Saturday, July 31, 2004

Heard on the Grapevine...

Many of the famous American players are apparently very upset about what went on at the WPT event in Paris a couple of weeks.

Alot of things riled them, the rudeness of staff, the high table charges at the cash games and the poor organisation of the tournament and the cash action.

But, of course the main occurence which happened that understandably caused great concern was the armed robbery during the main event. Many players were shocked that the security at the Aviation is so lax that two guys with guns could get in so easily..

Don't be shocked if the Aviation isn't on the schedule for season 4 of the World Poker Tour and if it does hang on to its spot... don't be surprsed if alot of big name American players boycott the event.

Friday, July 30, 2004

The Gutshot Ethic

If he had any interest in poker George Orwell, in the wake of the current rake controversy, might give "The Gutshot Poker Collective" the following mission statement:

"All poker players are equal, but some poker players are more equal than others."


I can't deny at being overwhelmed at the response to the blog.

Nearly everyone seems to be enjoying it and the lively discussion about certain posts have been great.

However, I do think it would be better if the comments could be attributable. It takes about 2 minutes to register at If Mr Krautman can do it, anyone can!

Try it, you might even enjoy it!

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Ghost Town

Mark Strahan has chosen to attack me on the Hendon Mob Forum with this post:

"In an article posted July 26th Mr Keith 'pull that pillow out now' Hawkins said, in his view of the 10 'seemed like good ideas at the time' and I quote "Making your pretty popular poker website "pay-per-view" and killing it stone dead"

Mr Humpty is obviously refering to UKPOKER.COM in this statement and as he has obviously got no clue as to whether that statement is correct or not then I kindly ask him to grab some facts before making statements he can't back up.

For the record UKPOKER.COM continues to attract over 4000 visitors a month with over 8000 page views. Its more than paying its way and I suggest Mr Camel lump logs in to see what he's missing!

Mark S."

Now, apart from the personal insults (I really hadn't noticed I am fat... Have you noticed you're illiterate Mark?) he claims his website is really popular.

4000 visitors a month. Wow. I have just checked the stats for this blog and I have about 1500 views and I've been writing for a little over 2 weeks. has been running a number of years and has roughly the same number of visitors.

But if it's proof you want, check out ukpokers new free to view forum. Mark claims it has returned "by popular demand". How popular is this demand I ask? At time of writing there have been a grand total of 10 posts on his forum since it reopened on 9th July (There are 13 replies to my DY article alone) and of those 10, eight of have been posted by Mr Strahan himself! The funniest thread is "Trading in W$ for Pokerstars" in which Mark Strahan makes the first post and is answered by someone called Mark S. All we need is a third post from ukpoker and we've got a complete set!

But perhaps the biggest irony of all is that Mark chose to slag me off on the Hendon Mob forum and didn't even both to post it on his own forum!

Can anyone see those tumbleweeds rolling through his site?

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

The problem with David Young

I like David. He is an old fashioned British eccentric. But, I cannot deny he has pissed me off. Firstly he questions my sanity with my decision to give up heads up matches on Pokerstars and then he continues to criticise me in his blog. He asks "I'm baffled. Is he after money or recognition?".

The problem with David, and anyone who has read his posts on the Hendon Mob forum will agree, is that he seem unable to see things from anyone elses point of view. I guess it is a problem alot of privately educated people suffer from.

He decides what his view on a subject is going to be on a subject and then stands by it through thick and thin. I don't think I've ever seen David admit he's wrong, let alone be swayed by an argument.

David is a cash game player. In order to be a good cash game player you have to be ruthless, you need to want to take the last penny of your opponent. If you have an ounce of sympathy it can come back to haunt you by the recipient of your sympathy taking all your money.

Playing cash games for a living is very much like having a job. You need to put the hours in in order to overcome short term variations.

I gave up work for alot of reasons, but one of them was to break out of the routine. Playing cash games (and heads up matches) for a living is the ultimate in routines.

I am also convinced playing cash games all the time affects your personality, you can become hard, aggressive maybe even greedy. (Obviously this is a sweeping generalisation and there are many exceptions to this).

I play poker primarily for pleasure and I get little satisfaction from cash games or heads up matches. Obviously I want to make a living out of the pastime and that is the aim. But, I would prefer to make my living doing something I enjoy.

David, please don't judge me by your standards. I don't want to make a fortune from poker. If I did, I certainly wouldn't be persuing the path I am.

I am happy with my decision and if that means you question my sanity, so be it.

Monday, July 26, 2004

It seemed like a good idea at the time...

1. Buying a share in
2. Investing in the "sportingfund" (Have those teething problems been sorted out yet?)
3. Buying a piece of the Camel in the WPT event in Paris.
4. Trying out smooth peanut butter when the supermarket has run out of crunchy.
5. Deciding Donnacha and Devilfish were far too short in the betting for the Poker Million and laying them both on Betfair.
6. Making your pretty popular poker website "pay-per-view" and killing it stone dead.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Turning It Around

Frankly, I have been very disappointed with my poker performance this year.

2004 started very promisingly. I made a final table at Luton (I should have won the tournament really) plus I made the final of both tournaments I played at the Vic in March, narrowly missing out on a big score.

Since then, it has gone horribly wrong. Apart from a couple of minor placings at the Bellagio and the WSOP. Absolutely nothing. If I hadn't been so lucky with the %'s I have swapped in Vegas and at the Vic, I would be losing money even before expenses can be covered.

When work gave me up and I decided to play poker for a living noone ever warned me I would go on a run like this.

I am determined not to just wallow in my own sorrow and moan about my lack of form. I need to work out what is going wrong and how to recify it.

I have long believed that luck is a major factor as to who wins a poker tournament. Obviously in the long run the best players will win the money, but over 1, 5 or 10 events luck has a major influence.

I certainly haven't been lucky. I was chip leader 2 tables out in a $2,500 event at the Bellagio and lost an enormous pot with QQ v AK. At the WSOP in the $3,000 pot limit holdem I couldn't beat 22 with KK on a flop of KJ2 which would have made me massive chip leader.

It got even worse at the Vic I lost with T9 v T7 on a T92 flop in the £750 and when having good chips in the £2,000 I lost with AA v 88 and 3 hands later I get KK only to find the loveable George Geary with AA.

Hopefully, these won't go on forever. But, I *know* there's something wrong with my game too, I played very poorly in Barcelona and my performance in the last 2 events I played at the WSOP was pitiful. I've already recounted the mistakes I made in Paris. Perhaps the outdraws have made me a little gunshy. I am a firm believer of the importance of having a positive mental attitude going into a tournament. Believing you are the best player going in helps you in so many ways. Peter Costa, Simon Trumper and Mike Magee are all very talented poker players. But I don't think they are the *best*. Yet, when they were having their respective golden runs, when they took a beat, they just regrouped and came back stronger either in that tournament or in the next one. They felt like they could walk all over their opponents and to a certain extent that confidence relayed itself to their opponents, who would be wary about tangling with them and hence they stole ALOT of pots. And one thing I am lacking at the moment is that positive mental attitude.

Another factor I am sure in my lack of success recently is Pokerstars. I am playing there far too regularly. I do very well in the heads up matches at $1000 and $500 levels. I win nearly 2 from 3 and have made very good money for the last few months. But, heads up matches are instant gratification. You are involved constantly and patience is not a quality you need to be successful. But, I feel like I've begun to transfer my heads up play into tournament play. I have always played alot of pots, but maybe I am now playing too many. I have been finding myself in massive pots against tight players with shit hands too often for my liking recently.

A related point is the info tab on 'Stars. I have become obsessed with chip averages, how many players left and whatnot. This has definitely crept into my live tournament play. If I am below chip average I get twitchy, looking for an excuse to get involved and boost my stack. And in these big tournaments with a slow structure there really is no need to do this. You have plenty of time to make a comeback and all you have to do is concentrate on playing your table and slowly accumulating chips.

The solution to this? After WCOOP I am going to severely curtail my online play. I am going to stop, for a while at least, playing heads up matches and I am only going play a very few tournaments. Probably the big Sunday night event and maybe 2 or 3 others a week.

Playing less often will also have the effect of making me hungrier when I do get to play offline. And I might actually live up to my pro tip of getting a life outside poker!

The final problem is how the other players percieve me. A year ago, I was getting away with alot. Stealing pots, semi bluffing, check raising were all working. But, now I'm not getting the benefit of the doubt, good players are more inclined to think I'm at it and are prepared to call me down with little.

I think I've devised a strategy to combat this. Obviously, I'm not going to reveal it here, but hopefully I can reap the benefits eventually.

Playing against the best tournament poker players is a hard business. They exploit weaknesses ruthlessly and relentlessly. My aim is to tighten up my game to return to the level I was at 12 months ago. Time will tell if I can do it.

Friday, July 23, 2004

The Charles Manson of Poker

A title of a post on Andy Ward's blog "Gambling with other people's money" reminded me of my two favourite Sam Grizzle stories. Casey Kastle once called him the Charles Manson of poker. He is a horrible, anti-semitic, rude and obnoxious man. Unfortunately he can also be very, very funny.

Anyway here they are:

Grizzle is playing a huge pot limit omaha game. $50-$100 blinds. There is maybe $250,000 on the table.

Sam gets into a pot, guy raises, Sam reraises and eventually all the money goes in. It's a $50,000 pot. His opponent has AAJT double suited and Sam has some bag of bollocks like K972 with three hearts. Obviously Grrizzle flukes two pairs on the river to scoop the massive pot.

His foe screams blue murder "How dare you call me with that shit? You can't play poker! You are useless! Why not go and play craps you idiot?" and continued the rant until Grizzle finally snapped.

"Just shut up! You play your money the way you want to and I'll play other peoples money the way I want to!".

The other story is just a one line piece of musing from Grizzle.

"My Daddy always told me never play poker with my own money. Because I might lose."


Thursday, July 22, 2004

Have you ever noticed?

In a no limit holdem tournament when Player A goes allin preflop with AQ against Player B who holds 99 they call the hand differently when they lose..

Player A "I lost a coin flip"

Player B "I lost when I was 4/5 favourite"

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

WPT scared of opposition?

I watched the WPT season 2 episode from Bay 101 tonight.

The guy who has been the most famous poker player in the world for the last 12 months: Chris Moneymaker was on the table in his first big final since he was crowned world champion. (He actually played very well IMO)

Yet, unless I missed it, they only mentioned he was world champion once, and never named the WSOP at all!


Surely the WSOP being high profile boosts the WPT and vice versa.

What the hell is Steve Lipscomb scared of?

Bust in Paris

I cannot deny going into the WPT event a touch short in confidence. I suffered pretty horrendous outdraws in 4 of the last 5 big tournaments I played, added to that all the snide remarks on the Hendon Mob Forum when I tried to sell part of my action at a small premium. Yes, five players whose abilities I respect greatly bought a share. But I also get on pretty well with all of them and the sneeking suspicion had entered my psyche that they were doing it to help out a friend, not as a value proposition.

Then 15 minutes before the start, with all these negative thoughts swilling round my head, along arrived the perfect tonic to my troubles. The greatest living Englishman (a self proclaimed title) bought a significant share at the same 5% for 4% rate. Now Devilfish has got alot of attributes. He is first to the bar to get his round in, he is remorselessly funny and he is about the best no limit holdem player you will ever meet. But acts of spontaneous generosity to fellow poker players is not generally part of his modus operandi. In fact he should be pretty low on your list of potential players to nip when they have a result.

Regardless, it did wonders for my confidence. If the 'Fish thought me worthy of buying a share, well, I am worthy of my place in this star filled field despite what KingOfFilth and various others think.

Psychologically buoyed, I drew my seat assignment and was pleased to find myself in the main tournament cardroom. That meant I wasn't going to get moved all day and had as long as I needed to get a line on the players around me.

It was, as I expected a mixed bunch. There was only one player whose play I really admired on my table: the WPT Championship winner Martin de Knijff. Two seasoned European pros with a handful of big wins apiece Ben Roberts and Phillip Marmostein were also there, as were 4 unnamed and semingly harmless Yanks, Cecilia Mortensen (The wife of Carlos) and an empty seat being anted away because it was owned by an Orthodox Jewish guy who could not leave his house on the Sabbath until sundown. So, at least 6 hours of free blinds for the rest of the table!

The first ninety minute level I tried to start to get a line on the players I didn't know. I must admit I liked what I saw. Two of the Americans were very poor, one being far too aggressive overbetting pots wildly (his first raise when the blinds were 50-100 was 800 to play! And he regularly bet 2.5 to 3 times the pot size). Another petrol was the ultimate calling station. I cannot remember him leading out to a pot once and I think there was only one occasion when he check raised. All his bets were calls. Cecilia certainly doesn't have her husbands aptitude for no limit holdem. She didn't ever seem to know where she was in a pot and absolutely no feel for the game. Survival seemed to be her only aim. I certainly think these 3 players had as near to 0% chance of winning the event as to be statistically irrelevant.

By the end of the level I had about 9000 but was feeling ok. Within an hour of level 2 (75-150 blinds) I was out and feeling decidedly not ok.

Three hands were to blame for my demise. I probably misplayed all of them to some extent.

Hand 1: Calling station limped in first position. But he had no small value chips to call the 150 so threw in a 500 chip. Mrs M believed he had raised to 500 and threw in 5 black chips. the dealer declared raise to 500. As soon as he did that she attempted to grab back her chips, but of course the raise stood. It was passed to me on the button. I held AQ clubs. I made it 1600 to go. The small blind passed. But fuck it! Ben Roberts in the BB made it 3500 to play. The other 2 players passed and the decision is up to me. Normally this is an easy pass. But, Ben knows that I saw Cecilia try to take back her chips because she didn't want to raise and he might have put me on a bare steal. But would Ben Roberts commit 2/5ths of his chips on a steal no matter how high a % success rate he imagined he had? It was a very close decision for me. I mucked. What should have I done? Answers on a postcard please...

Hand 2: I limped in early position with 89hearts I have approx 7000. Yank raises to 600. All pass back to me. I call. Flop comes 762 with 76hearts. I check. He bets 600 I raise to 2000. He calls. Small blank on turn. I bet 3000 he calls. Check check on the river. He wins. Against a strong player on a difficult table my play was probably correct. On this table with 3 players itching to give their chips away and mostly succeeding it was definitely the wrong play. I should have check called until I hit.

Hand 3: I have 2600. Marmostein raises to 700. I have often criticised players for saying "I put him on QQ or JJ" before the flop with no evidence except one piece of preflop action. Yet, on this occasion I felt sure for some reason he had AK. Maybe it was the fact he was raising the table chip leaders BB and was saying to him... I don't want to tangle with you but I've got a big hand. I don't how I knew. I just knew. I've got QQ. I move allin. He calls and spikes an A on the flop. I should definitely just call here as I am so certain of my read he's got AK and see the flop. If an ace or king falls I can pass and with 75-150 blinds 1900 is still enough to play with.

Three hands. End of me.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Fahreinheit 9/11

Just back from the cinema where I watched awestruck the Michael Moore masterpiece.
It was the first time in my life I was present when a cinema audience applauded at the conclusion.  
The George Orwell quote he uses to end the movie puts it all into perspective:   " does not matterif the war is not real.  For when it is, victory is not possible.  The war is not meant to be won, but it is meant to be continuous.  

"A hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance, this new version is the past and no different past can everhave existed. In principle the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. the war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects and its object is not the victory overeither Eurasia or Eastasia but to keep the very structure of society in tact".  
The movie is an amazing achievement.
Go see it.

Monday, July 19, 2004

It didn't take long

For the blog to upset someone. And the someone in question is Debbie Rogers.
Maybe I was harsh, maybe I wasn't.
The fact I said her play was "pretty abysmal" is not really relevant. What if I thought Phil Hellmuth and Phil Ivey were pretty abysmal too. Does that make it right? What do I know? I am just expressing an opinion. For all I know Debbie might be the second coming of Betty Carey. 
As for the language and abuse she bombards players with, well I know it is definitely out of line. Anyone who has dared to beat "skilly" in a big pot will tell you likewise. I have a new account on pokerstars, I was fed up with peeps calling me when I was raising with 68 suited! A few weeks ago I outdrew skilly when she had KK and I suffered at least 15 minutes of abuse.
But, I am prepared to remove the offending post and apologise for any distress it caused if Debbie cleans up her act. If she goes a month without exploding and bombarding the chat box with expletives I will act.
The ball is in her court.
Fair enough?

Thursday, July 15, 2004

The Barry Greenstein Myth

Barry Greenstein gives all his poker tournament winnings to charity. This is a fact.

Barry Greenstein is the "Robin Hood of Poker". This is sentimental clap-trap.

Greenstein is a multi millionaire. Hurrah for Greenstein!

Look at the facts. When he won $1,278,370 at the WPO in Tunica in January he would figure to actually cash approximately 40% of this figure. Being a generous muliti millionaire he gives the whole prize to charity so he can write off the donation against tax.

Meanwhile he still wins a huge amount from his victory. He double books himself against several other top players (Brunson, Reese, Ivey and the like). Double booking is a bet where you bet how much you win in a tournament against someone else. The player who finishes lower has to give the higher placed finisher the difference in their official prize money. For example if Daniel Negreanu double booked Greenstein at Tunica. Negreanu finished out the money so owes Barry $1,278,370! Now multiply that 4 or 5 times and Greenstein is giggling all the way to the bank with his tax free win.

Now obviously Greenstein doesn't have to give a penny to charity. But let's not get this out of perspective, this is the most tax efficient way of him contributing and the amount he gives, in proportion, is like you or me stuffing a fiver in the NSPCC tin.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

A Share of the Action

I knew it was a risky move when I posted this on the Mob Forum:

I wasn't going to bother going to Paris for the WPT next week, but I had a bit of touch at the Vic last week and I'm tempted to try and Parlay it up at the Aviation.

I just wondered if anyone would like to buy a small share of my action.

My course and distance form is pretty good. I came 15th at the Aviation in their first WPT event and 8th last year.

To help cover expenses I will sell 4% for 500 Euros and pro rata.

If you are interested email me at If you are not interested feel free to flame or take the piss below.

I expected some piss-taking but I was slightly surprised when someone questioned whether I was justified in charging 20% juice on potential backers.

I responded to the question like this:

I don't think adding 20% is excessive. As I have left it pretty late to book, all the cheap hotel and flight deals seem to have gone, hence the expenses will be pretty high.

When a player is backed it is usual he plays for approximately 30-40% with a third being about average. I don't like selling pieces but I haven't had the rub of the green recently and this is a very expensive tournament to play, therefore I decided to try and sell about 35-40% of my action.

One thing I am pretty certain about is that my edge over the field is considerably bigger than 20%, hence anyone who buys a share is getting value.

But "KingOfFilth" didn't agree:


I'm not doubting your ability in a large No Limit tournament but I would be very interested to here exactly how you can claim you have a larger than 20% edge over the field in a large buy-in event such as this one. Has the Bandit given you some extra training??? Or are you referring to your waistline rather than your poker skills?

In all seriousness I don't see how anyone other than the very very top pros (Devilfish, Phil Ivey, Howard Lederer, Phil Hellmuth, Jim Britton, etc) could have an edge of over 20% in a large buy-in no limit tournament. And I don't think you even class yourself as a top pro do you???

I don't consider myself a "top class pro" but I do think I have quite a considerable edge in a WPT field.

Let's guesstimate there will be 200 runners in the WPT in Paris. I would say 50 have zero percentage of winning, (Obviously not exactly zero, but as close to zero as to make it negligible) another fifty have very little chance ie up to 0.2% of winning. My estimate is that half the field have about 15% of winning. That leaves 85% for the remaining 100 players. Now clearly the best players in the tournament, Lederer, Devilfish, Ivey, Negreanu etc etc have a rather bigger share of the 85% than me. But for an investor to have value for his share then I have to have a bigger than 0.6% of winning. And if I didn't believe that I wouldn't be going in the first place.

I am grateful to the five people who have chosen to buy a share. They are all very good players in their own right and it is certainly good for my confidence they have chosen to back me. Certainly, their opinion of my play means more to me than some anonymous snipers on the Hendon Mob Forum.

I hope I can reward their confidence with a good finish in Paris..

A Worrying Trend

What one earth is happening in the big poker tournaments?

Since the WSOP not one major prize has gone to a player even the most hardened begrudger can be upset about..

Look at the evidence:

World Heads Up (runner up) = Mark Banin
World Poker Championship = Pham
The Vic £750 = Lucy Rokach
The Vic £2000 = El Blondie

Let's just hope this trend doesn't continue in Paris next weekend...

The Best Website in the Whole Wide World


Tuesday, July 13, 2004

What the hell are they thinking?

The "they" in question being the marketing departments of the various online poker sites.

Let's look at some of the players they've chosen to represent them: have the Ambassador Dave Welch. David was one the partners in the failed internet poker site "Aces Poker" which cost several players/investors tens of thousands of pounds. In addition Welch hardly ever plays in big tournaments and since the deal in March has managed to produce a grand total of 3 diary entries. He's hardly Adrian Mole is he?

Corals for some bizarre reason chose Jim Britton. The "Hectic Tiger" hasn't won a single major event anywhere and has a grand total of two final table finishes in major tournaments in Europe (I'm not talking about this year, I'm talking about ever!) according to not really a high profile representative of a quality poker site is he?

Now word has reached me that Debbie Rogers is being sponsored by Victor Chandler poker. The fact that she is a pretty abysmal poker player isn't really the point. She is possibly the most rude and abusive player I have come across on the various poker sites. Dare to outdraw her and suffer a stream of abuse which would make a trooper blush. VC want this person to encourage poker players to go to their site. It could only have the opposite effect as far as I am concerned.

This three are not alone as being ridiculous choices as ambassadors for the various sites. Obviously some players do a good job for their employers: Simon Trumper, David Colclough, Steve Vladar, The Hendon Mob and even my old sparring partner Roy Brindley can be seen as doing a good job.

But to give deals to rude, incompetent, low profile or objectional players while luminaries such as Lucy Rokach, John Duthie, Gary Jones, John Shipley and Paul Maxfield, all of whom would do a terrific job representing a poker site in my opinion, go without deals.

It's a crazy world.

Autograph Hunt

Someone told me in Barcelona that David Young had busied himself in Vegas getting autographs of all the top poker players on a deck of cards and subsequently sold it on ebay for £750.

I called David and found out this was total fabrication, although he found the fact that the person who started the Chinese whisper had actually invented an amount he sold the cards for very amusing!

It got me thinking however, I don't do alot of work for charidee and such an item might just raise a few quid. So, I'm going to attempt to compile such an item myself. When completed I will auction the deck on ebay with 25% each of the proceeds going to Gamblers Anonymous; Psoraisis Association; The Samaritans and MIND.

I haven't asked anyone for an autograph for ages and it will interesting to see if any of the Yank players are too up their own arses to sign a playing card.

Paris next weekend seems a good place to start, as many of the Americans will be there and I should be able snag Shana Hiatt on the Queen of Hearts!

I'll let you know how I get on...

Playing Poker For a Living (or at least very seriously)

I'll start with a repost of my guest "Pro-tip" from the Hendon Mob.

I won't say "Don't do it" to a prospective pro, that's for sure.

Recently there seems to have been a rash of people giving up work to play poker for a living. I have twice decided the world of employment didn't really suit me so handed in my notice and tried my luck as a professional poker player.

I made numerous mistakes in the way I went about it first time around and I am attempting to do it properly this time. Perhaps if you are thinking of packing it all in after a couple of positive results in your local £10 comp you should think about at least a couple of the points below:

*1 Don't play too much. Poker is very addictive and can rapidly control your life. First time round I played virtually 7 nights a week and my game rapidly suffered as I became bored and stale. One of the best players I know is skint, and I think he would agree that he played too much.

*2 Have other interests. Related to *1 of course. Go on non-poker holidays, go to the theatre or cinema, play snooker or football or whatever is your bag. You will rapidly become a poker bore if you have nothing else to talk about save poker. Try and maintain a circle of friends outside poker; believe me, you will be desperate to talk about something else after a while!

*3 Keep separate playing and living bankrolls. This is a point where I fell down badly first time round, and to be honest many people do. How on earth can you expect to play your best poker if you don't know where next months rent is coming from? I would say you must have at least 6 months living money in a bank account where you can't get at it.

*4 Never borrow or lend significant amounts of money. No, I'm not talking about the odd score for a buyin. Last time round, people I thought I could trust, twice stiffed me for a lot of money. Do you really need to worry about debts, when you will have plenty to worry about without this problem?

*5 Trust no one. I'm afraid I have to admit there are a lot of rogues, lowlifes and petty scam artists in poker. Throughout my life I have trusted people until they have given me reason to doubt them. In poker, sadly, it is safer to assume you can't trust someone until they prove otherwise.

*6 Try to find someone "on the tour" you can confide in, (not just to have a chat with at the bar or over dinner). On the whole, most people don't give a damn about how you are going, and it's comforting to have someone to bitch at, whine to and moan with… but be prepared to act in the same role for them! Also, it's nice to have someone to travel to tournaments with who hopefully shares some of your interests and maybe shares your sense of humour.

*7 Don't cut down unnecessarily on expenses. Say for example, you are going to the Masterclassics in Amsterdam and are planning to play all the tournaments costing you a total of 6000 euro or so (about £4000). What is the upside of trying to save 50 euro per night by staying in a flea pit, where the hot water in the shower doesn't work, you have bugs walking up the wall, you can't sleep because there are cats mating in the courtyard and the breakfast tastes like it should have been fed to the dog? I'm not saying book the Marriott wherever you are going, just somewhere clean and comfortable. Your results will reflect this.

*8 If you have success, ignore the snipers. Poker is the worst game for jealousy, it sometimes seems like everyone wants you to fail. You will find out who your real friends are at this time, because they are genuinely happy for you, not just looking for a few quid because you won.

*9 Try to keep some form of emotional stability. You are certainly not as good as your best result suggests you are. There is always someone significantly better than you. Ego is the most expensive failing in poker… try not to have one. On the other hand, you are almost certainly not as bad as you worst run tells you. Avoiding doing serious amounts of cash when you are suffering a run of bad results is an important factor in becoming a successful pro.

*10 Don't have leaks. My biggest failing is my amazing ability to lose a pot at the poker table and then go and blow a fortune on the dice / roulette / blackjack tables (delete as appropriate). In the 2001 WSOP main event I had a nice stack midway through day 2. I got all my chips in preflop with AA against QQ. A queen arrives on the river. Like a prat, I proceeded downstairs and blew a five-figure fortune at craps. Don't do it. There is always tomorrow.

*11 Don't close all doors on the world of work. Poker is tough (as you know) and most people don't make it as a pro poker player. If you can't make it pay it doesn't mean you aren't a good player, it just means the life isn't for you. When you quit your job, don't tell your boss what you really think of him… you may just need him for a reference in two years time!

*12 Finally, (and MOST IMPORTANTLY!) enjoy it! Don't become one of those bad tempered gits (like those who used to frequent the cash game at Russell Sq) who play because they have to, not because they want to. Playing poker seriously is a great life; you will meet some fascinating, funny, interesting and, let's be honest, bizarre people. What is the point of giving up work to do something so risky if you don't enjoy doing it? Don't be a grouch, enjoy other peoples successes, don't become a bad beat moaner, enjoy the combat but enjoy a beer with the "enemy" afterwards. Enjoy meeting new people and seeing new places. And have fun. Poker is the best game in the world, and if you are lucky enough to be playing it for a living, remember that next time your aces are cracked by 10, 6 suited, the person holding that hand has to go to work tomorrow morning. You have some serious lying in to do!


I've caught the bug.

Welcome to the Camel's poker blog.

Although I will probably blabber on about other stuff more than occasionally.

Let me know what you think.
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