20/07/2009

Im not sure exactly what I'd have done with each of the player's first hands in the $5000 shootout tournament.

I'm pretty sure I'd have raised the hijack with Amnon Filippi's pair of queens, and 550 from 15k seemed about right with a 100/200 blind. I'm not sure, but I guess Ville Wahlbeck was right to make it 1900 with AhKh from the cut-off. I'm also pretty sure, if I was Nick Schulman, which I'm obviously not, I'd be raising to about 4200 with a pair of kings.

I'm guessing I wouldn't then have got the lot in with the queens or said,with the AhKh: "This is so sick.", before shoving it all in. I'm also not sure that I'd have mucked my kings.

As it happens the flop came AQ3 which was good fun. Don't worry though, Nick Schulman managed to get rid of the rest with a bad call before Roland came along to take seat ten and everyone realised they'd all been sitting in the wrong places and that they should all shuffle their chairs round.

Amnon Fillipi managed to bluff and steam off a big chip lead, and Roland offered great banter before leaving me with a lovely guy, who was definitely an enthusiastic amateur, and a decent $5/$10 player from The Commerce.

My new mate Lance lost a race on the flop, so it was me versus the guy from LA and I was 7/1 down in chips. I fancied it so much though, that when I was offered a saver which was massively in my favour, I only chose to give up just $2000 to his $1000.

The next day, if I could beat just five people, I'd be in a five-handed final. This was my chance to win a bracelet in a format I like. The table wasn't easy, with players I know and have played with before like Jean Gaspard, and the man who is the best in the world in this format, in my opinion, David Pham. I'd also played with, and had respect for all of the other guys, including young Andrew Lichtenberger who went on to finish second.

It would have been fun to play for a bit longer, and when the ace flopped to help the fella's AK beat my KK fifteen hands into the day, I was totally poleaxed. This felt like my best chance ever. This was my best chance ever.

I really staggered off to play the next days $10k PLH event. This game is not played in London anymore and is rarely played at all on the internet. It did used to be played in London all the time though, almost to the exclusion of NLH. The small field that played the event probably included very few people who had played more hands in this format than me. They were an amazing bunch though. The overall standard was WAY higher than in the $40k event from what I could see. I was pleased therefore, to get through day one with around 70k against an average of 90k. I'd played pretty well on a tough table.

Day two of the $10k PLH just happened to clash with the Black Belt Poker BBQ. This was to be the social event of the Vegas summer. There were just two problems. On the one hand I was determined to get a deep run in the PLH and on the other hand it was tipping it down with rain. We're in the middle of the desert, the average noon temperature is 110 degrees, and we picked the day where hailstones and rain were causing people to abandon their cars and run into the casinos with even more determination than usual.

I solved one problem just fifteen minutes in. My AhKh matched well with the AcKdJc flop, but not as well as the other blokes Qc10c.

Luckily the BBQ was fantastic. Lots of very nice people, and hardly any horrible ones, turned up. People really made a big effort to drink an amount that would be a new personal best for them.

The first guests arrived at 3pm and the last one at 3am. When I went to bed at 7am people were still going strong.

One person who didn't manage to make it to the BBQ was John Kabbaj. He was otherwise engaged in getting to the final of the PLH. The next day he took a massive chip lead into, what looked like the toughest final of the whole series.

I always knew John was a great poker player, and when The Poker Show asked me who were the specialists in this field I'd mentioned John as one of the best. Last year his aces had been cracked by queens to leave him disappointed with a tenth place finish. Just my luck that he managed to finally get what he deserved without any Channing "lucky money" behind him.

At least I'd be able to enjoy hearing the National Anthem ringing out throughout the Amazon room again.

Neil Channing will soon be able to talk about the pain of his main event and the excitement it created for Black Belt Poker.