Day 1- 22/4/04
So here I am at the 2004 World Series of Poker. Binion's Horseshoe
has been taken over by new owners... at long last. That is not
the most obvious change that greeted me though. America has
gone Poker mad, mad, mad. An astonishing 343 have just paid
an amazing $25,000 to play the main event at the Bellagio. And
yesterday I walked into Binions satellite area and couldn't
believe my eyes. Last year there would have been maybe 3 or
4 tables running. This year there were 23 or 24 tables buzzing
with excitement. Hordes and hordes of new players. God bless
America, god bless the WPT on the discovery channel, and god
bless Chris Moneymaker. This is Poker heaven !
I managed to win a seat for the $2000 No Limit Hold em event
in a one table satellite. I got lucky when I slow played pocket
Kings catching both blinds who both flopped top pair. As an
added bonus, I was given a poker lesson by a very attractive
young lady with a large bosom. She explained how dangerous it
was not to raise with Kings before the flop. Bless her ! Anyway
I tripled thru and managed to outlast the rest to gain a seat
in the NLH event for a paltry $230.
Day 2- 23/4/04 - $2,000 No Limit Hold'em
Wow. Big Deal. So it only cost me $230. I only lasted 28 minutes
! Some players were still signed up and hadn't even sat down...
and I was walking out.
Yet again, an internet player got me. For years now there has
been a standard way of playing. The blinds are 25, 25 and players
would raise between 75 and 125 to try and get a little action.
My exit was typical of how things have changed recently. I am
on the big blind. There is 50 in the middle, and the internet
player opens for 450 ! I have 1400 chips left an AK in the hole.
Everyone else has passed, so I position all my chips in the
middle. And so does the original raiser with his pair of jacks.
The flop is low and I skulk out the door... In the past this
would have been a 300 dollar pot at his largest. Welcome to
the future… or should I say the present !
One advantage of getting knocked out early, is that the failures
can play in the Super Satellite at 3pm. And boy did I get lucky.
I got personal when someone raised my big blind for the third
time in a row. I called with 3,4 of clubs, intending to bluff
the flop. The flop came, and hold on a sec, I can't possibly
bet this. A,2,5. The other player bluffed again, and I called
(after a small think of course). Then the poor guy turned a
7 to match his pocket pair. And we proceeded to re-raise until
all our chips were heaped in the middle. We turned over the
cards, he fell of his chair, the river didn't pair, and I coasted
into a $10,000 seat for the big one.
Not a bad start at all.
Day 3- 24/4/04 – $1,500 Limit 7 Card Stud
I love playing 7 Card Stud. I don't know why. God only knows
why, but I do. I did considerably better than yesterday's tournament,
lasting almost 3 times as long. Another embarrassing episode
in my 7 card career. How on earth did I win 7 Card Stud comps
in the early 90s? I'm buggered if I can remember how? Off to
the 3pm super sat I go...
And ran very close again. The last 6 players remaining get
seats…I finish 7th. Ouch.
One thing I have worked out. These super satellites are going
to provide about 700 entrants to the big one at this rate. There
is also a claim that 700 players will qualify thru the internet.
Will we reach 2000 players for the big one?
Day 6- 27/4/04 – $1,500 Pot Limit Hold'em
Ok today I was determined to make a little more effort. Pot
Limit Hold'em. The British game. But what an opening table,
Barney, Huck Seed, Scotty Nguyen and Johnny Chan. Doh!
As it happens it was Johnny who got me started. I raised his
BB (for the third time) with pocket nines. The flop was Q92
and I checked even though I was last to act. The turn was another
Queen and I bet weak. He called and we saw a Jack on the river.
He led out betting 500 on, what I assumed was a stone cold bluff.
But I raised him 500 anyway, and he promptly went all-in with
another raise. I showed my 9s and the two times world champ
exited stage left… And my ego is now as big as my mate
I built big chips in this event and almost made the dinner
break. But then the Lizard got me. Tony Bloom and I were the
two chip leaders at our table, and as we are great friends,
it was unlikely that we would clash. That is until we picked
up a couple of monster hands. His J K suited was way to strong
for my 72 off-suit… and off he went to the final table
while I played the 7.45 super satellite (without any success
Day 7- 28/4/04 – $1,000 No Limit Hold'em
Wow. Over 600 runners for a 1000 NLH with rebuys. Somehow Daniel
Negranau manages to rebuy 26 times. The competition has cost
him a paltry $27,000 in entry fees ! I start well, get a few
chips, and don't need to top up as I have 5000. Unfortunately,
the field soon passes me by. I hang on with a short stack for
hours, until Mike Laing arrives at the table drunk with huge
chips. He bluffs me out of his first hand and shows me 6 3…and
then doubles me up twice and gives his whole mountain away to
the rest of the table in less than 60 minutes. God bless Jack
I get well into the money until one of those hands arrives.
The flop read QsJd10s. I had raised on the button with J9 spades.
The big blind had called with Q10. Needless to say the felt
nearly caught fire as we both tried to get all our chips in
the middle as quick as possible. My 17 outs didn't materialise
and I was eliminated in 15th place at 3.20 in the morning, 3
minutes before the end of the days play… just in time
to be able to play the following days Pot Limit Omaha event.
Day 8- 29/4/04 – $2000 Pot Limit Omaha
Pot Limit Omaha, and what a breeze. Every time I take on Aces,
I crack them. Lady Luck was with me all day. I was never all-in,
hardly ever put half my stack in the middle and never had one
pressure crucial hand. I love Omaha. Finished the day with second
largest chip stack behind the magnificent Robert Williamson.
Day 9- 30/4/04 – $2000 Pot Limit Omaha Final
The PLO Final was being televised by ESPN, so the day started
with an ESPN interview and surprisingly it went well. For a
change the interviewer seemed to understand poker. This is America.
Everyone understands poker.
The final was one of my biggest poker disappointments. I couldn't
pick up a hand that even I would play. And I play more than
most. I finally found 7,10JQ double suited on my big blind and
re-raised Robert Williamson's raise. He would probably drop
Kings and many other hands in this situation, but of course
Robert had Aces. I made a flush but this was no match for Robert's
four aces. Fourth and $45,000 isn't bad, but still I'm sad.
Day 10- 1/5/04
One of those strange 'it's a small world' coincidences happened
again today. I sat down in the Super Sat. and the geezer next
to me sits down and stares me out. 'I've got the same surname
as you' in a New York accent. 'I've seen you on Late Nite Poker
!'. He rolls over his players card and it says Sean Colclough.
(My daughter's name is Sian and everyone insists on mis-pronouncing
her name as Sean). He is the only Colclough in the New York
telephone directory, and of course he qualifies for a seat in
the big one. And everyone is asking me have I got a younger
Day 11- 2/5/04 - $2,000 Limit Hold'em
I lasted a long way down the field and went out around 45th,
but for no return. The highlight of the day was sitting next
to my mate Phil though. And unsurprisingly enough, it didn't
take long for sparks to fly. I am assured, on good authority,
that he is a great guy away from the table, and have no reason
to disbelieve this. At the table though, he just loves to try
and belittle everyone. Speech play goes in America and it can
add to the fun, and the spectacle from a TV point of view. But
for some reason Phil insists on talking down to all the players,
telling them they are idiots playing a certain way. Surprise,
surprise, this has a habit of happening after he loses a pot
of course. Eventually I couldn't listen to him any more. After
making derogatory comments about the dealer for the second hand
in a row, I tried to explain that the dealer had no control
over what appears on the flop. (and none of us would want to
play in a game where they had !). As usual my timing was off,
and Phil blew his top. The self proclaimed best player in the
world, was now proclaiming to the whole room that he was more
of a man than I'll ever be, and that goading someone after losing
a pot was totally un-excusable. And I hadn't even realised I
was goading him. Well I was speechless (honest guv, I was lost
for words). This was one of those times when American and English
were completely different languages again. I honestly had no
idea what planet he was coming from. There are definitely some
major cultural differences here. I went to bed on a little bit
of a downer for the first time since I arrived.
Day 12- 3/5/04 - $2,000 Limit Hold'em Final
My close friend and fellow Stokie, Paul Maxfield, somehow made
the final of the Limit Hold'em. This was the first time Mad
Max had played a Limit Hold'em competition. So it was quite
a stunning performance. (He also knocked my mate Phil out in
the later stages of yesterday evening). Paul had only $7000
in chips with the Big Blind of 3000 just two hands away. Somehow
he survived through to a very creditable 4th place. And everyone
still thinks he can't play...
The big white board now reads 520 paid entries for the big
one. It's looking like 2000 runners!
Day 13- 4/5/04 - $5,000 No Limit Hold'em
Well I spent the whole day in the big event looking for a hand.
Eight hours of survival and the biggest pair that I held was
jacks…and they lost ! So I wandered over to the Super
Satellite, paid my 200 dollar entry, and promptly picked up
Kings three times in the first 20 minutes. Oh my, how the poker
Then the geezer next to me asks me “what's spiderman
play like ?” Now is he about to tell me a joke ? No. Don't
think so. “Toby. Whats he play like ?”. “Coby
?” “No, Toby. You were sat next to him in the 5000
event. The actor who plays spiderman.” “What the
young kid who doesn't even look old enough to be in the casino
?” “That's the one.” Geez. I guess I am getting
Somehow I manage to make good use of the chips I gained from
the Kings, and qualify for another seat in the Super Sat.. Which
means I get paid $10,000 in poker chips this time… I guess
I'll let the poker gods have their little joke at my expense.
They ain't so bad.
And now there are 614 paid up entries for the big one. It surely
is going to be the biggest tournament in history.
Day 14- 5/5/04
My girlfriend, Rhowena, has arrived and I take a day off. Just
to prove to myself that I am not addicted…Sick. But not
addicted. So after sampling the best salad in the world at Hugo's,
we wander down to the Freemont Cinema to see Kill Bill 2. Her
choice, not mine. But at least it's a change from Peter Pan...
And of course it happened. There was a trailer for the new Spiderman
movie. And I was staring at the face I had been chatting about
poker to, for eight hours the previous day... Another it's a
small world experience.
Day 16- 7/5/04 – Limit Hold'em shootout
240 players in the shootout, which meant 24 tables. They paid
24 places which meant you had to win your table to get in the
money, and of course I finished second on my table. No reward
for that day's hard labour.
I also bashed away at another super satellite before finding
Kings and running into Aces with them. By my calculations I
have Kings v Aces only 4 or 5 times a year and will win with
them once. So in a way I'm lucky it only happened in a super
satellite. Well that's one way of looking at it anyway. Nevertheless,
I have that slight worry that one of those little hiccup bad
runs, is in progress.
Day 17- 8/5/04 – No Limit Hold'em shootout
400 Players in the shootout, which meant 40 tables in the same
format. You have to win the table to make the money. I had quite
an easy table and was chip leader with about 65% with 3 players
left. Then I tangled with an old adversary, Billy Duarte. I
lost 5 consecutive hands to him. 4 of which he was all-in, and
4 of which I was a big favourite in. Ouch. Now I am a little
Day 18- 9/5/04 – Omaha Hi-Lo Split
Yet again I managed to run close to the money, but just missed.
974 runners on the board for the big one! We are still on target
Day 19- 10/5/04 – Pot Limit Hold'em
Just to compound the fact I was running a little bad, I decided
to start playing bad. Having not seen any semblance of a hand,
or an opportunity in the first two hours of play, I somehow
manage to get myself involved with K10 suited, and an exit hand
of Q6 (on my big blind).
There's a new game in town. The Bellagio is now spreading 1,2
limit Hold'em. That is, $100,000 / $200,000. Minimum sit down
10 million dollars! A Texan banker has flown into town and is
playing the worlds best in a heads up match.
Just to try and have things a little his way, he insists that
each days play starts at 6am. A dozen or so of the top professionals
have clubbed together so they have a bankroll that is big enough
to take him on.
Day 20- 11/5/04 – $5,000 Omaha Hi-Lo Split
I feel I played today's tournament a lot better. The best way
to play most limit tournaments is to play very tight and to
select only the premium starting hands. I survived a long time
before eventually hitting a sequence where I lost with Aces
twice. I then missed, after flopping 6,7,K two clubs to match
my A,2,3 nut flush and unbreakable low draw. I don't get anything
out of this pot and I'm out again.
Devilfish was on the same starting table and struck a last
longer bet with Mike “I'm the best Omaha split player
in the world” Mattusow. Both convinced that they will
make the final. They reported to the rail first and second out
within three hours play. If ever the Poker Gods get an opportunity
to cut us down to size, they don't usually miss it.
Day 21- 12/5/04 – $1500 No Limit Hold'em
Having flopped three Jacks over Ross Boatman's three 6's, I
got off to another good start. Over 800 runners again. I managed
to get down to the last 100 within sight of the money when it
happened again. Did I say I only get Kings v Aces four or five
times a year? Bushey reckons it happens to him every week. Anyway,
Brad Dougharty's Aces stand up and my Kings send me to the super
satellite, where of course I pick up Kings v Aces again. But
this time I flopped a King. To no avail though, as I went out
about 12th short of the money. I have a horrible feeling I may
be eating these words later. If my exit hand from the main event
is Kings v Aces, I will never write a diary again!
Day 22- 13/5/04 - $5000 7 Card Stud
The slump continues. I make a slight profit during the first
two levels but overplay and lose with Aces and then Kings during
the next two levels. I didn't even make the second break, which
of course meant I was in time for the Super Satellite.
Super Satellites are fun. I enjoy them more than any other
form of poker. I don't know why, but they keep throwing up great
situations and great stories. And this one certainly brought
a smile back to my face. To add to the ambience, Gazza 'The
Whacker' Bush was heckling me throughout from the nearby rail,
bemoaning the fact that I seem to have 5 times as much luck
as him. 'Blessed, you are Colclough' is his favourite quote.
Anyway, it transpires that we agree if I win another $10,000
in tournament entry chips, I will enter him in tomorrows Pot
Limit Hold'em comp.
So eventually we are down to the last 7 players. They are giving
away 6 seats. There are 5 huge stacks (my friend Robin Keston
having the biggest of them all) and here are 2 tiny stacks.
Me and seat 7. One of us two will miss out. When my big blind
gets raised yet again, I calculate I can just about throw this
hand away and the next two, and seat 7 will then run out of
chips in his blinds. Seat 7 passes each hand expecting me to
make a mistake, but I don't. And eventually he is all-in on
his small blind. I have only 3 chips left and would be all-in
next hand. Each of the big stacks calls to gang up on poor old
seat 7. Excellent, 5 v 1. I like it… Then my good friend
Robin from London, looks down and finds two Kings. And of course
he does the stupid thing, and raises. The other players are
screaming blue murder at him, while I am crying on the floor.
You don't get anything extra for being the biggest stack. All
6 survivors get the same. So of course, it makes sense to gang
up on one gu all the time… But Robin wanted the glory
of course… Fortunately, this Kings story has a happy ending.
They stood up. Seat 7 was eliminated, and I won another $10,000
with only 3 chips left. And of course with Robin's 103,000 chips,
he also won a $10,000 seat.
So I enter myself, and 'The Whacker' in the Pot Limit Hold'em
Day 23- 14/5/04 - $3000 Pot Limit Hold'em
At last I hit a few flops, start like a train, and probably
produce my best game for a week or so. I mixed it up well and
was probably chip leader after four levels, having turned my
3000 staring chips into 36,000.
Unfortunately, the dinner break also signified a break in my
luck. I managed to lose a third of my stack in a blinds skirmish
(Jacks v Queens). Eventually we were down to 37 players and
I was sitting on an average stack of 25,000. We were playing
hand for hand, one out of the money, when I picked up AK under
the gun. I smooth called, looking for a re-raise opportunity,
but was outplayed. The flop came A67, which was a lot more help
to the button's pocket 6s than my big slick. I somehow managed
to play badly enough to lose my whole stack, and exit one of
the money. Disgusted with myself I left and went straight to
bed without the obligatory Budweiser or two.
Day 24- 15/5/04
I chose not to play the Razz and got up late… with a very
nice surprise waiting for me. The Whacker had made the final
of 3000 PLH. I spent the rest of the day with The Camel and
a dozen or so other football hooligans on the benches next to
the final table. Unfortunately Ram was out early, the Mexican
wave was pathetic, the crowd was too busy drinking to roar…
but Gary 'The Whacker' Bush was at his best, finishing a very
honourable second. Err, landing the pair of us a hefty $120,000
to boot. Yabba dabba doo!
Day 26- 17/5/04 - $5,000 Limit Hold'em
My personal playing slump continues as I exit the event on the
fourth level. Ted Forrest was on fire beating me up in 6 pots
out of 6. Financially it has been a very rewarding trip, but
I really would like to make one more final table to be happy.
Generally, all the Europeans are now in town. The board now
reads 1100 registered entrants for the main event, and don't
go betting under 1800 if you like money.
Day 27- 18/5/04 - $3,000 NoLimit Hold'em
It happened again! Level 2, 70 minutes in, I pick up my first
big hand : Kings. I don't think I need to spell any more out.
My, how the poker gods laughed as my opponent turned over the
two aces. It looks like Bushey is right! Kings v Aces four times
in a fortnight. Ho, hum. At least it happened early. I didn't
get any opportunity to build false expectations.
This tournament turned out to be unique. Almost 650 players
with 3000 chips produced too many chips to enable a result in
2 days. For the first time in WSOP history, the final three
couldn't force a result, and quit at 3.45 am after 2 days hard
labour. Unfortunately, the break worked against the two remaining
brits, Ram Vaswani and John Kabbaj, who had to settle for third
and second respectively.
As there are now over 1400 signed up entrants for the big one,
I wonder if we may have to endure similar long gruelling days.
There is a common thought around Binions that this years winner
may have to be young and fit just to have enough stamina to
last the distance. Who would have ever thought fitness would
come into play at a poker table?
Day 28- 19/5/04 - $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha
This was undoubtedly my biggest disappointment of the trip.
A first prize of half a million dollars, in an Omaha competition.
I got started built up to 35,000 chips quite quickly but watched
helplessly as I lost three times after setting my opponent when
I had the best of it. But that's Omaha. In fact, that's Poker.
It's important to remember that 65% favourites lose almost a
third of the time.
So here I am winging away. I have $50,000 more than I arrived
with. And all I am worried about, is the fact I didn't get close
to a girlie's bracelet. What a strange breed we are.