Friday, 24 September 2010

Hand History - Part 14

Of all the fun months of Third Year, March was probably among the most serene. The weather was just beginning to warm up a little yet exams and long-essays were still a while off. Half way through the month I repeated the previous year's ritual of banning myself from online poker for the duration of the exam revision period. To be honest, what this really meant was banning myself on Full Tilt for 2 months and from Stars for 3 months - I could still play on other sites and I did, including a brief return to Party and a slightly longer period at Betfred. But the main reason for banning myself was to make sure I wasn't lured in by the SCOOP, and I still credit banning myself from the most desirable sites as helping to increase my grades by around 2 or 3 points.

After the end of term things began to get a little more regimented. I had opted to stay at University for the holidays (as most of my friends and housemates were doing too) and try to stick to a revision/long-essays schedule, something I was more or less succesful at.

However, there was one afternoon, the last Sunday of the month, in which I was becoming restless and lazy. I browsed Warwick Poker to find out one of the Warwick pro's had made the final table of the London GUKPT £3K buy in main event. Very quickly a wicked idea popped into my head. Why not go down and WATCH, I can play some £1/£1 NLHE if I get bored too! And I can make my buy-in last the whole night and go home on a dawn train with my return ticket. What could possibly go wrong! I didn't really know the guy who was playing. In fact, I can't even remember his name. Jambon or something? It was just a premise for action, in the same way that supposed 'border disturbances' in September 1939 was the German 'justificaiton' for the invasion of Poland.

I told the Goblin what I was going to do and urged him not to stop me (not that I suspect he would have). My sense of freedom was willing me down southwards, I had to follow it! So off to the Kenpas Highway cashpoint where I took out £250, this being roughly enough for my journey, meals and £200 worth of chips as a bankroll for the night.

As I strolled down the park I felt very happy. It was warm and the people at the park were clearly having fun in that unique start-of-Spring way. I felt very civilized too - a gentleman taking a day off from work to go and play some cards in London. I had even brought a book with me Fernand Braudel's A History of Civilizations.

The train journey was surprisingly quick - I often have to remind myself that Coventry and London really aren't that far from eachother.

It was still mid-afternoon when I arrived at Euston and so I resolved to walk down towards Edgware Road, whose location I only knew roughly. On the way I stopped off at the Poker, Bridge and Chess store. As I got near Marble Arch I still had trouble finding my location. I ended up doing the decadent thing and hailing a cab. He was confused by my request for the 'Grosvenor Casino', but when I started calling it 'The Vic' he knew exactly where I meant. 10 minutes and £10 after getting into the cab, I was there.

It was my first time here. I made my case. I was here to watch a friend, and I was interested in playing in the side too. Do I need to sign up or anything? I showed them my driving license and they gave me a card. The two secretaries were young and pretty friendly, though I remained serious for all their jokes. I was a man on a mission, after all.

I had always been fond of the 'dull English poker scene'. This didn't stem from my own experiences of them. In fact at my first few times at the casino I was pretty anxious. You know, what if one of the regular, fat, bald-headed gamblers starts to make inquisitive glares at you. What if you bad beat the large Polish guy. What if one of the punter's wives gets very lucky in a hand against you.

My fondness for the dull English poker scene came about largely from watching a few televised events. The GUKPT 2007 coverage (which I saw on Pokertube long after it happened) was part of this. I liked the idea of 9 men (and occasionally 1 woman) sitting around after a few days of play, safe in the knowledge that they each have a few thousand pounds behind their belt along with the prospect of a few thousand more by the end of the night. I.e. Final table poker. Yet all rather casual and unglamarous. "I call." I pass." "Pass." "Pass." "How much do you have behind you?" "About 120k" "Right, erm. I raise all in" "Oooh, the online pro from Denmark has a tough decision here. What do you think Roland" "Yeah Ace Queen. Good hand but difficult to play against an all in." "Of course if he did call it would be a race." etc etc

And it was a GUKPT final table I was here to see tonight. Nominally anyway. It had only just started by the time I arrived, though it was very busy. There was no easy place to view from, certainly nowhere to sit down. With this in mind I went to the cash games desk and signed up for three tables, a 1/1, a 1/2 and a 1/3. After around an hour or so there was a space at 1/1 (I have not had to wait so long since then!). I went over to the cashier, bought £200 in chips and took a seat.

Around me was a mixed group. There was one old man who looked a bit like Doyle Brunson, a few studenty types who looked reluctant to gamble. One or two Asian gamblers who bought in for over the £200 maximum.

My plan was to shortstack - buy in for the minimum and replenlish my stack if I lost. The minimum was £40, so I bought in for that. Lost a few chips early on. Was down to about £25. Doyle limps in early position. I raise it fairly large (around £7) with AQ to squeeze out the limpers. Doyle comes over the top. I call. He rolls over QQ and takes the pot along with my first buy in. Nil desperandum, I chuck another £40 onto the table.

One man wanted to buy some more chips from the cashier, but it was closed. So I sold him £40 of mine. After a while I got impatient of sitting on just £40 and so whacked on the other £80 or so which had so far been left unused.

I proceed to lose a few small pots, mainly through playing scared aggressive. This essentially means trying to enter more pots than I really needed to, but entering aggressively as a justification. I.e. to collect the 'dead money' in the middle. I was playing badly, and was not sticking to my original strategy. We already see that I had abandoned my 'five £40 buy-ins' idea! Though such a strategy had its limitations, at least it would have served my intented purpose - playing the whole night, as I may have been able to survive a lot longer on 5 buy ins, even if this meant minimizing my potential profits.

But I was in no state of mind to make a profit. I began to realise how ridiculous this whole adventure had been, and even at one stage thought I might just go and play Roulette because my edge there was probably better (although still unfavourable obviously) than it was at this table. Not that any of my opponents were playing particularly well themselves, but at least they weren't playing scared.

My final hand came at a time when my stack was at around £80. I raised 99 in middle position to £3. The button made it £6. I called. The flop was 865 with two-flush. I bet a small amount,a round £5. He raised to around £10 or £15 (big difference, I know). I paused for a but a few seconds. "All in?" I announced, pushing forward my remaining chips. He called pretty quickly. The turn came a 7. I flipped over my 99 triumphantly as if I had sucked out on his set or something. River was a flush card. He then flipped over his A7 suited to reveal the flush. I was too confused to even feel let down at this defeat. I sorta shrugged my shoulders, picked up my book and scarf and left.

A lot of time had passed, somehow, and it was dark when I took the grim cab journey from the casino to Euston. I decided that cab journey was the last extravegant expense I would indulge in for the time being. I felt guilty and a little stupid, although already a little wiser. I was lucky that I had sold £40 worth of chips - otherwise it would well have been squandered with the rest of it. I got home at about midnight and didn't get to sleep till 3.

Subsequent visits to the Vic have been more successful (and you shall hear about some of them in later installments) but this particular one had been a textbook failure - I had gone down on a whim, I wasn't really prepared and I only got what I deserved. How did I keep my flagging spirits up on the train journey home? I started reading A History of Civlizations.

I wrote a little rhyme about the whole incident the next morning.

It's fun to gamble and buy in deep
£1 blinds, it's fairly cheap
though the rake is fairly steep

But hours later, like a sheep
I had no pile of chips to heap
I didn't fuss, or wail or weep
So out the cardroom I did creep
To poker dreams we must not leap
Those gamblers; do not as idols keep
Their eyes heavy from lack of sleep
and sowing all that they must reap

1 comment:

Benny said...

Thats a great little rhyme - if the poker doesnt work out maybe you should try writing jingles!