The Beat with Neil Channing

The Beat with Neil Channing

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

November Nine, UKPC, Goliath...

November Nine

As I type these words, the world has just found out who the November Nine will be this year. Some people say the whole experiment of playing the final months later, and attempting to build the profiles and tell the stories of that lucky group of future-millionaires, has lost its appeal, but I'm still a sucker for it.

For three nights now, I've sat up and sweated over the hands of the 100 or so people who were in contention to make the nine. I was sad that this was another year without a woman in the final, although with around 4.5% women in most WSOP events and just under 3% in the Main Event it was no big surprise. I was also sad that there was no Brit, although two of the nine do, I believe, call London their home.

The two Brits who made it the furthest would have made me very happy if they could have squeezed in. One was Iaron Lightbourne, because I think he is a really great player who most people probably don't really know (mostly because he spends a lot of time playing live cash). The other was Craig McCorkell, who still manages to be underrated despite belonging to the small band of players who can call themselves UK bracelet holders.

It's just bad luck really, boys. If you came from Costa Rica, Bosnia, Switzerland or Nigeria, to pick four random nations from the football World Cup, you'd easily be the most famous and highest ranking player in the land (or at least in the first three). You just happen to come from a country that has a massive amount of super-talented young players at the moment, so you'll just have to go back to wallowing in obscurity and counting all that lovely money. Don't let anyone tell you the UK did badly at the WSOP in the Main Event. With around 6,500 players and just 320 from the UK, I think we did alright. In fact, the November Nine includes five from the rest of the world and just four from the US. With zero Canadians in the nine, it seems like the two biggest poker playing countries at the WSOP, (in terms of number of entries), have had a shocker.

My money is on Martin Jacobson, who is sort of a Londoner. Having said that, I wouldn't mind chip-leader Jorryt Von Hoof winning – he is a great player and a top fella too.

The Beat August 14a

Wise Preparations

What would your plan be if you made the November Nine?

I often think people who get there do not use the time that wisely. They now know that they have around four months until they are going to make a load of money, but they don't know if it will be $800,000, or this year $10,000,000. They have time to plan their finances, but they don't really know what they are planning for. They may be exhausted both mentally and physically from the WSOP, if they are someone who played the whole summer, and they have time to get themselves physically into shape for what might be the most important few days of their life. They also have time to get their poker game into shape.

I have known a few guys go through this process, and as individuals people handle things in a different way. Some go out and get themselves a coach or mentor. They may pick a top player they admire and approach them asking for advice and help. Someone like Phil Hellmuth might see the value of being heavily featured on the TV broadcast and give some coaching for free. It's likely the help there may not involve much technical analysis of hands and situations. It may more come down to advice and support on the day, but the value here would appear limited to me. Some would approach a top online pro – Vanessa Selbst was chosen by one former November Niner – and get real poker training. They might offer to give the pro 5% or maybe 10% of any prize. Others are established pros who have their own network of fellow pros that are happy to help for free.

It always surprises me that players can be lazy about "doing the coursework" here. It would be really valuable to go through the PokerNews reports and read every hand that every opponent played. You could easily pay someone to do it for you. You could get someone to Google all the opponents, seek out the details of past events they've played, and speak to their opponents. I think other players would be flattered to ask to help.

I find it staggering that some of these guys will simply say they are happy to get this far, plan to hit the golf course for three months, then just show up on the day and see what happens. The difference between finishing 9th and making "just" $730,000 and scooping the $10m would have such a massive impact on anyone's life. It just seems crazy to me.

One thing that is for sure is that every one of these nine should play a lot of poker tournaments, and they should preferably pick ones with very high buy-ins.

When you get your $700,000, or your $2,800,000 for coming just 4th, a massive thing you are going to have to deal with is tax. Obviously the situation is different in different countries, but for US citizens it's basically a question of taking the buy-ins and costs of playing from the prizes you collect, and paying tax on any difference if there is a positive number. If you play a few events each year and maybe spend some money travelling, you could have $100,000 of buy-ins and $20,000 of expenses. You might even have cashed for $25,000 in an event earlier in the year. Even if you come 9th now you are going to pay tax on over $500,000.

You may as well play some tournaments to the value of that tax.

Imagine buying in to a $100,000 event knowing you can't really lose. If you take 1st prize for $1m, you have another tax headache... I really feel for you.

If you bust on the 1st hand who cares? You were going to have to give that $100,000 to the tax man anyway.

What a great spot to be in. These nine people are going to have a fun few months.

The Beat August 14 b

Adventures in 6-Max

While those poor saps are worrying about their tax issues and which yacht would look better on their mooring, I shall be attempting to earn some wages this month. I'll be off to Dusk Till Dawn to play the Sky Poker UKPC 6-Max. The last UKPC was a great success – the combination of lots of Sky Poker qualifiers, the hard work of Tikay and the people at Sky Poker, and the massive efforts from Rob, Nick and Simon at Dusk Till Dawn in getting players to enter and to qualify meant that they smashed the £500,000 guarantee.

This time round the guarantee is again an ambitious looking £500,000. I hope they'll make it. I think most pros will tell you that they prefer 6-Max, but I do just worry that the recreational players who made up such a high proportion of the field in the last UKPC might be nervous about the format.

One really good idea that will help the numbers is the introduction of a UKPC Mini. This is a £250 tournament a week before the Main Event, that has four Day Ones (including one online) starting on August 6th.

The Mini will have a guarantee of £150,000, and the top 50 players will win a Main Event seat as part of their prize. If all that wasn't enough to attract you, they are giving away a Mini car to anyone who makes the final table of both the Mini and the Main Event at the UKPC.
I may have to move to Nottingham for a month.

The Beat August 2014 c

Calendar Clashes

If £1,000 for a 6-Max event is a little out of your bankroll, or even just not your cup of tea, then UK poker have kindly managed to do one of their old favourites and schedule two major events at the same time. Hopefully the fact that they are aiming at slightly different customers should not detract from either.

The Goliath was probably in the calendar for a little while before the UKPC was invented, so they may be miffed at the clash. But with the buy-in to this established event set at £100 and the Day Ones starting after the UKPC Mini is closed for entries, hopefully the two events can live happily side by side.

The Goliath has six Day Ones, and with one re-entry allowed on each of those days, they ought to build a prize pool that will smash their guarantee of £250,000.

Coventry is definitely one of the nicer casinos in the Grosvenor empire, and the schedule looks well thought out, with one of the very popular 25/25 series events scheduled to catch the players who bust the big one. The 25/25 has a £25,000 guarantee and three starting flights, and again with re-entries they should build a decent pool.

If you don't get lucky in either of the bigger events you could always give the "Win the Button", Open Face Chinese or the Blind Man's Bluff a spin.

As much as I hope that all the events this month are a success, a bigger wish would be that next year they can get together and plan the diary.

The Beat August 2014

Tags: WSOP 2014, November Nine, Sky UK Poker Championship, GUKPT Goliath