After London, my ever patient sponsors BetUK.com suddenly rediscovered the idea that I might actually one day win one of these tournaments and decided to send me to Baden. I'd been to Austria before, to the Concorde Card Club on some wasteland outside of Vienna, but this was a different kettle of fish entirely.
Baden is a small spa town about 30 minutes drive from Vienna and it's quite posh. After locating the excellent Pension Elfy and making the short hike to the casino, (the more adjacent hotels were all full of Pokerstars people), I was starting to like it here. The casino looks fantastic; it's on three floors with marble staircases and high ceilings all over the place. The staff who sorted out my tournament registration were polite and helpful and for about 300 Euro I was given a VIP pass entitling me to as much food and drink from the continually refreshed buffet as I could manage in one week.
The tournament had attracted 330 players and 30 of the 165 that played Day 1A were left. I swerved the cash games and got some sleep ready for Day 1B.
From what I can remember about "o" level geography, the nearer you get to Siberia the colder it is. I was somewhat surprised, therefore, to find that a nice breakfast could be spent at 11am in October sitting outside and basking in the sunshine while eating croissants; must be the one hour time difference.
My first table was pretty interesting for a big event in that it contained virtually no big tournament winners. There was an interesting blend of strong and aggressive types, total calling stations and complete head-cases. I was planning to try and blend in with all three which I think I managed well, my stack going from 10k-12k-4k-10k-4k-10k before we reached the third level.
I played an AJ pretty well I thought with blinds at 75/150 on a board of A72...A...3. The pot was over 10k and the other fella got it all with A7. I put the money I'd saved in on the next hand with an AQ against Vic regular Mike Ellis' 10,10. Having had Mike on my table four times in the WSOP and on two occasions during the London EPT he's beginning to become as familiar to me as JJ Liu. He's just as good as she is at the 50/50s too.
After a suitable period of sulking, skulking and eating I headed for the cash games. The basic choice is NLH played 10/10 or 10/20 and full of lunatic Scandinavians, Germans and Russians or PLO played from 10/10 to 50/100 and full of lunatic Scandinavians being preyed on by dangerous Brits. I went for the hold 'em.
While harking back to "o" level geography I'm reminded of the day that Mr Dobbin left us drawing an ox-bow lake while he went for a sneaky fag that resulted in a fire in the store cupboard. He loved a cigarette that man. He'd have been pleased with the cash games here. Smoking is practically compulsory at the tables and if you could find an omaha game with less than three enormous La-Di's going you'd done well.
The 10/20 game was a bit too lively for me with preflop raises of 300 being called in two spots on most hands I dribbled a few Euro waiting for a hand before trudging back to The Elfy.
Another gorgeous sun drenched morning was spent waiting for the waitress to bring us a tea and an orange juice before the noon 2000 Euro comp. (for the service, if you're imagining the Vic, think Beverley not Sandra).
Today’s tournament was a well structured 2 day event. Unfortunately for me it ended around the same time of day as the Main Event had when my Kings seemed to connect with a flop of 10,J,Q but then refused to connect any more.
One valuable piece of advice I can teach any aspiring professionals out there is to learn from your mistakes. Today I moved comfortably down to the 10/10 NLH which was at least four times smaller than the previous day’s game. I played about five times better and salvaged a bit from the wreckage.
Another valuable piece of advice I can give out, while I'm at it, is that if you are a wealthy owner of a Poker Website and you get busted out of a big tournament and head off to the roulette with four grand while totally pissed, you may want to stop when you get over 600k. It was amazing to watch just how many "friends" turned up to watch the geezer betting 30-50k per spin. I knew things weren't going so well when the crowd was reduced from around 80 to just three funkers. The last couple of spins were witnessed by a very meagre crowd although I can report that Willie loyally remained to comfort the poor bloke right until the end.
With no tournament fun to look forward to on Wednesday Barny, the Champ and myself went for a quick scout round the town. It's fairly touristy with many tremendous gift shops and a collection of members of the Aryan race direct from central casting. We had a bit of a look at the bathes which I wish I'd have had a swim in, nearly bought some lovely goat's milk hand cream and then had a nice sunbathe in the park.
All that set me up for a reasonably successful last night in the cash. I stopped a little early only because it was so bloody slow. It's lucky there's a rake and not a time charge (5% with a cap) as the game was brought to a grinding halt by the slightest thing. The quality of dealers was a bit mixed also with some who were definitely not the full Schilling.
Over a final breakfast I reflected on another poor excursion tournament wise, but rather than have regrets I was already looking forward to Dublin.