Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Day After The Night Before

7th July 2007 - G Casino, Salford, Manchester
£5 No Limit Hold Em Rebuy Tournament

Compared to the previous night, where the casino was bustling with activity, the whole place was virtually devoid of people. Perhaps it was too early in the day, being 3:00pm when play commenced, to attract the numbers I'm used to. Nevertheless, three full tables were filled when the time came to shuffle up and deal.

Due to the prize pool accumulating to such a small amount, I had decided the best tactic was to play few hands, but play them aggressively when I decided to enter a pot. I didn't want to reload every five minutes on re-buys because only the last three remaining players were going to get paid out. Unfortunately, like many things in life, things didn't exactly go to plan. After my fourth re-buy, I was very tempted to call it a day and go home. The only factor which kept me in my seat was that I wasn't playing badly. Every time I committed myself to the pot, I had the best hand, only to get outdrawn later on during each hand. I was very calm after each beat, and didn't feel like I was steaming inside. I know the danger signs to watch out for. When I first started playing, I would quite often go through ten re-buys at a time, feeling that sudden rush of blood to my head where I couldn't think clearly, rapidly going on tilt, playing bad cards in terrible positions.

I wasn't the only one on my table donating generously to the prize pool. In particular, I felt really sorry for one young chap, who was obviously new to the game. After what must have been his seventh re-buy, he had decided to quit. I was actually relived to see him go. I don't particularly like seeing new players lose loads of money.

By the time the re-buy period had finished I had accumulated 11,000 chips. Considering I had started with just 1,000 chips and had to re-buy four times, I think my judgement was right to stay in the game. I had double the amount I had paid for, and gained some useful insight into what hands my opponents where likely to play.

In contrast to the timid rookie, a short while later, I had a seasoned player moved to my left hand side when the tables were rebalanced. This chap was very confident in himself, could read players well, and had a mid-sized stack. He wasn't afraid to push all of it in the middle with nothing either. He admitted that he had been playing for ten years, which is well before the poker boom exploded. It made my life difficult as well, because of his seating position relative to mine. I was first to act in every pot, so I couldn't be sure if he was going to pass or push all-in. I remember one hand against this opponent where he had pushed all-in on a semi-bluff. By this time, I had a large stack. His body language screamed out that my ace high was leading, but I didn't want to commit my chip lead finding out. There were weaker opponents on the table which were easier to take chips from, and I didn't want to tackle this guy until later in the game. Fortunately, I didn't have to wait that long, as another player did the job instead.

The game continued and I felt in control of the table. When I'm confident, I tend to make frequent pre-flop raises, simply to gain information about a hand. One guy commented that I play very unusually, sometimes showing very strange hands at the showdown, usually winning with them. He also mentioned that when I'm staring someone down, it can be very intimidating! It isn't the first time I've heard those comments. However, both on and off the table, I try to be good natured and play with gentlemanly conduct. Must be that steel glint in my eyes.

It wasn't long before I had reached the final table. The tournament director wanted us to play through without a break, but several players had other ideas. It's now illegal to smoke inside public buildings, and several people just dashed off through the doors for a quick fix, so the tournament director had no choice but to give us a break. By this time my stack size had improved to 18,900 chips. I was the second largest stack, and the blinds were 150-300 chips. Total amount of chips in play were 55,000. I actually enjoyed playing the Saturday game, because even though the structure was similar to those I've played on other nights, it didn't feel like a turbo tournament, due to the reduced field of players. There was much more scope for creative play.

Four of the players were short-stacked, not posing any serious threat to the main three players. That isn't to say they didn't put up valiant resistance. The game continued for a good couple of hours before there were only three left, me being one of them. I did receive some derision concerning a few hands where I was extremely lucky to either win the pot, thus eliminating another player, or splitting a pot which would have given a short stack a little more longevity. What people sometimes fail to realise is that on several other hands, I was extremely unlucky to lose. The luck factor balances out in the long run. You need to put yourself in a favourable position, regardless of what the cards bring.

The best example of how unlucky I can be can clearly be shown in my second to last hand:

Three handed, I'm the big blind holding K9.
Approximate chip counts were:
Small blind: 22,000 chips
Big blind (me): 25,000 chips
Button: 8,000 chips
Blinds were 2,000/4,000 chips

The button folded. Small blind raised it to 2.5 times the big blind for a total of 10,000 chips. He was doing this on a regular basis, and I felt he was just trying to push me around. I considered my options for a little while and push all-in. The pot total now stood at 35,000 (he couldn't win the extra 3000 chips I pushed in) and he had 12,000 chips left. After much deliberation, a couple of minutes later he decided to call, saying that he must be behind. He turned over 98. I now had a 71% chance of winning the pot, and more importantly, would be in a very strong position to win the tournament outright. The prize breakdown was £110 for third (20% of the prize pool), £165 for second (30%) and £280 for first (50%). Unfortunately, the eight fell on the turn, effectively ending the tournament for me. Ironically, it was the short stack on the button who went on to win the tournament.

Despite losing that hand and finishing third, I was happy to have cashed in a live game. I have only managed to do so once before, and I really messed it up that previous time. I'm not a wealthy man by any means, and even though it was only £110, the amount of satisfaction of being able to play the game I love, and playing to the best of my ability and having something to show for it, made that money feel like a million pounds! For once, I walked out of a casino with more money than what I walked in with!

Tournament: £5.00
Entry Fee: £2.00
Re-buys: £20.00
Add-on: £0.00
Drinks: £4.80
Petrol: £4.00
TOTAL: £35.80

Tournament Winnings: £110.00
Total Profit/Loss: £74.20
Cumulative Profit/Loss: £56.80

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Birthday Celebrations

6th July 2007 - G Casino, Salford, Manchester
£3 No Limit Hold Em Rebuy Tournament

In the last few weeks, I've been looking for any excuse to get out of the house. My old car, a yellow Fiat Cinquecento, was becoming too much of a financial burden by constantly fixing repairs to keep on the road. I didn't enjoy driving in it during the last few years, as it felt like sitting in a small tin box with wheels on. So the time was right to purchase a new car. By a lucky twist of fate, a couple who are two of my closest friends needed to sell their top of the range Renault Clio 1.6 RSi, as it had become surplus to requirements. I knew it had been kept in immaculate condition from new and cared for lovingly. Buying it was the most logical course of action. I even sold the Fiat the very next day to another friend from work. So everything has fitted together wonderfully. After working out what all the buttons do, I just want to drive anywhere and everywhere!

I've started playing live again a couple of weeks ago, but didn't document those visits on this blog. I've decided to post more trip reports on here, as I think it will give me a positive direction to aim for, rather than playing in a happy go lucky manner. Additionally, I'm going to start recording my results as best as I can, to see whether solely playing live tournament poker can be financially sustainable.


Being a large city, Manchester has several casinos which offer poker, and I intend to try them all out, bankroll permitting. If any readers of this blog may remember, I started out playing live at The Riverside Grosvenor Casino in Salford. In it's time, it was voted best card room, and although I haven't been back there for a number of years, I suspect this honor has slipped from it's grasp. A strong contender may be the G Casino, also located in Salford, and owned by the Grosvenor chain as well. Although not the most salubrious of places to locate a casino, it does offer secure car parking, complete with machine gun posts around the perimeter.

Although I've never visited the place on a Friday night, I knew something was afoot, or more precisely 8 feet, as a pink bunny girl on stilts welcomed me in with a champagne reception. At first, I thought I had gatecrashed someones private party, so humbly accepting the glass, I made my way to a quiet part of the casino. It wasn't until the tournament had actually started, that I discovered that G Casino was celebrating it's first birthday.

I've never seen the place as full before. By midnight, there were six full tables playing cash games, although it would be stupid for a novice like myself to play on one of those tables, as the standard of play is very good. I recognised Alex "King" Kong playing on on of them, who has WSOP experience and success. I've played tournaments with him before, and gained some useful insights from those sessions, the hard way.

A buffet was provided during the night, which instantly attracted a large crowd. There were still enough food to go around by the time the tournament was on break, which was fortunate for me was it was the only time I would get a chance to grab a bite to eat. One thing which was distracting was the sixties band that was playing on stage. The volume of noise near the bar area was shattering glasses, including the ones on my face. The din was a little more tolerable over in the poker room, but still loud and manic enough for some colourful but well-natured banter at our table.

The noise distortion didn't help the new, inexperienced dealer at the table....... me. Having just busted our dealer, these being self-dealt tournaments, and being sat immediately to his left, the onus was on myself to take over after his departure. Being partially deaf, if not a little dumb, I didn't relish the prospect. But, as I keep saying to myself, the only way to improve is with practice, so I didn't object to being pushed into this position. One of the first things I noticed as I sat down in the centre swivel chair, is that the extra height of the chair and it's position, gives you a commanding position to view the rest of the table. Most of the time, sat in other positions, your view will be partially blocked from at least one or two other people. Another thing I learned from dealing, is that it is mentally a drain on your resources. Subsequently, I found my game tightening up drastically, only playing premium hands. I'm wondering if this is something to look out for in other players when it's their turn to deal. I think that it is, especially if the dealer is inexperienced like myself, or looking flustered. I think I handled dealing reasonably well, and got feedback from a couple of players after the tournament. I handled one complicated four way split pot well, insisting on sorting out the side pots before the cards were turned over and the board cards revealed, despite one player's insistence that we should just play the hand out an sort the pots out afterwards. I'm glad I stood my ground there, although I need to be more assertive, insisting that a player makes his intention clear whether they are raising and by how much, or simply calling, making a non-verbal action. However, with the constant noise emanating from the band in the corner, I was under difficult circumstances.

Overall, I felt happy with my standard of play, reaching the last two tables before busting out. The tournament plays out very fast, with the blinds increasing every 15 minutes, and only 1000 starting chips. Despite the turbo structure, I only made one re-buy and the add-on, and made some creative plays when the opportunity arose. By the time the re-buy was over, I only had 3,200 chips, but quickly improved to 17,000 once the break had elapsed. Being only a £3 re-buy tournament, it attracts new players to the game, which is a wonderful thing. I'm probably punching below my weight in these games, but they are a good way to ease myself back into live play without proving to be too expensive. I want to prove to myself that I can successfully beat these tournaments before looking for those with a higher buy-in and hopefully a slower blind structure.
Further information regarding G Casino, Salford, can be found here

Tournament: £3.00
Entry Fee: £2.00
Re-buys: £3.00
Add-on: £3.00
Drinks: £2.40
Petrol: £4.00
TOTAL: £17.40

Tournament Winnings: £0.00

Total Profit/Loss: -£17.40
Cumulative Profit/Loss: -£17.40