Saturday, March 17, 2007

Gala Report

I have finaly got round to writing my report of my first live game, so here it is...

The day has finally come when I will be stepping into a bricks and mortar casino to play poker. The whole week I have been building up to the game, playing online multi-table tournaments and reading as many articles on live play as possible. I arrived at the casino an hour before the dealers shuffled up, relaxing in the lounge wasn’t so easy with the sound of the slot machines and this won woman who was clearly on a roll. I sat myself on the comfortable looking seats in front of the television for the football, with a drink I managed to relax for half an hour, thankfully I am not a Blackburn Rovers fan. I decided to stretch my legs before entering the card room, as I was walking past the entrance area I saw John Higgins enter the casino, Graham Dott was also already in the building, I was hoping I would be sat at one of there tables, the attention would be on them rather than me, the newbie.

As I noticed the players streaming into the card room I decided to follow. On first appearances the room was small with seven tables and a control area, above which was a screen with all the 120 players seating positions. I was sat at table eight, seat seven. I had a quick look to see if John Higgins or either of the other snooker players were sat at my table, unfortunately not. My table was in the other half of the room, it was separated by a wall with a gap at one end, this side was much the same as the first. I was one of the last players to sit at my table, so as I removed my jacket I used the opportunity to observe the players, nobody appeared to be nervous, but neither was I. Even though I had been building myself up for the event I defiantly appeared to be nonchalant. An older gentleman sat on my left, he put on what can only be described as an Oscar winning performance. The man was clearly a regular in the casino as he knew all of the staff by name as well as sixty per cent of the other players. He proceeded to create the image of a dotty old man, by continually asking what each chip was worth , the table had defiantly created a false sense of security towards the player. I had arranged my chips into 4 neat stacks, and had decided not to play with them incase I mess up and sill them all over the place and look like an utter donk. At this point the tournament was running twenty minutes late and the dealers were told to shuffle up and deal. Lots of thoughts were running through my head, all the advice I had been given over the last few days, it was time to put myself to the test. This may sound strange but I was ecstatic to squeeze my cards and peer down at an absolute horror of a hand, ten three off-suit, this just calmed me down and observe the table that little bit more before making any decisions. The table seemed to set its standard raise at four times the big blind pretty quickly, the older gentleman a previously mentioned didn’t hold anything back, he was firing in massive bets like ten times the big blind and was content at picking up any scrap he could. The one piece of advice that stuck in my head the whole time was “be patient” and I never played a hand for half an hour or so, not that I had any playable hands really. The time came when I picked up Ace Jack off suit in middle position there had been one early position limper, who was in a lot of the action, so I decided to pump it up to four times the big blind. At this moment in time my heart was pumping like there was no tomorrow, I could feel it in the side of my head, imagine if I went all in, but it was time to calm down as everyone folded. Obviously a poker players goal is to win the tournament, but at this moment, I have to be honest I was thinking I would really like to make it to the first break. In my first live tournament, I think lasting more than two hours would be an achievement, a small one maybe, but at least I knew I could handle the situation. In the next forty-five minutes I only had some semi-playable hands, which I limped in with then laid down to a raise. I was sitting on the button with Ace King of clubs, there had been one early position raiser who has been playing a lot and was chip leader at the table, there were two callers, I had decided to call also. The flop came down with a Queen and two rags, and two clubs, action was checked round to me so I bet out about half of the pot. I don’t know what made me do what I did next, but it worked, I made a deliberate move to lean forward and stare the guy in the eyes, the guy thought for about ten seconds, which felt about ten minutes and mucked his cards. I was so surprised and relieved that the players did not pick up any obvious fear out of me. The best part came when I was stacking my chips, the chip leader mentioned quietly too the player next to him “he’s a confident guy eh.” It may seem silly that I was proud of this, but if you had felt my heart going when I was staring at the guy, you would be proud too. It was now fifteen minutes too the break, I had picked my stack up too around ten thousand chips, which was above average at the time. I know there were still hands to be played but I was thinking that I have hit my goal of getting to the first break. Yet again I picked up Ace King, this time off-suit, there was only one other player in the pot, who was a solid Glaswegian who had raised to three times the big blind. I did actually consider folding, but I had to see what the flop brought. Unfortunately there was nothing too pretty for me the flop read six seven nine with two hearts, and the player fired out a bet, which may well have just been a continuation bet but I gave him the benefit of the doubt as he had shown down nothing but good hands up too now. To be honest nothing else of not happened until I had reached my goal of making the break. The last hand with Ace King had taken me back down to roughly my starting stack, so I was still comfortable with about sixteen big blinds. We had already lost 32 players by this point and I was seriously chuffed to not be one of them. I walked out of the card room and straight to the bar to get a glass of water, no alcohol for me tonight. I was also glad too see that my girlfriend and my friend had decided to stay, so I had a little chat to take my head away from poker for ten minutes. I have to say the seats in the bar area were not comfortable at all I was seriously glad to get back to the table, well after a quick pit stop. I remember walking into the room with my head held high and confident in myself, the next step was to go and do the business.

As I sat down I noticed that there were now antes in the game, which made my stack slightly less appealing, but still workable. Within a couple minutes I was in the action in late position with pocket twos, two middle position limpers, so I decided to see a flop. The flop came down with an Ace four and two, I had caught trips, and the action was checked to me, so I checked. Then a six hit, still no flush on board so when it was checked to me I decided to bet three times the big blind and everyone folded. It had picked my stack up a little bit, but I had wished for more. We had been down to seven handed for a while and then another player was eliminated, so two new players had joined our table. Both of them were keen to set the tone by entering a lot of pots and raising. I wish I was capable of doing such things, but I certainly was not going to do so with the garbage I was being dealt. Then one of the newer players raised to three times the big blind from first position, and it was folded to me, I looked down and I saw pocket nines, I looked at my stack which only had around seven big blinds and with the antes as well, I was short, as well as that the player had raised the two hands prior too this. So all things considered I think I made the right move in pushing all in. It was not much over double his original bet to call, I made myself look like I wanted to turn my cards over and beat him. I really believe he almost talked himself out of calling, then the brutal words came “I have to call” he turned his cards over to show King Jack off suit. I have to be honest my first thought was of Tony G berating Ralph Perry for playing King Jack, and I was extremely happy that he had called, then that King hit on the flop, and there was no help for me. It was “Goodnight Vienna” for me.

I was absolutely distraught and that may seem a little over the top but that is the best word to describe my emotions. I felt I had not made one mistake the whole night and I lost, I am sure every single poker player has done what I did, I went through EVERY single hand in my head over and over like I had OCD and still found no answers. In the cold light of day, well the light of the online poker room, I realised that it wasn’t my fault and it just wasn’t my night. On the whole the night was an amazing experience, and I will defiantly be back in a card room in the very near future.