Hurray (warning: poker content)
Tuesday, 12 October 2010
I finally made a PokerStars final! I NEVER HAVE BEFORE.
That’s perhaps less odd than it sounds; I play on PokerStars all the time but it’s usually one-table sit-and-goes or heads up, I don’t often play the regular multi-table tournaments. I have got in the habit of playing the Sunday Warm-Up when I can, and I always play several events in the WCOOP and SCOOP series, but it’s still only a few MTTs a year so maybe there’s no shame in this being my first final. Tonight (Monday night / Tuesday morning) I finished 3rd in the $109 + rebuy tournament, for $9,593. I had three rebuys plus an add-on, so that’s a profit of $9,084 and I’m very happy about it.
It feels especially good after a tough few weeks. The WCOOP (World Championship of Online Poker) was pretty gruelling, as it always can be for European players; the tournaments go on throughout the night, UK time. I played a fair few events for only one cash - 106th in the $530 No Limit Holdem for $2458. A nice result and everything, I haven’t forgotten the value of money, but it was a small return for many many nights of being up til the small hours or even til dawn.
Then followed the London EPT. (I didn’t play any of the World Series Europe tournaments). This is, of course, my favourite tournament series of the year and I always love it, but it was a long tough week of back-to-back tournaments and a blitz of Team Pro press. Normally I’d relish it, but I was horribly tired - my luck seemed awful, I managed to catch a nasty cold from Kevin McPhee on day one (nothing salacious, just sitting next to him), plus, I won’t bore you with the details but I’d been having a bit of a tough time away from the table for other reasons, so not quite the usual ball of energy - and it seemed TYPICAL that the whole thing finished with being on the bubble of the £2k NLH event at the end of the series. Not ‘around the bubble’, properly on the bubble: 17th when 16 got paid. It was a day when I felt really under the weather, temperature, headache, the lot; the level of illness where (even though this was the second and final day of the event, so should be exciting) I really would have been quite happy to get knocked out on the first hand and go home to bed. How I contrived to have the longest possible day for the minimum possible return…. really, well done me.
Oh whinge, whine, shut up Coren; this is the nature of the game and if you can’t handle disappointment then you can’t handle poker tournaments. I didn’t mind failing to make the money, but I did mind feeling too tired and run-down to enjoy the matches.
Nevertheless, there was one last exciting blast of poker coming up before the end of the UK season: my old favourite, Late Night Poker, in Cardiff. A fast, six-handed heat, surely I had a chance there? Then I heard my line-up of opponents: Phil Ivey, Gus Hansen, Theo Jorgensen, Michael Mizrahi and (online qualifier) James Sykes. Hilarious. I think it is actually impossible that I’ll ever get a tougher table draw for as long as I play the game. I stuffed the hand-scribbled seating assignment into my handbag and brought it home to frame it.
But you know what? I didn’t mind the comically tough field, because it was fun. It was fun to play against the best in the world. It was fun to be back in Cardiff with my old friends at the production company, feeling healthier. It was fun to set myself the private challenge, before the match, not of knocking Phil Ivey out but simply of making him laugh. He seems such a serious fellow. Maybe he’s just shy. But he’s always so cool, so quiet, so lackadaisical… LOOK AWAY NOW IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW MY RESULT IN THE GAME THAT WILL BE SCREENED ON CHANNEL 4 ON OCTOBER 19TH, but if you don’t care then let me tell you: I achieved my aim of triggering a giggle from The Man in the very moments after he knocked me out in 4th place, so I left the table happy.
One reason for my oft-repeated Top Poker Tip (which is never to play for sums you can’t comfortably afford) is that you have to enjoy the game. It’s vital. Vital for poker and vital for life. I am always philosophical about being knocked out, as long as I milked the joy of competition from the experience.
I don’t have much Ivey gossip for you, other than that. Nothing you couldn’t guess, anyway. He came and went by helicopter. He stayed at the Ryder Cup hotel. He played Chinese poker with Gus Hansen for huge stakes, so obsessively that they were even whipping out a spare deck to play it at the TV table during any brief pause to re-set cameras. And he is an incredible presence at the table. It is the first time in twenty years of playing poker, since my childhood, that I have ever felt genuinely scared someone could read my mind.
All good, to notch up that experience with the greatest poker player of my generation. It’s like a keen football fan getting the chance to play with George Best (unlikely now, I know.) But I must admit, that flash of fun aside, it has felt like six long weeks of hardcore poker for only $2458 in the WCOOP, an annoying disappointment in that £2k EPT event, and I am very happy and reassured to get this good result in the PokerStars tournament tonight. It’s easy to get superstitious after a dry run. I’m cheered up and confident about poker again. Nevertheless, I think I might take a little break from live tournaments for a while. There’s one at the Vic in November; no more at least til then, I think.
But we’ll see, we’ll see, we’ll see…..