Unlucky for Some

With 400 players, the Main Event was a sell-out and The Vic had to struggle a bit to cram us in. If you looked closely you could detect a tear in the General Manager’s eye as roulette tables where temporarily moved out, on a Saturday night, to squeeze in poker players. I remember texting that Phil Ivey, Bob Coombes and Tom Parker-Bowles were all here and it was pointed out to me that that wasn’t a sentence you saw often.

My table had an about average number of lunatic Scandanavians and the prerequisite nutty Frenchman as well as a fairly jovial northerner. Viktor Kanwar, Tim Flanders and Karl from the Gutshot would be the lively midfield players while Roland would attempt to be the star striker.

I had a plan for Roland but it didn’t really work. He was keen to play a lot of pots and I fancied mixing it with him. I feel a bit lame saying it, but I was eventually quite frustrated by never having a hand, or coming even near to hitting a flop. Meanwhile he never failed to flop a minimum of top pair. The only fun I had was in beating the cocky git on the banter front.

When a camera crew came to film him someone suggested he should play some hands and do something interesting. He pointed out that it wouldn’t be used anyway as the filming wasn’t going to begin until day two. I was delighted to inform him that this footage was to be saved and would be used in a feature they were planning for the EPT 2007. He was going to be the first in a "Where are they now?" sequence.

In the end I was pretty pleased to be moved to another table, especially when I flopped a set and turned quads. Later on, the flop of 5,2,2 seemed to match well with my 5,5 and I was at last starting to get into the tournament. Apart from a particularly long massage that Mark Teltscher got from the incredibly distracting massage lady and her amazing cleavage, I remember nothing else from my day one other than the last hand.

Mick "The Clock" Cook is someone that I’ve known a long time and we’ve had our ups and downs. He is mostly though, someone who’s game I respect enormously, and who has knocked me out of more tourmaments than I care to remember. He’s also the absolute definition of old-school and I’d like to get him in a "career winnings" match bet with any number of Johnny come latelys.

I won’t go into a long hand history except to say that in the last pot of the night he scooped in 40k which left me with 17k against an average of 38k instead of the 33k I might of had if I’d gone home two minutes early. When I look back I’m pleased with my play in the hand, despite putting it in with AQ v KK. The fact that I flopped an ace and a queen before he hit his set just made it slightly more frustrating.

After a day of skulking around and feeling sorry for myself I was back on Saturday fully prepared to be dissappointed. I knew I was going to gamble early and after successfully moving in on the first hand I soon had them on their backs with the old 8s9s. That got me a double up against some poor sod’s 10,10 and from there I started to play.

The spurt I put on over the next few hours would get me to 120k without the need to show a hand. I was playing pretty good and starting to enjoy myself. As they took Tony Chessa from our table I told him to "Piss off and annoy some other people." adding quietly "I can see now why they built Hadrian’s Wall." All good fun.

I heard a great line from another table. My good friend Alan Betson had qualified for this tournament online, and although I havn’t seem him around much lately I was pleased to see his sense of humour hasn’t changed. After another attempted steal raise from him, the American in the blinds, with just a slight lack of subtlety, grabbed a random amount of chips, totalling around half his stack and threw them forward haphazardly as a reraise. Alan raised a quizzical eyebrow and asked:

"Just the one fistful then?"

In the breaks my main concern now was the progress of my other investments. A certain young lady was doing nothing but moan. On Friday she’d made a pretty good effort at whinging her way to success despite her first table full of Mental Scandis. I couldn’t provide an answer to how you play when all 9 people around you like nothing better than a pot that goes: raise 15bb, reraise all-in, call. (that would be 4,4 v K,10 while the blinds are 50/100). She’d then complained that a table of Julian Gardner, Donnachea, Jeff Duvall, Frank Callaghan and George McKeever was too hard. I knew that she’d come to enjoy that one though, as it would mean a chance to play "proper" poker. Bets and raises would carry some meaning, there would be a puzzle to solve with proper clues to think about and everyone would have respect for the game and each other.

Today though, she was struggling. This EPT is a big deal now and with all the extra players we were crammed in. The Vic restaurant area is very hot and trying to play a few pots while camera men and chip reporters vie for elbow room can be awkward.

For Vicky there was an extra problem of playing with good friends Barny and Ram as well as super aggressive players Andy Black and Peter Hedlund. You’d think she’d be pleased to be moved to the TV table where she stayed for the rest of the day. Meanwhile I was busy getting a bit lucky on the other of the last two tables. (A10 CAN beat AK and it’s not as bad as it first looks when you go all-in with AJ and get called in two spots – by KJ and QQ).

The average at the end of the day would be about 300k so I was pretty pleased to be on 420k with 20 minutes to go and 13 people left. That was one of the reasons I felt so deflated to be out three hands later.

I was pleased to get to see five cards with 450k in the pot and 200k behind holding 10,10 against A,6. In my ideal world though an ace wouldn’t drop and nobody would repeat "get up the ace" three or four times. In that same world I wouldn’t get the same hand two minutes later and run it into 7,7. If I did have the misfortune for that to happen, I would prefer a seven to simply come and put me out of my misery. When the poker gods put out a 4,5,6,8 board I just think they’re taking the piss.

I ended the day walking around in a bit of a daze and failing to be very consoled by Vicky who had played great to get through. I had been really hoping that we could both get to the final. It would’ve been so much fun for both of us to play together on TV for big money at The Vic. Ho hum.

At least she survived though. Although seventh out of twelve in chips I didn’t lose faith. She’s proved to me many times that’s she’s got extra helpings of patience and tenacity. There had been times of the day when I thought she might give up, but she came through. She had played patiently and without fear, at times risking everything to make brave and bold calls. Cruel luck in some of the bigger events, particularly at The Vic, has robbed her several times in the last two or three years. Maybe tomorrow would be her day.

Neil Channing is sponsored to play poker tournaments by BetUSA.com and BetUK.com.