Friday, June 16, 2006


It’s a bright Sunday afternoon, the sun is shining, and the sky is clear – a perfect day for being active and hitting the great outdoors… or, alternatively, I could head out to the casino and play same poker.

Non surprisingly, this pale-faced addict opts for the latter and, with his brother residing in Nottingham, decides that it’s time for a return visit to the cardroom that introduced him to the game 4 long years ago.

But with all the bad press the Gala sometimes justly receives, is this a place I still want to frequent? Damn right it is.

With an array of competitions ranging from a non-smoking £10 (one rebuy) comp, to the highly successful £200 freezout, the Gala remains one of the best places to play. Competitions aside though, its true strength lies in an attribute that so many modern day cardrooms lack – character.

Whilst the majority adopt an open plan casino with the cardroom being a part of that, the Gala cardroom is separated from the house games and allocated its own room away from the annoying hustle and bustle of the true gambling addicts. Hence, a more communal feel is created with all poker enthusiasts compacted into one area where they are free to play poker, roll the backgammon dice, drink, eat, and so on, all in the company of people who share their love of the beautiful game.

Add to that the incredible influx of characters and personalities that the Gala manages to attract, and you really do have one of the most entertaining places in the country. Orlando, Bouncer Kev, ‘A bag of bollox’ Ali, Raj, Chippy – not to mention blondeites tikay, Chili, LittleMissC, AdamM, Yoyo, Junior, and jammer… to name just a few. They’re all here and, although some may appear intimidating and brash on the surface, are mostly good guys who help create a real buzz about the place.

It had been a good month or two since I’d last hit the Gala felt, but, for the above reasons, I was eager to return. Sunday’s £30 freezout was to be my comp of choice, and rightly so too. This now weekly tournament is, in my opinion, one of the best around. Okay, it won’t bring you the big big bucks for your final table finish and it’s never going to rival the set-up of a Main Event, but what you will stumble across is a good slow structure, plenty of starting chips, flatter pay-out, and a friendly atmosphere – something that seems to be a rarity these days.

What always amazes me about this affair, is that so many play it as a rebuy, as if forgetting that once their chips are gone, they’re out the door. For the disciplined player, the comp is a most welcome addition as the regulars tend to be gamblers who like to chuck chips around with a ‘don’t care’ attitude.

So, within minutes, as so often happens, I’d doubled up and found myself in a strong position. A local lad, seemingly on tilt raises, I reraise with bullets, and another local calls, leaving the original raiser to make an unnecessary all-in push with his A-Q. This is how it goes at the Gala. The majority can’t release a hand, even if they know they’re beat. Music to your ears, huh?

To cut a long and potentially tedious story short, I eventually finished 13th, after seeing my A-8 suited shortstack move run into pocket tens. But, the important thing is that I had a thoroughly entertaining time, a hoot in fact. The banter at Gala is untouchable and there are more than a few gags voiced per round. Amazingly, a few of them even came from me!

The Gala is also the only place where I play live cash. Anywhere else and it just becomes a chore, waiting patiently for a hand that never comes whilst the table sits in silence, faces liked smacked asses after being eliminated from the tourney. Not here though, people still try and have a laugh, which truly is refreshing. Anyhow, a few hours later and I’m £350 up, big smile on my face, and already looking forward to my next visit.

However, to describe Gala Notts as a frequently joyful experience surrounded by rows of pretty flowers would be slightly inaccurate. True, there are a few bad eggs in every casino, and, although most Notts’ regulars do indeed have a heart of gold, there are some that mean the bad things they say and are people that need to be avoided like the plague.

Also, the service is suspect to say the least. The incredibly hard-working Margaret is a lovely human being, but, on the occasions when she is missing, I normally find myself met with a frown and bad attitude. Hissy fits are not uncommon and if you want to make an order, it has to be demanded rather than asked. Three times I was intentionally blanked by the waitress last week, which, in my view, is totally unacceptable, especially when I ask in a polite and understanding manner.

Finally, whilst their £200 freezout has emerged as a huge success, proving that the affordable comps are the ones that people prefer to play, the once renowned £100 monthly rebuy is slowly disintegrating. Less than 50 players, just a few k for the winner, and a structure that turns into a bingo come last 2 tables is a big disappointment. When I lived in walking distance, players, such as Lawrence Gosney, used to come from all around the country to play this event, and the place would be heaving – but not anymore.

Overall though, although the Gala Notts has its critics (justifiably so in several areas), it still retains a place in my heart and I hold fond memories of the joint that made me the poker addict that I am today. Although, due to an influx of younger players, the clientele is slightly different, the atmosphere is still top notch and maintains the cardroom as one of, if not the, most fun places to play cards.

If you haven’t been and you can take a few wisecracks, then give it a bash. Be timid, and it could prove unenjoyable, but let the atmosphere suck you in and you’ll have a great night.

Now, about moving that shortstack…


At 6:51 PM, Blogger thetank said...

Surprising entry, well written.

I was most surprised to hear that you played live cash there. In your opinion, are the allegations of collusion and mechanics exagerated?

At 10:51 AM, Blogger snoopy1239 said...

Exagerated yes, but they have still be known to happen.

To be honest, the allegations only really foucs on the £100 cash games.

I've never encountered a problem with the £20 or £50 cash games.


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