Get It Quietly

Football, bollocks and a bit of poker if you're lucky.

Location: Enfield, London, United Kingdom

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Lazy Afternoon

Chilling out here, not much to do but surf the web and see what's what. A recent post from Daniel Negreanu caught my eye on his site. Read this now. Full marks to Negreanu for being so honest about this. A lot of people will read this and think, as he says, what the hell have you got to complain about ? However, it's simple human nature that after a high you have to "come down" at some point. Whether this high is artificially induced or a natural high caused by, for example, winning $1.5 million in a poker tournament (and by all accounts crushing the field from two tables out), the low will follow. Hundreds of poker players, maybe thousands, have self-destructed because they either didn't understand why they felt low a while after a big success, or because they tried too hard to repeat the high. Read this now as I say, and if you are fortunate enough to make a big score (whatever that is for you, it's all relative), read it every day for a month.

Indirectly, via Negreanu's forum, I noticed that Roy the Boy has been embarrassing himself again. Now I'm the first person to say don't put poker players on a pedestal because of the odd play, a couple of results or even plain reputation, but neither should you cast them down on flimsy evidence. If Roy, or anyone else, wants to criticise Chan or Lederer based on their own experience of playing against them over a period of time, fine. However, to do so based on one hand taken out of context on TV is ludicrous. It is also completely baseless to claim some kind of European superiority of America as a result of World Series results. Only the best European players are going to make the trip (plus a few tourists like me), to play against the whole American poker population from A to Z. His other "evidence" is that half a dozen Americans couldn't win any of their 16-runner heats in the Dublin WPC. So what ? Proves nothing.

Poker is an individual game. Setting it up as Europe v America is pointless. I'm all for a bit of camaraderie when you're on foreign shores, but often you hear people say something like "good luck to all the Brits against them Yanks" and I think why ? There are plenty of British players on whom I wouldn't piss if they were on fire. Conversely there are Americans I have played against who have been nothing but friendly and likeable - Chip Jett, Frankie O'Dell and (briefly) Paul Phillips for example, and I'd always root for them.

Patriotism aside, if you really want to know how good someone is, play against them, live. If you can't do that (and fair enough, we can't all sit down in that Bellagio game just to find out how good Ivey really is), then listen to what they say and read what they write. Chan is clearly a "coaches in the car park" man, nothing wrong with that, but Lederer's trip reports on RGP are top notch and show a deep understanding of the game. I can't say the same for Brindley, who first caught my eye with a "Play of the Month" report in Poker Europa in praise of a pathetic piece of angle-shooting, and has never impressed me since.

As for me, I enjoyed myself so much in Luton the other night I'm going to switch my focus back to live play for a while. I've made $4,000 in three months online but god damn it's been boring, and at times very frustrating. We'll call that proof of concept, and should I ever hit the skids (even if only in poker terms) it's there to play. I am in the process of booking for the Bellagio WPT finals in April ; between now and then I'm going to work on my game as an intellectual challenge, and any money I make's a bonus.

I guess that was quite a ramble ! Why not though on a lazy afternoon, at least until my appointment with the nurse to have my ears syringed. Don't say I never write anything personal on here. And watch out next time I play, because I'll be able to hear you muttering "43 ? What kind of hand's that" !

Half an hour later update : Another titbit I have to share with you from my afternoon of surfing. Here's a hand Simon Trumper descibes in his diary.

"During the first level of 25 50 I made it 250 to go with TT. One limper called, flop was 9 T J, both checked, turn Q, he bet 200, I called, river 8, he checked as did I. He had called my raise with K8. I knew if I had bet the flop he would have called as later I saw him call a bet on the turn with K7 on a flop of 3 9 7 T. He caught a K on the river to win."

This is what you're up against with the real top players. They can see into the future and read you based on what you're going to do in a later hand ! Just kidding Simon, I think I know what you meant :-)

Later that day I can now hear like Amarillo Slim (I'll tell ya boy I can hear a mouse pee on cotton). Insert own joke about what Amarillo Slim likes to hear. Moving right along. It's giving me a headache to be honest. I'm like that guy in Captain Corelli's Mandolin, much more of this and I'm going to go back and ask them to put it all back in. No really it's much better, and maybe the headache is actually due to reading too many of Roy's exploits over the past few months. I have often wondered what exactly it is that sponsors get for their money. Usually they can rely on at least a bit of glad-handling of the Internet qualifiers. Our man's above all that though :

"I’d already decided it was not prudent to find any of the thirty or so Ladbrokes qualifiers on the flight, as the prospect of a hyper-excited millionaire candidate bashing my ear for the duration of the flight talking flops, sets, straights and slow-play was a little too much to digest considering the seven day card fest ahead.

Poker Million seat winner and now WSOP qualifier Mark Wallis says “hi” as he scrambles back to 34F (sounds like a desirable bra size) but, desperate to avoid talking poker, I sink back in my chair head bowed searching for one of those caps I hate so much."

And the amazing thing is he writes this in his own column on Ladbrokes' website. I don't know. You think the guy in Luton who calls your raise with J4 is the biggest mug in the game - he's nothing compared to some of these sponsors. Enough already. The time I spent ploughing through these was rewarded in the end by the revelation that Roy thinks people from Manchester speak with a Manchurian accent. I'm still chuckling at that one. I know, I'm such a bitch !

Tuesday, December 28, 2004


In order to inject some much-needed Christmas cheer to this diary, I must say that I played the £100 PL freeze-out in Luton last night and thoroughly enjoyed myself, despite the classic 12th place at 2am finish. The reason I enjoyed it so much is that I made a very conscious effort to play the players more than the cards, to manipulate and be aware of my table image, to try to read players, generally all the things I stopped (or never even started) doing out of laziness because I thought I could win without them. Of course not every move came off, but enough to be profitable, and more to the point I was able to use the ones I made a hash of for advertising. There was one I was very pleased with, there's a pair on board and I check-raise representing trips only to be found out and made to pass. 10 minutes later I limp on the button with QTs, flop comes TTx, and I play it exactly the same and double through some poor guy who makes a pair on the turn.

It's the same online, when you enjoy the game you're playing you generally play much better and even if you could make more turning the handle somewhere else, you're still much better off overall where you are.

If any of you are quite new to these tournaments, here's a bone for you - how much easier do you think it is for me to read you when you constantly tell me, and everyone else, how you play ? It must be torture in these beginner tournaments, every hand must be thoroughly analysed by the panel. Don't tell everyone how you play at the table (it's a lot different me doing it here). Force them to at least make an effort to find out.

Anyway these £100 tournaments are a godsend if you're trying to move to the next level, check them out. Luton are also promising a couple of shoot-outs on Monday 24th and 31st which I will try to make, it will be interesting to see if these take off - I hope so !

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

'Tis the Season

I always used to enjoy reading "The Modern Parents" in Viz, at least partly because as a practising Communist / atheist / hippy / enemy of society in general / all of the above I used to secretly agree with a lot of what they said. And never more so than when they cancelled Christmas for Tarquin and Guinevere because "Father Christmas is a patriarchal authority figure who rewards conformist behaviour with consumer products". How can you possibly argue with that, it's so self-evidently the truth !

So I will spare you the Yuletide homilies and simply kick my feet up for a few days. Don't expect any New Year crap either - the way I see it, either take stock on a regular basis or just wing it day by day, whichever makes more sense than paying lip service to self-improvement for one week a year. Plus, for that week, the poker games are terrible and you can't elbow your way into the gym for love nor money. Luckily normal service is soon resumed.

Anyway, apart from the day itself football and poker continues in full swing, woo hoo ! But can I go one whole day without gambling ? 6-4 says I can't ..

Friday, December 17, 2004

It's Our Party And We'll Pick You Up By The Ankles And Shake You Until All The Money Falls Out If We Want To

Party Poker have started The Step Challenge . It's very clever, in the same sense that Three Card Monty is clever if you have the necessary sleight of hand. The basic idea from the suckers, sorry customers, point of view is that you can pony $11 up to $9000. The basic idea from Party's point of view is that you keep as many players "alive" as you possibly can, by shifting them up and down the steps, paying a rake for every "step" they take.

Jim Geary has posted an excellent analysis. He concludes that if everyone started at Step One, the rake on what is essentially a $20,000 tournament would be $10,456.85 . Now not everyone does start at step one (you can buy in at any step you like, including the last one, which at $1000+65 is not a bad deal). But if you start at the bottom, you're basically trying to overcome a 52% rake.

So please don't do it. Stick with the Sit and Goes. Even though I rule at Sit and Goes, you're still much better off in my game ! Party are playing very cleverly on the greed and ignorance of small-time players. The ignorance here is two-fold : ignorance of precisely how long a long shot is, and of the effect of the rake.

I wish I could play somewhere like Stars which has excellent customer support * and a much better attitude all round, but there is so much valyoo on Party it would be cutting my head off to spite my nose. All I can do is make sure people are aware of the most egregious rip-offs on the site and trust people to rely on their intelligence rather than their greed. Hmm. That's not going to work is it. Well I tried.

* While browsing through Party's bonus details I came across the " Players' Club" which promises "exclusive privileges". Should you become a Silver Member, one of your exclusive privileges is "priority in answering queries". In short, a professional level of customer support is an exclusive privilege that you have to earn. Marvellous.

Update 27/12 : Barry Shulman, editor of Cardplayer, devotes his latest column to these tournaments. And guess what - he thinks they're fucking great. Guess what else for a bonus prize - the rake goes completely unmentioned. So he's using his own media outlet to push these tournaments because - well choose any or all from the following

1) He wants more fish to play against when he buys in for $1000
2) As a nice bonus for one of Card Player's biggest advertisers
3) (speculation) I have no idea who has a piece of Party Poker. Let's just say I would be unsurprised if Mr. B. Shulman was among the list of investors.

People say I'm cynical - I'm a realist. It's not poker that has made me this way, it's the whole world and the way it's going. Put your own spin on everything you can just to shake a few more cents out of the suckers so you can buy a second fucking RV. Alright I'll stop. Next time you pick up one of these "free" magazines, have a think about who they're written for. You ? Don't make me laugh. Don't make me LAUGH. They are written for the advertisers and the writers themselves, and you're so far down the list you're on page 55.

PS I know I said I wasn't going to post for a bit but when I read something to angry up the blood, I need to vent !

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Then Like My Dreams They Fade and Die

Never mind bubbles bursting, bubbles colliding next month as Luton and Brighton have managed to schedule their festivals simultaneously. Never attribute to malice aforethought what can be just as easily attributed to incompetence. On whose part we don't know, but it really does make you shake your head. What are they thinking ?

I've never understood why Luton have festivals in December and January anyway. It's like they don't realise that, despite it being a new year, they're still only 4 weeks apart. Expect turnouts of a pre "poker boom" nature. It is, however, an ill wind that blows no one any good. I would expect about the same turnout of local fish at each, with the better players split between the two. Smaller fields = smaller variance too (a better chance of winning in plain English). I should definitely blow the dust off the bankroll and have a nibble at one or two of the Luton comps.

Update 20/12 : Apparently Brighton have showed some common sense and moved their festival to the following week.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Let's Have a Bet Then

There's not much point me chirping about The Camel's bets if I'm not prepared to put my own head on the block with a few tips ! And so, here's a bet for you. Back Everton in whichever Premiership market takes your fancy. On Betfair they are currently 70 to win, 6.2 to finish top three, and 3.55 betting without Arsenal, Chelsea and ManYoo. Their upcoming fixtures are as follows :

(A) Blackburn
(H) Man City
(A) Charlton
(A) Tottenham
(H) Charlton
(H) Norwich
(A) Southampton

prior to playing Chelsea (H) on February 12th. Not the toughest fixture line up you must agree ! On the basis of choosing the market with the smallest margin, I'm going for £50 at 3.55 * betting without Chelsea, ManYoo and Arsenal. Everton are currently 7 points clear of Middlesboro, 11 ahead of Aston Villa and 12 ahead of Liverpool (who are shorter odds at 3.35). They have no European distraction (unlike Boro and Liverpool), money to spend in the transfer window, and a top manager, who looks a bit like me. What more do you want ? Lump it on with the option of selling it back before they play Chelsea.

* Now 3.45 because I've already taken it. Insider dealing ? You bet !

Monday, December 13, 2004

Way To Make Us All Look Like Twats

Big it up for Matthew Stevens who won $500K in that Pacific Poker thing. Phil Taylor was second, and Yevgeny Kafelnikov third. Now I know that this tournament had a fast structure, and I'm not the most informed commentator, having watched about 30 seconds of the entire thing. I happened to flick it on and was treated to Tim Flanders expounding on how to play against bad players. "Takes one to know one" I quipped, and that was enough for me.

But to all poker "professionals" who played in this, for shame. Hang your heads. Not only did you sell out to a horrible event which gave nothing back to the players, you couldn't even manage a place finish between you against a rag-tag collection of Internet qualifiers and celebrities. I expect you tried to bluff them and ended up in the bar moaning "how could they call me with that". Or whingeing about the structure, which was published in advance giving you plenty of time to work out the necessary adjustments. You sorry wankers.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Is That a Bubble Bursting ?

As I said, I'm giving the Luton festival a miss this week. It looks like I'm not the only one, as turnouts seem to be on the low side. 52 for the Stud on Monday. OK, it was Stud, maybe it'll pick up when the Hold-Em starts. 81 on Tuesday but then 52 again on Wednesday ! It's not so long ago that festival tournaments in Luton were selling out at 170. What's going on ?

Could be a lot of reasons. These tournaments were capped at 90 runners so maybe people didn't travel because they felt they weren't guaranteed a seat. Quite a few of the better players are in the US at the moment. Hmm, maybe I should play tonight after all ! But it could just be that these endless festivals have finally saturated the market. In the SE alone there's Luton, the Vic, Southampton, Brighton and Gutshot. Walsall's not too far away either and they've just had a big one. Each time, a lot of money goes into a few pockets (someone has managed to win two in a row at Luton this week - it's not a name I recognise but full marks to him for stamina at the very least !), while the majority drop £1000 or so.

It's no skin off my nose either way but we'll await developments in the new year. I'm sure it won't collapse altogether so I'll still have the option of taking the odd shot - an option which I might exercise if I blag a result in the weekly £100 at Luton. If I do I reckon I might as well spin it up around £1000 and try to get lucky, rather than frig around with all these £200 comps which won't change much even if I win.

Correction : 73 runners on Wednesday, 52 on Thursday. Another contributory factor occurs to me : 2-day events. All to the good if you're playing, no one really wants a chip count, but could easily cut attendance as many people can't do consecutive days, afternoons, or even get out of bed before 4pm.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Egg Head Likes His Booky-Wook

Picked up a couple of books during the week, by the two Phils - Hellmuth and Gordon.

Hellmuth's book "Bad Beats and Lucky Draws" delivers what it says in the title (unlike his previous book), and therein lies the problem. People should be paying me to tell bad beat stories, not I them ! There is, as ever, a nugget or two buried deep within, but even if you can handle Hellmuth's style, it's a bit of a slog. He reminds me of the £20 player who keeps reraising with AJ, and the one time he actually catches someone with AT he nods sagely and says "ah yes, I put you on AT". They never say that when they're behind do they ? Going back to the book, there are some interesting analyses by other players, notably Gus Hansen and Ted Forrest, but several of these sound awfully familiar if you've read a few Card Players and that's a bit naughty to put recycled material in a book without saying so (as, for example, Roy Cooke does but he makes it clear up front which is fine). As a small plus though you might enjoy snippets about the likes of Koresh and Tony Chapman !

Gordon's "Poker : The Real Deal" is much better, it's quite funny and there is some stuff in there that I've rarely seen before, like how to put people on tilt. To give you an idea of the flavour, he starts off on the story of Nick the Greek vs Johnny Moss, but just as you're thinking "Oh God, not that 5-card stud hand again", he wraps it up because "no one likes bad beat stories". Quite so !

I say rarely, because John Fox covers such topics in the brilliant "Play Poker, Quit Work and Sleep Till Noon". Frankly I recommend flying to Vegas with the sole purpose of buying this book from the big gambling bookstore there. It's that good. My poker library probably numbers around 40-50 books by now but, apart from the odd titbit here and there, just about everything you need is in Fox as mentioned above, Sklansky's Theory of Poker and Larry Phillips' Zen and the Art of Poker (although there is a small amount of bollocks in the latter about luck). The rest are either specific to particular games * or have some small value from a "how would I play against someone who plays by this book" point of view, and as a parting shot while I'm here, "Big Deal" is surely the most over-rated poker book of all time - it's deadly dull and has no useful strategy content whatsoever.

* Fox is specific to draw poker but it's sooooo good that doesn't matter.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Up All Night

Eked out 5th in Luton's Friday Night Freezeout last night for £350 profit. I couldn't complain about my luck overall (having knocked AA off with KK on a rag flop in the first level, K on the turn !) but as usual, one more 50/50 won might have made a big difference. Nil desperandum though, I quite enjoyed it and my Short Stack Strategy really does work, mechanical as it is, I was only in trouble when I deviated from it.

Three hands of moderate interest : firstly the Fish of the Week, the big blind posts 1200 leaving him 200 left. There's a limper, I go all in for about 8K and the BB looks at his cards casually and tosses them into the muck in one smooth movement. He's passing up 20-1 on these chips ! Limper folds too (after a lame attempt to talk a reaction out of me) and I rake it in. If anyone's not clear on this, there does come a time when you have to move your chips in even when you know you don't have the best hand boys and girls. The only hand you can fold here is the Joker and the Rules of Bridge card.

Moody of the Week goes to me, thank you very much. Circumstances beyond my control dictate that I am going to push all in from the small blindwith any two if it's folded to me. When it is, I take a look just for show, and find QQ. Now what am I going to do ? I move it all in anyway, anything else will look super-suspicious, and the BB goes into the tank. I could really use a double up here and he looks like he's leaning towards folding so I have to do something, anything, to change his mind. A couple of times earlier on I was caught out with T9, so I ask him "can you beat T9 ?". That throws him completely and he says "Erm, I can't answer that without revealing my hand". After a bit more cogitation he calls with - T9 ! The flop gives him a flush draw which would have served me right but I dodged it.

And finally Pokerstars Special of the Week goes to Lord Miros. I raise his blind with 99, "The Bastard" (but not the Poker Bastard !) calls. Flop comes 875, he bets about 15K and I go all in for about 10K more. Now he starts to squirm and has to call the rest with KJ. Turn 6. River 9. Marvellous.

So I bust out 5th and it turns out Bill was 4th, being unable to compete with Tom "I never get dealt a hand" Myland picking up AA, QQ, KK and AA again in about an hour, and being paid in full each time. Not a bad night, but rolling in at 4-30 am is not something I can do on a regular basis very often ! I'll give the festival a swerve this week, good luck to you if you're playing.

Friday, December 03, 2004

More Than A Suspicion

Football fans and sports bettors, Check this out . So two teams who have virtually been eliminated from a competition record a 5-2 result after "significant" sums have been wagered on this scoreline ? That's not suspicious, Bayes' theorem tells us that is completely bent beyond any reasonable doubt. 5-2 is not a football scoreline that anyone would put a straight bet on.

If this is true (that significant sums were wagered) then both of these clubs should be banned from European football forever. End of story.

4/12 Update Talking to a few people "in the know" last night it seems that a lot of money was wagered on several of the higher scorelines rather than just 5-2. It still stinks though, and apparently there was another coup on a Benfica game this week. UEFA have to act, although to an extent they have brought it on themselves by creating a tournament structure that does render some fixtures meaningless to the teams concerned.

Things To Do Before You Die (1)

Score a goal at Loftus Road !

I have signed up for the next Football Aid event at QPR. Yes, I will be treading the hallowed turf of Loftus Road for 90 minutes. As trodden by Les Ferdinand, Ray Wilkins, Devon White, etc. As the two "midfield general" spots have been snapped up, I will be spearheading the home team's attack !

This is going to happen in May sometime so I'll keep you posted. In the meantime it's a great incentive for me to improve my fitness - by poker standards I'm already Mr Motivator, but by 90-minutes-on-a-full-size-pitch standards I could probably use some improvement.

It might sound like a lot of money but what the hell, I've spunked that off in poker tournaments I wasn't qualified to play in at least a dozen times. And this will money will certainly end up in a more deserving pocket !

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Leaving the Sinking Ship

Internet poker forums - I'm going to leave you to it. There is now a definite culture of "us and them" on these, primarily the Mob Forum which was the single oasis in the desert of thought until recently. "Us" being the TV faces, backed up by their ever-growing fan clubs, and "them" being all the "jealous" people who have "achieved nothing".

Well I'll tell you one thing I have achieved. I've never been broke and reduced to begging for money off my peers. I have achieved this without selling my name like a ten-dollar whore and walking around with "Eat at Joe's" plastered all over me. And I have achieved this without ever cheating anyone or taking any unethical action that would anger me if I was on the receiving end. How many of your heroes can say that I wonder ?

As I say though, I'm happy to leave you to it. The faces can roam the earth living out of a suitcase and never being more than three months away from living on the street, while the wannabees can gaze upon them adoringly and ask them to speak at their works dinner for fucks sake - jesus if I turned up for a works do and some broke poker player was the star attraction I'd quit on the fucking spot.

There are some "faces" I respect. I'm not going to make a list but there are about a dozen or so. Most of the rest I am indifferent to, which leaves a sizeable proportion who are any combination of moderate players, desperate attention-seekers and feckless brokes.

If there is one group of poker players who I respect as a group, it's the guys who are putting the hours in and getting it quietly, fair and square. You know who you are, and my hat is tipped in your general direction. As for the Mob Forum, perhaps the last person on there who isn't doing one of the following

- Trying to flog their own tatty business venture
- Sucking up to people they've never met
- Trying to blame everyone else for their losses
- Posting with the sole intention of winding people up and wasting their time

could turn the lights off on their way out. It could well be me. Click.