on 14:24

Day 2 in the Black Belt Poker House

My alarm is set for 8.30am although I don’t have to be at the Loose Canon Card room till 1pm so I reset it to grab another hour’s kip.

9.30 so I phone down to reception to see what the latest breakfast is when I’m informed that it is at 10am sharp, being a services run establishment they mean 10am SHARP.

I catch 15 minutes or so of BBC News 24 and discover that there have been no major earthquakes in the capital in the evening so it must have been flatulence caused from the chicken from M&S. I make it down for breakfast for 9.55 and I am greeted by the warm welcome that all the staff here offer 24/7 nothing is ever too much trouble.

Breakfast is served buffet style here for anyone that’s never been before and you can help yourself to as much as you like, so what does someone about to do a gruelling grading session with his mentors decide to take:
Grapefruit (Fresh)
White Toast (2)
Eggs (fried x2)
Sausage (None as they had run out – but they did offer to do some fresh)
Black pudding (that was well done)
Beans!!! (not too many though – thinking about my fellow graders here, Community spirit)
Fried slice
Fresh orange juice
Pot of Earl Grey
Guardian newspaper someone had left behind.

I clean this lot up like I’m polish looking for a job in a laundry shop and make my way back to my room, I have to shower, shave, pack and vacate the room for 11am, I sit on the edge of the bed watching the news channel and found myself deep in thought about the day ahead, intrepidation, nerves, not fear but not knowing what really to expect and more importantly wandering who else is on the course.

Doing the on-line hours your just indoors on your own with no-one to analyse you or rip your game apart whereas I’m now going into the lions den and allowing the whole world (well ok, not quite the whole world but 50 other graders and the mentors of BBP) to see my game.

I get checked out for 11am making my way down to Marble Arch for the tube to Canon Street and I get to the Loose Canon for around 12 noon, the place is fairly quiet so I grab a coffee and make a couple of calls.

The place starts buzzing towards quarter to 1 and I start recognising a few faces with Dom Kay, James Atkin, Sunny & Chaz (sounds like a pop duet), Ben Vinson & his Bro, Mark McCluskey,
Neil Batchley, James Keys, Dave Penley (Riverdave), Nick Wright and many other that I recognised but couldn’t name them.

So these are the lads that I am playing this freezeout with 8 packages up for grabs, 48 other graders although Neil said he would draft one of the reserves in, as he had been let down at the last minute. Who will make the grade, who will drop out, will any be evicted? So many questions.

The day starts off with an intro from Nik and Neil (Mentors) as to what’s expected from us and what we in turn can hope to achieve from BBP if we put the effort in, basically everyone that completes the grading will be a winner of some description or another but that’s something we can look at in 4 weeks time when we can see how many complete the course, I am made to feel like we are the fledglings for this new venture and we will write the book for future grading classes of which the mentors anticipate there will be many or at least this is their hope, desire, belief and goal - going by what they have to say.

Snoopy then talks to us about how we can get involved with the community side of BBP and the vision of BBP. BBP is to be the forerunner in the UK for people to come, read articles by regular pro’s as well as on-line pro’s share and mix idea’s, look at 4/5 different points of view to why a certain hand played out the way it did, this will be a site where a newbie to the poker world as well as seasoned players can come on to BBP and ask questions of pro’s where these people would not normally have the opportunity to do this.

Mark McCloskey then gave us (graders that don’t use software tools such as holdem manager and trackers – I was surprised how many didn’t use these tools) an overview of various software for tracking hands, deciding on what tables to sit at and what time to have coffee, only joking.
I have never used tools before and when I had discussed the idea with my friends they use to say “forget it – you’re a tourney player” so therefore I didn’t bother. With the cash tables that we have to play along side other tables I think some of this software is going to be really beneficial to me so will install it ASAP and hopefully see a return on my investment on the tables.

Alcoholic Anonymous style we then each stood up and told the group who we were and what we considered to be our biggest live tell, you could sense the nerves from the other candidates at this point, as the mic was coming round to them there was this Mexican wave of coughing taking place, a clearing of the throat in an attempt not to sound nervous when handed the mic.

We then analysed 3 hands by some key professionals and had a group discussion on every street of the hand, it was really interesting to see so many different points of views to a situation that had already played out.

It was decided that we would all get an email telling us who was present and more importantly what their username is on BBP, I have no problem with this but there was a little resistance to this with probably around 3 or 4 players not wishing to divulge who they are to fellow players but it was Nik persaud who had the final say and the master said he wants everyone to know each others identity.

Swapped a couple of numbers and the workshop concluded around 7 o’clock and I made my way to Canon Street station, changing at Embankment for the tube to Marylebone for the 8pm train back to Birmingham.

I have time on the train to fire up the laptop and draft this post up.

I reflect on my day at the workshop and also being in London.

When I was on the tube this morning making my way over to Canon Street – although it wasn’t rush hour the tube was busy and packed, mainly with gentlemen in suits on their way into the “office” I traded my suits and “office” environment some two years ago now and I don’t know if I could actually go back to that or more importantly if I wanted to.

I want to be a poker professional, it’s what I’ve been doing now for two years and I love it, with all the heart ache this game brings when your at a low point and not getting the breaks – with all the outdraws you suffer on the river after being an 80%favorite on the turn when you shovelled your stack into the middle, with all the bullshit that you get from fellow players and professionals you would think it’s the last industry to be involved with.

I for one play regular UK events having final tabled in the GCGBPT & GUKPT although I have a strict bankroll policy of “if I cant afford it – then I aint playing it”. I would love to be a sponsored pro, playing all the major uk events as well as EPT’s and other festivals in Ireland and Europe which I think you can only do nowadays as a successful sponsored player

Neil has reassured everyone today that they have an equal chance of making it through the grading regardless of profit, profit is just one of the four factors we will be judged on – now it’s just up to us as individuals to grasp this sword and believe in our own ability to become a gladiator, a representative of BBP and a sponsored star of the future.

Got back from London around 10pm so popped into Walsall for the £50 deepy. only 35 runners paying down to 4 spots but just manage to sneak into the money 4th after being down to the felt in level 6. Had a great day in London, cant wait for next week now.


ant1966 said...

Great write up Steve,good luck in the venture.Incidently, what was your tell?...

ROSSI said...

alright steve
just read your post about you learning about the tracking software and HUDS and how you hadnt used them before.

I've put a lot of time (over a year) into developing layouts for both six-max/full ring on both pokertracker 2&3 and holdem manager.

I know when i first bought them they were a foreign language and it took me hours of repitition/surfing the internet/forums and table time to get a good understanding of them and create my layouts.

If you need any help leave a comment on my blog and i can give you my email. It might give you a headstart on your grinding for your blackbelt grading.

Steve H. said...

Thanks Ant,
my tell was that if I'm in a pot with someone and they bet or raise before it gets to me - if I take my earphones out then you can guarantee it's going to cost them more to get to 5th street.

Thanks Rossi,
So many choices, some people say holdem manager some say poker tracker 3 with the majority going with holdem manager, whats your opinion - you use both?

I may well take you up on your offer mate, thanks a lot.

havin_a_laff said...

Just a thought Steve - if they are not judging solely on results - will they expect you to submit hands captured in your database? That way they can assess your cash game. IMO get Holdem Manager - I just switched from pokertracker 3 and it is so much better. GL. must be nice living the dream...

Kev said...

Hi Steve,good post mate,very interesting.Maybe your should write a book about trying to make it as a poker profesional from where you started 2 years ago with all the highs and lows the characters you meet on your travels to when you hit the big one(am sure it will come,as you have beleif).Be interesting on how you find playing cash as I myself only play tourney poker online with a bankroll managment like yourself .Good Luck

Steve H. said...

Thanks H.A.L
touched on this above and this is something that I will bear in mind.
Boyle poker will also be giving them all our hand histories every day so they can analyse them as well.
Thanks Kev,
I think I'll wait till I win a braclet before I write a book, not sure what the title would be, disscusions on that nearer the time. still nervous about the cash side even at the low stakes as mainly being a tourney player there is a vast difference in style of play. Thanks mate

TEAMDOBB said...

great post and good luck with it all

Steve H. said...

Thanks Team.

Scandalous Housewife said...

I love the name 'Snoopy'!
Is that last photo a shot of the Uni-Bomber?