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.


Blogger Luckyblind said...

Well done Keith, I have been reading your blog for a while and you have finally got the win you deserve.
I see you have quailified for the EPT via Pokerstars, best of luck - except if you are in any hands with me of course :-)

9:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well played Keith,
sounds like you had a good week, long may it continue. Sadly you missed out on another chance to win the Fray Bentos Trophy playing these 'Tin Pot' Tournaments down South,
All the best,
Steve Leighton

12:18 PM  
Blogger The Camel said...


I've tried to contact you on the email address you've given me a number of times and it always bounces!

Have you got another account I can get you on?



12:39 PM  
Blogger Big Dave D said...

N1 Keith and good to see u back to form. Amazingly it took me maybe 6-9 months to realise Clint's name wasnt actually Clint!



1:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very good post Keith ... very candid. I agree that it's ridiculous that you went to the US 8 times last year. The value is immense, but if you only play hold'em comps, the fields are going to be so large that you could play dozens of times without making the money. And those exes .... ouch.

Meanwhile, just for those who don't know, Fray Bentos is a town in Uruguay, so if we could just stage a tournament there one day, one of us could hold up the Fray Bentos Trophy for real.


7:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice going Camel, or should I say FM !

Very well done indeed, now for the dirt on Mark S :>


1:51 AM  
Blogger Skalie said...

Good to see you used my chips well.
I like to say that the mistake with the 5k chip was a genuine one and I had tried to pull it out before I saw anyone elses actions. I know you know that but the snipers on the table obviously misjudged me or are just paranoid.

Well done again, and by the way my name is KAL.

Hope to bump into you again and you can get me another pint ;o) it was well worth a grand.

P.S. I won the $50 rebuy on prima the followin night and picked up nearly $19k (£10k) so it wasn't too bad a weekend.

2:33 AM  
Blogger Skalie said...

Obviously a 100 bet was met to get some action but put an oversized bet to get a reaction wasn't, surely this would work in reverse, er uh er

2:43 AM  
Blogger Div said...

Nice post Keith. Good blog to read. Very interesting and open.

12:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done Keith,

Only knowing most players through internet play it was nice to see the nice guys doing well. I enjoyed the report and look forward to reading more.


I Thought I Was Winning!

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Keith

I just got back from Australia and although i knew the results i wanted to post here to congratulate you . I know you have had a rough time as i did and i am pleased to see you on top again . Let's hope this is the start of a great year.

Good Luck

Simon T

11:04 AM  

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