Neil Channing

Neil Channing

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Why he'll be voting with his wallet in 2015.

Getting It Quietly

It's been a fairly quiet poker year for me. I didn’t travel to Vegas, meaning I missed it for the first time in twenty years. I only played about seven tournaments, but I did manage to get a win in the £100 rebuy at The Poker Room above ‘The Vic’ in February. It's sometimes hard to motivate yourself to travel to casinos that you've been to a hundred times and I’m aware that I can sound like a right old moaner. However it can be frustrating to complain about certain improvements that could be made, only to find that you’re still complaining about the same thing and nobody seems to care about it five years later.

Recently, we've seen lots of talk online about rake increases, extra charges and reduced rewards and there was even talk about strikes and boycotts. A few weeks have passed now and all I can see is PokerStars enjoying business as usual and the people who declared them as too greedy and threatened not to play there anymore are now moving onto different forms of the game on the same site.

I decided long ago that I was always going to try and use the voice I have and also to vote with my wallet where possible. In the next twelve months, my plan will be to play much more poker but I will definitely look to reward those organisers who I approve of and refuse business to those I don't. If people put up guarantees which are ambitious, we should support them; if there are events that don't charge excessive rake, they will be the ones I choose and if the event works hard at promoting to recreational players then so much the better.

The Beat Dec 2

Feeling Grand

As you read this I'll probably already have bust the GUKPT Grand Final. It's now seven years since the tour began and there were times when I definitely thought that they were losing their way. In Season One I went to every leg and we were halfway through the second year until I missed one, yet I haven't played any this year. I do like the way they have revived things though. There are definitely good arguments against re-entry but I do understand that no operator likes to suffer a painful overlay, and the guarantees that have been offered on the tour have definitely helped to keep the numbers up. I'm sure Grosvenor have winced a bit while adding money to a few of the legs this year, but I'm also convinced of their keenness to keep the tour going. The extra emphasis on getting live qualifiers into the events will really help them to boost the tour in the future. I hear that in the recent leg at Blackpool the field was full of players who would not usually play a large buy-in, giving them the chance to win a big prize for very little. Getting lots of qualifiers in is always a good way to attract plenty of pros and fill your tournaments, so it seems everyone might be a winner.

The Beat Dec 1

Wide Open For Business

I could be tempted to head across London to Aspers for the Unibet Open. The Unibet Open has a decent guarantee, loads of qualifiers and a shot at a massive prize pool for a buy in of less than a grand. I’ll be heading to Aspers on the week of the Unibet Open to play some poker whatever happens as they have invited me to play in their private cash game to be streamed on the Bluff Europe and Unibet websites. I think I must fit their perfect demographic as they need people who will splash around in a random way, chat a lot and make their invited guests feel comfortable. I’m sure that they'd also like me to lose.

I think has-been pros are exactly what they want. I have heard that Viktor ‘Isuldur1’ Blom is in the game and that there may be some sports stars as well as a few businessmen. In all my years of playing any kind of private games, there is always vague talk of businessmen. The business always ends up being either hovering up pots or dodgy business. I'm sure they were happy that I confirmed early and now they are busy calling people saying "We have Channing" in order to lure them in.

One part of the game that should be fun is that we are playing the old 7-2 game. I love it, and find that it makes normally sane people completely lose their head. This one should be crazier than ever as the prize for winning with 7-2 will be a gold bar! I'll have to find somewhere to put them all.

The Beat Dec 3

Patch Channing

Having spent such a long time this year playing no poker I expect to be very busy for a while now. Hopefully when you see me I'll be wearing my nice new Sky Poker patch. Some of you will realise that one of the things that I was so enthusiastic about with Black Belt Poker was the idea of building a community. We had a website with diaries and blogs, strategy discussion, a forum, a league and we held regular live events for players to meet up. I was always proud of that and I'm glad when I see that so many of the players involved have kept up those friendships.

Considering that Sky are a massive multinational organisation and Black Belt was a tiny entity attempting to snap away at the heels of the giants of the industry there really are a lot of similarities. Seriously, though, at the two UKPC events I played this year, you could tell the Sky Poker players feel part of something and the pros are very proud to represent the brand. The forum is a key part of a friendly community; that is a small part of a huge community, and very important.

When they asked me if I'd like to join the team and represent the brand I was delighted and it just felt like a natural move. I've started playing a few sessions on the site and I almost won the main event of the recent online UKOPS series. If I could just learn heads-up, I'd have had that bracelet to go with a couple of others.

UKPC Presence

I'll be proudly wearing the colours at the tournaments I've talked about this month but I'll be really looking forward to the next UKPC event in February. I know that Rob Yong, Simon Trumper and all the team at DTD will look after us well. The coverage of the last UKPC on the TV should attract a lot of extra players this time round, too. Sky always do a great job of getting a lot of qualifiers into the event, and with a guarantee of £500,000 without re-entries, it is a must-play.
The side events include a High-Roller and a PLO as well as a Turbo £500 and a 6-Max £500. It's tough for anyone to come up with new ideas to make a tour really work and I'm not sure that the UKPC would be so good if they held it twelve times a year. A huge factor explaining why it works is the venue and the team at Dusk Till Dawn, as well as the rare opportunity for all of the Sky community to get together. I wouldn't mind opening my stocking to find that they were holding three or four of them each year.
Have a very Happy Christmas!

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