UKIPT Isle of Man trip report
Day 1 - Arrival
On Wednesday morning I started my rather long journey from Düsseldorf to the Isle of Man, land of the PokerStars HQ. The actual flight time was no more than 2 hours on board of two small propeller-driven planes, but there was a lot of wait at London City airport in between flights.
After a total of 7 hours travel accompanied by the soothing effect of my iPad entertainment I arrived at Ronaldsway airport. I got a little bit of a Game of Thrones impression during the
landing close to the rough sea and especially after entering the airport.
I got picked up by a super friendly taxi driver who took me to Douglas where the PokerStars HQ located on a cliff overseeing the ocean and the promenade. Upon arriving there I met my Team Online mates Alex 'Kanu7' Millar, Andre 'acoimbra' Coimbra and his girlfriend, had lunch with and got shown around the office by Team Online manager Chris Jonat.
Although I can't disclose any details I can say we were all very impressed with what we saw.
Shortly after I checked into my hotel room at the Sefton which is directly located on the prom next to the site overlooking the ocean. Later that day I met up with Christin, my former PokerSchool boss, and Team Online mate 'daleroxxu' for some drinks at the Sefton bar and to register for the Main Event at the site nearby.
At night we all made our way to the location of VIP Club Live, another one of these great parties hosted by PokerStars for players, Team Pro, Team Online and staff members. Just like it was in Berlin we had free drinks, great food, music, entertainment from a magician, interesting encounters and good conversations. I met up with André aka "HoRRoR" who some of you may know as a former PokerSchool trainer and Christin invited us both to take us for a short road trip around the island the next day as we both would play the Main Event on day 1B.
Day 2 - Road trip around the island
After breakfast Christin took us for the promised trip around the southern half of the island. The weather was quite good, we had some sun and were able to get some great views from different vista points.
In the evening we had another Team Online gathering where I also met my Team Online Week Coach Isaac 'Ike' Haxton and his wife. We had pizza, great talks and a lot of fun that night. Even though I got to know so few of my Team Online mates up until now I have to say they are all super friendly and super smart people. It was a real pleasure spending time with them on the island and it is an understatement to say I feel honoured to be on a team with them.
Day 3 - Mainevent Day 1B
Shortly after breakfast I made my way to the UKIPT site Villa Marina and take my seat at table 1 of this beautiful venue.
At my table was PokerStars' own SteveD whom you may know from the 2+2 Pokercast. For the PS staff this tourney was something very special as they would not only get to play in their own home game but also showcase what they were doing to the locals. Every PS employee even had their own PS staff patch on.
During the first levels I played the tourney just like a cash game and was able to build up my stack from 20k to 30k easily as I had so much room to maneuver with the blinds so low. However I shouldn't have put too much effort into trying to bluff the wrong people at my table as I was constantly getting up to 3 streets of value even with weakish top pair type hands. In one spot which I found to be a great opportunity to make chips I tried to barrel somebody off a T♥9♥8♥4♥ board but he ended up calling me down with naked A9o.
Starting from level 5 I was back at 20k and just could not really get into the right mindset of finding good spots to make chips with shallow stacks, especially after my failed big bluff robbed me of a little confidence and credibility at the table.
A while later Leo Margets was moved to our table and I was able to pick up some money without showdown by shoving over one of her and some other people's opens. When I got down to 12 big blinds in level 8 I picked my spot to shove A♠T♠ over a loose open but got cold called by the button with TT and got no help.
Busting out of a big event obviously never feels good, but I had more than enough reasons to be happy and look forward to a couple more things.
First up was the player's party at 9PM in a club on the promenade which was held with a Halloween motto. Some people showed up in a costume including my buddy HoRRoR who went as a werwolf and there was a contest where the best one would win a tourney ticket to the Isle of Man Cup the next day. You can watch some impressions from the party here:
I met another bunch of great people at this party and it happened that I got invited to play
Magic: The Gathering by ex-magic player Quentin Martin at his house the next day. The cool thing was that, except for Dale, every Team Onliner on the island used to play Magic, and so Quentin asked all of us plus David Williams to come and play. You may realize how ecstatic we all were by looking at Mickey Petersen's reaction to the invitation: "I'm gonna try and bust quickly tomorrow so I can join you guys!".
Day 4 - Magic the Gathering and Team Online Night Out
Early in the morning at around 6AM I got thrown out of bed by a loud fire alarm. At first I
couldn't quite believe it wouldn't be some sort of test but as soon as I heard people running
downstairs I grabbed some of my stuff and went outside. Everyone including the pros were standing there, mostly freezing in their pajamas. The fire brigade came, checked everything and confirmed a false alarm so everyone could go back to sleep.
Apart from this, I would be tempted to say this day was one of the best here on the island. It threw me back 15 years in time onto the floor of somebody's flat playing Magic again. We met up at Quentin's house to play a Magic "Team Draft" with David William's "Cube". A Cube is a collection of all the most favorite Magic cards that came out over the years and to play a Draft you form teams of 3 each who get to pick from random selections out of it. It felt just like being 16 years old again, sitting on the floor, playing cards, eating ordered food and having tons of fun. My strategy didn't really work out though, I was just too inexperienced with all the new cards and concepts so that I got pretty much run over by everyone. At least I managed to win at credit card roulette and didn't have to pay for the Indian food we had ordered.
In the evening Team Online got together again at a Pub called "Bath & Bottle" for some drinks and snacks. Again I managed to dodge all outs in credit card roulette once more which makes me 2:0 for this game lifetime. Must be nice!
Day 5 & 6 - Online Grind & Flight Home
Not much happened on these days except for another official meeting at the Villa Marina together with all the Team Pros where I got to shake hands with Daniel, Liv and Jake Cody for the first time.
Later I went back to the hotel and started a long Sunday grind online playing cash games, some bigger tourneys, the Team Online freeroll and the Red Spade Open. Meanwhile I was watching the UKIPT livestream railing our Team Online manager Chris who made it up to the final table and finished 4th in the end.
On my last day I headed to the airport early after breakfast, but had quite some trouble catching my connecting flight. In the end my baggage didn't make it and I got it today. Used to that by now travelling so much to the US.
In conclusion this trip was totally awesome, I had a great time seeing the home of PokerStars, playing live poker (plus some Magic too) and meeting so many interesting people. My live poker travels continue next week when I will be heading out for Vegas again. All I can say right now is I am really happy with where poker got me, traveling the world, meeting all these people and playing the game that I love.