Get It Quietly

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

Location: Enfield, London, United Kingdom

Monday, February 28, 2005

Spring Is Sprung

And not before time. I'm glad I didn't buy this flat because being on the ground floor, with three French windows and an underground car park below, I have a hell of a job keeping it warm enough. I'm not looking forward to the next electric bill. Anyway, what's been going on ?

I expect this happens to everyone in the "personal services" industry. You're just doing the job when someone says "How about you and your friends get together, and we'll film you all ! We'll pay you extra money !". You think "well I've come this far, why not", and before you know it you're doing your stuff, fully wired up under the lights and the camera. So we had a group session down at Gutshot on Saturday, all being filmed for the Poker Channel. I have to say it went better than I thought it would, which is partly thanks to Jesse, Vicky (yes that Jesse and that Vicky) and Rob who were top professionals, and my fellow performers who included DY, Bad Beat, Mad Ron, Miros, Paul Parker and Professor Duvall. I wouldn't say this if I didn't believe it - I think it will be worth watching, and even more so if you know any of the combatants, so keep an eye out, Bar Beat it's called, 7 shows which will (no doubt) be repeated a million times on the Poker Channel. This is Sky Digital I think, so if you're on cable, petition your local operator to provide it, as I have !

It was a good job Rangers won on Saturday or I might have sulked through some of the filming. And 2-0 at Ipswich, not too shabby ! While I said last week that everyone had a right to voice their opinion, I feel this does not extend to Rangers fans caning Ian Holloway just because he gets a couple of substitutions wrong. Holloway is a legend so SHUT IT ! Barnet also won and Everton made it a treble. Hooray !

Finally one more point to make, there has been some discussion here and elsewhere about how much poker content I am now going to put out for free, well we'll have to see, but I should stress that this particular blog is more for gossip and talking bollocks. The hardcore poker content is here and I hope to maintain the level of posting at its current level which I think isn't bad, for nothing !

Saturday, February 26, 2005

I changed my mind, ok ?

Dave D seems a bit upset with me for posting on the Mob Forum lately. DY says on his blog "Andy said he was going to stop writing on the Hendon Mob forum, but hasn't stuck to it".

First of all, here's what I said. Since then I have chipped in with the odd two-line post out of boredom, or because the topic under discussion was particularly interesting.

While much of what I said still applies, there's nothing more sinister to this than the fact that I changed my mind. I've done it many times before and I'll do it again. I can go back through this blog and see a number of points that I now disagree with. For example, that good players only have a small edge in NL tournaments. I now realise this isn't true. Changing your mind is allowed, I think, and is only natural if you're thinking about the game (and life) in a dynamic way, as you have to. Make of it what you will.

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, February 25, 2005

Easy Target

I haven't stuck the boot into Paul Samuel for a while so why not. His latest piss-poor "bit of maths" on Pokerpages calculates everything to four significant figures, as usual, based on the assumption that people are going to have the same calling standards when you raise under the gun and when you raise on the button.

All pretty much as we would expect, but the only reason I read it at all was the moderately amusing typo in the introduction "the uncontested post is key". Most of this guys posts are uncontested, for the sole reason that no one cares. He always used to say that the volume of criticism he received was a measure of his popularity. How, I wonder, does he interpret the fact that everyone now ignores him ?

Except me just now, damn !!

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Surprising Work/Poker Balance Alteration

I have been a bit pissed off with what I've been doing at work lately, I didn't really want to get up in the morning, and I started thinking about quitting and playing online poker instead - that's how bad it was ! And so (drum roll) ... I have transferred internally and will be working on something else that I should enjoy more. As part of the deal I'm going back to a 5 day week (I have been working a 4 day week for the last two years). It's a good deal - when I went down to a 4 day week I took a 20% pay cut, but now I'm going back to 5 I get a 25% rise ! Do that a few times and I'll be laughing !

Together with the whoring (announcement still pending) that's going to bring in a decent amount of extra money. What I need now is an expensive hobby that involves travelling around the world largeing it. I know ! So I'm going to use some of the extra money to spin it up in slightly bigger tournaments. For fun. For the challenge. Why not. I'm still planning to take a sabbatical next year, and maybe spend three months on the road in the US (or just in Vegas), that's something to look forward to. When people ask "should I play poker professionally", no one mentions the key factor - how good is your job now ? How easy would it be to go back to when (sorry if) the poker goes tits up ? I'm lucky I have a good job - I don't mind making a bit more effort with it for a while.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

There's No Shame In Being a Whore

As you may know, I am writing articles for Stan James, and if you didn't know, check them out ! I am also on the point of signing up with another well-known poker website. Am I a sell out ? Nyh. Maybe. I figure that if people are prepared to pay Negreanu for his laundry list (can't find a link unfortunately but it was in one of his reprinted blog pieces), I might as well help myself to a slice or two of cake.

Meanwhile if any other potential pimps would like to make me an offer, go for it, now that, in the words of George Bernard Shaw, we've established what I am and we're just haggling over the price :-)

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Swearing Update

Apparently Hellmuth was 20-minuted from the WPT LA Open today for swearing. You'd better believe that if it can happen to Hellmuth then they won't hesitate to do it to you or me. That's it for me, NO more swearing at the table. Good habits.

BTW I also mentioned last year that I was talking to the dealer who dealt the Hellmuth-Grizzle confrontation at the WSOP. She told me that while Hellmuth could be incredibly rude she had never heard him swear. Further evidence that Phil is cracking up ? I have to wonder. His outbursts seem to be more and more bizarre, and it's no secret that he had a very poor year last year. And in some ways it's sad, but he wouldn't find much support from the poker world in general. What goes around comes around in the end, you'd really better believe that.

20/2/05 Further update : " Young Phan yelled as he got a bad beat to get knocked out,'Can I say fuck now?'". Now that's funny. I'm surprised they didn't 20 minute him for the next one. OK although they have some odd rules, the tournament staff in the US are usually very very good, and everyone is treated the same. Yesterday Hellmuth, today Lyle Berman, who basically owns the WPT, was 20-minuted for bouncing a card off the table !

PS And yes I know this info comes from the much-reviled Mike Paulle. I'm just keeping track of things here :-)

Thursday, February 17, 2005

No to London 2012

As soon as I read the first two paragraphs of this, I was saying "Yeah ! Testify !"

I don't particularly want London to host the Olympics in 2012. It's not something I feel very strongly about, but nonetheless I am down with the "Noes" on this one. I have always associated the event with hypocrisy over amateurism, hypocrisy over the issue of drug cheating and lame jingoistic Billy Britain "Hooray, someone from Redditch won a bronze in the mixed synchronized skeet sculls / only the British judge gave Torvill and Dean 6.0 because the others are all cheating foreigners" schtick.

But what I object to now, like the people behind this NoLondon2012 organistion, is basically being told to shut up because I disagree with the official BBC/government/tabloid line. For example (from the Independent) "Tessa Jowell has told campaigners opposed to London's bid to stage the Olympic Games that any attempt to sabotage the project would "ruin the dreams" of the vast majority of Britons." What a load of bollocks. Either that's a lie or she is totally and utterly out of touch. And does saying "Actually, we don't want it" really qualify as sabotage ? This is still a democracy, just about, and if I don't want them I'll say so. I know that one of the criteria for selection is the level of public support, but just a moment here. Should the games go to the city with the highest level of public support, or the highest level of pretence of public support ?

No doubt any dissenters will be (illegally) kept well clear of the visiting nobs, as the road works are cleared away in front of them and the lights all fixed so they zoom straight through *, hey look dignitaries, no traffic problems here ! It's like one of those "official tours" of Soviet Russia they used to do.

The government want it, for a million "look at the shiny Olympics" distraction reasons. The media want it so they can talk crap about it for 7 years. Corporations want it in case they win the contract to pave over half of East London. But I don't want it, and nor do a lot of people. I expect they will appeal to our wallets, as if that's all we care about. Let me ask you this. Do you think the British taxpayer would end up in profit when the dust settled ? I know Atlanta made a profit but if there is one thing the Americans are good at, it's making a few $$$. Anyone who thinks we would do the same is advised to consider the Millennium Dome and the new Scottish Parliament building.

I have no confidence that we can make a profit on the whole deal. No confidence whatsoever. Mark my words. And if this is bulldozed through, I'm renting my flat out for the month and flying out to Vegas till it's over.

* is absolutely true, that's what they did.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Telling It Like It Is

Ivey to Negreanu : "You don't play poker no more man, you're a businessman now"

How cool is Ivey ? He rules.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Put That Cat Out

I'm not one to criticise referees but ... we had a right muppet yesterday. At one point he awarded Preston a free kick when two of their players collided with each other in mid air. Personally I think he should have booked the one who led with his elbow. But his finest moment was sending the QPR mascot off for an early bath.

Or at least off to lick itself and cough up a few furballs, as Rangers' mascot is a 7 foot tall black cat with a giant furry head. I know Dan Shittu is a big guy, but I would have hoped that trained officials could tell the difference. Perhaps it was for the best. If Jude the Cat hadn't stepped out along with the rest of the QPR offside trap it could all have ended in tears.

Now, in case anyone is wondering why QPR's mascot is a 7 foot tall black cat with a giant furry head, there used to be a cat that lived in the stadium, and would happily wander through the crowd on match days, unaffected by the Loftus Road Roar (ahem). Unfortunately it was either run over or shot for sport by Vinny Jones (no one's quite sure), and had its ashes sprinkled in one of the goals. A couple of months later someone noticed that Rangers hadn't scored in that goal since, and this was attributed to ill-omen rather than the inability of the strikers at the time to hit a cow's arse with a banjo, as the saying goes. The curse was duly lifted by some Shepherd's Bush Shaman and in time someone came up with the mascot idea.

Anyway I'm rambling. I should point out that none of the mystifying decisions yesterday affected the game (except in the chaos theory sense) and we lost fair and square.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Form Is Temporary

but I'll take it. 2nd in Luton last night for £1720. Report to follow, probably tomorrow as I have a full day lined up today - don't worry, all pleasure no business !

Monday, February 07, 2005

A Bit More Football

Just like the Camel, I was almost starting to hope that Chelsea win the league, after the playground scrap between the other two last week, until I read in the paper today that the Stamford Bridge cognoscenti have taken to wearing shirts emblazoned with "Champions - it's only a matter of time". United fans will be insufferable if they win it, but we would have the consolation of thinking about all those fat bastards * crying in their lager down the King's Road. With Robben on crutches and no home game for a month for Chelsea, maybe it's not all over just yet.

Chelsea's next game is a visit to Everton. While the Scousers are wobbling a little since Gravesen left, and if I wasn't sure about Beattie I am totally unconvinced by Arteta (an obvious fanny merchant), they still have a 5 point lead and a hell of a lot of fighting spirit. Lay them back at 2.92 if you like (if indeed anyone took my advice) but I'm going to let it ride.

Finally I was due to take the park myself this evening for our impromptu works' team. However there was a SNAFU on the booking front and the old law of "first come first served" saw us off. What was amusing (in retrospect) was after all the fuss about referees being sworn at, the most strident voice in the discussion could be heard 100 yards away shouting "get off this fucking pitch or you will get hurt" - it was the referee himself. I guess you have to be tough to ref in the mean streets of Enfield :-)

* A little bit of swearing is ok in football, where necessary.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Bits and Pieces

Someone asked me which site I play on last night, and when I answered without mentioning William Hill, Steve Vladar perked up and gave me a sales pitch. Which is fair enough really - at least he's earning his filthy lucre :-)


It's very disappointing to see the lawyers being called in to sort out a spat between Pokerpages and the Mob. It's all over the Mob's database. I noticed myself that all my US results had vanished on there, making me look like the one-hit wonder I actually am, which is no good ! I assumed that someone had complained about them being copied from somewhere and thought little else of it. Pokerpages don't seem to be satisfied with the results being removed and have brought it all up before the beak. Mark Napolitano, ask yourself, is this where you thought you would end up when you started that website ? Once the lawyers are involved, you have a three way hi-lo pot. The lawyers have the low side locked up and are freerolling for the high. The other two parties are fighting to either win a little or lose the lot. Not good.


Nice to see Steve T in good form yesterday, as I said in my tournament report he does make me laugh. My "gay raises" attracted his attention. If you're saying what the hell ? this is apparently what small raises are called in that bastion of 21st century tolerance, the Vic. Stewart Reuben uses the term frequently in his books. Anyway this was all in fun. Poker could do with a few more like Steve. And a few less like Luton's resident Yorkshireman who allowed himself to be blinded off a decent stack before calling the rest off with 88 and then expressing his derision that another short stack (not me by the way) had dared to raise his blind with QJ. Well if that makes you feel better. But has anyone else noticed that a Yorkshireman's right, as he sees it, to be "bluff and plain-speaking" is actually, as everyone else sees it, a right to act like a rude, ignorant tosser ?


I was going to use the c-word there instead of tosser but thought I should tone it down a bit. If there's one habit I must rid myself of at the poker table it's swearing. Not that I'm chuntering on like Wayne Rooney or anything, but for example last night when I realised I had committed all my chips with KJ against KK, an expletive or two passed my lips. Needless to say it does no harm at all in Luton, in fact it may be necessary to maintain the proper level of respect from the masses. But it you let one slip at the wrong time in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, someone will try to cop you 20 minutes. It could cost you a lot of money. Form good habits when it doesn't matter so much, and you'll be alright when it does


Finally a note of amusement as I was making the rounds today. A billboard ad caught my eye, it was for IKEA. There's a poncey-looking fashion designer with one of those lap-dogs, and he says "If you go, I eat the dog". Most amusing. However what I enjoyed was that this was placed directly above a kebab shop. I wonder how many people walk down that road at 11-30 on a Friday night thinking "mmmm kebab", only to see the poster and change their minds, "actually I think I'll just go home and make some toast".

Who'd Have Thunk It

Stop reraising with 6 high and I win some money. I blagged 3rd in Luton last night for £830. Report to follow. Seeing as I played for 7 hours last night, and I managed three pages on one hand last month, it could be a long one.

One interesting development, a couple of players introduced themselves out of the blue, saying they read this blog, and a couple more enquired after it. Nice to hear, but maybe I'll have to keep some stuff back if that's the case :-). Just in case anyone isn't aware, trip reports and suchlike live here, and should be updated this evening.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Thin Skins (2)

The second reason I think people appear to be so sensitive to criticism online is that, in my opinion, once enough people start to congregate on a forum, or anywhere, then a form of "groupthink" starts to take over.

What I mean by this is that instead of saying what they think, people tend to say what they think everyone else thinks. In the playground, the office and the pub, the more people are gathered together, the more of this you hear. Fit in, don't say anything different. One of us. That guy over there who says something else - he's one of them. I always had my suspicions, didn't you ? You can talk to one person about something and most of the time they will at least hear you out, if it's heads up. Once you're in a group, the rules are different.

People want to belong, there are plenty of reasons why and most of them are obvious so I won't spell them out. I just find it amusing that this is so common even in poker, the ultimate individual pursuit. Poker is (or should be) you against the world, pitting your wits against the rest. You stand or fall by your own decisions. Unfortunately a lot of people can't handle this. Instead of just accepting that this means poker isn't for them, they try to find a quick fix.

So you need something to "belong" to. At this point you have two options. You can play, treat opponents with respect and courtesy, build up mutual respect and trust and basically build up a friendly relationship from the bottom. But this is 2005 and I want it now. Why bother with all that when I can just click a few links and bingo ! I'm a Gutshotter. Or an 1808 gangster. Or whatever.

And now people have an immediate "us and them" reference point to work from. Anyone on the outside who criticises is now fair game for a kicking. Together with my points in the previous post about how people react to dissenting opinions, and that's how we have reached the situation where you can't even talk about issues like the Gutshot rake business without having all sorts of ridiculous allegations made against you.

In a way, it's sad. In another way though, it's all for the best. To succeed in poker you need to be self-reliant. You need to think things out for yourself. You need to realise that doing the opposite of what everyone else does is not just allowed, it's often positively beneficial. If you can't do that, you're going to struggle. Kick away the crutch of groupthink and learn to stand on your own.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Thin Skins (1)

A comment on the Poker Bastard's blog set me thinking. It simply read "Why are Gutshotters so touchy about criticism ?". I had noticed that myself ! As good a question as this is, a better one might be why is everyone so sensitive about criticism ?

Test this out if you like. Post something mildly critical on one of the more popular poker forums, and stand well back. Why, as I keep thinking, is no one capable of discussing an issue on its own merits ? Why does everyone have to be so aggressive and personal ?

I think I have identified two main reasons. To start with I am going to blame - stands on stage with veil over large rectangular object, waves it a bit for suspense before whipping it off to reveal to no one's surprise - television !

Maybe it was ever thus and I've just outgrown it, but how bad is 99% of television these days ? Relevant to the point I'm trying to make, you see thriller after "thriller" where the wise-cracking good-looking heroes defeat the evil plots of the bad guy who, if he is motivated by anything at all (usually he's just mad), is motivated solely by greed or revenge. When was the last time you saw something on TV where there was a real conflict of ideas ? The most conflict you ever see is when the hero is torn between two exclusive "good" choices. Save the girl or save the world ? Oh the heartache. I know, I'll ingeniously do both ! Hooray.

Meanwhile for a bit of light relief you can tune into comedy after "comedy" where the only way a character can save face is to make a yet more hilarious put-down of the other person's dress sense.

So, have we created a generation who believe that if someone has a different opinion, this must be because they have a personal agenda ? Greed, jealousy, or maybe they're just nuts. And the only way they can deal with this is to try to zing their opponents with a cutting quip, which in reality translates to clumsy sarcasm at best, and more usually plain abuse.

Reading the forums, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that this is indeed the case. And on TV, everything is black and white. Everyone's either good or bad, and that's that. It's not so simple in real life. Poker players can be generous and charming off the table, and thieves on it. Tournament organisers can be great at attracting players to town, while simultaneously engaging in very dodgy business practices. Do people realise this ? No. If people are thinking at all, it goes as far as "The person who I like is in the right. What's the issue again, and I'll think up some reasons". To hear this in action, if you can stand it, tune into a football phone-in. I love football and I love talking about it with informed and intelligent followers of the game, but I just cannot listen to these awful phone-ins because all you get is "I support United/Arsenal so they're right/the best (delete as required) and here are some entirely spurious reasons why". By the way have you ever noticed that "big club" fans always have a chip on their shoulder about something, but on the rare occasion when a lower division fan makes it onto the air, they're almost always positive about the game ? Funny that. Anyway, I'm rambling.

While thinking about this though, it occurs to me that there's probably a more important factor in this thin-skinnedness. I'd like to keep it separate so I'll discuss it soon in a later post. Bonus point in the meantime if you can guess what it is !