I played live poker, but I didnt shoot the deputy

There comes a time in every online player’s life when he feels ready to try his acquired skills from the world of cyber poker at the real life tables. Sure I had played with friends and family before but it is not really the kind of game you see in the World Poker Tour transmissions and hardly the same stakes either.

London calling

Anyway I decided to check out what was on offer in London. I quickly ruled out the big casinos even though the Vic is just a 10 min walk from our place. I did not want to sit down at a table with people who played live for a living and knew a thousand things about tells, no way I would go in like a rookie and leave my money to the first shark that happened to stumble over me in the doorway.

After some thinking and net searching I decided to enter a tournament at a poker club called Gutshot which on the website looked and sounded like a place where you could go without being mugged, hustled or end up in whatever saloon western style poker hoax we all have seen in movies.

Unfortunately my mother called on the day I had decided to go and my plans for the day managed to slip out. Not the best move since my mum obviously had seen a lot of westerns too with people playing poker and getting a bullet to go with it.

She was worried I would be found drifting in the Thames the next day, and her worries rubbed off on me. I did not really know what to expect after all, this was something I had not tried before but after putting the Metropolitan Police on speed dial and a couple of pushups I jumped on the tube to Barbican. At least I felt confident that I could outrun even the most infuriated pokerplayer.

I got of at Barbican station and after turning a few corners arrived at Clerkenwell Road. I halfway expected to be turned away at a sleazy cellar entrance for not knowing the secret knock ( not Two Bits??), but it was nothing like that. The club was bright and newly refurbished with a big flat screen TV on the wall showing Sky Sports,, a nice bar/restaurant to the left and the poker tables downstairs.

Since clubs like this one can only operate when players are members I had brought my passport and was asked to scribble some info on a piece of paper, and then I was a full grown member who was allowed to play. I later found out that membership was free, but I never asked on the day and worried a bit about it at the time.

Now before I go on with my story I have to say that this was about a year ago when The Gutshot just had moved to a new place and only few players frequented it. Today the place is full every day and it can even be hard to get a seat in tournaments now. This was not a problem for me when I entered the first time though. The tournament of the day was 20 pound pot limit hold em with unlimited rebuys and we were 40 players all in all.

This offered a bit of a problem for me. I had never played pot limit – which is probably the hardest style to master- and I had never dealt for real before. Luckily the club had dealers on that night so one of my problems was quickly solved. The pot limit style I just had to observe and learn. I joined the queue when the register opened, got my 1000 chips and drew a plastic card with my table name and seat.

Then I went upstairs and bought a coke and a Red Bull, this could take a while after all – the Red Bull with coke is a pre tourney tradition for me now, so maybe you should not go for a triple Glenmorangie.

Anyway, the tourney began and I was seated with a sweet elderly lady to my left and a nervous looking tall and thin guy to my right. At least it seemed as if I was not the only newbie. The first couple of hands I got were pure rags so I had time to settle my nerves and observe how the pot limit system worked. I was 100% adrenaline at the time so I am probably glad I didn’t get any hand worth playing from the start.

Alot of bad players

I noticed since this was a rebuy tourney that a few players did not care too much about what kind of hands they played and made rebuy after rebuy. It was one of those guys who made the first raise when I picked up KJ in clubs, and I decided to call. The flop came a sweet looking J 5 5. He bet roughly one third of his stack, and I decided just to call. On the turn came a blank and he went all in.

I took a little time to think and decided that I believed in my hand. I could see a disappointed look on his face the second I announced “call” and I knew I was ahead. The river was another low card; he had turned over AK, while my KJ was the winner. I decided that I had to be a bit more careful from then on, I had forgotten that even maniacs get big hands, but had been lucky.

I did not get any playable hands until close to when the rebuy period ended. A few players had limped in and I looked down at 44 on the button. The player in big blind raised to 3x, and with 3 other players calling I had a hand worth playing. The flop came 10. 4. 2 rainbow (no suits), a brilliant flop for me. At this point my hands were shaking so much that I had to put them under the table.

I did my best to look indifferent while the player who raised announced “Pot”, a second player went all in and I of course also went all in on the button. The others turned over 99 and A10 and I were miles ahead. Both of them announced “rebuy” even before the river had come.

At the end of the rebuys I decided not to take the add on since I already had close to 7000 in chips. The field was down to around 30 players, and we were 8 on my table. The first hand after the rebuys I got KJ suited and after taking a look at the elderly lady to my left who was in the big blind I decided to raise her, even though I knew she had to call with few remaining chips. She turned over K2 and the board did not help her. I felt a little bad for her when she left the table, but she had a big smile on, whished me good luck and went over to a friend of hers who was also out.

Now nothing really happened for most of an hour, I did not get any hands and the players around me seemed to bust out fairly quick. When we were two tables left and I think maybe 13 players all in all I took a peek at my cards. Ace of spades was the first, followed by a sweet looking ace of clubs. I was already considering how best to make use of this brilliant hand, but things went automatically when the player under the gun made a pot raise and the player next to him announced “reraise” I did not hesitate a second to announce my all in since I did not want more players in the pot at all.

The first player folded and I got a call from the second one. I had 6000 and the other guy had roughly the same amount. He turned over AQ off suit and sank down in his chair when I put my AA in the middle along with my chips. I can not remember how the board came but I was never in trouble and doubled up with a – probably very loud – sigh of relief.

The final 9

We quickly were 9 players left and we got seated at the final table, where another player busted out in the first hand. Then I got the most amazing run of hands I have ever had, and even though only 1 of them got called I still made tons of money in blinds and antes. Within 30 hands I think I got AK 10 times, I also got several medium sized pairs and 2 x QQ. I announced pot raise every time and when one of them finally made a stand it was on JJ when I had QQ. I took that one also and was shared chips leader with a chubby jovial guy named Gary who seemed to be doing a lot of talking.

He seemed like a nice fellow. To my right on the other hand was a mean looking player who looked like someone you would expect to see in a James Bond movie. He was Greek, fairly muscular and dressed all in black with a busty blond at his side most of the time. She seemed to have nothing else to do than talk to the Greek about anything else than the game, which obviously annoyed him. He was probably as nice as the day is long though, I learned long ago not to put too much in peoples appearance.

Well anyway, the reason I brought The Greek into this story was because I was about the play a big hand against him which eventually would make me the chip leader. I was in the Big Blind and I had a lot of respect from the table since I had showed several of my AK hands when people had folded preflop. Anyway, The Greek decided to raise me from small blind. It was a big raise, 5 times the size of the big blind which was 1000. I had already seen that my cards were A10 suited. I pondered a while about calling, which I probably shouldn’t have done but I was on a bit of a high after the big run of cards, and the flop came down A, 9, 5.

He bet 10.000, which left him with around another 10.000 chips, and I quickly decided to reraise all in. He thought for a long, long time, mumbling several times that he had AK, but I must have known that. He finally decided to fold his hand, which assured me that he didn’t have an ace, less AK. I was shaken to the core, had I lost the hand I had been seriously crippled and even though I had made tournament wins of more than 5000 $ online it was my first live tourney and things were going great. The adrenaline was pumping again and I really started to believe I could win this.

Consolation prize

When we were 6 players left someone suggested that some money could be taken away from the prize pool to be given to the next one who busted out as a consolation prize since only 5 players got paid. Since I was the big chip leader everyone thought it was a good idea, but then looked at me, I would be the least likely to accept this after all. To keep things in good spirit I decided to play along, you never know if things suddenly turn around and there is no reason to make a bad impression for 100 pounds, when only 25 of those would go away from the 1st prize.

Things did not turn around but I did not really get any hands either, so Gary busted 3 players including The Greek and I took out the local hero Barry “The Bully” Martin who to his defense was terrible lowstacked when he went all in on a pair of treys.

I was heads up against Gary for a first prize of close to 800 pounds (roughly 1500 $ at that time) and he suggested we made it No Limit from now on. I quickly accepted since I was much more confident with that style and recently had won almost every single head to head match I had been in.

I had around 130.000 chips which meant that Gary must have had around 70.000 and I quickly bullied him down to 50 grand. I could see on his face that he got dealt absolute rags for several hands but he lit up after 10 min and announced all in after I had made a raise from small blind. Unfortunately for Gary he had picked a bad time to make a stand since I was holding two of the lovely, yet not always faithful, ladies. It was still a decision though, I was pretty sure that Gary had a hand, and I had to call almost 40.000 to play. If I lost he would be back in the game with newfound confidence, and I had a feeling that if I threw my QQ I could run him over with aggressive plays later.

In the end I of course came to my senses and realized that I could not throw QQ away heads up so I called and Gary seemed annoyed when he turned over 44, knowing that I would be at least 50-50. He exclaimed a loud “oh no” when he saw the queens, but put on a big smile and gave me his hand before the flop. I wished him good luck (I am sure I did not really mean it though) and then the flop came AA9 giving Gary 2 x 2 outs to win on the following cards. The turn gave me a full house, putting the 3rd queen on the table and it was all over. I had won, and in my first live tourney. It was almost too good to be true as I felt as if I had won an EPT event. Never mind the money, on a bad day I could easily lose 1500 $ online, but this was live and I had never tried it before. How great did I feel.

I stumbled out of the club at 3 o’clock in the morning after tipping the dealers well and chatting with a few people, jumped into a taxi, and since I was on a high I could not help to wake up my girl, show her the winnings and tell her all about it. It didn’t even bother me that she promptly took 80 pounds for a new pair of shoes. What is it about women and shoes btw? Most men have got 2 or 3 pairs of shoes and when they are old and worn out they go and buy another pair, women on the other hand seem to need as many pairs of shoes as there are days in a year even though they never wear more than a third of them.

Ok, I got sidetracked there, it must be some genetic thing, anyway I had a great time, everyone I met was friendly and helpful and all my fears had been put to shame. I still prefer online poker because of the speedy play, but I occasionally go and play at the Gutshot or at the Vic when they have some interesting tournaments on. If I were you I would not pass on the opportunity to go to a live game if you ever get the chance, it is great, exciting and an adrenaline rush, and even if you lose a few dollars the first time you go it is definitely worth trying.

Before you sign up to an online poker room be sure to read about poker bonus codes.

Offer valid as of date published. T&Cs apply.