Within 60 seconds of this year's London EPT I knew I wasn't going to enjoy myself. I only began to wonder why I paid £100 registration and 3 percent of the prize pool to play the first side event when the floorman told me to get my coffee off the table. My mother would have asked him what the magic word was. I just asked him if he'd get me a side table and I'd happily put it on there. He appeared to be too important to do any furniture removals and I informed him that I'd leave it where it was rather than put it on the floor.
We left it at that. I knew then I wasn't going to enjoy my whole Metropole experience.
A little later I lost Ah-Kh against a rather dubious 4-4 that had called my cold four-bet shove.
Later in the week, I went back to play the Main Event. I couldn't miss that one, could I? It was easy to forgive the organisers for not predicting the 83-degree teperature in late September. It was not easy to forgive them for failing to locate the controls to the air-conditioning after three days of humid conditions.
My first table was like so many I've seen on the few EPTs I've played: the people were ridiculously aggressive. They were way more aggressive than can possibly be considered correct for a game with a full table and no antes, so it's very profitable in these situations to simply pass every hand.
Nitting it up didn't seem such a bad plan when 'Jungleman' plonked himself in the seat on my left. He managed to dust off 22,000 of his 30,000 within half an hour, with blinds at 100/200. I won my one pot and when the table broke I had 28,000.
On my new table I had a selection of genuises in the three seats to my left. It wasn't going to get any easier. I might as well carry on with the same plan.
I got to the end of the day having played seven hands in a total of eight hours. I opened five times and got three-bet on three of them; only once did everyone fold. I three-bet myself twice and the person called on both occasions; I managed to have aces and jacks and flop two sets. I probably had above average hands then. I ended with a slightly below average stack.
On Day 2, I had a table where two players decided to win the event 20 tables out. That didn't really work out for them. They did cause me to start the day in much the same way as I played the previous day, though.
In the first level of 75 minutes, I didn't voluntarily place a single chip into a pot.
It didn't make any difference. When I finally did get involved with an A-K on a king-high board, I still got the geezer to put all of his money in against me. He had a flush draw and the ace that came on the river left me with 11 big blinds. I stuck them in with Ah-Jh a few minutes later. The bloke who called me sighed, tutted and turned over two kings. That was an unlucky spot for him, I could see how he'd be completely gutted.
I'm pretty glad I didn't cash though. I might have really been on tilt then.
I obviously understand how we are moving towards a tour that has outgrown the casino venues in Europe and needs to be held in conference facilities of major hotels. I also understand how, in a world where people are bursting into these conference centres with ski masks and machetes, we should move toward a cashless tournament.
I do not understand though how PokerStars can think they are helping things when they make it harder for people to register. I don't really think that insisting that people who register via Stars wear their branded clothing is a good idea. I also think that making all players in the event take some of their winnings into their Stars account (they even tried this one on an American player), is not helping people to want to register online.
I would hate to think that Stars are starting to feel they can flex their monopoly powers. It would be more forward-thinking if they were to work out a solution to the whole problem of buying in and paying out in a non-casino venue. How about some system of EPT bank which people can wire money to and withdraw from via a debit card?
There's an idea from me for free, Stars.
I never moved for the rest of the week from the Vic's cash games.
In past years, the EPT has meant that the games would always be bigger. In 2008, when we often played £5/10, we spent EPT season playing £10/25. In 2009, when we played £10/25 for a whole year, we played £25/50 and even £50/100 during EPT. This year, we have mostly played £5/£10, so the Vic tried to get £10/25 going during this EPT.
I took a look and preferred the £5/10 this year. The £10/25 games seemed to be full of pros, big egos, preflop aggression, lots of bluffs being shown and massive flips. The £5/10 games, however, were full of limp-calling out of position, straddles, people calling on the flop to fold on the turn and people betting the flop "to see were they are".
I enjoyed my time in the £5/10 games.
By Friday, the circus had left town and moved on to the south of France. I stayed at home and started the Vic £5/10 game. I was there until 9am. They didn't charge me 4 percent rake no cap and there were very few of the European top pros there.
I lost £700 and went home.
I might have a chance to get it back soon; I'll be there starting another game tonight.
Neil Channing will be missing out on a bracelet this year in favour of getting some wages.