Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Whilst in the Midlands, I thought why not make a return to the tournament felt and head down to Walsall. It’s not my favourite venue in the world, but it does the job, and Dani and Zak are always nice to me when I pop down.

Before I left, I played a session of heads up online cash. It was rather brief though. I sat down with $400 and said what I always say at the start of a session: “Focus, play tight, and just get a feel of your opponent first.” First hand I bluffed T-7s on a rag-rag-rag-A-rag board, firing barrels on every street including one pre-flop. Crikey, I’m starting to sound like Blue Scouse!

This put him down to a third of his stack, and moments later he was broke. He scarpered and I picked up my $609 and said thank you very much. Not bad for 5 minutes work and pays for my trip down the M6.

Set out early for Walsall. I’m always worried, the motorways are forever changing and I wouldn’t be surprised to see cones on my exit and a sign diverting me to the North Pole and back.

I reckon I can predict the outcome of tournaments from my journey there. If I dordle in the slow lane then I’m relaxed, but clearly daydreaming and not as focused as I should be. If I’m whizzing along in the fast lane, then I’m probably a little too uptight or angry to be playing my A-game. If I’m spending most of my time in the middle lane, however, then I’m in a good frame of mind and always seem to fair better. Of course, the correlation between lane selection and tournament performance is slightly unproven and doesn’t take into account luck, but I’d left my radio in the boot, so I had to keep my mind occupied somehow.

I was met by Liz at the door, a truly wonderful character and one that can brighten up anyone’s day. Mad as a box of monkeys and loud as a gong, but a star nonetheless. If you ever want proof of opposites attracting, then check out Zak and Liz. I’m sure Zak wheres the trousers in that relationship, and has Liz’s permission to say so.

Inside looked no different, except for the smoke. I could actually see the other side of the room and my eyes no longer stung. I’m all for this ban, I hate going home with smoky clothes, no one wants to do the washing after one outing, and why should we? True, the cardroom never permitted smoking, but people used to stand on the rail and let the smoke drift over, which, if you were on a table adjacent to the rail, was doubly worse.

They reckon that as the weather worsens, numbers might decrease due to people not want to stand in the rain smoking. This might be a problem with the bingo halls, but I can’t see that happening at the local casinos. Most of these guys are tobacco AND poker addicts and would smoke knee deep in poo if they had to.

The players at Walsall were mostly unknowns, which puzzled me. Jon Hewston, Ben Callinan, Darshan Sami, Andy Johnson and Satnam Sandu were there, but that was about it, the rest were unfamiliar. Oh, Alan Geddes was a surprise entrant. More familiar to the Luton clan, he’s moved up to the Midlands to be closer to his kids. He’s still single though and can play every day if he wants, which is pretty much what he’s doing. Was Tony Blair’s tennis coach, according to tikay and Tighty, but I still suspect they’re pulling my leg.

£30 freezeout, well, one rebuy, around 60 players. I don’t like to bang on about too many hands unless they’re mind blowingly interesting (which they normally aren’t), but what I will say is that the standard made me look like a Stephen Hawking on a good day. People were playing it like a multiple rebuy, and genuinely seemed slightly miffed when they used up both their 1.5k stacks after 5 minutes with rag aces and crappy flush draws. I stumbled into a bad beat for my first lot, and then raised to 400 with tens with the second to take the blinds or single out one opponent. 5 people (!) decided to call and nothing came. I did get lucky though, moving in from the big blind for my last 800 with A-5 after everyone had limped for 100. Didn’t expect K-3 and A-7 to call. Lucky I hit my quad fives then.

Took another bad beat and was down to 100 in the freezeout stage, but we’ve all heard the napkin story and the tired, old ‘chip and chair’ phrase. Well, it rang true here, I doubled up to 400, then 1.2k, then 2.5k… right up to 18k. At this point, it wasn’t about making the final, just winning so I could tell the grandkids I won with one chip. Might I just clarify that I don’t have any grandkids at the moment, I was making a future reference. Not to say that I want grandkids, Dana, just that… oh, forget it.

I guess several months away from the table can’t fend off at least a little ring rust. Alan Geddes limped under the gun and I checked the big blind. 9-9-7 Flop, check, check, Turn Ace. He bet 2k, I called, River Rag. He quickly slid in 6k to leave me with shrapnel if I called. I’d smooth called the Turn to induce a bluff on the River, but for some reason I second-guessed myself and folded my Ace-5. Don’t ask why, I guess I wasn’t sure in the end and knew I was still in good shape if I folded. He showed J-To for the bluff and I was left to rue my mistake. I knew he was at it, I should have called, there are very few strong hands he could have had. “You made me sweat there,” he added after proudly showing the bluff. I let him off the hook in this incident, good poker face, mind, looked like he was waiting for a bus.

Down, but not out, I crawled onto the final table with mainly low denomination chips, but was to soon suffer my demise. Getting low, I pushed from the button with K-Js (even though Alan had flat-called under the gun with Sevens), only to fall head first into a world of poo with Andy Johnson moving all-in behind me. His A-K held up and I was gone in 8th for £90. Paid for my night and I was glad to make the final after so long out (especially from just one chip), but disappointed not to win. I play every comp for first, so anything else is rather unsatisfactory.

Like Gary Glitter said (although not for a while now), it’s good to be back, and he’s not wrong. It was only a £30 event and a 1k first prize, but I’ll play anything, from a £2 rebuy to £1,000 freezeout, I’m really not that fussed. At the moment, I’m still learning, and I just want to win. I also like the challenge of winning at all levels. Way too many people mock rebuy crapshoots, but there is a skillset required to conquer both, and I’m keen to master the lot. From my early years playing £20 rebuys, I’d learned the game on these events, as did Thewy who became so apt at them before moving onto newer pastures. For this reason, I had my eyes firmly fixed on Friday’s £20 rebuy fest at the Broadway, but before then, a quick trip up north to visit some old friends…

Monday, July 30, 2007


I haven’t found much time for playing poker recently. The last tournament I bought into was at the Broadway back in December. I played a media satellite for the Irish Open, but that was a freebie. I’ve been going full throttle with blonde so far this year, as I convinced myself I would. The Main Site, Live Updates, blondepedia – it’s all heavy going and has left me with no time to play. However, for those who recall my Dog’s Life thread, I still have a passion for poker, and so, after an exhausting four weeks in Vegas, promised myself that I would play more upon return. Hence, my five day poker binge…

Binge Day 1 – Grosvenor Walsall

Initially, it was my Nan’s funeral that lured me back to Brum. She was 97 and on her way out, but was finished off by one of those hospital viruses. At her age, she had no chance, and died a rather miserable death. My Dad keeps bringing up the issue, as you’d expect him to, but the truth is that her clock had reached the 13th hour and was running on borrowed time. It’s just a shame that it wasn’t a more peaceful passing.

I’d never been to a funeral before. For some reason, I assumed that there would be a burial, but it was cremation. My Dad told me to wear what I wanted, but when I arrived in casual clothes, everyone was sooted and booted, so I felt a bit disrespectful.

The ceremony was odd. Everyone was squished into one side of the chapel and a priest who never knew my Nan started the proceedings. He probably does about three of these a day, so what he vomited out sounded like routine and would have been best omitted. Unfortunately, there was little alternative, as nobody felt they had it in them to say anything.

My Dad stepped up to the plate though. The youngest of six kids, he took the responsibility like the hero he is and prepared a speech. Trembling at the podium as he hastily read out his thoughts, it was a painful experience. There were times when he stumbled, forgot a full stop or hesitated as he regained his composure, but he made it through to the end, like I knew he would. Uncomfortable viewing, but I was proud of him.

All the while, the coffin lingered in the background on a raised area of the floor as if awaiting its fate. A couple of times we were obliged to sing hymns, which I hated. They’re long, boring and didn’t seem particularly appropriate. All hymns sound the same to me, and people just pray for them to end so they can stop singing. I think most people mime, or whisper the words, but there’s always one Auntie that bellows like an Opera singer. But why does she always have to be standing next to me?

Finally, the priest closed proceedings by rattling off a few more generic words replacing the name ‘Connie’ in the appropriate spots and pulling closed the curtain like the end of a theatrical performance. My Dad shouted out “Bye mum” and that was that, another life gone, but not forgotten.

My Nan was an intriguing lady. A real people person who would invite people in off the street and chat to strangers at the bus stop. Mad as a hatter in her final years, but always asking, “I’ve made a difference, haven’t I?” Well, 6 children, about 25 grandchildren and God knows how many great randchildren – like my Dad said in his eulogy, “you don’t have to climb Everest to make a difference.”

If there’s one thing I’ll remember, it’s the emphasis on her age. Right up to her death, she was intent on telling all and sundry how old she was. She couldn’t remember who I was unless reminded, but she could remember her age as clear as day, although she kept adding a year on. Apparently, she was 98 when she died, not 97 like we and and her birth certificate had foolishly concluded. It’s like she engraved tally marks on the wall of her mind and totted them up every day. Quite remarkable what our conscious chooses to remember.

[Poker bit to come later...]

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Now that I’ve recovered from my unscheduled extended journey home and overcome, although only recently, the devilish burden that is jetlag, I see no reason why I can’t retell a few of my experiences from Vegas. Unfortunately, I don’t have too many tales of drugs, sex and rock n roll that I am allowed to nonchalantly spill into written form without suffering the previously avoidable consequences, but I can share an encounter with Phil Laak that will, hopefully, entertain you for at least a few moments.

Laak’s an interesting chap. Annoys some, but is admittedly highly endearing and hard to dislike. When I first saw him, I think he was undertaking press-ups on a WPT stage with his trademark hood concealing his true identity. At the time, I deemed this to be a detrimental practice that would do nothing but denounce the credibility of poker, but, as with Humerto Brenes, I have recently altered my views and now consider it to be a fun part of the game that is required to keep us all sane, even if they aren’t. If we take poker too seriously, then we’re all at risk of going round the bend, so it’s ironic that it’s the insane ones that bring a balance to what can sometimes be a very serious, conservative and restrained past-time.

I’ve reported on Unibomber events before, but never enjoyed an exchange with him. However, I did receive this opportunity at the World Series, and it was a confusing encounter that left both of us baffled. As I passed his table one time, I was glancing at his chips for a count, when he counted them out for me. Just to break the ice, as I do with many of the successful pro’s, I amusingly (although not in retrospect) said, “If you need any help, let me know and I’ll send you a text telling you what you should do.”

In response, Phillip, as his best buds call him, replied by requesting that I write my number down on a piece of paper for him to refer to. At first, although I was baffled by his serious demeanour, I assumed that he was merely playing along with the jovial banter. However, after he’d asked who I worked for and been bemused by my non-Pokernews response, it suddenly became clear that we were experiencing a small case of crossed wires with Phil believing that I was requesting he calls me up with any information if anything exciting happened at his table.

After some very bizarre dialogue where neither us knew what the other one was talking about, we did eventually defeat the language barrier that had been plaguing this highly unnecessary yet surreal conversation and reach a common ground, albeit after a temporary stunned silence. At this point of realisation, Phil said, “Aaaaaaaah, I see, it was English sarcasm.”

Although the moment of simple amusement that should have succeeded my one liner had turned into something rather more embarrassing, what did make me smile was that Phil was prepared to ring me, or at least give the idea that he was prepared to help even if he wasn’t, to retell any table info that may occur. Of course, my phone wouldn’t have rung, especially because that would have meant conceding his number to a seemingly mad Englishman, but the fact that he humoured me instead of telling me to fuck off showed how nice a guy he actually is and why he is so hugely popular among everyone within poker.

He didn’t tell me to fuck off, instead, simply enjoyed the fact that our wires had got crossed and offered his hand to shake as a meet and greet gesture. Of course I obliged, although almost ruined the very start of a friendship by saying that I wouldn’t wash my hand again as his had touched Jennifer Tilley. I opted against this in case my English humour was again misinterpreted, perhaps even as something rather more mischevious and sinister.

Later on in the tournament, which, I believe, was the 5k short-handed event, I heard a voice exclaim, “Snoop dog.” It was Phil, and it seemed like he had an enthralling story to tell me after all. As I skipped over, he whispered in my ear, “Have you noticed how big (although he may have used a more derogatory term) Dutch Boyd is?”

Slightly surprised, but simultaneously eager to continue along the line of humour that he’d drawn out, I said that he ought to focus on his game and that my offer to send him texts of tips while he plays was still open. He was reluctant at first, but seemed more intrigued when I informed him that my advice had seen Chip Reese through to H.O.R.S.E glory the year prior.

“I would, naturally,” he said, “but it’s an international call. I’d need at least 2 bucks.” “2 bucks!” I thought, “what a croc, me pay him for my advice, that doesn’t sound right.” Anyhow, although I did initially whip out my wallet naively, I ultimately rejected the suggestion and retracted my offer.

It was around this point that we (the bloggers) got to see the full Laak in action. After a bet and a raise (the initial action deriving from online pro Carl Olsen), the relatively shortstacked Laak pushed all-in on a raggy Flop with just about enough to get both players to fold.

Now, Phil isn’t known for a stoic poker face, instead opting for a more animated approach to concealing his hand, and this occasion was no different. Perhaps to relieve tension, Phil causally got his stuff together and started to pack away. He then put on his jacket, stood up from his chair and braced himself to leave, even positioning himself in a standing running position. After a long session in the think tank, the raiser folded and Phil survived, but I’d be interested to see what he had. Guess I’ll never know if his act was one of a bluffer or not.

Gradually becoming a bigger fan of the genuinely nice Laak as the day progressed, I decided to back up my offer of tactical aid by writing down my advice on a piece of paper rather than costing him the price of an international call. So, with 3 tips, one of them being “Always play Eye of the Tiger on you ipod” in hand, I headed out to share my pearls of wisdom. But, on exiting the pressroom, the solemn figure of Phil Laak was standing dejectedly in the corridor. “Out?" I asked hesitantly. “Yep, I’m gone,” he replied disappointedly and nowhere near the excitable childlike figure he was just moments ago. I decided it best not to give him my 3 tips at this point.

All blog entries should have a point of some kind, shouldn’t they? Well, this was just to retell my first encounter with one of the game’s most famous players and one which I’d witnessed countless times on the TV before, albeit with a slight annoyance. However, if I was to draw a conclusion of some kind, it would be that Phil Laak is a bizarre, zany character who is exactly how he appears on the small screen. He doesn’t simply ham it up for the cameras – he’s just as surreal away from them and you can’t help but think that there's a small screw clinging around in there as you speak to him. What’s most important though is that although his playfulness can give the impression that he either doesn’t care or doesn’t take poker seriously, that couldn’t be further from the truth. He loves his poker, and he loves to enjoy his poker, but when it comes down to it, he’s just as desperate to win as the Hellmuths and the Fergusons, and that was proven by his contrasting mannerisms and gutted lethargy upon elimination.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


After a circa 30 hour delay, I'm finally free and back in the good ol' U of K. I felt like Ronnie Biggs , except I didn't leave with lots of money. Being delayed was an inevitable nightmare, especially with no clothes or toiletries - turning my undies inside out just isn't as effective as it used to be. We made the most of it though, spending our day of nothingness at the Mall of America, apparently the largest indoor shopping centre in the States. To be honest, it was pretty chunky, 4 floors and all, and it also boasted a theme park that we took full advantage of... well, Jen did. Hey, some of those rides looked really dangerous!

My biggest conquest was the teddy bear machine. You know, the claw thingy that drops down and grabs a cuddly toy before dropping it quicker than an English fielder. Well, for some reason, I have a knack with these and can normally win one within a few goes. That day in Minnesota was no different, and I managed to bag Brian from Family Guy and a shark, who we initially thought was Sharky from 'Sharky and George' before realising he was the wrong colour and not donning the correct hat, for just 3 bucks. Well, I guess I've gotta have a talent somewhere, shite at poker.

When we returned to the airport after the ruddy weather storm had halted our progress the day prior, we were seated on the aircraft and then booted off again after a couple of hours! According to the captain, the light was saying the door wasn't closed even though it wasn't! Crikey, I hope I wasn't just delayed for a few hours because of a dodgy lightbulb!

Anyhow, we eventually left 4 hours later and landed in Gatwick ready for a flooded train network and 2 hour train journey. Fucking marvellous!

Back home, I popped onto the scales in my birthday suit and saw some shocking results (the weight, not from being in the nod) - 9.2 stone. Eeeeeek! Time to get back on the old pizzas again, and pronto

I'm a firm believer in 'healthy body, healthy mind' and, considering that I'm going to be playing poker more frequently, I think it's about time I gained some weight.

With that in mind, I'm launching Mission Fat Jabba.

Current Jabbaness = 9.2 stone

I have plenty of poker related waffle to retell from Vegas, but can't be bothered now, so will pop that up over the next few days. Until then, toodle pip and thanks to everyone for linking me in. There are some great blogs out there.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


Argh! After nearly a month in Vegas, I am now stuck in Minnesota after my flight was cancelled due to 'stormy weather'. We were forced to land in somewhere called Fargo, North Dakota, where we spent a miserable 90 minutes (they said 20!) in the plane doing nothing. When we did eventually arrive in Minnesota, the next flight to Gatwick wasn't scheduled till 7pm the next day - around 20 hours away.

At this point in time, I am in a Hotel called La Quinta in Minnesota with no clothes or toiletries of my own and waiting for 7pm to arrive. They wouldn't let us collect our baggage and all they could muster in compensation was a $10 food discount. All hotel and taxi charges had to be covered by ourselves.

The company is Northwest by the way - good film selection, but not the most accommodating when things go tits up. They just drop you off and basically say "unlucky, bye".

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Well, here we are, final time, and what an accomplishment for Jon Kalmar. There isn’t too much more I can say that hasn’t been recycled over and over on the various forums. He’s done marvellous, and it’s great to hear of a real rags to riches story, Skalie confessing that he couldn’t even afford to fly his Mrs. over until the latter stages when he was guaranteed a lucrative payday.

At the moment, I’m in the pressroom at the Rio awaiting a press conference, which, I think, will interrupt my penning of this blog entry. I’m not really working today as we brought live updates to a halt due to lack of access, but I’m simply bored and have several hours to kill before my flight departs tomorrow, so thought I’d pop in and offer my support.

Actually, I haven’t slept yet. It's true what they say, there really is no day or night in Vegas, and that has become crystal clear with my sleeping and eating habits. My appetite has completely vanished after living off a Subway per day and I'm finding myself forcing food down my mouth to keep myself going. Also, I went to bed at 5pm yesterday afternoon and woke up at 1am this morning, so every thing's a bit topsy turvy and my head is really starting to spin.

Looking back over the last week, it’s been an interesting Main Event and I was genuinely chagrined to see Scotty Nguyen miss out. Doyle Brunson said recently that no former Champion would ever repeat the feat, but I happen to think that’s poppycock. Scotty, Carlos Mortensen, Berry Johnston and Huck Seed all went deep from a 6,000 plus field this year, and considering their skill and experience, they could easily have gone all the way if the cards had fell for them. I’m not saying that it’s going to happen in the next few years, but sooner or later, unless numbers reach ridiculous proportions, a former winner is surely going to take it down again.

I mentioned Tobey Maguire in an earlier blog entry, when I was discussing the 5k I believe. Well, he did pretty well here too and may even have cashed. Imagine how crazy the TV execs would have gone if Spiderman had made the final, they would have wet their pants in excitement. To be honest, though, I would have loved to have seen him go deeper, it makes for great entertainment.

Not sure what he would have done about the photographers and TV crew though. Whenever people try and take photos of him, or even hover the camera in his general vicinity, he waves his arms across his face like a maniac to prevent himself from being photographed. I find it quite annoying to be honest, as if he’s too important to be photographed playing poker with common folk.

From what I understand, the players sign a waiver pre-comp regarding their image rights, so I don’t think he can complain, but it’s still a pain in the arse when you need a piccy of him. I’m not sure what his problem is, we’re not Hello magazine or anything. I guess he’s really conscious about the way he looks when he’s not on the red carpet and doesn’t want to be seen without his makeup on.

Barry (named because he has a Barry White-esque vocal chord) from Poker Listings told me that Vince Vaughn was the same once, so he asked him afterwards why he wouldn’t let him take his photograph. Vince just looked at him, turned around and walked away. How wude, as Ja Ja Binks would say. Barry also observed that Phil Ivey sometimes snarls at the cameras and does his best to shy away, which is slightly hypocritical perhaps considering he gets paid so much money from Full Tilt to be one of their many faces.

One guy who won’t be waving his hands in front of his face is Hal Lubarski, and if he does, it’ll be his mate’s hands rather than his. Hal’s the blind dude that everyone’s been banging on about recently, and although the media said he wasn’t going to be registered in the Main Event, surprise, surprise, he turned up and was allowed to play. I’m pretty sure that was the plan all along, it’s all about the publicity.

How it works, is that he has an accomplice (although I think friend may be a more appropriate word) seated beside him throughout the tournament, and when Hal is dealt his cards, Helpeyboy (as I shall now refer to him as) whispers into his ear what he has. Actually, Hal had been there all day on Day 2B, but I only caught sight of him (no pun intended) when I overheard Helpeyboy shouting out the board. I raced over to see what the hell was going on and, after a quick glance down at Hal, it clicked that he was the chap that I'd read about in the news.

But blind or not, Hal was all-in with Pocket Kings versus Ace King. As the board came out, Helpey boy shouted out the raggy flop, which, to the delight of the crowd, meant that the man of the day had won the hand, thus giving him 136k in chips. What is weird, and you'll see this from the photo, is the way that Helpeyboy was perched over his shoulder (double stacked, incidentally) - it's almost as if they were a ventriloquist act.

However, although I think it's great that he lived his dream, I can't deny that I held the odd reservation. Firstly, is it fair for one guy to be whispering in his ear? I mean, this isn't a team game, and what's to stop him from providing alternative information beyond what he actually has in his hand? Can I have Phil Ivey on my shoulder letting me know when he thinks someone bluffing? In that sense, there's a big sense of trust that Helpeyboy is an honourable genetleman.

Also, is it distracting for the other players to have to listen to him whispering the cards each time, potentially slowing the game down, and hearing every board that he's involved in read out loud? Not a major problem with me personally, but I'd be interested to know if it does cause frustration. Hmm, so many questions, I think I’ve turned into a scrooge in my old age. I'd be too tempted to shout out the wrong cards for a laugh if I was Helpeyboy, is that old age too?

Monday, July 16, 2007


As with last year, the first four days of the World Series were absolutely exhausting and a nightmare to update. A 12pm to 4am shift and a lengthy taxi queue meant that we didn’t get home till around 5am each night, and if you consider that it’s in bed by 5.30am and up at 10.30am for the three s’s, that’s a hefty day’s work with just 5 hours sleep and no free time – even during the breaks and lunch hour I’m uploading results and fulfilling my other blonde poker duties. When I outline it as such, updating really doesn’t look like the pretty picture you think it is, and when you’ve witnessed Jen sleeping under a table in the pressroom, you wonder why so many think we live the life of Reilly.

Of course, there are lots of plusses to our job, and one of them is some of the characters we encounter. The big names such as Matusow, Laak and Brenes are all jolly good fun, but some of the lesser-known names can be just as interesting, Jim Pitman being a prime example. He’s now known to us as ‘that guy’ and has been bouncing around youtube for the past year or two after outdrawing Mr Hellmuth. You probably remember it, Hellmuth called him an amateur and added that he probably couldn’t even spell poker. Well, we asked Jim how to spell poker and can confirm that he’s not as inept as Hellmuth thinks.

We somehow ran into Jim at the Orleans and he kindly gave us a lift to the Rio Convention Centre in his pick up truck. He may have appeared to be a non-affluent ‘taking a shot’ kinda guy in that Hellmuth clip, but he’s actually a millionaire after, bizarrely, inventing a cushioning system for the back of trucks that allows people to camp in their vehicle. No one had thought of the idea before and so he patented it and made his fortune. Honestly, it’s incredible what can make you a millionaire, he even showed us his invention, and all it was was a bit of padding – unbelievable!

Someone who you wouldn’t necessary describe as a character (in fact, he possess that ‘dribble’ factor that makes him look a bit gormless) is Jeff Madsen. He has become ‘at one’ with the stars after his double bracelet performance (hmm, triumph obviously brings famous friends) and lost a bet to Gavin Smith and Joe Sebok regarding who’d be the worst performer at this year’s World Series. Jeff lost and, as a result, had to spend the whole Main Event, which I’d personally take as seriously as cancer, dressed head to toe in a jovial jester’s outfit.

It was a cracking little costume, to be honest, but the highlight was seeing him pissed off when shortstacked or after losing a pot. There’s nothing more amusing than seeing a grumpy jester, especially when everyone at the table is dressed in normal clothes. There was one hand when Jeff made an excellent River call with a small pair – he gave it a bit of the ol’ pumped fist and wandered away from the table pleased with his call. All I could see though was a jester being serious, which tickled me immensely.

I heard a great story about Canadian star Marc Karam, who, incidentally, is nicknamed Myst after his favourite wrestler, Rey Mysterio, and proud of it! According to his mates in the media room, there is a player on the online cardroom that he frequents that possesses an annoying habit of hitting and running. As with the majority of players, Marc sat out when this guy sat down at his table and politely asked him to leave. The player refused and proceeded to challenge Marc. Marc finally cracked and said that he was going to clean him out of the $1,000 he sat down with and buy the most ridiculous thing he could with the money. Marc did indeed win and to my delight, he kept his end of the bargain and spent a grand on a single pen – awesome. If it was me, I’d love the fact that I owned a pen that was more expensive than the cheques I was signing.

Finally, I have to mention Miss Jennifer Mason, she chose to play Day 1B as it was he birthday and, in her own words, “I just can’t think of any better way to spend my birthday than playing the World Series of poker.”

For those that don’t know, she was challenged by Roland de Wolfe to quite smoking for three months, and if she succeeded, he’d buy her in to the Main Event. Of course, this was her dream, so she passed with flying colours (although there were a few moody days along the way I can tell you) and Roland was good to his word.

Incredibly, instead of handing over cash, Roland just flicked up two 5k chips as if they were one penny sweets. One was a Bellagio and t’other was from the Wynn, the latter of which they wouldn’t accept at the Rio. Jen was a bit worried that the Wynn wouldn’t change it for her but, in the end, I think they did and she was in.

In terms of her performance, she never really got her head above average, but she was always hovering around ‘comfortable’, albeit after losing several thousand in Level 1. Finally, after hours of keeping in touch, she called a re-raise to her own raise with Tens during the very final level and then pushed on the King high Flop, unfortunately running into A-K. I think she tortured herself over this move for a while, but ultimately decided that it was the correct play to make considering her stack. Personally, I’m borderline, her opponent is going to call with A-A, K-K, A-K and probably fold Q-Q, J-J, A-Q, which is three hands versus three, so a very close call for me. Either way, we were all very proud of her and pleased that she got to achieve one of her initial goals of playing the Main Event. Next on the list, me, hopefully, but I’ll have to wait till 2008 before I can win my millions…

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


The third Event we covered this year was the $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha Freezeout that was infested with British and European potential and touted as being our best chance of a bracelet. However, come money time, it was the Americans who triumphed, Paul Jackson being the only one to cash for England. With this in mind, isn’t it about time we scrapped our “Omaha is where we excel” theory – let’s be frank, when it comes to poker, all forms of poker, the Americans dominate, and the more we push Omaha as “our game”, the more embarrassing our lack of progress becomes.

As always, the entertainment award went to Hellmuth, the mere “I am the King of Poker!” expression on his face being enough to maintain my amusement. I do recall one moment of signature petulance, and The Anti-Hellmuth Association are going to love this one, the Poker Brat going barmy after being outdrawn by his table neighbour with even the massage cushion taking a pounding as Phil hurled it at his chair in disgust.

"F***ing hell," he exclaimed. "Unf***ing believable." A quick glance at the board and we see K-Q-A-2-9. There are no hands available as they've already been mucked, but Hellmuth was there to fill the world in on his misfortune...

"What a sucker. Call my raise with Ace Jack Five f***ing Three. Amateur." But how did he lose, I hear you cry? Well, once again, Phil provided me with free commentary... "(To dealer) You found diamond diamond for him. Thank you, dealer! When do we change the dealer?" This put Hellmuth down to 12, which, coincidentally, is also his mental age.

Talking of confrontations, Andy Black’s exit wasn’t a pretty one. His aggression in his final hand forcing German based player Davood Mehrmand, who is honestly as mad as a box of monkeys, to fold and subsequently spared the demolition of his stack. After Black lost the hand, Davood thoughtlessly shouted ‘thank you’ a few times and was generally lacking the tact that one ought to possess at such a time.

Not being the reserved type, Black snapped and shared a few firm words with his former tablemate. There was a bit of a kafuffle, but nothing serious, although it genuinely could have been. From what I understand, Davood isn’t one to back down from a fight and would happily throw a fist or two if provoked enough. Oh, tantrums and scuffles, great stuff – and I didn’t have to pay 10 grand to watch!

Soon enough it was Main Event time, and if you thought that it would be any quieter then you’d have another thing coming. Actually, one of the quietest players of them all was ironically the guy to kick up the biggest storm thus far. With all his chips in on a draw, David Singer’s opponent leant into his pocket to pull out a ringing phone and turn it off, only for the Full Tilt pro to dip into the rule book and claim his hand to be dead. The TD said that he didn’t ‘use’ his phone and subsequently allowed play to continue.

Of course, Mateyboy called (especially after David had caused such a fuss), of course, David failed to hit his draw and, of course, he threw a wobbly on the way out, even demanding a refund or to be allocated a seat in Day 1D. A refund’s one thing, but another seat, now that’s just absurd. Imagine if he won! That other guy would be sitting in the crowd saying, “Hey, I knocked him out on Day 1!”

We could go on all day about the mobile phone rules and the various interpretations, but it’s all a matter of opinion and the only one that counts is that of WSOP. For me, I don’t care if it’s based on your translation of the phrase ‘on the phone’ or ‘using’, it’s about common sense and having the decency to take your elimination like a man. Of course, lack of consistency is a pain in the arse, but if someone pulled out their phone against me and it was obvious to all and sundry that he wasn’t using it for any benefit to his game, then I wouldn’t say diddly squat, whether the rules say his hand should be dead or not. In my opinion, this is a game of integrity, and I just don’t want to win by angle-shooting or nit-picking at the rules and would suggest that Singer do the same. I guess that’s what you expect when you play a lawyer though.

Off the table, there have been problems of another kind as I learned of Phil Peters’ horror story. Phil, a well-know gambler from the Midlands, was enjoying his stay in Vegas… until recently. According to my source, Paul Parker, Phil was playing blackjack when he was accused (in not so many words) of card-counting and asked to leave the casino. It was also requested that he sign a form saying that he wouldn’t enter any Harrah’s establishment or play their games but, with Phil set to partake in the upcoming World Series Main Event, he inevitably refused.

At this point, Bally’s said that he was trespassing and had to leave immediately or the authorities would be contacted. Okay, fair enough, you might think, that is their right, but what if Phil was staying in that Hotel with his wife, Nieve Peters, sleeping in their bedroom upstairs? Well, this didn’t seem to matter to Bally’s, as the authorities were indeed called in to handcuff Phil and take him away to the police station where he spent a miserable 20 hours in jail.

And it gets worse. Rumour has it that he was considered to be a liar and his passport thus not given the credit it should have been. As a result, Phil was known as John Doe, which meant that Nieve was unable to locate him when she arrived at the station! I’m not sure of the final outcome, but Phil did make it to the Main Event to play Day 1C, although with little success, and I can guess he’s probably still not staying in Bally’s – not sure he’ll be back either.

It’s a crazy world, as proven by my recent outing at the cash tables. I don’t normally tell bad beats, as they’re pretty boring, but I’m going to make an exception today for the purpose of mild amusement. 10-handed $1/2 table and after calling a raise pre-flop with Kd-2h-2d-5h, I proceeded to check raise all-in Mateyboy’s $50 bet on a Kh-5d-4d Flop. It was about $150 for him to call, which he did indeed do with 8s-8c-Qd-6d. Turn and River came a 7 to give him a staight, but no diamond, so I did my bollox.

Oh well, 50p in the tin I guess, lucky I won a grand a couple of nights later in the $1/2 Hold’Em at the Orleans. Glad I’m up for the trip and playing well, it just goes to show that not everyone's having a bad time.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Although the $50k H.O.R.S.E was brimming with talent and established names, it was the less lucrative $5k 6-Handed Event that provided more entertainment, Finish pro Thomas ‘The Eggman’ Wahlroos being the star of the show.

Down to the latters stages, Roland de Wolfe had his sights set on a WSOP win to accompany his EPT and WPT titles on the mantelpiece, whilst Phil Hellmuth was desperately seeking that 12th bracelet that would put him two clear of the competition. The Eggman, however, had other ideas, and instead of offering his moral support, decided to storm the playing area and not only knock over Roland’s stack, but also the Poker Brat’s.

Intoxication as his defence, The Eggman was in and out in a flash, his only mark being a spay of chips across two tables and an exasperated Hellmuth racing over to The Wolfe to see what the hell was going on: "Hey, Roland, what's up with your boy? Something needs to be done about him."

With the bloggers giggling under their breath, Hellmuth then chased the TD and demanded action be taken. "It's not acceptable," he moaned. "He can't just come in here and do that! I was in the middle of a hand! He needs to be given a penalty.”

When the TD reminded Phil that Wahlroos wasn’t in the tournament, Phil suggested he receive a penalty in the tournament he is in. I’m not sure who then informed Hellmuth that he wasn’t playing fullstop, but a penalty without playing would certainly have been a first!

If you fancy a laugh, click here to see Wahlroos’s post-demolition interview. He may not be everyone’s favourite, but he’s definitely a character. He’s got a stalker too don’t you know!

Talking of characters, Tony G was in top form. Surprisingly meek throughout the early stages of the tournament, Mr Guoga became more and more, well… unpopular as the day progressed, and when those big all-ins arrived with a few tables left, that’s when he came out of his shell to perform in that painstakingly obnoxious manner that we all know and love/hate.

All-in with A-9 vs. J-T on a K-Q-Q Flop, the Turn brought and Ace, but the River a Queen. Cue the Tony G Show… "Yeah, baby!" he exclaimed. "Now we're playing! You wanna gamble with J-T? Woooooohoooooo, yeah baby! All your chips will end up here, I promise you.”

Isn’t he a treasure? From the ‘streets’ according to the 2+2 thread, although I’ve never been sure what that meant. Tony Blair lives on Downing Street, is he from the streets? If ever there was someone that I would imagine wasn’t from the streets, it would be Tony G, closely followed by Phil Hellmuth, who I imagine grew up amid gang warfare in the back streets of LA. Aiii!

Several hands later, I recall Dutch Boyd re-re-rasing the Lithuanian off a hand and mimicking his opponent with a gentle “wooooohoooooo”, but Antonius soon returned the favour by doubling through Dutch with Fours v A-Q, and, of course, celebrating. “You’re the luckiest and loudest player here,” accuses Dutch. “Better than being the unluckiest and loudest,” sniggers Tony G. At one point, Dutch Boyd made the point that Tony had doubled up with 7-3 not too long ago, which elicited vocal agreement from Greg Pohler in Seat 1. "Ahahahah," shouts Tony G, "I see you have a friend. You two can hold hands underneath the table." This is why I love the World Series!

Back to Dutch for a moment, who the heck are you and what have you done with the real Boyd?! Crikey, I’m not sizist or anything, but he ain’t half been piling on the pounds (or stones). He hasn’t been well over recent years (just check out youtube for proof), but at least he’s eating well! Very well indeed. My mother always says, “Eat plenty of food.” Pass the Dutchie on the left hand side? Lol, not anymore.

Still, I like the new Boyd, he seems laid back, cool and, although creepily distant, as if he’s enjoying his poker. Don’t listen to what people say either – this kid’s got game! He plays lots of pots, in position, and rarely makes a mistake. One of those players who always seem to know where they stand. Shame he didn’t win. Him and the G-ster heads-up, now that would have been a hoot.
You might find this hard to believe, but Tony G and Dutch Boyd are two of my favourite players!

Finally, before I waffle into oblivion, I couldn’t help but be sidetracked by the presence of Tobey Maguire. I’m not star-struck or anything, it’s just that I’m curious about how people act in certain surroundings, so I couldn’t help but watch him like a hawk. He's a mega film star but just sort of fits in quietly here, perhaps because he's such a reserved, dressed down kinda chap. Seems to lack the 'shine', glamour or gloss that you might expect from someone as famous as him. You can tell people are looking at him, perhaps out of the corner of their eye whilst they whisper to a neighbour, "Look, it's Spiderman."

One observation that intrigued me was his avoidance of the cameras. For someone so famous and not too far off a featured final table, it seemed odd that he’d wave his hands in front of his face whenever the ol’ Casio came within a mile of him. I remember at one point taking a photo of the lesser known Mark Bartlog and ignoring Spiderman seated next door, that was weird. Would I do the same to Tom Cruise?

Incidentally, this photo may seem off-the-cuff, but it is a tad staged, the tournament supervisor (or whatever he is) asking me to take a piccy of his brother's (or, most probably, his) hero. Of course, I foolishly obliged and felt like a tit in the process. At least Tobey didn't look behind him and notice. If he had, he may have whipped that camera out of my hands with a whoosh of spideman like webness.

Imagine what he would have done if Jen had undertaken my dare to say, “I loved you in Donnie Darko.” Black Spiderman would have made an appearance for sure!

Monday, July 02, 2007


Yesterday was my day off.

I spent the entire day in my underwear watching films in bed and ordering room service.

That is all.