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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 Phil's.
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 this time).
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 Daniels.
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 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 brother... 

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 gods laughed.
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 old.
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 worried.
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 for 2000.
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 competition.
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.
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