The Beat with Neil Channing

The Beat with Neil Channing

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

What's Bad Beat been up to?


By the time you read this the tournament will have come and gone, so I won't have to answer The Question; one of the questions I get asked most often every year.

"Are you going to the Irish Open?"

As it happens, I didn’t. If in May 2008 you'd have let me peek into the future, I'd have been surprised to see I didn't go. I thought they'd have had me for life.

If I’m honest, the real reason I didn't play what was always one of my favourite events of every year, even before 2008, was because I was enjoying watching my good friend Jamie Burland getting himself a lovely wife in Laura. I do wonder, though, if I'd have gone to the event had Jamie planned the date of his nuptials a little more carefully.

In 2010, the Irish Open got 708 people to pay €3,200+€300. I remember at the time people would complain that the juice was rather high in this event, both as a percentage of the buy-in, and also in real physical terms. They would then proceed to go ahead and play anyway, since it's the Irish Open and it carries history and prestige. As well as this, it's always sure to get a very large field comprising of international superstars, online qualifiers and Irish hometown heroes who wish to gain immortality in Irish Poker terms.

In 2011, the buy-in was the same, and 615 players showed up. Given the state of the world economy, particularly the way things were in Ireland, that was pretty impressive. In 2012, the number fell to just 502 players who were prepared to cough up the €3,200+€300. The organisers decided something needed to be done.

In 2012, the buy-in for the event was sharply dropped to €2,000+€250. When running a poker tournament you have to decide what you want to achieve. A bigger buy-in may attract a bigger prize pool if you can attract a large enough group of travelling players, both pros and overseas online qualifiers, to come to your event. However, a large buy-in, with the Irish economy as it is, would stop local players from around Ireland as well as those from Dublin from coming to buy-in directly. In addition, by dropping the buy-in you can arrest that decline while making online qualification more affordable, and therefore growing the number of qualifiers.

However, there comes a point when a high buy-in event will not produce a high prize pool, as the travelling pros will not come. Perhaps they see that the local amateurs are not making up a high enough percentage of the pool for their liking, and therefore they cannot see the value. Perhaps they judge purely on the size of the 1st prize, the total prize pool, and the min-cash, and weigh that against the expenses involved in travelling.
Clearly the pros, particularly a large group of young fellas from the UK, had made the decision that the Irish Open wasn't such a big deal, and in 2012 enough of them stopped coming altogether. Even with the new buy-in, the numbers went up by just three players to 505. The organisers had arrested the decline, but essentially they had the same number of players now playing for a massively reduced prize pool and the texture of the field had changed. It was going to be hard for a "TV poker name" or a young "EPT hero" to win the event, as far less of them were making the trip.

I'll be fascinated when I see how many showed up in Dublin this year. The economy in Ireland is not really bouncing back, and a lot of players have suggested that 250 juice on a 2000 event is pretty steep. I'll make a guess now that the event will get around 440 players, and that the total prize pool will not top that of the recent UKIPT Dublin with its €700 buy-in by too much. I worry for the whole future of this historic event.


The Beat May 14 2

One event I definitely will play this month is the UKIPT at Dusk Till Dawn. This has a £1,000 buy-in with a juicy £1,000,000 guarantee and one single re-entry. While I applaud Rob Yong for setting the bar pretty high with this guarantee, I can tell him that I really wouldn't mind if he just offered £500,000 – I would still come! Frankly, I would much rather have a lower guarantee and no re-entry.

Don’t get me wrong, I totally get the idea of having re-entry to boost the prize pool. I can also see how it is a benefit if you travel a long way only to bust with K-K vs. A-A on the first hand. However, we all know that Nottingham is in the centre of England and most players won't have faced a 3-day journey to get there. I know Rob wants to keep people in the club and playing, but the extra length of time that people spend in the main event can damage the side event numbers.

I'm having a busy time of it lately, and haven't even planned which day to play or whether I can manage to stay and play the side events. I will say I think that Dusk Till Dawn and Sky Poker did a brilliant job at the UKPC in terms of really building a festival and getting players to stay for the whole week. I've looked at the schedule planned here and I'd say they have got it right and it should work very well again. I'm sure the £300 Nottingham Cup with its £100,000 guarantee will be massively popular, and will keep people hanging around over the weekend – plus attracting a new influx of Dusk Till Dawn regulars who for whatever reason couldn't manage the main event.


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I don't think I'll make it to any GUKPTs this month. I was always a fan of the Brighton leg which used to be held in July; what better way to recover from six weeks in Vegas than a nice restful trip to the English seaside? These days, though, it is really hard to justify paying out on expensive hotels when the town is full of people with buckets and spades, to play an event with a £500 buy-in. If I can't make it to Brighton to do that then I'm absolutely certain I won't be staying in a hotel on the side of the M6 to play the £500 Walsall leg.

Seeing as I won't be winning those events, I may as well wish for my good friends Ross and Barny Boatman and Joe Beevers to take them down. The three amigos have formed The Poker Mob recently, having decided it was time to get back out there now it's almost a year since The Hendon Mob website was sold. The Mob were instrumental in building up the idea of the sponsored pro, and they've had various deals with various companies over the years.

With a new site, a new weekly online league and a new brand, they've gone to old friends in Grosvenor who are sponsoring them and encouraging them to pack their bags and get back on the road. You'll have a great time at the seaside boys – bring me back some rock, eh? I can also recommend the Travelodge right by Junction 20, it's a real home from home. Good luck.

25/25 SERIES

The Beat May 14 4

Talking about Grosvenor, while I was looking through the schedule to see what was going on this month, the first thing I did was scan for any 25/25 Series events. These ones are taking place at various venues around the country, and are named after the £25,000 guarantee and the 25,000 starting stack. If you haven't tried one yet I would really recommend it. I played the first one they held in the Poker Room, and the numbers were straight up amazing. Obviously the London poker economy has a "micro-climate" of its own, but this one absolutely smashed the guarantee, getting about £70,000 and a first prize of almost £18,000.

The thing I really liked about the event was the schedule and structure. There were three "day" ones but only one of them as a day – the first flight was Friday night, while there were two on Saturday (one in the afternoon and one in the evening. With the £200 buy-in and the fact you don't need to take any time off work, this has been pitched perfectly at recreational punters. The people I played with seemed to be really having fun, there was great banter at the tables and I saw very little berating and almost no talk of poker strategy. The players also really liked the fact that the event was being blogged by A World of Poker, and the trophy and title really helped give it that big-tournament feel. The average age of the players was higher than you'd see on the circuit, and I'd say there were not many pros. The structure was fast enough to cram things into a weekend but there was still plenty of play. I bust on Sunday at around 3pm and just 80 of the 400 players remained, so you could see it would be over at a respectable time on a Sunday evening.

I won't be travelling to play the 25/25 events in Nottingham, Aberdeen or Bournemouth this month but I suggest if you are near any of those places you really ought to.

Tags: Neil Channing, Irish Open, UKIPT Nottingham, 25/25 Series, GUKPT Brighton