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Monday, 4 March 2013

Only Blog when your winning?

After Nick Newport made the final table of UKIPT Cork he wrote a blog on Boyle poker with the same title as this one. The difference being after a long spell with out a decent run in a live tournament he had managed to make a final, I on the other hand have no good news to report.

Its not like I have not been trying either, I've played nearly every major tournament for the past 18 months that's taken place in Ireland and thrown in a few trips to the UK &  Europe with it and have had no return.
That in itself is bad enough but when you add in the fact that I've also had my first losing year in cash games you can see where there might be a problem.

The tournament part of my game is not as good as it was, its not that I think I play any worse its just I have not improved any and I think everyone else is playing better. The standard has got a lot better that's for sure, but do I think I can still beat the game? Well yes I do to be honest. Do I think I can beat it from the comfort of a five star hotel while going out every night when at a tournament? Well no definitely not.

Cash game wise there is still plenty of value out there, I honestly just think I ran bad in some key spots.
Run bad for 18 months? Really? Is that even possible? "Sounds like sour grapes to me" I hear you say. Well I don't play on line and I would honestly say that the sum total of all the hands I've played live in 18 months does not come anywhere close to what an on line grinder would put in any month of the year.

I only play at the festivals and normally play €2-€5 plo, I've sat in some of the softest games with guys going in blind and other such madness and still walked away down money. I never played in what you would call tough games. The really good players don't play in these games by the way. They know that the rake is usually too high and the action can be painfully slow but its where I have made the most money for the past few years. I'm not saying I did not make any mistakes or spew off a few quid when on tilt or drunk but I am saying I played good enough often enough to win and didn't.

So what do I do? First off I have cut back on the expenses associated with the game, there is no way I would be going to London this week if I did not have my accommodation paid for by PokerStars for finishing 3rd in the UKIPT leader board last season. The hotel is costing a similar price to the main event entry and that sort of expense is simply unsustainable.

I have never relied on poker for a living but I have relied on it to pay for more poker and when I have had a touch I have used the money for various things outside of the game. If I was a break even or even slightly losing player I'm sure I would still play a bit but there is no way I can justify pouring a lot of money into the game if I don't turn things around soon.

The next few weeks are going to be a little bit like a make or break time for me, I will be playing the UKIPT in London, a bunch of events at the Norwegian championships and the Irish Open. A return of zero or close to it will make it tough for me to put my hand in my pocket and re-load.

Reading back over this blog and it sounds like a resignation letter - its not! More of an update really, it is easy to write a blog when your winning, I hope I don't have to write too many while losing.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Below is my piece for today's Irish Daily Star, I'm aware most of you guys don't need any explanation of a cooler however the average Star reader is not fully up to speed with the auld poker lingo....

I played every weekend last month which is unusual for me what was not unusual was I failed to make the money prizes in any tournament I played. It’s been the storey of my 2012 poker wise. When it matters I have done one of three things, 1. Made a silly mistake, 2 got very unlucky or 3 just had what we call in this business a “cooler”.

A cooler is when two players pick up hands that inevitability leads to all the chips going in the middle, the classic one is AA into KK late in a tournament but when you are playing on a very aggressive table where a lot of players are raising and re-raising with a wide range of hands these so called coolers will occur a lot more frequently.

For example if you are playing on a table and someone opens the betting and you look down at pocket tens you might choose to re-raise. If a very tight player still to act moves all in after your re-raise it’s probably an easy fold with the tens there. However if a really loose player makes the same move it’s probably an easy call and if that really loose player happens to have a good hand the time you look him up you could consider yourself a little unlucky.

This brings me on to a hand I played in Bristol at the recent UKIPT where late on Day Two with about ninety players left and seventy two getting money I find myself in a very tough seat. I have Jason Tompkins on my direct left, Ben Vinsion to his left, next is a very good player who’s name I did not know and finally the recent UKIPT online winner and eventual UKIPT Bristol winner Wojtek Barzantny  is the fourth player on my left.

I have gone a little short so I have been playing very tight when the following run of cards come my way, first I pick up pocket tens and after a raise in front of me I move all in and am not called. The very next hand I pick up pocket kings and I raise with everybody folding. The following hand I pick up pocket eights and raise again – this is where the trouble starts, after raising now for three hands in a row with no resistance form any of the good players still to act behind me I was expecting one of them to make a stand this time.

Sure enough Barzantny was on the big blind and he re-raised me, my stack is a size that I can’t really call his bet and fold if I miss the flop. I have been playing with him for a while now and I know he does not need a very strong hand to re-raise me.  My choices are very straight forward, I either move all in or I fold. I elect to move all in and after a very short dwell he calls and turns over pocket nines.
Is this a cooler? It’s very debatable there is an argument to be made for both sides. If you are always going to fold a hand a strong as pocket eights then a player like Barzantny is going to make your time at the table very difficult on the other hand if you are never going to fold a hand as weak as pocket eights then you are going to bust a lot of tournaments early.

I shared a flight home with two of Ireland’s best players and when discussing the hand they both had opposite views, I suppose that’s the beauty of poker. The two players in question were Mick Graydon and Jude Ainsworth, no prizes for guessing which player was on which side J

As our flight was delayed for a couple of hours the three of us got stuck into the new craze at poker tournaments – Open Face Chinese Poker – the rules are pretty simple, every player ends up with thirteen cards and has to make three poker hands out of all cards. Two five card hands and one three card hand you then win points and bonus points based on the strength of your hands compared to your opponents hands. Sounds easy right? Well no it’s far from easy and depending on how much cash value you assign to every point you can win or lose a lot of money.

It is on the other hand very addictive game which is easy to play with two or three players so I think it’s here to stay. If you follow any of the superstars of poker that often spend more time tweeting about Chinese Poker they played at night than they do about the actual tournament they have played that day. My advice to anybody playing the live circuit is get up to speed with it quick otherwise its might cost you a lot of money to learn.

As the party season gets into full flow I don’t see myself playing a lot of tournaments but I do hope to get in a good few hours at the cash tables, traditionally the games were always better around Christmas and the past few years I have done well in them.

There are small tournaments on all around the country with three notable ones being the Red Cow on the 8 of December, Macau in Cork on the 15th and the Kilkenny Christmas Cracker on the 22nd.  You’ll get full details of all these and other events on Irish Poker Boards.

Another date to add to your diary is next Saturday the 1st of December when poker player and all round hard man Ross Johnson will try to decapitate Boyle Poker Pro John O Shea.  Apparently the original argument was over some fake tan going missing on a recent trip to Vegas and after failed attempts by friends to mediate they decided to sort it out in the ring in Leopardstown race course.
It’s all for a good cause and full details can be found on the mycharity.ie website.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Burning Money

Poker has been pretty rough for me for the past few weeks, the pro's refer to this time as a "downswing" some even say its just the "variance" kicking in I would just describe it as "doing my brains". I certainly have not have had the rub of the green (to use another analogy) but I did not play well either if I'm honest.
This has been more so online than than live, I lost all the key pots I played live which included three trips to the Macau Club in Cork two trips to the UK and one to Riga in Lativa.

At the UKIPT in Newcastle I played too many hands in the main event and bled some chips away before busting in a hand I could have folded. Then I played what I though was very well in a tough £1500 side event before busting on the exact bubble shoving KQ into pocket three's for a big pot. I was unlucky to lose the flip but the truth is it was way to big a pot to play with KQ in my hand. It was equally way to big a pot for the villain to play with pocket 3's (he called my shove like he had AA) but that's very much beside the point.

On my other trip to the UK I played a GUKPT in the fantastic casino in the Ricoh stadium in Coventry, I don't remember making too many mistakes but I bust the main in disappointing fashion before going on to lose in a very soft cash game.

In Cork I just ran bad all three trips in the tournaments, I was chip leader in the Macau Classic with 9 left and finished 9th, played a pot for a top 3 stack with Gary Clarke at the Irish Poker Tour event in Cork with 15 left - his 77 beating my KK - he went on to get a large share of the chop and at the Betfair Live game last week I lost 3 big pots where I was a strong favourite the last one to bust AJ v KQ.

Riga was probably the worst , I had a big stack all through the tournament and as we approached the money I got it in for a 100 big blind pot with AK and the guy has Kings. That was bad enough but what compounded the pain was the beating I took in the cash games. I played in omaha games all over the UK & Ireland and a few parts of Europe but I have never seen the likes of what was going on over there. I fully felt I'd been robbed if I'm honest.

Loads of strange calls were made over the course of the night one that stands out is a guy calling €3k on the river with A,2,3,4, rainbow in his hand. the board was Q234Q with three spades. The guy who bet the €3k had A,6,7,8 with the A of spades. I believe the guy buffing was repping the loan ranger (on a paired board, I know lol) but how he calls is beyond me.

Whatever was going on I cant be sure, there was three guys in the game who knew how to play - they all lost heavy. Nothing I can do about it now but I'd advise anybody playing cash in the The Royal Casino in Riga to avoid the main game.

Aside from the trips away I've played very little live but what I have played was profitable, only a drop in the ocean compared to what I've lost of the road but at least it something back.

Online I have been doing what I have done for years - playing well for a while and then doing something stupid at a critical point. I've had deep runs in loads of tournaments but ultimately making a mess of it. The good thing I suppose is that I play very small online so when I lose there it makes little difference in the grand scheme of things.

Its not all doom and gloom as the above might read like, outside of poker everything is going very well for me. Family life has never been better - we get the odd full nights sleep these days -and we are also very near finished the new house we've been building for four years. We should be moved in  by the end of next month.

There is also still time to rectify this disaster of a poker year for me, the IPO IWF & EMOP are all on in Dublin over the next few weeks. A final table in any of these events would get me close to even for the year and a top three finish would get me in front. I believe I am well capable of doing the necessary in one of those but if I bust them all on the first day I wont panic - winning the WPT in January will be good enough :)

I also have to mention two other things of significance, first is Jason Tompkins reaching the final of the EPT in Italy. Its some performance by him to get to another major final after his sixth place finish in Vegas this year. The guy is obviously a phenomenal tournament player and its only a matter of time before he wins something big and I mean real big because winning €171k is big by normal standards but nobody will be surprised when he gets his €500k + score.
Myself and Jason often lock horns on matters away from the table, we seem to have different opinions on things on a regular basis and are both very vocal with those opinion's. One thing I will give the guy is he is super confidant and fully seems to believe that he is a a direct path to poker super stardom and who can disagree with him?

The other thing is the Irish Poker Awards nominations, my thoughts on all the nominations can be found here.
I would not like to be over critical of the panel who put the names together but there is one serious error in leaving out Nelius Foley, he has been the stand out Irish poker player online. Other than that there are a few funny nominations and none funnier than me being nominated for best cash player. Hopefully some day I will get nominated for that award on merit but at best its a long way away and I'll leave it at that.

I will be trying to update this on a regular basis again - hopefully with some good news - good luck me!

Monday, 17 September 2012

Win an All Ireland?

How do you win an All Ireland? By Tim Dowling

This is the question that perplexes GAA fans and county boards alike. What do you need to win the All Ireland and how do you go about getting it? In recent times more and more counties are figuring it out. The last 25 All Ireland football titles have gone to 10 different counties and of that 10, 7 counties won more than one title, also 4 counties won their first ever title. The previous 25 titles were divided up among just 7 counties with only 4 winning more than one and only 1 county winning their first title. 

Hurling is traditionally dominated by the big 3 of Kilkenny, Cork and Tipp but in the last 25 years, Offaly, Clare, Wexford and Galway also won titles and all except Wexford won more than one. There was also a good spread of contestants in the final with Limerick, Antrim and Waterford also contesting finals. That’s 7 different winners and 10 teams participating in finals. In the previous 25 years, Wexford, Galway and Offaly did break the grip of the big 3 but only once each and nobody else contested finals. 6 winners, 6 finalists and 22 titles going to the big 3. It should be noted that the big 3 have reaffirmed their grip on the Liam McCarthy cup and have won the last 13 titles. This return to form coincided with the introduction of the back door in the hurling championship and Offaly are the only outsider to win a title since when they came through the back door in its first year 1998.

Football’s back door followed 3 years later in 2001 and Galway came through the long route and won their second title in 4 years, since then 5 more teams have claimed the Sam Maguire cup. 

So how is it done? Well if you ask your average, thinking GAA man you will most likely get this answer. Put more emphasis on your underage teams and have quality players coming through feeding the senior teams. Sounds reasonable and sensible but is it true? Well not necessarily, it seems minor success is of minor consequence. Kerry last won a minor football title in 94 however they have won 6 senior titles in that time. Laois on the other hand have 3 minor championships since 96 and have only 1 Leinster senior title to show for it. 10 teams have outperformed Kerry at minor level since 94 but no one has outperformed them at senior level and of the last 7 counties to win All Ireland senior football titles only Tyrone had won a minor in the 7 years prior to their senior success. Galway’s hurlers really finish off the point in style with 6 minor titles in 13 years from 99 to 2011 and not a hint of senior success, only one final appearance which ended in defeat to Cork. 

So u21, that’s where you look right? Well it depends. Some counties have followed up u21 success and some haven’t. Kerry built on their successes after winning football u21’s in 95 and 96 by claiming Sam in 97, they then won the u21 again in 98 and continued to build with further senior success in 2000. Tyrone did likewise after winning u21 titles in 2000 and 2001. Similarly, Kilkenny’s u21 hurlers have been successful claiming 5 All Irelands in the time that Brian Cody was winning 8 with the seniors. But how relevant are these titles. Take Dublin football for example, people may look to the u21 successes of 03 and 2010 as the foundation of their senior success in 2011 but only 2 players off each of those teams made the senior winning side, less than one third of the starting team and slighty more than one fifth of the total. So of the 19 Dublin players used in 2011’s All Ireland senior final only 4 had All Ireland medals from underage football. 15 players came from unsuccessful underage teams if they played underage at all. So while the underage successes may have been factors they were certainly not the biggest ones. 

Then of course there are the teams that failed to build on u21 success. Limerick hurlers won 3 in a row from 2000 to 2002 and Galway hurlers have won 3 of the last 8, while neither converted it into senior success Galway have a chance to put that right in a few weeks. Conversely Tipperary hadn’t won an All Ireland u21 hurling title for 15 years prior to their last senior success. 

In football it’s not much different. Derry, Westmeath and Armagh have all won titles recently but haven’t followed up with even a good showing at senior level in the ensuing years and all find themselves currently omitted from the list of footballs main contenders. Again Galway are the biggest losers with 3 u21 titles in the last 11 years while their seniors continue to underachieve dramatically. I think at this point it’s fair to say that the theory of senior success coming from underage success is flawed at best. Look no further than this year’s All Ireland senior finalists Donegal and Mayo. Between them they have one underage title in the last 25 years. 

So the question remains, or does it? Over the last number of years there has been increased emphasis on finding the right manager. County boards, supporters and in many cases players have blamed their woes and flat performances of their team on the man in charge. Furthermore the recruitment and interviewing of potential candidates has put much ink on paper throughout the country not to mention their rumored wage demands. Added to that, the excitement a big managerial appointment creates in a county cannot be ignored, one only has to look at the crowd in Aughrim for Mick O’Dwyer’s first game in charge. The venue hadn’t seen so many spectators since the annual Baltinglass, Rathnew brawls of the mid 90’s. It all points to one thing, the manager has become the most important factor in winning an All Ireland or at least that is the opinion of several county boards and much of the media. The stats back them up, of the last 7 men who have managed the All Ireland senior football champions, 4 have done it in their first year in charge. 2 have done it in their second year, only Pat Gilroy had to wait until his third year to taste success and regardless of who wins this year’s final it will be the managers second year in charge. All 7 were managing at intercounty level for the first time too. Additionally most success stories of late that didn’t end up with an All Ireland title have come early in the managerial reign such as Mick O’Dwyer’s and Paidi O’Se’s Leinster titles with Laois and Westmeath, Tommy Breheny’s Connaght winning Sligo team and James McCartan’s All Ireland finalists Down, all achieved in the first year in charge. Sudden turnarounds like this show that the players were there, they just needed the right man in charge.

In hurling its not so simple. Only two of the last 7 All Ireland winning managers have done it in their first year, one was John Allen who was already assistant manager of the champions Cork and his appointment was regarded as continuity rather than change. The other was Michael Bond who took over a battle hardened and experienced Offaly team during the 98 campaign, his achievement was getting one more kick out of a dying horse rather than introducing new players, methods or tactics. The longest building process of the 7 was Cork’s Jimmy Barry Murphy who finally won an All Ireland in his fourth year in charge in 99. Anthony Cunningham may break the trend in the coming weeks but while success has taken longer for hurling managers it cannot be denied that all of their appointments brought instant improvement to their counties performances. Just like the football managers all 7 were managing at inter-county level for the first time. 

So that’s the answer, find the right manager. It seems most county boards would agree but are they looking in the right place. Never before have we seen so many managers from outside the county and never before have we seen so many managers managing multiple counties. The same names seem to be popping up all the time regardless of the geography involved. The facts are quite clear here, counties rarely find All Ireland success with outside managers. A notable exception is Offaly who’s last 3 All Ireland winning managers have been from outside the county. In hurling Michael Bond (98) is from Galway, Eamon Cregan (94) is from Limerick and in football Eugene McGee (80)is from Longford. Aside from the Biffos the only non native winning manager I can find in either code over the last 40 years or so is John O’Mahony, the Mayo TD won 2 football titles with Galway in 98 and 01. Despite the number of outside managers today, over the last 6 years only one each in hurling and football have brought a team to an All Ireland final. Mickey Moran with Mayo in 96 and Davy Fitzgerald with Waterford in 08. All 4 managers in this year’s finals are natives. If history is anything to go by then it seems clear that you must appoint a manager from within the county. 

Next up for the managerial appointments sub-committee is who to go for among your own, former players, successful underage and club managers or highly qualified sports professionals. Continuing with the history lesson, former players seem to be the way to go, preferably successful ones. Of the last 14 different winning football mangers over the last 25 years only 4 have not played intercounty football but that 4 to their credit have 9 of the 25 titles. Half of the remaining 10 also won All Irelands as a player. That statistic might not seem overwhelming but when you consider that in most counties, the number of All Ireland winners are scarce when compared with the total number of people involved in football it becomes more impressive. Ironically Kerry who have All Ireland winners in abundance have had Sam delivered the last 4 times by 2 men who never even wore the Green and Gold.

In hurling the picture is far clearer, over the last 25 years there have also been 14 different winning managers and again 4 did not play at inter-county level but they only have 5 titles. Of the remaining 10, 8 have won All Irelands as a player. So it seems obvious that former All Ireland winners are the way to go and failing that you should at least choose a former player. 

Further information required? Yes there is, it may seem ridiculous to ask a potential manager what he does for a living but one profession seems to dominate the list of All Ireland winning managers and that is teaching. The list is impressive. In recent years the following teachers have won All Irelands. Football – Billy Morgan, Pete McGrath, John O’Mahony, Mickey Harte and Jack O’Connor. Between them they have 12 of the last 25 All Irelands. Hurling – Eamon Cregan, Ger Loughnane, Michael Bond, Brian Cody, Nicky English, Donal O’Grady and John Allen. They have won 15 of the last 25 All Irelands. So 54% of the last 50 All Ireland senior titles have been won by teachers, a remarkable statistic. People may point to the free time they have or whatever other reason but it is exactly that, a reason. It doesn’t change the fact that most All Irelands are won by teachers so you might take a look in the school house before you appoint your next inter-county manager. 

Who’s next? In hurling apart from Anthony Cunningham there aren’t any exciting candidates. He is in his first year, he’s a former player and All Ireland winner and he’s already in the final so it doesn’t take a genius to suggest that he might win it. Davy FitzGerald is another who ticks most of the boxes but he has a lot of work on his hands to bring Clare back into contention despite 2 recent success at u21 level. 2 of the big 3 have well established managers in Brian Cody and Jimmy Barry Murphy and it looks like Tipperary will return to former manager Nicky English to fill their current vacancy. Anthony Daly’s Dublin look to have peaked under his tutelage if he decides to remain at the helm and it seems just as unlikely that Wexford, Offaly, Waterford or Limerick could get their hands on Liam MacCarthy. 

Football’s contenders are far more interesting. The standout candidate is Jimmy McGuiness, a former player, All Ireland winner and while he isn’t a school teacher, he has a similar occupation as a lecturer. In two years he has turned a mediocre bunch of individuals into an intimidating team, which at times look invincible. 
The other man on the line in next Sunday’s final is James Horan, he’s not a teacher and he hasn’t won an All Ireland but he’s from Mayo and he was a fine player winning 2 All Stars. His impact on the Mayo team was recognized when they beat championship favorites Cork in last year’s quarter final and defeated Kerry in this year’s league semi-final. While they don’t quite look like the finished article yet they are in the final and a traditional Mayo Croker choker is highly unlikely. 

Eamon FitzMaurice. FitzMaurice ticks all the boxes, a native, an All Ireland winner and a teacher. As Kerry manager how can he fail? He already seems to be a very popular choice with the players and while he’ll be looking to rebuild, many of the old guard committed for at least another year following his appointment. 
Colm O’Rourke. The RTE pundit again ticks all the boxes but his problem is, he doesn’t have a job yet. His name is in the hat for the vacant Meath job and while he seemed reluctant at first he has confirmed that he will attend an interview if requested. O’Rourke also has managerial pedigree both with his school St Pats in Navan and with adults at both club and national level, impressively managing Ireland to victory after the reintroduction of the International Rules Series in 1998. 

Peter Canavan. The Tyrone legend is a teacher and an All Ireland winner but he is not a native, currently managing Fermanagh it is outrageous to suggest that he will win an All Ireland with them but is he just getting a feel for inter-county management so he can take over from Mickey Harte in the Tyrone job when he chooses to retire? If Canavan has a plan to rebuild Tyrone, his time may be better served by managing their u21’s. 
Jim Gavin. The favourite for the Dublin job has kept a low profile despite winning 2 of the last 3 All Ireland u21 titles and like Pat Gilroy he was an All Ireland winner himself in 95. As an army officer he should have as much free time on his hands if not more than a teacher as the outbreak of war remains quite unlikely. 

Dr. Cian O’Neill, the dark horse among the pack. O’Neill has to be on the radar of Kildare’s county board when Kieran McGeeney decides to step down. The Moorefield man has worked as a physical trainer with Limerick footballers, Tipperary’s All Ireland winning hurling team in 2010 and is currently working with the Mayo senior footballers. Only in his mid-thirties, he is one of the most qualified and sought after trainers in the country as director of Physical Education in UL but O’Neill also had success as a player and his impact at full forward for Moorefield’s Kildare senior championship winning teams at the turn of the Millennium left many within the county wondering why he wasn’t a regular there for the Kildare team. 

So that’s how you win the All Ireland, statistically speaking of course, easy isn’t it?

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Its been a while since I posted, more down to laziness and not playing much poker than anything else but I intend to get back posting very soon as I've a good bit of poker planned. I also want to write a little about the lads in Vegas and some of the topics I covered a little in the Star poker supplement. 

My brother put up a post on Facebook today, I was going to write a post on the subject my self and didn't know he was writing one but after reading his one I thought I'd just stick it up here as he pretty much summed up my thoughts on the issue. The only thing I don't think he manages to get across in his post is how much hatred there is for that idiot Joe Brolly after he made a fool of him self telling the country how the people of Kildare were feeling on a Sunday morning heading to Croke Park.

Anyway for those of you who don't know my brother he transferred from his home club Milltown to the largest club in our Parish Allenwood a number of years ago to play senior football. My own family is what you would call a Gaa family (I myself share something in common with the Gaa field in Milltown as we were both named after my Grandfather Christy) and this transfer did not go down well with all however he went ahead with it and after a year out of football it went through.

Below are his thoughts on the matter....... 

"So folks its been a while since I’ve opined here on facebook and given the positive feedback I had the last time, I thought I’d have another go. The issue this time has to be the Seanie Johnston affair, saga, debacle, whatever you want to call it. As usual I have a lot to say but I have remained uncharacteristically tight lipped on the matter thus far. However, I feel I must speak up as I have been on the receiving end of quite a bit of slagging over this. I suppose it was to be expected as I am a Kildare man but crucially I too went against the “ethos” of the GAA, upped sticks and left my home club to swim with the bigger fish. Joe Brolly’s nonsense assessment of the issue on the Sunday Game 2 weeks ago was the second last straw “kildare people were hanging their heads in shame on the way into Croke Park”, “they’ve made fools of themselves” and ‘they’ve embarrassed the association”, but the fact that so many people agree with him and seem to ignore the appalling behavior of the GAA hierarchy on the issue is what I wish to address. 

So what exactly happened? Well I don’t exactly know. What I do know is the same as what everybody else knows. In order to make himself eligible to play inter-county football for Kildare, Seanie Johnston left his home club Cavan Gaels and transferred to St. Kevins (how Briar and JD missed out on getting him for Allenwood is still a sore point with me, surely if they had of mentioned how we absolutely shredded Kevins in the championship last year courtesy of a stunning goal from a certain serial facebook blogger he would have joined us, but I suppose Allenwood has a tradition of reserving their transfers for only the very best players). Anyhow, in the process he committed the worst sin possible in GAA, he pissed off the nation’s great assembly of gobshites and troglodytes, commonly known as GAA Central Council.

Seanie Johnston.

It’s well known in GAA circles that several clubs around the country send the 2 biggest idiots on the committee in to the County Board as their County Board delegates. It keeps them from interfering in club affairs and it lets them think they have an important job. A very active member of the Sarsfields club shared this information with me when I told him about the behaviour at my own transfer hearing. He also believed that most County Boards were dominated by people from the less successful clubs as the members from successful clubs were too busy looking after their own affairs. They had what he called a ‘junior mentality’. So what happens if each county board follows suit and sends their two biggest idiots into central council? I think everybody knows some old dinosaur in their own club, who is against everything, well imagine a room full of them. 

What did Seanie Johnston do that was so terrible? He wasn’t happy with Cavan and he was dropped from the panel don’t forget so what were his choices? Stay and not play inter-county football or leave and play inter-county football. He chose the latter and followed it through. He didn’t punch or kick anybody he didn’t even make a dirty tackle but somehow he still became GAA enemy No. 1. People have gone completely unpunished for assaulting and hospitalising others on the field but a lad who just wants to play football for another team is a far greater threat to the ethos of the GAA and requires far greater attention. 

The GAA was founded to promote Gaelic games and to encourage people to play gaelic games. That’s what Seanie Johnston is doing, he is playing as much gaelic football as he can. He is doing exactly what the GAA was founded for. What has Central Council’s response been, oh yes, they tried to ‘stop’ him from playing football? You can sugar coat it all you like and talk about parish rules and home clubs but ultimately they tried to stop him from playing football as they try to stop anybody from playing football for the club or county of their choice, if that choice differs from theirs. Not only that but they also almost stopped approximately 9 of the London team from playing inter-county football this year too when they introduced a rule to ‘stop’ people from playing for a new county. They didn’t give a damn about the London team when they introduced this silly rule in what was nothing short of a knee jerk reaction to one player not towing the party line. So who is really going against the ethos of the GAA and who the hell decides what the ethos of the Association is anyway? I don’t think Seanie Johnston or anybody else involved has anything to be ashamed of by circumventing this rule and lining out for Coill Dubh hurlers to make himself available for Kildare this year. Thomas Jefferson said “ridicule is our only weapon against unintelligible propositions”. The ridiculousness of this situation was created by the GAA hierarchy, Johnston and Co just beat them at their own game. Only a pity they couldn’t beat Meath as well to really put it all to bed.
If players were allowed transfer to the club of their choice it would ruin the GAA wouldn’t it? Players would go wherever they wanted, small clubs wouldn’t survive and we’d all turn protestant and start playing hockey. 

Scaremongering has preceded every major change in GAA policy from the foreign games ban and the opening of Croke Park to the formation of the GPA and its official recognition, how games continue to survive is a mystery. The fact is that most people want to play for their home club and that’s why they do it, not because of the ethos of the GAA or whatever Central Council tell us the ethos is. Most people that don’t want to play for their home club either go through the rigmarole of trying to get a transfer which usually involves not playing football for at least one year or they give up playing altogether. The process as it stands certainly does not promote the games or encourage people to play the games. Is it better to have more playing with the wrong clubs or less playing with the right clubs? It should also be noted that the ethos of the GAA is conveniently shelved when players transfer from strong clubs to weaker ones, maybe that strengthens the “junior mentality” theory of my informant from Sarsfields. 

I don’t really expect to win too many converts to my arguments here, people are naturally afraid of change and usually believe whatever they’re thought to believe. Added to that, when it comes to transfers, people see the little club as the victim rather than the mighty GAA but I think most reasonable people would have to agree that any shame, disgrace or embarrassment associated with this issue does not rest solely on the shoulders of Seanie Johnston or those in Kildare who were “complicit” as Joe Brolly put it. The system was flawed, they made it nonsensical and because he was able to trump them with a helmet and hurley, he’s the bad guy. 
“Democracy will prevail when men believe the vote of Judas as good as that of Jesus”. Thomas Carlyle"

Timmy Dowling 14/07/12

Timmy tried to transfer to Allenwood in 2004 and ended up not playing football for the full year, he was 24 years old. The following year he played in the Kildare Senior county final in Newbridge losing by 1 point to Moorefield. The year after that he was called up to the Kildare county panel where her remained for 3 years although never played a Championship match for Kildare. Most people would agree if he did not transfer he would never have gotten his chance with the county.

Thursday, 15 March 2012


“Next week it’s the Western Open in Castlebar, I lost a small fortune over there last year when the cash games ran straight through but I have every intention of getting some of it back this time round. Hopefully the usual suspects show up and my big hands hold up”

The last paragraph of my last blog was in my head as I lost the third €5k+ pot in a row in Castlebar last weekend. It was a pretty sick hand too as we were all in 3 ways on a Q,10 x flop with the other 2 holding each other’s outs and me having top set, but somehow they got there.

Its seldom I walk away from a cash game completely gutted but this was one of those occasions, it was the same sort of feeling I have when I get knocked out deep, in a big tournament when you’ve been unlucky. In fact it was similar to a tournament because I feel if I win that pot I can go on and win a lot of money as the others were buying in for one or two thousand at a time and I would have had over €7k in front of me had my hand held.

Anyway apart from the fact I done the tank in, the first stop on the new The Irish Tour was a great weekend of poker and with the majority of the money staying with the locals. The beer and the cash games ran pretty much 24/7 and from what I could see everybody had a great weekend. Next one is the first week in May in Dublin.

Still licking my wounds for the trip west I went into my regular Naas plo game and had my biggest losing session in over a year. Woke up the next day feeling like an idiot and got word of a decent golf bet. I called a few guys who know more than me about golf and they all agreed this was value so I called one of the lads with the intention of having €500 on Yang @ 6/4 to win his 3 ball that night. Somewhere in the next 3 minutes I decide instead of having €500 I’m sticking €4k on him!

The biggest bet I’ve had since the all-Ireland final and with such an amount of cash on the line you’d think I’d know the rules.. When Yang was on the 17th all square with Clarke I didn’t know dead heat rules apply and in fact a tie would have returned a profit. Nicky Power was on the msn chat and kindly informed me how I was fixed and added that he thought Clarke would find the water on 18. Nicky turned out to be spot on and Clarke did find the drink leaving an easy win for Yang and me collecting €10k to get me even for the week.

Went to Carlow on the Friday night for the plo and again I done well down there. The biggest and last pot of the night was my AKQ9 v 1010XX on a AA10 flop. I called a bet in position on the flop and potted a Q turn, and got a full pot bet in on the river which put the villain all in.

Next up was the €40k gtd in Clane on Saturday, I gave the tournament a miss as I intended putting in a long session at the cash tables. Everything was going fine until I got rivered for a big pot and then the pain started. I lost pot after pot getting it in as good as you can in Omaha and they just kept getting there. I finally threw in the towel when 3 of us were in a massive pot and a guy manages to hit a single out to scoop.

Omaha can be pretty cruel game but all in all I’ve had my fair share of good breaks so I can’t complain too much when it goes against me for a while. Played in Naas again last night and booked a small profit, the game was not as crazy as usual with some of the more “creative” players missing.

Tomorrow I’m playing the first of a few live satellites for the Irish Open in the Jackpot. They have renovated the place and I believe its top class now with new food facilities and sports on the TV’s etc. I haven’t played a live tournament for 3 weeks which is a long time for me and I’m looking forward to it, win lose or draw I’ll be in this 30 seat gtd on Paddy Power on Sunday night. 

Whether you agree with the PP last longer being in the most prestigious Irish tournament or not its madness not to be in it. There are usually about 100 qualifiers so its effectively means if you qualify on line its worth €1k more to you, can’t be bad can it?

Monday, 27 February 2012

Super Poker and PLO Pain

Played the Super Poker Event and two long plo sessions this weekend with little to show for it. I got off to a bad start when I went behind in the cash game I've been a regular at since it started back up five weeks ago. Easy to keep turning up when you've been winning I suppose, I was going for five winning sessions in a row.
I was a good bit behind but the game was loose enough to get it back and at about 7 am I got it in when I turned the nuts and held to get me slightly in front for the session.

The game broke fairly shortly after that and after heading home for 3 hrs sleep I went to the Super Poker Event. I got off to a good enough start calling a shove with KK on a Q high board to knock a Frenchie out and then playing an interesting pot with Aidan Connolly blind on blind when he floated my turn bet and bet 75% pot on the river. I called with A high and he mucked. It was an interesting spot because I had more or less decided when I initially looked at my cards (A,10) that I had the best hand and was not folding.

After that it all started to go wrong, I kept doubling up the short stacks and then ran into AA for a big pot and was left with 1k with the blinds at 1k-2k-100. I then went all in every hand and won every time until I jammed QK and again ran into AA. That was for 70k and would have put me right back in the mix.

The plo was running so I jumped straight into that and although the game was terrible I managed to lose pot after pot and before long found myself in the hole again. At about 6am I just gave up and jumped into the €2-€5 NL game that was running and my fortune changed instantly.

Won a nice pot first hand with QJ v JJ on a QQ xxx board then doubled up with AA v AK button on blind. After an hour or so the game broke and I was only down €200 when Marc McDonald kindly offered to flip (blind omaha) for his remaining chips. Mathematically it might be 50/50 but statistically I am a big favourite here!! Anyway the stats never lie and I once again won the flip to finish a few hundred in front for the two days playing.  

I suppose it could have been a lot worse, after all I was down a lot of money both sessions and yet finished in front but it all seemed pretty pointless on Sunday afternoon when I was half asleep trying to push kids around a merry go round. All part of the game I suppose.

Next week its the Western Open in Castlebar, I lost a small fortune over there last year when the cash games ran straight through but I have every intention of getting some of it back this time round. Hopefully the usual suspects show up and my big hands hold up!!