Back to The Future

This Blog has a few elements to it.
It’s all for charity!
Poker room of choice
Playing like the old days!
Byron gets a mention
2015 Its all gonna change!
Charity event
Firstly I’d like to mention an up and coming charity poker event that I’m hoping to play on Tuesday 3rd December at 8.30 pm.
Graham Dockerty
I say hoping as it’s during the week and I often don’t get home till gone 9.00 pm these days and I would really struggle to have a late night as I’m up at 5.30 am most days.
However if I don’t manage to play at all, I plan on at least donating the buy-in to the event. (I’ve donated plenty of buy-ins over the years so I may as well do it for a good cause this time)
The event has been arranged by Graham Dockerty in aid of cancer research. The event is being held at the G Casino in Coventry (Ricoh), where many of the locals know Graham and are well aware of his fight against the big C.
I don’t really need to publicise this event as I’m sure it will be a sell-out but for those of you who can’t attend could I ask you to visit Grahams “Just Giving” page and make a donation?
You should check out Grahams one and only blog post here.
I’ve written dozens of posts and many thousands of words on my blog over the last few years and it doesn’t add up to this one post. I recommend your read it if you haven’t already.
I’m sure it will be a fun night so I really intend making a big effort to play it. There will be a raffle as lots of prizes have been donated and I’m sure there will be bounties on certain player heads so it will be a great night.
Poker room of choice
This may well be my last blog post for a while. I started writing this one weeks ago and due to the ridiculously long hours I’ve been working I’ve only just got around to finishing it.
In fact it’s taken so long that some of it I’ve had to change a couple of times because events have made it inaccurate. I wrote originally about some disastrous things a couple of casinos have tried on their schedules. However they were so bad and my post has taken so long to write that they have had chance to realise their mistakes and change them back again before I even had chance to tell them how bad it was!
My Casino Of Choice?
“You pays your money and you makes your choice.” That was supposedly Barry Normans catchphrase though it may just have been his Spitting Image puppet that said that. (Google him if you’re under 25)
Anyway there has been much discussion of late on the Midlands poker scene as to which venue people prefer to play at.
Although I have venues I prefer over others, I do things slightly differently to a lot of players. I don’t actually pick a venue, I generally choose the tournament I want to play and then go to the casino that it’s on at. I have an advantage in that I live an almost equal distance (time wise) from several good Midlands Casinos.
There are a great many factors that enable me to come to my decision and how much I like a venue and the people in it is certainly an important factor, but not the most important one.
I recently went to the G Walsall which I don’t like very much at all these days because the comp looked good. If I was prepared to put up with the way that place is being run then I can pretty much stand anything if the comp is good enough.
I used to like the G Walsall and was a regular about 10 years ago prior to the Broadway opening. I used to run well at Walsall and had one of my biggest ever cashes there when I chopped a £100 re-buy event.
The last time I went (28th Sept 2013) was for their monthly £50 comp which was well structured with a decent guarantee etc. It was one of the softest £50 comps I’ve played for a long while but I didn’t really enjoy it. Some of the players were using dreadful language at the top of their voices and not just towards players on their own table but shouting across the poker room.
The sexist comments directed at some of the female players/dealers/valets were outrageous and made me think I’d revisited the 1970’s.
When you have a player sat at the table who thinks he can get away with shouting out stuff at the top of his voice you know the lunatics are running the asylum. The supervisors and staff certainly weren’t running it.
So which live tournament to play?
The choice is almost endless these days. With so many poker rooms in the Midlands there has never been so much choice. Gone are the days when card rooms could serve up any old shit and expect poker players to eat it up gratefully. If you look on the Midlands Poker Forum (MPF) there are 17 card-rooms listed which is a hell of a choice.
There has been a fair amount of discussion of late on the “MPF” and Twitter etc by ex G Coventry regulars who now for one reason or another prefer to visit the Grosvenor Casino Birmingham Hill Street. (Ex-Gala)
I can see their argument(s) and for the most part they have some valid points but in my view it isn’t that simple. The thing is, as the saying goes you cannot compare “Apples and Oranges”. The two casinos are vastly different and cater for a different clientele.
The Gala will (for the foreseeable future) always have more runners than the G Coventry. That’s just a fact of life due to where they are located. They both have “Die Hards” the 4 or 5 nights a week players and they both have “regulars” the once a week merchants. But if you look at the Gala they have a real strong hard core of players that can virtually guarantee you 50 runners before any casual “once a month” player decides to turn up.
Also just look at the average spend in the two casinos at the gaming tables. By dividing the take by the numbers through the door the Gala average spend per head is £100 where the G Cov is about £30. So that also shows you that gala just has punters with more money to spend.

Guarantees are a big factor for me and most other players but there is a danger that these will end up sending some card rooms to the wall.
Recently the Gala has increased all its guarantees and the G Cov has reduced theirs. That’s no big surprise and I fully support G Cov in reducing theirs. In my view a small guarantee is an awful lot better than none at all.  Let’s be fair it’s a business it can’t just keep throwing money down the drain. If they didn’t reduce them they would just end up stopping them all together and that really would be a disaster.
I believe that now the Gala has limited itself to a max of 1 re-entry it will struggle to make its guarantees so easily. They have many players there who wouldn’t hesitate to re-enter 5 or 6 times if allowed to. I realise that the decision to stop multi re-entry is a nationally taken one by the whole Grosvenor group not by Jon Baker. That’s the trouble with big companies they often insist on uniformity and these blanket decisions although generally good work against this particular venue.
Once I went on a Wednesday (£20 comp) and I saw a guy I knew. He said to me “I went to the Broadway but didn’t realise it was their monthly £100 comp. I don’t want to spend that much so I thought I’d come here instead” He entered the comp (£20 + £5) and then re-entered 9 times for a total spend of £250.
Now with the new rules that person regularly enters, re-enters and busts again within 2 levels and then heads off to the Broadway to play their comp! That’s not good for the Gala. Ideally you want the players to bust when it’s too late to go anywhere else so they stay and play cash in your casino not someone else’s.
Personally I like the max 1 re-entry rule as it stops people from saying “fuck it I’ll re-enter” and then throwing their chips in with any old shit. I prefer the Freeze-out element of the game where I can put them under pressure for their tournament life. Which is way more valuable to them than £20 -£40 for a re-entry. People with deep pockets always have an advantage in unlimited re-buy/re-entry tournaments.
I know they are often just dead money and are bloating the prize-pool but they always seem to get lucky against me. So personally I like the limit on re-entries but I’m not the typical Gala player and it’s them the management needs to consider not me. I think on the whole the average punter there will not like the new rule. I wonder if the Gala will be allowed by Head Office to change that rule back?
In truth the G Cov is not in competition with the Gala it’s just trying to outperform the Genting Coventry. Could they ever “outnumber” the Gala on a regular basis? Well yes of course it could but it would take some time, brains, effort and some careful planning.
Firstly let’s remember what the G Cov does well.
The Goliath is probably the best live £100 comp in the world.
Also the Titan monthly comp is an absolutely fantastic £50 comp. Played over 2 day 1’s (Fri & Sat evening) with a final day 2 on the Sunday (afternoon). Outside of Dusk Till Dawn I don’t know any other UK card room that has attempted anything like this for such a low buy in event. To get the chance to play some real poker with a 40 minute clock & virtually the GUKPT blind level structure plus a 20k starting stack should be praised and supported. I was thrilled that the last one broke the guarantee after failing to do so in the first two times it ran. It should now become a regular monthly event.
Getting back to the Apples and Oranges theme, this structure wouldn’t suit the average player at the Gala as they want a more “crash bang wallop” type of poker. The average player at the Gala hasn’t got the patience to play sensibly for 2 hours never mind 2 days!
The 3rd thing that’s really good about G Cov is the blind structures. If you ignore the clock and just look at the blind structure itself, the G Cov’s is the best in the Midlands by a country mile.
100/200 (1st break)
300/600/50 Etc
This offers so much more play at the early levels; something which I personally feel gives me a bit of an edge over the average player in a £20 -£30 comp.
If you look at the Galas normal structure it goes
So your stack has half the number of blinds after just 4 levels. Now the reality is that the Gala gets so many runners for their standard midweek comps that you couldn’t really improve the structures or the comps would never finish before 7.00am.
I’ve had very limited success at the Gala when I’ve played their standard comps in the past but my record in the monthly £50 comp is so much better. That comp starts at 5.00pm and they add in the 75/150 and the 150/300 and there are also added levels during the later stages.
The £50 monthly comp has run for the last 5 months (I think) and I’ve played 4 of them and cashed in all 4. I genuinely believe that the better structure and longer clock improve my chances of success considerably.
If it isn’t broke.
Personally I wouldn’t change anything about the Galas schedule it’s pretty much perfect for their regular clientele. Though I would allow multi re-entries. 
What about G Coventry?
There is a lot that could be improved at the G Cov though I’ll refrain from listing all my gripes on here. I like the place and I really like a lot of the staff. There are some though who for a variety of reasons are letting the side down. I won’t say who as lifes too short to make enemies needlessly IMO.
But if I was GM there for a month the staff wouldn’t know what had hit em. Seriously some of them do need a rocket up them.

Talking about good staff, I always liked the casino back in the old “Isle” days, they had some great dealers. Such a good laugh in the old poker room, though I wouldn’t have enjoyed trying to supervise these four!

Hubble Bubble Toil and Trouble
What I will comment on is when G Cov have made dramatic changes to the schedule.
To improve things I personally would just make small changes to the comps and see what that does, then tweak them again over time until you get it just right.
Take what happened to the Saturday 8.30 comp. It used to be freezeout (FO) with a 50k starting stack and a 15 minute clock. It actually got decent runners. I only played it occasionally but it always seemed to have about 50 entries.
So what small “tweak” did they make? They changed it to a re-buy with a 5k starting stack!
That comp lasted a month and now it’s been changed back to a FO with a 25k starting stack with a 20 min clock. But it has an add-on for 15k so effectively a 40k stack.
I would have changed the 50k down to 30k and upped the clock from 15 to 20 mins for a month or so to see what that did.
One change that I do dislike at G Cov is the number of comps that have an “Add-on” at the break. Other casinos are doing this more and more these days and I personally hate it. They are so scared of not making the guarantees that this is becoming more commonplace. I think it’s 6 out of 7 nights at Cov now. Star City in Brum does this for every comp now.
One of the reasons I go to Cov on a Friday so often is that it’s a relatively cheap night out for £30 (+£5) for an excellent structure. But when it becomes a £65 comp I may as well drive up to DTD and play a £100 comp. Also £65 gets a bit steep for the casual player to play in week in week out.

The last time I played on a Friday I started well and went from the 10k start up to 20k, but all that hard work went out the window when nearly all the players at my table took the add-on and I was left with no choice but to take it as well to maintain my advantage.

So the Gala is limiting it’s high spenders from spending and the G Cov is asking it’s low spending clientèle to spend double what they used to! It just doesn’t make sense to me.
Back to the Future
Another topic that’s had more comments than most on the MPF Facebook Group was the Genting Stokes decision to stop late entry to all their poker tournaments. This was like a trip down memory lane for me.
I remember the days of racing up to the Broadway about 10 years ago driving like the Stig to make sure I got in before the comp started.
Late entry for poker tournaments was a big step forward for the game. DTD, not my favourite place to play it has to be said, is responsible for so many improvements in the game over the last five years and this is certainly one of them.
Genting Stoke reversed the decision pretty quickly, I think that lasted about a week before they realised their mistake. They had so many people moaning about it on Facebook etc.
Playing like the old days!
Just a quick mention of when I played the Gala £50 comp for the 4th time. I really did want to cash so I played quite “defensive” right from the start. I played so tight in the later stages I was ashamed of myself to be honest. I’ve haven’t folded so much for years.
I wasn’t bothered about the £80 min cash but I just wanted to say I’d cashed 4/4 as I’d posted about it on Facebook before the tourney started.
I was a very short stack from about the time we were down to 30 players. I folded 99 pre fortunately as someone had JJ and I folded 44 in a spot when normally I’d have taken a flip to try and double up.
With 17 paid I was quite nervous when we got down to 20. I somehow managed to limp to min cash when I finally busted shoving my 4bb’s.
I remember when I used to play like that all the time!
Byron gets a mention
Byron Sugars

Finally he made it onto the blog, but only because of a comedy hand in the Titan last month. Normally I don’t name check people unless it’s something positive. No one has made more mistakes at the poker table over the years than I have, but I checked with Byron and he’s cool about me relaying the hand. So credit to him for that.

So the hand: Prior to the comp we were chatting and he told me about a hand recently when he folded KK face up versus huge action pre-flop and was right as his opponent had AA.

We start off at the same table for the Titan which has a 20k starting stack. I’m opening too many pots for my own good and getting 3 bet lots by Byron (with I suspect not much) a lot of the time.

So I figure I might catch him if I get a real hand. Not to long after I pick up QQ. Nick Smith opens and I 3bet. Byron 4 bets with KK (Nick folds) and I 5 bet convinced I’m ahead. I’ve left myself an amount of chips that showed I could never fold.

Byron folds the KK face up. Obviously I couldn’t resist showing my hand!

Nick posted a great tweet after the hand. 

2015, Its all gonna change!

Genting NEC

A big factor in my choice of where to play is “how long will it take me to get there?” I rarely go to DTD as it’s an hour and a quarter to an hour and a half away. I hate the drive home from any casino when I’ve busted but driving back from there just makes it seem worse.
G Cov I can do comfortably in 35 mins, Gala and Broadway should be less but the traffic is always terrible in the centre of Brum and Walsall & Star City is about 40 mins.
But from 2015 there will be a casino that will take me just 20 mins to drive to and I feel if they do it right it will suck the life out of every Midlands poker room.
When this opens it’s all going to change!
The New Luxury Genting Casino at the NEC should change the face of Midlands gambling once it opens. If they get the right card room manager (There is only 1 choice for me) then it will mean I rarely need to go anywhere else to play after it has opened.