This article was first published in March 2005
Is poker success down to skill or luck or fate? Or is it a combination of all of these?
I have had a few experiences that would seem to suggest that fate may play a part. One of these relates to a trip I made to Barcelona in September 2003 for the Barcelona Open tournament, the predecessor of what would become the 1st leg of the European Poker Tour the following year.
When I arrived at my hotel I was allocated room 13 on one of the floors. (I can’t remember which.) I really didn’t think anything much of it and carried on with business. Over the next 2 or 3 days I played in various tournaments and satellite games and some cash games. Whatever I played in, I couldn’t seem to do anything right. I couldn’t win a flip to save my life. Even if I had AK against an Ace with a smaller kicker I still couldn’t win!
After about three days of this torture, I decided that my room number may be the root of the problem. So, I rang down to reception to ask if I could move to a different room. The guy at reception seemed very concerned and asked if there was something wrong with the room. "No" I said, but explained to him that I was playing Poker and that the room number seemed to be unlucky for me. “Aaahhh” says he, knowingly, “I understand”
A room change was arranged immediately – a triumph for international customer services in Spain.
So, anyway, I entered the main event the next day and proceeded to get a very nice payday with an equal three way chop in the tournament
My new room number was 114. Number of players in the main event? 114. Scary or what?
Looking back at the results, I noted that the buy in for this event was €1,000 with a €50 Reg. fee on top. For this we were treated to a three course meal, with wine, in the casino restaurant. How times have changed!
Another similar experience happened in Slovenia about eight months later. The difference here was that I was running pretty good. I made a final table in one of the side events and won my seat for the main event in a satellite.
The main event was a two day affair and I was chip leader when we got down to the final table of nine at the end of Day 1. After the chips were counted, the seating draw for the final table took place. The way they did this in Slovenia was that that the lowest stack got to draw the first seat and so on down the line. So, when it got to me, there was only one seat left. Table 8, Seat 8. Now, this sounded quite good to me as I had recently read somewhere that under some Chinese birth chart, my lucky number was supposed to be 8.
In the final the next day, I never lost the chip lead and when play eventually got heads up, I had about a 3 – 2 chip lead.
After a bit of heads up play, I picked up a pocket pair on the button. I made a standard raise only for my opponent to move all in. I made the call and he turned over AQ or AJ.
When the dust had settled, he did not improve and my pair held up to win me the tournament.
My pocket pair? 8-8!
Strange but true.
Strange but true.