Sunday, May 29, 2005

Bonuses, Branching Out and Travel Tips

For the first time in quite a while, I played a LOT of poker this weekend.

Having worked off the Party Poker UK player bonus, I ran straight into the May reload bonus. So it was straight back to the tables to work it off.

I spent Friday night on the sofa keeping Mrs Div company, laptop in, er, lap, while she took in the introduction of this years Big Brother contestants (care in the community live on TV!), and I ground my way through a multitude of 0.5/1 Hold Em tables. Swapping regularly as the fish ran dry and the rocks prevailed.

Really I should be playing at 2/4 or higher. My online bankroll is sufficient now to meet the requirements for 3/6, but after a run of really painful sessions, chronicled in these very pages over the last six weeks or so, I resolved to play my way through the slump at the lower limits.

The down side of this is the lower hourly rate - but hourly rate only matters when you are actually winning! A second downside is that at these levels even more crazy beats occur. People really do show down jack high. The upside is that I'm putting a minimal amount of bankroll on the line to earn a decent bonus, and getting back in the winning habit. OK, a 10BB winning session is only $10 but it helps to rebuild confidence. I see it as the equivalent of a football player coming back from injury and scoring his first goals in a reserve game. My poker fitness is gradually returning!

The Party bonus was cleared by the close of play on Friday evening, leaving me uncommitted for the rest of the weekend.

So, as I settled down to take in the Scottish Cup Final on Saturday, I was at something of a loose end. I was pretty much Hold Em'ed out, and looking for a bit of variety. When I'm feeling this way, I head for Full Tilt - primarily to play Razz, but occasionally the Stud tables.

Yesterday I decided to delve into the madness that is Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo. I had tried this once previously on a play money table but gave up quickly. There wasn't much point as the other players were just calling down regardless of their hand, and the learning value was nil.

So, I ventured $10 on the 0.05/0.10 table. Even my bankroll can afford a $10 risk! It turned out to be $10 well staked. Not only is Omaha Hi-Lo fantastic fun, but some of the other players were even more clueless than me. I spent most of the afternoon and evening on the table and more than tripled my original 'investment'. Celtic won too!!

One guy reraised my nut straight bet on the turn with two spades on board. When I put him all in he showed three hole spades. I don't think he understood the 'two hole cards must play' rule.

Omaha in general, and Hi-Lo in particular, is a great way to exercise ones board reading skills. With four hole cards in play and so many re-draw possibilities, as well as the low pot to battle for, there's always a multitude of options available.

I really should do more reading on the subject, but I'm already getting the urge to migrate up the blinds scale. Ooooh, maybe as far as the 0.10/0.25 table. Colour me reckless!

I know there are many good Hold Em books on the market, but can anyone recommend an Omaha Hi-Lo book? Further investigation is definitely needed.

To top the night off in style, I finally got the chance for a quick Yahoo chat with the blogmeister himself. Sadly I won't be getting the chance to meet anyone in person in Vegas, but for those Vegas virgins who will be breaking their duck in my absence, I'd heartily recommend Cocktail Doll for some background reading before you go. Not only is she witty, knowledgeable, and entertaining, but rather easy on the eye too.

Make sure you take a big wedge of dollar bills. Pauly has already mentioned the '$20 trick' when checking in at your hotel - under the credit card and slide across counter discreetly. It worked for me, so give it a bash! Not only do you get a better room, but it makes you feel like James Bond. Or, is Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack a better likeness? Well, that depends on you.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Farewell Martin O'Neill

So farewell to Martin O'Neill, and thanks for the memories.

When he came to Celtic five years ago, we were on our knees. He gave us back our pride, our dignity, and our hope.

He gave us the 6-2 thrashing of Rangers, the whitewash season, and, of course, the UEFA Cup Final in Seville. All events that will go down in Celtic history. A new verse or two of The Willie Maley Song surely beckons.

Now he has to take those same qualities he gave to the team into his personal life, to help his wife Geraldine in her fight against that most insidious of diseases, cancer.

In stepping down from the job he loves, to care for the woman he loves, he once again shows his quality as a man, as well as a manager.

He goes with the best wishes of the entire Celtic community, and I'm sure he knows already, he truly will never walk alone.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Over and Over

Ugh. What a weekend. Time to dig out The Smiths back catalogue and wallow in self pity for a few days.

The poker was pretty incidental - though I did run into three beats in a row which I later calculated were a combined 48/1 to happen in succession. With the average pot over $30 I reckon that means the poker gods owe me $1500 of karma. If only it were that simple!!

That was but a gnat bite in comparison to the main story of the weekend. Celtic lost the Scottish Premier League to Rangers in the most sickening circumstances imaginable. Leading 1-0 against Motherwell with three minutes to go, they conceded the equaliser that cost them the title.

That in itself would be bad enough. Rewind a few weeks to Ibrox stadium and Celtic comprehensively outplaying Rangers to go five points clear with four games to play and the true extent of the disaster becomes clear.

Even more hurtful is the fact we could see it coming. The current team has done great service over the past five years, but is a declining force. Too many players are in their twilight years, the hearts remain strong, the will to win remains, but the legs are growing heavy.

This close season will be a crucial one, to determine whether we move forwards or backwards next season. Serious money needs to be spent.

One thing is certain. I, and tens of thousands of others, will remain a Celtic supporter. The club is bigger than any player, manager, or result. It's about more than football. It's a way or life; part of our culture. When we say we are supporters, that's exactly what we mean. Not fans for this season or last season only in a transient sense, drawn to the club by success, but supporters through thick and thin.

The club is in our blood, and will stay with us to our grave. Win, lose or draw we will always be Celtic supporters.

The eTims fanzine summed up the mood perfectly today. They simply published the lyrics of a classic club song 'Over and Over'. You can click through to see the full lyrics but for now all the players need to know is:

"When you need supporting, you will always know,
We'll be right there with you, every where you go."

That's what being a supporter is all about, and that's what we will continue to be.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Do You Like My New Toy? >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

You may have to allow an Active-X control to see it working.

Let me know if you like this or not? Comments appreciated.

If you want to stop the feed, just right click on the image and select Stop.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Some Random Stuff

Just a midweek stream of consciousness post. Move along now if you are looking for lucidity and structure.

On the poker front. Empire bonus = success. I dropped right down to the .5/1 tables to grind it off and made some money on the cards as well as bonus. It would have been more too, if it was not for for a bizarre sequence over the last 100 hands or so. No bad beats, just bad luck.

KK v AA v QQ (Q high flop!)
KK v AA (again)
Baby Boat v Daddy Boat
Set v Bigger Set

All compressed into about 30 minutes, as I was three tabling. Yeugh!

I can always console myself with some poker viewing. We now have TWO dedicated poker channels in the UK, as well as additional coverage on other channels. The Poker Channel (Sky 265) and Poker Zone (Sky 226) are the dedicated channels.

Poker Zone shows live internet poker every night! I've only been bored enough to watch this a few times, but some of the play can be eye wateringly bad. Almost in the so bad it's good viewing category.

I'm back on Party now, working on my latest bonus.

The poker bug has clearly bitten the Div household. Mrs Div is currently compiling her hospital bag, and along with the usual paraphernalia has added a pack of cards and a set of travel chips to the mix. This on the basis that she might be in labour for a while, and will want something to keep her occupied, so we will be playing poker apparently!

It's bad enough to lose heads up to her normally, but to lose heads up while she is in the midst of labour pains would be cruelly embarrassing! Could be difficult to get a read on her though. Is that expression a tell, or is another contraction starting? Hmmmm.......check!

Away from poker, I was thoroughly entertained by George Galloway v The US Senate committee. Not for nothing is Mr Galloway known as 'Gorgeous George' back home. If he were a cake, he would eat himself. I bet his house has a mirror in every room.

Usually I've no time for pompous self publicists, but he did make some good points, and made them in style. If politics were always so entertaining we might get bigger turnouts at election time.

Other than pompous politicians, I reserve a great deal of ire for annoying ringtone adverts. Sweety the Chick, Crazy Frog, etc. must die!! So, this made me laugh! (NB 100% NOT office friendly)

Annoying ringtones are predominantly targeted at what we refer to in Scotland as neds. The rest of the UK call them chavs. I'd guess the US equivalent would be trailer trash.

A prime example of ned communication skills can be found here. The whole office was rocking to this, but I do work in quite a laid back environment. Be warned it's even less office friendly than the last one! More f*cks than Tarantino. My favourite quote has to be 'I'm asking you nicely...'

Wow, this post almost turned out coherent. Result! More at the weekend...

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Party Poker Bonus Offer - POKERACENOW

Just a little word to all my new found visitors - the power of Google!!

This Party Poker offer is clearly marked as being for existing UK Real Money players - so anyone registered outside the UK will not be eligible for the big prizes. I've no idea if you will get the 20% deposit bonus. If you try it and do, why not post a comment here as a public service?

If you are a UK player but ARE NOT ALREADY a real money player on Party Poker, it might be safest to sign up first, deposit a very small amount, play a few hands then put in a second deposit using POKERACENOW to get the entry to the big competition.

If you do sign up, it would be terribly nice of you to use bonus code DIV1970. That's enough shilling for now!

This is all supposition, so I can't guarantee anything. All I can say is as an existing UK player I signed up last night and the bonus is in my account.

If you do decide to try it, post here and let everyone know the results. Thanks.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Party Poker UK Player Offer

I liked this email from Party Poker! A bonus code, a freeroll for big prizes, and more TV poker. It also seems to suggest guaranteed entry to some big events. I'm up for that!! Not that I need the makeover of course.

(PS C'mon the Craig Beattie!!!)

Dear Div1970,

Take the challenge and become a celebrity Poker Ace! As a UK Real Money Player we have a special offer you simply can’t miss. is looking for the best Poker Player in the UK, a “Poker Ace”. How would you like to go on a shopping spree, drive a Porsche, get a complete make-over and participate in the world’s greatest offline poker tournaments a whole year? We are giving away prizes worth 100,000 GBP and the tournaments will be broadcast on Channel 4.

Our Poker Ace gets these superb prizes and it’s free entry! For six weeks from Wednesday, 18th May onwards, we will hold weekly freeroll tournaments. The top 25 players from each of these freerolls will then move on to the semi-finals. All you need to do to participate is make a deposit using the bonus code: POKERACENOW. We will also give you a deposit bonus of 20%, worth up to $100.

So, with the chance to become a Poker Ace plus the offer of free cash – do you need any more convincing? See here for more details. Don’t let this fantastic opportunity pass you by!

Kind regards,

The Team

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Fishes Eyes

Oh happy days! Wireless technology really is the dogs bollocks.

After many calls to the Belkin support team, my Pre-N router is finally working. So, here I am on a glorious Scottish afternoon, in my back garden, the sun beating down, blogging merrily on my laptop whilst streaming music from my desktop PC. This is the life. I've even got my shorts on and top off, which sadly is an even less impressive sight than it used to be. Time to retrieve the weights from the loft.

It's been a financially unrewarding, yet entertaining weekend so far. Another bonus chasing session on Empire set me back to even on the cards front, but there were enough comedy hands to make it feel not too bad. All the usual nonsense: any two sooted beating flopped sets on the river, runner runner straights, etc. At least partially offset by my best hand in a long time - raise pre flop with JJ. Flop quads! Runner runner that you fishy fools!!

Looks like the wallpaper will be paid from my own pocket.

I also broke my record for fishiest ever player sighting - 90%+ VPIP over 100 hands and, yes, they were winning. Of course I wasn't too pleased at some of the hands I was losing to, but since I was three tabling the next hand was along too quickly to hold a grudge.

An affliction which I'll call 'the curse of the paired board' is haunting me at present. This is not an 'online poker is rigged' rant, since the affliction struck in last week's home game too. Every third hand seemed to see the board pair on either turn or river, and it felt that more often than not, this was a cue for my TPTK to go down to baby trips, my flopped flush to run into a FH, etc.

Of course the curse of the paired board does not apply to flopped quads.

C'est la vie. I've still got quite a few hands to clear, so I'll be back at the tables tonight.

These examples of how not to play Small Stakes Hold Em lead me nicely in to part two of my occasional series:

Music To Play Poker By - Part 2

New Fast Automatic Daffodils - Fishes Eyes

A much underrated band from the end of the 'Madchester' era of the late-80s/early-90s. I saw these guys live a few times and they were fantastic. Bursting with energy, a real edgy stage presence, and a driven funk sensibility that had the whole crowd moving.

'Fishes eyes will watch your lies' sung the New FADS. Indeed they will, but on the low buy in No Limit Hold Em tables they won't understand, or believe, them. I've learned after about a week on these tables that bluffs are virtually pointless. No matter how scary the card that falls, if they have a pair, they ain't letting go - like a dog with a bone they will hang on til the showdown is won.

This tune soothes my brain and puts me in an untiltable groove. Ideal for net casting on the Party/Empire oceans.

Almost beer o'clock, and time to go, but before I do I'd like to offer a final observation.

The most rewarding experience I've had this week was receiving the comments from Iggy and Joe. I don't write this blog for the kudos, but it's good to know some people find it a worthwhile read - at least on occasion. Thanks for the recognition guys. Much appreciated.

I always make an effort to put some sort of comment on posts that catch my eye, and I'd encourage everyone to do the same. Before I started this, I didn't realise how much effort it takes to keep a blog going. Now I understand, I recognise words of encouragement are well deserved.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Cash In Hand

Not much to report so far this week, hence the inactivity on the blog. Still tremendously preoccupied with domestic issues and work. I need to get back to winning poker soon - have you seen the price of wallpaper!?!

What little poker time I've had has been directed at the Empire bonus - braving the scrutiny of the Empire bonus whore Gestapo to grind it off at the low limits. So far I am in profit by approximately one roll of wallpaper. There is a long way to go though!

In preparation for the bonus, I withdrew some cash from Full Tilt to Neteller. I had noted some comments by other bloggers who were critical of the Full Tilt performance in this respect, but I am happy to report the cash hit Neteller on the day I submitted the request.

The remainder of the week is likely to be more domestics, poker wherever possible, and a crucial Hearts v Celtic game on Sunday. The league may be over in England, but in Scotland it's still up for grabs. I expect to be a nervous wreck by Sunday evening! I will keep you posted.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Rollercoaster Ride

This cash No Limit Hold Em certainly demands a bit more attention than my usual limit game!

I managed to blow two $100 buy-ins on Full Tilt with play that was part idiocy on my part, part fishy luck from my foes. One buy-in disappeared when my set of tens went down to a gutshot straight. I should have folded to the all-in raise but didn't want to believe I'd been outdrawn. I managed to convince myself he had two pair or was bluffing.

The second went betting TPTK into an overpair, when I had the foe pegged as an optimistic calling station chasing two overcards.

When the cards were flipped for the second showdown, I was less than happy. Indeed, rather than my usual ranting and raving, I just sat and stared at the screen. Stunned. A sound not dissimilar to our cat expelling a furball, growing in my throat.

Time to regroup! Which I did. After revisiting Hank's article about playing small stakes NLHE, I returned to the fray.

A couple of hours later I was back to even - courtesy of two sets. Set over set, and set over two pair. Delicious! Now all I have to do is eliminate the idiocy and this could actually turn out to be quite profitable!

On the bricks and mortar front, I had a pretty grim session on Friday night. Our home game was a little short handed and I managed to finish second last in all three games we played.

The cards were really quite cruel. My best hand in six hours was JJ and I had to fold that to a big bet on an ace high flop! As we were setting up, I'd been talking about the horrible cards Isabelle Mercier kept getting in her British Poker Open qualifier, and I seemed to inherit her bad karma.

The one hand of note came when I raised with 88 from late position and found myself facing a reraise from the SB. The SB is quite an aggressive player and I had to put him on quite a large range of hands - any medium or large pair, or a big ace, and maybe even KQ.

Against most players I'd have reraised or folded, depending on my read of them. However, with this range, and with position, I decided to see a flop, so I called. The flop came ace high - and no glorious 8. Urgh. The SB bet out with a pot size bet. Double urgh.

I thought about it for quite a while - before folding. I couldn't see how I could be ahead now - much as it pained me - and I still had enough chips left to battle on.

I folded face up. Not something I often do. At which point the SB's jaw dropped, and he turned over....88!! Bloody hell. I did say the cards were being cruel.

Really, I had to applaud his bet on the flop, so I wasn't too distraught. Even if the pre flop raise seemed quite optimistic to me! It pretty much summed up my night.

Still, the banter was good, the booze plentiful, and it's always nice to catch up with friends. The modern world doesn't leave too much time for socialising so it's always good to get together.

False Neteller Email

I have recently received two emails purporting to come from Neteller. They state my account has been blocked due to unauthorised access from 'outside parties'.

The email is a fraud and should be ignored.

This seems to be a recurrence of an old phishing scam. So, be aware.

DO NOT respond or click through the links in these emails.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The Moment Of Truth

So, election day dawns in the UK. Fittingly, like the campaign, it is dull and dreary. Hardly the ideal weather for 'getting the vote out'.

I've refrained from offering comment until now. Not from any antipathy towards politics, or politicians - I have always been politically aware and never short of an opinion on the matters of the day. Rather, I subscribe to the old maxim 'if you have nothing worth saying, say nothing', and with such a spartan choice available to the UK public, I simply couldn't find anything worthwhile to say about my voting inclinations.

One thing I am sure of is I will vote. It is forecast that the turnout today may slip below 60% for the first time since 1918. I will not be one of the missing 40%. I believe in democracy and choice, and despair of those who whinge and moan about the government, only to reveal when questioned that they did not vote at the previous election.

To me they are symptomatic of a longstanding and growing sickness in British society. As a nation we are becoming apathetic, listless, selfish. Happy to blame others for our ills and accept no personal responsibility. Expecting more whilst offering less. Glorying in ned/chav culture. Our TV screens celebrate banality and turn idiots into icons. Reality TV is not the source of our decline, but is a mirror of society.

As a long standing Labour supporter, I should be ecstatic at the prospect of a third Labour government. I certainly was delighted and inspired when Tony Blair led Labour to victory in 1997 - but he has not lived up to his early promise. On foreign policy he has been overly adventurous, and on domestic policy he has yet to really deliver.

I hated the Thatcher years, with their celebration of greed and selfishness. I'm no enemy of capitalism, but Thatcher took it beyond the boundaries of acceptability. Actively seeking to destroy society and promoting the cult of the individual. The shameless 'loadsamoney' society was born. The comic character who reflected this new lifestyle was intended as satirical comment, yet was adopted as it's figurehead. Such was the shamelessness.

When Labour came to power I hoped this would change, and to an extent it has. Unfortunately we are now trapped with the worst of both worlds. The selfishness of the Thatcher years, married to the extended welfare dependency of the Blair years, has spawned a whole new class - the non-working class. A class who are poor but not starving, and revel in their mediocrity and lack of exertions.

When I was a child, the economic heart was being torn from Scotland. I witnessed the end of the Ravenscraig steelworks, the betrayal of the Caterpillar workers, wholesale coal mine closures. Massive unemployment and virtually no work opportunities.

People demonstrated and fought for the right to work. They demanded a job.

Now the economy, while hardly perfect, is in much better shape. Yet a walk through any major town centre inevitably brings the persistent demands of aggressive beggars(my favourite ever opening line being 'gies money'), the hassles of the neds and junkies, and the assault on the optic nerve of acres of overexposed, underwrapped blubber, paraded in the mistaken belief that Jade Goody is the ultimate style icon. The bodies reflect the mind - rarely exercised, badly fed, gorged on junk and revelling in their decrepitude.

My blood boils when I see reports of villages and towns where jobs go unfilled, yet unemployment persists. Places where local people refuse to work in the factories because they are 'too dirty' or 'too smelly'. Yet they expect to live a comfortable life on benefits - benefits paid from the taxes of those who do work. An entire class exists whose primary contribution to the economy is providing the subject matter and stars of a new genre of sub-Springer daytime TV shows.

It makes me laugh, a bitter, humourless laugh, when I see complaints about immigrants overrunning the country, asylum seekers sponging off the government, and the decline of British culture. Yet businesses need to recruit from Eastern Europe and beyond to fill the jobs the complainers won't do. I say bring as many immigrants as the ships and planes can carry. When they arrive, they want to work. They seek out opportunities. They put in the hours our fellow citizens refuse to. They expect less and offer more.

I look back to my own family history and see what can be done. My great grandfather left Dublin to move to Scotland. What his father did, I cannot tell you, since in his time only the rich were educated enough to write. So such fundamentals as parentage, occupation, place of birth, went unrecorded.

He found a job in an ironworks, married and produced a family. Among them was my grandfather. He in turn worked first in a public baths - not a swimming pool, but the communal washing facilities for his community. Later he progressed to work on the railways.

In time he too started a family and his son, my father, went straight from school to an apprenticeship as a joiner. He learned the trade and worked hard at it.

By the time I was born, my parents owned a home. The first generation of the family to do so. They encouraged and cajoled me through school and, to borrow from the Kinnock/Clinton speech, I was the first child in the family to attend university. From illiteracy to graduation in four generations. This is hardly a unique story. Millions in the UK and Ireland have similar tales to tell.

Each generation of the family aspired not to some ephemeral form of social advancement, but simply to doing the best they could for their children. Now I am about to become a father, I intend to continue that tradition.

Millions of others seem oblivious to this responsibility. They revel in failure, glorify mediocrity and seem incapable of nurturing the faintest levels of responsibility or discipline in their kids. They blame the government, the schools, the police, for the misdeeds of their children. Anyone but themselves.

Reversing this decline in our standards will be the greatest challenge to the next government. Rather than throwing more money at the police and education system, they need to put more emphasis back on the public to inject an element of decency into their lives. The carrot approach has failed; it's time for the stick.

I'd like to see much more focus on good parenting, and a reassertion of parental responsibility. The CSA has been an administrative shambles, letting evasive dads off the hook financially, and the courts are woefully slow to bring parents to book when they permit or encourage their children to commit unsocial acts.

Human rights legislation has tipped the balance so far in favour of the wrongdoers that many feel they can operate with immunity. This is particularly true of schools where enforcing discipline seems almost an impossible task now. It appears teachers can only teach with the permission of the kids, rather than by enforcing their authority. Any form of discipline or punishment seems to breach some convention or other. Children suing their schools for giving them detention. Ludicrous!

When I was at school kids were keen to learn. Their parents made sure they were. The accepted path was to study at school to earn the chance of a job. Then work hard to support yourself. That is truly a working class ethos, which fosters respect and dignity.

Now, too many kids are learning from their parents and peers there is no point studying hard to get qualifications and a job. Why bother when you can get what you want from the benefit system? They lose respect for themselves, and if they cannot respect themselves, how can they respect others?

That is why the yob culture has flourished in Britain. If the tide is not turned soon it will engulf us all in a sea of mediocrity and fecklessness.

Let us hope the next government has the will to fight for decency, respect and civilisation. That is a war worth winning.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Poker Is Fun!

This weekend I relearned an important lesson. Poker is fun!

Sure it's got earning potential, primarily through the twin revenue streams of never ending bonus offers and the undiminished supply of Party Poker fish, but there's more to it than that.

For a while I'd been getting too wrapped up in the minutiae of my downswing. Going over what I'd done, where it had gone wrong, how unlucky I'd been. It was time to take a step back.

Over the weekend I expanded my horizons beyond the usual limit Hold Em, into some cash No Limit Hold Em and a little very low stakes Seven Card Stud and Razz - all courtesy of Full Tilt.

I've always said playing the fun tables is only useful for getting to grips with the mechanics of a given site. To actually learn how to play properly, you need to play cash games. Even if only for $5.

My motivation was twofold. Primarily I just wanted to chill and try something a little different. I'm keen to expand my horizons beyond Hold Em into other areas of poker, but I also wanted a little No Limit practice before the WPBT event.

I had a great time on the Razz and Stud tables. Trying to learn how to read the other players' hands and compare them to mine. I did better at Razz than Stud - possibly due to the fact some players simply didn't seem to know the rules. I saw a few bets called on 6th street by players who could not win with the upcards showing.

The No Limit Hold Em was an experience too.

I'm quite happy buying in for $100 on a 2/4 limit table and committing upwards of $20 in increments on a single hand. It's an entirely different feeling to actually pop the $20 in a single bet, then pause to see whether a fold, call or raise is coming. My heart was pounding each time the cash went in the middle.

When the day dawns that I see the bet as chips, not cash, I'll know I've made it, but for now I'm in awe of the sums some guys are betting.

I've already covered the WPBT event, but I've a few things to add.

Most importantly thanks to Iggy and Otis for their coordinating skills, and Pauly for a splendid writeup. Thanks also to my fellow competitors - good company and good players makes for a fun few hours. I've added several more entries to Bloglines as a result.

Overall I'm fairly happy with how I played. I got good cards early and tried to maintain aggression as far as I could. I rarely play MTT, and even then usually freerolls, so this was a whole new experience.

The key hands for me were getting KK in late position and, unusually, seeing several limpers act before me. I was tempted to slow play, but didn't want so many players to see a flop and get the chance to catch something.

I considered making a standard raise but again thought that might not drive out enough players. I wanted to be 1-on-1. So I decided to push, hoping someone with a smaller pocket pair would read me for AK or a steal, and take me on.

Unfortunately everyone folded. Though the blinds/antes/calls were worth having, it was a missed opportunity.

Soon after, two key hands saw my downfall. When I raised The Poker Prof and he reraised all in, I knew he had a hand. I knew my AK needed to hit something to hold up.

If this was a cash tournament with the final table paying, it would have been a probable fold. I was well behind the leaders, but possibly in a position to fold to the final table or thereabouts.

However I wasn't here to place, I was here to win, and that meant I needed to accumulate chips to make some ground on the leaders. The pot was laying good odds, and I figured I was no worse than 6/4 to win.

The only hands I was truly afraid of were AA and KK, both of which I felt might possibly have led to a flat call rather than a push.

So, I took on The Prof hoping to catch an A or K. Only to see his QQ improve to a set. Despite the fact I lost the hand, it was probably the most enjoyable part of the tourney for me. A classic race - overcards v pocket pair. Just the way I'd seen Howard Lederer knock Chris Ferguson out of the British Open last week. Both Professors were victorious!

I was pretty much resigned to the fact I wasn't going to win now, unless I made a major move and got very lucky. So I was delighted to get the dreaded AQ on my very next hand and see another player go all-in ahead of me. In a cash tourney, a fold, but not tonight!

Race part 2 I thought. All in from early must mean either a low or middle pair or, worst case for me, AK. So, only two hands scared me, AK and possibly QQ. Earlier I'd won the same race in reverse with QQ v AQ.

Again I was hoping to isolate the bettor in an overcards v pair race when I pushed.

Unfortunately Joe from The Obituarium was waiting in ambush with AKs in the big blind and the battle was short.

That was that, and it was time for bed. No prize for me, but a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Thanks again to all concerned. I hope to see you again soon.

A quick footnote - I wrote this post up in my lunch hour and returned home to find comments from both my vanquishers on the last post. Good game guys. Thanks for the comments. And good luck tonight Joe! Kick off in 5 minutes.

Monday, May 02, 2005


Not bad.

Got some great cards early which took me to this position. A monkey could have played my early hands - possibly played them better!

On Top Of The Pile - but not for long Posted by Hello

Then went card dead for a while. Stole a few blinds without meeting resistance. I'd made a decision beforehand to be really aggressive with no limping, and there wasn't. Every hand I opened, I raised.

I'd fallen back into the pack when I got into a race with The Poker Prof. His QQ v my AK. The QQ not only held up but improved to a set, putting me in very bad shape.

The very next hand I got AQ and saw Scott at Liquor In the Front, Poker In The Rear, go all in. I had him covered - just - and went all in too, since I figured this was as good as it was gonna get.

Joe from The Obituarium rapidly called with AhKh to put me in even worse shape. Scott had 99. Three hearts on the flop and it was all over.

At least it was quick! After 2am now, so time for bed!

Sunday, May 01, 2005

April Summary

April was a weird month.

Despite the fact that for most of it I felt like I'd just dropped the soap in the San Quentin shower, I actually emerged with a $245 profit. Not great, but better than losing.

Initially it was a continuation of the diabolical March downswing, but my luck gradually returned to more normal levels in the latter part of the month and I posted a few winning sessions. I still can't completely escape the crazy beats, but crazy beats need crazy opponents and that leads in the long term to +EV.

There can be a real difference between perception and reality when assessing ones own performance, so it's a godsend to have the Poker Tracker stats at hand to act as an impartial judge of my performance. After a few hours of despair, I can revisit the cards and determine whether it was bad luck or bad play bleeding away another chunk of bankroll.

So far as I can determine, I seem to be playing OK. Playing mainly low limit Hold Em, it's more about consistency of starting hand selection and not going crazy chasing the fish. There's certainly lots of room for improvement in my overall game, but on a 1/2 or 2/4 Party Poker table there's only so much you can do!

I still finished down overall on cards played - but all kneel and give praise to the great bonus god! I'm sure there's an analogy about bonus whores and kneeling in there somewhere.

My Neteller account is a succession of $500 withdrawals and $5xx deposits. Again highlighting the value of playing with an underpinning bonus.

The rollercoaster ride continues into the world of football. A triumphant victory for Celtic last weekend, superseded by a diabolical defeat today. The league is still in our own hands, but today's performance sent me home numbed at the awfulness of it. Both Celtic and Rangers seem to be stumbling, rather than striding, towards the finishing line. Let's hope Craig Bellamy's hamstring is healed by next weekend.

Fortunately things have been more stable on the baby front. Mrs Div is very tired but otherwise well. It's now at the stage where the baby's movements can be seen as well as felt, and she can feel exactly how the baby is positioned.

The home preparations are progressing well - primarily thanks to the future grandparents, who have dedicated days of effort to redecorating the house while Mrs Div and I toil at the office. Baby supplies are also being stockpiled, as we attempt to introduce an element of organisation to our previously haphazard shopping habits.

More shopping planned for Sunday, then hopefully an appearance at the WSOP qualifier. Not sure how I'd manage to fund the Vegas trip, or explain it to Mrs Div, in the unlikely event of actually winning! I'll cross that bridge if I come to it.