Press pause, by John Duthie
I've had a fairly hectic couple of weeks traveling around the globe; part pleasure, part business.
I arrived back on Wednesday last week from a family holiday to India having flown London-Delhi, Delhi-Calcutta, Calcutta-Bagdogra, Bagdogra-Delhi then Delhi-London. It was an amazing trip and if you've never been to India try to set aside a week or two in your poker schedules and give it a go, it's a real eye-opener.
Having got home I had to quickly get a Russian visa as I'd been invited by the Association for Protection of Rights and Interests of Poker Enthusiasts to attend a conference they were having in St Petersburg on Saturday and give a speech lending my support to their cause.
Some of you will be aware that in August this year we had to quickly relocate our EPT event in Moscow to Kyiv because poker was removed from the list of recognized sports in Russia. As the casinos had all been closed in July there was nowhere to hold the event. Currently Russian Poker players have nowhere to play poker on their home soil which is a sad state of affairs especially when you consider the number of excellent players that have been making such an impact on the International poker circuit over the last few years. They seem to have put together a very strong lobby and hopefully the authorities there will see sense and allow some dedicated poker clubs to re-open.
I arrived back on Monday and flew to Amsterdam on Tuesday morning to play in the main event of the Master Classics of Poker on Tuesday afternoon. This has been an annual sojourn for many British players as it is one of the best run events around and always has been. Myself, Barny and Ross Boatman and Vicky Coren were due to join the usual suspects like 'The Camel' (Keith Hawkins) , The Alterman Brothers, Surindar Sunar, Ben Roberts etc. Vicky backed out at the last minute, claiming she was too busy moving flats, but we all suspect it was her usual fear of flying, especially when she realized we were coming back on Friday 13th.
The field in Amsterdam is considerably stronger than it used to be five or six years ago and the target seems to be a lot smaller! I always have this inner sense of whether or not I'm going to do well in an event and to be honest I never really felt that bullish from the word go. I was pretty patient for about two and a half 90 min levels and then, as is my nature, decided to get busy and try to accumulate some chips. Accumulation turned to annihilation and I ended up sitting in a 10-20 PLO game shortly after the dinner break.
I managed to turn 2K into 10K and then quit for the night having won back my buy-in to the tournament and made a couple of grand extra. The line-up in the 5K PLO game the following day didn't look all that attractive, but I like a challenge so decided to risk the previous day's profit against the following: Theo Jorgensen, Mads Anderson, Thomas Pichon, John Kabbaj, Euan O'Dea, Martin Vallo, Jan Sorensen and a couple of others.
Now these guys are no slouches when it comes to PLO and I was going to have to be pretty careful disguising my hands and watching my positional play because they are all capable post-flop players and can sense weakness like no others. After about six hours I'd built my stack up to 30K and was considering calling it a day when I flopped top set of kings on a K-2-7 board with two clubs. I had no clubs in my hand. Now Jan Sorensen had raised pre-flop and when he called my check-raise on that board I figured he had A,A, x, x, min, with the nut flush draw or possibly even the case K to go with it. OK so now an off-suit A comes on the turn and this is a big scare card for me. I check and he bets about 5K into the 8K pot. Not being a good enough player to lay this down and wait for better situations, I call this bet. The ace pairs on the river and I have to fold to his 12K bet and then proceeded to steam off the rest of my stack in other appallingly played hands because I have this very bad habit of tilting when I lose a big pot.
Sometimes I wish I could learn to take a walk and regroup instead of throwing my toys (and money) out of the pram, but whilst I recognize that this is one of the biggest weaknesses in my game I just don't seem to be able to do anything about it. Maybe meditation would help I don't know.
I ended the trip to Amsterdam in a very friendly 5-5 NLH game and made about a 1.5K profit, which put me at 500 Euro down from the previous day. Not a complete disaster, but having been 28k up at one point, not the result I was hoping for.
Now I've arrived home and am looking forward to the Sunday Million on PokerStars this weekend. Maybe one day I'll find that 'Pause' button.