meant we mutually agreed to rip-up the structure and take a lot of the play out of it though. I didn’t really want to do that, I wanted a game. The starting stacks were 120,000 and Chris sat down at 2.30pm with 112,000. After three hands he had 135,000.

It took me a while to beat Chris and it was a really good tussle. I probably had the best starting hands but he managed one big suck-out to really prolong the game. He was fun to play with and he’s a good guy.

My next opponent was sitting at the other end of the table watching.

McLean Karr seemed to have done quite well in a WPT but I’d never seen him before. It was another long match where I probably had the best starting hands. In the early stages I was pretty distracted as our next opponents were playing at the other end of the table. I definitely had mixed feelings as Gus Hansen outdrew Phil Ivey to set himself up as my potential quarter final opponent. It would’ve been fun to play Ivey.

I sat down to play Gus at 11pm, by which time I was totally knackered. I’d managed a 20 minute break between Chris and McLean, but I spent my 20 minutes waiting for Gus talking to two players who were interested in the Grading. In retrospect, I should have escaped for some quiet time.

I was totally unprepared for Gus. I sort of had a game plan which involved not three-betting the middle of my range out of position. I found myself doing exactly that after five hands. I then decided to start four-betting and the first two attempts led to him shoving. With blinds at 2,000/4,000 I was so flustered I picked up two 25,000 chips to raise the button. I meant to make it 10,000. In hindsight I wish he had ‘punished’ my error by shoving as I would have definitely been calling with the best hand in my A-7.

I was now keen to gamble and try and get lucky. I flopped a flush draw and he seemed happy enough to get it in with middle set. It had lasted less than an hour.

I wasn’t really that disappointed, he definitely outplayed me. We’d been joking that when they interview you after these heads-up matches, it’s tricky to know what to say when the other guy is terrible. We agreed that "interesting style", "took some unusual lines," and "plays with a lot of flair" all generally mean really bad.

Gus seemed really keen to reassure me that he had a lot of good hands. I have caught myself doing that hundreds of times in cash games. It’s always when I’m trying to encourage some businessman to reload by suggesting his ‘luck’ is surely about to change.

A cash is a cash though and it didn’t really feel like a bracelet near-miss.

Having told lots of people that the two big events of the WSOPE were no value and that I might not even play, I was now obviously in the Main Event. I was right. It wasn’t much value. My first table was pretty tough and it was going quite well until I laid down a pair of kings to an all-in on the river which was an ace. The guy’s line made little sense and I thought I was probably winning, but I still folded. He later told me he was bluffing and that he was going all-in on any river. Shame it came an ace.

My new table seemed easier but I never won a pot on it and I came back on Day 2 with a simple three-bet shove stack.

When I actually got dealt a hand of pocket tens in the cut-off, I imagined James Mitchell would know not to three-bet light. I can’t really be opening to fold with 18 big blinds and I hadn’t played a hand in three laps. I decided to stop and go and he managed to find a call with Q-J on the Q-Q-8 board. I think he has chosen the worst kind of hand to three-bet in this spot with. I decided not to tell him though.

I was glad to leave the Empire in the end and quite looked forward to the EPT events. I can walk to the Metropole in 15 minutes from home and I like to get away on the dinner breaks, so it was nice to feel comfortable. I was planning to play a lot of these tournaments. The structures are great, PokerStars and the EPT organise it all well and I was getting a lot of action side-betting with all the young UK hotshots in last-longers and bets to make the money, the final and to win.

I was able to win a few bets on the first side event without ever really threatening to get a run and I felt pretty good heading into the Main Event.

Neil Channing will finally catch his blog up a bit next time round when he talks about the EPT and the new Black Belt Grading.