30/06/2006

Straight Into Action - Event #2 $1500 NLH

Neil Channing 'Bad Beat'

Euphemia, our excellent 70 something West Indian cleaning lady, was distraught when I told her I was off to Vegas for six weeks. I thought she was just sharing the common view that the World Series is getting too long until she hugged and kissed me telling me she was going to miss me. She also told me I should try and get myself a bird to look after me in the States.

Before that I had to worry about topping up the Vegas tank though. The Vic had been criticised for putting on a festival just before the WSOP with the summer weather and football to also distract. It did stop a few people playing and only 45 showed up for the 5k Main Event. I guess Jeff should consult with FIFA over the positioning of their next major tournament lest it clashes with his Grosvenor Masters. After the last festival he had to put up with everyone moaning about the structures. No wonder he looks miserable.

In the three tournaments I played the structures were excellent. I was particularly glad as I'd suggested to him how he could change them. If there was one criticism I could have it was that more people should have entered the monkey comp on the Sunday night. If a few more lazy bastards had made the effort to turn up I could have won a little more than the £9500 I managed.

I was very pleased to get a win at HQ though and it was nice to see several of the staff looking very pleased for me. I was actually quite proud when I carried away the trophy and a little touched. It was also good that the structure meant we didn't finish until 5am when most of the nippers had left for the night.

I'm even thinking now that some of the £100 game regulars were not simply just pleased to see the money stay in the room.

After all that hard work I only had a couple of hours to pack and get to the airport. The flight was absolutely stuffed full of poker players and you couldn't move for copies of Harrington on Hold-em. I must have seen a dozen friendly faces. One wag from the Vic had commented that if this plane went down he might as well take August off as there wouldn't be a game.

Within two hours of landing I was seated in the Rio's daily $500 freeze-out.

These get about 150 players and have quite a nice structure. I sat next to Martin Green from Brighton who is a very friendly guy who seems to do well in tournaments. He demonstrated this by winning a huge pot with a pair of queens. Just as I was beginning to enjoy the company my QQs ran into KKs.

Luckily I wasn't the only one in loser's corner and Willie, John Dwyer and John Duthie (Poker's Mr Big) and I had our first visit of the year to Buzios. The Rio does have other restaurants, but this fish one is probably the best and I now know the menu by heart which saves time.

Mr Big and I went back via the High Limit Slot area at The Bellagio. It is slightly odd that all the staff there greet John by name like a long-lost pal. However, he is soon having the last laugh when he wins $7500 on his first spin and quits for the night.

Tuesday is the $1500 NLH with a ridiculous 2700 runners (including 500 who only join when someone vacates their seat as alternates) playing for a 1st prize of $750k.

I'm not fancying my chances of collecting the prize as the taxi driver who takes me back from my dinner break is busy giving me a tour of the Rio car lot.

With only 2400 and the big blind of 400 looming I really didn't need him stubbornly insisting that we could get in through the staff car-park when I knew we couldn't.

Eventually I get back to see my cards being mucked and my blind disappearing into the pot. I'm only slightly cheered to be moved to another table well away from the blinds. Desperately looking for a chance to stick my meagre stack in I finally bung it in from the big blind in a 5 way coup (2 all-ins) with 9,9. I know I'm going to have to hit a set (something I'm really not very good at usually) and I do. A couple of minutes later I'm up to 12k and I can't believe I was worrying. All that success goes to my head though and I start to think about stepping up a gear. I re-raise Jennifer Harman's under the gun raise going all in with AQ. She seems pretty happy to call for half my chips with KK and from there cruises to 11th place. I'm back to struggling away and four hours later am out in 230th.

My knockout hand was an easy one to take as I couldn't do much about it. I am in the big blind with 2,3 and four people limp. The flop comes 2,2,9 and if one of them hadn't had 9,9 I could have won a nice pot.

My $2274 takes a while to collect as Harrah's hadn't quite worked out, while collecting all the money in, that some people were going to get some back and they might need some staff to deal with that. I was in quite a good mood though so I didn't mind. As someone much wiser than me has mentioned lately: Being in a glamorous city, playing a game, and having fun while being paid to do it is something most people would love to do and I should enjoy it. So far I am.

Neil Channing is Sponsored to Play Poker by BetUSA.com and BetUK.com.