January.. The start of a new year - the weather may be slightly inclement but who cares? There`s the January sales, which nowadays seem to last well into March! There`s the EPT Copenhagen, providing of course you had the foresight to book your seat sometime last July and providing of course you have a healthy bankroll (at the moment mine`s on life support and in intensive care but it`s condition is stable so I`m hopeful). Then for the truly gifted, wealthy or sponsored players there`s always the Aussie Millions. For those of you who like myself are neither gifted, rich nor sponsored, God or to be more accurate Grosvenor (Though I Feel Geoff Leigh, the Vic`s cardroom manager may well be being groomed to take over God`s role) has now given us the poor mans alternative .. the GPT Bolton.
Bolton... famous for err well umm... not really too much as far as I can tell, but, that will all change now that we have the GPT.. or will it?
Enter "Team Trotter"..lights.. camera ..action! Not exactly, I wasn`t turning up until day two, Matt and Dan had a puncture en-route so travelled up on the train and our "Guest" team member Nick Wright was nowhere to be seen ...cut..cut...CUT!
Apparently missing out Wednesday`s tournament proved to be a blessing in disguise. At all new event`s there are bound to be teething problems. This one apparently needed something more akin to oral surgery!
The staff were totally unprepared for 100 plus runners. The cardroom manager was, according to many observers, well meaning but clueless, and the whole schedule of the tournament was totally out of sync with the number of entries, breaks, and blind levels.... Bodes well for Fridays 200 runner main event then!
Turning up mid-afternoon on Thursday I had completely missed all of the previous night`s fiasco and on entering the somewhat empty cardroom was greeted by a small group of London based players who relayed to me the above tales (No names ..to protect the innocent) though Bambos did say "Peter...welcome.. to Fred Carno`s circus" and continued "I`m not playing in tonight`s tournament in protest ..you know last night at 3am you could see they wouldn`t be able to finish the competition and I had been telling them from midnight that they would need to alter the structure but was told 'This is the way we do things in Bolton' so the whole thing ended in a management forced chip count".
Hoping that lessons had been learned I signed up for that evenings tournament the ?200 NL / freeze out. Matt and Dan arrived about 7.30 and team "Trotter" was ready to roll, so we waited... and waited... and waited some more until at about twenty minutes after the scheduled start time the cardroom manager announced "Due to a computer failure the tournament will be a little late starting.. please bear with us" Doh..not again!
After a delay of around 40 minutes the event finally got under way.. oh and Nick - our extra team member - was there too. I got introduced to him during said delay. So 161 runners, a sell out with ten or more unable to get in.. Grosvenor really should be better prepared.
Our first team casualty was Dan "lucky Scrote" Carter out with pocket king`s against pocket sixes.. not such a lucky scrote after all. Matt fared a little better but possibly needs to take a few lessons in patience and discipline! New boy Nick fought bravely but to no avail so that just left "Uncle Albert" to bring home the bacon. Well I Plodded on after the fifth level break and a hearty Italian pasta buffet... free to all players, but weighed down by spaghetti bolognaise and bedevilled by a lack of cards I too fell short of any result. One thought did occur to me though.. I`m certain a "last longer bet" with my fellow team members would surely prove a profitable angle for me in the long run.. hmm I wonder if I could get them to fall for it.
On to Friday and the main event itself.. now what could possibly go right.. sorry I mean wrong!Lessons must surely have been learned by now.. we took our seats for the scheduled 9pm start. In all 200 runners (there were in fact three no-shows) and 9pm came and.... we started.. no hold-ups, no cock-ups.. nothing. Smooth as clockwork.. what a relief!
Plenty of big names had turned up for this one, Micky Wernick.. and talking of which, his sponsor`s Blue Sq had a free bar going for about half an hour before the start. Of course no one announced it but, if like me you had been fortunate enough to wander into it, there were free drink`s for all.. courtesy of John Rabb and the Blue Sq team.. nice one guys.
So where was I.. err entries yes. Also present were the likes of Julian Thew, Iwan Jones, Dave Colclough, John Gale, Stuart Nash, Carlo Citrone, Ash Hussein and Simon Nowab.. it was not going to be an easy victory for who ever won it.
I have a tried and trusted game plan for this type of event and one that over the last few years has got me to where I am today..absolutely no where! None the less I think it is the correct one for a big stack- slow blind structure tournament and whilst it has yet to bring any substantial rewards now didn`t seem like a good time to abandon it. The basis of my plan for day one is survival.. no heroics just good solid play. I think that various "Team" members had different plans, Dan`s seemed similar to mine but with the odd manic or aggressive chip collecting move thrown in just to spice things up.. oh the recklessness of youth. Matt had decided that playing a pretty open game and talking his opponents into submission would be his strategy and Nick as far as I could tell was just going to play his best and see what developed.. well he is still learning the game.
My first table had one famous "face" on it.. my current nemesis "Mr Thew", the rest I hadn`t seen before, that was until our new team member Nick "Donkbox" Wright took the seat to my left.. oh well, all is fair in love, war and poker. Nick played well enough but maybe got caught in plays that a more experienced player would perhaps escape from. Nonetheless a very credit worthy first effort and one I`m sure he will learn from and improve upon in the future. If not there`s always his day job, he`s a professional journalist with the WPT magazine, and whilst I may have the edge on him poker play wise he certainly has the edge over me in the journalistic dept.
Matt was the next member of team trotter to bite the dust.. I`m not exactly sure of the exact details but I am sure a lot of his fellow table players were glad to see the back of him. . Mr Wildman-Talkalot has left the building. As tables get slowly broken I eventually find myself seated on a table two seats down from Dan. I can tell after a few hands that Dan`s aggressive plays have been frustrating one or two of the other players, especially the Chinese guy sitting one or two seats to his left. At this point Dan had about 5,000 chips left of his original 10,000 stack so obviously has taken a few beats and decided to cool things down.. until that is, he gets QQ one off the button, pops in a raise, gets called by his Chinese buddy and.. to cut a long story short gets beaten by Hu Flung Dung who turns his 8-10 off into two pair..ouch..exit Dan.
My own evening ends on 11,250 chips and an appointment at 3.00pm next day with about 130 others for day two.
Now day one`s plan had been to survive, day two`s was somewhat different. Now my plan was to build chips for a shot at the final and TV stardom. Saturday`s 3pm start was delayed due, once again we were told, to computer error. My opinion is slightly different... computer programming error would be more accurate. I happen to know the guy who writes the "Casino Magic" programme - in fact he`s a close friend and was present on both Friday and Saturday, and like he says if they (the casino staff) could just learn to put the correct information in then the computer would churn the correct information out. It aint rocket science!
So after a 30 minute delay tables were re-drawn and battle commenced. From the off every move I tried ended in disaster and I was soon down below 5,000 in chips..oops. Well after struggling on for about six hours I manage to reach the last three tables and have about 22,000 in chips. At the moment, as in the last..... well it seems like a few years, but that`s maybe a gross exaggeration, so we`ll just say I have really struggled for some time to pick up hands when I really need them. I`m not making lame excuses, just putting things into perspective - sometimes you're hot and sometimes your not. Currently I`m definitely not.
I exit in 26th place having run AsQs straight into pocket rockets which, if he hadn`t have slow rolled me would have still not have been very pleasing but, to get slow rolled by some cocky arse kid to boot...Grrr... Fame and fortune will have to wait.
All in all I was pretty pleased with my own performance,as for the rest of the team.. well, I`ll let you make your own minds up on that one suffice it to say that a couple of lines from my old school reports spring to mind "must try harder" and "Needs to concentrate more". Now about that last longer bet....Err Matt.. Oh Matt I have an idea.
My Overall impressions of the GPT?...Well once they get over the initial problems and, after listening to Grosvenors main man Russell Tamplin he has assured me they will ..in fact and I quote "Things will be better at Walsall, you have my word on it". So with teething problems sorted I think they have a winner. It`s a great structure and will attract a lot of interest from both players and media alike, add to that the fact that it`s televised on channel 4 as well.. I would go as far as to say it could well become a viable option to the EPT for a lot of UK based players.
A final word or two on Bolton, it`s a nice club the staff are friendly and helpful if lacking in experience, the afternoon cash games had dealers provided for them ...Now that is a first ! I personally dislike the fact that the cardroom can be a little smoky despite being a "No Smoking" room but that`s just a personal thing. If you live in the north west give it a spin, it caters for beginners on most nights with ?2 buy in tournament`s ..Aye it`s tough up north.
I`m having a week off due to an unexpected gift from my trip to Bolton ..the Flu! But I have trips to the Casino Gambling Expo in London and playing wise Brighton`s January Sales tournament`s planned, so reports on those in my next column, as always until then,
Stay safe, play well and enjoy your poker.
Pete"The Professor" Singleton.
PS. All applications to join "Team Trotter" should be addressed to Matt Dale care of the "Did I really play that badly" poker nursing home at..