It was a cold Monday night in early November and my friend and I had nothing to do. But with both of us being avid poker fans we decided we might as well drive up to one of our local casinos and try and win some money rather than sit about talking about that one day when we'll hit it big. So we rocked up to The Alea Casino which is just a twenty minute drive from my house and made our way inside.


It's actually a really nice place considering it's just a small casino in Glasgow. Wish I'd taken some photos of the inside but I was a little preoccupied with other things. Anyway we both made our way over to the poker area and registered for the Monday night tourney which was a £20+3 freezeout with a £10 optional add-on. The structure was pretty decent with half hour levels and no weird levels, just fairly standard blind levels. Also on top of the 15k starting stack early registration got us an extra 3k chips for nothing.

At 8pm sharp I took my seat at table 2, seat 2 and sat down organising my 18k chips into nice neat stacks because I'm a little OCD about how my chips are. I imediately got the impression that everyone else at the table knew each other. Which wasn't unexpected I suppose but it did add a few nerves being the outsider, especially as I'd not played in a casino for over a year so I was a little bit like a fish out of water at first. However I quickly found out there are a lot of fish out of water it seems as the standard of play was not that great. Lots of limping or really odd bet sizes or just plain crazy plays. Within the first level I had everyone pegged, noting two super nits, one of whom was on my direct left, and only two decent players and the best of those was on my direct right. I really couldn't ask for a better seat but as we all know it takes more than a good seat to win some chips. I had been fairly quiet, both in person and in play, but the few pots I had played were easy wins with the exception of one hand were I easily folded pocket Queens on an Ace high flop. The villain couldn't have made it more obvious what his cards were if he turned them face up and pointed at his Ace. So some time passed and little by little I chipped up to around 26k but before I knew it we were approaching the first break and end of late reg and just about everyone was taking their add-on. Turns out that from the 76 players that entered only two didn't take an add-on and that was my friend Mikey and myself. At the break we joked about how that was because we were so good we didn't need it, but that remains to be seen.

We sat down to recommence the tournament and the payouts came up on the screen at this point. 8 places paid with a top prizes of over £760, enough to motivate anyone to start gaining some chips. So I decided it was time to step it up a gear since I was confident I was better than these guys and the antes had just kicked in. I'm in the small blind and look down at my hand, 75 of clubs. Okay not great but what's this? Min raise from the table LAG and three calls. With that kind of price I'm flatting all day long knowing the big blind is never raiseing without Aces or Kings. sure enough he flats and the flop comes down 46J with two clubss. The plan is to check/raise so I gently tap the table twice and intently stare at the original raiser. But then it ends up checking all the way round. Slightly perplexed I wait to see what the turn brings, a red 2. I bet out for about 65% pot, pretty big by these guys standards. The OR calls and everyone else get out the way. This guy then started staring at me so I just stared back and as the Ace of clubs came down I checked. I figured with this villain being so laggy he's either bet for value if he had something or bluff at it since the pot was so big. I was dying to ship all my chips in the middle but to my surprise he actually checked back and table QJo. I flipped my 75 over and claimed the pot with my flush. The looks on everyone face was priceless and there were a few mumbles about "why the hell is he in with 75?!". I kind of wanted to point out a few things about getting a rediculous price and everyone's bad betting and so on but there was no way I was giving these guys a free lesson.

After that things at the table went a bit crazy with multiple bustouts and some huge pots and with all the crazy action I found it difficult to pick any good spots to win chips. About half an hour before the second break I got it in against a short stack AK vs JJ but his Jacks held and I was getting kind of short myself. I was starting to think I'd be sitting on the sidelines cheering on my friend who was up quite a bit but just when it seemed hopeless I looked down at a couple of ladies. I opened and got one call from a guy who was only playing Ax or at least seemed like that. Flop came 23K rainbow and I checked. Villain thinks for a second before betting about half pot and I insta shove. The look on his face told me I was way ahead but he had essentially committed himself so eventually he threw a few more chips in and turned over A9o. The turn and river both came low cards and I was back just above average. Before I'd even had time to stack my chips one of the floor guys came over and directed me towards a new table.

My new table was full of characters and a lot more lively than my first and there was even a guy I knew from the pub league I sometimes play in. Again it didn't take long to get everyone's style down. Maniac on my direct left, semi-LAG after him and a couple nits then my pub league friend, then a pretty TAG guy. Within the first few minutes there were some big confrontations but to be fair they were mostly just coolers. I had tried not to get into any sticky spots but once again I found myself in the small blind getting an amazing price after a min-plus raise and a couple flats. I look down at Queen Ten of spades and think I probably should just fold but decided I'm probably good enough post flop to play it well. Flop come Q3T rainbow, bink! I check and it goes round to the OR who makes a less than half pot bet. Folds to me and I call, trying to look as though I'm fishing (not sure how you look like that but I tried). Turn comes the ten of hearts and I wait a few seconds.. I could out a very small bet, about quarter pot, and throw it in quite aggressively (again trying to give off some signals). The villain calls and the river is dealt a black 9. I wait quite a few seconds, back to looking stoic as I usually do, then give a light tap of the table. And what do you know the villain shoves all in. Of course I insta-call and show my full house which was met with a few choice swear words. Not aimed at me really, just in frustration. a moment of silence and then says "good hand mate" and showed KJo for a rivered straight. After this I seemed to be on a bit of a roll, busting out another couple of players and made my way to the final two tables.

There was a short break to chip up and when I sat down amoungst the last 18 my good friend Mikey was two places to my left. We were both in decent shape but the blinds were now climbing rather high and with the antes it would soon be shove/fold time for everyone in the tourney if things didn't progress. However progress they did as the young spanish gent sitting between my friend and I was hitting every flop and getting paid. We got down to 15 players and I hadn't been too active so when I saw my beloved pocket Queens I opened to 40k (min raise) and it folded round to a rather scruffy looking guy who didn't seem to speak much english. He sat for a good minute or two looking into space before someone told him it was him to act. He nodded as though he was aware yet he still just sat there for another two minutes before he went all in for just 90k. It folded to me and I insta-called, egre to see what this guy was all about. I flipped my queens and said good luck and after a good 15-20 seconds he turned over his pocket Aces. I wasn't the least bit surprised but have to say he needs a lesson in etiquette. His Aces held so I had taken a bit of a hit to my stack but I wasn't going down without a fight. Soon after I found a spot to shove with AQ of diamonds and got called by a very short stack and my friend Mikey. The shorty shoed pocket Tens and Mikey showed 66 (little loose maybe but he was in the big blind so the price was decent). Flop was all low but the Queen on the turn insured my triple up and took us down to 14. We stayed at 14 players for what felt like an age as there was not much happening other then raise and take it for some reason, perhaps some were starting to to think about the money, perhaps it was fatigue. Blinds kept climbing and now everyone was in the dangerzone so when I found Aces on the button it was an easy shove and unfortunately for my friend Mikey in the big blind he woke up with AQo. Thankfully he wasn't to bothered about me busting him and he sat and railed me. I had a few ups and downs and one kind of unlucky spot where I shoved with KK on a Queen high flop and the scruffy guy called with pocket Tens and binked his two outer on the turn. I think his call was pretty awful but you can't control how others play so I took it in my stride which everyone else at the table found starnge as they kept going on about how sick it was lol. After this a couple more players went out and I started to feel pretty good, we were on the final table bubble and on the other table there was a micro stack. It got around to my button again and I found 77! I pushed my chips in and imediately felt sick when the small blind shipped over the top. A couple of Tens hit the felt and I knew I was done for. The board couldn't have been less help if it tried and I was out.

I must say at the time I was actually not feeling too bad about busting but I must say I felt like I was a better player than most who made the final table. I'm also pretty proud of how I handled myself in the live scene which I'd not been in for so long. I had players guessing and took the bad beats like a pro. And I had a fun night out for £23, much cheaper than going out drinking and no hangover in the morning. Definately going to make it a more regular occurance.