The Beat With Neil Channing

The Beat With Neil Channing

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

ICE, UKPC, British Poker Awards and more...

Cool As Ice

When I owned Black Belt Poker, I would get invited to conferences on a daily basis, as well as seminars and trade exhibitions. Mysterious people called affiliates thought that they were solely responsible for the smooth running of the entire gaming industry and they seemed to do nothing but plan and attend conferences. If only they’d have brought us the odd player.

The second I closed down my gaming business, I finally had time to attend one of these events. I went to the ICE Gaming exhibition last year and I suddenly realised what I was missing. In previous years, people had asked me if I was going to be at ICE and I told them that I would be busy playing poker in Australia. They looked at me like I was totally bonkers for choosing a few days on Bondi Beach followed by a few more strolling by the Yarra in Melbourne instead of pitching up at ICE. How could I enjoy a wonderful climate in one of the world’s most cosmopolitan and relaxed cities when I could have stayed in London, freezing my nuts off and being sold to at a conference centre?

I wouldn’t say it totally beats a month in the sun, but I can see a lot of positives to ICE. Generally speaking, people spend a lot of time throughout the year telling me that what I really want to do is come to lunch with them. This invite comes with a caveat of having to listen to them bang on about their genius idea which I will definitely want to get involved in. Usually, they labour under the misapprehension that I have a huge pile of cash which I’d quite like to give them. I sometimes accept these invitations if I’m hungry and don’t want to pay for lunch.

ICE is great though. You can get through about 10 meetings in an afternoon and still have time to drink with all kinds of people from the gambling industry who you really like. I managed to schedule plenty of drinks with people I don’t see enough of, which was fun. If I know you, like you, and you aren’t selling anything, be there next time. I’ll even buy the beers.

DTD Interior

Nottingham Calling

In terms of poker, there is an obvious festival to attend this month. In one of the UK poker highlights of the year, the Sky Poker UK Poker Championships return this month, with everyone and his wife heading to Dusk Till Dawn in Nottingham. The UKPC may be a new tournament on the calendar, but it is a real old-fashioned festival. There will be a range of events starting with the £110 ‘Mini’ which has an amazing seven Day 1’s and a tasty £200,000 guarantee. I often wonder whether Rob Yong has completely cracked-up when I think about the amazing guarantees at Dusk Till Dawn and the £1,000 Main Event, which was originally announced as having a £500,000 guarantee, is now going to be paying £1 million in prizes. Maybe he likes a sweat.

Last month, I moaned about a few things that I don’t like in a tournament but it’s hard to complain about this one. First of all, it’s a proper festival; there are lots of different events to suit all bankrolls. If I’m going to travel and fork out on hotels to play poker, I want to have a chance to win my money back if things don’t work out. As well as the Main Event there is a £3,000 High-Roller which has a decent guarantee of £150,000 and also an 8-Max £1,000 event spread over the final weekend of the festival with a £100,000 guarantee.

Balancing Act

As a professional, it’s definitely important to keep the ratio of expenses to tournament entries balanced. Sometimes it is way too easy to spend a lot on trips away where a min-cash is not going to get anywhere near to paying for the week. Rob, Simon and the team at DTD understand poker players and with the team at Sky Poker, they’ve really thought about the schedule. I like the ‘Mini’ too; on Sky Poker there are two-tier versions of all their big tournaments and it’s really good to see that replicated live. I also think the whole flavour of the event is better if the ratio of pros and serious players versus recreationals looking to have a fun trip is well balanced, and qualifying lots of players into the big one really helps that.

There are a lot of chances to win seats in the Main Event. From live satellites at DTD, cashing in the Mini, or by qualifying via the DTD site or Sky Poker, players will arrive at the big one from many different routes. There should be a great mix of players, which will hopefully mean they’ll be numerous styles of poker to battle. This always makes an event a social experience too, with interesting tables, plenty of fun and it can all be done without ripping-off the players. DTD will be charging a basic entry fee on top of the buy-in, but no extra money will be taken from the pools.

I plan to win all the events I enter, of course, but I’m also hoping that between collecting trophies to have time for the odd drink at the bar. I’ll certainly be playing the odd Sit n Go with some of the Sky regulars and it’s going to be an exciting event to be part of. I hope I’ll see you in Robin Hood country.

And The Winner Is…
In between the Sky Poker UKPC Mini Event and Main Event, I’ll be squeezing in an evening in London to collect my British Poker Award. They haven’t told me I’ve definitely won yet but it’s hard to see how anyone could vote for any of those other people in the Best Social Media User category. If either a ridiculous bad beat or massive administrative error means that I don’t win this one, I have a back-up plan.

I have assured all the other nominees that I have some fairly incriminating pictures of each of them and I will be prepared to tweet them unless they drop out and allow me to win. Foolproof? Well, they are poker players.

The awards will be held at the Hippodrome Casino on the 23rd of this month and the evening is always a fun night out from start to finish. Many stars of the UK poker scene will be there and if you want to see me get my award, tickets are reasonably cheap. In past years, a lot of your favourite poker personalities have ended up playing poker with people from all levels of the game until the early hours, and I don’t foresee that changing as the awards celebrate their fifth year.

I’m not quite sure what happens if you don’t win an award, but I’d like to think those nominees who fail are sharply escorted from the premises as I’ve never seen them around during the latter parts of the evening. Funny that.

Hopefully, I’ll see some of you there. Now where was that speech?

Ed - get your tickets from the Hippodrome Casino website.

Tags: The Beat, Neil Channing, The British Poker Awards