The Beat with Neil Channing

The Beat with Neil Channing

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Bad Beat on hidden costs, GUKPT vs UKIPT, winning at The Vic and the delights of Cheltenham.


One thing all up and coming professional poker players and aspiring professional poker players need to be very aware of is the cost of playing.

I sat in a quietish £2/£5 game at the Vic recently and watched two of my opponents have a nice long massage, three people tip a very healthy amount whenever they won a pot, a couple order the full three-courses off the menu and on top of that all of us were paying the casino to play.
I certainly don't begrudge their bit, they have massive rent to pay, plus staff wages, and they provide a great environment. The food has definitely improved by a massive amount in recent years and I quite like a massage.

However, a quick tot-up showed me that almost £500 was coming off the table during one hour. With the average stack in that game around £900 it would be hard for anyone to win without a really steady stream of punters with money looking to gamble.

When I think about all of that I really wonder how all the "travelling pros" who travel round the country, fly around the continent, and sometimes fly around the world to play, make it pay. They have all those things I walked to the Vic to see, to contend with, and they are all paying for travel and hotels as well.

The answer for most of them is they don't.

Some enjoyed a lucky start to their career and the proceeds of their one win is slowly being "invested", while others are reliant on staking or subsidize the loss-making live play with a profitable online career and the hope that one day they'll win a big one and be able to retire.

I don't deny that getting to play big events for enormous sums of money is great fun and I wouldn't say to never do that. I just warn you that spending large amounts on expenses is an unsustainable business plan. If you are spending all that money to go to events where the money you win if you are lucky will not be life-changing, then you are doing it wrong.

TB March 2


Having got that last bit off my chest, you might expect me to say I'm staying home and not playing any poker this month. I might well do, but it doesn't mean you have to. There are a few decent events in March starting off with the UKIPT which this month goes to Dublin.

This tour has suffered a bit recently with guarantees not being made and decent overlays for the players who went to Galway, Edinburgh or the Isle of Man. I don't reckon PokerStars will have to pay out on this one though, mainly because the buy in is down to a much lower €700 and hence the guarantee is €350,000.

More importantly than that this one is not close to Christmas, which is something that could have hurt Edinburgh. It's also not hard to get to, something that Galway might be perceived as being, and it's not on an island that nobody has any idea how to get to or what to expect of, like the Isle of Man. Throw in the fact that Stars have found a lovely new venue close to the centre of Dublin, a town that everyone loves (I know I do), and they should be safe enough.

Will I be going? I may not. I still find it tough to spend the best part of a grand on hotels and travel to play a tournament where the buy-in is less than that and where a min-cash means I struggle to break even. I also feel that the texture of the fields in the UKIPT is much different to those in the GUKPT, which naturally attracts people who are recreational and just like going to casinos to gamble. If it's a choice between the two when one is an interesting venue in a lovely location (as the UKIPT often is), but with a tough field stuffed with online pros looking to play an aggro pre-flop game, or a boring G-Casino (they all look the same and the lights are too dim), next to a prison or a motorway, where people are giving it away, then I guess I'll choose the GUKPT.This month the GUKPT is in Manchester with a £200,000 guarantee. Last month I confidently predicted a healthy £500,000 prize pool in the Vic leg, smashing the £200,000 guarantee. That didn't happen, they barely got over £300,000. Last year Manchester managed to create a prize pool of just £180,000, a little short of the guarantee.

Maybe I need to spend a few days on an industrial estate close to Strangeways Prison.

TB Channing


Regular readers may remember me writing in December to say that I virtually always win at least one tournament a year and it's very rare that I "miss a year". I was really sweating in December, and regular readers were probably massively relieved when I did it.

No need to hold your breath this year...I did it pretty early on.
The £100 rebuy is a new one on the Vic's tournament schedule. The latest fad in poker has been for re-entry events where you do your stack and then start again at a new table. There are pros and cons to all variants of the game but the main problem with these ones is that the house takes juice every time you re-enter.

I'm glad the Vic have included this one on their schedule as it means people can come and have a gamble without having to pay too much from the prize pool for that privilege.

A really good structure means the event, which is every Wednesday from 7.45pm, doesn't finish until the early hours. However, those who haven't got the patience for that can be one of the many who show up at the last moment on the dot of 9.45pm, buy-in, rebuy, add-on and gamble away for £300 plus just a tenner to the Vic.

A decent bunch who were prepared to gamble meant £4,200 was my first prize for beating just 37 runners.

Doesn't sound too hard does it?

TB March Illustration


It seems like I've been dishing out a lot of advice this month but that is nothing compared with next month.

March, as any self-respecting degenerate will tell you, is all about the Cheltenham Festival.

I have always loved the horses and my phone will be red hot with people asking me what I fancy for the various races for about two weeks before the meeting. A few years ago I got round that problem by publishing my tips and thoughts on each race online. That really left me wide-open to be criticised but luckily I did pretty well.

Last year my fellow poker pro Joe Beevers suggested we start a tipping website and was formed. It's been going pretty well and we have given away lots of free info on football, golf, darts, NFL and even the Oscars.

For the best stuff we will charge. If you want to know how to subscribe for my Cheltenham information simply go to the site and all will become clear. Please don't be offended if I don't give you the results of all my hard work for free though.

Tags: Neil Channing, UKIPT Dublin, The Vic, Betting Emporium, Cheltenham Festival