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A Day in the Life of a Recreational Poker Player at the WPT500 at DTD

My name is Lee Davy and I am a recreational poker player.

The online poker rooms are very keen to have my custom. They have started to understand that I am the lifeblood of their industry. I am the thing that makes them tick. I am their bread and butter. I am the weekly wage slip.

It doesn’t matter how attractive they make the online poker room. You aren’t going to find me spending too much time in there. I have a family to support; earn a living away from the poker, and am always searching for life’s perfect balance. I think this is why the fast-fold type of games are so popular. They allow people like me to hop in and out in between every day life.

The live poker room is a different kettle of fish. This is where the game expands. Now it’s a community. Everlasting relationships are forged from this place. It’s where you go to talk shop, let off some steam, and get that tongue wagging. It’s everything that makes us human.

I don’t play as much as I used to. Poker has slipped down the priority list. But I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play in the WPT500 – part of the partypoker World Poker Tour (WPT) UK festival held at Dusk till Dawn (DTD) Nottingham recently.

I live in Cardiff so it’s a good 3hrs 30mins journey for me. Fortunately, 20 years working on the railway has presented me with first class rail travel for life; otherwise my first poker expense would have been my rail costs.

The first poker game that I learned to play was 3-Card Brag. I quickly learned that the player with the most money often came out of the game the winner. The format I played allowed a ‘blind man’ (someone who had not seen their cards) to play for half the price of the bet. Anyone who had ‘opened’ (seen their cards) had to pay the full price of the bet.

I quickly realized that the players who had the most money would win. They were able to play blind for longer, thus spending less money; drive people out of the pot, and create scenarios where it was obvious their opponent had a very strong hand.

This is what re-entry events remind me of.

WPT500 had seven starting days and that meant the advantage was going to go with the person who had the most money. There is a saying that even a blind squirrel will eventually find their nuts, and so it goes that if you give a professional unlimited re-entries, they will eventually amass a sizable stack that you will have difficulty smashing.

But none of that bothered me in the beginning. I only had to beat the eight other players on my table. I started with a zillion big blinds; so as long as I was patient, picked my spots, and played sound, I should do ok.

I didn’t recognize anyone on my table. Alin Ivanov – who works for the WPT, and is a colleague of mine – was taking the photos and came over to take a shot of me.

“Are you a pro?” asked the player on my left.


“So why is he taking a photograph of you?” he asked.

“I guess it’s because I am good looking.”

I always have my photograph taken when I play at an event that is covered on some sort of blog. It’s not because I am any good at poker, or because I am famous. It’s because I write about poker. I guess if a person who writes about poker eventually wins a poker tournament, it would be something worth writing about – hence the photo.

It’s nice, but it’s also a pain in the ass, because people around the table actually believe that I am this professional poker player from some part of Asia.

“How many times did you qualify?” asked the same player.

“I didn’t.”

“I qualified nine times,” said the qualifier.

“Right…and what happens to the other eight buy-ins if you never have to re-enter?” I asked.

He went quiet.

”I dunno,” came the reply.

My first mental gameplay note was made: ‘not very smart.’

My first test comes when I open deuces in middle position and go heads-up to the flop with the big blind. The action checks down to the river on #10c#3h##4d#Qc#2c; he leads for 400, I raise to 1,200, he re-raises to 4,500, and I fold.

I remember thinking; “There is no way he would be raising me on the river with air.”

A few levels later and I see him raising the river with air.

I continue to lose every pot that I play. I don’t panic. This is the way that all of my tournaments begin. The tide will turn. I will get it in bad, get lucky, and start to build my stack. I know it’s not the most efficient way to build stacks, but it works for me.

There is an older guy at the table. He has difficulty walking and uses a Zimmer frame. He struggles to get to the table in time after the break. The dealer breaks the rule about not being at the table after he has started dealing. A player at the table complains. We give him the eye. He shuts up. Sensible dealing if you ask me.

A tight player opens from early position and I call with queens in mid position. The talkative qualifier to my left calls, and the big blind also calls. The flop is #Jh#9d#6c; the action checks to yours truly and I bet 900. The talkative qualifier raises to 2,300, and everyone else folds. Now it’s worth noting that a few hands before this he triple barreled into a guy holding A-5o on A-A-8-6-2 with complete air.

I remember the Chris Moorman book, do my range thing, and decide that calling is the best move. The turn is the #4s. I don’t think that changes anything. I decide to pot control. I check, he bets 4,000, and I call.

The river is the #Kc. I don’t particularly love this card, because Q-T just got there, but I am holding pocket queens for the blockers. I check-call for 8,000 and he turns over Q-T. I don’t lose my temper. It didn’t even bother me. I remember telling myself that I should have raised pre-flop, but that apart, I moved on.

“Hey…you are on the blog,” a player at my table tells me.

I look in the WPT blog and see that the blogger has butchered my hand. The board shows me calling down with a four-flush on board. I feel like a dick, and for the first time in my life I actually realize what it feels like to be a player on the receiving end of an incorrectly reported hand.

If I ask him to change it, it no longer matters because everyone has read it. I have quickly become the writer, trying to play poker, who should stick to writing. Then I remind myself that’s who I was anyway.

There is a limper from early position and I raise to 800 (blinds 100/200 a25) and I get three callers. The flop is Q-6-8r and I c-bet to 900 – only the older guy calls in the big blind. The turn card is a four, and he check-calls a 3,600 bet. The river card is the #10d, and he checks to me for the second time. Each time he has check-called very quickly. My gut tells me to check behind. Then I convince myself to get value from his weaker queen holdings. I bet 2,500, and he moves all-in. I fold, believing he had a set of tens.

I wouldn’t make the dinner. In a way that was good. It saved me my second expense of the day, because I didn’t have to buy dinner. I went out in the 250/500 a75 level when I jammed 18bb holding #Ah#Jh over a mid-position open and get called by aces.

That’s my third expense saved, as I no longer need a hotel.

It’s the first time that I think about the re-entry rules. All the stars keep getting knocked out, and then re-entering, and I can’t because I am skint. I start getting moody. Life is unfair and all of that nonsense. Then I remember that I understood the rules before I sat down. I made the choice to play, and would I have complained had my single bullet taken me all the way to a six-figure winning check?

Of course not.

Re-entry tournaments are tough.

So is life.

And I’m not about to give that up.




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Lee Davy

Life can be viewed as the sum of the parts or the parts themselves. I believe in the holistic view of life, or the sum. When dealing with individual parts you develop whack-a-mole syndrome; each time you clobber one problem with your hammer another one just pops up.