Travels With the Camel

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The Power of Positive Thinking


I don’t mind admitting that 2004 was a pretty dreadful year for me. I chased around the globe playing loads of big tournaments and spending a small fortune in expenses. I lost a huge amount of money.


After a particularly dreadful trip to Vegas in December, I was so depressed that when I got home, I was teetering on the brink of giving up poker.


I spent a lot of time thinking and evaluating my game over Christmas. After discussing everything with my girlfriend, I decided to give it one more shot in 2005.


Some things had to change. My bankroll and my sanity couldn’t cope with the battering they suffered last year. So, with help from some friends, I instituted a battle plan for the New Year.


Firstly, I decided to cut down on the number of big events I played. When I first gave up work to play poker, there was only one $10,000 event a year: the World Series of Poker. Now, with the boom in poker fuelled by the phenomenal success of the World Poker Tour, there is, seemingly, a 10 grand comp every other week! Now, I may think I’ve got a fair edge in every event I play, but for that edge to become apparent, I needed to play more events than I could afford. When you are playing on a tight budget, each bad beat hurts disproportionately more than it should. And when the way I played started to suffer (that is, trying to limp into the money instead of going for the gusto), I really knew enough was enough.


I will certainly play the WSOP this year; the value in that event is so huge, I would urge anyone who believes he is a fair player to give it a shot this year. But, apart from that, I will pick and choose my spots much more carefully. I will try to win seats for the big events cheaply online. Playing against sponsored players and rich amateurs is just not justifiable in the long term for a self-funded player.


Secondly, as much as I enjoy staying in a luxury hotel, expenses have to be cut down. In Vegas, you really only need somewhere clean and comfortable with a shower and a bed. Bellagio is a wonderful hotel, but when you really only need somewhere to lay your weary head, the Gold Coast or the Excalibur are fine.


Finally, and most importantly, I will change my attitude. Last year, especially, I could be accused of not giving a 100 percent effort every time I played. Sometimes I wanted to be elsewhere. If I suffered a setback in a tournament, I would often give up and virtually throw my chips away (a wise man once said, it’s not how you play the hand you suffered the bad beat in, it’s how you play the next hand that matters). Basically, I didn’t give myself the best chance of winning every tournament I played.


This slackness has to change. If I want to be doing something else, do it! If I plonked my cash on the table to play a tournament, I decided I was going to try every inch of the way. I also decided to cut down on the amount of poker I play, so I am fresh and eager when I finally sit down to compete.


But the main thing I decided to do was change my self-image at the poker table.


The first time I ever met Mike Magee, he was in line to register for a tournament at the Vic. We got to talking. I suggested that with about 100 runners and some very tough players, it was going to be a very difficult event to play. Mike said with complete certainty, “I’m gonna win it!” And he did.


Try stealing Lucy Rokach’s or The Devilfish’s big blind in a tournament. They will look at you as though you are bang out of order. Try to do it three or four times and they just won’t let you. There will almost certainly be a reraise. It’s as though they are thinking, “How dare you even consider raising my blind?” A common trait among almost all top poker players is a complete certainty that they are the best player in the room and there is just no way that anyone else in the tournament can possibly bully or outplay them.


I decided to try to incorporate some of this self-confidence into my game. I knew I could play poker to quite a good level, but I didn’t reproduce my best often enough. If I didn’t sort myself out soon, I would become a writer who plays poker, rather than a poker player who writes.


So, 2005 began. It started quite hopefully. I won a small online tournament and a seat in the EPT event at Deauville. With resolve strengthened and hopes high, I set off down to Luton for the Grosvenor Grand Challenge.


My results there were beyond my wildest expectations. I played three events and made the final of all of them, chopping two, including the main event.


The moral seems clear. If you are psychologically beaten before you start a poker tournament, you really have no shot. Put 100 percent effort and concentration into every event, believe in your own ability, and don’t be intimidated by other players.


Here’s to a great 2005!


Heard at the Bar

Kevin O’Connell was having an expensive meal with three friends at Bellagio in December.


Being a considerate poker online 2021 chap and seeing as his friends didn’t partake of the evil weed, they sat at a nonsmoking table. As you can imagine, the boys set up quite a bar bill to go with their expensive meal.


Before dessert, Kevin was gasping for a ciggie. So, he walked to the smoking section to light up, but he stayed near enough to his friends to continue the conversation.

A maitre’d soon spotted him.

“Sir, if you must smoke, please stand in the smoking area.”

“I am!”

“But you are blowing smoke into the nonsmoking area.”

“Don’t be ridiculous.”

“Sir, if you don’t move, I will be forced to call security to eject you.”

“Will that be before or after I’ve paid the bill?” asked Kevin.

End of discussion … ´


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