Thursday, August 02, 2007


Binge Day 2 – Gala Nottingham

It always warms my cockles when I take the monotonous journey up the M42 to Gala Notts. They’ve got the Stanley Circus up and running now, but I had my eyes firmly fixed on Maid Marian Way and nothing else. After spending every waking hour in the joint during my student years, it has been cemented in my heart, and every time I return I rejoice in the fun times I experienced there.

I’ve said it many times before, but Gala Notts truly is the most fun place to play. Perhaps due to the cardroom being segregated from the rest of the casino, the place is brimming with banter and personality that really gives the venue a character and buzz that so many places are lacking.

Unfortunately for DTD, this might prove problematic. People don’t like change, especially when they enjoy where they already play. DTD might offer better facilities, structures, and whatnot, but people become institutionalised, even in a cardroom. There is a real sense of community in there, and I fear many of them will be wary of disrupting that. I also suspect that some of the successful regulars will be doing their utmost to persuade punters to stay, if only to protect their income, in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if management were asking regulars to assist in this way.

I first played a comp at the Gala on 13th Jun 2002. It was a £20 Pot Limit rebuy, as were most events around that time, none of these £10 rookie nights or £30 freezeouts to break you in. I was pretty lucky though as I had the full student loan to gamble with, and boy did I spend it. It wasn’t until 31 comps later when, on the 23rd Jan, I won my first comp for £1,580. It only just about got me back into the black, but at the time, I was over the moon to have won such a large amount ‘gambling’.

I can’t explain how much enjoyment I prised out of the Gala over the three years. I was a 3 days a week man and even brushed aside outings with friends to partake. I only lived 5 minutes away, so temptation didn’t have to journey far. There was something romantic about it all. Whilst all my friends were begrudgingly undertaking holiday jobs, I was busy playing poker, having the time of my life and prospering in the process.

Notts Gala wasn’t without its faults though. Management were never too interested in the cardroom and didn’t offer too much in the way of ‘treats’. There were a few cases of cheating too, which unnerved me, but I’m sure this has occurred in numerous venues nationwide. However, with a lack of dealers, it remains a worry.

You seem to encounter a lot of arguing at Gala Notts, no deal going by without the inevitable ‘who can yell louder’ contest. I even saw fists fly once, so blood can certainly boil at times. It’s a tense atmosphere for beginners, and you have to be pretty hard skinned to start your tournament life there. However, recent times have seen the introductions of lower stake freezeouts, which have helped immensely.

You should keep your wits about you outside. I used to run home if I’d won, as Lenton Road in front of the castle walls was a creepy and nerve tingling jaunt if you were heavy pocketed. I think I recall AdamM being attacked there. He’s a black belt, I think, but there were three of them so he was always struggling. I don’t think I’ve ever gone down on a Friday night without witnessing a drunken townie and his Chavvy Mrs screaming at each other outside, and that car park’s a bit daunting too, it’s like something out of Doom or the weird bits in Silent Hill, and I wasn’t overly surprised when my brother told me that he caught someone breaking into his car.

But back inside, the banter makes up for it all. Unlike my trip to Junction 10 the night prior, very little had changed, especially with the clientele. Of course, they’ve lost a few along the way, but the faces are still there. The first one I saw was Raj from Leicester. He’s best buds with Chippie, and you won’t meet two nicer guys. I remember Chippie’s first ever comp, he was on the booze and talking like that guy from the Micro Machines ad. I remember him trying to sell conservatories to the whole of the table, but I don’t think he had too much success. From that day on, he was a regular. Raj is a lot more laid back, but a top bloke all the same.

Venturing in, I ran into John, Rob (Fran’s pops), Javid, Ed 'The Kid', 'Bag of Bollox' Ali, Sean, Bookie Jim, Steve Read, Pete Linton, Nik Hicks. The list is endless, and I couldn’t believe how many people I knew. Even Ash was there playing Backgammon with Richie, just as they had been a couple of years back. It’s as if once they’ve lured you in, you can never leave, and I know how they feel!

Yes, the cardboard numbers in a bag have been replaced by a snazzy plasma screen and the grubby felts of yesteryear have been replaced by brand spanking new GBPT tables (although I had to laugh when I saw they were using the same old crappy chips), but everything else is like I’d never left. Even Benz is still there, although slightly less hairy and running around in the former shoes of DTD’s Rob (Nightfly).

As for the comp, it was a £50er with two rebuys, which was pretty cool, but I wasn’t here for the comp per se, I was here to have a laugh and reminisce about some of the good times I used to enjoy there as young fresh-faced student. There was only one player at my table that I didn't recognise, and that said it all.

I plummeted out in unspectacular circumstances, but unlike many places, I hung around for a bit, ordered some food, watched the cash games and had a chat with various folk, one of whom was Jeff Hill, Junior’s dad. Greg’s a working man now, but his Dad’s still playing, and recently gave the World Series a shot for the first time, cashing in two events including the senior’s event which drew an incredible 1,800 runners.

It’s this aspect that I like, being able to exit the comp and have a chat with any number of people. There’s a real social aspect that keeps the Gala Notts ticking, and this is why I still love playing there more than anywhere else in the country. Win or lose, it's normally a hoot, and that's what it's about.

Dana sent me this still of the Simpsons. Apparently that's me on the left, fuchsia shoes an' all.


At 1:46 AM, Blogger Amatay said...

lol, does look abit like you m8.


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