This is what I do

This is what I do

I played a bit of poker at college, but I was 23 before I got serious about the game. I’m from Killybegs, in Co Donegal, and I have a degree in business studies from Sligo Institute of Technology, as well as a diploma in sports recreation.

I didn’t really plan to do anything when I came out of college and then one of my friends suggested I try a game of poker. Straightaway, I was fascinated by it.

I have a sports background, so I liked the competitive nature and the mind games. I also liked the banter at the table. I played in a few tournaments and ended up winning one. The prize was Ir£1,000 (€1,200). I also played cash games and early on won a similar amount. I then moved to Dublin and started winning more in a week than I would earn in months.

I was lucky enough to win the Macau leg of the Asia Pacific Poker Tour early in my career. It was in 2009 and I was 23 or 24. I’m 29 now. The prize was more than $500,000 (€362,000). I went there to play with a friend and I won my seat at the main competition in a satellite game.

When you start off, you don’t have much money, so you try to “satellite” your way in. For that tournament, a seat was $5,000, and for every 10 seats bought, one person was allowed to win a satellite place in a separate competition where entry was $500. The goal is not to win the money, but to win a seat. You also get a hotel room, expenses and a goody bag; you could end up there for three days.

Cash games have fixed blinds — the amount put into the pot. That’s how betting starts and the game doesn’t change all night. In a tournament, you play with chips and the blinds are increased all the time, which forces the action. That can make tournaments very exciting. They attract a lot of recreational players, as everyone has a chance at winning. Cash games are more suitable for professionals and I’ve played them where the blind starts off as high as €1,500 per player.

As a professional, you have to take it seriously and a huge part of that is managing your money. One of the first things I did was build a house back home in Donegal. My next goal is to buy an apartment in Dublin. I made mistakes along the way, but that’s how you learn.

When people ask me for tips, I always say play a lot — don’t be afraid to play a lot of hands. It’s a repetitive game, so the more often you play and the more often you make wrong decisions, the more you can analyse where you went wrong.

One of the best things about poker is that if you are a novice, you could just sit down at a tournament next to a guy you may have seen play on television. It’s not as though poker players are idols, but if you’re a fan of sport, you’re never going to have a chance to play alongside Brian O’Driscoll or Robbie Keane. With poker, you just pay your money and take a seat.

Blain is an ambassador for fulltiltpoker.com and will be taking part in the UK and Ireland Poker Tour event in Nottingham from May 7 to 12

Why Buying a Flat is a Cheaper and Better Solution

Getting on the property ladder is tough. For many, it can be an unrealistic ambition. But, if you are keen to delve into the world of home ownership there are more affordable options. For example, do you need to buy a house? A flat or apartment can be sufficient. What is more, they are cheaper. If you are savvy with your cash, you can have a worthwhile investment in a flat.

1.    Why Choose a Flat?

There are a plethora of benefits to living in a flat or apartment than a house. They are cheaper to purchase than houses. This is an attractive prospect for those who want to buy a property. What is more, they are easier to maintain as all of your amenities are on one level. As a general rule of thumb, council tax is more economical because the property is smaller. For others, there is a sense of community within their flats. They know their neighbours and with this in mind, flats are more secure. After all, houses tend to stand alone. Apartments are built in blocks. This means that you have a built in neighbourhood watch.

Size is not an issue for some. Older style apartments tend to be bigger than most new builds. What is more, the rooms are more generously sized over one level. A flat can be a viable option for many. Furthermore, with older style flats you do tend to have a garden. There is no reason living in a house is more superior to living a flat.

In short, you get more space, and you still have an outdoors area to relax in.

2.    How Much Cheaper is a Flat?

With the average house price in the UK being in excess of £250,000, a flat is often the best alternative. You can get on the property ladder and spend a significant amount less. The typical flat rate in the UK is £190,000. This is an attractive option for many who are savvy with their cash. What is more, with prices being significantly lower, you are less likely to be rejected by the mortgage provider. This is because you are not lending as much money. Owning a flat can make you a more attractive prospect to your mortgage lender.

3.    Finding the Perfect Flat For You

Finding the perfect flat can be tough. With more houses being built than flats, it can be tough to find the perfect one. However, there is one town that is bucking this trend. Chorleywood in Hertfordshire has a significant amount of apartments for purchase. This is great news for many. Look at flats in the Chorleywood area if you are keen to invest in a one level property.

Finding a flat can be a difficult endeavour. The current property market has a bias towards building houses. Flats are becoming less prevalent. However, this means that you can get a bargain when shopping for a flat.

You don’t have to have a house to get onto the property ladder. In short, the flat is a cheaper, savvy and better solution for your needs.

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This image has been provided by Diana Parkhouse

Advantage Gambling Play Returns – August 2014

August:
Ongoing:
32red 26.03
32red fs 13.80
Bet365 4/1 72.32
Betsafe live 85.21
Winner mobile 3.27
Bwin 8.38
Coral USPGA 7.84
Coral boost 150.45-includes 100 from an inadvertent mug on red card Arsenal v Palace, when I took what I presumed was an arb, and left it when it was way off the lay price.
Betfred boost 218.79
Betin 20.66
Jennings Mcilroy 17
666bet CS 3.16
Titanbet misc 14.89
Portlandbet 34.46
Smarkets 5
Dafabet 23.78
Dafabet ref 15.86
Dafabet City 27.61
Dafabet Villa 22.36-refund outstanding
PB/GB Boosts 15.32
Unibet double 13.17
Unibet IT 55.73
Superlenny treble 4.68
Racebets sec 18.15
Racebets BTT 17.12
Racebets twitter 7.95
Betfirst ref if lose 5.27
Betstar reload 110.18
188bet horse 7.89
Moneybookers cb 20.71
Totesport tennis 3.36
Betfair ref 26.4
Expekt ref if 18.20
Misc losses (48.13)

US:
Sportsbetting 409
Betonline 258

Casino/Games:
WilliamHill 156.17
Coral hulk 12.95
Betfair 18.63
Bet365 32.05
Skyvegas 2.92
misc losses (44.59)

Total £1,892

YTD: £15,631.58
MTH AVE: £1,953.95

A decent month helped by some reloads offshore and sportsbook bonuses with the return of football. Interestingly my Lotus is away for a service and the cost is likely to be in excess of 1700..so I won’t be seeing much return on my efforts this month.

Still onto September and despite ever decreasing books still plenty to go at. The landscape may begin to change with new legislation coming into force and as always consider risk v reward when playing offshore.