Tuesday, October 31, 2006

EPT Event #4: somewhere in Ireland

There are reports (largely unconfirmed, and from totally unreliable sources such as poker players, journalists and government agencies) that somewhere near the Regency Airport Hotel was a large and lovely city where weak players would find the strength to raise pre-flop, idiots would learn to fold and journalists made of tin would find a heart.

I never saw this city myself and, needless to say, nor did i ever meet anyone who had been there either. But suffice to say, the Regency Hotel was awash with rumours about the place.

Some Norwegians optimistically setting off for Dublin .....

.... but failing to request the following map from reception


So highlights from the EPT Season 3 Regency Airport Hotel, Ireland event:

Highlight #1: dinner with Conrad. A perfectly lovely 90 minutes until Conrad said he really missed former PS blogger Howards Swains (now a Columbia journalism school student covering the Bronx) because they saw "eye to eye". Massive attack of jealousy. So bad I couldn't order pudding. Apparently Conrad and I only see "heart to heart". Deeply depressing. Eye-to-eye far better. Cerebral, intelligent and stimulating. Heart-to-heart is just wishy-washy nonsense. Conrad not forgiven but borrowed 50 euros off him later which he may forget about.

Highlight #2: Team Sit'n'Go featuring Simon Young, Spearmint, Sven, Neil, Daniel Wallin, Jemma, Conrad, Karen, Gregoire. Great game - played brilliantly. Daniel thinks I should have been more aggressive but he knows nothing about poker. I was Bubble Girl. Simon Young and Daniel chopped for 1st. The pair then chopped again in Team Sit'n'Go No. 2 which I did not attend. (Daniel is my current favourite man in the whole world apart from John Duthie and Richard Thompson)

Highlight #3: cigarette with John Duthie in Smoking Area 6.

Highlight #4: Snoopy from Blondepoker giving me last-minute quality insights for the final table player profiles. "He has a nice house. it has a gym" etc etc . Hilarious. Unusable.

Highlight #5: The following: Daniel Wallin (current favourite man in the whole world), Conrad Brunner, Steve from Gutshot (who offered me at the airport, in the following order: a) his shoulder to cry on; b) a Silk Cut ULtra Mild (see below)), Marc Convey, Snoopy and Chris Hall, all PokerStars people (who are truly wonderful), Jonathan Raab from Bluesquare, Neil Stoddart, Rolf Woods, Rolf Slotboom, Bjorn-Andre, Stiamo, all PokerDucks, all Norsemen, all Pro-Sharks, Mickey May.

Highlight #6: the PokerStars welcome party

Highlight #7: the effect of my new dress at the PokerStars Welcome Party on all those who had previously assumed I was a boy (everyone)

Highlight #8: beating Daniel three times in a row at backgammon

Lowlights: no Sinead. The fact that the Regency only had one cigarette machine which was never re-stocked. By the end of Day 1 (out of all the brands that spend more than £6.40 a year on advertising) we were already down to just Silk Cut and Rothmans (ie no Camels, Lucky Strike, Benson & Hedges, Marlboros etc etc.) By Day 4, just Silk Cut Ultra Mild (tautology) and Parliaments (the Lidl of cigarette brands, plenty left). The food: killed 15, retired a further 40. The prices: £4.90 for a Red Bull? are they serious???? The hot water (none).

And what have I learned from all this?

  • Take more cigarettes to events.
  • Don't let Simon Young have position in a Sit'n'Go.
  • Do not date people who live nearer to the Arctic Circle than you do: their hearts are made of ice and they will break yours.
  • And, for every cruel and callous person that you meet, there is always someone unexpectedly lovely and caring round the corner to make up for it.

    Finally, here is a picture of a lovely dog that needs a home.

  • Sunday, October 29, 2006

    PokerStars Caribbean Adventure

    As part of a complicated sponsorship deal between myself and my esteemed boss Tamar Yaniv (involving a series of half-hour nightly anti-stress massage sessions), I may well find myself heading to the Bahamas in January. Rock on, PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. Picture credit: the incomparably lovely Neil Stoddart.

    Sunday, October 22, 2006


    On Tuesday I'm heading to Dublin for the European Poker Tour Event #4. I love poker tournaments more than anything but the thing I am most looking forward to is seeing Sinead.
    Sinead was my deeply-treasured flatmate but a month ago she dumped me and went to Ireland to finish her university degree.
    Here are a few salient facts about Sinead:
  • Sinead is fantastic
  • Until she moved in with me, Sinead would lose her keys/lock herself out up to three times a week. I said I would evict her the very first time she lost her keys. In nine months, she only mislaid them once.
  • Sinead is the only person in the known universe to have been given a bar tab at Ricky's, the town disco.
  • Sinead is the last person in the world that should be allowed a bar tab at Ricky's.
  • Sinead is late for everything except work. Sinead believes that any time up to one hour after an appointed meeting time is well within accepted limits.
  • Sinead thought it would be fine to do a parachute jump in a skirt and slip-on Chinese slippers. When I asked her if she had packed some jeans, she was utterly bemused. "I'm wearing a skirt," she said. "But Sinead", I said, "you can't do a parachute jump in a skirt. For a start, it will fly up."
    "I've thought of that," she said, "it's a tight skirt."
  • Sinead doesn't really know how old she is.
  • When Sinead and I went camping in the Pyrenees, I told her to not to bring too much as I only have a Smart car. She brought her hand bag. No towel, no sleeping bag, no rucksack and certainly not the Grivel Double Spring Ice Axe I'd asked her to bring. She was wearing her normal outfit: top, skirt and slip-on Chinese slippers. The next day, when we arrived at the bottom of Mount Somethingorother for a modest hike up to the summit, Sinead could barely get out of the car park (difficult gravel). Luckily there was a bar there - she was fine.

    Sinead: Ready for anything

  • For almost a year, Sinead (happily) used a phone which had a battery life of approximately two and a half minutes. All mobile calls with Sinead ended abruptly. Sinead was actually offered a perfectly good phone over a year ago but never went to collect it. By the end of its life, Sinead's phone was just a skeleton. It had no outer covering. The space bar no longer worked; all her text messages were just one long word. It looked so disgusting that Sinead would just deny all knowledge if someone saw it lying on the table and asked whose it was. Everyone hated Sinead's phone except Sinead. When it finally died and she picked up the new phone, she refused to use it. She said she didn't want to take it out of the flat in case she lost it.
  • Sinead is a brilliant teacher; all the children at Speakeasy adored her. They called her "Xumai". They were devastated when she left.
  • Sinead once started a conversation with me as follows: "Mad, you're not going to like this, but i've been thinking about your funeral...."
  • Sinead endured hours and hours of tedious, post-Pau dumping analysis. Even when she told me it would never work (something I refused to believe, despite being dumped by him many more times than I've had spaghetti pesto (which is a lot)) and I went out with him AGAIN, she would still sit patiently through the next dumping phase as if it was all brand new.
  • In nine months living at my flat, Sinead never unpacked. The closest she got to unpacking was putting all her clothes on the floor.
  • Sinead is one of my favourite people in the whole world; I miss her a LOT.

  • Saturday, October 21, 2006

    Parties and Poker

    Party Face

    Poker Face

    Spot the difference. Correct. There isn't one.

    Monday, October 16, 2006


    I am very, very worried about Pauly. First off, he claims in his blog that he has gone on a diet and taken up running. This is so utterly out of character it's verging on psychotic.

    Secondly, he has been running a essay-writing competition on his Tao of Poker blog entitled: If you could be a Spice Girl, which one would you be and why? .... This is also worrying. For a start, it must mean Pauly can remember who the Spice Girls were. Not a good sign. Furthermore, it must mean he actually knows something about them. He now claims the competition had great philosophical purpose but he's a Yank. It's OK for Americans to talk about the Spice Girls. It's ironic. But I'm British. For us, the Spice Girls are something horribly embarrassing that happened in the 90s which we have spent ever since trying to forget. To bring them up now is just cruel and tactless. We all make mistakes. Ours was the Spice Girls.

    (For the record, I want to be Ginger Spice.)

    Sunday, October 08, 2006


    Baden snapshots or
    Report from EPT Event #3

    I am getting very fat. This is the puddings' fault. There are many of them and we must eat them all. Richard would probably die of happiness here.

    Went to a party, danced all night, drank 16 beers and started up a fight. No, I didn't actually - but they are good lyrics. Went to a party at the Hotel Sloshed. Tamar's idea. The disco/club was in a beautiful, converted stable block heaving with teenagers and random poker players pestering us for sponsorship. I was fine but then Mickey handed me a giant Tequila Sunrise and suddenly it was alle kaput. Luckily Sven was at hand to scoop me into a vehicle and get me back to the Hotel Caruso.

    The Hotel Caruso. What can I say? Deeply, deeply unlovely. The journos have dubbed our wing the prison block. I think it looks like an abandoned Crossroads set. The staff are hateful and unhelpful. Lina's room is considerably smaller than her suitcase.

    Room Envy
    I always have quite bad room envy at EPT events, but usually it's with Conrad who always seems to get a room at least two inches wider than mine or with better soft furnishings. I never ever have room envy with the TV crew. They are ALWAYS in a worse hotel, often a shit one. Not in Baden though. They have been cunning. They have been here before. They are staying at the Grand Hotel Sauerhof. It is GORGEOUS. Corfield's room is bigger than the media room. It has two sofas, a dance floor and windows opening onto a vast lawn. It is enorme.

    OB Cameraman triumphs
    Me: So, Dave, that was your first win, wasn't it?
    DC: Well, no, you know, yes, well, I mean, well, this year....
    Me: So, Dave, that was your first win, wasn't it?
    DC: Well, put that way, yes.

    Mad Von Trapp or The Hills are Alive with the Sound of My Voice
    In a rare attack of energy, I decided to take some exercise and explore the "Kurpark" - a sort of vertical Kew Gardens behind the casino. It was full of little pagodas, temples, shrines and other such nonsense but lovely trees and something i hadn't come across for a long time which I believe is known as "fresh air".

    Wednesday, October 04, 2006

    Lost in Space

    Although Pau and I can go months without seeing each other (and make every effort not to) while we are both living in the same town and his flat is only 120 yards from mine, put us anywhere overseas and we are imperatively drawn together - a bit like molecules that simply must unite or risk a hideous chemical implosion.

    So it was in Morocco where, despite ample reasons why we might miss each other - eg big country, mostly filled with desert etc etc, Pau and I managed to bump into each other on a 200-mile long beach. Or the time before that in the Pyrenees when, despite similarly good reasons why we might miss each other, we managed to collide on the snowy expanse of a moutain slope.

    There were many, many good reasons why avoiding Pau in Ibiza this weekend would have been a good idea. For a start, we haven't spoken since April and every time I do see him he breaks my heart. But I was desperate to dance and I had just been dumped again. What harm could it do? And there seemed little point in trying to avoid him. If deserts or mountains can't keep us apart, what chance was there that we'd miss each other on a tiny Mediterranean island.

    However, the truth is that it's considerably harder to find someone you're looking for at the Space closing party than it would be in the Sahara or Pyrenees. Thousands of ravers, cavernous dance halls, desperately confusing geography coupled with seriously messed-up minds make it hard to follow through any plan.

    Even if your plan is pretty concrete - eg let's meet at 9pm, by the loos, outside the Main Room - the chances of this coming off successfully are remote at best. For a start, where the loos were when you last looked is very rarely where they are now. (I am not saying that Space deliberately moves all the landmarks around while you're out the room, but how else can you explain the fact nothing is ever where it was last time you went there.)

    And even supposing that the loos have stayed in the same place, it's impossible to know how long it will take you to get there. Could be minutes, could be hours. Obviously one always sets off promptly and with good intentions but something invariably happens en route that makes you totally forget what you're up to. Sometimes you bump into someone else, and take a while to remember this isn't the person you were originally looking for. Sometimes you simply get distracted - a pretty light for example, or a whoosh effect that makes you feel like you've been caught up in a bomb blast and takes at least 30 minutes to recover from.

    Usually however it's the music. You are slowly swaying your way through, for example, the Terrace, utterly focused on reaching the loos by 9pm, when a track comes on that you simply must dance to. So you start dancing and before you know it, it's five to midnight. You then slowly remember that you had a plan, but you can't quite put a finger on what it was. So you start dancing again (just to while away the time while you try to remember) and then you set off again. When you finally get to the right place, it's no longer the right time or, even the right day. Repeat ad infinitum or until the club closes, whichever is the sooner (infinitum).

    Space is not the worst place though - that has to be Turnmills in London. Pau and I spent hours looking for someone (we think it was StuRobbie but not positive) but just ended up going round and round in circles. It was only in a moment of earth-shattering enlightenment the next day that I realised we HAD been going round and round in circles because - duh! - Turnmills is a MILL - and they're circular.

    So, back to the point, what harm could it do to meet up with Pau - breaker of my heart, vanquisher of my self-esteem, destroyer of my inner contentment?

    As it happens, none. It was fantastic. The months since we last saw each other melted away and I instantly forgave him for turning me into an emotional wasteland and costing me a small fortune in therapy fees to get over it.

    We danced all night. We danced our socks off.

    We spent several hours looking for Stu, several more forgetting that we were looking for Stu and then a few more looking for Stu again.

    We bought some drinks and did some other things I can't remember (probably dancing) and then we danced some more. It was nine hours of pure heaven.

    And yes, I realise there'll probably be heartache. But who cares? Heartache, schmartache. It was worth it.