Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Leaving Las Luton

There’s something magical about returning from a poker game late/early enough that the sun rises as you drive home. Sharing the near-empty dawn roads with delinquent foxes kicking over dustbins and smoking cigarettes (I think I saw one lighting up) the trip back from Luton takes the time my Tom Tom optimistically said it would take to get me there originally. I knew better than to trust the lying bastard on the way up simply because my Tom Tom lives in a glorious world where feckless morons don’t crash into each other ever five minutes, and the never-ending road works on the M1 are a thing of fiction. I’ve got used to adding 30 minutes onto everything it says. It’s a bit like having a wife who says she‘ll be ready by 7pm but never is. The bitch.

Anyone who's followed my blog for a while might remember I used it this time last year to whine and moan about missing a couple of last season’s Luton GUKPT events by mere minutes thanks to crap traffic, a GPS system that looked at every potential journey through rose-tinted specs, and an antiquated casino law that meant to not be in the building at the start of the game was to miss the entire thing. This year I took no risks; arriving for event #1 with hours to spare, and immediately buying-in to every game that tickled my fancy.
There was one particular game that caught my eye, and though only a tiddler compared to the main event, it occurred on the 8th of the 8th, starting at 8pm. Now I’m not a superstitious man, but to miss a game so steeped in lucky 8s would be folly. And thus it was I headed to Luton for the “8.8.8”…

Now some people like to meditate before a big game, some like to pump themselves up listening to Metallica or System of Down. I chose - and please don’t ask me why - to drive up to Luton listening to Level 42. I can’t pretend this got my heart racing, but I did manage to annoy the fuck out of myself and those around me by thumbing bass lines on the poker table for the following nine hours.

Into the card room and luck makes its first appearance, landing me in seat nine, table 15 - right next to the free hot drinks machine. Bingo! Hand #1 convinced me further that my investment was a wise one, as a limped Ks7s hit an A-K-7 flop and continued with a turned 7 to clinch the deal. Game on!

Some hours later I begged with luck for the first time. Holding 77 against a 7c-6h-9c flop, a student-type pushed in on me with what turned out to be the nut flush draw. He missed. More tea Mr Luck?

I’m later moved to a new table (still within reach of the drinks machine, lucky me!) and spend the next 20 minutes trying to work out if it’s the dealer or the player in seat nine who stinks. For the record, it was seat nine (who could have done with a hair wash too). With this important business out of the way I can once again focus fully on the game.
Down to the last three tables, and fearsome blinds and antes coupled with plenty of short-stacks keep luck very busy indeed. I suck-out in a KT vs. AJ confrontation, only to lose a TT vs. Q7 fight moments later. It looks like karma’s joined the fray. The git.

I then participate in one of the strangest hands I’ve ever played... At 400/800 +50, seat five makes it 1,500 to go and I call, but for some reason he thinks I’ve folded and turns over the ace of spades. The dealer now tells the embarrassed-looking player that only I can now instigate any action; effectively giving me the option to check it all the way down if I chose to do so. And then the flop arrives: 8s-9s-10s. I’ve now flopped the nut straight but he either already has the nut flush (if his second card is a spade) or at least has the draw. What to do? Check it down and give him two free cards to hit his flush, or hope his second card isn’t already a spade and put him to the test. My brain farts out loud: “All-in” much to the amazement of the table, spectators (and, to a degree, me) and I watch my hands push 11,000 out across the felt. Thankfully there’s no insta-call so I know I’m not already ruined, but he does eventually call for his last 9,000 and I make luck aware that it has a lot of work to do. The turn is red, as is the river. Yehaw!

The next milestone is the money bubble, followed by the final table. I bad-beat out of the game (Ad4d out-flopped by the chip-leader’s QsTc). I shake hands, exit the game, pull a funny face at luck, and collect my winnings.

Oh, and for the record, I came 8th on the 8th of the 8th '08. Funny old world isn’t it.

Monday, August 04, 2008

“NEWS”: Greenstein’s brain sacrifices survival instinct to make room for advertising jingle

Doctors are saying that poker professional Barry Greenstein’s brain subconsciously made room for a catchy TV jingle by deleting valuable space required for his survival instinct. Now severely injured, Greenstein only became aware of the change later, having accidentally walked through a dark alley filled with knife-wielding yobs. He told us: “I knew I should have been running in the other direction, but all I could think was: ‘I feel like chicken tonight; like chicken tonight’.
Greenstein’s uncle died under similar circumstances when his brain traded the part that controls breathing for enough room to accompany the Bird’s-eye Potato Waffles song.