There’s No Place Like the Vic

Since Deauville I haven’t really played many tournaments, just a 30 quid re-buy and a couple of satellites, so I’ve been really looking forward to this Vic Festival. In fact, I always look forward to the Vic Festivals.

In the bad old days, when there wasn’t much hold ’em around and I had a job, I would see these as four times a year when you could guarantee the games would be good. I would play cash for 12hrs a day through all of the week, getting a couple of hours sleep before work. I could never understand people wasting this time to play tournaments.

Right now in the festivals tournaments are king though, and with big fields one nice win can change your year. I guess that’s why I have put a lot of pressure on myself at the last few Vic festivals and have been disappointed not to get a big result. I know the place, the dealers and many of the other players so well. I get to sleep in my own bed and enjoy "normal" life during the week, unlike the visitors who have come just to play. Maybe it’s all the distractions that go with these things that have stopped me succeeding. I can remember an equal number of horrible beats and horrible plays in the tournaments here so it may not just be the cards.

What I do know is that the sample size is small. I have "only" played 30 big tournaments in the Vic in the last 3 years so maybe I should stop thinking about it and just get on with it.

On Saturday I make the decision to play the £200 PLH re-buy comp. It is my favourite game and a chance to win a 20k+ prize for not much. I’m expecting a sell-out crowd and am feeling "up" for it. However, I’m also a little guilty that I have told my good friend Tony Bloom that I’m choosing the tournament over his birthday party. This is made worse by the large number of people who have faced the same decision and call me to say they chose the other way.

The tournament starts at 4pm (on time-well done to the Vic) and after a slow start progresses very quickly. Due to the early 4pm start, brought in to get plenty of play before the casino is forced to close at 4am, the tournament "only" attracts 120 players.

I’m plodding along quite nicely at the dinner break. I eschew the player buffet, (10 quid including a glass of wine, would it kill them to make it free?), in favour of a poker-free McDonalds. My good fortune knows no bounds and I win an Egg McMuffin (redeemable prior to 10.30am) in McDonalds Monopoly.

After dinner the pace picks up rapidly. Starting with a 25/25 level there are less re-buys early on and with 50 players left an average stack is just 10 big blinds.

There just weren’t enough chips on play. Management make a sensible decision to extend the levels to 45mins but it’s not enough for my meagre stack.

I soon find the hand I’m waiting for but some egg with a pair of 8s outdraws my K7 (well done Nick). Andy asks for my structure suggestions as I leave and I suggest starting on 25/50 and putting in a 75/150 level. This still means you are encouraged to add-on and have a chance with between two and four thousand at the end of the re-buys but that the 1st level is a bit more meaningful.

Luckily for me it’s now 10pm and I can get to the Lizard Lounge fashionably late. (I don’t actually believe he lives in this 8 bed roomed nightclub – he probably has a studio flat up the road). I narrowly catch the end of the food and miss the girly floor show (bad beats all round).

The party is a spectacular affair and is a lovely chance to see some people I keep meaning to ring. Many legendary gamblers and quite a few poker players are there and I have fun with The Camel, Hopey, 3p Keith, The Gent, Murray and Kelvin (Tracey the Saint also in attendance). Joe and Claire are having a great time (I can’t believe this woman has just had twins), Paul Zimbler is putting in sterling work all round and Vicky appears to have drunk some champagne.

I recognise an above average amount of the post 90s music some of which I dance to and by 5am (an early night for a change) I’m in bed thinking that life isn’t that bad.

Sunday is a nice relaxing day. I play very well in the super satellite for the main event, and then slightly overplay one hand to miss out near the winning line. I was pleased to see a very hung-over Zimbler win one on the back of no sleep and a delighted Michael Arnold get one after plenty of zzzs.

Luckily I take care of the 750 I need for tomorrow in the cash game.

Neil Channing is sponsored by and