Monday, November 07, 2005


For those of you who haven't already heard, Rob Yong has set up the hottest game in town. 30 to 40 highly honoured guests are invited to the bash of the year. A £1000 home game with top notch hospitality to boot. The invite tends to circulate mainly round the members of (Blondites), but now and then a few straglers from the outside world turn up. Michael Grecko being one of them! Don't call him Beppe though...

After learning of the roaring success of Rob’s last home game, I was eagerly anticipating Saturday’s fun and frolics. Mingling with a bunch of Blondites and the odd star was simply too good an opportunity to miss. Just the mere prospect of playing a well structured comp, be it the STT or the main event, got my blood circulating and hungry to play.

Saturday morning soon arrived. I woke up, slapped on the old poker face and spun the trusted Fiesta down the M42. An hour later I met up with Ralph (Karabiner) at his bachelor pad. With a tendency to be slightly dippy, I knew I had to seek aid in finding Rob’s house, and being a good natured kinda guy, Ralph was a worthy option. As someone who struggles to manage two tasks simultaneously, I was assured to get lost and end up back in Brum.

After I displayed some surprisingly successful navigational skills, Ralph and I soon arrived at Rob’s pad. At first, we weren’t sure whether or not we would get in. As Ralph waited in the car, I waved my arms aimlessly before the camera, desperately hoping that someone would catch sight of me or hear my cries for help. Fortunately, our presence was spotted and the gates were opened.

As we parked, I noticed Rob’s front door was ajar. This was indicative of Rob’s approach to the day. He offers a rather generous open door policy which in turn presents an idea of the hospitality you could expect. Unless I am mistaken, I had only previously met Rob on one occasion, but he had no problem welcoming me into his humble abode. In fact, this generosity stretched to several of the guests, and like them, I am extremely grateful.

On arrival, I was greeted by Robert HM. I’ve spoken and conversed with this lovely fella on countless occasions, but, bizarrely, I didn’t even recognize him. It’s weird how you can conjure up an image of someone from their activity on a forum, and when they eventually stand before you, the brain finds it difficult to discard the fabricated image.

Also present was nickw, Malc, RED-DOG and the dear Miss Chilli. All as friendly as they are online, treating you as if they have known you forever. This motley crew were standing in a slick and stylish kitchen. As I had a quick meander through the house, it was clear that this panache ran through all the rooms. The kitchen led to a conservatory which held two deluxe poker tables. One of the tables even had a central plate with the word’s ‘Yongster’s Home Game’ inscribed into the gold. Walking past the tables, I was confronted by a room holding a gym and a pool table. I was tempted to pump some iron, but had second thoughts when I realised how demoralised others might be if I displayed my muscular physique.

In front of the conservatory was a mini cinema, something I will dream of until I reach a 100. Surround sound and a screen that stretched across the length of the wall made me exceedingly jealous.

Yep, there was no doubt about it, Rob’s house was superb, and I hadn’t even ventured upstairs! But I was here for poker, not to daydream about how fantastic his pad was.

Although nick was bladdered for the majority of the day, he was acting as tournament director. When I entered he was examining his recently downloaded tournament programme. This software was used throughout the comp and suffered few, if any, glitches. I was especially impressed when they informed me that it had been obtained for free.

The only problem with the ‘Tournament Director’ software was that it had a tendency to misspell names. I quickly spotted that it had somehow translated my name as spooooony. Either that or someone had tampered with the good name, s-n-o-o-p-y. Anyhow, this trend ran throughout the comp and, as per ususal, I was called every name under the sun. The only time I was correctly named was when Kev accidentally slipped up whilst dealing. He soon rectified his mistake by reassigning me with the popular ‘snoppy’ tag.

After a few more familiar faces had arrived, it was time for the STT to get underway. A ten handed £100 table, winner takes all. I sat between RED-DOG and Chilli. Not a bad seat, but I did have to ask Chilli to stop grabbing my knee under the table. I was here to play poker!

Other participants included Jen, Malc, Sheriff Fatman, Karabiner, Rob’s mate Tony, Kevin O’Connell’s Mrs, and of course Robert HM. A tough table to win outright, but I deduced that I had as good a chance as any. Plus I’d bunged a few of my fellow Blondites to throw me their chips.

I got off to a pretty good start winning some small pots early on, but the big drama came when RED-DOG’s reraise with pocket jacks on a KJx flop was called all-in by Malc’s AK. In accordance with RED’s recent misfortune, turn Q, river T. Ouch and double ouch. RED-DOG was down to the felt, and although he refused to give up the fight, he never quite recovered from the hit.

I happened to get some good cards all afternoon and managed to build my stack up quite quickly. Somehow I was chip leader right up until heads up. A very rare occurrence for me. In fact, not coming 10th was a success story.

Anyhow, a couple of hours and few bad beats later, it was down to me and Ralph, the fella who’d driven me here. Bloomin eck. Not only was Ralph my chauffer for the day, but he was also very hard to play against. He plays a tight solid game, but when it comes to heads up, it’s very difficult to put him on a hand as he becomes a lot more aggressive. On top of that, I seem to have trouble reading him.

Although I started out with a nice chip lead over Mr Karabiner, he soon pulled level early on when his 83 flush draw hit a fifth diamond on the river for a double up. This started one of the longest and most hard fought heads up battle I’ve ever contested. I just couldn’t get rid of the little blighter. Whenever one of us had their opponent all-in, the other would somehow survive and double up, and this kept happening. People kept turning round and asking, ‘Have you not finished yet?’

The next time I had him all-in was on a jack high flop. I had reraised his flop bet with an up and down straight draw, and he'd called with the jack. I hit a ten on the turn, but, low and behold, he had the nerve to take the pot with a backdoor flush on the river. Back to square one and I shook my fist at the poker Gods for getting my hopes up. Those rascals!

Whilst our marathon heads up battle continued, another STT, consisting of recent arrivals Ariston and Kiv, commenced on the other table. They almost finished before me and Ralph!

Anyhow, to cut a long story short, Ralph eventually took the honours when his K7 held up against my K3. I probably shouldn't have made the preflop reraise. He was clearly eager to finish it and wasn't interested in folding. I should have waited for a better opportunity.

Ah well, nevermind. Ralph was the satellite champ and he went on to play the £1000 event. I was disappointed to have come so close, but the 20% cut that we had agreed went some way to soften the blow. I didn’t want to put any pressure on Ralph, but I thought telling him that I was struggling to pay the rent wouldn’t do any harm.

Whilst Ariston was sweeping up on the neighbouring STT, the guests started to pile up. Faces I can recall include Geary, actionjack, chubbs, Burnley John, Womble, jezza, dpommo, Dubai, AlrightJack, Beppe, Dave C, Flushy among others.

As the pros moved in, I shot a few racks of pool and played the odd heads up bout with roberthm. My victories in both of these activities should be noted and archived in the ‘Best of Blonde’. Not only did I teach Kev how to play the game of pool, but I also dealt Robert one hell of a beating at HU. Both were sweet victories and I’d like to take this opportunity to remind the two competitors that it’s the taking part that counts. Yeah right!

Unfortunately, as I was involved in such thrilling side action, I didn’t catch too much of what was happening in the main comp. I know that there were 21 participants, Chubbs, Burnley John and Flushy all turning up fashionably late after competing in Sheffield.

Now and then I would pop in to see what was happening, but I only saw the odd hand. I do remember nick taking an early shower though. I believe he received some bad beat and then ran into kings with his AQ for his remaining chips. At this point, however, I believe he was more than slightly sozzled, so hopefully that numbed the pain of his early exit.

Also out early was Bookie Jim. I recall him going through a hand where he had flopped trips and ended up folding it to a raise on the river from Actionjack. Soon after that he was gone. Luckily though, I think he made his money back from all those side bets he took. Are bookies never off duty?! I put 20 squid on Ariston, and although he tried his best, I’d just like to inform him that my kids went to school today without any shoes!

RED-DOG, who looked slight weary after a long day, was playing few hands. As he pointed out himself, he’d only played about three and, not surprisingly, was finding it difficult to get any action. I say that’s respect for the DOG… maybe. Anyhow, it didn’t seem to do him much harm as he made the final table before exiting 8th when his AQ failed to outdraw Chubbs’s pocket 9s.

I noticed jezza was going great guns early doors and had built up a healthy stack. Worth a note. Jezza’s Mrs was very nice and I have already asked him to send her up to brum if he should decide to give her up. His response? ‘She’s on her way?’ Not sure she’s been told yet though.

Apologies for the lack of details, but I found it difficult to see anything when Robert whopped out a fuzzy brown and yellow jumper that his ex mother-in-law had bought him. Although he was seemingly unaware of how amusing his attire was to us, he took our jibes in good spirit. Boy, someone please say they have a picture of the jumper. It really was a sight for sore eyes. Well, it made mine sore anyhow. Sorry Robert.

My 20% cut was making steady progress. Ralph’s stack didn’t seem to move too much, but he was still in and not under any big threat. An under the weather Ralph ended up 9th when his AK ran into Kings. Great effort, just unlucky to find he was up against a monster.

When Ralph exited, it was time for us to leave. Id’ just been dealt a bad beat by Kevin O'Connell in a £50 STT, so I was happy to count my losses and call it a day. I’d had a smashing time at Rob’s and I feel I must offer my sincere gratitude for the hospitality he gave me. Free drinks brought over by a waitress and free barbeque food cooked by Rob’s father who kindly stood in the rain to serve us all. Top stuff and I hope I am invited to the next one.

Ps. Kev had drunk a bottle of JD, tried it on with Chilli about 20 times, and stumbled around Rob’s with a funny grin on his face. However, I’d like to clarify that my victory in pool still counts and that there shall be no rematch.


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