Saturday, June 9, 2012, 8:38 AM
Was hanging out around the live games in the Rio for a couple of days trying to pretend I wasn’t jetlagged listening to the usual ****ing from the players. I’m a sick man. I love it. The BIG O(5card PLO hilo) is usually good for a laugh especially when 5 guys are all-in, sidepots everywhere, they run the turn and the river twice and the dealer has never given anyone more than two cards before in his or her life. It’s better than watching a movie though movies don’t generally last longer than an average BIG O pot. I can’t believe normally sensible people are parting with 120 bucks to suffer through Donny and Marie when they can watch this **** for nothing. OK, I admit the Osmond sisters show isn’t the best example but I don’t know or care who else is in town and intend to keep it that way. The players get a little tetchy at times which is understandable considering most of them are starving as I was told you’d be more likely to have Helmuth congratulate you on outplaying him in a pot than to get a food comp from a floorman, even if you’d played around the clock. Some of the older lads were talking about the late Amarillo Slim. They weren’t talking about his flair for selling the game to the media or his fall from grace. What they were on about was a tournament he ran and hosted, The Amarillo Slim Superbowl Of Poker. Apparently, at this event the man from Amarillo made everyone slim by feeding nobody. Guys who’d been used to Benny’s hospitality were extremely pissed off and brought a box full of LOSE A BUNCH BUT BRING YOUR LUNCH tee-shirts into the casino. If anyone has one, Ebay might be a good spot to raise a bankroll right now.
I kicked off my involvement in this years WSOP by contributing 1500 to the PLH event. A new computer system whereby everyone’s chip count at every break is recorded was being tested. Most people thought it a good idea though one or two were complaining that wives and girlfriends would be getting more information as to when their man busted than was good for them. Or for the guy for that matter. I thought myself that this innovation could be very bad news for guys who are in the habit of being staked. It’s infinitely more important for a good stakehorse to be a good liar than a good player. I’m talking about white lies like exit hands, exit level chipcounts or whether he actually played etc. Manys the good man could be put out of a steady job over this. And they have the cheek to call it progress.
A very pretty dealer dealt to us and when she was on a break after dealing our table a floorman went through his paces quite loudly. “Where are you from?” he asked. Nice line I thought. “Belarus” she replied. “No. I meant what country?” I considered it 1500 well spent which was more than I can say for my investment in the 1500 NLH.
My optimism in entering the 1500 PLO was rewarded with a min cash. Hard to keep an average man down. It was great craic. I was telling a guy about the Belarus international incident and he told me that he’d been reliably informed that a guy from Bulgary had won a bracelet. Maybe my mind is xxxxed up but I got to wondering where all these guys who’ve ended up in Vegas thought they were going when they left home. And if they think they’re there.
Monday, June 4, 2012, 9:11 AM
I went straight to Dublin airport from an all night cash game in the Voodoo Club to catch my flight to Vegas. This is indeed an excellent way of going about things if the plan is to be jetlagged for a week when you get there. It worked a treat. I was travelling with Scott Gray. Everyone should take at least one transatlantic flight with Scott. You never know when a loved one might die overseas and you are nominated to bring the body home so its good to have a practise run under your belt. Though if the worst comes to the worst don’t be alarmed if the corpse doesn’t snore.
We were met in Vegas by legendary WSOP floorman Schof. Schof arrived in Vegas in 1966 with 400 bucks in his pocket and swears he’ll leave if he ever gets even. That’s looking increasingly unlikely at this stage. On the way to our hotel Schof and Scott played a game of What used that be called? and What used to be there? Personally I don’t really care about this **** but that’s just me. We drove past a bunch of rubble which Schof said used to be the site of the Klondike Hotel Casino. Back in the day when Schof used to hire the dealers to work the WSOP he did a deal with the Klondike whereby they could stay there for 125 bucks a week. After a few days one of the young guys told Schof the place was full of hookers and drug dealers. Schof told him he could get him fixed up somewhere else if he liked. “Oh no”, said the dealer. “I’m fine where I am.”
I was a bit wrecked the next morning but wandered over to the Rio anyway just in time to hear the tournament director talk the biggest load of bollocks I’ve ever heard at the WSOP as he explained the rule changes for this year. Apparently, if a guy is all in the other lad in the pot can start talking about his hand until everyone dies of boredom. Apparently this will be great fun. Yeh, right. He went on to say that, as we’d be playing for life changing sums of money, a guy who wins a big pot will be encouraged to celebrate. OMG. Surely the poor lad who loses the pot is also playing for life changing money. They didn’t mention what his options were when some assxxxx is dancing in his face but I guess we will find out sooner rather than later.
Friday, June 1, 2012, 8:12 AM
I stopped off in Dublin on my way to Vegas to host a game in the 888 sponsored Voodoo Card club that was to be streamed on the net. Those people in the voodoo aren’t dumb. They didn’t want a host who is a proper player because he might win and spoil everything. You can’t go to a game in Dublin without visiting at least one pub first (three is optimal). So, I dropped into O’Donoghues on my way to meet our very own snooker legend Ken Doherty, seven times world champion, Stephen Hendry, snooker impressionist John Virgo, Tiger Woods, Joe Montana, Madonna, The Queen, Tom Jones and Willie Nelson. Actually, they couldn’t all make it (I just wanted to feel like Phil Helmuth for a minute or two) though the snooker lads all turned up and kindly signed a cue to be auctioned at the Paris Goal Ball where the Irish in Paris get drunk and raise funds for people who have nothing, not even hope. The way Ireland is shaping up this could be a very sound investment in our future.
O’Donoghues holds a unique place in the history of Irish music. For decades, musicians of all shapes and sizes have just turned up there and entertained themselves and everyone else in sessions that have become legendary. It was there in the early sixties that The Dubliners, who were to become internationally famous, got together. They went on to become Dublin’s favourite sons, not just for the music and entertainment, but because the fame didn’t change them one little bit. You didn’t have to know them. You just felt you did. Perhaps that what true greatness is all about. This is not a dig at poker players but looking in the mirror just to make sure a nice guy hasn’t become an **** isn’t the worst idea in the world.
Dublin was shocked recently when Barney McKenna, one of the founder members of the Dubliners, died suddenly. It wasn’t long before everyone was smiling as it seems everyone has a Barney story so O’Donoghues seemed a good place to swap a few of them. My favourite was one from the sixties. Barney was driving the band home in a minibus after a late night gig. They were stopped by the cops who asked Barney if he’d been drinking. When he said he had, they asked him how much. He said he’d had 10 pints and 4 or 5 gin and tonics so they asked him to blow in the bag. “Why?” said Barney, “Don’t you believe me?”
I skipped pubs two and three and headed for the Voodoo. The game was as advertised. Poker with a smile Irish style. Plenty of banter and good humour doesn’t mean people aren’t trying. Somewhere in the middle of it I was asked what was the funniest thing I’d seen at the table in Vegas over the years. Easy one that. Irelands Alan Betson was playing in an allnight PLO game in Binions several years ago. An American guy who was probably the worst player in the game was winning pot after pot. The more he won the more he talked. Being unbelievably boring didn’t slow him down. The other players had to just suck it up as hey were terrified he’d leave if they upset him. Running out of material he improvised by picking up Alan’s cigarette pack and remarking that he’d never seen that brand before. Alan told him that they were made in Ireland. “Oh!”, he said “I didn’t think they made anything in Ireland” .Alan just raised an eyebrow and said “We made enough fxxxing Americans didn’t we?”
Saturday, April 14, 2012, 4:52 PM
If you thought the Irish were exaggerating about how skint we are, 20 minutes in the Burlington before the start of the Irish Open would have put you right. The satellite area had all the excitement you’d associate with a dentists waiting room while the bar, normally a happy spot on these occasions, was empty except for some coffee drinkers who wouldn’t know a good cup of coffee if you spilt one on them. Outside, the talk was all about the previous evening’s supersatellite. The first 35 players won a 3500 euro seat while 36th prize was 2100. Apparently, with 36 runners remaining the top 35 guys each paid the 36th guy 20 euro to go away. He did. Previous champion Ivan Donaghy, who got a seat, ruefully remarked that he wished he’d volunteered to take the cash and gone home with it in his ass pocket. Optimism was never Ivan’s strong suit though on this occasion he was proved right!
I stopped off in the lobby to listen to the excellent gospel singers who were doing their stuff. They showed their poker knowledge by bashing out "River deep Mountain High" which seemed quite appropriate. On entering the cardroom, I was surprised to see that over 500 players had shown up. A good effort in the circumstances. Bad news is everyone was playing for their lives, though the craic was still good even if some of the visiting online pros were too consumed with their own brilliance to really get it! The coverage online included live interviews and comments from the tables. One of the roving reporters, Tom Kitt, asked me about the Americans. I told him that I was surprised to see Erik Lindgren around as he had done a famous interview after losing to Scotty a few years ago in which he said he couldn’t even beat a drunk guy. Why then was he over here trying to beat 500 of them? I have to admit Tom fed me the punchline in advance. I loved it.
All good things come to an end and seven hours later I was again in the lobby. Luckily, the gospel singers were gone so I didn’t get the opportunity to tell them what they could do with their xxxxing River Deep Mountain High. Thank God for that. I must have taken a wrong turn cause I finished up in the bar. I was in good company and eventually ended up having a beer with Daniel Negreanu. A couple of nights previously I’d talked Dan Harrington into visiting the 888 sponsored Voodoo Card Club to meet the local players and that had gone down a bomb with the punters. Who knows who they thought he was. I suggested to Daniel that we pop down there the following afternoon. Pro and good lad that he is, he instantly agreed. How was I supposed to know the club wasn’t open on Saturday afternoons? It got sorted anyway. We brought Neil Channing along in case anybody wanted someone to listen to. The Voodoo was packed and the two boys were a credit to themselves and the game as they were a class act. After about an hour, I suggested to Daniel that we go to Nealon’s pub around the corner for a pint. On the way, he noticed we’d lost Channing. I had to explain that the reason Mars had not yet challenged Earth to a talking contest was because they knew that as long as Neil was alive they’d have no xxxxing chance so there was nothing to worry about really. A few pints and a few stories later, we went back to the Burlington. Daniel left a full pint behind him which Eamonn Connolly took possession of and headed for the Voodoo. At the door he was told that he should know better than to bring in pints but in a moment of unexpected genius, he said it was Daniel’s pint and he was going to auction it off for charity. This worked well though there was no auction. He lost the run of himself and drank it. Oh well.
The next day was US Masters final day. There was a big turnout to watch it on the telly in the bar. Mr Helmuth joined us and gave us a very useful sports betting lesson. Marty Smyth did bookie and Phil had a couple of bets with him so he could have a sweat. Now we have all heard all the (true) stories about guys having a winning bet with a bookie on the race track only to find the bookie has legged it to the car park when the horses were at the 2 furlong pole. Phil did the reverse of this trick. He disappeared with 6 holes remaining, one of his guys won and he never showed up to collect. How this guy has won eight bracelets, I will never know.
I hung around the next afternoon to spend a very enjoyable hour or so having the craic with two grand lads, Adam and Mike, doing what passed for an interview on the 2+2 pokercast. There was a great buzz in the bar where a loud crowd was watching the final table. Then, Andy Black got coolered and the place emptied. I’ve seen Andy empty bars before but not quite like that! That was it for me too and I headed home. When I got there, I read an interview Eoghan O’Dea had done where he said getting knocked out of an EPT was no big deal as there was another one just around the corner but the Irish Open only comes around once a year. Merde.
Thursday, March 1, 2012, 1:25 PM
The WPT pushed the boat out in Venice (pun accidental I’m afraid) when it came to entertaining players with free drink and bringing the magician Dynamo along to provide the entertainment. Unfortunately, I was on good behaviour and have to be about 7 sheets to the wind before I’d consider a magician worthy of my attention, so I struck out. I found myself in the Tony G camp. He said that if Dynamo allowed him to tie him up in chains and padlocks and throw him into the canal he’d be prepared to watch any trick Dynamo wanted to perform if he escaped.
In the main event I was seated beside English stars Rupert Elder and Dave Nicholson who were tremendous craic. At one stage Dave started prattling on about a documentary he’d recently seen on the honey badger. He reckoned this creature was the most vicious creature you could come across and that even tigers backed off if one of these lads fancied nicking their dinner. I’d no reason to disbelieve him but as he’s English and we don’t trust those guys ever since we had a bad experience with the Treaty of Limerick. I checked it out on Youtube and he was right!
The next day I was playing the omaha event (there’s a clue there as to how I did in the main event) and late on had Dave and James Dempsey on my left. The banter was great but after a while I began to feel a bit like a tiger as these two fxxxing honey badgers were all over me every time I stepped out and took a nibble at a pot. I resorted to verbal warfare as this was definitely the cheaper option. All was going well and we were having a grand old time till one of the Italians asked if they were my sons! A diplomatic incident was avoided when I couldn’t find the words I was looking for in my phrase book.
The honey badgers? One bit off his own leg and the other knocked me out at the final table before wed reached the money.
Next stop was the unmissable UKIPT in The Radisson, Galway, where hospitality and craic is a way of life. There was no magician but even Dynamo would have been impressed at the alarming rate at which pints magically appeared and vanished. Not a honey badger in sight as even they regard trying to separate a Galwayman from his pint as a poor business plan. Especially during a recession.
Day 1B provided the highlight of a great weekend. A popular Irish lad decided to spend the first 5 levels in the bar with the lads who’d played Day 1A and was in flying form when he did join the tournament. When his table was broken he put his chips in his pocket, picked up his pint and announced he was taking a bathroom break (he didn’t quite use those words). The Italian floorman, whose English is perfect, told him he’d have to go to his new table first. He said ok but headed for the bathroom anyway when nobody was looking. He reappeared a few minutes later with a new pint and pulled out his chips ready for action. Then it all went off! The TD ,in the great spirit of things, did his best not to disqualify him but our man misunderstood and claimed much to the surprise and amusement of all that he didn’t understand a word the Italian had said. Despite everyone’s best efforts he talked himself into a disqualification! Security was called and passed the buck to the police (cops in Ireland are called Gardai to confuse tourists) who reluctantly arrested the player under the Mental Health Act and took him away. Two hours later he was in the Eglinton Club playing blackjack and having a beer. Only in Galway!
Fair play to Fintan and Stars for running a charity event for the excellent Positive Mental Health people, who sadly are way too busy in Ireland these days. One of the players asked why the plural of moose wasn’t meese. I don’t know, but I do know that in Galway the plural of pint is gallon.