Mentioning to Matt (Dale) that my next trip would be to Walsall for the Midland Masters Poker Tournament, his reply was a little surprising. It's usually, "OK, good luck, we'll read about it in your next column". But not this time - oh no - this time he sounded keen to come along for the ride, and to bring with him Poker.co.uk's sponsored player, Dan Carter. "It will be good to get together and discuss your column anyway", Matt suggested. Uh oh. As it turns out I needn't have worried. Matt seems to like my inane ramblings after all. Well, some people are easily pleased.
Walsall. Once one of the best cardrooms in the country and now just about one of the best in ... Walsall. How times have changed. Personally, I think that Rank Group (Grosvenors parent company) have completely lost the plot as far as cardrooms in their casinos are concerned, but staffing problems notwithstanding, this time they do run a reasonable show with good intentions, if not results.
Once again, a lack of dealers in the daytime provoked a number of player complaints (satellites were 'deal yourself' etc). I don`t know why this keeps occurring at these festivals, as the amount of revenue that could be collected from afternoon cash games would more than cover the staffing costs so...all a little bewildering! But..enough of the bitching ..on with the event.
Having had some recent online success.. (nothing spectacular just a couple of thousand dollars) but that`s all I needed to play in the first four events of this Midland Masters festival. So, that was my plan. And if I got any decent results then I would also play in the main event. Matt and Dan had decided to start their bid for glory in event two, so Monday's ?100 N/L rebuy was all up to me.
123 hopefuls lined up in event one, and I end up on a table with "Action Jac" and "El Blondie". Wait a minute - wasn`t Blondie supposed to be in St Kitts? Yes... he was... but apparently he had decided to travel later in the week, so like a true professional he wasn`t missing any chance for a pay day.
I don`t know if it was lack of sleep, drink or a combination of the two but both "Value" Jackson and "Gus" Colclough ( I`ve given them new nicknames due to the way they played during this tournament) played virtually every hand and contested every pot for the first hour. It was a sight to behold as their incessant quest for chips turned into a rebuy fest. Oh well, even the best have off days. From my own point of view, Lady Luck just wouldn't be my date. I did manage to outlast our two rebuy heroes, but Top 25 just wasn`t good enough for the money.
Event two would see us mob-handed as both Matt and Dan were now "in the building". We met up at the pre-event buffet, where Dan and I tucked into some chicken in a sauce that looked and tasted a lot like mushroom soup. Well actually, it Was! Mushroom-soup-coated chicken with rice and Naan bread. Err, yum yum. Matt arrived at the table with a plate of rice and some Naan bread, before proudly announcing "Oh, I`m a veggie". Both Dan and I agreed he did seem to play like one. Oh? Vegetarian? Sorry! We thought you meant "vegetable" Matt. Ooops.
Matt is in fact a genuine vegetarian as he proved throughout the rest of the week. His love of hops fermented with water was plainly obvious, which leads me to conclude that hops are classed as vegetables in his neck of the woods.
Our order of exit was surprising - at least for me - as I was the first casualty of the group, followed by "The Veggie" who I think went out on the proverbial "Bubble". But the young pro Dan managed a very credible 8th and a ?960 pay day. I made a mental note that unless I actually died during the next day's event I must last longer than the Veggie. It was no big deal, just a matter of pride. well, I am supposed to be an expert!
Wednesday's event was again No-Limit Holdem. This time a ?300 double chance freeze out generating a prize pool of ?52,400 from 178 entries, including the three of us.
This time Dan was the first one out, perhaps the efforts of the previous day took their toll... now all I had to do was outlast "The Veggie", and then of course win it. Matt wasn't going to give in easily but sadly (for him) busted late on in day one of this two day event. I returned, along with twenty other hopefuls to contest day two. This event paid eighteen places and even though I was returning with a short stack (20,000) my optimism was buoyed having seen several players with stacks over 60,000 make some very amateur plays late on day one. Alas, my optimism was unfounded and finishing on the bubble in 19th spot wasn`t exactly what I had planned. Now all of a sudden the euphoria of outlasting Matt... didn`t seem to taste so good... and his suggestion of forming "Team Bubble Boys" didn't go down too well either.
By Thursday all our spirits were high once again and optimism reigns supreme for today's ?500 N/L freeze out. I decide to try to get an entry on the cheap by playing in that afternoon's two-table, two-seat satellite. Matt - being wealthy, and Dan - being sponsored, decide on a trip to see the latest 007 Bond movie. Can't say I blame them, but despite the offer to join them, I instead pay my satellite entry.
Some ninety minutes later a smiling Matt Dale arrives back, just in time to see me win said satellite. "How was the movie?" I enquire, "we couldn`t get in, so Dan went back to the hotel to rest for tonight's comp, and I`ve returned to cheer you on".
"Marvellous!" was my sarcastic and somewhat uncalled for reply and, in a quick thinking bid to make amends, I continue with "Fancy a quick drink at the bar?".
So it was that the three of us, plus 129 others, making up a total of 132 combatants and a total prize fund of ?66,000, lined up for the days event. Let battle commence.
Matt and Dan both fought well but to no avail, and three hours into the competition they were both firmly ensconced into a no limit holdem cash game ..oh well.
My chance to shine was short lived, after a card drought of one and a half hours of getting total cr*p and managing a few blind steals to survive, I actually got a playable hand AsKs ran into pocket sevens in the big blind and, that was that, out on a race...true to form recently... a lot of hard work... with no result!
For me enough was enough, so I bid them good luck for the main event, said a fond farewell to the dynamic duo and dragged my sorry arse home to Kent for more internet practice.
With just the two of them left and after having a rest day Friday, both Matt and Dan along with 125 others, formed up for Saturday's main event and a prize pool of ?137,000. Winning this one was not going to be an easy task as plenty of "Big Guns" had turned up.
Several big names made it to the final including Lucy Rokach, Joe Greche and Ian Woodley, but the name of most interest must be that of Dan Carter, yep, Poker.co.uk's own sponsored pro in his first major event final (I think). Dan finished in 8th spot for a ?3,800 pay day and the eventual winner (officially) was Rob Garfield but a four way deal was cut some time before the final hand which saw the lion`s share go to Lucy Rokach (who was chip leader at that time). Just under ?40,000 I`m reliably informed.
All in all a good week for Dan, winning just over ?4,500; a nice week for Matt; good publicity for the site, and for me...just another week at the office. I really will be glad when 2006 is over!
If you actually get to read this report it means I`m still in a job writing for Poker.co.uk :) That being the case, I`ll have one more article for the year and that will contain a few Christmas presents for all you aspiring poker pro`s, as reading some of the posts on the gambling.co.uk forum it seems to me that a little help...well in some cases maybe more than a little...but anyhow a few tips and pointers to help you through the festive season may not go amiss, and will welcome the new year sane and solvent.
Until the next time, stay safe, play well and enjoy your poker.