Poker: a hard way to make an easy living

ONE OF THE old maxims about poker is that it&rsquo;s a hard way to make an easy living. You can grind out in a game for hours and hours and come away a loser, you can play for days in a major tournament and still bust out just short of the money, and you can weather numerous swings, bad beats and nerve-jangling situations and just struggle into profit. Still, poker pros will say, it&rsquo;s better than sitting in an office.<br /><br />Well, that&rsquo;s a point of view, but there&rsquo;s no doubting that when poker really pays off there can be few things sweeter &ndash; besting both the odds and the other players, and scoring a big wad of cash in the process, is beyond satisfying. And today City A.M. and William Hill Poker have lined up an opportunity for those sitting in offices to rack up a win with an exclusive freeroll tournament. It&rsquo;s free to enter, but there&rsquo;s a prize pool of $500, with a probable first place of $250. Have a look at the box below for more details.<br /><br /><strong>HIGH STAKES</strong><br />With that in mind, and as London&rsquo;s month of high stakes poker action kicks off with the opening of the World Series of Poker Europe over at the Casino at the Empire Leicester Square, I had a chat with a man who knows all about making an easy living the hard way. <br /><br />Julian Thew, a former engineering draftsman who took up poker after he moved from London to Dublin in the 1990s, is now one of this country&rsquo;s most successful players, with a tasty $2.5m in tournament winnings. In 2007 he beat a field of 282 top players to win the European Poker Tour event in Baden, Germany, a victory that netted him &euro;671,000. His recent successes include a $90,000 victory in a Las Vegas tournament this summer and a $33,000 payday just last week in Barcelona. So what&rsquo;s the key to winning a poker tournament?<br /><br /><strong>INSTINCTS</strong><br />&ldquo;You have to be able to trust your instincts,&rdquo; says Julian. &ldquo;Everyone talks about the importance of maths in poker, and all those online whiz kids know all their percentages inside out, but for me it&rsquo;s about the bigger picture. You have to have a feel for the situation so that you know when to make a move. It&rsquo;s more psychological than mathematical.&rdquo;<br /><br />Thew used to be know for his reckless style of play, bluffing and taking chances with abandon, to the extent that he earned himself the nickname &ldquo;Yo-Yo&rdquo; because of the way his chip stack would rise and fall. He says he&rsquo;s realised the value in playing a bit more conservatively these days, since the game has changed dramatically under the influence of internet players, even since his big win a couple of years ago.<br /><br />&ldquo;It&rsquo;s much tougher now, but the rewards are much greater. If you make the final table of a big event it&rsquo;s a seriously good payday, but you have to do your homework to keep up with how the game&rsquo;s evolving.&rdquo;<br /><br /><strong>POKER ONLINE </strong> Upcoming tournaments from William Hill<br />&bull; Sunday Night $250,000 Guarantee<br /> - $200+20 freeze-out at 7pm<br /><br />&bull; Fridays Night $150,000 Guarantee<br /> - $100+9 unlimited rebuys and add on at 8pm<br /><br />&bull; Twice weekly $100 freerolls<br /> - Tuesdays &amp; Thursdays<br /> - Earn 10 WH points to enter<br /><br />&bull; Monday Night Omaha<br /> - $100+9<br /> - 5,000 starting chips<br /> <br />&bull; Online qualifiers to; Irish Winter Festival,<br />WPT Marrakech, ECPT Malta, Poker Cup Australia<br /><br /><strong></strong><br /><br /><strong>TONIGHT </strong> City A.M.&rsquo;s exclusive free roll tournament<br />CITY A.M. and William Hill Poker have teamed up to present an exclusive tournament for readers &ndash; and it&rsquo;s free to enter, with a prize pool of $500. <br />To enter, here&rsquo;s what you need to do. <br /><br />1. Sign up to William Hill Poker at and download the free software. Use the password CITYAM1 to claim a New Player Bonus in which the money you deposit will be matched up to a total of &pound;400.<br /><br />2. Go to the tournaments section of the website, and find the exclusive City AM freeroll. To play, enter the tournament password CITYAM.<br />