Raising the stakes in London and Luton

When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

I like to live my life by the lyrics of 1980’s pop music, so despite being submersed in a period of running bad, as Billy Ocean would tell me, now the going’s got tough, it’s time to get going.

You can get knocked out of poker tournaments in all sorts of ways, can have experienced days of ups and downs, peaks and troughs and be forced off of the fun rollercoaster when you run out of chips.

Unfortunately, at the recent UKIPT festival, I experienced more helter-skelter than roller coaster, with just a general decline with no ups and not a lot of fun either.

The £770 Main Event already had me on tilt before I sat down.

Having checked with PokerStars, they can force you to wear their badge at any time if you buy-in online with your own money. As a Grosvenor sponsored player, I therefore had to buy-in live.

This isn’t normally a hardship, but with Stars comps nothing is easy. I walked to the casino in Leicester Square, queued up downstairs, was told you have to buy-in upstairs. Okay, I go upstairs and can’t see anyone to take the buy-in or even ask!  So I go downstairs, queue up again, get told it’s upstairs in the backroom. Go back upstairs, find the backroom, which is full of signs saying ‘Buy-in Here’. Great – any chance you could have moved your signs outside? So I finally queue up there and pay my £700 plus £70 juice.


It’s now pouring with rain, so I go out the back door and get the people carrier they’ve provided. Just before we set off the woman who bought in beside me comes aboard. We drive to the Connaught Rooms and after our 10 minute journey I’m once again queuing up, waiting at the tournament desk before being told I need to go upstairs to get a seat allocation. Someone checks my Hippodrome membership card and my PS Live card (don’t ask what this is for, I know not) and queue up to get another piece of paper. Go downstairs. Queue up again at the tournament desk, still with the lady from the queue in the Hippodrome in tow, and get a seat at an alternate table (as we’ve now missed the start). I go and find my table, put my phone on the rail to tweet about how much fun the day has been so far and get shouted at by a dealer for having my phone on the rail before a card is dealt. Great start!

At the table there were some stupid situations, like four Spanish fellas who had travelled across from Spain together and turned up 10 mins late all being sat together on Neil Channing’s table. He looked even grumpier than usual. Still at least they only charge us 10% juice for this super efficient process. Oh, and they rake the prizepool by 3%. With 1089 entries, that’s £76,230 rake and £22,869 taken out of the prizepool on top. Nice work if you can get it.

The first cards went badly.

While the French lady was getting the absolute lot showing aces, kings, AK, sets, despite having pretty obvious tells (at least that meant I never lost any big pots to her) I was doing a lot of folding.

Eventually I found AK in the big blind and shoved over a raiser…whose kings stood up!

I’ve never seen worse PLO players than in the £300 Omaha, it was like they’d literally been dragged off the streets and told to push some chips into the middle.

One guy got me by three betting J752 with three hearts and winning a four way pot. He lost another three betting 2259 with three spades. Guess he was in a hurry. I eventually got all his chips when I raised with AKQT double suited UTG and we both got it in on the turn of KQ3J. He had something like AT94 rainbow, had hit his miracle gutterball after I bet the flop with top two and saw he was drawing to a chop that never came when I made a flush on the river.

I doubled up again when I bet 900 on a QJ8dd flop with AKT8 with nut diamonds. One guy check called and led the black ace on the turn. I decided to have a gamble with the nuts, two pair and nut diamond draw. His AT97 had not a lot going for it, and that’s exactly what he got out of that pot.

Life was good, I had about treble average and was on a table of gamblers, but as the table broke, it all went wrong. I didn’t win one chip on my new table over the next two hours, and as the tournament director informed us there would be a full redraw with 24 left, so we’d move to three tables of eight, I couldn’t wait for my six handed table to break.

I was given the same seat, one, on table three, so off I went…closely followed by every other player from table one! Every one of us had been moved to table three, along with two guys from another table.

I suggested to the TD that he’d forgotten to shuffle the seating cards but he assured me he didn’t make mistakes and we were to get on with it. I tweeted asking what the odds of all six players moving to the same table with three tables left. I got a variety of replies, but when Neil Channing tells you he’d bet 20/1 on that it was a TD error rather than chance, I think we all know there was a mistake.

I lost a third of my stack first hand on the new table

And with under 30 seconds until the dinner break, the last hand of the session started with the big blind absent, already keen to eat.

With 8bb I just potted it blind, hoping to pick up the dead money. The small blind, who had taken most of my stack on the previous table, peeled double suited jacks and flopped a flush draw on a jack high board. By the time I’d worked out which back doors I needed to hit I was drawing dead, and that was that for the best value PLO comp in a long while.

I played an £800 satellite for the EPT Main Event, and with eight seats and under 50 runners, I fancied my chances. However, I got dealt AK twice, once just calling preflop in a four way coup, finding the TJQ rainbow flop and only chopping with KQ, and the next time calling a 12bb open shove, only to see his AQ find a queen high board.

My chances of a seat improved as the break started, when two players on the next table had  a scrap with one another and got ejected from the comp, but it wasn’t to be, QJ no match for KT.

I was happy to get to Luton the following week, if only so I could buy into tournaments in the same room as it was being played, rather than having strolls round the sights of London in the driving rain.

To be fair, most guys would walk many a mile to be greeted by a smiling Dena – in Luton you’ve got it all!

Luton Staff

Yet again I was sat beside my Grosvenor teammate Joe Beevers, just as we had done in Leeds, Edinburgh and I’m pretty sure some other comps recently too! Luckily we get on great and Joe was once again on fine form.

Joe Grech was also with us, and having bust the EPT in about 40th the day before, he seemed to be playing at 100 miles per hour, dictating the pace of the table.

I had a pretty uneventful day, card dead and unable to make anything happen having made a mess of a hand to cost myself 4k early on.

I never really recovered.

Matt Davenport had just called Joe Grech’s early position raise to 400, I 3b the small blind with two jacks to 1550, and after Joe folded, Matt decided to 4b to 4k. I was a bit surprised, I didn’t really think he had a monster, though I don’t really know what else he would be doing here.

He had 14k back, I had a little more, and I ended up peeling and check folding on an eight high two heart board. Matt showed me AKhh and I guess he could well have got there, but it’s never nice making a hash of things and throwing away the best hand. To be honest just folding to his 4b was the better idea.

Down to about 15bb, I called Matt’s raise in the bb with KJss and flopped a straight and nut flush draw on AT3ss. I check raised allin, Matt called with AQ and I headed for the exit.

Determined to do better, I had another crack on day 1b, and actually started well, getting to 28k at the first break.

I’d had no cards so far, but had made full houses twice with rags and flopped a straight from the big blind, so I was feeling good.

I triple barrelled about 7k off to a guy who played his AQ very nicely, check calling all three streets on an ace high board and allowing me to bluff at it. Having lopped a flush draw and turned a straight draw I felt this would be a great opportunity to hit one of those draws.

The lady to my left liked to limp a lot, and while I isolated her maybe three or four times, I worked out later I’d gone the whole day without three betting once, and that can’t be good.

I played for seven levels, and didn’t see AA, KK, JJ, TT or even AK, and didn’t flop any sets despite seeing a flop with a small pair maybe 15 times. I hd AQ once and AJ twice….still I think I should play better despite being card dead.

With 23k I was still going along nicely when I lost a pretty key pot.

It was only 7500 chips each, but the difference between getting over 30k, or going back to 15ish, was huge.

I peeled a raise on the button with 99 and dragged the blinds in too. The big blind had been splashy,  so it was no surprise I ended up all-in with Matt. I couldn’t believe how good I got my money in.

All four players checked the 78T flop so I bet from the button. The big blind check raised all-in and I called it off, presuming he had a 10 and I needed to hit. I actually had him in a world of pain, his J8 drawing only to two eights and two nines, but I hadn’t spotted the backdoor diamonds, not until the running diamonds came to remind me.

From 15k I drifted south, more card dead than I’d ever been, and eventually the friendly splashing big blind got me, in a roundabout way.gukpt luton

One hand earlier he’d limped and got it all-in on a six high board with 63 (against someone limping behind with aces), so when he limped again and a different player limped behind it felt safe to shove my 20bb (just about to become 13bb with blinds up imminently) with AJ.

My nemesis snapped me off with his two sixes, and the second limper had aces so called too.

The flop came jack high so I’m not sure playing differently would have changed anything.

The river was a six just to keep my old mate in too!

There was just time for a nice rub from the dealer, “Wait there sir, I don’t think he has you covered”….thanks dealer, but if he doesn’t, the aces guy does!

A bit of a dry spell for me personally, but I have to mention how well the Luton GUKPT went. There were worries of an overlay, especially after a quiet day one, but the staff in Luton did a great job, with more than 60 live qualifiers.

Let’s hope for the same in Blackpool, just with a bit more run good for me!


Photo credits: Flickr (Creative Commons – Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0))








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