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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Football and Poker...

God my blog is going the same way as Dublin Bus... nothing for ages and then 2 in quick succession!

The last post was purely about my trip to Thailand, so I thought Id give a quick poker update.

First though, I thought I might comment on how Ireland have been getting on lately, soccer wise... Now I'm a diehard fan of the Irish Team, I havent missed a home game for as far as I can remember, and Ive travelled abroad many times to watch them play. You wouldn't believe how hard it was to watch the Germany game in Thailand. We were on Phi Phi, a tiny island with only 700 people living on it, and 1 Irish bar! At two in the morning, all of the Irish tourists on the island packed in while the owner searched through hundreds of channels trying to find the game. The fact that it was on RTE meant we had to look through all the foreign channels to see if we could find it. So at 2 in the morning about 50 of us, all wearing the Irish jerseys, watched expectantly while he went from channel to channel.... Finally Steve Stauntons face flashed up on screen and a roar went up from the bar! We had found it on some small German channel, 'UltraSport' or something... Either way, we got to watch it!

We lost that game, but Im happy at least that I got to watch it. The Irish team have really gone downhill over the last few years, I think the turning point was not being able to beat Switzerland in the run up to the world cup.This led to fuck ups against Israel which led to us placing 4th in a group we could have won. At the time we were 14th in the FIFA rankings while Switzerland were in the mid 40's. How the tables have turned.... We have basically switched places now in terms of rankings. The reason Im talking about soccer all of a sudden, is that the new rankigs were out a few days ago, and I had to scroll down quite a bit to find Ireland.... 43rd... can you believe it? Irelands lowest ranking since the 90's.

Switzerland on the other hand, have taken over Irelands old 14th spot, which we had hovered around for a few years. Scotland have overtaken us.... as have other 'giants' such as Equador, Bulgaria, Tunisia, and Guinea... The only Team I'm happy to see overtake us is Australia, who thoroughly deserve it after a fantastic performance in the world cup. If those diving scumbags Italy hadn't cheated them in the world cup, who knows what would have happened?

I dont know what annoys me more, Ireland dropping down the rankings faster than anything ....., or England... in 4th.

Anyway, enough about football, lets talk poker! I havent really played live in about 2 months now, since I won the VN game, and I gave up on online a while before that. Id like to get back into playing live, but Im pretty broke after Thailand, so I won't be able to get a bankroll together for a while!

Ive a Team Event coming up in October, with Ehsan and Tom. Theres only 3 players to a team, and with a €150 buy-in it should be a decent tourney. I'll try and get one or two live games in before then, probably the €50 DC in the Fitz, usually a good game. Team Events have easily been my best tournaments, things just seem to go right for me in them! Hopefully I can get a good result from this.

As I said, I haven't really played online since May/June, the odd game every few weeks has kept up my hatred for it. Still though, when I arrived home I was dying to play poker, but I was still wrecked from the holiday and wasn't up for heading into the casino. So I logged onto PPP... why oh why!

I stuck in €50 and jumped into a few games. After about 10 minutes I realised it wasn't really working... I mean, I wanted to play poker, not a computer game! And thats all it is to me now. Its as much 'poker', as Fifa Pro Ev. is a game of football. Its just a computer game. Its not actually poker. I needed to actually have a real game of poker, feel the cards in my hands, have the buzz that goes with it... none of which I get from playing online. It was too late to hit the casino so I logged off and watched TV. I have absolutely no interest in playing online anymore, and look at it in the same light as the playstation or XBox. I just cant bring myself to take it seriously, which is why I dont think ill ever make it as an online poker player. Anytime I sit down, i cant just sit at one table and play a serious game. Ill have the TV on, ill be watching poker vids on U-tube, reading boards etc... so Im basically just pissing money away on it. Luckily not a lot, I play micro-limits online! No offence to all the lads who are cleaning up online. Its clearly working out for you guys!

I might still play the odd game out of boredom, but having only played about 10 hours overall since May, I think Ive successfully overcome any attraction I had to it. I used to play out of sheer boredom, with every weeknight being basically empty. But Im now playing soccer Monday, Thursday and Saturday, and going to the gym every other day, so my freetime is limited now. I think I meant start having a regular live game, like the Tuesday night €50 Double Chance in the Fitz.

Its annoying knowing that so many others are making thousands online, but a mix of very bad luck (causing TILT), and a short concentration span, mean I dont think i'll ever make much online! I dont mind losing small amounts now and then, but Im glad Ive no real interest in it anymore. Otherwise I might be logging on every night pissing away all my money! Im down a few hundred euro online for the year, but luckily some nice live wins more than cover it. I didnt realise that online poker was actually causing me the most stress... more than work/ family issues... how ridiculous is that??

Anyway, I'm probably going to hit the Fitz DC next Tuesday, and I look forward to this Team Event next month. I havent met up with all the poker lads in a while, should be good! Until then,


Tuesday, September 12, 2006


People have been bugging me for an update on this blog so here it is...

Unfortunately it has f-all to do with poker, so all those looking for bad beat stories can stop reading now!

I just got back from a long break in Thailand, what an incredible country. I've never been outside Europe before so you can imagine its a bit of a shock to the system when the plane touches down in Bangkok. Total culture shock, its just so different than our little Emerald Isle!

Anyway, six of us left Ireland on Aug. 19, and got into Bangkok on the 20th, via London and Qatar. We didnt hang around Bangkok for too long, only stayed one night for obvious reasons... So armed with little more than our backpacks, we headed for 'the islands'.

We started off in Ko Samui, and stayed there for a few days. The nightlife here was great, and the beaches were just what I was after. Lovely sandy beaches with that greenish water that you just have to swim in!

The plan was to head north to a much smaller island, Ko Tao, and do scuba diving. Unfortunately we missed the only ferry due to a bad hangover, so we could only go halfway to Ko Phangan. This island is famous worldwide for hosting the biggest full-moon party. I think this is the biggest beach party in the world, and attracts over 20,000 every month. We had planned on going here for Septembers full moon on the 7th, so we didnt mind having to stay a night here. As we checked into our hotel, we were told that the black moon party was on that night! Of all the nights to 'accidentally' be on the island!

The black moon is pretty self explanatory, its the opposite to the full moon! We made our way down to the beach, and were greeted by about 5000 ravers with neon everywhere! Had my first taste of the infamous Thailand 'buckets', full of vodka and red-bull, only the red-bull is different to what we get at home in that its laced with amphetimines... Suffuce is to say my memory got a little hazy after bucket number three!

With sore heads we pulled ourselves out of bed at 9am to catch the boat to Ko Tao, and get back on track. We made it over to this tiny island for some well deserved scuba diving and detox! This is a much more relaxed island, which centres mainly around scuba diving and boat tours. There wasn't much of a nightlife here, but it gave us a well deserved break from the madness of the previous week! We stayed here for about 3 days and spent our time scuba diving and relaxing. Although we did go quad biking around the island aswell so it wasn't all chilled out!

We left Ko Tao, and headed back to Samui to catch a plane to the other side of Thailand, to the well known Phuket. 'Welcome to the dark side....' We met up with a few friends here who had just arrived over from Ireland. They were dying to go out and 'see Thailand', so we went into the town centre to get dinner. I dont think we had prepared ourselves for what was in store... Without going into too much detail, lets just say any stories you have heard about Phuket are probably true!

So we stayed in Phuket for a few days, doing Jet-skiing among other things, before heading to the paradise island of Phi Phi. This was about an hour boat journey from Phuket, and was one of the worst hit parts of Thailand by the tsunami in 2004. 70% of the population was wiped out of this tiny island, and we weren't sure what to expect. Fortunately, it seems as if the island has recovered well, and there wasn't much trace of any damage, with the buildings all appearing to be pretty new. Still though, seeing this sign is enough to scare you a little! A tsunami evacuation procedure sign in your hotel room...

Phi Phi is an amazing island. Theres only 700 people living on it, and with only 5 or 6 hotels, this only rises to about 1500 with tourists included. It was a really secluded paradise, so its no surprise that it was where the famous film 'the beach' was set. We actually rented a longboat out to the actual island where 'the beach' was filmed. Its a huge uninhabitated rock in the ocean called Phi Phi Lay, about 2 or 3 miles from Phi Phi. Its literally just huge cliffs going straight up out of the sea, but as you go round to the side, the sea actually cuts in and forms a beach. Heres a photo from the beach showing the only entrance. Absolutely amazing!

We did this trip twice in the longboats, and went to 'monkey island', where monkeys live wild, but are so used to tourists that they will eat the food out of your hand! We also did cliff diving, snorkelling but mostly just sat back and enjoyed the views. These 'sunset cruises' lasted about six hours, and you have your own boat so you just tell the guy where to go and he'll take you.

We were on Phi Phi for the 'half-moon' party, which was only small enough but definitely worth it! Set right on the beach, with fire jugglers and a decent DJ, made for a great night, and of course the infamous buckets were on offer! I decided to give these another go, after almost losing my mind at the black moon.... well the next thing I remember was swimming in the sea with a load of English and Israelis at four in the morning! STAY AWAY FROM THE BUCKETS!

Three of the lads went home after Phi Phi, two weeks being the most time they could take off work. This is the main reason we travelled so much the first two weeks, just so we could get everything in for these lads. I had managed to get the extra week off work, and although it meant having to fly home on my own, I think it was definitely worth it! The rest of the group were staying for the full month, and are coming home this Sunday, Sept.17.

So after a hectic first two weeks we had decided to stay in the same place for the last week. Seeing as my last night would be Thursday, the night of the full moon party in Ko Phangan, we said we may aswell head over on Sunday and stay for the full week.

We couldnt make it from Phi Phi to Ko Phangan in one day, so we stopped off in Phuket for one night. This gave us enough time to go to a firing range which I thought was great! Whats not fun about firing a shotgun!!

Anyway, after another night out in the madhouse that is Phuket, we got back on a plane back to Ko Samui on Monday morning, and from there got a boat to Ko Phangan. The full moon party is the biggest night in Thailand every month, and Ko Phangan is where the biggest beach party is. So as you can imagine, there was a LOT of people heading that way! It was a bit of hassle to get a hotel but eventually we got some bungalows right down at the beach.

As I said, my last night was the full moon party on Thursday, and with only 4 days left of my three week holiday, I was planning on enjoying myself! In the week running up the the full moon, there is always 'warm-up' parties, so in other words the beach is packed every night and steadily increasing until finally the madness of Thursday finally arrives!

You cant really describe the full moon properly unless you've been there. All the clubs open out onto a beach, which is about 1k long. At one end you have 'mushroom mountain', so called for obvious reasons... At the other, you have an open air club, and in the middle, you have over 20,000 screaming lunatics, most with buckets in each hand! It was an amazing night and the perfect way to finish the holiday.

So Friday morning I packed my stuff and said goodbye to my remaining friends who were staying on. As I left I stopped to think what lay ahead of me. A taxi, then a boat, then a taxi, then a plane, then a taxi, then three more planes, then drive home from the airport.... on my own.... ugh

Well theres no point giving out about it, just grin and bear it! So I jumped in a taxi to the port, and got the boat over to Ko Samui. Once there I got a taxi to the airport for my flight to Bangkok. My flights home were not until Saturday morning, but I had to leave Ko Phangan on Friday or I wouldnt make it to Bangkok on time. It meant having to stay overnight in Bangkok but that didnt bother me.

Luckily I got talking to two English girls in Samui airport who just happened to be on the same flights as me all the way back to London! So I had someone to talk to on the flight to Bangkok, and we went out for a few drinks that night. Much better than having to travel alone! We parted company in London, and I headed to get my flight to Dublin. It was delayed an hour (well done aer lingus...), and when I finally arrived they had lost my baggage!! I got this back eventually, but it was very annoying at the time...

So thats it. For all of you that actually read this far I hope Ive made Thailand sound good, because it really is an amazing place!

Next post should be back to normal, hopefully a big win in poker!


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