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Travels With the Camel

UK News

by Keith Hawkins |  Published: Dec 06, 2004


A Disturbing Revelation
It hit me like a bolt of lightning. It dawned on me when a friend explained how he busted out of the recent Euro­pean Poker Classics championship event at London's Vic. (Before I go on, I would like to add my congratulations to the winner, John Shipley. It was a thoroughly deserved victory and there couldn't have been a more popular winner.)

The revelation was this: To win a big poker tournament, you probably have to be a bit of a lunatic, and you definitely need to have little or no regard for money.

It was the hand my friend went out on that caused the dawning. The blinds were 1,000-2,000 and the average stack was about 40,000. Player X raised from late position to 6,000. Player Y (a world-class player who has won loads of big competitions) smooth-called from the button. Both had about 60,000 in chips. My friend, with approximately 15,000, found A-Q in the small blind. With little hesitation, he pushed all in. Player X hemmed and hawed. Eventually, he called. Then, Player Y moved all in behind him. Player X showed A-K and reluctantly passed.

So, what was Player Y's hand? Just a miserable pair of tens. But, he had figured out the situation perfectly. When Player X didn't reraise all in, Player Y immediately pegged him for a hand that he was liable to pass for all his chips. And if Player X called, Player Y was a slight favourite to double up.

When this situation occurred, the players were close to being in the money. If that was Player Y's main concern, he almost certainly would have passed for the initial raise and definitely would have passed for the reraise. But, he had no interest in just getting into the money; 5 grand meant nothing to him. He wanted to win, and to win, he needed to collect every chip, and he saw this as an excellent opportunity to win a sizeable pot.

Obviously, no aces or queens flopped and Player Y won a pot of more than 35,000 that propelled him close to the chip lead. On this occasion Player Y didn't win the event, but he showed here exactly why he is so ­successful.

Having no regard for money seems to be a common trait amongst the very best tournament players. Look at the craps, roulette, and blackjack tables when there is a big tournament going on. It is not the successful cash-game players who are gambling it up. It is no secret that some tournament players like a game of craps or blackjack, and that others will bet on just about anything that moves.

This is not meant as criticism, as I am guilty of having as many leaks as the next man. It is purely an explanation. A common trait among nearly all the very best tournament poker players around the world is that they have an unquenchable desire to gamble and will always go for outright victory, when given the opportunity, rather than take the certain payday.

That, among many other things, is what makes "the best" the best.

I Knew Him When He Wasn't Famous
Now that Neil "Bad Beat" Channing has become famous after his stunning victory in a heat of the PartyPoker Euro­pean Open on prime time television, he will probably forget his roots.

You see, whatever he might say, I was the one who christened him with his nickname.

When I was gainfully employed by a renowned UK bookmaker, I came up with the idea to run books on European poker tournaments. To make a "fun market" at the marketing department's prompting, I added nicknames to various players on the website, such as Dave "Devilfish" Ulliott and Garry "The Whacker" Bush.

When I had compiled the book, I passed it to my boss to peruse. He was happy with the whopping overround, but was a bit perturbed about the fact that Neil Channing didn't have a nickname.

Due to Neil's propensity for telling bad-beat stories at the time, and the fact that he always seemed to have had a bad beat to talk about with some horse or football team, I decided to price him up as Neil "Bad Beat" Channing, 100-1.

So, now he is famous. We will probably have as a skin of PartyPoker. There will be a children's game called "Bad Beat!" Probably, packets of biscuits will bear his moniker. "Bad Beat" Channing will become rich and famous.

And will the inventor of the nickname profit in any way for setting him on the road to stardom? Not on your nelly! I'll be lucky if Neil even acknowledges my presence now that he will be mixing with the glitterati.

Heard at the Bar
A top cash-game poker player was heard moaning to a friend about his lack of success at tournaments during the Vic festival. The exchange went something like this:A top cash-game poker player was heard moaning to a friend about his lack of success at tournaments during the Vic festival. The exchange went something like this:

Cash-Game Player: "I can't believe I waste my time playing tournaments. I reckon I'm £2 million down on them over the last 10 years."

Friend: "How on earth do you work that out?"

Cash-Game Player: "Well, I reckon I've lost £20,000 per year in tournaments in England, and another £10,000 a year at tournaments in Europe, such as the Master Classics and WPT events at the Aviation."

Friend: "That's only £300,000."

Cash-Game Player: "Also, there are all those wasted trips to Vegas for the World Series of Poker and Bellagio. Plus, I've been to Tunica for the last five years. I reckon that works out at another £300,000."

Friend: "That's still nowhere near £2 million."

Cash-Game Player: "The rest? Well, I reckon I've lost £1.4 million in money I would have won playing cash games in the time I've wasted playing these stupid tournaments!" ´

Neil "Bad Beat" Channing

Keith "The Camel" Hawkins is a well-known presence on the ­European poker scene, as he travels to most of the major tournaments from his home in Darlington. Poker is his work, but Keith's passion is Queens Park Rangers. Keith's regular poker blog can be found at