Thursday, 23 January 2014

Prague Trip Report

Over the first three weeks of December there were two major poker festivals in Prague, Czech Republic. It's an inexpensive place for flights and accommodation so I settled down there for a few weeks with the intention of playing loads of side-events to gain some more live / MTT experience.

I had visited Prague before. When I started travelling 3 years ago it was my first stop, to celebrate the new year in style. Check out my trip report here. Back then I was a less experienced traveller and I took taxis everywhere, stayed in 5 star hotels and just generally pissed money away. What a noob!

Doing It Right

On this trip I learned how to use the awesome public transport system of buses, trams and metro that can get you anywhere quickly and easily. At the airport there's a Public Transport kiosk. The girl there sold me a 90 minute ticket for 32 Crowns (€1.16 EUR / £0.97 GBP / $1.60 USD), told me which bus and metro train I needed to take, gave me a map and circled where to get on and off. It was all very simple and took me 50 minutes to get to my apartment. A taxi ride would have taken almost as long and cost me €40, or more if I had a scumbag rip-off-merchant POS airport taxi driver, which I probably would have as most airport taxi drivers around the world are POS rip-off-merchant scumbags.

Rather than piss money away by staying in a 5 star hotel again I chose to rent an apartment through airbnb. That's always my preference for a long stay. For up to 5 night stays I still regularly book into hotels, but anything longer than that I want a place with more space, a kitchen where I can make myself omelettes or cereal at 4am and washing machine where I can clean my underwear for cheaper than it costs to buy new ones.

(Thrifty Scotsman Tip)

I found an apartment that was absolutely perfect and had dozens of positive reviews on airbnb. It was in the city centre right next to a tram stop, but on quiet street, about five times bigger than a hotel room, with a big office desk and nice leather office chair. There was even a high quality elliptical trainer machine in the living room, which was unusual but a very welcome addition, and a Playstation 3.

The total price for the apartment for 19 nights was to be €1,186 EUR (£990 GBP / $1,630 USD). That includes the 20% fee that airbnb takes from the guest (they also take another few percent from the host). However I noticed that the host had some personal details on his airbnb profile, so I did a bit of Google detective work and figured out his full name. I then went through loads of facebook profiles and eventually found the one that I was sure belonged to him. I sent him a facebook message, paying 18 British pennies to have it delivered to his inbox rather than "other", asking him if we could cut out the middle man and do a deal privately, and also for a discount for a long stay. After some negotiation we settled on a price of €700 EUR (£584 GBP / $961 USD) for the entire stay, which I was pretty happy about. On my last trip to Prague I spent more than that to stay in a hotel room 1/5th the size for 1/4 the length of time.

One of the most important things I did the first day I got there was to buy a local SIM card. That meant I could have data on my phone, which meant that I could use Google Maps at any time, which meant that it was impossible to ever get lost. Google Maps is so awesome that it even tells you which tram to get on and when it leaves when you search for directions to a certain place.

A Czech SIM card also meant being able buy tram tickets on my phone, so no hunting for change and queuing at ticket machines.

Bargain accommodation, transport and finding my way around easily - a completely different experience to my previous visit to Prague.

Prague Championship II - Day 1

I wasted my first four days in Prague by sleeping 12 hours a day, eating junk food and playing video games. That's one big disadvantage of staying somewhere for as long as 3 weeks, it's just too easy to waste days when you're feeling lazy. Whenever I go somewhere for five days or less I try to cram as much into those days as I can and rarely waste time.

Once I had found my energy I signed up for a tournament called Prague Championship II at the "other" Prague poker festival, i.e. not the PokerStars Eureka / EPT one. With it not being a PokerStars event that meant buying in with cash or bank transfer and getting screwed on the exchange rate rather than what I'm used to which is buying in through the PokerStars client with a few clicks, being able to have winnings credited straight to my account and getting the exact interbank exchange rates.

Prague is an especially annoying place to have to buy in with cash because the poker tournament buyins are in EUR and you can only withdraw money from ATMs in Czech Crowns. So you'd end up paying an exchange rate vig twice if you tried to make withdrawals from ATMs in order to buy in to tournaments.

(Thrifty Scotsman Tip)

Being a thrifty Scotsman, I did figure out a way to make a bank transfer from my GBP account to the organiser's EUR bank account without getting screwed. If I tried to make the transfer with my bank I would be paying about 6% more than spot rate due to mark-up and transfer fees. Fortunately I found a service called TransferWise which is a bank transfer service that is kind of peer-to-peer behind the scenes. You make the transfer as normal through their site, say from GBP to EUR, and they wait (not very long at all) until other users make transfers in the opposite direction, from EUR to GBP, and they give each side spot rate on the transfers with only a tiny service fee that I think is just 0.5%, so 12 times cheaper than using my bank.

If you use my referral link for TransferWise you'll get your first transfer up to £3,000 for free, so you will get spot interbank rates with zero mark-up at all. The TransferWise service should be especially useful for European poker players going to Vegas this summer who want to transfer large amounts to the Rio, or really any time you go to play poker somewhere in a foreign country that has a different currency to your bank accounts.

edit: I was informed by pro poker player 'skolsuper' that the Rio don't accept 3rd party bank transfers, however it may be worth trying another casino like Wynn or Bellagio to get money across. He also confirmed that the Crown in Melbourne DO accept the transfers.

Prague Championship II started off well for me. The first big pot I played was when I flatted a late position raise with 74s on the button and the flop came J56. The original raiser bet and I called. It's a great spot because not only can I make a straight on the turn but most of the time when he doesn't have a pair he'll check the turn and I can bet and take down the pot.

The turn was an A and he bet again for 1/3 of the pot. It's a good card for him to barrel with his air but in this tournament of mainly inexperienced players, and him playing pretty tight so far, it's more likely that he hit the A. It's still a good spot to call because I'm getting very close to correct pot odds to call and the implied odds are huge. So I made the easy call and rivered a 3 like a pro to make the nuts. Such an easy game.

The bloke instantly lead out for half pot and I stared him down. He looked pretty comfortable so I made my raise size huge, way more than the pot, to make it look bluffy knowing that he had a hand he could find a call with. He took a quick glance at the board again, shrugged his shoulders and flicked it in while turning over AA for top set. When I showed him the nuts he looked at me like he just caught me in bed with his missus, oh dear!

I was in a good mood and feeling chatty as usual but nobody wanted to talk to me. My table was full of what I presume were mostly amateur players yet everyone was very quiet and looking absolutely miserable. I thought poker was supposed to be fun. Fortunately most of the dealers in the tournaments were hot chicks so I just sat there enjoying their prettiness.

This little red haired cutiepie was my favourite one.

Hot dealer. Cold players.

Midway into the day I was doing great with about 45 big blinds, which was waaaaay above average with it unofficially being a turbo structure. I was much more active than usual because my opponents were all very weak and letting me get away with stealing pot after pot. One player mentioned that he was "going to get me, eventually" or something but obviously that was nothing more than an idle threat.

After open raising and taking the blinds three times in row it was a real good spot for me to pick up AA under the gun. I raised then a bloke in middle position (the big fella in the photo above) shipped his stack in for 29BB and I was loving life. He showed ATo and life got even better as I was expecting him to have a pair with 20% equity. ATo is only like 9% against AA. The flop came down a rainbow 992 and his equity reduced to 0.3%. Never have I loved my life more. The bloke let out a huge sigh and started to get up from his seat but when the turn came T he showed a bit more interest. Obviously that was followed by another T on the river for a really nasty beat. F*** my life!

I just burst out laughing though. Bad beats like that never really hurt me, at least compared to when I donk my stack off making an outrageous bluff. I can't control how the board runs out, so why stress over that. The fella said genuinely "Very, very sorry" to me and I told him "Don't be! Feel very, very happy, you won!"

My stack was down to 5K in chips from the 10K starting stack and I started doing a lot of open-shoving and then shoving over raises, never getting called. One 30-minute level later I had spun it up to 30K without being all in and called. Amazing. Another level and I was up to 48K, just running over a table full of very weak players. Easy game.

In the latter half of the day I was dealt a card with a thumb nail mark in it. Every time I've seen this in live poker the marked card has been an ace. So I looked at the card, it was an ace, held it up and said "so which one of you is the scumbag marking the cards?". Not a word from anyone but I narrowed it down to between two guys based on their reactions. Anyway, the floor changed the deck and I didn't notice any marked cards after that, but just another reason why online poker >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> live poker.

On the very last hand of the day I picked up A4o in the HJ and raised. The BB (bloke with his hand over his mouth in the photo above) peeled and the flop came down 852. He checked, I bet and he called. The turn was a sexy 3 giving me a straight. He checked, I bet about 2/3 pot which was enough to leave me with a pot size bet for the river. I think that most hands he called the flop with he's calling with on the turn also because it looks like a brick.

The river was a 7. He checked and I shoved for the size of the pot. He tanked for a very long time. In fact players at other tables had already bagged up their chips and left. I sat there holding my breath trying not to move, to look nervous. The last time someone called me because they said they had a live tell on me was Jack Salter in a UKIPT who said it was because I was too still. So I tried to emulate that. Eventually he called it off and was pretty tilted when he saw my straight. I had him just covered - happy days.

The day ended at around 6:30pm which was really early. It could easily have been a 1-day event, but the site that organised the event were taking their satellite qualifiers on some night out, so it was more like a 2 half-day event than a 2 day event. Pretty annoying but that site did bring a bunch of terrible players for me to play against so I guess they can run the event however they want.

I bagged up 111,700 chips which made me the clear chip leader. The guy second in chips had about 88K. 38 players remained from the starting field of 135 and 18 were getting paid. Average stack was 35k, which was 22BBs as we were going into level BB1,600 the next day.

Prague Championship II - Day 2

If day 2 went even just 25% as well as day 1 went for me I fancied my chances of finishing the tournament in one of the top spots. Unfortunately it went 0% as well, I won a total of 0 hands and I cashed for €0.

I lost about 30BBs by raising and getting shoved on, 3-betting other deep (relatively) stacked players and getting shoved on, betting flops that I missed and getting shoved on. Very annoying. Players were busting the tournament left, right and centre and there were soon only 22 players left, 4 from the bubble and there were 5-10BB stacks everywhere. That is when I speeeeeeeewed it off in outrageous fashion.

I had about 80K at BB2,000 and raised from MP with AJ of spades. The young lad to my immediate left who started the hand with about 90K called my raise and we saw a Ten high rainbow flop. I bet 7K into a pot of 12K and he called pretty quickly. The turn came the Queen of spades putting two spades on the board, giving me a flush draw and gutter. My standard line here would be to continue betting but I decided that if I checked he would bet most of the time with any pocket pair, ten that he flopped or whatever air he floated me with. So I thought check-shoving would be a good plan, getting him to fold most of the pocket pairs and Tx hands that are beating me, getting him to put more chips in with his floats and still having some decent equity when he snaps me off with something like a flopped set.

He ended up just betting 8.5K which was only 1/3 of the 26K pot. I was hoping he would go for more like 15K. At that point shoving 70K felt really spewy and I thought about just calling because I was getting good odds to try to hit my draw. But I couldn't help myself. I counted his stack and then told him I was all in, pushing my stack of chips into the middle.

There were loud gasps from the whole table, half of whom were sitting with less than a quarter of the chips in the pot in front of them. The lad tanked for quite a while. If I was him I'd guess my value range in that spot to be mostly very strong hands like overpairs and better, and my bluffing range to be exactly what it is, mostly combo draws. When he calls with whatever hand he's having to tank with and is wrong he's crushed and when he calls and is right he's still only like 2:1 to win. It's a tough call to make near the bubble, given the stack size distributions, even if suspects I'm more weighted to a bluff in that spot.

I feel like most opponents when faced with someone taking an unconventional line that they're not used to dealing with tend to air on the side of caution and take the lowest variance option, which is to fold. The longer he tanked the better I felt about it. Then he sighed and flicked it in.

He turned over AQo for top pair, top kicker and I was in trouble. The river was a blank and I was gone. From hero to zero. Chip leader to chip bleeder.

To say that I felt bad would be a massive understatement. I was so angry at myself. Even though it was a small tournament and the money was hardly life-changing, I had played so well to put myself in an incredible position, only to self destruct in one stupid hand, and for some reason I wasn't able to just shrug it off like usual.

For the next two days I did what I normally do when I'm feeling miserable which is to binge eat. Since my apartment was only a one minute walk away from Hooters I was in there for every meal killing myself with fatty junk food. It's was a decision that was about on par with punting off my chips in the tournament. Compounding one self-destructive mistake with lots more self-destructive, yet delicious mistakes.

Binge eating is a terrible habit. Still, looking on the bright side, it's better than being a raging alcoholic or drug addict.

Eureka Prague

Two days after my horrible bustout in Prague Championship II I had to pick myself up in order to go to work on a cold Monday morning.

I was registered to play Day 1b of the Eureka Prague main event at the PokerStars Prague Festival at the Hilton.

(Thrifty Scotsman Tip)

For this event I was able to buy in with FPPs, an option available to all Platinum Star and above VIPs on PokerStars. If you value an FPP based on the best rate of cash bonus available then I was getting the €1,100 buyin for €1,052 worth of FPPs. Value. The cheaper price is probably due to exchange rate fluctuations as the FPP price is usually set way before the tournament date. It's always worth checking if buying in with FPPs is good value if you have spare FPPs in your account and are about to buy in with cash.

The field was massive for a €1,100 event, with 1,315 players over the two Day 1's and  €226,400 EUR for 1st.

I had a starting table right next to an empty table surrounded by dozens of expensive-looking cameras. I found out that it was going to host a special charity tournament that Rafa Nadal and Ronaldo would be playing and the cameras were there to produce some Matrix-like 'bullet time' effects for a documentary that was being filmed about Nadal learning poker.

Bullet time.

I didn't recognise anyone at my starting table but quickly found out the guy on my right was 'uWannaLoan?' on PokerStars. He looked tired but happy and the reason for that quickly became clear. He told me that he was woken up by a telephone call from a guy that he stakes in online MTTs early that morning to say he was at the final table of the PokerStars Sunday Million $5,000,000 special - and he went on to win it. Must be nice, to wake up one morning and find out that you're rich. He was a good lad with some decent chat which is more than could be said for the rest of the table who sat there silent for the entire day.

I started off well, increasing my stack from 20K to 30K by the first break thanks to winning a big pot with AA.

By the second break I was up to 40K thanks to check-calling 3 streets with 4s3s on a 2d4d5d-8h-2h board against a cocky guy in sunglasses who 3-bet me pre. Sunglasses dudes are like guys with beards - something to hide, always bluffing.

On the dinner break I went to a Czech restaurant called Gate near the Hilton which David Vamplew had recommended to me. A restaurant recommendation from a food connoisseur and thrifty Scotsman, I knew there was going to be a lot of value in this place. However I thought he may have been trolling me when he specifically recommended that I order the Cabbage Soup. The best thing on the menu apparently.

I was starving and Cabbage Soup still sounded really unappealing but I decided to have faith in my fellow Scotsman and ordered it. Thankfully I wasn't getting trolled and my faith was rewarded with a lovely bowl of hot delicious soup. It was cheap as chips as well, just 51 Czech Crowns (€1.85 EUR, £1.52 GBP, $2.50 USD). So much value.

The main ingredients other than the cabbage were sausage, potatoes and sour cream as well as onion, garlic, paprika and sauerkraut. Full of flavour. Now, I'm no marketing expert but I think they should probably start calling it 'Cream of Spicy Sausage and Potato Soup' or something instead of 'Cabbage Soup', but I'm sure there's a cool Czech name for it.

Unfortunately after returning to the tournament the deck was nowhere near as hot as cabbage soup and I started bleeding chips. On the last level of the day I had 14BBs at the 1,200 level. The UTG player limped and I shoved from the button with 33. He snap called with 66. Damn, he trapped me, well done!!!! And that was me gone and off to Hooters to drown my sorrows in a basket of chicken wings.

World SNG Masters

An interesting looking tournament at "the other" Prague poker festival was a SNG championship. The format was that you play 4 SNGs for points and the 18 players with the highest scores all cash and then play out a 2-table SNG for the rest of the money. Seemed like fun.

The payout structure of each SNG was very, very flat.

1st 12 points
2nd 10 points
3rd 8 points
4th 6 points
5th 5 points
6th 4 points
7th 3 points
8th 2 points
9th 1 point
No-show 0 points

So your equity at the start of each SNG is 5.66 points (average of all payout spots). The most points that you can finish with is only 12, effectively double the points that you started with, and you can only achieve that by winning it. You can't lose all your equity as even finishing 9th gives you 17.65% of your starting EV.

Basically it's the flattest payout structure of a SNG ever invented and doesn't resemble any kind of SNG that's available online. That's fine though as whenever there's a weird structure like this I feel like I'll adapt to it better than my opponents.

The best way to adapt to this particular structure is to nit it up similar to a Double or Nothing, another type of flat payout structure SNG. The ICM tax on playing hands is huge.

For those who don't know ICM what I'm saying is that if your starting equity is 5.66 points and you double up in the first hand then your equity is nowhere near 11.32 points. This should be easy to accept, as there's 8 players remaining and you have to win the SNG to cash for 12 points.

Therefore the chips that you win are worth much, much less than the chips that you lose and you need to play accordingly. There's little advantage in playing pots with weak hands. When you fold and other players are splashing around in pots and knocking each other out you are gaining equity by doing nothing.

An ICM comparison with different formats of SNGS. Starting with equity of 5.66 points and doubling up / knocking someone out in the first hand. :

Winner Take all - 11.32 Points (+ 100%)
Standard SNG (50/30/20 % payout) - 10.34 Points (+ 82.5%)
Double or Nothing - 8.5 Points (+ 50.2%)
World SNG Masters - 7.89 Points (+ 39.4%)

As you can see, doubling your stack in the first hand of the WSM structure only results in only a 40% increase in equity (from 5.66 to 7,89). When you lose, you lose 82.35% of your points equity (from 5.66 to 1).

I used that information to run the maths (using SNGWiz v2) on common SNG situations in preparation for the event.

As an example, if you are in the BB and the SB shoves with 11% of hands (that's 55+, A8s+, A9+), you can only call with 1.4% (that's QQ+). Even then, QQ is about break even and KK / AA are not profitable by much.

If they shove 100% of hands, you can only call with 3.5% (88+ and AKs), and again most of that is break-even and the big pairs aren't hugely profitable calls.

So it doesn't take a genius to work out that you just need to nit it up in the early levels, then when the blinds get bigger start stealing blinds from tight players who have an idea about ICM, or shoving over their raises.

SNG 1 - During the first SNG the organisers changed the payout structure so that only 9 players would get paid instead of 18. This was because of the low turnout of only 58 players. But 10 minutes later we were told that 18 players would still qualify for the final day two-table SNG, meaning it should be super easy to qualify for that by just running a bit above average in the SNGs. One old man who had bought in direct wasn't happy that only 9 were getting paid, so even though he had already been playing and was stuck they allowed him to withdraw from the tournament with his buyin back.

The first SNG went well as I sat back and gained equity from other players busting each other. Two of the players were friends and I could hear them talking about how a certain hand was a "bad ICM call" so they were basically telling me that I could exploit the crap out of them from that point on by attacking their blinds and 3-betting them wide.

I ended up having a nice chiplead 4-handed but lost 4 hands where I shoved and was called by worse or a flip to finish 4th. Pretty frustrating.

SNG 2 - 8-handed I picked up KJs in the CO. UTG, a massive fish who had just doubled up by calling off his stack on the flop with a 9-high flush draw, limped and I raised to 4BBs. A short stack on the button called for 1/3 of his stack and UTG called.

The flop came down J84r, UTG checked and I checked believing the BTN would shove for his < 2/3 pot-sized stack when checked to, then I may get extra chips out of the fishy UTG player if he calls.

So I checked and BTN shoved, but then UTG re-shoved, having me well covered. I figured my hand to be very strong against a nutter's range in that spot so I called. Unfortunately he had 84s for bottom two pair, Q turn, 8 river, so the short stack won the main pot with his Q8o and I busted in 8th for 2 points. Booooo.

It was probably a bad idea to play a pot with KJs against a lunatic given the ICM implications but I figured his limp-calling range would be super weak and I had post-flop positional advantage. Just didn't work out though.

SNG 3 - I turned up on time to play my third SNG but just before cards were about to be dealt it was announced there would be a 2 hour delay because the board at the casino had the wrong times so there were a few players who didn't show up. Bit of a farce, anyway I used the spare couple of hours productively by taking a trip to the Christmas market to binge on Trdelník, which is a kind of sweet pastry.

When we finally got the third SNG started I asked everyone at the table how many points they had so far. I figured that I'd be able to put more pressure on the players with good scores and that the players with few points would be playing to win.

After my poor result in the last SNG I figured that I would likely need a 1st and a 2nd in the remaining SNGs to secure a top 18 finish in the standings, so I pretty much ignored ICM and played to take it down.

After bossing the table I got heads-up with a tough opponent and ended up making things even tougher for myself by raking one of my big chips. I threw it into the pot and it bounced and fell into the tiny slot of the dealer's rake box on the table. Nobody had the key for it so there was no way of me getting it back. Where's WhoJedi when you need him?

Eventually they brought me a new chip and I went on to win the heads-up battle.

SNG 4 - After looking at the standings it looked like I would need a 2nd or possibly a 3rd to qualify. There were a bunch of players who had no chance to qualify but turned up to play because there was a small cash prize on the 4th SNG. Not enough to make them play good though so again I sat back and let everyone bust each other then started playing looser 4-handed.

I ended up winning this SNG too and finished 4th on the overall leaderboard.

Final 18

I started the final 18 fourth in chips as starting stacks were determined by leaderboard standings. I ran pretty bad but made the final table (and the money) joint 9th in chips.

Before the final table began we were given an hour for a dinner break. I was on my way out the door when I was stopped by a Microgaming employee who said that I'd have to take off my PokerStars patches for the final table as it was a Microgaming supported event and the final table would be streamed live on their website.

I told them no, that it wasn't any concern of mine which site is supporting the event, I bought in with cash and didn't sign any terms and conditions so I'll wear what I want. That's when she told me that if I didn't take off or cover up the patches I wouldn't be allowed to play.

As if that wasn't enough, the lady pulled out a list of Microgaming skins and asked me to choose one that they could say that I qualified for the event on. "On the live stream we want to have the logo of each player's site next to their name on the graphics, so we can say 'this is Dale from..... whatever site your choose'".

I laughed that off and told her that I have an exclusivity contract with PokerStars, I only play on PokerStars and even if I didn't she still wouldn't have my permission to associate my name with any of those Microgaming skins.

I wasn't even worried about them linking me to one of their skins because it would have been so profitable to sue them if they did. What I was more concerned about was them telling me, not asking me, to remove my PokerStars patches and threatening to not let me play if I didn't comply - because I certainly wasn't going to comply.

After the dinner break the same lady asked me what I was going to do and I told her that I won't take my patches of and I plan on playing my stack in this poker tournament that I bought in with cash through the casino and didn't agree to any terms and conditions to play. So there was a long, long delay while all the organisers huddled together to figure out what to do.

After 20 minutes I was approached by a different man who said "sorry mate but I'm going to have to cover up your PokerStars patches" to which I replied "no you're not!". He said we wouldn't be able to start the final table until my patches were covered, because of the live stream, and I just told him "no, I don't believe you, stop trying to bully me.".

Eventually they decided that since I was the joint shortest stack they would start the final table but only switch on the live stream after I busted out.

The table they used was awful and we were sitting in these high-chairs that meant you couldn't tuck your legs under the table. Really uncomfortable. The table surface was solid, not felt, so it was really difficult to peel the hole cards.

All my opponents had been messaging their friends and family during the dinner break telling them that they were going to be on the live stream and I was preventing that from happening so I became a massive target. Everyone wanted to bust me. Every time I got all in it was a coin flip and I could feel every player and especially the organisers routing against me. Unfortunately for all of them all I did was win, win, win no matter what.

Meanwhile on the event blog..........

I've been called a lot of things before but never a "technical issue".

We got down to 4-handed and were all almost even in chips.

It was a shallow blind structure and there were some big jumps in the payouts so when we went on break I suggested to everyone "why don't we just chop it up evenly and walk away? We'd all get 2nd place money.".

Everyone snap-called. I told the organisers and they said it was fine. They checked their rules and there was nothing to say we had to leave any money on the table to play for. Unfortunately they decided that they wouldn't officially help us with the deal and that we'd have to play it out, get our prizes and then sort the money out between ourselves.

My read was that these guys could be trusted but when we resumed play I decided to just fold my way to heads up so that I'd at least be getting 2nd place payout and nobody could screw me over. It also meant that they wouldn't be able to turn on their live steam at all.

In the first few hands chips went flying into the pot and I was heads up with a 3-1 chip disadvantage. It would have been nice to win the trophy but I lost my first coinflip of the final table and busted. Ahhh, at least I waited until there was no money on the line to lose a flip.

4-way chop.
The organiser lady was quite nice to me after the tournament was over. No hard feelings. I got a nice payout and cool story for my blog so I was happy. :)

EPT Prague Live Stream

I was asked to be a guest commentator for the live stream of the EPT Prague final table. I was quite nervous about doing it because it's a situation I've never been in before.

I come in at the 2h43m mark. Watching it back it was like listening to someone else speak. I just wasn't myself and any time they asked me a technical question I was scared to say much for fear of embarrassing myself in front of the bazillions of viewers. Hopefully I'll do better if I get another chance to do commentary.


I had a few days left in Prague and hadn't done any sightseeing at all. I hadn't played much poker either, only three tournaments, but decided to get outdoors and do stuff with my remaining time.

I spent a day at Prague Castle. There's loads of stuff to see there including a massive cathedral with incredible stained glass windows, a museum, art gallery and a lane of old houses that have been preserved.

I visited the Museum of Communism that has a bunch of cool old s***.

I also spent an afternoon buzzing around Prague on a Segway for three hours which was awesome fun, although they forced me to wear a helmet.

I made some new friends that day, Tati and Leo from Miami. That's the best thing about travelling, getting to meet new and awesome people. We spent the next couple of days hanging out in Prague and going for meals in local restaurants that sold traditional Czech food.

Despite not doing as much or playing as much poker as I planned to I'd still rate my trip to Prague as a success. I got to spend three weeks living in another country, seen some cool stuff, made a bit of money, got more live poker experience, made new friends, hung out with old friends and had a lot of fun.

Prague photo gallery:

I flew back to Edinburgh a couple of days before Christmas. The first time I've been home for Christmas since 2010. Who would believe that Edinburgh was even colder than Prague? I went straight into hibernation mode until it was time to go to Bahamas for the PCA!


  1. Nice blog. I enjoyed reading it. I wish more players would do this. It's interesting for those of us who can't make these type of trips.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Good post, but in case you or any readers try to use that forex site to transfer money to the rio I thought I'd better warn you that they don't accept 3rd party transfers at the rio cage. Might have more luck with wynn/bellagio but I've never tried. Can defs use them for aud at the crown in Melbourne tho.

    1. Thanks for the input James. I edited the blog with your advice.

  3. Great post, especially enjoyed you're sit n go thoughts. Do you recall what stakes you played when you had 1000 euro bankroll? I tend to play $10 sit n go double ups and for a brief spell $50 and the odd $100 but the variances were obviously far to high. For past year I can't seem to get past this mark. Or any other advice you would give a struggling poker player!!!

    1. I think for those games 100 buyins is generally considered good bankroll management. But be prepared to move down to rebuild if you lose like 50 buyins.

    2. Cheers, I will adjust accordingly, hopefully build up a bankroll and get in bigger games!!! Good to see someone flying the flag for Scotland!!!

  4. Luckaments screwed you somewhat but it looks like you had a fun trip... which in life is key

    Fun >>>> $$$$

    Well unless you are broke