ACF RIP

The Aviation Club, the cardroom that became the hub of European poker in the mid nineties and went on to put the WPT on the map as a truly international tour, has been put out of business by the French authorities. I don’t know why but the smart guys think they may have been too close to Sarkozy. Whether that pissed off the left or the right, most is anyone’s guess. I’d have a few quid on the tie.

Whatever the reason over 200 people lost their jobs and that’s not cool. There is a myth that foreigners never get a fair deal in Paris. That’s simply not true. Except maybe the English. And the Americans of course.

The ACF staff were very kind and fair to me anyway. Except for one guy who specialised in home town decisions, but at least he was consistent. One night an English guy complained to Bruno about this guy in an aggrieved tone that only the English have mastered and nearly fainted when Bruno shrugged and agreed with him. That was the end of that conversation.

In the early days, Irish player Jerry Jones hopped over to Paris for a weeks poker. The first night he was in town, two of us were in the bar waiting for him to finish playing. The bartender told us that the French Porn Industry awards were taking place in the Lido up the street and that the porn stars had block booked the club restaurant for a late dinner. After Jonesy arrived and was on his second beer, they arrived and paraded through the bar.

The dress code, especially for the girls, was apparently somewhere between very very little and practically nothing. Jonesy nearly fell off his stool. We couldn’t help ourselves and just had to tell him this happened every night. The Irish can be proper assholes when they put their minds to it!

Another wonderful ACF memory occurred when I was chatting to Don O’Dea while he was playing in the biggest game in the place. The table charges for this game were paid in black chips and it was good craic watching The Don pony up. There was value somewhere for sure!

Greek George from London was also in the game. After a while, he lost all his chips in a massive pot to a guy who even I could figure out got lucky on him. George, being a class act, took it very well and never said a word. This was definitely in breach of an unwritten club rule. In fact, all club rules were unwritten as far as I know.

Then, the waitress arrived with an Irish coffee that George had ordered. George thanked her and tipped her with his last fiver chip. The poor waitress was unaware that very generously the club was comping drinks for all players who were paying table charges in black chips so she told him he owed her more money. Not surprisingly, George lost it. So did The Don who cracked up laughing. I wanted to join in but, as a spectator, felt that would be impolite. To be fair Don was laughing enough for both of us.

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A Very Irish Open

The weird thing about Ireland and Irish poker in particular is that no matter where you come from we can have you behaving as illogically as we do in no time at all. If you were any way odd at all in the first place, you’re fucked. Completely. The last time I got a good run at the Irish Open (the year Channing won I think in 1803). I was in trouble chip wise approaching the end of the first day. My table was on a corner on the rail so a bunch of my friends including Jesse May and Mad Marty were hanging about pretending to watch. Some people have way too much time on their hands. I wouldn’t watch them playing if you put a gun to my head. Well, Marty maybe.

I very skilfully managed to get my remaining chips into the middle with 66 and even more skilfully got them to stand up against a Canadian guys AK. My pals were cheering a little too ironically for my liking though more promisingly there was a shout of “YES!” from behind me. When my friends started to laugh, I turned around in the direction that the “YES!” had come from to see what was happening and what was happening was tournament director Liam Flood and his assistant Dave O’Neill were standing there grinning like Cheshire cats.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not a very popular guy so I will take a bit of support from just about anywhere without asking any questions, but even I could figure out that this was open to misinterpretation. At least. When I had stopped laughing, I tried to apologise to the Canadian guy only to discover he was laughing loudest of all. “It’s ok, buddy” he said “I’ve been here four days already”. See? What did I tell you?

The Biter Bit

I took a cab in Dublin last week. The driver was a rugby nut and very excited about Ireland’s win over France. I liked it too especially as the French take it so badly when they lose to anybody. Except the Germans of course. Then they just collaborate. They seem to like that. I let it slip that I’d watched the game in the pub in Paris. He asked what I’d been doing there and I admitted I’d been playing poker except when I was watching sport in the pub which was most of the time. All of the time sometimes actually. He asked if I knew Padraig Parkinson. I couldn’t help myself and told him I did and that he was an asshole. Pretty accurate I suppose. When I was getting out of the cab he said “See you around, Padraig”. Sometimes I hate Dublin. Too many wise guys.

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NOT EVERYONE’S CUP OF TEA

I had dinner in London last week with the lovely Maria, who dealt the first hand of poker I played in the Eccentrics Club, and the legend that is Mr Micky Moran. Micky has been at lots of Irish Opens over the years, with the likes of Tall Alan and Mick “The Clock”. If these guys sound like they belong in a Runyon short story it’s because they do. He’d have been at even more Opens if Her Majesty’s Government didn’t fall out with him every now and again over trifling matters such as VAT but that’s another story.

The conversation got around to the time the Irish Open took place in the Griffen Club. There was carnage. The English introduced us to Omaha. The Irish hadn’t a clue how to play but it was love at first sight. By Monday, we still hadn’t figured it out but couldn’t afford to quit. Micky was supposed to know how to play Omaha but was suffering with the rest of us. He had been tipping waitresses 25 quid every time he’d had a cup of tea over the weekend, so by Monday there was always at least one waitress near at hand. Much to their dismay, Micky had stopped drinking tea. Eventually, one of them cracked and asked him if he’d like a cup. “I’d love one” he said, “but I can’t afford it.”

This year’s Irish Open will kick off without Liam Flood who’s presumably joined Terry Rogers wherever he’s spending eternity, so there’ll be a few Flood stories told in the bar even if Liam wouldn’t approve of people enjoying a pint. My favourite relates to Liam’s career as a racetrack bookmaker. Liam told me his Dad once told him that today was today and forget about yesterday. Liam took it to heart and if he lost 15k one day and then won 1500 the next he’d be perfectly happy “And that” he told me, “is why I’m not a bookmaker any more!”

I think Liam’s favourite Liam story involves the time he was picked to represent Ireland in the Poker Nations Cup. The previous time wed played (without Liam) we’d finished third but had so many late nights the team was out on its feet by the end of the week. I accept the blame for most of it. This time, I was captain and it wasn’t going to happen again. Everyone was on the same page which in an Irish context is positively mind boggling. On the first morning, I was first down for breakfast. Liam arrived soon after and hadn’t even got the sugar on his Rice Krispies before he’d told me O’Leary and Smyth had been on the beer the night before. Poor Liam just couldn’t help himself! When I finally stopped laughing I told him not to worry Everything was cool. He didn’t look too convinced!

The next morning, when Liam arrived I told him confidentially we had a disciplinary issue in the Irish team. He absolutely loved it. You’d think I’d just told him he’d won the lottery. He couldn’t wait to ask who was in trouble. I told him it was him. The hotel manager was looking for Liam’s credit card details so that they could fine him 120 quid for smoking in his room!

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PHIL IVEY SAVES LIVES IN PARIS RAID

A few months ago, in an allegedly possibly politically motivated move, the Aviation Club in Paris was raided by government guys in suits. They took few prisoners. The casualty list included two hundred people out of work and an unknown number of customers who were somehow left with zillions in chips which are right now about as useful as a chocolate teapot. Let them eat cake.

But this wasn’t the first time the Club came under attack. The day Surrinder beat a pretty drunk Tony G to win the WPT Paris, the club was raided by an armed gang of Moroccans. I’m not sure how people knew they were Moroccans. I was around the corner having a pint with Dan Heimeiller at the time so I can only assume they said something like “Bonjour. We are Moroccans. Give us the f%&king argent or we will shoot you.” Or words to that effect.

Just in case they were serious about the shooting bit, the poker players, including Phil Ivey, who were playing a huge game near the cash desk decided to hang out under the table for a bit while they were trying to figure out what a Moroccan was and stuff like that. Legend has it that Ivey was heard to confirm with David Gray that he was owed 9k in prop bets from the hand that was so rudely interrupted.

The events of that day were the subject of conversation in a game I played in Place de Clichy a few days ago. I was sitting beside a French friend of mine, which is very unusual indeed. Most people don’t have French friends. Especially the French. He told me that he’d actually been in that game and under the table and confirmed that the Ivey story was true. He went on to tell us that when the alleged Moroccans started waving the guns around, all the lads under the table were trying to get as close to Ivey as possible on the assumption that Phil was such a lucky bastard that no bullets would be coming his way!

FROM BIG FAVOURITE TO HUGE DOG

It was 2001.The Mortensen year. With about 70 players left in the WSOP main event, I got moved to a complete table of death that was just a joke. Helmuth, Paul .com Philips and Negreanu were lined up on my left. Legendary road gamblers Karl McKelvy and Bill O’Connor and Player A were on my right. I loved it. I must be a sick bastard! It was great fun. Particularly as every time Phil raised, player A couldn’t reraise him fast enough. I’m not sure whether Helmuth was more pissed off at him for reraising or me for laughing but it was a close contest. I went to my room during the break and was telling Scott Gray that I thought Player A just might win the whole thing as I suspected he was on better medication than anyone  else. When It was time to rejoin the action I got in the elevator and found Player A there already. He shook my hand and said “My name is Player A. It’s fun playing with you. Good luck!”

Two hours later, we were on another break. I told Scott,  Player A would win for sure as he was running all over the table. Especially Helmuth which is always fun if you like that kind of thing. I got in the elevator and it was just me and Player A. He shook my hand and said “My name is Player A. It’s fun playing with you .Good luck!”

Oh My God!

*Padraig is a patron of The Irish Open, For more information on how to qualify please visit PaddyPowerPoker Irish Open*

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A SENSE OF LOSS

I could have gone skint at the Galway Poker Festival. Mad Marty told me he had a story I hadn’t heard before and thankfully started to tell it in the bar before I could get a bet on. Like most of Marty’s stories, it’s a mixture of the truth and the highly unlikely. It goes back to when he was hired to run the entertainment stuff in a players lounge in the Rio at the WSOP a few years ago.

He and Katherine flew direct to Vegas. His wingman Spiv and son Tom decided to save a few quid and crisscrossed America. They finally arrived after 39 hours and almost as many airports. What didn’t arrive was the suitcase containing all Marty’s equipment for the job. The lads spent a lot of the next four days in McCarran airport trying to find out where the suitcase was, but it could have been just about anywhere. Spiv eventually cracked and went on the drink cause he couldn’t stand listening to Marty going on and on about the f**king suitcase and you could hardly blame him.

Anyway, I wasn’t the only one that approved of this course of action as Spiv was an excellent drunk and very good value indeed after about 16 Bacardi’s. He was somewhere near that mark when he was joined at the bar by the guy who was employing the lads. This guy was in very bad form indeed as he had just received the news that his mother had died. It was unclear at first  whether he was upset because she died or because he had to leave Vegas for the funeral. Knowing the guy, my money would have been on the latter. According to Marty, he got a bit morose after a few doubles and told Spiv that he would never understand the dreadful sense of loss he was feeling. “Of course I understand” said Spiv. “I lost a suitcase myself last week.”

Andy Black was in Galway doing a seminar on the 2014 WSOP final table. He was charging the punters 20 euros but I’m not sure whether that was to get in or get out. Andy has a fantastic record in the PaddyPowerPoker Irish Open in recent years, but I was telling a (true) story in the bar about an Irish Open in the Green Isle Hotel several years ago. Andy had final tabled the previous years Open, only to get unlucky when he slightly overplayed J5 (unsuited).The following year, he turned up with a bunch of shiny happy people who looked like they had dressed in a charity shop. Terry Rogers nearly had a heart attack when he saw them. Despite the massive support (or maybe because of it) our hero was knocked out shortly after he registered. This wasn’t the worst move in the world as the craic in the bar was mighty.

In no time at all it was 4 in the morning and the night porter was very unreasonably refusing to serve any more drink. Bastard!! Andy very kindly invited me back to his place for light refreshments. I thought it only polite to accept this invitation and my good manners were rewarded when one of Andy’s entourage miraculously produced a very large bottle of vodka. When we were done with that, we decided a pint would be an excellent idea so we went to Humphrey’s pub in Ranelagh. There was only 6 of us, a grumpy barman and two other guys who were sitting beside the aquarium. These lads went to the bathroom and when they got back complained to the barman because there was a fish in one of their pints. The barman was very unreasonable and assumed we had something to do with this state of affairs. Despite us protesting our innocence, he threw us out. Don’t believe all that shit you hear about Irish hospitality. A few days later, I was talking to Terry Rogers in the Eccentrics Club. He asked me if I knew who stole the bottle of vodka in the Green Isle. I truthfully told him I didn’t.

I was delighted he didn’t ask me if I knew who drank it.

 

*Padraig is a patron of The Irish Open, For more information and how to qualify please visit PaddyPowerPoker Irish Open*

 

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IRELANDS GREATEST EVER DEAD POKER PLAYER

Of all the ghosts that haunt the Paddy Power Poker Irish Open,Jimmy Langan
stands out as Ireland’s greatest ever dead poker player. Some say that’s a
title they’d rather not contest but a titles a title so not to be sneezed at
and its got to be better than going down as, say, Ireland’s third best dead
poker player(especially if yore alive) as that’s a slippery slidey slope
with no upside that I can think of.

Irish heroes are often flawed and Jimmy did his bit to promote the
stereotype. Jimmy’s flaw was he was sometimes forgetful. Sometimes he
remembered to take the tablets. Sometimes he forgot. Now he was good craic
when he took them but great craic when he didn’t. When Jimmy was in full flow
anything cold happen and sally did.On one such occasion he was off his head
and leading the Main Event in Vegas. He drew quite a gallery and every now
and again threw cheap pieces of jewelry into the crowd. Giving stuff away
in Vegas is probably illegal and definitely frowned upon but they gave him a
walk on that one. Jimmy didn’t take it down but they sure knew he was there. All
I can tell you is that in the whole of his health he was good enough. Maybe
that’s all that matters.

On another famous occasion Jimmy was a little forgetful before a big clash
between Ireland and England’s finest. Terry Rogers was very concerned about
Jimmy’s well-being. He was also a little concerned about his own well-being as
he’d had a big bet on an Irish win and Jimmy was our main man. Sean Fagan
nobly offered to sort out this little problem.Armed with a couple of Jimmy’s
tablets he suggested to Jimmy that they go for a drink. Brandy was their
tipple of choice and Sean managed to slip the tablets into Jimmy’s glass. Not
long later Sean felt pretty tired and felt a sudden urge to go to bed. Jimmy
joined the tournament. Two days later Jimmy was still high as a kite and they
had to wake Sean from a deep sleep as it was time for the (beaten) Irish
team to go home. Rogers wasn’t too impressed that Sean had fallen for the
double switch. Personally I thought that a tad harsh. After all they knew Sean
was playing against the best.

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GHOSTS AT THE IRISH OPEN

What sets the Irish Open apart is the history. If you’ve been around for a while, you can almost see the ghosts. Some of them come back to life every year as stories of fallen warriors are traded at the tables or in the bar.

Mentioning the bar, Laramie springs to mind. Now there was a character. A one off if ever there was one. His introduction to poker was a painful one. Many years ago, on Christmas Eve, his mother sent him into town to sell the family’s chickens and to use the proceeds to purchase the articles on a shopping list she armed him with. To be fair to Lar, he got half the job done. The chicken mission was accomplished successfully. So much so that Lar took a well deserved refreshment break in a local hostelry. One refreshment led to another. And another. Eventually, Lar thought it would be careless not to join the draw poker game in the corner and play up the chicken money. He arrived home late in the evening a little the worse for wear with no chickens, no purchases and no money. You’d think he’d have learnt a lesson from that. He didnt!

In 1984 Doyle, Chip, Stuey and the lads travelled to Dublin to wipe out Irelands finest. One of the desperadoes who turned up to defend our country was Laramie. He wouldn’t have been picked on everybody’s team but he’d have been fine by me. He made me laugh. He was almost guaranteed to drive the Americans nuts. He’d been practising on the Irish for years. Sure enough, Lar piled into a tournament against the best players in the world and caused mayhem. Sober, he could be a complete nuisance. With a bottle of brandy in him he was lethal. This was a brandy day. I must be sick. I loved the brandy days. Lar would usually slow the game down, come out with stuff like “If a player dies in the middle of a hand, he can call but he cant raise”, throw in a few rural Ireland sayings and make up a few of his own just for variety. After a few hours, Lar was leading the tournament and had talked the ears off the Americans. He was lucky the game was in Ireland. In America, he’d probably have been shot. Then disaster struck. Or maybe not. Our hero, on a visit to the bathroom decided to sit on the toilet for a few moments of silent reflection and accidentally fell asleep. The consensus of opinion was that waking him would be bad for international relations. A few of the Americans returned to Ireland over the years. That was put down to Lar. Most didn’t. That was put down to him too. Most people can’t understand how it took us 800 years to get the English to go home. If we’d just given Laramie a deck of cards and a bottle of brandy, he could have sent them home on the last bus.

Another of the ghosts whose name keeps popping up is Pat Crowe, who passed away way before his time. They say his heart gave up during a water polo game, but I don’t believe them. This man had three hearts for sure. Pat loved poker a lot more than poker loved Pat but that never bothered him. He just loved playing the game. We always thought that Pat didn’t care what size the game or tournament was, as long as he was involved. We were proved wrong. On the final day of the last Irish Open to be held in The Jackpot Club, I arrived in there to find Pat watching the big game that Don O’Dea and the lads were playing in the corner. Pat was between bankrolls at the time but watching was fine if you weren’t personally in action. Whilst I was having the craic with Pat, Dara, who was running the floor, came over and asked Pat if he’d be interested in a fifty pound game. “Are you kidding me?” said Pat, “I’m way too important to be watching fifty pound games!” Hard to keep a good man down.

 

*Padraig is a Patron of the prestigious Paddy Power Irish Poker Open. Check out how you can qualify for only €5 with Paddy Power Poker*

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Friday’s Caption Competition

It’s caption competition time again. But before that, the password for the Freddie Mays Bounty tournament at 9pm tonight is:

uomomerd

Mario Balotelli had this to say after receiving a one match ban for Twitter foolishness:

“I am sorry that my team-mates and supporters of Liverpool FC have to be penalised for something I did”

I don’t know about “penalised”. I suspect some Liverpool fans were hoping the ban might be a bit longer.  Or that he might be permanently transferred – a prospect they were hopeful of when Inter Milan were allegedly interested.

Italian supporters have this wonderful but very simple saying. You know how in Rugby League they give an award to the hardest man in the sport – the “Man of Steel” Award? Well Italians supporters like to call their least favourite players “uomo di merda” – which means “man of shit”. And on Monday Mario was their uomo di merda. A mate of mine was watching the Inter Milan game on Monday night and was relaying to me the chants of the Inter fans by text in running. They started with a few gentle “Balotelli figlio du puttana” (“son of a whore”) chants. Half an hour later he texted “they’re singing ‘Balotelli must die‘ now” (“Devi Morire”).  The next day the Inter vice chairman Javier Zanetti issued a statement denying Inter’s interest in the striker. Poor Mario. Poor scousers too, more like. Looks like they’re stuck with him! Here’s a picture of the much maligned Mario in an image which would probably have been more appropriate to last season than this one (with Jose Mourinho the jockey in behind).

Mario Balotelli on horseback

Congratulations to Charlie Brown (carllito) for winning last week’s competition with: Wanna see a trick? Pull my finger!” 

LvG got moves

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Hand of The Week – Week 144

A couple of weeks ago we looked at an awful hand from the WSOP final table where Andoni Larrabe turned a set and, after tanking for a bit on the river, inexplicably checked! There was only one hand that could beat him – 8-9 for a straight – yet he somehow checked his monster.

I’ve got two cases of something similar today. My opponents didn’t check the river but they failed to raise and that’s almost as big a sin. One noticeable difference between my hands and Larrabe’s is that the stakes are a few orders of magnitude lower :) .

These days my online poker consists of 15 minute blasts of lunacy.  I enjoy frenetic sessions playing 10-16 tables of micro stakes Speed Poker and playing between 40-50% of hands is the order of the day. (And no I don’t win with this strategy. Of course I don’t. It is strictly for a bit of fun. But if you can find me a player who wins with stats like VPIP 50%, PFR 40% and 3-bet 15% I will be very impressed.)

This is the sort of nonsense I’m talking about. Yeah, let’s get that VPIP over 50%!

Speed Poker nonsense 18-12-2014 13-45-45

So here’s the first hand. Usual set up, you flop a set and your opponent turns a better set!  With the 3-bet preflop I’d put him squarely on AA-QQ so this wasn’t a massive surprise but look what happens on the river. He bets, I raise and he just calls.

AAA just calls 18-12-2014 13-59-27

He just calls – but he’s got AAA and I still have some money behind! There is only one single hand that beats me and that’s 10-9. Is he really not prepared to sacrifice that extra dollar and ten cents just because he might be losing to that solitary hand? Isn’t that weird?

(You might well be asking “why didn’t YOU go all in?” and that’s a fair point. So ha! Well spotted. The reason for this is I released the button too soon when sliding my mouse while selecting the amount to raise. It’s a high speed game when I play and I make a few mistakes like this.)

On the second hand I flop trips but my man has flopped a full house.  He does that really irritating thing where he bets the absolute minimum on the flop with his monster so I’m  doubly chuffed to suck out on the river when I snag my ace :) . He actually thought for a while and I was sure he was going to fold. I couldn’t believe he didn’t try to win my last chips off me by raising.

Full House just calls 18-12-2014 14-04-12

OK this would have been a losing play but he can’t seriously put his opponent on a better full house than him every time he gets to the river. A man that scared would never leave the house in case he caught germs.

So why aren’t players going all in?

It’s too easy to say “it’s micro stakes and they don’t have a clue what they are doing”. These players do have some idea how to play. And seeing as these are micro stakes it is even more reason to not care about the money and stack off with top set or a full house. I just don’t get it. These are not isolated incidents.

There is something weird going on her. Just why are players so tight fisted at such low stakes? With that question in mind I intend to take advantage by shoving all in on every river knowing I will only get called by huge hand. Yeah that’s a good plan. It’ll complement my 50-40-15 strategy very nicely indeed :) .

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Poll of The Week

I was playing a home game of poker over the weekend when it dawned on me I was paying zero attention to my opponents mannerisms.  I just wasn’t even trying to look for tells.

That’s a terrible thing to admit isn’t it?

It was a friendly home game with amateur players and tiny stakes and I suppose it’s fair to say my competitivity rating was about 2/10. Even so, I really ought to be trying to suss out my oppponents, especially when I’m supposed to be the experienced one at the table.

It’s so easy to forget that there’s a wealth of information out there.  Some people – usually the heavy online grinders – go as far to say there’s not even any point trying to look for live tells. They might be right at the very top level where the pros just don’t give anything away. But playing below the elite level there’s loads to look out for. So I made a conscious effort to start trying a bit harder – after all that is the whole point of playing live. (I still didn’t win though :) )

I remember playing a big pot with second pair and my opponent really slammed down his chips on the river as he went all in. If I hadn’t read Mike Caro’s book of poker tells I would  probably never have made that call. He had missed his nut flush and straight draw – no wonder he was angry!  On that same trip, after being knocked out of a tournament me and my brother watched our friend play. Hand after hand he sat there looking bored and folding. Then all of a sudden he looked at his cards, sat bolt upright and started rubbing his hands! We couldn’t believe when he shoved all in and someone actually called him. His A-K of spades won and he doubled up. We rushed over to let him know as he stacked his chips, still laughing our heads off.

This week’s question is: which is the most reliable tell in live poker?  Answer this week’s poll and leave a comment with your Twitter username to be in with a chance of winning a token for my Bounty competition.

There’s no end of poker tells and I’ve only listed a few here so please do suggest more in the comments section below.

Congratulations to @pcbunter for winning last week’s poll.

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