So have you ever visited a country and....they charged you to get in? No?...Then try Wales!
Now I realise that it`s a small place with a few nice spots but ?5.10p to enter seems a little sheep.. Ooops I mean steep.
That`s right the cost of entry via the M4 into our little principality has gone up from ?4.... a liberty, to ?5.10.... a complete rip-off! Whatever will they come up with next, a tax on poker possibly?
Well like it or lump it we had to pay the price as the venue for round three of the GUKPT was Grosvenor Cardiff and, Dan, Lucy(Rokach) and myself all now being official team Poker.Co.Uk players had obligations to fulfil.
Yes that`s right we all have official seven month contracts drawn up by the venerable Mr Dale. (Please note the new air of respect I now accord the team boss). Well actually we start officially next month in Manchester, so Cardiff was a "dry run" which for myself and Lucy was a good thing, as we both performed ..err poorly.
Dan as usual was outstanding and again our only savoir but we will get better boss...honest.
Event number one was Tuesdays ?250 No -Limit H/Em freeze-out.
A smaller field than was possibly anticipated (85) lined up for this event. I had opted to miss the support events and to arrive fresh for the main event on Friday.. old age causes a lack of stamina, so we don`t want to over do things now do we? Dan and Matt both being young and full energy, well.. at least Dan is.. Matt`s not that young and usually full of something else. (Damn ... New found respect didn`t last long). So anyhow, Matt and Dan had decided to go for gold by playing all the events.. Oh the exuberance of youth, which, at least in Dan`s case proved a very worthwhile decision as he managed to split the first prize in this event for a very nice ?6000.+ pay day.
On top of that he got 450 ranking points which should see him climb into the top thirty in the European player rankings, no mean achievement for an up and coming 19 yr old pro.
Matt, Dan and Lucy all drew day one of the two starting days for the main event, the ?1000 N/L H/em freeze out. Now anyone who knows Lucy will be well aware of her "Chip or bust" strategy, which, when it works, is devastatingly effective, but when it doesn`t... well.. it can lead to an early bath, and on this occasion the first casualty of the tournament is non other than...Lucy Rokach.. Oooops.
As the cries of "man-overboard" or to be absolutely accurate "wo-man overboard" go up.. we are down to two "Team Trotter" players remaining. Dan was the next casualty mid-way through the evenings session and that left non other than Mr Matt Dale himself as the only "Trotter" contender still fighting on day one ... if only he had thought about a "last longer" bet with Dan and Lucy..sigh.
So here he is in the GUKPT main event and struggling to survive and so what does he do?...fall asleep! Yes I jest you not, he`s so knackered from playing the two previous events he`s almost "asleep at the wheel". But, fairs fair, he was Team poker.co.uk's top performer on day one of the main event, finally going down in a blaze of glory around 2am.
Friday finally arrives and with three "Team trotter" members gone It`s all down to me. After a leisurely four hour drive to Cardiff, I arrive at my hotel in the countryside around Bridgend about 2pm, which is nice.. plenty of time for a shower and then off to the casino for the 4pm start. Well it was nice until I discover that the hotel check-in is closed till 3pm... Only in the remote wilderness of Wales. Not incensed at all by this... much, I wait patiently for one hour, have a quick shower and arrive at the casino in plenty of time for the start.
After sitting around without much to do in the first two hours of the tournament I finally pick up a pocket pair (7,7) flop trips but find a bigger set and lose about 40% of my stack..nice. After a couple more hours of grinding my chips back I`m close to S.P. and it`s the meal break. I have only three words to say about the food "It was free".
Buffet over, and I use the term "buffet" very loosely (it was more like "trough time" at the local pig farm), we return to the battle, and a change of tables is.. I hope.. a sign of better things to come. I take my new seat next to my London pal Michael Greco. "Beppe" is sporting his usual trademark mp3 player and singing along to various tunes, I casually lean over to tell him his acting is Ok.. but with his next win he should invest in singing lessons - much to the amusement of the other players and the crowd.
Of course about an hour later my "singing lessons" jibe comes back to haunt me as Michael dispatches me from the tourney when his straight on the turn crushes my flopped two pair, no help on the river and he`s still singing and I`m looking for poker lessons.
Michael went on to win the tournament and whilst he does make some awful plays he also makes some very good ones too. So to those that say "He can`t play" let me tell you he can.. he just has a few more things to learn.
A couple of points that I did notice in Cardiff. I was surprised at the number of players who still make quite elementary tournament mistakes, whether down to fatigue or inexperience, but mistakes non the less. This bodes well for the alert players.. opportunity knocks.
The structure has been changed somewhat and it is no longer about surviving through to day two - that will no longer be an option. The blind and ante structures have been revised so that less players will survive the early stages. After a couple of levels you just have to play, or later on you will find that, with the revised structure, you will go from comfortable stack to short stack very quickly. I for one will incorporate this into my strategy for Manchester.
On the way home I stopped off at poker.co.uk's HQ in Bristol.
Matt skilfully directed me across Bristol to the office with pinpoint accuracy!! Upon arrival we were treated to a guided tour of the various work stations and amenities we then thrashed out my new contract and had a couple of games of pool and bar football. "Don`t play soft just because its me" were his words (how little he knows me). "Don`t worry I won`t" was my reply. I`ll leave the results to your imagination.
All in all not a great showing from the team in Cardiff, except of course young Dan, who continues to prove Matt's faith in him, and rightly so. He still remains the teams star player and an example for us all to aspire to. Lucy's off to represent poker.co.uk in the Irish open. I'm off to practice, god knows.. I need it, and Dan and Matt are off to the bar to celebrate because ...they deserve it.
Next stop on the GUKPT will be Manchester and the team will be at full strength from day one. Dan and I will play at least one of the support events plus the main event and Lucy will I`m told, play just the main event itself.
Finally, as a bonus for all our loyal poker.co.uk supporters we may have a little something for you guys too. Get playing on the site and your loyalty could be rewarded with a chance to join us on the GUKPT as a "guest" player with a free lesson and tips from the team (Matt: well, the good players on the team - not me obviously!), plus... you get to wear one those natty poker.co.uk shirts. Keep this quiet though as I haven`t told Matt about this freebie for you yet.
Until next time, Stay safe, play well and enjoy your poker.