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August 27, 2005

The Biggie – Part 2

Day 2 arrives and to be honest I was tired. I elected to drive home (75 minutes) rather than stay over and I really didn’t sleep that well but I’m cooking on adrenaline now and I aint going to let a little thing like sleep deprivation get me down.

I arrive at the casino early again and decide to get some food. I sit having breakfast with Justin Turner from Luton who is still in but low stacked and Garry Bush, who I didn’t really know at the time but was very friendly nonetheless – this settles me down a little but I was starting to feel the nervous anticipation of a long days poker.

38 players soon become 30 and we are down to 3 tables (the last 2 get paid). The play significantly tightened up now as we approached the bubble and I really haven’t made much ground and I can feel the need to make a move. I try a late position raise and get re-raised by John Shipley (he is a GREAT player who I’m sure can smell fear and weakness like a hungry lion) – I get the message, act like the pray that i am and fold. The very next round, I try again but this time I have a hand (A-J), I raise and he pushes all-in… grrrrrr! Again, I fold and he gives me that “don’t you ever learn” look. I am now really starting to feel like I am being out-played by these guys and decide that next time that Shipley fella comes for me I aint backing off.

About 30 minutes passes and I have took a few pots down uncontested and have built my stack back up to quite healthy, the confidence is back and I switch to ‘auto-steal’. Its Shipley’s blind again now and look down and see J-9. I make a smallish raise and it folds round to my nemesis. He gives that stare again but I decide to fix the stare back – he re-raises me about a third of his stack but this time I aint backing down! – The best way to deal with a bully is hit him right between the eyes, so I quickly wave my arms forward and say “I’m all-in”. I couldn’t quite believe what I just said, it was like it wasn’t me, it was like I had been possessed. I almost felt like apologising, taking my chips back and admit I was bluffing, but it was done now –I had moved all my chips in with J-9 on a pre-flop re-re-raise! – I just had to fix my stare and convince him I had a hand. He gave me that look that you see serial killers fixing their prison wardens with in the movies and I swear for just one moment, he was going to call. He thought for what seemed like an eternity and eventually he passed! – I think my huge sigh coupled with a reach for my water gave it away that I had nothing but he mucked, I had the chips and I felt like a Roman gladiator astride a dead lion, spear aloft with the crowd baying for more blood. – I had the taste for it, I could feel a gear change and the crowd weren’t going to leave disappointed.

The Biggie!

Armed with gallons of enthusiasm and a plentiful supply of confidence I took my feeling of belonging to table 4, seat 5, where I find, amongst others, Tim Flanders, Shaf and Koresh. I look around and making his way to the table behind me is Willie Tann who sits directly behind me (back to back). I can’t believe how much I feel at home and don’t really have any nerves at all – I’m ready for battle!

I’m not sat down long, in fact it’s the first hand and I’m dealt 9-9 in mid-position with a couple of early limpers already in the pot. I decide to limp as well and hope to see a flop… with a big juicy 9 on it! The flop comes down J-4-9 (she’s there!) UTG checks and Shaf (a leery, loud, fast action player from Blackpool) fires out at the pot… on every street (the turn is a 2 and the river an A). I call him all the way and eventually re-raise all in on the river – he mucks and shouts for chips (it’s a double chance freeze-out) and I’m nerve free and up to nearly 10K with another 5K in reserve whenever I want them.

The first break arrives, I get my additional 5K and I am up to 29K and from a quick straw poll around the bar looks like I am in the chip leader – it surely couldn’t get any better!

Following the break, I keep it tight for a few hours, opening up when I get the opportunity and try to accumulate some more chips. My good friend; Tony Kendall arrives at my table and immediately points at me and then at my stack and declares to the entire table that “I am the biggest ‘at-it merchant’ this side of the M6”… I sigh, groan, protest but to be honest it ensured that a few of my big hands get paid off and I manage to win a lot of small to medium-sized pots when called with weaker hands (they got the impression I was at-it – thanks Tikay!) - In short it’s going exactly to plan.

The day started with 147 players and they all seem to be dropping likes flies despite the 10K in starting chips, low blinds and slow clock. We reach the end of play of day 1 at 3:30am and there are 38 players left, I am 6th in chips and have a lovely table to return to the next day, which contains Paul ‘Action Jack’ Jackson, Sonny Nirinja, John Shipley, Stuart Fox and Joseph Grech (I could have wished for easier opponents) but, hey, where playing for big money now… this aint no £20 re-buy!

August 26, 2005

Prelude to my first biggie!

I arrived at Walsall early to ensure i wouldn't be late and to get a feel for a big event. I was so excited and at the same time a little nervous. This was my first really big poker competition and although i felt i could hold my own, i didn't really know what to expect. I knew the field would be strong and i knew that most of the big names would be there in search of some early season ranking points... I wasn't wrong!

I met up with my good friend (and now poker celebrity) Tony 'Tikay' Kendall for a coffee before the game as he said he would introduce me to a few 'faces' and help me get a feel for who was who.

I got to the bar and Tony was there talking to William Hill couple 'Smokin' Steve Vladar and his partner Xuyen 'Bad Girl' Pham. I joined them for a drink and immediately felt a part of the scene. I drifted in and out of conversation with them as my head span with the faces that i recognised from seeing poker on the T.V. and from reading poker magazines and internet articles. The Devilfish, Koresh, Simon Trumper, John Shipley, Dave Colclough to name but a few were circling like sharks ready for action. I felt a certian dread but a real tingle of anticipation and excitement and couldn't wait to get involved.

August 25, 2005

The start of something purple!

January came and went and i was still stuck in monotonous office hell. I was working hard on my game and studying articles, books, internet forums (whilst in the office of course) all in the search of key bits of information and tips to help me in my quest for poker stardom.

Then came February............ 'the purple patch'

The first Sunday of the month is the £100 re-buy at Nottingham Gala. Poker was really starting to take off in the UK and Notts was no exception. Over 100 runners produced a £30k prize pool and yours truly took first place in a chip count for £7800 - my biggest ever win! Now my desire for the game was higher than ever and i was brimming with confidence and felt i couldn't lose. Armed with my new bankroll, I decided i would start and play some of the minor festival events in the UK for the next few months and see how we go.

The following week i drive to Walsall for the £25 rebuy super satellite to the main event of the Midlands Medley. There were 90 runners and it produced 3 seats.. and yes, i got one! This gained me entry into a £1500 buy-in event for just £25. - I couldn't have been more over the moon, i was delighted and of course brimming with confidence. - bring me Devilfish, Surinder, Rokach.. i'll take em all on!