Staying at the party
So, the blinds were 6k/12k, and I had about 300k in late position. I was on the button and Josh Hart raised to 25k, as he'd done the prior two hands. I looked down and (ding!) AK. I promptly shipped in my 25 blinds. It folded back around to Josh, who snap called with pocket queens. The board ran out nothing interesting and that was it.
I was out of the UKIPT Isle of Man main event, and man was I disappointed.
Now, don't get me wrong. I had just busted out 14th out of 402 runners for £4100. My 22 held up versus QQ for all my chips on day 1, my 44 held up versus pocket rockets late on day 2 for all my chips, and I avoided an A8 sucking out on my A3 for most of my chips early in day 3. In short, it was about time for a pair to catch up with my overcards1.
And here's the thing - it's not that I really wanted more money. I'm never going to turn down four thousand pounds, but it wasn't life changing money. I was disappointed because I had to leave the party.
See, if most of us are completely honest, poker tournaments are not really about the money. I mean, if you seriously expect to make final table money when you enter a large poker tournament, well, I would like some of whatever you're drinking. Even those of us who fancy our chances ("I have £1000 equity for my £770 buy-in") better not do any calculations of what hourly rate that works out to be.
So really, it's all about the party, isn't it?
I've only played two UKIPT events, and they've both been incredibly fun. At every table here in the Isle of Man, we had interesting people who had great stories. We told jokes and laughed. Of course we were taking the poker seriously - there was £65,000 for the eventual winner - but it seems that most of the people I played with knew that they had to get value on the way. I had the fortune/misfortune of having Gary Whipp from Jersey (the original Jersey) on my immediate left for most of Day 1. He has approximately a zillion tales, and I loved hearing every one2. I say "unfortunately" only because he was an active and tricky player - having him on my immediate left was no fun (from a poker perspective).
I got to meet poker players from all over, and even sit at the same table with Vicky Coren for the first time (an honor not to be missed). Then I got to sit at a table with Fatima de Melo, which was equally joyous. And yes, it was I who knocked her out, calling with A3 on the big blind when she shipped 8-10 blinds from the button. Yes, I binked a three on the river to bust her, and I knew immediately that the entire Internet would hate me. But weirdly, I was kinda bummed myself. See, I would have still had (a few) chips if she'd won (as she should have), but Fatima would have still been at the table, being herself and livening up the whole scene. As I tweeted at the time, never have I been so ambivalent about busting an opponent.
Though once again Fatima showed enormous grace by tweeting that my call had been "standard."
I mean, who wants to be the guy who made the life of the party leave?
And then I got invited to a special room at the party, simply by virtue of sticking around long enough. At this room, they have lights and cameras and microphones and they broadcast your table on the Internet. What's more fun than a party if not a party that's being webcast?
So when my AK failed to out-race QQ (yes, at the feature table), I was bummed. Everybody else got to stay at the party and I had to leave. But still, I wouldn't have missed this party for anything - it was awesome.
All I can say is, the next time the United Kingdom & Ireland Party Time comes near you, get a ticket. It's a glorious time and oh, you can actually win money, too.
Yes, I know. That last paragraph was all pure tongue-in-cheek. I was joking, son.
22> We had played together at Blackpool a couple of years ago. Be sure to ask him about the story involving the cowboy hat and the University of Tennessee women's basketball team.
Lee Jones is the Head of Poker Communications at PokerStars. He first joined the company in 2003 and has been involved in the professional poker industry for over 25 years. You can read his occasional tweets at @leehjones.