Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Vic Hosts Inaugural Academy

Last Saturday, Black Belt Poker and Bluff Europe combined forces to present the first ever Academy, a day dedicated to finding those leaks and filling those holes. On hand to offer their expert advice were Irish Open Champion and Vic veteran Neil Channing, online pro and serial GUKPT finalist Nik Persaud, Brown Belt and former iPoker Monthly Million finalist Hugh Kirton, and Bluff Europe’s host extraordinaire Alex Rousso.

Held at the Grosvenor Victoria in London, the Academy examined a number of topics ranging from the Fundamental Theorem of Poker to table psychology. Players were also given the chance to watch televised hands and hear the expert analysis of the team, as well as participate in interactive exercises in which the mentors would take people through live hands and dissect every decision made.

During one of the breaks, I caught up with Sensei Persaud to hear what he thought of the day so far and also his views on educating oneself on the intricacies of the game.


As part of the package, attendees were invited to play the Vic’s £50 No Limit Hold’em freezeout, being held later that evening. As an added bonus, the last three remaining Black Belt Poker players in the event would win themselves a free seat into the London Live, a $220 No Limit Hold’em Freezeout scheduled for March 12-14. The three winners were Andy Brisland, David Sparks and Kevin Stevens. The latter of those has detailed his experience in an article for Black Belt Poker. Click here to read Part One.

Joining the aforementioned at the Academy were a number of other BBP members including Purple Belts Lee Innes and Steve Dickson, Orange Belt Paul Harrison, and current Grader Carey Hollick. During dinner, I spoke to Purple Belt Gavin Hall to discuss what he was looking for from the Academy and also his progress in the current Grading.


Gavin's article: Wax On Wax Off: Stages of Poker Evolution – Part One/

The Black Belt Academy was deemed a huge success by both mentors and students alike, and is likely to be returning to the Vic in the very near future. To book your seat in the next Academy, you can either buy in directly via cheque (contact info@blackbeltpoker.com for more details), or earn your way in for absolutely nothing by playing in Orange Belt freeroll which takes place on the last Monday of every month on the Black Belt Poker skin. The next one is this coming Monday, so register now and we look forward to seeing you at the next Academy.

Click here for photos from the event.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Movers & Shakers – January

We’ve been tangoed!

It may be a new year, but Black Belt Poker are kicking off 2010 as they ended 2009 with a plethora of familiar names coming aboard the Belt-Up Bus in an attempt to scale the ranks and become the first ever Black Belt.

Incredibly, there are 45 new Orange Belts at Black Belt Poker including successful pros such as 2007 Blackpool GUKPT Champion Paul Bracken, back-to-back TV winner Ian Frazer, triple WSOP finalist Stuart Fox, and English Open Poker Champion David LaRonde. Look even closer, however, and you’ll also notice the inclusion of League II winner Mark Brassington, as well as current Grader John Hayes.

But it’s higher up where perhaps most praise should be issued, as now proudly sporting a shiny, Purple Belt is everyone’s favourtie self-proclaimed hobbit, Adam ‘JHobbit1’ Saunders. A familiar name to the community through his constant presence and title of League I Winner, Adam is one of Black Belt Poker’s most loyal members and certainly deserving of his new status.

Congratulations must also go to former Grader Chaz Chattha who has returned to Black Belt Poker to work his way back up the rankings and hopefully represent Black Belt Poker in future tournaments. He is now a Blue Belt again and will be keenly eying up Brown.

Of course, with all these new Belt statuses come new incentives and benefits, the latest of which is just around the corner: the Deepstack Payback, a deepstacked $20+2 No Limit Hold’em freezeout.

Anyone can enter this tournament, but if you take down the event as an Orange Belt we’ll add 25 percent to prize pool. If you’re Purple or above, make that 50 percent! What’s more, there are two $100 bounties up for grabs each week in the shape of the Black Belt Pros. The tournament starts tomorrow at 6pm, so sign up now!

Black Belt Poker would like to congratulate the following players on their achievement for December and wish you the very best of luck at the tables for the month of January:


Chaz Chattha


Adam Saunders
Ben Gross
Adam Lennox
Warren Wooldridge


David Smith
Rob Weston
Mark Brewis
Chris Knightly
Paul Bracken
Adam York
Samuel Grafton
Martin Nixon
Stephen Knowles
Kristian Dawson
David LaRonde
Adam Stoneham
Andrew West
Julien Thabault
Abishek Khaitan
Tom Smith
Jonathan Lundy
Paul Romain
John Hayes
Robbie Wooldridge
Nicky Evans
Simon Herrick
Denison Ranson
Mark Brassington
Keir Fitzgibbon
Natasha Dwyer
Simon Shaw
Catherine O'Brien
Peter Rhodes
Matt McKinlay
Nick Mazur
Mark Cooper
Craig Wakeham
Stuart Fox
Lorcan Fox
Lee Harrison
Iwan Jones
Michael Wootten
Ian Frazer
George Frangeskou
Andrea Boschiero
Simon Cameron
Scott Shelley
Chris Andreou
Frode Gjesdal

For more information on the Black Belt Poker cardroom, the Belt-Up rewards system, or any of our promotions, please visit our help pages in the ‘Play Poker’ section of the site.

Black Belt Academy

Roses, chocolates, dinner – what better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than telling your other half that you’ve just become a better poker player? Next Saturday, February 13, 2010, we’re offering readers just that: the opportunity to improve their game through Black Belt Poker.

In partnership with Bluff Europe, Black Belt Poker are proud to present to you their inaugural Black Belt Academy in which we’ll attempt to identify those leaks and fill any holes in your game. Heading the Academy will be two of the UK’s finest players in 2008 Irish Open Champion Neil Channing and online stalwart Nik Persaud.

The Black Belt Academy is a snip at £199 and will take place from 1-7pm at the Grosvenor Victoria Casino in London. The schedule is as follows and will include presentations from Bluff Europe’s Alex Rousso and Black Belt Poker Brown Belt and former Grader Hugh Kirton.

12.30 – 1.00 Registration
1.00 – 2.00 Alex Rousso – Metalearning
2.00 – 2.30 Live Hand exercises – pros review your play
2.30 – 2.45 Break
2.45 – 3.30 Nik Persaud – Fundamental Theorem of Poker
3.30 – 4.00 Live Hand exercises – pros review your play
4.00 – 4.30 Break with sandwiches and drinks
4.30 – 5.00 Interactive exercise: what happened next?
5.00 – 5.45 Channing reveals: Neil explains some TV hands he played
5.45 – 6.15 Live Hand exercises – pros review your play
6.15 – 7.00 Hugh Kirton – Psychology of Poker

Also included in the Academy fee is entry into the Vic’s £50+5 buy-in tournament, scheduled to commence at 7.30pm. Those playing as part of the Academy will automatically be eligible for our last-longer competition, in which the three remaining Academy participants will win entry into the Black Belt London Live in March, a deep-stacked, added value tournament worth $200+20.

This is an incredible opportunity for players looking to move their game onto the next level and a great chance to learn from some of the best mentors in the business. If you would like to secure your seat, then it’s not too late. To purchase a ticket sans tournament buy-in (£150) check out http://www.bluffeurope.com/pokeracademy/, or for entry into the tournament and the chance to participate in the Black Belt London Live, contact jen@blackbeltpoker.com.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

BBP Cardroom Receives Major Update

This year, iPoker announced a number of brand new updates to the iPoker network, all of which have now been released on the Black Belt Poker skin.

The most welcome arrival will no doubt be the introduction of resizable tables. A long awaited addition, players will be pleased to hear that tables, along with the ability to tile and cascade, can now be altered to suit individual tastes by clicking on the corner of the table and dragging it to the desired size.

Perhaps second to resizable tables is the new time bank options. For a while now, tournament players have been given little time in which to act and make a decision, but with iPoker’s new time bank feature, they can add some invaluable thinking time to their clock when making those tough decisions.

The time bank and turn time settings are as follows:

$5-$49 MTTs: 30 sec time bank, 60 sec final table time bank, 20 secs of time to act
$50+ MTTs: 60 sec time bank, 90 sec final table time bank, 20 secs of time to act
$10+ Tb MTTs: 30 sec time bank, 45 sec final table time bank, 18 secs of time to act
$10+ SNGs: 30 sec time bank, 15 secs of time to act
$20+ Tb SNGs: 12 sec time bank, 12 secs of time to act
Super Tbs: 12 secs of time to act

Our more astute players will also have noticed dramatic changes in both the layout and look of the tables. Gone are the large, clunky figures, to be replaced by smaller, more appropriate avatars which can be both changed and blocked as the player wishes. Players can now choose where they sit, simply by right-clicking on a seat and selecting the ‘sit me here’ option. And if that isn’t clear enough, then there is also a spotlight that shines above the player with the decision, so users always know where the action lies.

There are also changes to the chat box, with players given more space in which to write notes. The chat box itself is more concise than before, and now displays all the relevant information such as tournament information, player stats and hand histories. There are even emoticons for those times when words simply can’t express that feeling of elation when you bust an opponent’s aces.

Along with the addition of Razz, the three-quarter pot bet button, hand-for-hand, and limits on how many tables heads-up players can sit out at, the new iPoker changes should appease the customer base and make the whole experience of playing on Black Belt Poker that much more pleasurable, for both amateurs and pros alike. It will also prove that iPoker are keen to listen to the views of players and make the necessary changes to enhance the playing experience.

To check out these changes, all you have to do is boot up the Black Belt Poker client as per usual. The updates will be added automatically. If you don’t have an account, then don’t fret, it’s easy to create one. Simply download the poker client and follow the step-by-step process. Good luck at the tables and may the cards be with you.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Grading II: Dublin Two-O Announced

Today witnesses the start of Grading II: Destination Dublin, in which Graders will battle it out over a six-week period for a mouth-watering package to the 2010 Irish Open worth €6,500 and automatic promotion to Blue Belt status.

In total, 70 players registered their interest in partaking in the Grading II, and on Monday, January 18, players partook in a Pre-Selection Grading Week in order to cut-down the numbers to those who were capable of completing the hours.

In the end, 20 players successfully completed the Pre-Grading, thus proving they were worthy contenders for Grading II. They have now become proud members of the Dublin Two-O and will begin competing for one of three Irish Open packages in an effort to follow in the footsteps of 2008 Champion and Black Belt Poker co-founder Neil Channing.

They are:

Ramsey Ajram
Ermyas Birru
Andy Brisland
Jamie Burland
Mike Carroll
Lee Clarke
Javed Ghazi
Adam Goulding
Gavin Hall
Gerard Harraghy
John Hayes
Richard Hinds
Rob Jarrett-Smith
Tomasz Jedlecki
Simon Mairs
Martin Rice
Joe Roberts
Owen Robinson
Mike Shaw
Kevin Williams

The Dublin Two-O are an eclectic mix made up of 6 Yellow Belts, 7 Orange Belts, 4 Purple Belts, and 3 Green Belts. However, whatever their level, all 20 will be asked to complete 480 table hours (720 for STT players) over a six-week period, partaking at stakes of $0.25/0.50 and upwards for the opening four weeks, and $0.50/1 and upwards for the final two weeks.

One player who will be keen to do well is Ramsey Ajram. A live pro from London, Ajram was a member of the Vegas Five-O who competed in Grading I, but sadly had to drop out during the final week due to illness. Ajram is the only member of the Dublin Two-O who has experience in a prior Grading.

Without further ado, all that remains is to wish all the Graders the very best of luck. If you would like to follow their progress, then be sure to check out the Graders’ Board in our ‘Groups’ section which will shortly become accessible to the Dublin Two-O.