Poker With a Smile

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They ran out of commentators at the recent UK Open, so they phoned me. I wasn’t sure that going to commentate on these events was the best thing I could be doing, especially when my bar bill was sure to be as big as the wages.


But what a week it turned out to be. Jonny Natas, Andy Pyrah, and their respective crews from PacificPoker and Matchroom went out of their way to make sure that everybody was really well looked after, and this created an atmosphere both in the studio and the hotel that was the best I’ve experienced in poker over the last few years. After filming every day, everyone returned to the Marriott hotel. Inasmuch as I wasn’t there from the start, I wasn’t quite sure what the rules were, but I quickly worked out that going to bed before 5 a.m. would have been considered very bad form.


What made this event a privilege to attend? Well, the boys from Belfast, Darren Brown and the lads, were running nonstop £10 and £20 sit and gos in the bar, which kept going for about two or three weeks, even the week after the guys had gone home to Belfast. Pros, online qualifiers, celebrity sports stars, Mad Marty Wilson, dealers, and members of the TV crew all mucked in and took part in these hotly contested events, which were played in a superb atmosphere. Some of the pros, like Gary Jones, showed a tremendous amount of class in both playing with the amateurs and winning four in a row. Some of them showed class like me and lost 70 quid on the whole thing.


I also met snooker champion turned poker player Matthew Stevens, who finally won the event, and had a hilarious time in his company. At midnight on the night before the final, he told me he thought he might win. At 2 a.m., he said he was pretty sure, and at 5:15 in the morning, when I was getting my cab to the airport, he said it was a blinding certainty.


Poker has become so big and star-ridden these days that sometimes I forget why I started playing the game. It took a week with guys who were playing for the sheer love of the game, and all the laughter associated with it, to remind me why I got involved in the first place. I strongly advise anybody to try to qualify online for this event next year. If it’s half as good as it was this year, it’s a must.


Bid for Irish Captaincy

Englishman Kevin O’Connell has long been an honorary member of the traveling Irish poker team. He qualifies on several grounds; he can drink more whiskey than all of the representatives of some other countries put together, and he makes a complete idiot out of himself as well as or better than the best of the Irish — consistently, and that’s what is required. Kevin recently made his bid for the captaincy by getting involved in an extraordinary sequence of events regarding the EPT Scandinavian Open in Copenhagen. I first told him about judi poker mogeqq event in the bar of Bellagio last December. Kevin was delighted. In fact, most people who had drank as much as Kevin had at the time would have been delighted about just about anything, and amazingly, he grasped quite a bit of the information he’d been given. The next day, Kevin told several Swedish players that he was going to Stockholm. The Swedes were delighted to hear that there was going to be a great event in their hometown that they hadn’t yet heard of, and all promised to meet Kevin there. On his return to the UK, Kevin decided to be efficient for once, so he booked flights for himself and his loved one on the appropriate dates. He duly received the tickets in the post and promptly lost them. In the meantime, he discovered that Stockholm was some distance from Copenhagen, where the event was actually taking place, but he had now run into a slight problem, because he couldn’t remember the travel agent that he booked the tickets through.


This story is not as surprising as it might seem to some people, because when EPT boss John Duthie told Kevin that there was going to be an EPT event in Deauville, Kevin told several people, including myself, that Duthie was going to stage the first major tournament ever held in Dover. He seemed to think that this could get him an honorary captaincy for life, and it’s surely worthy of consideration, but I’m sure that somebody will top it in the not too distant future.


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