Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Main event memories Day 4.

My Executioner Jason (hope i haven't ruined the surprise, i didn't win)

It was without doubt it was the most tense few minutes of my poker life spanning some 20 years. Mouth was dry, heartbeat extraordinarily fast, all the usual but I felt a new feral fear in this moment. I looked at the Bellagio clock again and realised Tristan was now 15 minutes late and any minute more might missing the first hand of day 4. Armed with just a shorstack and a desire to win i was more than keen to make the first hand, especially as i was to be the Big Blind.

I flaffed a bit more and just as i was going Ian, Tristan's father, approached beaming widely, knowing exactly what i must have been going through. A canny poker player himself Ian would happily have sent me on my way but if i was gonna be late i'd rather be late with him than some random LV taxi driver who might be more stressed than me. Hours later Tristan turned up and by a miracle the first task of the day was complete, be there for the 1st hand.

The night before accomplished pro and long time friend Asher Deri gave me a few lessons, they were, be there on time, make the first break, make it back in time for the first hand after the break, make it to diner etc. It's simple and good advice as ever from Asher and i grinned broadly as i sat down reminded of his wise words.

I was also reminded that my main man Dalzini, who had as always gone the extra mile for a friend, sent me an email wishing me luck and sending me the profiles of the other players on my table; he also added a little nuggett of his own, "so, basically, I wouldnt fuck with seat 1 if i were you", if only i'd listened.

As i emptied my 3 chips, seat 1 (i was seat 2), the 21- year old internet whiz-kid Jason Somerville opened his and the whole table watched in awe in a kinda poker equivilant to penis envy, his bag was so big even Jordan woulda struggled to swallow it. Turned out as well as having a big bag he had a sound personality to boot and it struck me how so many of these top young players do; the ability to chat away with strangers in the most intense of situations is an admirable quality in my book, the confidence they exude is tempered by the manners they show and Jason and I got on just fine.

After about 15 minutes i was all in and survived without a call and this happened repeatedly up until around 1000 players left i reraised by moving my small stack all in on Jason but then the player two to my left moved all in. Jason passed and my 5-5 beat his A-K putting me up to around 90,000, game on.

Game on it was until the following happened. With around 920 players left we were about 140 off the money and i was about half the average but still stacked enough to hurt someone. For the first time that day it was passed round to the blinds, myself and Mr Sommerville of course. He was the 2nd most aggressive player on the table that contained Barry Greenstein, Deweky Tomko and some other very aggressive players.

The running ante was 400, small blind 2000 & big blind 4000. He raises to 9k i call with k-6. Flop comes k-9-3, he bets 23k, i have 78k left, i move all in, he insta calla and turns over k-9. I'm doomed, a jack hits the turn and i don't even realise i have an out until Jason pulls me back laughing saying any jack will do you. It did'nt come; i shook his hand and a few others whole heartidly and by fate looked up as Ali stood up from the next table and seemed more distraught than me at my exit, told you he was a top bloke.

I texted the sponsors and then just stood around in a bit of shock. I don't know what i expected when i got knocked out so shock it was. I thought i was ok as i mooched out to get a cab and cig but turns out shock can manifest itself in many weird and wonderful ways, I went clothes shopping. It still amazes me to look upon those expensive designer ridiculous looking clothes that il never wear and think in my head, wtf was i thinking. ( a worrying trend of post traumatic poker stress related luancy is occurring more frequently as i get older it seems).

This fucker won my money!

Many years ago i was hospitalised after a roast potato eating competition (representing Ireland i got the silver medal, S.A gold) and that was the only comparison i could make with the sick stodgy bloated self loathing feeling that overcame me as day turned into night. Wish i could say i was great company but in fact i cried off on all diner and drinks invites, i just wanted to be alone, be sad, get pissed and then be happy again.
Went to yellowtail and the bar girls cheered me up immensely; drank some funky cocktails ate some sashimi and then headed out.
Woke up feeling Vegas drowzy but the Bellagio spa soon sorted that. Played some more golf then sat in my room for 4 days solid watching the Open, shit rom coms and living off room service, trip over.

I always knew my poker players CV was incomplete until i'd played the main event and though it took me 20 years (and a lot of help from my very rich friends who would in all likelihood sponsor you if you only just asked them) to achieve it was well worth the wait.
Julian always gives great advice and over a beer he told me what to expect when i got home. He said you'l go away thinking, i gotta play that again next year, youl think of getting that buy in sorted before any other and until you do it will an itch you havent been able to scratch properly, he told me it was in my veins properly now and of course he was right.
One track on my poker play-list sums up beautifully my feelings towards the main event (has to be this remix because its the best there is and when you absolutely, positively, have to groove every single motherfucker in the room; accept no substitute,

Unquestionably the whole experience reinvigorated my love of the game and I doubt i'm the first poker player to have come home and smash into online poker. I also imagine in seven months odd time my ambitions will be to get to Blackpool and be able to afford a £100 tourney, not Vegas, a month at the Bellagio and a $10,000 tourney but you gotta have a dream.
The main event, its like comparing a breakfast of toast, pro plus and a coffee with smack crack cocaine heroin drowning your cornflakes. I've never experienced such a buzz in a tournament before, guess the only way to top it next year will be to win it!
Sound advice that may help me achieve my ambition of getting to Vegas next year.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Main event Memories Day 3

Ali, the star man.

Club Ryan

The Fearless Mr Cantu.

Woke up at 11 as usual and had to pinch myself, it was Day 3 and i was still in albiet with a tiny stack. After an invigorating shot of berroca i went to Bellegio coffee shop for the usual mulling over what type of apple pastry to have with my coffee. They have over 30 types of apple pastry, they all taste & are priced the same but every morning i dwelt longer on what which one to have than on any poker decision during my months stay in Vegas. After consuming apple pastry and coffee and with I-pod charged up ready to go i made my way to the cardroom just as the clock ticked down to the start of the days play.

On my left was one Brandon Cantu whom i recognised from this clip

and knew this table should be interesting to say the least. Mr Cantu comes from the school of 'any two will do' and he was on my left. On my right were 4 other tiny stacks, one of those belonged to Ali Sarkeshik whom I've nodded too for over 20 years of going to the Vic but had never actually spoken too. On his right was Ryan Young who had won (though i didnt know it at the time) a WSOP bracelet and over 600k. Due to the imbalance of chips it was going rich pickings for the bigger stacks as us shortstacks were waiting for a premuium hand to double up with or at the very least have a bad beat story to tell the backers.

I thought it would be a good while before i'd get involved but i was all in on the 2nd lap and was insta called by Cantu. It had been passed around to me in the small blind where i woke up with the mighty 9-10, bang, all in i declared. When he insta called my heart sank and i knew i had to get lucky, as it happened i did when my 9-10 managed to split the pot verses his 9-2. By this stage Cantu had appeared to have played every pot and he diidnt look like he was in the mood to pass anytime soon. I'm sure he's criticised greatly for it, personnally i loved it and admired his style, brave or foolhardy isnt for me to decide but i just marvelled at the way his stack increased and decreased constantly and anyone could have had a 100-1 they could name his 2 cards anytime he was in a pot. The first time he passed i called the floor asking to see what two cards he could possibly pass, he took the joke well.

He won the most intriguing pot id seen in a while, on the button he raised, the Big Blind repopped him, he repopped the BB moved all in and he insta called. Have a guess what they had? The big blind proudly displayed the AK of clubs but that was no match for Cantu's 8 and 3 off suit when a 3 flopped. Normally the table would be speechless but this table, including the guy who had just had his stack desicrated by the 8-3 just burst out laughing, it was that good a table. Cantu was far from the only star of the show. Ryan with a large stack and 5 small stacks behind him laughed and bullied his way to a bigger stack but the real star of the show was Ali.

I'd never played with Ali other than in the odd 100 pound tournament in the Vic years ago which he just played to amuse himself whilst waiting for the big game to start and i couldn't remeber much about that other than he seemed fairly tight. Indeed Ali himself stated he was a very tight tournament player and though like the rest of us shorties he was waiting for a premuium hand he wasn't going to waste his 10k investment without a little fun and so it began.
The banter was fantastic with all of us getting involved discussing a range of topics from Ryans bad Las Vegas investment he'd made after winning over half a million $, the amount of money Pokerstars make, tales & gossip from the big games, the various bets some us of had made on sports teams and the sunglasses debate arose where it was interesting listening to other views different to view (mine being they shouldn't be banned as people who wear them in poker tournaments are inherently cowardly and so can be exploited). The table was so much fun the one player wearing headphones/hoodie/sunglasses/hat stripped himself bare and joined in the various debates/jokes we all had going.

At one stage we tried to organise for the whole table to have a massage but could only get 5 massueses at the one time. The Tournament Director came over to take a glance at what all the racket was about but hung around to enjoy the fun and said he personnaly thought our table should be moved to the TV table immediatley (realising the 12.5k at stake i may have pressed him a little too aggressively on this).
Every time someone was knocked out they was genuine handshakes and well meant praise for the outgoing player. As us shorties were somehow clinging on and then Ali decided we should start a club. Club Ryan it was called and only the short stacks and Ryan himself were allowed to be members. Everytime he won a pot even if it was against one of us a cry of Club Ryan! was heard around the floor with the occasional high five being landed. Ryan enjoyed the banter but perculiarcly he actually began to play less pots as if somehow embarrassed by all the jovialty and a few of us began to get walks in the Big Blind (if Mr Cantu hadnt raised obviously) and i began thinking had Ali planned this Club Ryan thing all along but quickly put it out of my mind, it just seemed impossible he would be that calculating. In fact the short stacked Ali called a halt to one hand mid pot and declared he didnt think he had put his (running) ante in the pot and the dealer checked the pot to confirm he was right, class i havent seen at a poker table in a long while.

Miracuolsy everytime one of us short stacks got all in we survived without one of us being knocked out before our table broke somewhere just before dinner. As we bagged and tagged andf got moved back to the amazon room we all shook hands and knew we had had a great WSOP experience just by being at that table. Im sure had we not got broken we would have all ploughed into the cocktails after dinner. It reminded me of two things, poker when i used to play it back in the late 90's, lots of banter, poker often being secondary to the gossip/scandal/rumour/humour/wind-ups etc and secondly i liken it to playing poker in Ireland where i cant think of a single time when ive played live and havent enjoyed it win or lose. Perhaps it was the dynamic of so many condemed men (short stacks) awaiting our execution that a swell of gallows humour arose led by its ring master Ali and it just turned into a great craic; whatever, i won't forget those few hours, great fun and of course best of all i was still in the tournament!

The time had flown by as we moved to our new assignemts and by quirk of fate who should be drawn at the same table but the wonderful Ali, the day was going well. It got monstrously more exciting as just as i sat down i saw a pot develop that you wouldnt believe had it been shown in eastenders. I recognised one Billy Kopp, he had spectacular blown his chance (imho obv) the previous year on this hand.
As we were un-bagging our chips we joined to see a board read 884 and the pot was big, it got considerably bigger when and Ace turned and in fact the two table table chip leaders got it all in, Kopp had AA and you can only imagine his face when his opponent turned over 88. For the first time i experienced what friends of mine had been complaining about for years, the poker media turning into a cavalery charge and treating players like shit on their shoes whilst bulldozing mikes, cameras video camera etc to grab a piece of wsop history. I was in such a good mood it didnt bother me but pushing aside players who had invested 10 grand whilst they were in a pot seemed more than little excessive and i knew in my heart of hearts if that happened to me i would explain in the best anglo saxon i could muster where to put their cameras.

After that initial excitement things died down a little, Anthony Lelouche replaced Billy Kopp and he like Ali was worth the admission money, great fun, talented player and very courtious to everybody else. Still being shortstacked i wasnt involved in a lot of pots and to liven things up i ordered a beer, just as i struggled whether to order a bud or coors light (went for the latter, less calories) i had my first tough poker decision of the day. An early player raised and was immediatley rearaised all in by a player who had just joined the table and had about 40k. The opener was Mr Quad eights so he was probably tournament chip leader at this stage. I had 12 big blinds and 10-10. I reluctantly passed and it was probably in no small measure due to the fact i looked at Ali (who had increased his stack from 8 big blinds to over 50 by playing ulta tight and still getting paid off) who gave me a look that kinda said is this the hand you've waited 2 days for? I passed and would have lost.

My beer arrived and it inspired others to order beer, there was only an hour left, time to loosen up a little seemed to be the vibe. As i swallowed my first mouthful i was dealt AK and sprayed all my chips into the pot. I was instantly reraised and assumed id be off to the races on a 50-50. Imagaine my surprise when my opponenet turned over AQ, imagine my surprise when a Queen flopped; imagine my surprise when a King turned, imagine my surprise when no queen hit the river and imagine my surprise when 3 medical staff had to perform the heimlich manoeuvre on me as it appears i'd swallowed the bottle of coors in all the excitement. Now at 20 big blinds and with one bottle of coors in me i began to use the last hour to nick a few pots and end the day on 49k which was just over 20bb and meant i would be going into Day 4 and a shot of getting into the money.

Again to the hooker bar (coincidentally Wayne Rooney had just arrived in Vegas) where the survivors met up with friends and shared a few beers but i was so drained i could only enjoy a couple before bed. Julian told me a tale later which really pleased me and sums up my attitude to poker. He said everyone was converging on the hooker bar, all our friends that were still in and all of them looked miserable. Tristan, George, Padraig, Skalie though all over 6 figures in chips but all were disappointed and most were telling tales of how unlucky they were or how they had had a bad last hour etc etc. He said i was the last to arrive and he said you could see my smile 500 yards away. I was delighted later when he told me that, perhaps it was the joy of still being in or it being such a fun poker day but whatever it was i can never understand how miserable players get when they are playing poker.

I chatted about the day to various people but it seemed the fact i had a small stack made fellow players still in nervous, as if i had a contagious disease. They'd open with "I've got about 300 million, how many u got Spills?" "20 Big Blinds" (sounded more impressive than 49k) "Errr right, good luck cya later mate". I couldn't give a fuck though in all honesty, i was playing my game, they were playing theirs and the old adage of you've gotta be in it to win it never sounded so good.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Main event Memories Day 2

When the Camel runs out of food he begins to eat himself

Tristan contemplating whether turning down 12k was a good idea or not.

Day 2 Track http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMVnEGcMsFs

Day 2 began very early, at precisely 1 second past midnight I was in the Bellagio sports bar chewing the fat with the Camel and Avner (Israeli Tennis player ((previous life he was ranked number one)), ex alcho drug fiend and all round legend), waiting the arrival of Tristan who had just finished his Day 2. Tristan’s trip up to this point had been one long smelly fart in the face, he couldn’t win a hand at poker live or online but the real misery was he couldn’t win a match at either Golf or Backgammon against me. We love to wind each other up and he was tilting off the charts but during his Day 2 his luck changed and the Camel and I were all too happy to welcome him back from battle with a cold beer, bows and cries of ‘we are worthy’ (which he enjoyed far to much tbh).

He began telling us about his day which he had started from memory with around 40k which I thought was a fortune, he obviously thought there was little point in turning up. He got a tap on the shoulder and was told he was moving, he didn’t know it but it was to the feature TV table. This is obviously a double edged sword, it means publicity and profile but it means there is a famous player on the table (which doesn’t necessarily mean good player but can mean pain in the arse player, aka Hellmouth). The famous player on the table was Daniel Negreanu, probably the 2nd most famous player in the world and only a couple of players in the history of poker have won more money at poker tournaments than him; he also had over 100k in front of him.

I mean he did have until Tristan got most of it off him during the day which resulted in one happy bunny sharing beers with the Camel and I. Every time Tristan explained a hand it resulted in the Camel repeating at treble the volume and expressed in childish wonderment, e.g. HE HAD NINES! WOOOOOOOOOOW. When he explained a nine fell on the flop I thought we might get thrown out, TRIP NINES! TRIP NINES AHHHHHHHHH was all you could hear in the busy sports bar on a Sunday morning. It was during his catch up that I found out what the offer is to wear a logo at the TV table, 12.5 thousand bucks. Tristan turned it down as he had promised Badbeat he would wear a BlackBelt logo for nothing, great karma imho yet I know full well I would have allowed them to tattoo my face for 12k whilst phoning Badbeat to apologise. Sadly I had to leave the fun earlier than I would have wanted but happily it was because I was playing in a few hours.

I woke up excited, now not just the excitement of the poker day ahead but now i was also in the lottery for a draw at the 12.5 free bonus (which i sadly didn't win). The online table draw reminds me I was at a table for about an hour but nothing of note happened, that all changed pretty fucking quick after getting moved. 5 years earlier all the players at my table would have been sitting on Santa’s knee asking for a scaletrix, now they were playing in a 10k buy in poker event and hadn’t begun shaving.

This was my first ever ‘live’ experience in a deep stack live event with the phenomenon known as ‘the internet player’. One of the reasons I love poker so much if you don’t leave your pride, ego, misconnections, & prejudices at the door or it will work against you so I was prepared to go with the flow and see what happened. What happened was I lost the first two big pots I played never really knowing where i was on each street and then overplayed A-J to be left with a shortstack just 2 hours into play.

Having a shortstack is comparable to having a small penis, a bit embarrassing perhaps but if you know how to turn it to your advantage, know the correct strategy and most importantly of all get lucky at the right time, anything can happen. Keep sticking it in the right places and it does get bigger but you have to be patient and timing is everything. In a tournament that has the best structure in the world a short stack doesn’t have to panic and shove it in with shite, a mistake so many players made it actually shocked me.

I saw one known pro blow a 50k stack on day one and as I was sitting next to him I was able to see his texts to his backers. The Hitler Diaries had more truth in them than his fabricated bollix, ‘Just outdrawn in massive pot with QQ’ (nothing could have been further from the truth) was his particular favourite and it took me back to the days pre internet when you didn’t have to turn your hand over when all in. The amount of players who went out with Aces decreased dramatically once you had to turn your hand over and hands like K-5 and 7-3 knocked out far more players than Queens ever had.

I shared the blinds with 2 of the 3 best players on the table and trust me there was only weak spot on the table. He was a player who had seen better days and either the booze or coke had taken care of him, shame but it happened to quite a few players back in the day and its natural selection in action I guess. Basically I was stuck in an overcrowded lift and couldn’t move; I wavered around 20 bb’s and picked up chips by moving in re-stealing in easy spots. I never had Aces the whole tournament, Kings only on the first day but you don’t need good cards to win, it just makes it easier.

The player on my left was an internet sponsored pro with stars; his stack went as low as 20 bb to ending up with over 100 bb. Some guy called Chris wearing a deepstack’s university live logo kinda owned the table and did it in such a charismatic way I think we all just let him; he ended the day with over 100bb. Some kid wearing Everest poker built up a stack of over 100 bb stack as did some tosser from Austria who joined the table late and bought down the vibe for everyone with an early and totally unnecessary slow roll.

The Everest guy was keeping himself to himself and then Leo Margets came to talk to him wearing very short shorts after having been for a jog, he became very popular with everyone after that. Having said that there was very little banter, just 9 guys playing poker, concentrating and any verbal interaction offered mostly ignored which was a shame as for most of the day I was a spectator enjoying watching some rather fine poker being played by all these well mannered players (Austrian tosser exempt).

I nicked, stole, begged and mostly passed for about eight hours to end the day with 33k and was mightily pleased with myself. I know full well too many players would have given up in this spot but I’m from the chip and a chair school and wasn’t going to bow out that easily. To confirm this my was my old mate Ross Boatman (Ross will often donate up to 80% of his stack in the first 5 minutes of a tournament as he argues he’s a much better short stack player) who was a few tables down from me had turned his 20k into over a 100k by close of play.

I reached the hooker bar and quickly drowned a couple of cold ones. I got told off by Skalie for admitting that on more the one occasion I hadn’t looked at my cards I just shoved on the fact my read was my opponent wouldn’t call, I’m still sure I’m right but has over a million $ in prize money out of the Main Event so maybe I should have given more attention to his case.

I let the backers know the horse was still jumping before going to bed and passing out with exhaustion. I was concerned about what my sleep pattern might be during the Main Event but I needn’t have worried, I slept solidly every night. Looking back on the day I think I learned more in those 10 hours playing live with very good players than I had in the previous 12 months watching training videos. It’s hard to explain but it’s the little things like bet sizing and value betting that they did far better than me. Without doubt it was the longest toughest day I have ever experienced in a poker tournament but I really enjoyed it even with a small penis. Anyway Karma took care of it all by making Day 3 the most memorable day I have had at a poker table, and in a totally good way.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Main Event Memories.

Wages Mama!

It took longer than expected but after some 15 years of trying I finally got to play the $10,000 main event at the WSOP.

I was already having a great trip, coming 2nd in the first tournament I played at the Bellagio on my first day then having an amazing run at the daily tournaments at Caesars, winning one and also coming 4th & 5th. I was winning about 20k on he trip but hadn’t considered for one second putting up the entry fee, it’s still too much to me relatively. I did play a super sat and lost a 50-50 for a seat, gutted I didn’t think it would be my year but then the three wise men made me an offer I couldn’t refuse and finally I was going to the show. Not only was it nice to secure some financial backing, it was awesome that it was from 3 players I respect higher than most and are not known for making bad investments, it certainly helped my own self belief. I’ve been making a lot better decisions recently in generally every area of my life, it’s actually nice to grow up a little as one gets older and karma rewarded me with a dream fulfilled. Now the next dream was a share of 9 million.

I used to watch the event at Binions; the first year 1998 saw me marvel as the names of the entrants were hand written onto the wall. Some 350 entrants took their seats back then, little did I think I would play the event 12 years later, get further than over 6,000 runners and not receive a penny for my efforts. One of best mates came 2nd in 2002 but I’d already gone home skint so didn’t get to watch. The following year moneymaker won it and from then on the main event become not just the dream of a handful of poker players in Europe/America and a small smattering of others but the dream for millions across the planet.

I found out 12 hours before I registered that I was playing but was so knackered from another final at Caesars that I went to sleep soundly without any nerves. I woke up an hour before kick off and decided I better go and register quick as the queue was sure to be massive. In fact there was only 2 people in line before me, the other 7318 entrants were a little more organised.

Day one. Track http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Q0d_z4hBUI

10 handed 30,000 starting stack and blinds at 50/100 I wasn’t looking to go broke quickly. This became doubly true when after 15 minutes I realised I was the only non pro on the table. Table draws are massively important; for years friends who had played it explained how it was the best value tournament in the world. I realised how true this was after looking at the table opposite me. One drunk player, 2 players in their 70’s who were obviously just there for the craic but the star was the gorgeous Asian girl wearing love heart glasses and laughing herself stupid whilst playing every pot. My table however was mostly Californian pro’s and a couple of internet kids. The table also held one Bill Elder, a full tilt pro and a thoroughly nice man who started the table talk and got a few of us involved in conversations to help the atmosphere become more relaxed; I’d played against before and he was thoroughly nice then. It’s important to me that people remember it’s just a game and you can have good fun at the table even if your cards and play are rubbish. I was disappointed to see so many players in hoodies, earphones, cap, sunglasses, basically a poker burka.

One internet kid raised the first pot, I looked down at KK and put in a small reraise, the table folded and now I was table chip leader (sadly this never happened again). Things swung back I forth, I probably bluffed too much when in pots but I had come to play and I never heard of anyone passing their way to victory. The first break had me rushing for a cigarette and an update from one or two friends who were also playing on that last starting day. Tim C had won a seat on Boyles, 2 years previously he had also won a seat and was railed by moi in my capacity of poker manager for Boyles, now we were discussing wayward bluff’s chip counts and rival players on our respective tables; it was much more fun be a player than a railer.

Level 2 saw me go all-in much earlier in the tournament than I had expected to but you don’t concern with things like that when you think you have the best hand and might get paid off. I had flat called a raise as did 2 others swelling the pot to over 12k; I had about 22k at this stage. The flop was 10 high with 2 hearts, I reraised all in on the flop to protect my 2 kings and scooped the 16k pot without having to sweat the outdraw (if in front obv). I bobbed along playing a lot of pots when we were broken and all reassigned to new tables and it was here I was to experience the biggest regret of the tournament.

The table was much younger and much quieter and in about the third lap without a lot of info on my opponents I decided just to check in the big blind with 7-7 to try and catch a big flop; a 7-6-4 flop was considered by me to be a very big flop and on the turn I was making a 12k bet into a 14k pot which my opponent passed. I had overbet and tbh that was from inexperience; I learned so much during the tournament I think it was worth the 10k in itself. All this poker stuff though has nothing to do with my big regret. The opponent who had passed looked about 17, wore a hoodie and a fake fur Kangool baseball cap/hat thing. He hadn’t spoken a word since I had sat down; his first words were “What did you have?” This happens all the time at the poker table as people are always desperate to know others secrets and often leads to banter, bullshit, exaggeration, chest thumping, lying and more. I choose for the lying option and said I had 7-6, he said he had 4-4 for bottom set. It went on for a while and in the end I 100% believed he had passed bottom set and was a bit sick he had made such a great pass. The table broke again some 2 hours after I had joined it and this time we were moving to the Amazon room, the main room. This meant we had to bag our chips and be escorted through a staff only shortcut and of course enabled the players to have a little bit of last minute banter or just wish everyone luck. The kid rushed to my side and asked for the last time if I really had top 2 pair and I smiled saying yeah of course I did and thought nothing more off it until after play had finished and then I felt a real rush of dread and disappointment in my actions. He had played the hand great (albeit if by my playing the hand a little poorly) and deserved to be told. It wasn’t going to make any difference to me if he was bullshitting or not but karma does make a difference to me these days and I had just been caught up in the emotion of the event to think clearly. I searched for him for the remainder of the time I was in the event, just looked around other tables on intervals, moving etc. I hope one day he finds out and realises how well he played the hand and if he didn’t have 4-4 karma will fuck him!

Moved to my last table of the day and then played pretty well imho. Was again all young internet pro’s and LA pro’s with more banter than on the previous two tables. Funniest hand began with me raising, being reraised twice before moving all in with AK. The LA pro showed me QQ and passed, inside I chuckled at his lay down). I said he could see one card, he was shown a King. The banter exploded on the table as to what I had without me saying one word until I joined in the fun and declared I had Kings. A bigger inquest than went into Watergate followed and then a sartorially explosion of colour in the form of Paul Parker sat down, purple trilby yellow waistcoat pimpin baize strides the lot. As Paul was unloading his chips the first thing he did to a stunned audience was to point at me and declare “ I have known that man for over 25 years playing poker and not once have I known him to lie about his hand, there sits one of the most honest men in poker”. I smiled at his performance and knew I owed him one and was looking forward to a glass of red with him later, a long time friend and opponent.

I bagged and tagged a healthy 49.5k and went to meet Tim at the hooker bar. The hooker bar is named as the hooker bar as it’s historically been a meeting point between poker player and hooker. More relevant to me was it’s also the bar where historically Euro Pro’s have met for a beer after battle and to share war stories, gossip and rounds. The crowds got smaller over the years and the cab rank is more conveniently located for the players but its always great craic and of course you get a side show going on all around you Vegas style. I could only stay for a quick one as wanted to join the wedding reception for Jules and Kez at the MGM as quick as possible. It was a great night to end a great day and with not having to play gain until Sunday I could enjoy some time off to play golf and relax and remind the backers how wise they were.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Viva Las Vegas.

Just extended my stay till Sunday making it a whole month inside my loved one. Like 2 star crossed lovers changing flights/travel plans it’s just delaying the inevitable departure. I’ve always found it difficult to say goodbye to the things I love and I know the goodbye just becomes harder. Honestly it’s because I know in all probability there’s a good chance I won’t see her again for a long time; a 43 year old man single & jobless doesn’t work for Vegas, she needs a little more prospects.

Vegas has been good to me this year, met up with all my friends, made new ones, won money, played golf, ate ridiculously well but to top all of that I got to play the main event for the first time, a truly special moment for me. I got to day 4 of the thing and will do an old fashioned monster blog on it all when I return to Ireland; I need time to put the memories into words.

I think staying at the Bellagio was the first lucky break I had. I used the $20 technique at check in and was rewarded with a view everyday that reminds me how lucky I am. For the last few years companies have paid for my Vegas accommodation and I’ve always demanded the Wynn, (it’s the best hotel Vegas has ((until this http://www.mandarinoriental.com/lasvegas/images/molas_ebook.pdf))

And catered nicely for the Spillane luxury check list). The Bellagio though is a different beast and was the original Wynn (link to Vegas heartbeat http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Wynn_(entrepreneur) ) done on a massive scale. I had a great day today checking out City Centre and PH, Vegas never stops exciting me, but the Bellagio has it all, the best Steak house, the best noodle house, a great sushi place, great swimming pools, ­­­wonderful spa fantastic staff and a busy poker room. The view from my room is a Vegas spectacular, the fountain show with the Eiffel tower lit up behind the sprays, who would in there right mind would want to leave this.

So many highlight’s during the trip. Jules and Kez got married, wonderful stuff for two special people I cherish dearly. Tristan got his moment (wsop blog) after weeks of Vegas pain and then I got to see him beam with pleasure in a truly special poker moment. I sent him giddy outdrawing him at backgammon and beating him at golf over the trip and that combined with his poker form led to a few ‘silent moments’ but there’s no better guy to be with than Tris when he’s on form and to be there when he got a shot was fantastic fun. Watching Marty on the golf course is worth the entrance fee trust me; yesterday I saw him hit 3 balls into water and three times they came out, he actually complained once when another didn’t return from the water. It was the near the end of his honeymoon and he was off for a last night of romance with the lovely Karen, he beamed more than Tristan. Badbeat got a nice result both on and off the poker table. Nicky and I never got the rematches we all wanted but he shared the day of my ‘golf moment’ of the holiday and then we kicked onto UFC, awesome scenes. Young Corbett was over and on sparkling form including winning a seat in the main event for someone else. I hope my wsop blog convinces him never to win a seat for anyone else but himself.

Meeting Camel later to enjoy some late night banter, beers, betting, open golf and gossip; like I say only a fool would want to leave this town.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Lesnar v Carwin

Our man on the right.

Been having a winning trip so decided to have an old fashioned Vegas blow out Saturday night.

I have heard about UFC from a variety of friends but hadn’t paid much attention to it as I’m a boxing fan. It’s a combination of various fight styles, I found out the only thing they can’t do is head butt each other (well not on or behind the head but in the face is fine). On Saturday Las Vegas hosted the world heavy weight title at the MGM Garden arena and it was time to pay my first visit. Julian fresh from winning 95k said leave getting the tickets to him. 2 hours later 2 ringside tickets at a blood curdling $1,000 each arrived and we were off to the races. We met up with a few of the lads in a room they had booked at the MGM and let the party begin. Too really get a buzz we both decided to have a bet on the fight to try and win the price of the night out and tickets, the only problem was who to bet, the challenger was unbeaten, both fighters didn’t go more than one round historically. I was happy to toss a coin but after some discussions I followed Jules in on betting Brock Lesnar, the defending champ.

Early beers consumed we took our most excellent seats for one of the warm up bouts and I was about to find out why so many people follow UFC. The gloves have very small padding, unlike boxing where it often will take a multitude of punches to win; in UFC getting hit by basically a fist in the face has a very different effect which results in blood and unconsciousness, I loved it. This must be the closest thing humans now have to the good ole days of throwing innocents to the lions & gladiators in the coliseum for the entertainment of the public. We could hear every punch landing, watch the arc’s of blood spurting without getting covered in it whilst consuming more beers.

I was already fully revved up by the time the main event started. When the challenger Carwin entered the ring I was starting to think I wished I’d backed him; that was until our man entered the ring. When he took of his ‘death clutch’ tee-shirt I wanted to run to the sports book and have more money on; luckily I didn’t, in the first round Carwin got our man to the ground and proceeded to pummel the shite out of him. As neither man had gone over a round we sat in silence and preyed for the bell which duly arrived. Round 2 was the last round of the fight, our man got Carwin to the floor and the fan sat next to me claimed its all over. I had no clue what he was on about but then our man followed up on his tee-shirt promise and we were screaming with delight when Carwin submitted. The rest of the night is a bit of a blur and I woke up feeling I had been caught in a Lesnar death clutch myself.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Memory bank bogey.

Las Vegas finery, the National.

I may have been a bit harsh on England. Its shit watching the WC over here because of the time difference, you try going on for a night on the tiles with Vegas in her high heels then come back fit to watch the match in anything other than a passing glance. The bad decision changed everything, we never got our chance to be a bad team and win a WC, (Italy in everything they win?). The time difference in Brazil in 4 years is far more suitable wherever I am, move on.

Played Nicky at Las Vegas National, his current local course. On Nicky’s advice I bet shooting under 90.5 off the whites in a breeze with golf bookie Marty Smyth who was in his bed, eating caviar and betting on Wimbledon (Tennis, dogs, football etc). I took an 11 at the first, an 8 on the next and 51 for the front 9. Marty was texted the news and purred with delight in his response, motivation if ever I needed it. The target to shoot was a mind boggling 39 on a par 35 back 9. It wasn’t just the fact I did it, it was the way I did it. I was a 25-1 shot after my second shot but to add to it all, the hole, the 18th, where this miracle happened is iconically famous in Vegas. “The scene in ‘Casino’ where the Feds have to land the plane on the golf course? Yep that one, house as well. If ever there is such a thing as a brilliant six, mine was it and another special memory stored. Nicky got his own back on Marty and I at Bali Hi, (the golf course is next to LV airport and well worth a visit if you’re a golfer). The planes taking off overhead are distracting as they are so low you can see up the stewardess’s skirt. Jumbo’s private Jets and helicopters intertwine every few seconds, amazing.

Poker going very well and it’s paying for the trip so far and more but the expenses are horrible. Golf, Massages in Bellagio Spa, ruinously expensive meals, room service, Champagne etc but mustn’t grumble. Won a tournament over here but it meant I missed watching one of mate's, Julian, at the 5k Omaha WSOP final so it’s not all gravy. He didn’t win it so I can be there next time he makes a final at the WSOP and wins, hopefully in about 4 months.