Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Howdy from the windy city. As I alluded to in my last post, I am indeed livin it large with my other half in Chicago. I did start posting my holiday snaps, along with a few interesting facts, comments, observations, etc on tikay's Vegas thread over on blonde, but that went down like a lead baloon tied to an anvil (not even a series of train pictures got the ol fella's heart racing!!!), so I'm afraid it's my blog readers who are going to be lumped with the unwanted slide show.

In hindsight, I suppose holiday snaps are a bit dull, but I'm sure my dear mother would be overjoyed to see some photographic evidence of my current existence, so just for her, here are just a few of the photos we have taken during our first week away (ps. sry blonde for the bs hat, it was the only one I had and the weather was very nippy)...

Friday, April 25, 2008


PokerStars media coordinator Mad Harper is renowned for emailing us her pie charts, and after I suggested that her chart was inaccurate and unrepresentative of the field because it had excluded the lesser nations, she got herself into a bit of a fluster. The video clip below was the result. When I was informed that I’d made an appearance, I nearly creamed my pants, fame at last! I’m the ‘man without a face’. Fck my life.

Also continuing to impress are the SikTilt boys Ruri and Hassan, I love their stuff and wish we could afford to bring them to blonde. I was going to try convincing my readers that their Negreanu interview was real, but I think most people know it’s not by now. The mere fact that people weren’t sure, though, is credit to the acting, one take and no rehearsal might I add. Enjoy!

The eventual winner was Candian business student and recent poker pro Glen Chorny. Glen was an odd character, and managed to put his foot in it when he was caught slagging off Michael Martin behind his back. I was in the bar when Chorny strolled in with his folks, the father, incidentally, being a dead ringer for Andy Warhol. Few people congratulated him and he didn’t seem to be getting the rounds in, so I don’t think he was the most popular of victors. At one point, I saw Dani Stern approach him, but I couldn’t quite hear the precise details of the debate. Something about fabricating high stakes hand histories and lying about what he'd won, and they also seemed pissed off that Chorny had said he’d been unlucky in the tournament even though he’d won, it all seemed rather petty. On the flipside, I did hear that Glen Chorny offered to back Asa Smith in a few events after he bad beat him out of the Bahamas EPT, so he can’t be all that bad.

Jeff Garza, Brandon Schaeffer, Michael Martin and a number of others were in the bar, but I was too tired to socialise. I spoke to Brandon and Jeff momentarily, but they seemed drunk, so I decided not to bother. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s trying to talk to people who have been boozing when you’re not just tired, but completely sober. I want people to make sense and be themselves when I talk to them. The only good thing about these moments is that all the gossip and rants come pouring out at breakneck speed, it’s just a shame that the tournament finished so late and limited my ‘Heat Magazine’ time.

More entertaining were the antics of Antonio Esfandiari. He was absolutely leathered and had reeled Jon Tabatabai, Josh Tyler, Sorel Mizzi and co into his drunken antics. At one point, there was a lot of noise coming from the bar. Apparently, Sorel had bet (probably for thousands) Antonio that he couldn’t make ten people lie down on the floor without directly telling them to lie down. I think Antonio pulled it off, but was pulled up on a technicality because he’d told someone else to ask people to lie down on his behalf.

On the way home, we ran into John Kabbaj at the airport. He appears to be “hitting the crossbar” of late, but seems like a nice enough chap, so I hope he strikes gold soon. We were talking about the helicopter journey from Monaco to Nice and he said that Freddy Deeb and Devilfish nearly died in it three years back. “It was a windy day, the helicopter was rocking from side to side and the lights went out. Freddy was sure that was it.” Good lord, imagine your last moments being in the arms of the Fish. He’d either pull out the guitar for one last swansong or give you his trademark wink and say, “Well, we might as well squeeze in a quickie before we go.” I’m not sure what would be scarier.

As we parted ways at the baggage claim I asked the Cabbage if he was going to Vegas and he sighed and said, “Yeah, I guess I’ll be there”. It kind of echoed some of my thoughts of late. Poker can be a trudge at times, but in the end, we love what we do, and would be lost without it. I’m working the World Series with PokerNews this year. I’m not particularly looking forward to it and I know it’s going to kill me, but I’d feel as though I was missing out if I wasn’t in the thick of things. I love the game and all the controversy that surrounds it, there’s so much going on in poker, and I want to be there to see it al unfold.

In a few days I’ll be enjoying a fortnight holiday in Chicago and Toronto. I upload daily results for blonde, so pretty much work 365 days a year. In the two and a half years I’ve worked for the company, I’ve never taken a day off. Even when I went to Amsterdam with Dana, I was doing my work in the mornings. With that in mind, I think these two weeks off are going to be a shock to the system, I’ve become a workaholic of sorts, and don’t feel comfortable if I’m not doing something constructive. When I’m watching TV, I’ll still be adding galleries, updating blondepedia and whatnot with the laptop on my lap. In many ways, I’m an obsessive compulsive, and I hate wasting time.

What’s been concerning me most is the condition of my cyst. I promised Dana that I’d take her on holiday in April, so I was worried that the doctor would say I couldn’t go for whatever reason. However, I went into A&E this morning, and they said that if I took some of their super duper antibiotics, and kept applying the dressing, the mucus should start to ooze out. Nice. I’ll still have to have the cyst removed when I get back, but not having the infection would make life a lot easier. The last thing I want to do is ruin our holiday because I’m not in a fit state to do anything, I guess there’s more important things than poker after all.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


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...

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Last month Neil Channing won the Irish Open. If ever there was a player who had ground his way through poker, spent hours upon hours battling it out at the cash tables in the Vic, and approached poker with the level of discipline it requires to remain in the game for years to come, then it’s Neil, and I’m delighted that he’s reaped his rewards. In fact, Neil is probably the complete opposite to the big spin up guy. To him, poker’s a living, and for many years, the glory of tournament poker and winning that ‘major event’ never really appealed to him.

The urge to play the big time is all too prevalent in most players, including myself. Unlike other recreations, there is this sense that poker might ‘pass us by’, that the standard of poker will improve and make that major scoop more difficult, or simply that people will lose interest and these huge fields will quickly disperse. Much like scoring the winning goal in the F.A. Cup Final, we all dream of winning a major event like the Irish Open, but sometimes you have to be realistic.

The variance in poker is so huge, that even Phil Ivey could go months, even years without winning a big event, so what chance does an amateur have if he saves up his pennies for the odd biggie every few months? Of course, it’s possible, but it’s unlikely, and when there’s so much risk, perhaps the Channing route is best.

As I said in Part I, it’s all about what works for you as an individual, but personally, I want to be in the game for as long as possible. I can’t deny that taking a stab at a big tournament isn’t fun, but if it means that you have to struggle along with just the hope that a big win is around the corner, then I’m not sure it’s for me. I don’t want to play on hope.

Recently, playing poker has taken a back seat. As someone who works in poker, you can sometimes overdose on the game, so I’m currently enjoying my brief hiatus away from the virtual felt. Even if I felt like playing, my upcoming schedule is just too hectic:

11th – 18th Apr – Monte Carlo EPT
22nd – 6th May – Chicago & Toronto holiday
10th – 11th May – DTD blonde Bash 6
29th May – 27th Jun – WSOP

With that in mind, I’ve come to accept that I won’t be playing poker until after the World Series, but that’s fine by me. When I get back, the plan of action is a simple one. Put $3k into blonde for heads up matches and $3k onto Party for 6-handed action. Just playing heads up is demoralising. I’m in profit from the last few months, so I know I can beat the game, but I need to keep things fresh, hence a return to Party where I believe the games are good. I’ll probably start at $1/2 and work my way up gradually, but I hope to be back playing the $3/6 and $5/10 tables before the year is out.

I’m not writing off live tournaments, but I don’t want to buy straight in like I have been. I don’t have much time on my hands due to work, but if I’m firm with myself, I hope to play at least one satellite a week, depending on how successful my rings games have been. My Internet connection is annoyingly poor, and work often gets in the way, but if I write out some sort of schedule and make time, there’s no reason why I can’t play more sats.

Finally, I like to keep challenging myself, whether I succeed or fail. So, in that sense, I have come up with a list of goals for the next twelve months. I was going to call them the magnificent seven, but I squeezed in an extra one at the last minute, so they’re now the Excellent Eight:

(1) Qualify for the Ladbrokes Poker Cruise
(2) Qualify for the 2009 WSOP
(3) Win a festival side event or a DTD/Walsall monthly freezeout
(4) Make the final table of a festival Main Event
(5) Play every event of one festival
(6) Play in a different cardroom in London every night for a week
(7) Play cash poker in Vegas for two weeks
(8) Finish the film script I started writing

So there you have it, there’s my big spin up. It’s going to take a bit longer than some other people’s, but I’ll get there in the end, and hopefully one day, all my hard work will pay off like it did for Neil.