Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year 2007!

What a Christmas!

Thank g-d it's all over for another bluddy year. Spent most of it in bed. No. Not with a hangover. Viral infection. That's what the quack says. Anyway.

And it's not funny. Let me tell you. I've been at death's door for the best part of 2 weeks.

But here I am!

Though. To tell the truth. I'm not right. Even now. Not really. Still coughing a lot. And my ears keep clicking. But. Hopefully. I'll be well enough to go back into work on Tuesday. That's the plan. And. yet. You know. I gotta admit. There were times when old Phil Diamond actually wondered if he was gonna make it through at all.

But. You see. Even down there. Even in the darkest depths. Something in me made me fight back. You know. And I mentally decided. I couldn't just lie there and give-in. Phil. I said. You can't just give in. You are the Diamond. And you can't let the people down. Especially at this important time of the year.

And so it is that the Diamond Man has bravely risen from his sick bed to bring you his New Year message.

But. What shall I write about? I wondered, in between bouts of high fever and delirium. I've done nothing for days. But. Then. I thought. What could be more appropriate than a list of my latest New Year Resolutions. I've had plenty of time to think about them - lying as I was - so close to death. It focusses the mind. You know? On the really important things in life.

So. Here they are. In no particular order...

Phil Diamond's New Year’s Resolutions

I will give up making big pre-flop raises with small pocket pairs
I will give up making big pre-flop raises with medium pocket pairs
I will give up making big pre-flop raises with A-K, A-Q A-J, A-10…
I will give up…

… making continuation bets when there’s an ace on the board and I haven’t got one.

… over-betting top-pair - when top-pair is 6-6 or lower.

… representing the ace (I haven’t got) with a raise, after the other guy has already made that move.

… going all-in with an up-and-down straight draw.
… going all-in with the wrong end of a straight draw.
… going all-in on a flush draw.
… going all-in with jacks.
… going all-in with queens.
… going all-in with kings.
… going all-in with aces.
… in fact, going all-in with anything less than quads.

… calling an all-in with top pair – especially when there is a 2 on the board, or when there are three, black suited-cards on the board and mine are both red.

… offering free advice to the guy next to me on how he might have played that last hand better and saved himself several thousand chips – especially if I was the one who won the hand in question. Even though such advice is given freely and with the sole intention of helping my fellow players improve their understanding of the game, I have generally found that ‘tapping the side of the aquarium’ (as they say) is rarely greeted with gratitude by the minnows inside. And, come to think of it, we serious players need all the krill we can get to swell the prize pool with their dead money.

... reading Card Player magazine during the early stages of a tournament. I can’t see the problem, but I have overheard, well, shall we say, some unflattering comments on the subject.

… trying to get my chips back from the guy who has just taken most them from me with a terrible bad-beat on the river, by re-raising his latest raise with 8-2 suited.

… bearing personal and lasting grudges against anyone who decimates my stack by catching his one and only out on the river.

… swearing out loud during a live game - under any circumstances.

… saying ‘yes’ when asked if I will agree to show my cards, if the other guy agrees to fold, only to find that he has now taken that to be a sign of weakness and has decided instead to call my all-in when I had really rather hoped that he didn’t - and facing the consequential humiliation of having to lay my modest cards on their backs for all the world to see.

… jumping out of my chair, whooping, dancing and proclaiming that ‘I AM THE GREATEST’, after coming from a mile behind, hitting a miracle full-house on the river, taking down a massive pot and knocking-out the very nice lady out of the tourney.

… mucking my cards with such disgust and vigour that one is exposed before leaving the table completely, while the other flies up and hits the dealer in the face

… jumping suddenly up from my seat and simultaneously knocking-over three drinks tables and seventeen fully charged glasses – replacement cost the best part of forty quid – and being told to ‘sit down and shut up you a-hole.’

… eating two whole packs of custard creams at 4.30 in the morning

… saying ‘sorry’ in a cash game to the guy I’ve just rivered to take down a £700 pot. It has been my experience that such apologies are rarely accepted with good grace.

Give up smoking?
Cut down on the drinking?

Leave it out!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Look! You fools! You’re in danger! Can’t you see? They’re after you! They’re after all of us! Our wives…our children…they’re here already! You’re next!

Move over Neil Channing – make way for Phil Bad Beat Diamond

I can’t bluddy believe it. You wouldn’t believe it. I mean. You really wouldn’t bluddy believe it. Get your chips in when you’ve got the best hand. That’s what the Lobster tells me. But bluddy hell. Talk about bad beats. No. Please. Don’t talk to me about bad beats.

I mean. Last night. Right. I’m in the £10 Rebuy at the Big Slick. Right. First hour doing nicely – thanks very much. A-10 makes 2-pair with A on the turn and a 10 on the river - pays out handsomely. (The other bloke didn’t look too impressed – I gotta say. Still.) Very nice all the same. Then I get a nice pocket pair of Aces. Early position. Decide to limp in. Angelo, on the Button, shoves it all in with a pair of sixes. AA holds up. Luvvly Jubbly. So. Nearly 6,000 chips and no rebuys. Hunky-Dory.

So. I’m saying to myself. Don’t get involved Phil. No need to get involved. Pay your blinds. Ride it out. Do your add-on at the break. Look at the bigger picture. Do NOT get involved – not unless you’ve got the absolute nuts.

Yeah. Well. Right. Like. Why can’t I ever listen to my own advice. I mean. I write columns on the game – for Chr’st sake. You know - in the blog and the forum and on the web site. I’m regularly dishing out tip-top advice to beginners as well as to the more experienced players who want to sharpen-up on the finer points. You know. The seemingly small, yet all-important little insights on the game that give us serious players that vital edge over the rest of the pack. And all for free.

And yet when it comes to me – why is it I can’t I ever listen to my own good advice?

Anyway. To cut a long story sideways – listen to this for a list of horrible beats. KK beaten by 22. Ok. Ok. I know I shouldn’t have slow-played them. But I’m in early position. I want to get full value. Anyway. Flop comes 2-4-4.

And this is when my poker brain says to me. WARNING! I’m looking across at Angelo who is in this pot. I’m not so concerned about the others. They’re all playing Ax, KQ, KJ - anything with the lettter A or a bit of paint on it. But 2-4-4. That’s just the sort of flop a mutant ninja turtle loves.

But this is the maddening thing about it. Although the finely-honed, working part of my poker brain is advising CAUTION! – I find that I have suddenly lost bodily control over my limbs. I can see my hands reaching for my chips. I try to stop them, but they do not respond. It’s like the two kings in front of me are actually a pair body-snatching aliens in desguise. You know. Like in the film. And now they’ve taken me over. And drained me of all free will. And they are forcing me to push my entire stack into the middle. And there’s nothing I can do about it.

And on there backs, I stare in terror at the set of twos sent down to planet Earth to vaporize my chips.

The earthling's stack must be destroyed. Exterminate. ExterminateAaaaaaaah!!

Yeah. Then after that. I’ve got the rest of my chips in with the nuts flush – only to lose it on the river to a full house.

So. Now, I’m having to rebuy. £10 for 1,000 chips. There’s only 15 minutes left before the break. I get J-J and shove my solitary green chip in and get a dozen callers. First card up – Jack! But then four diamonds fall and my set loses to a flush. Gary laughs. Bad luck – Phil. Poker – eh? What a game.

Yeah. Right. Thanks, Gary.

Another rebuy. A-10. Shove it in. Beaten by an 8. Another rebuy. A-9 suited. Shove it in. Beaten – by something – can’t remember. Anyhow. Last hand. Another rebuy. Q-8off. Shove it in. Don’t ask.

It’s the break. £30 will buy you 4,000 chips – Mayo kindly informs me. My shaking fingers reach into empty pockets. Cleaned-out. Lend us 30 quid, Gary. Cheers mate. I’ll pay you straight back.

No worries, Phil.

Break – beer – smoke outside. Chat with Jamie and Mary-Ann for a while. Very, very nice people. Very understanding too. Sympathetically shaking their heads, as I take them meticulously through every hand. Then Big-Bad-Dave joins us. He looks different. But it takes a minute before I realise he’s wearing glasses.

Dave. I say. You’re wearing glasses. Yes. Says Dave. Funny. I say. Glasses usually make people look more intelligent. Yeah. All right. Take the p’ss, then.


Back after the break. I need to get a move on. Obviously. Anyway. First hand up. 10 -10. A few limpers. I raise it up. Make it 1,200 to go. Everyone folds, but one. Flop comes J-J-Q. He’s all-in like a flash. I know I’m done for. Have to fold.

Next hand. A-8 suited - I think? To be honest, I can’t clearly remember. Almost past caring. Anyway someone makes a raise. Then Gary re-raises. Makes it 2,000 to go. I’ve only got 2,200 – something like that. So, I think. F-ck it and shove it all in. Don’t ask.

Grab another beer and go outside. No one out there. Jack Jones. Bluddy cold. Drizzle. Pull hard. A few swigs. Skuttle back into the warm – see if there’s any cash action. ‘Course there is.

I’m sitting down with Angelo, Dave-Glasses, Ahmed, Steve, Casper, Ben and some other bloke. The action is hot. And I’m about to get burned.

Be careful what you wish for. That’s what my Auntie Doris used to say – G-d love her. Though at the time I never really understood what she meant by it. I was only little then and of course I wanted what I wished for. Be careful what you wish for? It sounded like something out of The Water Babies. You know. The sort of thing Mrs-Do-As-You-Would-Be-Done-By might have said.

Now, of course, I’m a lot older and (like many a poker player, I would venture to say) I have come to understand its meaning only too well.

We’re playing £2 – £2 optional £5. J-9 spades. Limp. Flop comes 4d – 10s – Qs. Dave-Glasses is first to act - asks - How much goes? 40-odd quid. I decide to flat call. Turn comes Jc. Dave-Glasses checks. He’s got the Q, I’m thinking – but then why doesn’t he bet. Then I’m thinking – he’s only got the 10 – that’s why he didn’t bet. But then I know Dave-Glasses likes to play Jacks. F-ck – he’s got Q-J or J-10. I’m well behind. But then wouldn’t he fear the flush draw and not want to give me a free card? To be honest, I don’t know what to think. Except, I think I’m in trouble. I check. K or 8 on the river will give me the straight. A spade and I’ve got the flush.

Make it a spade – G-d. I pray. Make it a spade.

And guess what? The omnipotent-one duly delivers and the 4s comes on the river. Get me paid – I’m thinking, till Dave-Glasses asks - How much goes - and sticks in over £150. I swallow hard. You see. Over the past few years the good Lord and I haven’t exactly seen eye-to-eye on a number of things. Maybe that 4 has helped Dave-Glasses? Yeah. Maybe, it’s given him trips 4. But. That’s ok. I’ve got the flush. I have to call. Maybe G-d has forgiven me. Giving me another chance. And Dave-Glasses’ trips 4? Well, they're dead meat. Right?


I’ve got the house, says Dave-Glasses – never one to slow roll you. He shows 10 – 4.

Procol Harem is playing in my head…

The sky began to tremble
Rain began to fall
There were four angels standing round me
And it weren’t no social call
Fell down on my knees praying Lord
But it didn’t do no good at all

Oh, Auntie! Why didn’t I listen?

Friday, December 15, 2006

Season's Grettings

So here it is Merry Christmas
Everybody's having fun
Look to the future now
It's only just begun...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Pocket Rockets!

Here's one for you...

It's Friday night at The Big Slick and the place is rocking. You've made it to the final table and now you're down to the last five. The first prize is a very handy £1,300.

POSITION: Under the gun
BLINDS: 2k-4k
GAME: £10 rebuy Friday 13th November
YOUR CHIPS: 35,000

Under the gun, you find pocket rockets. Bear in mind, you've had a few and it's very late - and that's after a long week in the office spent driving the Surrey property market forward. Reasonably well stacked, you decide not to slow play it and make it 10,000 to go. Everyone folds round to the SB who pushes all-in without hesitation. BB thinks for about a second and pushes in his stack too. Both have more chips than you. So, if you get it wrong - it's curtains. On the other hand, if your aces stand-up - you will be chip leader.

So, tell me punk - are you feeling lucky?

What should you do?



Pocket Rockets - probably the most over-played hand in poker. Ask yourself how many times have you had them busted? And chances are you had you whole stack riding on them. Right? Now ask yourself - how many times have you busted out with a rubbish hand?

As it happens, this is a position I actually found myself in a few weeks ago. So, to be fair, I had the drop on you on this one. At the time, I called all-in.

SB showed A6.

BB showed 88.

Flop came three blanks. Turn blank. River - 8.

Like I said, it's Friday 13th.