Thursday, September 30, 2004

Bets, bets, bets.

A couple of bets make real appeal to me.

For some reason Sporting Index really fancy West Ham to finish very highly in the Championship. The reason is totally beyond me.

So far they have gathered 18 points from 11 games for an average of 1.64 points per game (ppg). To reach Sporting's sell total of 78 points they will have to improve slightly to average 1.71 ppg for their remaining 35 matches. For a team so high in the table West Ham have scored very few goals (13). They really haven't got a cutting edge. And any team who has Bywater in goal and features Repka at the back will always concede. They have won 5 of their 11 games, which is pretty good, but those wins include narrow victories against Rotherham, Crewe and Burnley who are among the weakest teams in the division. When facing the top teams they have not performed so well. They were outclassed 3-1 at home by Wigan, they drew 0-0 with Leceister when facing 10 men for virtually the entire match and were reportedly very lucky to edge Reading 1-0.

All in all I am pretty sure Sporting have overrated West Ham. I considered selling them on the Championship Index but I think a simple points sell is the better and safer bet.

20pts sell West Ham Total points (@78 Sporting)

One long term NFL bet appeals to me pretty strongly too. Detroit are overrated by Sporting Index for the NFC North. They award 50/25/10 for the finishers in the division. Minnesota are rightly very hot favourites for this section. But, I think Detroit are too close to Green Bay for second favouritism. Detroit won their first two games. They were lucky against Chicago, being totally outplayed until a blocked FG changed momentum. Week 2 saw them beat Houston handily enough, but statistically Houston were more than their match. Detroit's shortcomings were then cruelly exposed by Philly in week 3 who totally killed them.

Detroit's best player Charles Rogers is injured. QB Joey Harrington is still prone to expensive mistakes and their defense looked like swiss cheese against Philly. They have a very tough schedule in the next 8 games and could easily lose as many of 7 of those games. I think third is absolutely the best Detroit can hope for, and last place in this section is a very real possibility.

10pts sell Detroit NFC North index (@17 Sporting)

As for the bets I advised earlier it's a pretty mixed bag.

West Brom look a very short price to be relegated from the Premiership this season, but I'm still quite confident they will finish above the dreadful Crystal Palace.

Bournemouth sold their best player (Carl Fletcher) which was quite disappointing, but they have just knocked Blackburn out of the Legue Cup and demolished Doncaster 5-0 which suggests they are coming intoi a bit of form. I don't think they will be far away at the end of the season and the playoffs is a real possibility.

As for the Championship, the fact QPR are flying at the moment shows what a weak league it really is. Wigan do appear a class above, but apart from that any of about 14 teams could occupy the next 5 spots which score points in Sportings Championship Index. I think the buy at 12 is a really solid investment and could pay massive dividends at the end of the year. Plymouth started the season on fire. They have cooled off considerably in recent weeks, but they are certainly one of the 14 clubs who could finish in the top 6 who will be challenging for promotion. I am hopeful rather than confident.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

David Young is at it Again

In his blog David Young calls me a "mug" for paying 450 Euros for a 220 Euro event seat at the MasterClassicsofPoker a couple of years ago.

David has no idea of the reason why I paid this amount and I don't intend to go into ancient history here.

What really annoys me though is his refusal to allow comments on his blog.

If he wants to insult me publicly, fair enough. But at least give me the right of reply.

Perhaps, like on so many other occasions, he doesn't want anyone to hear explanations in case they pour doubt on his "facts".

One Good Reason

There is a discussion about how poker players can avoid paying tax on the Hendon Mob forum at the moment.

Can someone please give me one good reason why professional gamblers SHOULDN'T pay tax?

Monday, September 27, 2004

Celebrations Revisited

I am pleased to report the level of behaviour during the WPT event at the Borgata was very good. I didn't see much, but what I did see was pleasantly surprising. I didn't see one action that I could even consider bad sportsmanship. Handshakes and respect seemed the order of the day. Perhaps, the participants realised what arses they were making of themselves and how unprofessional they appeared on tv.

But, sadly in a $200 no limit event at the Taj the same could not said. On my table there were trainee versions of Matias Andersson and Josh Arieh! One who celebrated remorselessly every time he won a pot and one who criticised his opponents play shamelessly. Thank God we didn't have an amateur Phil Laak! It reminded me how important it is for players who appear on tv to behave well. Young, impressionable guys think it is the "done thing" to behave this way. Learned behaviour is the order of the day.

On a related point I was watching a bit of football at the weekend on tv.

Two goalscorers really came to my attention. Andy Johnson scored for Crystal Palace at Aston Villa. Now I know Palace don't score many goals, but his celebration was bang out of order. He ran in front of a huge bank of Villa supporters (it was probably the Holte End) and basically provoked them: making signs and taking the piss. A few players have been yellow carded recently for over celebrating in front of their own fans, well Johnson deserved a straight red because he could have caused a riot. Compare his actions with those of Marlon Harewood who scored for West Ham against Notts Forest during the Clough tribute match. He just shook a couple of teammates hands and trotted back to the centre circle. He understood making a spectacle of himself on this particular day wold have been inappropriate and acted in classy manner. Maybe being a former Forest player meant he was more acutely aware of the situation. But, regardless, he acted in a professional manner and my hat is off to him.

Saturday, September 25, 2004


Despite accusations of being lazier in updating this blog than DY is in updating SleeplessInFulham, I really have got a valid excuse.

The computer I could use while in Atlantic City barred me looking at all gambling sites. So, no Betfair, no Hendonmob, no recpoker and certainly no Camel Ruminations. Is there really any point to the internet if you can't visit gambling sites?

Obviously, this is down to the AC gaming commission which rules the casinos with a rod of iron.

Atlantic City is a totally different experience to Las Vegas. There are virtually no children around, which means it is a "harder" gambling experience. People go to AC purely to gamble, not for a holiday. I played a bit of blackjack there (shock-horror) and was amazed to see seemingly every player knew basic strategy perfectly.

As for poker, I was absoluted shocked when I first walked into the poker room at the Borgata. A major tournament was going on, and I recognised about 10 players from a crowd of several hundred. Obviously this percentage moved upwards as we neared the WPT event, but it was still amazing.

The general standard of play was poor. I found the players varied between tight-passive and loose-passive. Both the tournaments and the cash games seemed considerably softer than in Vegas.

There were several annoyances however. Firstly, no headphones/personal steroes. Secondly, you had to register for satellites at the cash desk, making setting them up a long and painful process. Thirdly, they refused to run sats in the hours leading up to an event and the sats they did put on were complete crapshoots lasting about an hour, even though they cost up to $1000 to enter. A personal frustration for me was you can't bet on sports in AC casinos. With the Borgata tournie being held during the first two weeks of the NFL season this was particularly annoying.

We had a great time in New York and Atlantic City. The Borgata is a really nice hotel and NY is an amazing city.

I will be back!

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

The Emperor's New Clothes

This morning Katharine and I went to the Guggenheim museum off Cenral Park here in New York.

This museum is considered one of the most important collections of modern art in the world.

And I'm ashamed to admit I thought approximately 95% of the exhibition was complete bollocks.

Most of a very large crowd viewing the pieces wouldn't agree with me of course. They were oohing and ahhing at perfectly smooth stones you could find on any decent English beach. They were cooing their admiration at various mathmatical shapes placed seemingly at random on the canvas. And they were positively wetting themselves at hollow perspex boxes.

It bought to mind the old tale of the Emperor's new clothes. He and everyone else were conned into believing he had bought a beautiful new suit. And because noone wanted to raise an objection, he went around naked!

I wonder how many people actually could understand the various messages the "artists" were trying to convey in their works. Very few I would guess. And the pretentious little pieces of writing explaining the artifacts next to each piece just exacerbated the whole surreal experience.

So what has this got to do with poker? Probably nothing.

But, the visit got me thinking. Received wisdom should be questioned.

Just because some rich art collector pays $1 million for 3 red circles on a piece of canvas doesn't mean the "work of art" is actually worth this ludicrous amount.

In a tournament, often someone goes allin and 4 players call and check it down to try and knock him out. It is perceived this is the correct play. But regularly it isn't.

We shouldn't be pressured into accepting a deal at the latter stages of a competition becaus "we always do it here". Only accept the deal if it is favourable to us.

Received wisdom isn't always wrong. But, it is incorrect often enough to make it worthwhile thinking about every situation carefully even if it appears to be ABC.

Don't let the bullies win. Do what's right for you, not what they say "is in the good of the game". Because, if truth be told, the person arguing for the good of the game is more likely to be arguing for the good of himself!

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Enough is Enough

I'm across the pond in New York for a week before having a crack at the WPT event at the Borgata in Atlantic City next week.

I managed to kip for the most of the flight over, so was wide awake when we arrived at JFK. Katharine fell asleep within 2 seconds of her head hitting the pillow when we got to our hotel and I was left with a room service pizza, an ice cold six pack of Bud and the remote control of the widescreen TV with seemingly hundreds of channels to surf.

Naturally, ESPN was the first port of call. And they had just commenced 3 hours of coverage of the WSOP main event. Joy.

The programme was, of course, excellent. It reinforced my belief how far behind in England with our poker shows (with the exception of live coverage) we are.

But one thing annoyed me beyond belief. Not for the first time, the players behaviour was, in a couple of cases, deplorable.

Now, I understand that there is pressure playing this event during the later stages far above and beyond what I've ever encountered. And some emotion is almost inevitable when a player wins a marginal hand, especially on the river.

But, on two occasions at least players overstepped the mark to such an extent, that something should have been done about it.

Mattias Andersson was one culprit. Every time he won even a medium sized pot he acted like a complete lunatic. He pumped his fists, ran around the table and screamed "YYYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH" at the top of his voice. It didn't matter if he was a 1/4 favourite or 4/1 underdog when the cards were exposed. He did it every damn time. It was childish, pathetic and rude. Behaviour like this has no place at the poker table.

But, the other piece of behaviour was probably much more offensive. Andersson, at least, had the excuse of this being his first major tournament and it was possibly "learned behaviour" from seeing other's exploits in TV poker tournaments in the past. Josh Arieh has not got this excuse. He is an experienced pro with a WSOP bracelet. And his behaviour was astounding.

Now, I will attempt to recreate the hand. Apologies in advance if I get some of the technicalities incorrect, but here is the jist of what occurred.

There are 3 tables left. Blinds are (I think) 10,000 - 20,000. One of the chip leaders in the tournament opens for 60,000 with some raggy hand. Josh Arieh, with about 800,000 in chips, calls on the button with T9 hearts. Harry Demetriou calls in the SB with AJ. Flop comes over AKQ with KQ hearts. Harry checks. Raiser checks and Arieh bets about 300,000. Harry moves allin. Arieh calls. He rivers a flush.

Now, Arieh makes a stream of critical and abusive comments to the crowd about Harry's play. Something like "How can this idiot risk $5 million with AJ?". He called Harry several offensive names. Harry is sitting next to him has just been outdrawn in the biggest tournament the world, seeing his chance of victory almost certainly extinguished. How he maintain his sang froid I will never know. Many would say that Arieh deserved a slap. And many players I know would have given the punk the slap he deserved.

Enough is enough. If players can receive penalties for using moderately bad language, then I think they should get penalties for beviour such as that displayed by Andersson and Arieh. The threat of 20 minutes away from the table for ungemtlemanly conduct or whatever should be enough to stop the nonsense.

Meanwhile Harry Demetriou has gone up massively in my estimation.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

System working well... send more money

It's impossible to know exactly whether my decision to give up playing heads-up matches on PokerStars will improve my tournament play.

It's only been about 3 weeks, but the signs are hopeful. I have started to play better in the 'Stars multi table events I have particatipated in. I came 3rd in the Sunday night $100 rebuy event. I have played ten $10+1 rebuy events (which tend to have anywhere up to 800 runners) and made the money 5 times and the last two tables twice. I have only tilted out of maybe 3 tournaments. And I'm pleased to report my obsession with the "info" tab has been quelled.

I have been playing a few cash games on betfair. Two reasons: 1. I am trying to improve my patience 2. The games are just stunning.

One thing for is for certain. I am certainly hungry (before anyone anyone asks, when am I not hungry?), I feel ready to perform at my best again. I've got my mojo back.

So, it's with hopes high I am back on the WPT trail. I've decided to duck the first event of the EPT at Barcelona and head off to The East Coast of the USA. Katharine and I are having a week's holiday in New York (Got tickets for the NFL week 1 game between the Jets and the Bengals) and I'm sure we shall do all the sightseeing bits and visit the Guggenheim and the Met plus try and catch something on Broadway.

Then it's a three hour Greyhound ride to Atlantic City for the tournament at the Borgata. Asher told me last year this event was the best value he's ever played, with 4 players on his table in the big event who had never played a live tournament ever before. Frightening. The Borgata is supposed to be last word in luxury.

It is my first trip to AC, so if anyone knows any "must go" places, or things to avoid in the city: I would appreciate the knowledge.

Let's hope the reality of the trip lives up to the expectation. I am playing 3 events and will be most disppointed if I don't make a decent showing in at least one of them.

Excluded from my list

I must be going slightly senile. For some unknown reason I neglected to include probably the most congennial American poker player of all from my "Pleasure to play poker with" list.

Erik Seidel is a heck of poker player. He is relentlessly aggressive, makes great reads and is a true professional in every sense of the word.

He is also a gentleman. This little story sums him up well:

Kieren Fallon the new King of Irony

One quote from the champion jockey really made me smile this week after Fallon was questioned by police in connection with race fixing.

"The whole thing is a complete joke. I've done nothing different to what I have done over the last few years."

Kieren Fallon, using irony. Who'da thunk it?

Thursday, September 02, 2004

The last word on the Olympics

I was pointed to this article on

It neatly sums up why swimmimg is a such a ridiculous event at the Olympics.

Redgrave Spits on Spitz

I was glad to see Sir Steve Redgrave come out ahead of the rest as the BBC's Most Memorable Olympic Moment.

I'm always annoyed that Mark Spitz's gold medal haul strikes such awe into people. Not that Spitz didn't do well, it's just that swimming is designed to hand out as many medals as possible.

I don't see the point of all them strokes, meself.

If you win the 100 metres freestyle you can say you're the fastest swimmer in the world, right?

If you win the 100 metres breaststroke, you're the fastest swimmer in the world at going slowly. If you win the butterfly, then you're the fastest swimmer in the world whilst looking like you're drowning.

Then of course you've got the bloody medley, where you can chuck around some more metal at Americans and Australians. It's a nonsense.

I mean in athletics you don't have the 100 metres hop and the 200 metres bumshuffle.

So Spitz's seven looks good, but if I had my way they'd reduce the swimming to 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1500 metres and leave a bit of space for people who like to watch sport without breathing in that manky chlorine.


Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Nicking blinds from the Rich and Famous

The life of a poker player is just a whirl of glitz and glamour.

Take last night for example.

After shouting myself hoarse at Loftus Road, in the vain hope the R's could fluke an equaliser against Sheffield United, I popped down to the Vic in search of a cash game.

After a couple of pints and a stir fry (the Vic stir fry is absolutely different class) I found a cosy seat in the £100 holdem game.

Five years ago if I sat down in a cash game at the Vic I would have expected to know or at least recognise probably 80% of the players. But, this is the brave new world of poker. Apart from Francis Rohan and Claire Hall I knew nobody.

As Francis was in the game, it was a good natured affair. We soon got yakking about this and that, and somehow got talking about the poker scene on Eastenders where Dirt Den bet various properties and cars in a pot. "I call your pub and raise you my nightclub". That sort of nonsense.

Anyways, as I glanced around the table I remarked to the geezer in trap 2 "Actually you look like Beppe DiMarco".

He looked at me kind of weird. "The name is Michael".

As soon as he opened his mouth it became obvious. I was playing poker with Beppe. He's kissed Martine Mccutcheon! He's hit Grant Mitchell!

Rubbing shoulders with the glitterati. And semi bluffing with a flush draw against them at the same time!

Who says poker isn't glamourous?
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