Robin Hood

The Dusk Till Dawn Poker Club in Nottingham has been around for a few years now. Throughout that time people keep telling me how great it is. Some of them say it’s the best club in the country and it wins awards and everything. I probably should go more often.

The Vic is a little disorganised. I do love it though. I saw over fifty mice running around in there one night, a couple of them were stupid enough to go in the restaurant. It has more tables than any club in the south, you can get a game at all times of the day and night and it’s twenty minutes walk from my place.

It’s never won any awards… certainly not for the food.

Within two days of getting back from Vegas, I was on a train to Nottingham to play The Monte Carlo at DTD. Simon Trumper can take credit for inventing this tournament. I’ve known Simon since the time he was a Robert De Niro lookalike when I first began playing poker. Now he is more of a Yul Brynner lookalike, he can be found running the DTD games and he does a great job. He and Rob Yong, the owner, decided they could offer the structure of the world’s biggest tournaments at a price people could afford.

They held The Monte Carlo with the EPT Grand Final structure, and The Bellagio with the structure of the WPT Championship. These tournaments have £250,000 guarantees and are just £1,000 to play.

The EPT Grand Final is now in Madrid and they’ve totally changed the structure, but the Monte Carlo at DTD has been a success and they are repeating it four times a year. The nearest I’ll ever get to that principality again is going to an industrial estate in Nottingham.

I had a re-entry and did £1,090 on both Friday and Saturday. The cash game was a fun way to spend eight hours breaking even.

The one thing that’s noticeable when I look over my diary for this year is how few figures there are written next to the days. An average year used to involve me heading to the Vic for 12 or 14 hours at least 200 times. This year it might have only happened 8 times. Helping to start a business, travelling to overseas tournaments, playing on Black Belt Poker at home, playing TV events and just taking a break had meant I just didn’t seem to have a spare 70 hours each week. When I talk to people about what being a professional gambler is all about, I find they simply have no idea just how long you have to spend actually gambling.

In August, I decided to rectify things a little. I had missed playing a bit, and after a tough year on the tournament trail, my confidence could benefit from writing a few winning sessions in the book.

Getting a game is not as easy these days as it was a few years ago. The £25/50 game went to £10/25 when we found there were a lot more people who were comfortable with those stakes. This year, it’s sometimes been hard to find players who are happy to step up to £2/5. I’ve never been one to shirk the effort of starting games though, so I got on the phone every day and regularly sat with five or six professionals desperately hoping that a nice customer might fancy a little gamble with the boys.

"If you build it they will come," is what I always tell the nitty players who won’t sit down without knowing that the line-up meets their requirements. We ended up having a great game every night for a month.

I did take the odd night off and I made two trips to play tournaments. Edinburgh was a fun trip to the UKIPT. The tournament had a big field with lots of young guys, some qualifiers playing their biggest event, some top Internet players, a great structure and a nice little high-roller side event. I busted pretty early in the Main, but cross-booking with JP in the £1,500 buy-in immediately before cashing my biggest win of 2011 turned out to be a smarter move than it may sound.

I managed to see ten shows at the Fringe Festival and I kept good company all week.

Luton for the GUKPT was less fun.

I felt I had to go to defend my title and because it looked like they might get way more players than I predicted. I lost every pot for four levels before mounting a massive comeback, building a big stack and then busting it in thirty minutes.

They still have really badly designed tables, a dinner break for an hour at 4pm and a bunch of other things designed to tilt and annoy the players, especially me. I was so happy to jump into a cab and get away. I won sixth prize in a cash game the next night in a fraction of the time, without having to be in Luton.

Late Night Poker returns to Channel Four despite losing Full Tilt as a sponsor. I can’t say I enjoyed my heat too much. I raised and folded to a donk-lead from the big blind who called, and then I raised, c-bet and gave up. Those were my first two pots. I was now officially a short-stack. I successfully three-bet shoved and open-shoved in a blind-on-blind pot. Pots three and four got me close to starting stack again.

My fifth pot was my last when I shoved Q-T blind on blind for 17 big blinds. I don’t really think I played too much poker. I may decide not to play that one if it ever happens again.

The one other Poker event that happened recently was Poker in the Park which seemed to be a great success. It was really Poker in the Square this year as Hanover Square had to substitute for Leicester Square where Olympic stuff is happening. This meant my lecture got way less random punters asking stupid questions and seemed to be full of people who were really there to celebrate poker. I commentated on the Indian Poker tournament, watched Chufty win the Best Mixed Game Player in the British Poker Awards, listened to all the lectures I could and played "Count the number of poker skins who rented tents last year that are now out of business".

I also won an award for the best blog.

I hope this one was up to scratch.