Thursday, March 29, 2007


My favourite moment so far was the during the Welcome Party at Jimmy'z (not a cost effective place to get pissed, incidentally).

Johnny Lodden (yummeeeeeeeee!) lifted me up on to the bar and, as I wrapped my legs round his waist, a three-foot tall bouncer came rushing over. I carefully explained to him that it was ALL FINE, Johnny was with me, and there was really no need to eject him. The bouncer raised his eyebrows which is Monaguesque for: "Actually I came over to evict you." I got my coat.

Picture credit: Neil Stoddart


Owing to a technical hitch, Tori and I missed The Vision on Day 1a... reason being that Our Leader was still taking registrations and we never thought for a minute that The Vision could happen without him. I was taking no chances for Day 1b and installed myself on the rail three hours early.

There was a nasty moment when Tori tried to trick me into leaving the room to find an extra 40 chairs for players, but I was having none of it and she had to carry in the chairs on her own.

I can say it now, without any bias whatsoever: The Vision was spectacular. To the sound of Space Odyssey 2001, the lights dimmed and the giant midnight-blue curtains on the Salle des Etoiles stage slowly parted.

There, in all its glory, was The Trophy - framed by a perfect drift of sumptuous dry ice. On each boom in the music, The Trophy was illuminated AS IF FROM WITHIN!!! This was clearly the master-stroke in The Vision and Tori and I immediately keeled over with respect and appreciation.

Then, to the sound of The Blue Danube (slightly curious choice this, but best not to argue with a visionary), the even larger curtains surrounding the opposite wall of the Salle des Etoiles were inched slowly open to reveal a stunning vista. Basically the whole of Monte Carlo.

Afterwards I went to congratulate the visionary but, typically, he was rather grumpy. "Great vision, John". "It was rubbish. That lighting guy, he's fucking useless." Apparently, on the second boom of SO2001, it was the PINK lights that were supposed to come up.. and then, on the third boom, the PokerStars logo was supposed to get a flash. I thought it was fab (nearly cried actually) but there's no pleasing some people.

Picture credit: David Lloyd

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

EPT Grand Final - slumming it in Monte Carlo

The EPT Grand Final is set to smash all records for a poker tournament in Europe, or indeed anywhere outside the USA. The first record - and it's a toughie - is that I am already the most excited I have ever been before a poker tournament anywhere outside Las Vegas, apart from Poland last week which was VERY exciting, and Baden (because of the food) and also last year's Hold'em 100 (because I thought I might cash).

The other records that the EPT Season 3 Grand Final is about to blast into smithereens are as follows:

  • Biggest prize pool - over 6 million euros, but I prefer to translate this into Polish Zloty and it comes to exactly 23,217,164.
  • Biggest top prize outside the USA - over 1.6 million euros
  • Most glamorous location (apart from the Holy Innocents Church Hall, Hammersmith where we held the Hold'em100 in 2000 and 2001)
  • Most excited anyone has ever seen John Duthie (including both when he won the Poker Million six years ago and also when he thought his plastic horse might come in before mine at the Sun Casino last night)

    Below is an image of Our Leader, explaining his "vision" for the opening ceremony to Simon Young. John has just got to the bit about the trapeze artists abseiling down from the ceiling of the Salle des Etoiles to sprinkle rare orchid blossoms on the players.

    Let's not forget that John thought this whole thing up in the bath. Not just the orchid blossoms, the whole European Poker Tour. More than 650 players, 200 journalists and 25 pickpockets are here just because of him. Nice.

    However, EPTs are expensive and costs had to be cut somewhere. Conrad, Sven and Tamar selflessly opted out of the helicopter ride into Monaco and took the bus instead.

    The Welcome Party starts in two hours, ten minutes and although I spent Saturday wrapped in seaweed at the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort Spa, it hasn't really diminished my waistline quite as much as I'd hoped. I am therefore going to spend this time doing sit-ups.

    Party report to follow.....and in case, for some technical reason, I am unable to file a report, check out Brad Willis and Simon Young's PokerStars blog

  • What Grand Final?!!

    Things might be hotting up in Monte Carlo for the EPT Grand Final, but the event that people are REALLY getting excited about is the 2nd Annual Sitges Open Poker Tournament. With stars like the Honduran Hamster lined up to play, the event is set to smash all records for a Sitges poker tournament or, indeed, any event ever held in the Garraf region!!

    Sadly "Punchy" Paterson (right) won't be there in a bid to clinch the 2007 title this year (he is heading south to visit Mummy and Daddy in Andalucia) but with a strong field comprising players such as "Paddy155", "Pottymouth" Wyatt and Travis B Miller, it promises to be a very exciting event - with 20% of the buy-ins going straight to the Ave Maria Foundation.

    The Sitges Open takes place April 15, at 3pm. Full details available from the Honduran Hamster aka Richard. See you there.

    Saturday, March 17, 2007

    Don't Mention The

    It's been an exhausting two weeks. With one tournament in Germany followed almost immediately by the EPT Polish Open, the massive effort required by all has taken its toll. But we've nearly done it. We have nearly managed to get through the whole thing without mentioning the ...

    Of course it's been a team effort. Troops piled in to help when EPT blogger Simon Young, at the end of his strength and unable to fight any longer, tried to write a paragraph about the French resistance falling as the last Parisian bit the dust in Dortmund. We all worked hard to expand our German vocabulary as we chastened slack waiters for not bringing the drinks fast enough in the Hohensyburg casino.

    And everyone pulled together to stymie tactless quips about invasions and pincer movements as we trudged towards the Eastern Front last Monday .... it's been hard but we've done it. We've nearly got through the whole thing with mentioning the ...

    Of course, it's been harder for some than others. Tori Coxon thought we weren't allowed to mention any wars at all - and visibly blanched when I brought up the Falklands. And in Warsaw, it's almost impossible not to mention the... if you head for the city's Old Town - faithfully, movingly and quite spectacularly rebuilt from scratch after being utterly destroyed in the ..

    Plus it was so hard not to feel touched as we saw the happy faces of the Poles as we arrived at the Hyatt Regency en masse at the start of the week. Starved of decent poker for years, liberated at last from the boredom and drudgery of endless flops, turn cards and rivers, they were visibly stirred by the spectacular and sometime reckless bravery of the liberating forces. All-ins every hand, swift retributions for bluffs and weak play, it was clear we - and particular the Scandinavian para-divisions - were a welcome force.

    But as we head into the Final Day, we can feel proud .. not only have we taken the Polish capital by storm, we have done it without a single moment of tactlessness.