London Poker Circuit Review

An Online Player Goes Offline for a Day

Picture the scene: you draw the curtains and a blinding shaft of light nails you straight between the eyes. You don some distinctly adequate clothes, turn off the computer for the first time in months and mooch wearily towards the front door. It’s an ungodly 11 am and you’re an online whiz kid (ok, semi competent online player) about to make your first foray into the world of live poker. To say I was nervous would have been stretching the truth but I did set off on the train to London with a certain degree of trepidation; “this could be my time to shine” I quietly thought to myself. Thanks to the very gracious people at The Hendon Mob I’d been given a free ride to go and play the London Poker Circuit deepstack event at the Kensington Close Hotel. The tournament was scheduled to begin at 3.30 pm and all I needed to do was turn up, give my name and be directed, firstly to my complimentary hotel room, then to the tournament registration area. So far, so good, everything was going without a hitch.

After dealing with these minor details I decided to head to the bar and purchase a beverage. Now, I know alcohol when consumed in small amounts is a suppressant so in order to quell the nerves I decided to buy myself a pint (cue the minor heart attack over the price). By now I was nicely lubricated and ready to get down to serious poker action.

This LPC event was a £50+5 tournament with one optional rebuy and add-on (which the Hendon Mob had kindly paid for me). The starting stacks were 5000 chips and the blinds started at 25-25. Half hour blinds meant I’d have to play 3X slower than normal and I prayed that the first few hands would be easy folds. Thankfully, my wishes came true and for the first level I barely flicked a chip into the pot, unlike many of my over zealous tablemates. My internal HUD told me one player’s VPIP must have been at least 80% so I’d managed to find the fish at the table (for a while I thought it may have been me). A few raises to punisher limpers and continuation bets later and my starting stack of 5K was looking slightly healthier at 6.5K.

By now I was starting to feel more comfortable at the table and I even decided to engage in some elementary table banter; Daniel Negreanu I wasn’t. Maybe I started to feel too comfortable, or maybe I was just playing terribly, but I made some donkey plays and managed to trim my stack down to a much leaner 3.5K. With the end of the rebuy period approaching I was counting on the add-on the bolster my stack until my first big pot emerged.

Everyone limps, I’m in the BB with 5-7 and there were 600 chips in the pot. The flop runs out (from memory) 5 – 3 – A and I check, as do the whole table. The turn is 7 and I bet out 400. The guy in first position calls and the rest of the table fold. The river is a 6 and I decide the best way to play my hand is to check call. My opponent duly bets out 1600, I call and he tables 8-6. Bingo.

We came back from the break and I’m sitting relatively comfortably with about 30 big blinds then, wait for it, I suffer a bad beat. Surprise, surprise. I’m in the BB again, this time with K-K and the player in first position raises to 2100. Everyone folds and it’s up to me to act. I know this guy will bet whatever flop comes down and will raise some rubbish hands so I put in the extra 1500 chips to call (blinds were 300/600). 4500 in the pot and a tasty looking flop of 6, 8, 3. My plan was to check raise almost every flop so I tap the table and my friend insta-shoves his for 12,300. After squinting in disbelief I quickly call. He tables 6-9 and I’m looking good to take down 30K pot. As is common in spots where someone insta-shoves 3X the pot with second pair he catches a 9 on the turn and I’m crippled with only 3 BBs left. Nice. From then on I managed to ride my luck for a few hands before finally busting out 15minutes before the end of day one when my A-K couldn’t outrun 7-7.

Despite not cashing the LPC has defiantly given me the bug for live poker. The dealers were excellent and made sure that the games ran as smoothly and quickly as possible. Having never ventured further than my computer desk to play poker it was great to see so many affable people who were all out to have a good time. Any nerves I had about counting chips, knowing when it was my turn to act or infringing any rules were quickly quashed by the LPC’s excellent staff.

Am I biased? Possibly. I paid nothing for my entry (thanks again to The Hendon Mob) and everything went as smoothly as possible. However, it’s hard to criticise a £50 deepstack tournament that was run like a £1K event. The LPC was a little gem in the poker world and the circuit needs more live tournaments like these. Not every player has the funds to play £500 events every month and if there were more affordable, well run tournaments like this there would be more people swapping the virtual felt for the some real poker action. Although the LPC has past I hope other similar events like this spring up across the country and help open up the live circuit to more and more players.

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