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October 20, 2005

The Grosvenor Grand Prix (sponsored by Bluesq.com) – Trip Report

One of the best value tournaments of the year; I qualified along with 214 others for the 2005 Grosvenor Grand Prix, which was held at Walsall this weekend (15th & 16th October). This was the first time I had qualified for the event and was really looking forward to it. It’s a unique event in that you can only play by qualifying and you CAN’T buy-in to it. This gives the competition a unique feel to any other big prize pool event as the standard of play is moderate and none of the big names can come along and just stump up the entry fee – you have to qualify!

The event was split into 2 flights as Grosvenor had been caught out by the number of people qualifying and they didn’t have enough tables to accommodate the massive field of qualifying hopefuls… yeah right! They could have got us all in if they really wanted to and if course they kept all the roulette and black-jack tables running… Oh, and they also managed to squeeze in 3 cash tables, which obviously charged a rake! – Its really about time that casinos were required to accommodate big competitions properly and if they were going to lose money by doing so then the so called ‘sponsors’ and the take, take, take TV companies that film these events should make up that short fall by adding money to the competitions to cover the casinos costs and provide value to the players that they exploit. (William Hill excluded as they are running a ‘for TV only’ tournament next week with a whopping and fantastic £120,000 added! – big-up to William Hill and massive congratulations to them for taking the lead in looking after players and providing good value into a big tournament – more of the same from the rest would be nice!

Anyway… rant over – back to Walsall. I won my first coin flip of the day before the competition had even started by drawing a seat in the first flight, which meant that unlike 50% of the field I didn’t have to kill 7 hours before I could get my game under way – sadly, this would be the only 50:50 coup I would come out best in.

I had drawn a fantastic table in that it seemed to be full of nervous players that I didn’t recognise; therefore I expected the action to be very tight early on. The only faces I recognised or knew anything about were Phil “I would hate to win the WSOP” Peters and Paul “I can talk for England” Parker, so I really fancied being able to build a stack and run over the table, but to be honest I started badly. I was playing fast and loose but not really in a commanding fashion, it was more a display of stack self-demolition mixed with loose calls, all of which meant that at the first break I had doubled down rather than up and only had 5,000 of my 10,000 starting stack left – looks like a delve into my back pocket for plan B was required.

I met up with Stuart Fox and Tom “Red-Dog” McCready at the break. Tom had also doubled down but Stuart was in great shape with about 19,000. As poker players do, we discussed how it was going and I admitted to playing “like a ****” and not being able to stop myself. This, along with a quick look at the chips on the other tables seemed to kick me into action and I decided I was going back to my table with the sole purpose of playing good poker and attempting to at least get back to my starting 10,000 at the next break.

The 3rd hand back after the break found me staring down at QQ in 3rd position but UTG had limped (which I didn’t like). I had to define my hand there and then and made the full pot-sized raise – everybody passed except for matey boy limper who without hesitation moved all in – grrrrrrrrrrrr! It broke my already damaged heart but after a long dwell (Carlo Citrone style) I reluctantly passed the hand leaving myself with 2600 in chips and technically still in the game. I half thought I should have just called as I was so low in chips but in reality what hand could this guy have? And what else would he make that move with against the table low stack in a pot limit tournament? – I got my answer when he flipped over his AA accompanied with a smile! – Well at least I made the correct decision and prevented my exit along with adding 2600 to Mr Smug’s stack!

I managed to get a double up soon after the break. I then ducked, dived and pinched for a level and then doubled up once more through a great situation where I flopped two pairs in the small blind against another guy with a smaller two pairs in the big blind. All of a sudden I was up to 14000 and back in the game. I really had a feeling of satisfaction – I could have been out of this tournament about 19 thousand (no exaggeration!) times already and every time I took a step forward I seemed to take two steps back. I really felt that passing my QQ with only 2600 chips remaining had kept me in the game and could ultimately help me to go on and win the competition. – Sadly it wasn’t to be. Two big hands in the space of 45 minutes put paid to my dreams of progressing in the competition when my re-raise with KK ran into a monstrous A-9 and my re-raise with A-J against a perpetual thieving raiser failed to stand up when he made a value call with J-9 and spiked the 9 on the turn. – There’s nothing like a 3 outer to send you to the rail! – Grrrrrr!

Oh well, there’s always next week – looks like I am going from one grand prix to the next. I am a late entrant into the televised William Hill Grand prix with my heat being at the Enfys TV studios in Cardiff on Saturday 22nd October. It should be plain sailing really as I only have two WSOP bracelet winners, a Hendon Mobster and a European Champion in my line up so I expect to be in the final the following Tuesday. I’ll let you know how I do next week – providing that I am allowed – it could be that I am obliged to keep the result quiet until the whole show has been aired on TV – we’ll see!


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