The Desperate Hours

Preparation is so important when going into a big tournament. If you’re well rested, you’ve dealt with all those little interruptions that real life can throw at you, you’ve done exercise to get those endorphins flowing, and you’ve eaten enough so that you’re not starving hungry, but not a heavy amount that will leave you sleepy and listless, then you’ll definitely have a better time in the event.

In Australia I’d played the Aussie Millions with a hacking cough and a bit of a cold. In Ireland I was stressed and continuously distracted. In Monte Carlo I arrived and played, having had no sleep for two days and for the $40k WSOP event I jumped off the plane and onto the table.

You would think that I would know that this £10k WSOPE Main Event might be quite hard. It’s possible that playing Bambos heads-up from 5am until 9am before sleeping from 10.30am until 12 noon, and then buying-in an hour late wasn’t the ideal preparation.

The table was tough so I decided that playing super-tight would save me from making difficult decisions, and possibly I could stagger through the day and into my bed.

The decision I had to make with two kings was made harder by me mistakenly value-betting the river, leading the guy to check-raise all-in. I’m such an idiot, why didn’t I just check?

The other half of my chips went in the other six hands I played. I finally got it in with AK and found AA behind me.

Bambos never usually beats me heads-up. We only play when he’s totally steaming and the game has broken-up. He really bashed me up this time though, making Saturday was a pretty bad day, which wiped out the pretty good day that was Friday.

It had been my plan to instantly leave the Empire and not return, but I made one more trip back to cheer for James and Praz, who both made the final table. Praz played brilliantly and could easily have won if the cards had run evenly.

In between sleeping, sulking, railing and making a TV advert for Black Belt Poker I also appeared on the 2+2 Podcast. That was pretty good fun, but none of this was getting me out of the hole I’d dug for this month.

I’d had a chance to get myself into an even bigger hole a few nights before, when I got a call to ask me if I wanted to play £100/£200 NLH with Phil Ivey and some random billionaire and millionaire businessmen. I said it sounded interesting and decided I’d better dig up some cash and put a suit on.

Following a lovely dinner at Crockfords I was invited to help start the game short-handed. The five would include myself, Mr Ivey, Durr and Viffer (a very strong Vegas pro). It turns out the millionaires and billionaires are not that stupid and they didn’t fancy the line-up. I decided that I wasn’t going to be the dessert of the day and left.

This year the EPT moved to the Metropole Hotel as it’s outgrown the Vic. The Vic ran the pre-EPT side events and the cash games, and shuttled the tournament steamers from the hotel. It meant that a few people drifted off elsewhere and the place felt a bit quieter, but the Vic made a bit more money, without all those annoying tournament players cluttering the place up and using all the tables.

I went to the Metropole for the £1000 6-max tournament where I played extremely tight for six hours until I found a nice 10s5s to get it in with. The table raised the odd eyebrow, but I still think it looked like a good spot.

In the main event I finally did what I never thought I’d do again and flopped set-over-set. I had been cursing myself for just calling an under-the-gun raiser with the aces and causing three others to call. My new stack was well above average with just two levels to go until the end of the day.

I was kind of enjoying my table draw, and smiling to myself at a foible of the internet kids that I’ve just noticed. When talking about nights out that they’ve had, which always involve nightclubs with VIP areas and bottle service, they always refer to the others who were there by their screen names. If the guy referenced is not easily identifiable by said screename, further information is always given such as:

"You know him. He won the FTOPS PLO tournament." or "He was second in the Main Event during the SCOOP."

Does everything have to be referenced by fucking poker? Nobody is ever: "Dave, the guy with the tatoo, wonky eye and the dodgy tooth." any more.

My last table was fun. It’s always nice to see Scott Fischman in London. It would have been nicer if I didn’t run my AK into his AA.

I was out an hour before the end of the day, and it made me pretty grumpy. I went off to the Vic to play a £5k sng which Sammy and a few boys had organised. I felt like I was a pretty good favourite in it, and I felt even better when I lead two to one heads-up. With £35k to the winner and £5k to second this was a chance to turn the day round.

Losing the registration fee didn’t cheer me up too much.

It was pretty disappointing to see the back of London’s two big tournaments. It never really felt like I was a threat in either of them, I didn’t play the High Roller Event, the WSOPE PLO or many of the EPT side events. I’d focussed on the cash and it wasn’t working. I’d need a minor miracle to turn the month around. After three weeks of sixteen hour playing days with only two days off, I reckoned I deserved some wages. I then remembered that if it was justice I wanted I’d joined the wrong business. I’d just have to keep putting in the hours, keep trying to play my best and hope that good things might occasionally happen.

I better set my alarm and get back to the Vic for 2pm.

Neil Channing spent much of the next week experimenting with regular employment.