The Beat - With Neil Channing

The Beat - With Neil Channing

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Bad Beat on Sky's UK Championship, bad rules and worse headphones.

Tour de Force

February will be a big month for UK poker with two of the biggest events of the year happening in quick succession. I plan to play both the GUKPT at the Vic and the brand new Sky Poker UKPC which will follow on straight after at DTD.

It’s pretty amazing that we are talking about two massive live events in the UK and neither of them is connected to PokerStars. I do admit I was one of the people who thought that the UKIPT might come in and eclipse the GUKPT. The latter did have a couple of lean years with first prizes rarely getting over £50,000 and field sizes slipping below 100, but last year they turned it around.

The Beat 1

It seems the main reason for the re-emergence of the GUKPT is the guarantees. This one at the Vic, on February 9th, has an impressive £200,000 guarantee, but I shall happily predict here that they will smash that. The prize pool in this one last year was £397,000 and the £2,000 Grand Final in November got to a whopping £587,300.

These events now allow plenty of re-entries, which is obviously not a great long-term thing for amateur players and the health of the game generally, but it will mean that Grosvenor should not have to sweat too much about the guarantee.

The Vic refurb is looking great, and with so many new customers, and the Vic pushing live satellites, and live poker in the UK seemingly thriving right now, I could easily see a £500,000 prize pool.

I’m planning to take a decent chunk of it so make sure you come down and donate.

Sky High

While I’m predicting a £500,000 prize pool for the GUKPT and thinking that is pretty impressive, even with re-entries, the people at DTD and Sky Poker, who are organising the UKPC, are talking about £600,000, which is absolutely amazing for a new £1,000 buy-in event with no re-entry allowed.

The event will have four day ones starting on Wednesday 19th February and it’s estimated that there’ll be around 250 online qualifiers making up close to half of the field. Sky have particularly worked hard at qualifying players and they had around 75 in for this before Christmas.

For a smallish standalone site, this is pretty incredible and it shows that if you put on a decent-structured event at a venue people love and run plenty of satellites, they will still make the effort to qualify.
Sky Poker supremo Mr Tony “Tikay” Kendall tells me that lots of “big-name” pros, including Nottingham’s very own Mr Sam Trickett, have committed to being there but he also expects a good number of Sky TV personalities and sports people.

This one is probably unmissable.

The Beat 2

Sods’ Laws

One good thing about playing poker at places like the Vic and DTD is you know you’ll get a fair game and the rules will be enforced but not rammed down your throat. I was interested to see Daniel Negreanu complaining recently about tournament officials having to enforce rules on recreational players that may alienate them and stop them coming back.

The Beat 3

Obviously Daniel and I both hate the “first card off the deck” rule and I’m quite a big fan of the one-hand penalty for those selfish players who pass out of turn, but like Daniel I really hate it when dealers and floor-persons are over-zealous about players on their phones, players who fail to bet the nuts in position on the river and players who string-bet. It is way more likely that these things are done through ignorance of the rules rather than through any desire to gain an advantage or just plain cheat.

It’s difficult to have rules that allow for interpretation and flexibility, but tournament organisers must understand that we are not in 2005 any more and we need recreational players to keep coming back for the game to survive. Anything that is done to discourage this is bad for the game.

Monster Mash

Talking about things that are bad for the game, I see that Monster Headphones are now the “official headphones” of the WPT. Excellent news, you might say, how can this grumpy old git be upset about that? The WPT was sadly lacking someone to step up and be the official headphones until now.

It seems that Monster will have access to the details of all WPT players so they can market their fine headphones to them, while players will be able to try them out at every stop on the tour. There will be a free pair of headphones for anyone who makes a televised WPT final table and there’ll be a televised invitational 6-max event for charity along the way.

It all sounds great for Monster, for the WPT and for the charities but I can’t see how encouraging players to immediately sit down and stick on the headphones is helping the game at all. I’m not saying players should never listen to music, I do it sometimes if I really don't feel like talking (pretty rare), or if I’m totally on tilt, but generally I just think professional poker players should do as much as they possibly can to make recreational players enjoy their experience. And coming straight to the table and putting your headphones on, especially if everyone does it, does not make for a sociable game and may not make for great television at those final tables.

The Beat 4

Tags: Neil Channing, Sky Poker UK Championship, GUKPT, Tony 'Tikay' Kendall, headphones, rules