1.59 PM: I wake up and reach for my phone. My routine most days is to check my phone quickly for any urgent messages while the laptop fires up. Then I answer a few mails and messages on various sites, and mess around on Facebook Viber and Twitter for a while.
2.01 PM: Read my friend Gary Clarke's latest blog and it makes me chuckle. Gary's blog isn't much about poker, more about what it's like inside the mind of Gary. Definitely one of my favourite blogs though so I send him a tweet about it.
2.09 PM: Tweet my good luck wishes to my friend Tom "Jabracada" Hall. Tom won last year's UKIPT leaderboard so I'm not surprised to read on the Full Tilt blog that he is busting up the IPC. Also read on the blog that Gus Hansen is playing the €40 Daily Grind so I am tickled by the idea of him min cashing it and having it on his Hendon mob.
2.12 PM: I log on to Facebook on my laptop and chat with a few people while I chat with Jason (Tompkins) on my phone. Since Jason went to Australia to get the jump on us all by 9 hours we have gotten into the habit of having the chats as he winds down and I wake up.
2.51 PM: I decide to weigh into the middle of a Twitter tiff between my friend David (Lappin) and his lovely girlfriend Saron on vegetarianism. David and Saron are one of those opposites attract couples that have people wondering what a nice girl like Saron is doing with him. Saron is a vegetarian and generally and in all ways just about the nicest most compassionate person you could ever meet, while David is....um.....David Lappin. I jokingly compare David to Hitler. He responds "I'll take that". We get into a discussion of whether (as is widely believed) Hitler actually loved animals, or it was all Goebbels propaganda.
3.40 PM: Having met my daily requirements for gossip and banter, I switch the laptop off and get up. As I do most days, first on the list is a run with Sasha, my beautiful blonde. We run to the local park and I let her off the leash. She's very athletic for someone who is mostly labrador (she looks like one, but is shorter, slimmer, faster and barkier) so she bounds around the place like a little racehorse chasing birds and running away from other dogs that she enjoys teasing (she knows she can get away with murder as she can outrun them all).
4.30 PM: Sasha and I arrive back from our run. I have a quick bath and then eat breakfast with Mrs. Doke. My start time varies from day to day depending on what's on. Tuesday is always centred around the 3x satellites for Super Tuesday which I grind for the t$ (if I satellite in, I snap unreg and get credited t$1050) so I aim to start at....
5.50 PM: I late reg the first few Super Tuesday 3x's and early reg all the others, along with some other 3x's. I also reg for all the UKIPT satellites on Stars and Full Tilt, and a couple of games on French Stars. That will fill my screens quick enough so I don't bother opening the other sites I normally play on.
9.45 PM: I'm feeling unusually tilted. The evening session has not gone well (understatement). I bricked all the 3x satellites except for a couple that are still going, and everything else for that matter. I have a stack in one 3x with 4 left (2 seats) and it's touch and go as to whether it will end before Super Tuesday starts at 10. So I'm sweating on two fronts: getting one of the 2 seats on offer, and getting it on time to unreg.
9.59 PM: Now resigned to being thrown into Super Tuesday if I do win a seat as the satellite is still four handed. Also lost a UKIPT 3x headsup to my good friend Jamie Burland so I vent a little steam on Twitter (not directed at Jamie obviously, who played brilliantly as ever) and Skype to the Firm lads. They do what they always do: ignore me. Except for Smidge who is always good for a ul at the very least.
10.04 PM: The satellite ends and I'm thrown into Super Tuesday. I'm three tabling and feeling tired and a bit tilted so I decide not to reg anything else. Some days you just have to accept it's not your day and unless I cash Super Tuesday or bink one of the 2 remaining 3x sats I have on screen, I'm looking at a four figure losing day (which is rare in my world outside of Sundays). Normally I sell for Super Tuesday but at this late stage it's messy and a hassle to start chasing my usual supporters to see if they want a piece, and none of them appear to be on Skype, so I decide to let it ride.
10.33 PM: I brick the other 2 sats so I shift Super Tuesday to my laptop and go next door to eat with Mrs. Doke. She's surprised to see me this early. My normal routine is to keep regging til 11 or 11.30ish, and around midnight switch everything to the laptop and go eat dinner. We watch a few episodes of The Daily Show while I mostly click the Fold button. My table is pretty tough, I have a lot of players tagged as beasts, so I stick to my default strategy in situations like this of playing tight. That also has the advantage of requiring very little brain power.
1 AM: Mrs Doke heads up to bed. She asks me if I'm doing a night session (I mentally split my working day into two: the evening session which I allow to start decaying at 11 or 11.30 usually but continues til I bust everything and sometimes runs into the night session when I start regging again some time between 1 and 2 AM, and keep regging until around 4 AM). I tell her there will be no night session tonight, as I'm tired (after a long Sunday and Monday), somewhat tilted, and heading to Galway in the afternoon for the UKIPT, so as soon as I bust my last game, I will be up. I move back to my grind room, switch back to the desktop, and turn on the TV. For the next hour or so, the TV gets most of my attention. I have a sub 20 big blind stack so will for the most part be either shoving or (mostly) folding. I don't really feel the need to pay attention to the hands I'm not in as my HUD stats will give me a much better idea of people's opening and calling ranges.
1.45 AM: Still in, and now we are near enough to the bubble I can start to get a bit excited about cashing. The min cash will basically get me out for the day which feels like it would be a decent result after such a bad evening session. I've cashed 3 of the last 4 times I've played so I'm pretty optimistic. I turn off the TV to give the game my full attention. Still have a pretty boring stack, but I note that I've been on this table for quite some time now, and haven't played ever before with several of these players, so they will perceive me as very tight. I therefore feel that despite my stack it could be profitable to start opening way wider than normal, so I do that. It works really well for a while and I chip up to over 30 bigs with no resistance by picking the right blinds to target (guys I haven't played with before so I know they have no stats on me, and who's OPR suggests are seeing the bubble and min cash as a very big deal).
2.12 AM: I open 77 from the cutoff and one of the best players in the world p0cket00 reshoves 23 bigs from the small blind. Normally I'm not calling off 23 bigs with a medium pair but after some thought I decide to call. I think he induces with most of his bigger pairs and I think he is reacting to my recent gear change (and possibly he has HUD stats on me from previous times we have played) so I think 77 is well ahead of the range. He can have smaller pairs or Ax hands where x < 8, but I expect to be flipping most of the time. In this situation, I don't mind taking a flip as if I win it I will be chipleader at the table and can really pound the bubble and build a stack that gives me a real shot at final tabling. As it happens, he has KJo and rivers me, but I'm happy with the call if not the result.
2.25 AM: Despite the setback, we are now within a few of the bubble and I have continued to prosper by opening a lot of pots. p0cket00 has just been coolered and is back to a reshoving stack so when I open 88 (the best hand I've had in ages) from early position, I already know I'm snap calling if he shoves. He does, I do, and this time I hold, eliminating the strongest player on the table near the bubble. Happy days as I'm now 20/75 and hoping the bubble (72 are getting paid) will go on a while so I can keep the pressure up.
2.47 AM: The bubble burst a while ago so I tightened up as the shorter stacks who folded into the money are much happier to gamble now. It's folded to me on the button and not having opened for a while, I decide to open Q9o, a decent well above average hand, knowing that if the 12 bb stack in the big blind shoves I have to call (if the much bigger stack in the small blind expresses an interest, I'm folding). He does, so I call, hoping to be flipping again but knowing that even if I'm not, I always have the correct price to call unless I am dominated. Unfortunately I am. Fortunately I suck out. By now my rail has grown and there is some banter about how Doke always seems to get there.
2.55 AM: I'm 19/47 now and my ambitions have risen a bit beyond getting out for the day. The plan at this point is to play pretty loose but not as loose as I did on the bubble, and try to pick good spots.
2.57 AM: My friend Max Heinzelmann (EPT player of the year 2 years ago) joins the rail and says he hopes I didn't sell any and have all my own action. Max is one of my biggest supporters and has bought in the past whenever I sold for this or live events like the WSOP. I tell him I have it all as it was too late to sell. Max is probably the best player I know, and also one of the sweetest guys.
3.12 AM: My rail is joined by one of Ireland's best online players, Dan "danloulou" Smyth. Dan more or less bubbled the sat that I got in thru, but he's a generous guy who likes to see his friends do well. I'm also chatting with my daughter Fiona who is in Santa Cruz for the summer. I mention I'm one tabling but don't tell her what.
3.57 AM: A difficult hour and I haven't been able to add to my stack much. They are dropping like flies so now I'm 20/26. It's time to get busy again.
4.49 AM: I'm still hanging in there and the rail is getting bigger and bigger, with more people popping up on Facebook, Twitter and Skype to wish me luck. Jason wakes up in Australia and immediately joins the rail. I'm also joined by Sasha, who sleeps in the next room but usually comes to see me around this time. Most nights she just gets a quick pat, but because I'm only one tabling she's pretty thrilled that I am willing to tickle and wrestle with her for a while.
4.56 AM: We are down to two tables and I'm now 15/18. I have a quick look at the payouts to see where the big ICM inflection points are. I note in passing that 6th place would be my biggest ever online score (I got 25k for winning the Bodog major a few years ago, and the same when I won the Merge major). Dan and Jason are in my ear constantly pointing out that even though I am one of the shorter stacks I don't need to force the pace as the structure is still very good. Normally I play 20 bigs and less very loose taking any plus Ev spot, but I agree with their view that in a structure like this you can pass some of the marginal ones and be a bit more patient.
5.29 AM: I call a shove from a player my rail is telling me is Moorman's girlfriend. She has the kind of spanners Moorman would have in that spot and I hold. I now have a good stack again and can start to apply some pressure in the run up to the final table. My rail is growing and my close friend Padraig "Smidge" O'Neill appears on Skype to tell me he is railing on his iPhone at a cash table in Galway, and isn't alone. Chris Dowling at the same table is doing likewise, and I'm getting tweets from him and others in Galway like Jamie Burland, Kevin Williams, Glenn Ross Keogh and Patrick Griffin to name but a few.
5:53 AM: I continue to apply the pressure and build a top 5 stack until I lose a sick one to Toby Lewis. He threebets me from the small blind. I suspect he could be light (he is naturally loose, and would have picked up that I'm opening much wider recently). As it happens, I have a hand (AQ) so folding is not an option. I elect to smooth call, disguising the strength of my hand, controlling the size of the pot and also because while my hand is well ahead of his 3 betting range in this spot, it's not in great shape against his continuing range. If I 4 bet and get 5 bet shoved on, I'm in a pretty awful spot, so I just call. The flop is Q9x with two diamonds and he fires a continuation bet. I'm pretty sure I have the best hand at this point (it's a cooler if I don't) but I'm uncertain whether I should raise or just flat again. Flatting keeps the pot small for now, and invites him to keep betting the bluff part of his range, but there are a lot of scare cards that can hit the turn (any diamond, any card between an 8 and a king) that leave me in a tough spot if he barrels the turn, so after a long tank I raise, thinking he might shove draws or worse one pair hands. He thinks for a while and flat calls. A 9 hits the turn and after he checks I again have a decision. Do I check behind and risk letting a draw get there (or get bluffed off the best hand if an obvious one does and he shoves river) but possibly encourage him to bluff his missed draws, or do I protect what I believe to be the best hand (I can't see too many nines in his range)? Eventually I decide to shove for just over pot, and he snaps with K9. I'm feeling pretty sick and unsure about how I played the hand but Jason is straight in to tell me I played it fine and just got unlucky. Toby gracefully says something along the lines of "gross, ul" in the chatbox. After the dust has cleared, I'm crippled, 10/10, and a short priced favourite to bubble the final table. Sasha who was already becoming increasingly annoyed at the diminished attention and tickling as the tension mounted immediately realizes something very bad just happened and decides to return to her bed next door.
6.01 AM: I get a couple of shoves through and then get lucky. When you shove a hand like A6o you really don't like the snap call as it generally means you are playing one card. In this case it's the ace as I have been called by 66, so I have just over 30%. My opponent holds til the river but then a rather beautiful ace appears. Chris Dowling snap tweets Ace ball!!!!! and I am now very much back in the hunt.
6.12 AM: I chip up a bit more on the final table bubble, but then I lose KK v A4 all in pre to hit the final table the shortest 9/9. I still have a workable stack though and several others don't have much more than me, so the plan is not to force the pace. However...
6.15 AM: I pick up a hand I can't get away from, jacks, in early early position. I have 20 big blinds and two choices: just open jam and try to avoid a race, or induce (min raise with the intention of calling a shove). If ICM was bigger at this point I would just open jam, but as the shortest stack at a tough table (there are only two obvious spots of value), I'm quite happy to take a small edge at this point in the form of a race. Although JJ v AQ is often referred to as a coin flip (implying it's 50/50), jacks is actually a pretty solid favourite (almost 57%) so when I do get it in versus the small blind's AQ, I'm not unhappy. I'm even happier when I hold.
6.55 PM: I'm pretty card dead for most of the final table and in ICM misery for a lot of it (overwhelming chipleader and a lot of even stacks) so I stick to a strategy very similar to one I used in my 9 man sit n go days of tight early intending to loosen up when it goes short handed. There are a few spots I was asked about by my Firm teammates when they watched it on the replayer most of which came down to me passing on marginal edges or taking low variance lines due to the ICM considerations. The closest ones were:
Hand 1: I just open folded KJo in the kidnap (seat before hijack). I would normally open this (at some tables I would open a hand as weak as QJo from any position) but at this table I didn't think it would take the blinds often enough to compensate for the times I get flatted and have to play a hand as mucky and easily dominated as KJo, or get threebet and have to fold (with the situation and dynamic I wasn't willing to 4 bet light with this hand).
Hand 2: Five hand I just folded KQo on the button after an open and a flat. I felt this was a profitable reshove spot, but not very profitable, and I felt it wasn't getting through very often so basically I'd usually be flipping in a spot where my ICM was big. In most online tourneys I would unquestionably and unthinkingly go with this, but in this structure with two players whose online records showed they were big losing players (I had OPRed and PTRed everyone left at this point to get an idea of their lifetime records) I didn't mind passing a marginal spot.
Hand 3: I called a min raise from the big blind after the button flatted with 44, effectively set mining with a pretty shallow stack. My thinking here was that while I could shove and probably end up racing against one of them (in actual fact the opener had tens), flatting was much lower variance, as I could fold most flops where I don't spike a set, but felt I would get paid off if I got lucky. Because of the raise size I only need one bet after the flop to get the right price to set mine, and because of the post flop tendencies of the other two players (the two players with lifetime losing records left in), I felt I would nearly always get at least one bet paid off, and would often get the full double up. As it happens, I flopped bottom set on a jack high board, the button did bet when checked to, and reluctantly called my river shove with KJo on a JT4Ax board.
Hand 4: I folded A3s over a loose button raiser with a reshove stack. This was all ICM as there was one very short stack still in. I would probably have gone with A5s but A3s just seemed too weak. While it's well ahead of the button opener's range, it's crushed by his calling range (I will usually be playing one card again).
7.15 AM: The rail continues to grow and become more international (Alex Lemme pops up on Twitter, and Marco Drafehn tweets that he is getting odd looks from his co-workers as he fistpumps while looking at his iPhone) as the battle continues. For most of the rest of the tournament I am the short stack. My read is it's unlikely a deal will be agreed by the other two winning players (who have most of the chips) as long as the two lifetime losing players remain. One of them limp and check folds his way out of the tournament and we are now 4 handed. The other covers me easily so I'm short priced favourite to be fourth which at least reduces my ICM considerations and means I can go for any spot I recognise as profitable.
7.34 AM: I shove 88 over the serial button raiser. This time he has a hand that can call (the replayer later reveals he folded 44 to an earlier reshove). I hold versus his AJ and now I'm back in it. David and Saron Skype call me (they obviously kissed and made up and decided the vegetarian and the foie gras addict can be friends).
7.49 AM: I go into the tank after opening 99 and getting 3 bet from the small blind by the sole lifetime losing player remaining. I eventually 4 bet jam and get it through (I later find out on the replayer he had KQo so I avoided a race).
7.50 AM: I cold 4 bet kings from the big blind and get it through. I'm now up to 2/4
7.52 AM: The sole remaining losing player is crippled after he reshoves KTo into aces. He busts next hand.
7.54 AM: Two hands into the three handed, chipleader JWPRODIGY suggests looking at the numbers for a deal. Everyone agrees to have a look. David is off scrutinising our records and how mine will appear to them, and his assessment is while dealing makes sense for me, it does for them too. Our lifetime winnings on Stars are all similar, but David points out that I've done it over less games and have the highest ROI so he feels the two guys will be happy to deal. Both of the others have played the final table very well so I'm happy to do a deal at this point so long as I get my full equity. The initial chipcount deal proposed doesn't do that, giving me just under $82k, so I insist on an ICM deal. David advises me on the wording (I can be a little blunt in these spots) as I stick to my guns after both the others suggest they need a few K extra to agree. Eventually the deal is agreed and we play on for $6k. I get headsup with JWPRODIGY only to get coolered 7h7x v AhAx on a 6 high all heart flop.
I spend most of the next hour in a post "I just won 85 grand" euphoria while chatting to my rail and thanking the gl and wd messages. It feels pretty special to see just how many people seem genuinely thrilled for me. David and Saron clearly are and if anything are more emotional about the whole thing than I am, and for the next few days I'm very touched when guys like Chris Dowling and Jesse May are telling me how happy it made them. Jesse said "I was really happy when I heard, I'm not sure why" and my German pal Max Heinzelmann said he could think of few people he would be happier for.
Fiona pops back on and asks how my table finished. I tell her what I just won. Her reaction is succinct.
8.50 AM: I hear movement upstairs so it sounds like Mrs Doke just woke up. I go up and she asks why I never came to bed.
"I cashed in that tournament. It just finished"
She looks at me a bit confused as to why I seem pretty pleased with myself.
"85 hundred. Wow! Great!"
"No. 85 grand"
Good enough for a squeal it seems. After said squeal though, her face suddenly looks slightly disppointed, and she says
"But it's only dollars, right?"