Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Time for a Proper Bet...

As most of you may know, I am a sick Queens Park Rangers supporter. Even though I am living in Darlington I still go to most home games and many away games. Katharine reckons I ought to see a doctor in attempt to cure me from this addiction.

Anyway, having this magnificent obsession means I follow the Coca-Cola Championship with an almost unhealthy interest. Having watched altogether too many matches this year I have come to the conclusion Wigan are quite comfortably the best team in this section. They have been through a slightly sticky spell of late it must be admitted, but I was at Loftus Road when the R's beat them and they really were outstanding. They should have been at least 3 up at half time and gone on to stuff us. From reports they were unlucky not to beat both Leicester and Reading on their last two starts.

They have a lethal (although admittedly mis-firing at present) strikeforce of Ellington and Roberts. A great midfield, featuring the best player in the division, Bullard. And a very solid back defence.

They now have a very kind schedule for the next six weeks. They play on one of their promotion challengers in that time: Ipswich, who I believe are the least likely of the current top 4 to reach automatic promotion. They have to face Rotherham, Gillingham, Wolves and Preston in the coming weeks. Hardly a testing time, especially when other promotion challengers are going to clash against each other regularly.

Now is the time to back them. And for once, I'm having a "proper" bet. I really am very confident they will win this section.

100pts Wigan to win the Championship (5/2 Stan James)

Those bookie fellows are forcing my hand on the NFL. They are betting well overbroke on the place portion of their each way terms on the NFC teams. This will disappear shortly as I notice 3 bookmakers have moved to the dreaded 1/3 1,2 each way terms this week. And as bookmakers are lemmings, I expect the others to follow suit next week. So, now is the time to step in.

But, who to back? The AFC is much the stronger conference, and as such should be avoided for betting purposes. The NFC is much easier. I couldn't argue with anyone plunging on Philadelphia each way at 3/1. They have looked very impressive for much of the year and continue to roll along strongly. However, the nagging doubt remains they failed in playoffs for the last 3 years when NFC favourites. Does McNabb choke in the big game? The other options are spotty at best. Atlanta, St Louis and Seattle all have great talents levels but are woefully inconsistant. Minnesota are my pick. They have a marginally easier schedule than Green Bay in their division and if they win the NFC North they should avoid Philly until the conference finals. They have a stellar offence with Culpepper outstanding and Moss the possibly the best WR in NFL history. They also have a very strong Offensive line. The defense which has been shocking in recent seasons certainly looked improved against Jax last week. At 20/1 they are certainly each way value.

10pts Each Way Minnesota for the Superbowl (20/1 BlueSq, Stan James)

A quick look at the other bets I've mentioned earlier:

Andy Johnson has single handedly propelled Crystal Palace past West Brom and up the Premiership table. Will it last? I hope not. I still believe WBA are the more complete team, but when both teams are only expected to gather about 30 points all season 3 points is a bit of a hurdle to overcome.

Plymouth are so infuriating they have made me tear my hair out. They beat Wigan comfortably, yet lose to Coventry a few days later. I've almost thrown my ante post voucher away, but don't discount them going on a hot streak and pushing for the playoffs just yet. The buy of the field which I hoped was a very solid investment is looking a bit dodgy. Thank God the R's are still punching away. Burnley, Stoke, Watford and Preston are all there or thereabouts. Hopefully at least one of the field will make the playoffs at least. West Ham have struggled to match Sporting's estimation of them as I hoped. They have been on a poor run recently and have some tough games looming. They have dropped to 74.5-76 and I think they will drop a little more yet. Hold tight.

Bournemouths dip in form has coincided with the absence of prolific striker James Hayter. As long as they stay in touch while he's out I'm confident they can still win automatic promotion.

Detroit despite a few scares early on have performed as badly as I hoped. They have lost 5 straight and look booked for third. Chicago have just signed two new QBs so a chance remains the Lions might come last and make up 0. A nice freeroll whatever!

Monday, November 22, 2004

Matthew Stevens' Words of Wisdom

After winning his heat of the UK Open Matthew Stevens was asked this assinine question:

"So, Matthew, did you have a game plan before the tournament began?"

"Well, when I had a good hand, I stuck 'em all in"

Easy game really, isn't it?

Meanwhile over at ukpoker.com....

...the tumbleweeds are still rolling through the site. So far there have been a grand total of eight posts during the month of November in the forum which was bought back by "popular demand".

But, amazingly, one of these eight posts manged to raise a hearty chuckle.

I repost it in full, because my words could just not do it justice:

Subject: Newbie players wanted for 1 to 1 tuition via the WWW

Name: Mark S.


My name is Mark Strahan and I'm a teacher of poker at the Fitzwilliam Card Club in Dublin, Ireland.

I've run courses there for the past 18 months and you can read up on these courses, and their content, on WWW.UKPOKER.COM, my website, by a link off the front page.

I'm now looking to take the tutoring onto the WWW and am looking for students who might like to be taught, 1 on 1, the finer points of the game.

Course fees will be based on you winnings throughout the course and there'll be lots of practical exercises with 'live' tuition as you play in various tournaments on various Internet card rooms at various times. (Tuition will be via SKYPE or MSN messenger)

If you're interested then drop me a note and we'll go from there.

All students will receive a FREE copy of my new book - 'How To Win At Texas Hold'Em' on signing up.


Honestly you just couldn't make this stuff up.

Other ways of wasting a few quid:

Using £10 notes as fire starters.
Buying a small share in Aces Poker.
Backing The Camel in a major poker tournament.
Lending the Ambassador a hundred pounds "until next week"..

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Launched Just In Time for Christmas...

Buy them before they run out of stock...


Tuesday, November 16, 2004

It seems like Vicky Coren gets everywhere these days...

Just been to see the RSC production of King Lear at Newcastle. All good stuff.

During the interval I was perusing the programme over my tub of Loseleys Double Choc Ice Cream (why do people always eat ice cream at theatres even though its -4 outside?) when I stumbled upon an article about father/daughter relationships penned by pokers' very own Ms Coren.

It's about the first time I have wished I had gone to the psychology lectures at college rather than Ladbrokes on a Monday afternoon...

Monday, November 15, 2004

No Regrets (Well, not that many anyway)

I guess it just wasn't meant to be. I came 7th in the big event at Amsterdam after being in or close to the chip lead for the best part of 2 days.

But, although I can't deny I am bitterly disappointed, unlike the last two big events where I have entered the latter stages with huge chips (The Vic and the Bellagio in 2002) where I really fucked up badly, I don't think I did much wrong. So I really should dust myself down and just say well done to the winners.

For two days it was pretty much a dream tournament. I had great draw, with the only dangerous players ever to visit my table (Rumit Somaya, Paul Leckey, Paul Alterman and Julian Thew) safely to my right.

I got a double up within the first 90 minutes of the tournament when Rumit limped with J9 and I had Q9 on the sb and we saw a very pretty flop of 992. I am more convinced then ever that the correct strategy for me in these big events is to gamble early on to get a double up because when a loose/aggressive player has the power to bust anyone on the table it makes the other players very wary of tangling with him and leads to alot of easy steals.

The rest of the day was plain sailing. A guy wanted to totally overplay AK when I had AA (the only time I had the boots in 3 days!). Then I busted AA when a German decided to try and trap me when I had 99 and flopped a set. I finished the day with approximately 65,000 and I felt fresh and relaxed.

Onto day 2, and for the first few hours it was more of the same. I stole with complete freedom. And my loose image caused a pretty big stack to put far too many chips into a pot when he raised my BB with AQ and saw a flop of A99.

After perhaps 9 hours of play on the second day we got down to 2 tables. I had never been allin and I had never showed the worst hand in a big pot. I had about 220,000 in chips and things couldn't be running smoother. Then, with blinds of 2-4k Ali Sharkeshik opened the pot for 12,000. I found QQ in the cutoff. I reraised him to 35,000. Immediately he moved allin for about 40,000 more. Hmmmm. I knew I was almost certainly behind, but there was enough chance of him having AK or a smaller pair that calling for 40,000 to win 120,000 when I have about chip average if I lose, was almost certainly correct.

Alas, Ali had KK. But as soon as the flop was dealt I saw the doorcard was a beautiful looking queen! I busted Ali and assumed the chip lead. Now, an interesting passage of play ensued. For the first time in the entire tournament I had a player whose play I respect, Dutchman Rob Hollink, on my immediate left. With such big chips and the final looming I tried to weild my big stick as the other players tried to scramble into the last 10. But, Rob clearly sensed this was my tactic and haiving good chips himself he started to take me on. Twice within 5 hands he reraise my opening raise and I layed my hand down.

This was frustrating me greatly. I should have been making steady progress and the conflicts with Rob were pissing me off. I had given him about 30k. Not terminal to a 280kish stack certainly, but annoying nonetheless. Then, on my button everyone passed and I made it 14,000 to play with 9T sooooted. Rob, with a stack of about 160,000 made it 40,000 to go. Now, the rest of the table must of been getting used of me raising only to pass for the reraise, and were mentally taking note of this. So, I took I stand. I wanted everyone to know if you reraise me you have to hold a hand which you are prepared to put the whole lot in. So, I shipped it allin. Now, I have never taken cocaine, but the next three minutes were the biggest buzz I have ever had in poker and possibly similar to a couple of lines of coke. At one stage Rob looked certain to call, at another stage he looked certain to pass. Now, imagine the pressure on me while he is going through these macinations and I am trying desperately not to give anything away. Eventually he passed. A massive relief for me obviously but noone messed around with me after I raised for the remainder of that tables life.

So, I made the final. I had a good nights sleep was ready to play. But, it wasn't my day. The trap draw which had been so kind to me throughout the event deserted me at the last. The chip leader Pouya Pouya Majd was seated 3 to my left and obviously came to the final with a game plan. He had played on my table for about 5 hours on day 2 and knew I like to play and raise plenty of pots. He was clearly determined not to allow me to have control of the table and immediately reraise me in the first two pots I opened. C'est la vie, I decided to sit back and try to trap him. After about 2 hours of the final I raised from middle position with AT. The lowest stack, Robert Mizrachi, called. I had seen him make the old "call from the BB and then go allin on the flop" move several times the previous day and it was half in my mind he was planning to do this here. I watched the flop of 369 with two hearts and looked up to see what he was going to do. His chips were already in the pot! Now it wasn't a clear call, I had to put in 50k and the pot was about 140k. But, the nagging thought in my head was that I had the best hand. So, I called. His hand was JQh. So, he had 2 overcards to the flop and a flush draw. I've just checked on twodimes and he was 54%-46% favourite so my call was mathmatically correct. I will never know if he saw he had a flush draw before he went allin but I suspect he didn't, he was merely betting I had missed the flop. He hit his flush and I was down to about 240k in chips.

A couple of rounds later the smallest stack moved allin on my BB. The allin bet was his only move throughout the time I was playing with him. I looked down and saw JJ. I had to call 65,000ish. Again it wasn't a clear call, but I felt there was enough chance of him Arag or a lower pair that a call was the correct play. Alas, he had QQ and they held up. Incendentally, he made the exact same move a few hands later with TT after someone limped in! So, my call wasn't too bad.

Now I became pretty short stacked. The blinds had moved up to 5-15k with a running 3k and I hovered at about 100k. Tristan made up the 15 from the small blind with similar chips and I found AK in the BB. Pretty much a nobrainer dontcha think? I moved in and Tris called with the boots! Even if I smelt a rat and declined to raise the flop came something like K42 so I was doomed.

The whole tournament was a great buzz which I thoroughly enjoyed. I must thank the people who had enough faith in me to buy a share, and to the posters on here and on the Mob forum who supported me throughout the comp. I'm disappointed I didn't do better, but far from downcast. Congratulations must go to Tristan for another superb finish.

I'll be back...

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Who is The Bastard?

Found a interesting blog which is certainly worth checking out: www.pokerbastard.blogspot.com

It somehow reminds me of me when I wasn't scared to offend people.

Well worth a read.

But, the author is anonymous. Boo.

After giving it some thought here is my educated guess at the prices of certain poker celebs and others being "The Bastard" in question:

Julian Quance 7/1
Bad Beat 10/1
Lionel Hutz 12/1
Simon Galloway 14/1
Chimney Sweep 14/1
Any Vic Dealer or Member of Cardroom Staff 20/1
Joe Beevers 33/1
Vicky Coren 33/1
The Real Withnail 33/1
Andy Ward 40/1
Forza Milano 66/1
Ram Vaswani 100/1
Michael Arnold 150/1
Stavros Sendarnaris 250/1
Mick The Clock 500/1
Garry Bush 501/1
Barry Martin 1000/1
David Young 100000000/1
Ron Fanelli NameYourPrice/1

Others on Application.

Quick Trip Reports

I've spent the last month or so zipping around the country for various festivals and torunaments.

A quick rough guide to the casinos and cities I've visited...

Glasgow: Great city. Excellent bars and restaurants aplenty. I was surprised how friendly the Glaswegians were to a fat Englishman. Riverboat casino has a huge amount of potential. They could run a major tournament if they shut down the restaurant upstairs for a week and put tables up there. Bar is open until 4am! Michelle, the girl who runs the tournaments is a sweetheart. Very good value tournaments with a high proportion of dead money. Highly recommended.

Blackpool: Horrid town. Full of twenty something lads looking for a bundle. I wouldn't feel safe going into a seafront pub late at night. No restaurants to speak of except chippies and there were huge queues at the decent ones. The tournament I played saw a rare sighting of Mr and Mrs Ambassador. Dealers and floor staff excellent. One dealer provided an amazing display of ambidextrousism which I've never seen anywhere in the world. Players ability seemed to be well above average and there wasn't much value around although the cash game looked lively.

Southampton: Used to be one of my regular haunts. Great to see alot of old friends. Excellent location for the casino with bars and restaurants nearby. Casino food decidely ropey. Self dealt tournaments throughout the festival which was disappointing. They try hard to please the players. Possibly the lowest standard of play anywhere, so excellent value abounds. Charlie, the excellent card room manager when I was last there has sadly left. Nice place to play poker.

Final thought on the US election

It just dawned on me just how much emotional energy I put into watching and funking during the whole US election campaign.

I pinned far more hopes into this election than I've ever done for a British general election (even those when I was desperate for Thatch to get kicked out).

How sad is that? The result was far more important to the UK than I could ever imagine an election in another country could be.

It just shows how much of a poodle to the USA Britain has become.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised..

..that huge numbers of American voters should have been too embarrassed to admit to exit pollsters that they voted for Bush.

It was the same in Britain when the voters refused to admit that they had voted for Thatcher or Major.

I certainly would be ashamed if I was American to have voted for:

Higher unemployment.
Higher inflation.
A huge fall in stock values.
Dirty tricks campaigns.
Tax cuts for the rich.
More misery for the poor.
No health care for the needy.
Back street abortions for women.
The persecution of homosexuals.
And sending my son/daughter/grandchild/brother/sister to their death in some godforsaken country.

They say it was the religious zealots who won this election for Bush.

Well, maybe only God will be able to save them of 4 more years of George W Bush.

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