Andy Blair (left) is a frequent NPF poster and a regular loitering around Newcastle casinos when not grinding online, as well as a genuine nice guy whom I personally always enjoy sitting with at the table.
I caught up with Andy and asked a number of interesting questions, some serious poker related and others comical. Welcome to FTP mate, I hope you enjoy your visit and all FTP readers enjoy going in the tank with December’s guest Andy “KQ4EVA” Blair.
DT “When and how did you get started playing poker? Did you have any inspirational poker players, books, moments, shows, etc that were instrumental for you?.”
AB “I actually played live bf online, which is unusual. I wandered into Aspers a bit pissed after work night out, sat at the £1/£2 cash with the minimum £50 sit-down. The table sharks were licking their lips no doubt, but I proceeded to smash every flop and I left about 3 hrs later about £450 to the good. EZ game or so I thought. Of course this was actually the start of my losers apprenticeship (thankfully now served) as I began playing more and more regularly. I diversified into tourneys, also began playing online and so on.
Inspirational players really at that time when I began playing there was no where near the amount of coverage and info on poker as their is now, So its not big name pros. Probably biggest influence was James Browning, Basically the guy was always a pleasure to sit with (still is), tourney or cash, but always took time to be pleasant, ask how things were, what u playing how u doing etc, and just snippets here and there, suggestion of something I should read and so forth. Effectively he alerted me (bit of self realisation too) to the fact I knew so little about the game. (I know at same time he was discussing things with me he was equally trying and very successfully at that to take my money). I also watched the guy interview Phil Laak and Antonio Esfandiari on the poker channel on sky, I never missed this show -Kara Scott a big draw too to be fair.
I have read a load of books and like all the standard tourney stuff from Harrington, Sklansky etc, but my favourite author is John Vorhaus, cos he really gets u thinking about the application of knowledge, not just passive reading. Equally love Treat your poker like a business by Dusty Smidt (not that I have one ounce of that mans determination to succeed).”
DT “Your screen name over NPF is KQ4EVA and your online alias is SNGKID, how did these come to fruition? Do you have any other nicknames?.”
AB “I dint really put much thought into screen names (wish I had, some ppls are really clever, mines a bit poor tbh) The KQ one on forum, just came out of a hand I like to play, I didn’t want the obv AA stuff and as mentioned above I used to listen to James browning who effectively said KQ rules in un-raised pots. Usually its a monster when it hits top pair cos AK and AQ hands have usually raised up. It also has more str8 potential and its the nut str8 whenever u make it.
I have been playing on SNGKID and KIDSNG for best part of this year and those names were pretty much cos I wanted a young image hence the kid, and i was playing mainly sngs at around time I set these up, I also have a young girl avatar over at tilt. Cos even though I know the ladies of the game are to be respected, I think in the male ego driven world of poker If even just the odd player thinks I am some inexperienced meek girly who can be outplayed then that’s gotta work to my favour. I cant be three betting them with air can I really?.”
DT “Which super power would you like to have and why?.”
AB “In a poker sense its not even a super power it would be the conviction to fold when I know I am beat. If you want a superpower then it would be the power to make even the most miserable bastard see the funny side of things, cos we gotta get some pleasure from life. I mean I tired to crack some funnies with Davey Knight the other week - brushwood, bad karma etc. Here I would have evoked my power, Davey and I giggling our tits off about me cracking his monster with 92, ah lets have a drink Andy, f**k you played that bad and still got me chips, ha ha , pls loosen my corset Andy my sides are splitting.”
DT “Poker, skill or luck?.”
AB “Wow poker is so much more than either or both of these combined. Many skilful players wont win in long run due to other defects in their makeup, but then you all know that. I think its a golf quote, but the harder I practice the luckier I get is worth applying to your poker. I quite enjoy hearing how Mark the shark or Ifriker Ali or whomever are so lucky yet ppl fail to see that these guys have plenty talent too. Give me skill, discipline and dedication (I don’t have them ,but please give me them) - luck is just what we like to use as a scapegoat for our failings most of the time. People just don’t get probability, If Something has a greater than 0% chance of happening then somewhere at some time it will happen - accepting its easier to write these words than it is to handle losing when we feel we should have won.”
DT “Who would you most like to be stuck in a lift with, Stevie Sensation or Machine? Why?.”
AB “Don’t I get to choose to throw myself head first down the stairs rather than take the lift ? Sensh is a keyboard warrior who likes to be controversial and machine is just way too ready to post the first thing that pops into his head and then get defensive when he gets flamed. Stuck in the lift with pair of them machine 20 schemes a minute to get us rescued, Sensh calling him a tard, oh and me doing a Simmy in my head - " Fuck my life, fuck my life, fuck my life" If I had to choose then it would be Sensh, let machine get on with enjoying his family life and his dreams, Sensh has nothing to give up and I might even have him eating with a knife and fork by the time we are freed.”
DT “Favourite and worst Hold’em hands?.”
AB “Obv I love to look down at the bullets, but as you know I like KQ too, and I love small connectors of course. I kinda hate the hard to play hands. I really don’t like all the off-suit Ace rag hands for the obv reasons of not knowing if your good when u hit.”
DT “Where would you go if you had a time machine? Why?.”
AB “I much prefer live in the moment, but that’s not to say I might not go back in time and put right a few of my own life mistakes or those made by historical figures. No I have decided I don’t have the right to play god, so its in the moment. shit this is like quantum leap u can go and do so much good or be so selfish too. Maybe I could just go back a handful of years, when I was a rather dashing younger than now Dermot O’Leary look alike, put myself into a spot to meet the then Cheryl Tweedy and boom Mrs Blair, cos she nahs I am worth it.”
DT “Most favourite poker tournament you’ve ever played in? Why?.”
AB “Would have to say all the NPF events are pure brilliant to play in and be part of bf, during and of course the banter after the event too on the forum. I don’t have any super major scores to speak of, but have won considerably more money in online tourneys than any live event - but the live stuff is just different gravy for the whole poker experience. This years NPF champs as much for all the great comments, backing and plaudits I got, as well as the fact I think I played a pretty good tourney too.”
DT “What’s your funniest memory from high school/college life?.”
AB “Had to be a trick I played on my brother when we were younger - school age, but this wasn’t at school. We were probably 14 and 13 respectively at time and it was a hot summer day and me him and a bunch of our mates were out messing around on our bikes. We lived near a boating lake and as i said it was a scorcher and loads of ppl having picnics, lazing about etc. He wanted me to buy him a King cone from the iccy and I said i would if he did a dare, which was to ride full speed off the jetty into the lake in front of everyone shouting “jerronimo”. he took a bit of persuading and the usual - u sure u not gonna welsh (grim) me. nah mint choc chip if u do it. it was like a cross between jackass and you’ve been framed - as he does the full speed stunt screaming jerronimo to a disbelieving crowd with devastatingly funny full head over heels flip as he hits the raised edge of the jetty. Hilarious, and to top it all the iccy drives off just as he is dragging himself and bike from the lake. LOL don’t think they make king cones anymore, still owe him that to this day.”
DT “I know you’re a profitable small stakes player online across a number of poker variants, do you feel your edge is bigger in say an online $10 razz tournament compared to a live £50 NLH tournament?.”
AB “Not sure I have an edge in live £50 NLH live tourneys, so would have to say Razz online, where my results presently over a reasonable sample suggest I do have an edge. I don’t think I am dead money locally but at same time it wouldn’t take me very long to list a load of players who I rate certainly more highly than me. fatfish, Ifrikher Ali, mrmagoogle, buzz, Samj19, JGEEK, GazWalker, the whole Stumpy clan, the Trett Taliban, the Costa killers - and the list goes on. If you aren’t in the above your probably on page two of players who own my sole.”
DT “You found a genie in a lamp, three wishes?.”
AB “Here goes;
1) Bad beat stories and threads would be no more.
2) A room for Sensh and machine would appear and they would sort their shit, maybe even TD, Scott and Pads make friends.
3) A happy life for my kids and other family and friends, well actually lets just do world peace and happiness and I think that takes care of 1 and 2 also (gay post fully expected by Phlmc).”
DT “Most favourite variant of poker and why?.”
AB “I haven’t found a format I don’t liked and I keep trying. I enjoy horse, 7 game, 10 game mix a lot. I think it keeps u from getting bored and if your decent at a handful of the games and as long as your not terrible at the others then u have a head start. I will list the games I play in roughly the order I enjoy them (that’s not by profit btw) It can be a mood thing though and one thing I will say is I find huge field tourneys very frustrating I have to really be in mood for them or I am just making up numbers. So here’s my rough order of preference.
1) Stud H/L
4) Stud High
5) 2-7 Triple Draw
7) 5 card draw
8) Omaha H/L
10) 2-7 single draw
DT “Favourite movie?.”
AB “I loved The Shawshank Redemption, basically a classic. Rounder’s good for a poker enthusiast, and I also like Reservoir Dogs and that kind of stuff.”
DT “I understand your currently going through some training/tuition to improve your game, tell us a bit about that?. How do you think it‘s helped to date?.”
AB “I have done less than I would like with this but its a long term thing and the more time I find for this the more I will gain. Basically for a whole host of reasons I wanted to find a staking agreement which included coaching or alternatively pay to be coached. I ran a few small stakes on PTP all turning a profit plus stake returned to the backers, and actually making a 1k score for 1 backer from a $2.20 stake. I had to run some micros just to get someone to give me a shot. So basically got a little bit of a rep going and started to apply for not just individual tourney stakes, but full backing for mtt/sng etc to see what interest I could generate. I got a few messages and a few potential deals were taking shape. For those who don’t know u have someone offer a stake and set out the criteria they want you to meet, and u then apply, they review your application, check you out on sharkscope, OPR etc and come back to the ppl they want to give the stake to. Well I was partially interested in one offering, but the amount of coaching seemed limited and then another party from the site who had fantastic stats and a great rep on their came to me via pm and asked if we could start a skype convo and after playing and discussing my play for a while he offered me coaching and roll to play with for a 55/45 split his favour. Various other conditions and commitments from both sides.
Its going well in so much as I have shipped several lots of profit back to them (its a coaching group rather than an individual once I entered the setup), retaining my cut, and the full starting stake is intact and therefore I am not in any makeup. I have done some sweats and ghosts of their play and some HH review sessions, but less of this than I would like, lots of reasons. A shorter answer would be its early days, but positive from both sides so far.”
DT “What would you do with a billion pounds cash?.”
AB “All on black - one time.
Oh shit I have a birrion already, no need for all that roulette spin up, in which case of course I would go and sample some big live tourney action around the globe. Take care of all the family, friends. Buy and close down Sunderland AFC. Reinstate Hughton, ship him some dosh and make us the jigger.”
DT “You’re a degenerate high stakes blackjack player, what’s your thoughts on continually playing high stakes on a minus expected value house game?.”
AB “Erm -shhss - I have sounded so sensible up to now don’t u think. I reckon I am 80% normal guy and 20% degen (maybe I am kidding myself), but I don’t play expecting to win and not with money I cant afford to lose - aw how daft do I sound now. Lets just say I am working on playing less often. Its not something I recommend, in fact I am happy to discourage others in my periods of clarity on this matter. Its for fools.”
DT “What’s your affiliation with Teamdobbs? I know you have represented them on a couple of occasions in local team games, however your not recognised over their blog as an associate?.”
AB “I just made it to official status. Actually hope TD doesn’t mind me saying ALL this. But my affiliation as such started when I was looking to get involved in the team side of NPF and as a relatively light poster I didn’t have much of a rep. CGK put in a kind word, but TD didn’t really know me. So we agreed to meet at a local game soon and talk over the possibility of me playing for dobbas as a standin in the team game. We met at G when they first tried to kick off their £30,£20,£10 game. TD and I had a sit down chat bf the game and he told me a bit about the history of the team, the name, what it meant to him etc. I think for my part I blabbed about how I had been running, what I was winning etc. The game was about to begin and we broke off, he said well I don’t have a guaranteed place for u, so keep looking and GL. At time I kinda thought why ask me to have a chat about playing for the team, then tell me u don’t have a place, maybe felt a bit disheartened. Well I kept posting on forum various topics, played some NPF online games, had a few pm convos with TD, and he offers me a place to play the team game. To cut to the chase I realise now that whilst I was trying to tell him what a good poker player I was he was trying to suss out if I was actually a good person. Now u don’t tell someone your a good person u just have to demonstrate that by being yourself. Lesson for us all here in many ways. Official dobba and proud to say so. Thanks TD.”
DT “What would you most like for Christmas;
Mark “spoona999” Brewis’ Circus waistcoat?
Daniel “Full Tilit” Trett’s flip flops?
Dave “Jimmy Chipmunk” Stephenson’s Blueline taxi jacket?
Joe Peel’s Bentley motor?”
AB “Aint seen those flip flops since the snow, Is there no chance of a Mark Trett back to front cap like or the silver shades?.”
DT “What does Andy Blair like to do when not either gambling or working hard, do you have any interests, hobbies, activities you use to help you relax and chill out?.”
AB “I like a game of golf but don’t play well, I like to watch footy of course. I love to spend time with my kids, we go swimming, walking, camping, sledging more recently. Stuff like that. A pint or two with my dad or friends but not a big drinker these days.”
DT “How would you react if your transformed into Khadir “I call” Khoshawy?.”
AB “Wow that much improvement in one fell swoop. Pokers about characters, and he is certainly that.”
DT “What’s your dream NPF final table? Based on craic, ability, etc.”
AB “My dream would be to be at a final table without all the best players in Newcastle being their too, but I will have a go;
1) mrmagoogle: He simply crushes and always like some banter with him too.
2) fatfish: Doesn’t know an M from his arse, but Bulmer’s fuelled and he is unreadable and unstoppable.
3) SamJ19: I re-read a book by Tom McEvoy the other day and it was talking about the 4 bet invariably being aces - I nearly died laughing thinking specifically about Sam - A 4 bet might not even mean he has looked yet.
4) Nemesis: I have to have someone I can own, well at least in the speech play part of things, u can have the chips If I get the best of the verbal’s.
5) BOB THE GOD (GOB): Never a dull moment, great 1 liners, and tilts everyone into paying me off.
6) stumpy: Just pure class.
7) CGK: Doesn’t play often enough locally, top player and bloke.
8) knerrad: Solid player, good banter and someone needs to be drunker than fatfish
9) Dan or Mark Trett: Close match on playing ability and crack - maybe a tag team - u both cant make it one of u has to have had a CL blow up somewhere along the way
10) KQ4EVA: Self of course, well I can make up the numbers at least.”
DT “What does the close of 2010 and opening of 2011 hold for Andy Blair? Can we expect to see you frequenting the local Newcastle poker circuit?.”
AB “Some good local value popping up all over the place - so you’ll see me two/three times a week for the foreseeable. I want to bump up my online volume too. I qualified for Sky and might try and qualify for UKIPT in Newcastle too. I promised myself an away day too soon, so may well give DTD a whirl - not that i am good value for anything higher than a $6 sit n go. GL Me, and to you all.”
We here at FTP appreciate your time Andy, I’ve personally found doing this interview great and hope our followers find it equally enjoying. All at FTP would like to wish you continued success both on and off the felt, ladies and gentleman Andy Blair.