On paper, Monte Carlo sounds like a blast. Sun, sea and poker, yeah? Think again. Try sun, sea and cysts. At the best of times, covering the Grand Final is a challenge: long days, no sleep and prices that make Harrods look like Oxfam. Throw a cyst into the melting pot and I was miserable all week.
I visited my GP complaining that I had a tender lump on my back, and she told me not to worry about it, but by the time I’d got to Monte Carlo, that tender lump had become an infected cyst. It burned/stung sporadically and hurt every time I moved, not to mentioned rubbed against my collar constantly. Severe toothache is the only comparable way of describing the pain and discomfort. The picture to the left is from last week, and it's been getting gradually worse since.
Last year, budget cuts meant we were three to a bed. Picture the scene: Jen and myself on the edge with Floppy snoring like a foghorn in the middle. I recall one time I gambled on the chair and footstool combo, but during the night I’d wake up only to find myself folded up like an accordion due to falling through the gap in the middle as the stool glided away.
This year, we were treated to the luxury of a roll out bed and, more importantly, a mini-kitchen. This meant that we could pop out to the supermarket on arrival, stock the fridge up with assorted treats, and chow down at the end of day. This is crucial to our health, sanity and wallet as the bars and restaurants within the vicinity of the cardroom would make Bill Gates beg for mercy. What’s more, the burgers, which are €20 a pop, aren’t always cooked. There are few things that truly get my goat, and ripping people off is one of them.
If you’re heading to somewhere as luxurious and extravagant as Monte Carlo, it’s ironically appropriate that you fly with Easy Jet. For some reason, flying has become more and more difficult for me of late, and Easy Jet don’t help the matter. As well as standing up in a seat-less waiting lounge, you should also brace yourself for a bumpy ride, and don’t be surprised if that wing hits the ground before the wheels do. I breathe a bigger sigh of relief each time I land, which isn’t a good sign for someone who flies as much as I do.
The tournament was the usual affair, and even bore witness to the annual arrival of King Teltscher who pulled up to the front door in his bright red Ferrari. What was more amusing was that French player Paul Testud tootled on up moments later wheezing like an asthmatic mule on his rusty bike. Snapper Teltscher sure does like to show off them wheels, but I hear he doesn’t have a bad bone in his body, just not a great people person. I also learned that he wasn’t TheV0id, apparently he set up the account for someone else (who shall remain unnamed) under his sister’s name. All hearsay of course, but it suggests he wasn’t personally playing two accounts.
At the end of the first day, we learned a valuable lesson. One, leave before the players do and two, bring a map in case there are no taxis. For some reason, taxi drivers seem to take the day off on Friday and Saturday night, hence the 30 minute waits, and that was only because everyone else conceded and decided to walk to their hotel that was two minutes down the road. One morning I made the mistake of taking the taxi driver’s bag out of the boot thinking it was Dana’s. An hour or two later, he waltzed into the pressroom demanding it back. I felt like such a wally… why didn’t I nick anything before he arrived?
Boris Becker was a notable presence, I was wondering when he was going to show his face. He had two grunts standing either side of him as he played, as if he was P Diddy Widdy or something. Boris’ table was constantly swamped with people taking photos and bloggers waiting for him to do something dumb. Flash photography was banned for just him, and when Dana tried to calculate his chip count, one of the grunts tried to prohibit her from doing so. Yes, Boris is a superstar in the tennis world, but he’s not holding a racket anymore, he’s on our court now where amateurs can play against the pros and sit next to the Tobey Maguires and the Shannon Elizabeths of this world. After a couple of events, I doubt anyone will give a toss who he is.
What I find most interesting about Boris isn’t the Wimbledon titles he won, but the fact that he conceived a daughter in a restaurant closet. At the time, I foolishly believed the rumour that they’d only had oral sex and that she’d stored his bodily fluids in her mouth only to seminate herself later on. Sounds funny in hindsight, but I was young and vulnerable. You never know though, this story could still be true, which is why I made sure I was alone whenever I went into a closet. I recall brushing passed him on one of the days, I think I may be pregnant.
The highlight of the week for me was the encounter between Joe ‘Bruiser’ Hachem and Woody ‘The Brawler’ Deck and, for a moment, the joy of Woody calling the Hach an asshole temporarily removed any cyst pain I was suffering from. There are a number of different variations of this story. I was watching another table at the time, so missed the hand, but I did witness the aftermath first hand. (I ran over like a Jerry Springer fanatic at the first sign of a potential scrap.)
From what I understand, Hach lost a big pot after Mateyboy called an 80k bet/bluff on the River. Hach tried to muck, but Woody requested to see the cards. Hach refused and the dealer mucked the cards. Woody asked Hach why he was being such an asshole and claimed he was angle-shooting. At this point, Hach’s skin went green, his clothes tore (except his pants, of course) and he leapt from his seat like an epileptic salmon. “Who the fuck do you think you are?” he exclaimed. Before he had a chance to deck the er… Deck and send him to the er… deck, Antonio Esfandiari quickly restrained the Hach from the seat behind. Meanwhile, Woody just sat there with a silly grin on his face. Hach then stormed through the crowd, who parted quicker than a whore’s legs, and went to cool off outside.
The way I look at it, the rule is there to stop collusion. Woody is within his rights to ask to see the cards, but in doing so is effectively calling Joe a cheat, which, of course, isn’t very sporting. At the same time, Joe’s a sponsored player and representing a brand. He can’t just throw a wobbly as soon as someone says “ya mom” or something. If Antonio hadn’t been there, I’m sure Hach would have risked a red blemish on that tanned fist of his and punched him. What struck me as more bizarre is that someone so successful could be so easily riled, I’m sure if he hadn’t been advised to leave, he would have tilted off his chips within a few hands.
to be continued...