by Vicky Coren
The new UKIPT (UK and Irish poker tour) was announced the same week I made a very grown-up decision. I wanted to go and play the Master Classics of Poker in Amsterdam, but I decided not to because the buy-in was too big.
I’m moving house soon, I’ve had builders in the new place for ages – OBVIOUSLY they took months longer and cost far more than the original plan – and it just seemed crazy to spend €6000 plus expenses on a poker tournament. Besides, I should be here packing boxes, not running off to Europe without a care in the world.
I was pleased with myself for making the sensible decision; most unlike me. And the universe offered an immediate reward with news of this UKIPT tournament series: British and Irish events that I can get to with minimum hassle, at very reasonable prices starting from £500.
In modern poker, it’s easy to forget the value of money. All these juicy giant tournaments, people winning millions wherever you look. When I started playing, the main events in live festivals were £500. Recently, these have come to be considered as the “small” opening events. It’s crazy. £500 is a lot of money in the real world. The UKIPT is giving back some perspective to British poker: creating serious title events, treating a £500 or £1000 buy-in with the respect it deserves.
As a sponsored player, of course there is less pressure on me with the tournament expenses. Nevertheless, I strongly believe that the first rule of poker is bankroll management. That applies to me as much as anyone I give advice to. You should never invest more than 5% of your bankroll in any single game. You should never play for amounts that would seriously hurt. Once the game is underway, you must be able to stop thinking of the chips as money – thinking of them purely as ammunition, to be guarded where necessary and fired out where necessary, based purely on the cards and the situation. It is impossible to do this properly if it’s money you are scared to lose.
The best way to play a €5,000 EPT event is to win your seat on Stars for small money. If you miss out on the seat but can comfortably afford the buy-in anyway, great: these are wonderful tournaments in amazing locations. If not, don’t start thinking you HAVE to play them. Play smaller local tournaments. Play online for whatever is comfortable.
I’ve been giving this advice for years, but last week I proved to myself that I can also follow it. And hey, winning at poker is an end in itself, regardless of the money. Whether I’m playing a $50 tournament on Stars, a £500 British event or a €5000 European event, I want to win it: I’m delighted if I do and furious if I don’t, just the same.