Monday, January 31, 2005

A-Paulle-ing (excuse the pun please)

Mike Paulle is without doubt the worst tournament reporter in the business. He is far worse than the abysmal Max Shapiro.

But Paulle has sunk to new depths with his latest article:

In short he critices the winner of the WPO at Tunica, John Stolzmann, for "only" leaving a $500 tip when 3% of the prizepool was kept as a player toke already!

Here is a taste of the nonsense he writes:

"'Did he do it on purpose, or didn't he know any better?'

That was the question asked, most frequently, after the WPT winner John Stolzmann left only $500 as a tip for the dealers on a win of $1.5 million"


"I sense that most players don't have a great deal of sympathy for miserly dealer tokes. I don't either. However, when someone deviates so far from the norm, the gap itself becomes news".

The question has to be asked what business is it of Paulle's how much Stolzmann left on top of the 3%? And even if it is his business, it certainly isn't his place to criticise it.

My advice is to read ths article quickly. I would guess Pokerpages wouldn't leave such rubbish on their site for long...

Thursday, January 27, 2005

A Grand Well Spent....

The final of the £250 PLHE at Luton was only done and dusted with lucre all paid out at about 6.30pm on Saturday. I was exhausted already and the Main Event was due to start at 8. I was humming and hawing a bit as to whether to play. I was knackered but it was the big event and I was officially "in form". As I was wandering about, I spotted John Duthie and Simon Eastwood (Am I the only one who still calls him Clint from Reading days?), they were just off to the Chinese for a spot of dinner and invited me to come.

A couple of Buds, a Thai curry and some good company did wonders for my constitution and banished any doubts that I wasn't up to another long slog.

When I took my seat I knew I'd made the right decision. I had a very agreeable table with Jon Shoreman (a guy I like immensely), Francis Rohan, Bad Girl Pham, Tikay, Jon Cooke and Julian Thew all ready for action. This was a difficult table for sure, but I knew whatever happened I would enjoy myself as they are all prepared to give and take a bit of table banter. I may be mad, but I would rather play on a table with Rokach, Colclough, Maxfield and Alterman than a table packed with tossers with a tenth of the ability who are going to argue, be rude to other players and dealers and generally make life unpleasant.

The "hand" came up very early. My recollection of it is slightly different to tikays (he has given his full sp in a report on Here is what happened as I remember it: It was the first level and we had been playing about 20 minutes. I had made a nice start and had moved to about 12,000 and led the table. Skalie (I'm sorry, I don't know the guy's name) limped in early position. I limped on the button with JT, Jon Cooke made up the BB and Julian checked in the BB. 200 in the pot. The flop came over KQ9. Yum yum. Jon and Julian checked. Skalie had all his chips in his hands. He picked out a chip and put it in the pot. It was 5000. It took about 2 seconds before he grabbed it back. Jon Cooke immediately thought it was a moody to try and get action on his hand (He flopped top two pair). I am not so sure. I tend to think it was a genuine mistake. But I kept my mouth shut. I wanted to see a ruling before I made any action. I think mistake or not the correct ruling was for the bet to stand, but clearly as I had a massive vested interest it was not my place to comment. It's like if you are dealt AA and someone shouts "misdeal!". It is pointless trying to argue against it, because you are going to give away the strength of your hand and not going to get any action anyways. It's best to let nature take its course. As soon as it was decided the bet stood the only thought in my head was to protect my hand. There was a flush draw possible and I didn't want to price anyone into calling what was clearly going to be a huge pot. So, I moved the lot in. I can't claim I did it quickly to try and get action, I am not that clever. I just knew once my bet was in the arguments over whethers Skalie's bet stood or not were finished. Skalie then said, "I can't pass now" ,put his remaining 3000 in and turned his cards over. But, Julian hadn't passed yet! Thewy obviously thinks I'm cleverer than I am because he thought I was making a move to exploit Skalie's error. He had flopped two pair as well! But as he had seen Skalie's king, he let desrection be the better part of valour and folded. My hand held up and I had over 20,000 in chips.

Skalie like a real gentleman throughout this episode. He made the mistake and was man enough to take the consequences. I remember once in the Bellagio during a big tournament I had drunk a few beers (surprise, surprise) and made a big raise in a pot. Because of my state of inebriation I hadn't noticed another guy had already moved allin. Now I either had to call his allin bet or forfeit my chips that I raised with. It was a shitty situation but my fault totally for not noticing someones allin bet. A similar situation here I think.

I did feel bad for the guy. Especially as when I went searching for him to buy a pint and say something along the lines of "Them's the breaks" or something he told me he enjoyed reading my stuff on HM and in Card Player and was really looking forward to playing poker with me. I nearly choked up!

Back to the comp, everything went super smoothly. I had AA against Jon's KK and won another monster pot. I had appraching 40k when the average was about 12. Just for Withnail's benefit I did get lucky quite a few times in the middle stages of the tournament. I busted a set of 4's on a flop of K74 after I had raised with 78s and flopped a pair and a flush draw. I knocked Clint out with 99 v TT. David Wahl went the same way with KJ v my 78. But crucially in none of these pots was I commiting a big proportion of my chips. Absultely maximum I was risking was 20% and I think once I was involved each occassion was a clear call. Yes, I got lucky. But, I had so many chips I was in position to gamble.

I even made my first Royal Flush for about 10 years early on day 2 against Danny Samson. I won a free breakfast. Quick as shot Kevin "Lovejoy" O'Leary quipped "I would rather eat the meal ticket, there's far more nutrition in that!"

A couple of contentious things happened before the final started.

Firstly, we played on the bubble for a *very* long time. At least an hour. After a while someone suggested taking a grand off the top prize and giving it to 19th. I refused. Paul Alterman, one of my best friends in poker, was very critical of my decision. I understand I looked very tight and I did feel sorry for the guy who ended up on the bubble. But, about 5 years ago I was playing a £100 tournament in Southampton. On the bubble everyone agreed to give a oner to the bubble player. Immediately I raised with KK and a woman moved allin on the blinds with JT or some such shit. She said "I'm happy now I've got my hundred back". Obviously she won the hand. Ever since then I've turned down giving money to the bubble boy. It totally changes the way people play. As a big stack I raised ALOT and knowing if they took a stand against me at this stage might mean they've played 12 hours for nothing, meant the small stacks were forced to pass, whereas if they were guaranteed a grand they would be happier to gamble. Simply put, giving the bubble money changes the way the game is played and I don't want that, especially when I am chip leader.

Secondly, Luton brought in this ridiculous rule that in a showdown all hands must be flipped over. Supposedly to stop chip passing. It clearly didn't work and led to annoyance and frustration. But the ultimate denouement occurred with 11 players left. Lovejoy had played flawless poker throughout the comp but had run very low on chips. he couldn't afford to take the BB again and moved in UTG on my BB. This was a very good move because another player would need a big hand to take him on knowing I was the BB and could break them, and also he knows that I view him as a very tight player and although I would definitely call with a half decent hand would fold a total piece of cheese. Anyway, he got action. When the cards were dealt he got out of his chair having been knocked out. But, with this rule in place the dealer flipped his 72 offsuit over. It was unnecessary and led to embarrassment for Kevin. A stupid rule which I hope will never be enforced again.

I got to play with Teddykins for quite a long period of time. Granted he is a bit of a space cadet, but he is nothing like the tosser he appeared on the Poker Million with all that "Lord and Master" bollocks. And he isn't a total maniac either, he played intelligent tight poker for almost all the time I was against him.

So, onto the final. There was no dominating chip leader with about 5 stacks of approximately 200k. Two hands will stick in my mind.

Before the final I got a text message saying "Don't mess around with Eric Barker unless you've got the goodies. He doesn't lay a hand down". I had already been playing alot tighter than normal against the bigger stacks and this affected the way I played this hand: Barker had taken control of the final table early busting a couple of players out and taking a big chip lead. He raised to 40k for the umpteenth time. I had about 200k and the button. I called with JJ. I wanted to make sure neither of the blinds woke up with a decent hand and see a favourable flop. Eric bet out on any flop previously when he raised so I expected the 60k bet when we saw a flop of T86. I moved in. Barker certainly doesn't like leaving money behind and took forever to pass. I moved to 300k and comparitive safety.

Then the defining moment of the tournament occurred. Julian Thew had been on my left for about 10 hours of this event. I was getting heartily sick of him reraising me and I was desperate to catch him. It looked like time had run out to win a big pot from him. Then, five handed I found the boots. Julian, in the BB moved in. "yes! Got him at last!", I thought. and called. About half the chips in play were in the pot. He turned over TT. The agony of the flop of JT8 was immense. But incredibly the turn and river came Q and 9 for a split pot and relief all round. We both got out of it.

When it was 3 handed a deal was struck. Julian and I had a fair lead over Eric but he refused to budge and demanded a equal cut. Unfortunately I was in no financial position to refuse so we took 25k each and played for 12. I busted him very quickly flopping two pair and a set in quick succession. Heads up I took another 5 grand and Julian took 3. I must admit after the first deal was done the adrenelin which had been keeping me going ebbed away and I rapidly very tired. That's not to take anything away from Julian who played brilliantly all tournament and deserved to beat me heads up.

What next? Well, there will certainly be some very happy credit card companies and banks around this week as I am finally able to clear all my debts. I fucked up badly last year. The value in the big tournaments in the USA is definitely immense but to play them consistantly you need a bankroll much bigger than mine. I made 8 trips to the States last year which was plainly ridiculous. If nothing else, the exes were huge. I will not make the same mistake again. I will pick and choose my spots carefully and never risk such a high proportion of my tank on one or two events no matter how great the perceived value.

Finally thanks for all the emails, text messages and phone calls of support and congratulations. When you are down your luck and struggling you find out who your real friends are. But, perhaps the most satisfying thing of all was something tikay wrote about me in his report of the week: "Always smiling. No moody's. No table banging, perfect table etiquette." It may sound corny but that's the aim. To take winning and losing the same way and to have others enjoy playing poker against me. I don't care if you think I'm a good player or a bad player (and one guy I busted from the £250 PLHE was heard to mumble "That Hawkins plays like a fat version of Jac Arama") but if you enjoy the experience of playing poker with me, well, I'm happy.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

A Good Point, Well Made...

I was perusing the comments on my post about the reason PokerStars decided to hand over the money raised from their tsunami relief fund on national television.

Anonymous wrote, "...I thought the public donation was a great idea. Offshore gaming is still regarded as a 'shady' business. By donating through a public venue, they help to remove any doubts of whether the money really went to the cause or into someone's pocket instead".

Now I have 100% faith in the honesty and integrity of PokerStars. In my dealings with them their actions have always been exemplary and beyond reproach.

But, I can see why some people have doubts. The identity of the ownership of online poker sites is often deeply hidden. JetSetPoker ran a fund similar to 'Stars and I definitely wouldn't have donated there.

Therefore the decision to donate on National tv would have put any fears as to where donated money was going to rest and was therefore justified.

World Series of Poker (Luton Style...)

I always wondered whether I was capable of surviving a week long pokerfest, such is the test given by the WSOP. Well, last week at Luton was the nearest I've ever come to playing a week straight.

This was the schedule I played:

Wednesday 8pm - 5.15am £500 NLHE.
Thursday 2.30pm - 9pm £500 NLHE Day 2.
Friday 8pm - 5am £250 PLHE.
Saturday 2.30pm - 6.30pm £250 PLHE Day 2.
Saturday 8pm - 3.30am £1000 NLHE.
Sunday 3pm - 4.15am £1000 NLHE Day 2.

Now, obviously I'm not complaining. The structures were very slow and that suits me. But, it seemed like I was either playing poker, driving (I was staying with my parents about an hour away from Luton) or grabbing a couple of hours sleep for an entire week. By Monday morning I was so tired I felt like a zombie! But, if I'm ever going to go deep in a really big tournament, the endurance factor will be a big test.

I know it's a matter of fine tuning, but was 10,0000 chips and a 45 minute clock really necessary for a monkey comp? And if Luton wants to feed us (we are very grateful for any comps of course...) rather than offer a buffet, what about giving everyone a £10 voucher for bar food which could be eaten while we played.

The schedule could have been slightly more player friendly. The less popular tournaments (omaha and stud), could have been played the day before the two NLHE freezeouts as they would have been done and dusted in one night and given everyone a level playing field for the big events.

But, you've got to hand to Carmel. She really listens to players opinions and acts on them. I think Luton are very close to running the perfect poker festival. Thanks.

Just for Withnail here is a quick rundown of the bad beats I dealt on the other players and a quick review of each event:

£500 NLHE: It seems like an eternity since this event and my memory is a bit hazy. I know I sat next to Ed Giddins (nice bloke, who gave me the run down of the events which led to him being banned from cricket... you really shouldn't believe everything you read from anonymous posters on poker forums) and Dave "Charisma" Welsh. Charisma is certainly already tired of being mistaken for his Ambassadorial namesake. I don't like being harsh on newcomers but Charisma certainly has to stop talking through hands which he's not involved in and giving hapless players the rubdown after they've made a bad play. "How the hell can you call with that?" was often heard. I never really got going on day 1, but one thing I noticed was with so many players coming back the following afternoon, several players went allin on very marginal hands in the last 30 minutes to try and double up and have a decent stack for the next day. If you are entering a 2 day tournament why think "It's not worth coming back with 8,000"? You should pick you spots just as carefully in the last 30 minutes as the first 30 and if you don't want to come back, don't play.

I was very pleased with the way I nursed my short stack despite lack of playable hands and kept in the hunt (I finished day 1 in the botton 5 stacks with 25k or so). On the Thursday I actually picked up a few hands. I virtually trebled up when Shifty Stevens limped in trap 1, I made a small raise with the boots, Tony Hakki called in the sb and Shifty moved in. Yum Yum. I then knocked out Francis Rohan with JJ v AQ much to his chagrin "how can you call me with this shit son?". I actually reached the final in good shape. But, it wasn't to be. I raised to pass twice and was blinded down for three rounds. Then I moved in with QT to find the BB holding AK. End of Camel.

I certainly wasn't impressed with the winner's play. He seems to care not a jot what his opponent is holding, if he likes his hand he simply moves allin. How he has ever won a big tournament like this is beyond me, he should by rights be trapped very easily as he uses a sledge hammer to smash a peanut. Some of the placed horses however impressed me greatly. I have never played with "Cactus Jack", who finished second, before. My spies had warned me he was a complete loony, but I liked his big stack game. He was prepared to gamble with the short stacks but gave due respect when it was needed and played endlessly aggressive poker. (I did play with him for a short while in the £250 PLHE and he didn't play nearly as well. Whether it was because he had satisfied his hunger with a £10k payday or he can't manoeuver so well with a short stack I don't know). Two others impressed me: Stuart Fox and N Tang. Fox has been cleaning up recently and it doesn't surprise me. He plays very aggressively but can put a hand down when things are going wrong. If he hadn't lost a huge pot with KK v AA I am certain he would have finished in the top 3. I have never seen or heard of Mr Tang before. But, he is certainly one to watch. He played on the tight side but picked his spots expertly and never gave up despite having a short stack for ages. A name to look out for in the future.

£250 PLHE: I don't like pot limit as much as no limit and decided to play this event as a semi freezeout unless I had an amazing table. I vowed not to rebuy and only add on if there were alot of chips on my table and I hadn't doubled up. I wanted to be fresh for the £1000 tournament the next day.

Well, this tournament was quite amazing. I was blessed. I found big hand after big hand early on. I flopped a couple of sets and got paid handsomely. Then just after the rebuys ended I raised with QT hearts and got called by Ben Grundy in the BB (I think he was BB although he may have limped). I flopped the nut flush draw and turned the nuts. I got him virtually allin and won a huge pot. I had about 60k when the average was probably a fifth of that. With the only big stack safely to my right (Mick Jones who is a very dangeropus player as he will put all his chips in on seemingly a whim.) I stole and played carefree poker. I got lucky in a big pot againt Tony "Blondepoker" Kendall when everyone passed to me in the sb I raise with AQ and he moved allin with AK. I called pretty quickly but it was about 1/4 of my chips against such a tight player perhaps I should have released. But, I didn't and I hit a Q on the turn to knock him out. We finished for day 1 with 18 left and I was in second place in chips.

Now the old doubts crept in overnight. The amount of times I've wanked away a big stack in the last 18 months is truly frightening. I vowed to play very snugly and pick my spots carefully. We redrew for seats for the semi and the fact Roy The Boy was sitting on my table with a medium stack made me all the tighter as I sure didn't want to double him up. I made one huge error here. with 200k I called a short stacks allin bet of 22k with KJ suited. Now the BB moved allin with AQ for 30k more and I am pretty much compelled to call. I lost a quarter of my stack with a piece of cheese. I managed to make the final with above average chips. The play with KJ affected my thinking in the key pot of the final. with 7 left Brindley moved in on the button for about 40k. I moved in from the SM with AT trying to shut out the BB. But he woke up with AK and called. Ugh. Roy was at it with 56. I rivered a ten and knocked them both out. Now deal time, 4 ways. With 1.2 million chips in play I had about 400k and the other 3 split the reamining chips fairly evenly . There was 49 grand in the pot and I agreed to take 12k with the other 3 taking 10k each. The deal wasn't great for me but I agreed for two reasons. I had a terrible 12 months in 2004 and could do with 12 large and the other 3 guys had all shown a willingless to gamble. D Mitchell had called a huge allin bet with K5. D Mitchell had done the same with AT. Mick Jones had the hump with me for refusing to up 10th place by a monkey (I didn't refuse because I'm tight.... I always refuse to giving the bubble money since I agreed in Southampton one day and someone went allin with QJ against my KK saying "I've got £200 now, I'm happy". It changes the game, makes the small stacks more happy to gambooool. And if I'm around at the late stages of a comp I want to exploit the fact that several players are desperate just to make the money/final.) and maybe he would gamlble with me too. So we played for about 7 grand. I lost about 80 grand raising with A8 and having to pass for a reraise. Then after Jones was knocked out I found AA on the BB with Mitchell raising into me. I reraised small, and he called. The flop looked lovely: J65. He checked and I moved in. Oops, he had 66. Exit Camel. I was very happy with my play in this event. Apart from the KJ error I play pretty much faultless poker. Although I made a couple of big outdraws, pot odds probably made a call the right play. I was never allin prior to the deal being made and I always take that as a tournament well played.

One player really stood out in this comp. A young kid John Paul Kelly was on my table for a long time. He was the player who moved in with AQ. He played absolutely brilliantly and made one great laydown with QQ when up against AA. He will win big tournaments in the future without a doubt.

I think this post is long enough already and my typing fingers are tired... so, I will tell the £1000 tournament story tomorrow (or the day after....)

Friday, January 21, 2005

Miros v Raconteur

The highlight of the £500 comp at Luton on Thursday was this one liner to end a conversation perfectly.

Mrs Miros came up to me just as the first break was announced and asked "How are you doing Camel?"

"Oh, I've got about what I started with, How is Miros doing?"

"He's just in a big pot with Richard Gryko who is sitting on his right and I couldn't watch"

"Who has won it?"

"I'm not sure, they are standing up now, so the pot must be over..."

"Well, who looks looks the smugger?"

"Hmmm... Very difficult to say!"

'Nuff said!

Monday, January 17, 2005


A few points of order and stuff.

Firstly, I am not the Poker Bastard.

I would admit guilt if I was the Bastard, as Derek from Gutshot rightly says, I am in the business of self promotion. All that free publicity I am missing out on! But, sadly, you better look elsewhere for the culprit.

Secondly, I promised you the full Mark Strahan story. It is coming, but I just need to see someone to confirm one fact in the story. I would hate to provide incorrect information!

Bets: The first two have now been settled. Detroit finished third in the NFC North and made up 10. I should have been more bullish than 10pts, but anyways, we cop 70 points. Minnesota imploded and got knocked out on Sunday. Randy Moss is an incredible talent but also a complete tosser. They have a very useful set of WR's without him (Burleson, Campbell and Robinson). If Mike Tice had any balls he would trade Moss for a run stuffing DT and a couple of high draft picks. It might do wonders for Vikings team morale. Anyway we do 20pts. 50pts profit so far.

One small bet to add to the portfolio. Ashley Alterman is quite amazingly priced up at 80/1 for the Poker Million. He hasn't played many big tournaments recently (I assume he is too lazy to drag his arse out of the chair in front of his computer). But believe me, he truly is an excellent player who won't be fazed by the tv cameras and is an excellent closer. Check his results out:
There are maybe 5 players in the field who I would price up shorter than Ashley.

5pts Each Way Ashley Alterman (iconoclast) for the Poker Milion 2005 (80/1 Ladbrokes)

Provided the weather allows me to travel, I am off down to Luton for the first big tournament of the year tomorrow. Not quite sure how many events I'm going to play yet. The monkey no limit for sure, and I'll play it by ear after that... I'd like to play the grand at the weekend, but I can't really justify it at the moment on my depleted bankroll.

Still, 2005 has started pretty positively, I've discovered how profitable the turbo SNG's are. They are just dreadfully dull...

Saturday, January 15, 2005


I just logged onto to Pokerstars and was confronted by this message:

"Tsunami Relief Donations Presented on NBC

"On behalf of everyone at PokerStars we would like to extend a heart felt "thank you" to the 11,900 PokerStars players who came together to raise nearly $200,000 for the victims of the Asian Earthquake and tsunami. PokerStars has rounded your donations up to an even $200,000 and matched it 100%, bringing our total contribution to $400,000!

"Our donation to the American Red Cross will be presented during the NBC Tsunami Aid television special on Saturday, January 15, 2005 at 8.00pm ET."

I have no idea how much an advertising spot on NBC costs on a primetime slot during Saturday evening, but I doubt $200,000 is far away.

Would it not have been better and more classy just to give the Red Cross the money and move on? Is this move just publicity seeking? Or am I just being over sensitive?

I'm starting to think my original thought about the real motives of PokerStars in running the tsunami funds might not have been too far off the mark after all...

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

It seems DY is being paid by Gutshot to post on their forum...

Doesn't this defeat the object of forums?

Or is it like a party where the host hires a few dancers so noone has to be the first on the dancefloor?

Opinions, as ever, are welcome...

Friday, January 07, 2005

I Almost Fell off my Chair Tonight...

...when I found out poker twat Phil Laak was dating this Hollywood actress:

I suppose this means poker players really are celebrities now and all those stories of the Septic Tiger dating super models might not be so fanciful from now on..

But, which poker player will be next snapped up by a celebrity?

Kouros by Angelina Jolie maybe?

Malcolm Robinson by Caprice? (She played in the WPT at Paris, so she *must* like poker.)

George Kiss by Reese Witherspoon?

David Welch by Raquel Welch?

Where will it all end?

The only thing missing is poker...

Monday, January 03, 2005

The WSOP Champion's View of Slowrollers...

This was posted on twoplustwo a couple of months ago and is Greg Raymer's idea of slowrollers:

"Every poker player I've ever run into who regularly pulls stunts like this is a weak and losing player who can't learn how to play well, so he tries to learn how to win with infantile tricks and ploys. These are the moves of a loser, and I've yet to see an exception. So, if you wish to be in that class of players, by all means, continue the BS."

I only know one player who regularly slowrolls and that is Mr Popularity himself, Mr Jac Arama.

Now, does Greg's description fit Jac?
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