Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Corona streets

I started as an online player. I segued into playing some live very early in my career: initially a day or two a week in the Fitz, gradually becoming a weekend or two away at a festival. But even if I’ve cashed more tournaments live than any other Irish player ever I have continued to see myself as primarily an online player. As I noted recently on this blog, content creation and coaching have become a big part of what I do in the last couple of years, but I still see those as the sidelines and online poker as the main event. Live poker, apart from a couple of major excursions a year to the WSOP and the Aussie Millions, is supposed to be a diversion.

I therefore tend to get a bit anxious when I’m facing into a major live period stretching into several weeks. So it was a bit of trepidation that I faced the 17 day Dublin super festival incorporating ACOP, the European Deepstack and Unibet Open Dublin.

I guess I’ve gotten better at sneaking hours and days off when I can and pacing myself in general because I got through it a lot more easily than I have in the past. It probably helped that I felt I was playing well and running ok allowing me to notch up four final tables, and six cashes over the festival. I got a bit of a run going in the tournament I always seem to do well in, the European Deepstack, nursing a tiny stack through the bubble before finally busting in 27th. My main memory from that event now is being on a really fun feature table with Andy Black, Michael O'Dwyer, Tom Gallagher, Mark Buckley and eventual champ Stephen Kehoe. It was my first time playing with Stephen and I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve been as impressed with someone new’s table presence, composure and technique (I might have to go all the way back to the first time I played with a sullen kid from Sligo by way of London called Daragh Davey). Stephen ended up being the second champion to have grown up in Enniscorthy. Special shoutout to another form horse on this particular course, Jason Tompkins, who became the first player to final table three times (in three different decades!). Jason got himself into a five way chop before getting unlucky to bust in his trademark fifth. He also almost added a second final table when he came tenth in the Unibet Open main event.

Before the Unibet Open, Unibet put on a special Battle Royale invitational sit and go for the ambassadors and very special guests Victor Blom and Dehlia de Jong. I ended up bubbling and Victor ended up taking the event down after my 88 failed to hold versus his T4o on the bubble for most of the chips in play. Well done to Davitsche also who took the runner up spot. We had a bit of banter about a slightly light call off he made with Q4s against me but it was all in good fun. Lappin and I were hoping to pin Blom down for a Chip Race interview but he remains as elusive as Garbo on that stuff and we had to settle for a long chat in the bar with some interesting revelations we will have to keep to ourselves since they were clearly off the cuff and the record. So for now Viktor remains top of our guest wish list.

I also have happy memories of commentating on the Deepstack with David Lappin and the Tower. No joy in the Unibet Open main event though, when I bust early day 2. Frankly the highlight of that day was a Twitter DM exchange with Firaldo who was struggling in an unwell state:

He did eventually manage to not only make an appearance (when he did and was asked by the dealer for ID he reportedly responded “You don’t seriously think anyone would try to steal the identity of someone who looks like me, do you?”) but almost final tabled. Shoutout to my friend Jamie Nixon who did manage to final table.

One more shoutout to my fellow a Unibet ambassador Monica who crushed at the tables (she took down the Ladies event) and impressed everyone away from them. The first person eliminated from the main event told me how happy he was that she took the time to commiserate with him, and many other Irish players told me how much fun the little Norwegian girl was at the tables, happily interacting with everyone, an ambassador not just for ladies or Norwegians but for everyone.

Overall, the event was a lot of fun, made more so by the number of foreign friends who braved the Coronavirus to travel. Numbers were undoubtedly affected by the outbreak, but hopefully we will be able to get Unibet Open back to Dublin in the next year or two in more clement conditions.

After a couple of days off at home it was off to London for the first UKPT of the year with Lappin. The event in Aspers was a massive success, smashing the guarantee and the previous attendance record for a UKPT with several hundred to spare. Shoutout to the tireless Kasia who was a one woman show for Unibet at the event. .

My Corona......virus take

A lot of people have been asking me for my take on the Coronavirus scare and it’s likely effect on live poker events. It was notable how many people were washing and sanitising their hands in the Bonnington, and I joked to a Lappin that we might end up with a lot less people getting sick at the end of the festival than normal. Poker tournaments are giant Petrie dishes of shared cards and chips making it very difficult to dodge any bugs or flus doing the rounds. Joking or not, this was one of the few major festivals I managed to escape from without picking up something (then again, that might be just because new Daddy Ian Simpson wasn’t in attendance. Poker’s germiest ambassador has picked up pretty much every bug ever and a couple of nicknames from my friend Lara: Geordiebola and Poker’s Patient Zero). It may be this new obsession with hand hygiene will be a very good thing in the long run.

Initially I underestimated the gravity of the situation and assumed most big events would go ahead albeit with diminished numbers. Now it looks like no live poker for the next few months and the WSOP must be in serious doubt. While I personally am quite looking forward to an enforced spell at home grinding online (and the games are juicier than they have been in years), creating content and coaching, I do feel for everyone affected by the moratorium and missing live poker, especially dealers and other live events staff.

David has written an excellent blog with practical suggestions on how to get through this difficult period, and details of the online Unibet Open announced by our sponsors. Unibet stole a march on other sites by announcing the first such event, but since then the Irish Open has followed suit and I expect others to do likewise.

Difficult times are also times of opportunity, and the players who deal best with the changed situation and make the best use of their time in this enforced layoff will be the ones in the best position to prosper when live poker returns. I'm determined to be one of those players, and I'm heartened by how many of the students I coach are taking exactly the same attitude.

An announcement

It is with great pleasure I announce that I have extended my ambassador contract with Unibet into a fourth year. I’m very grateful to the online site I genuinely believe is both the best and the best intentioned in the business, and proud to continue representing them. My Chip Race cohost David Lappin has also signed a one year extension as a global ambassador for the brand, which is good news for fans of the podcast as it means we have committed to another 21 shows and 16 YouTube clips in the coming year. I’m also incredibly grateful to all the fans of both the podcast and the other content David and I put out, many of whom kindly took the time recently to tell us in person how much they appreciated it.

Kind words are the best reward.



Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More