How (not) to play a UKIPT poker tournament

November 03, 2013

For the first time in their history, PokerStars and the Rational Group allowed its people to play in one of their Main Events. So, this UKIPT stop in the Isle of Man was a monumental moment and homecoming. It worked out well for many a staffer. Two employees won side events. Several others went deep in the Main. Team Online manager Chris Jonat is at the final table tomorrow. It’s a testament to the fact PokerStars people know the game pretty well.

I, too, have never played a PokerStars-sponsored event, and it occurred to me that–for the sake of research and a good story–that I would play a side event here. The next part of the plan was that I would win it and use the money to finance a grand party for my upcoming birthday. It’s my duty to report to you that I now have all the answers. This is information you need to know. I now offer you…

How (not) to play a UKIPT poker tournament

1. Enter a tournament based solely on the idea that it would be a good story: This was likely my first bit of folly. It never–and I mean never, ever–occurred to me that the tournament would end without an amazing story to tell here. This is akin to me believing I would never–ever!–get gray hair.

2. Run red hot in a prior tournament that had no cash prize pool: So, not to brag (I’m bragging) but I took third place out of 100 people last night in the £50 buy-in Helping Hands charity tournament. Yes, folks, I get there when it counts. While I got a lovely watch for my efforts (thanks to PokerStars for that), I got something even more important: an overwhelming sense of self-worth and importance.

3. Have an overwhelming sense of self-worth and importance: This probably goes without saying, but I’m neither worthy nor important. Any rumors to the contrary have been bought and paid for in pints of lager or blackmail material over the past several years.


Honor, pride, cash, and a trophy! I have none of these.

4. Forget what time the tournament begins: I was sure that today’s £110 Super Deep Stack turbo tournament started at 6pm. I would’ve bet you £110 on it. That 4pm kick off was a real kick in the pants. Thank goodness the UKIPT has late registration. I was sure everything was going to work out in the end.

5. Believe it’s all going to work out in the end: At one point during the four and half hours I played today, a guy turned to me after my 20th consecutive fold and asked, “Are your cards really that bad?” I assured him they were, and privately told myself, “It’s all going to work out in the end.”

6. Play the meat to a good player sandwich: That sounds dirtier (or tastier) than it should. But know this: there are some damned good players here this week, and I happened to get placed right between them today. It’s a lot like sitting in the back seat of a car on the hump, having to use the cheap seatbelt, and hoping that the inevitable crash kills you fast.

7. Pretend the crash isn’t inevitable: If you play like me, it’s the rough equivalent of driving blindfolded the wrong way down a freeway. The only thing left to sort out at the end of every tournament is where the medical examiner can source my dental records so he can officially identify my body.

8. Blind down to half the starting stack: I’d like to offer some defense (card dead, rampant nit virus, bad flops) but we all know the cards don’t matter.

9. Shove that stack blind under the gun with 30 seconds remaining until the break: I mean, we all know waiting through a tournament break with a micro-stack is like standing naked in a shopping mall (or is that just me?), but I really just couldn’t be bothered to take the abuse anymore.

10. Assume that PokerStars Serial Qualifier and Friend Pierre Neuville won’t look you up with queen-eight: He will, he will beat you, and he will say, “Thank you,” when it’s over.

I like to think I offer a valuable service to the readers of the PokerStars Blog. Oh sure, it’s a matter of sacrifice and humiliation, but that’s what I was put on this earth to do. So, go forth, fine readers, and play as many UKIPT events as you can. They are amazing festivals with great people, talented staff, and lots of fun to be had.

Just don’t play like me.

Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging and the world’s worst poker player


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