The Beat

The Beat

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Channing on Barny, the WSOP and antisocial behaviour.

Barny Army

When I look back at the summer of 2013 I shall remember it for two things. As an Englishman I was pleased to see Matt Ashton win the $50,000 Players Championship, but I do not know Matt at all, so it didn’t make my top two highlights. I do hear he is a great guy and everyone says he is a fantastic player (I am nowhere near good enough at those games to judge and I’ve never played him). As a fan of Pez I was pleased to see the result of the $5,000 event at the end of the series. He is a great player and he deserved a win. I was happy that Niall Farrell got a second in an event as he’s a great player and a really nice guy who has worked on his game and deserves to succeed. I was also sad for him as he had a decent heads-up chip lead and I know how that can feel.

The first of the two things I’ll remember when I look back will be the deep run of Kevin Williams in the Main Event. Kevin has been a Black Belt player for a few years now. He is a Blue Belt which means he has to rake around $1,800 a month and we give him $1,500 a month in sponsorship. A few years ago I put out a tweet saying that any players who were Blue Belt or above who could get to Vegas could come and find me and I’d give them $10,000 to play the main event. That is the sort of thing Black Belt has always done to reward its loyal players.

Last year Kevin managed to finish 558th in the Main for $21,707. This year it was great fun for me and all the players on the site to cheer him into 77th place. He was chip-leader of around 300 players at one point. I’m already looking forward to buying him in for next year.

I think Kev would have had to make the November Nine to be my top highlight of the summer, though.

I was a massive fan of Late Night Poker right from the start. In 1999 when the show was first on I watched the first ever episode while playing the first ever Poker Million event on the Isle of Man. I had played poker as a hobby for around 15 years at this time. I definitely wasn’t a pro but I had made money most years.

I think it would be fair to say that it was that show that got me to play for a living and it certainly started me playing WSOP events. I had been to the WSOP since 1997 but I started playing events only in 2001.
It was people like Barny Boatman who inspired me, who I looked up to and I was slightly in awe of. He seemed to be a fighter, a grinder and someone who had been there, seen it and done it.

It’s only in recent years that I feel I’ve got to know Barny well and I’m proud to have him as a friend. I cried a little when Ross went over to hug Barny after the final hand and I found it touching to hear Ross talk of his brother, his hero and his best friend.

Easily the best thing that happened in Vegas.

The Beat August1

Profit and loss

So I finally totted it all up. I played 23 events and I cashed in four, which is an OK ratio but a little under my average. I lost a total of $30,959 over those events.

Obviously, not cashing the Main and getting beat heads-up in the shootout went a long way to ensuring I lost. The shootout was my second biggest buy-in at $3,000. I felt reasonably happy with how I played, but I seemed to do really badly in races throughout the six weeks and I’m certain if I’d just won half of my flips I’d have made money. Definitely had better years, but I’ve had a couple that spring to mind that were a fair bit worse.

When I add the profits from the few cash sessions I squeezed in and the ten or so one-table sats and the ten or so smaller non-bracelet events, it doesn't look too bad. I’d guess that a lot of professionals would like to swap for my figures. If you had a bad summer and you were playing lots of the $5,000 and $10,000 events and maybe the $25,000 6-max or the bigger One Drop at $111,111, it can really add-up.

I’m certainly not looking for sympathy but you have to remember that poker players have to pay to go to work and all have flights and accommodation to fork out for, long before the buy-ins are paid. I’m not a big one for describing poker as a sport but I did smile a little when I watched some of the clay court players turn up at Wimbledon and “play” their first round, getting their nice cheque for withdrawing “injured” halfway through the first set while the sponsor paid the hotel and flight.

The Beat August2

Antisocial behaviour

In between busting $1,500 events, I started a bit of a campaign this summer. I re-tweeted an excellent blog that Brad Willis posted on the PokerStars Blog. He described how his first WSOP event was special and how it’s important that pros remember to make their “customers” feel special.

I finally sat down and wrote a blog of my own. I now feel like I should clarify my views as one or two readers seemed confused. I certainly don’t agree that players should berate someone when they see them play a hand in a way they think is bad, whether either of them is professional. I would prefer it if all players, whether they are pros or not, would avoid discussing strategy at the table. The game is much better when poker is totally off the list of subjects for conversation. I also agree that a lot of recreational players can be very miserable and grumpy. This may sometimes be connected to the fact that they are losing a lot of money playing poker.

The blog I wrote was very specifically aimed at a very small and annoying group. My words have been twisted and criticised and misrepresented by some who fall into this group, so I shall put it as simply as I can.

If you think you are or you might be a professional poker player and you are capable of and willing to talk to people at the table, then those people that you talk to should not simply be people of your peer group. In my opinion, if you are capable of and prepared to talk to other players at the table and you fail to engage with the recreational players, then you are damaging the game which you either make a living from or you aspire to make a living from.

That is it. Simple as that.

I’m not saying that people who are too shy to talk have to start conversations with strangers, although I do agree that it may help if everyone just removed the headphones. I’m not saying you can’t tweet, read blogs or play Chinese poker, and you are correct: I do use the internet almost every time I am at the table. I’m certainly not saying that all young people behave badly at the table and all old people are great. Many older players are very rude and ignorant, but they are not professionals and they have zero obligation to worry about the future of the game. The only young people I have a beef with are those who continually prove they are capable of speaking at the table but they speak, almost exclusively, about poker, they fail to engage the older recreationals and they are actively alienating them.

If you are not being antisocial in this way I have no problem with you.

The Beat August3

Tags: Neil Channing, BarnyBoatman, WSOP, Matt Ashton, Kevin Williams, Niall Farrell, Matt Perrins