Monday, March 12, 2018

Comfort food in London

A fellow pro once asked me what my strategy was for dealing with serious tilt at the table. My answer was that I tried to figure out exactly what kind of mistake it would cause my opponent to make. When he clarified that he meant when I tilted, I said I had no strategy as I never seriously tilt at the table. I do however almost always seriously tilt as soon as I stand up from the table after busting. For the next 12 minutes, my mind is not a good place to be.

I guess I could invest some time effort and money into this, but if I'm honest I don't really see the point. I can't really do myself any damage in a tournament after I've already busted it, so I'm quite happy to write those 12 minutes off to antisocial grumpiness. I have however developed a strategy to ensure others don't have to endure my nonsense in those 12 minutes before I become a rational human being again. That strategy is to stand up, wish everyone good luck, and depart the scene room and building as fast as my 52 year old legs can carry me. I'm neither gracious nor graceful in defeat, but I at least attempt not to make a total disgrace of myself.

My bustout from the Unibet Open main event in London really put this to the test. It came at the end of one of those day 1s where almost nothing goes right. I posted a couple of the more interesting hands on ShareMyPair and I did get up to about 40k from exactly 30k starting stack early on, but then barely won another pot, meaning I went to dinner knowing I'd be coming back to 24 big blinds.

The restaurant in what used to be the Vic (now rebranded as The Poker Room) is unusually good by casino standards, but unfortunately my main course arrived just before we were due back at the table. So I carried it back and ate it quickly at the table. As I finished it, I heard my dessert arrive in the restaurant, and Simon Steedman kindly passed it out to me. Before I could even start eating it, I had picked up an ace and a king, after a player opening very wide had opened. So I pushed all my chips in and immediately started eating my tiramisu. When I got snap called I figured I wasn't in good shape, and wasn't. I failed to outdraw my opponents aces: I was dead by the turn and only two spoonfuls into my dessert. So I continued shovelling as fast as I could as the dealer called player gone ("But I'm still here") and the other players at the table talked about how unlucky that guy was to run into aces in his very first shove.

At the very least it was an interesting experiment to see how much of a comfort tiramisu is in such circumstances. The answer? A little at least, but not a lot.

Back home

Although I really enjoyed the Unibet Open in London, I couldn't wait to get home, because Unibet are finally licensed in Ireland. So the first thing I did when I got home was download the client and sign up.

Photograph by Tambet Kask

I'd obviously seen it on the Twitch streams of David Lappin, Ian Simpson, Espen Jorstad and David Vanderheyden, but my first big surprise was how aesthetically pleasing the interface is. Most poker clients looked like they were designed by a sadist who likes the same garish colours and raucous sounds that fast food restaurants use to draw you in then drive you away pretty quickly once you've eaten your slop. The Unibet interface reminds me more of a plush tastefully decorated restaurant with soft music and lights and a cultured attentive waiter. This might seem an odd thing to focus on but when you are spending a significant amount of your time playing poker at a site, it's a real plus if it's a pleasant experience. I wish the other sites I play on would take a leaf out of their book, stop with the loud unpleasant beeps and ugly screen designs and try to make their sites more pleasant to play on.

I'm also relieved that I don't keep having to have the same conversation over and over I've been having with Irish players since I signed as brand ambassador with Unibet.

"I can't seem to play on the site"
"They don't have an Irish license so you can't"
"What? Then why do they have an Irish ambassador?"
"Ummmm... They actually have two"
"Oh right, I forgot Ian Simpson"
"Simpson isn't Irish. He just turns up once a year at the Irish Open to drain the economy. I meant Lappin. But he lives in Malta now"

So I've really been enjoying finally playing on the site. It's also good timing with the UOS mtt series currently going on, with some great added money in leaderboard promotions. There's going to be four of these a year after each Unibet Open. There's also some great promotions coming this summer centred around the World Cup. For now I feel a bit newbish: will take me a while to get used to playing with no HUD and to pick up on population tendencies (I give my initial thoughts in these in the strategy segment of the latest Chip Race episode).

Another clear differentiator between Unibet and the other sites I play is recreational players are protected from pros (like me) who use HUDs to track and exploit their tendencies. Bad for me, but good for the recreational players who play on Unibet. Their ethos is very much to level the playing field as much as possible: cash game seating is also optimised to protect recreationals. And if you're still worried you can set up to five different aliases to protect yourself.

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