Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year 2007!

What a Christmas!

Thank g-d it's all over for another bluddy year. Spent most of it in bed. No. Not with a hangover. Viral infection. That's what the quack says. Anyway.

And it's not funny. Let me tell you. I've been at death's door for the best part of 2 weeks.

But here I am!

Though. To tell the truth. I'm not right. Even now. Not really. Still coughing a lot. And my ears keep clicking. But. Hopefully. I'll be well enough to go back into work on Tuesday. That's the plan. And. yet. You know. I gotta admit. There were times when old Phil Diamond actually wondered if he was gonna make it through at all.

But. You see. Even down there. Even in the darkest depths. Something in me made me fight back. You know. And I mentally decided. I couldn't just lie there and give-in. Phil. I said. You can't just give in. You are the Diamond. And you can't let the people down. Especially at this important time of the year.

And so it is that the Diamond Man has bravely risen from his sick bed to bring you his New Year message.

But. What shall I write about? I wondered, in between bouts of high fever and delirium. I've done nothing for days. But. Then. I thought. What could be more appropriate than a list of my latest New Year Resolutions. I've had plenty of time to think about them - lying as I was - so close to death. It focusses the mind. You know? On the really important things in life.

So. Here they are. In no particular order...

Phil Diamond's New Year’s Resolutions

I will give up making big pre-flop raises with small pocket pairs
I will give up making big pre-flop raises with medium pocket pairs
I will give up making big pre-flop raises with A-K, A-Q A-J, A-10…
I will give up…

… making continuation bets when there’s an ace on the board and I haven’t got one.

… over-betting top-pair - when top-pair is 6-6 or lower.

… representing the ace (I haven’t got) with a raise, after the other guy has already made that move.

… going all-in with an up-and-down straight draw.
… going all-in with the wrong end of a straight draw.
… going all-in on a flush draw.
… going all-in with jacks.
… going all-in with queens.
… going all-in with kings.
… going all-in with aces.
… in fact, going all-in with anything less than quads.

… calling an all-in with top pair – especially when there is a 2 on the board, or when there are three, black suited-cards on the board and mine are both red.

… offering free advice to the guy next to me on how he might have played that last hand better and saved himself several thousand chips – especially if I was the one who won the hand in question. Even though such advice is given freely and with the sole intention of helping my fellow players improve their understanding of the game, I have generally found that ‘tapping the side of the aquarium’ (as they say) is rarely greeted with gratitude by the minnows inside. And, come to think of it, we serious players need all the krill we can get to swell the prize pool with their dead money.

... reading Card Player magazine during the early stages of a tournament. I can’t see the problem, but I have overheard, well, shall we say, some unflattering comments on the subject.

… trying to get my chips back from the guy who has just taken most them from me with a terrible bad-beat on the river, by re-raising his latest raise with 8-2 suited.

… bearing personal and lasting grudges against anyone who decimates my stack by catching his one and only out on the river.

… swearing out loud during a live game - under any circumstances.

… saying ‘yes’ when asked if I will agree to show my cards, if the other guy agrees to fold, only to find that he has now taken that to be a sign of weakness and has decided instead to call my all-in when I had really rather hoped that he didn’t - and facing the consequential humiliation of having to lay my modest cards on their backs for all the world to see.

… jumping out of my chair, whooping, dancing and proclaiming that ‘I AM THE GREATEST’, after coming from a mile behind, hitting a miracle full-house on the river, taking down a massive pot and knocking-out the very nice lady out of the tourney.

… mucking my cards with such disgust and vigour that one is exposed before leaving the table completely, while the other flies up and hits the dealer in the face

… jumping suddenly up from my seat and simultaneously knocking-over three drinks tables and seventeen fully charged glasses – replacement cost the best part of forty quid – and being told to ‘sit down and shut up you a-hole.’

… eating two whole packs of custard creams at 4.30 in the morning

… saying ‘sorry’ in a cash game to the guy I’ve just rivered to take down a £700 pot. It has been my experience that such apologies are rarely accepted with good grace.

Give up smoking?
Cut down on the drinking?

Leave it out!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Look! You fools! You’re in danger! Can’t you see? They’re after you! They’re after all of us! Our wives…our children…they’re here already! You’re next!

Move over Neil Channing – make way for Phil Bad Beat Diamond

I can’t bluddy believe it. You wouldn’t believe it. I mean. You really wouldn’t bluddy believe it. Get your chips in when you’ve got the best hand. That’s what the Lobster tells me. But bluddy hell. Talk about bad beats. No. Please. Don’t talk to me about bad beats.

I mean. Last night. Right. I’m in the £10 Rebuy at the Big Slick. Right. First hour doing nicely – thanks very much. A-10 makes 2-pair with A on the turn and a 10 on the river - pays out handsomely. (The other bloke didn’t look too impressed – I gotta say. Still.) Very nice all the same. Then I get a nice pocket pair of Aces. Early position. Decide to limp in. Angelo, on the Button, shoves it all in with a pair of sixes. AA holds up. Luvvly Jubbly. So. Nearly 6,000 chips and no rebuys. Hunky-Dory.

So. I’m saying to myself. Don’t get involved Phil. No need to get involved. Pay your blinds. Ride it out. Do your add-on at the break. Look at the bigger picture. Do NOT get involved – not unless you’ve got the absolute nuts.

Yeah. Well. Right. Like. Why can’t I ever listen to my own advice. I mean. I write columns on the game – for Chr’st sake. You know - in the blog and the forum and on the web site. I’m regularly dishing out tip-top advice to beginners as well as to the more experienced players who want to sharpen-up on the finer points. You know. The seemingly small, yet all-important little insights on the game that give us serious players that vital edge over the rest of the pack. And all for free.

And yet when it comes to me – why is it I can’t I ever listen to my own good advice?

Anyway. To cut a long story sideways – listen to this for a list of horrible beats. KK beaten by 22. Ok. Ok. I know I shouldn’t have slow-played them. But I’m in early position. I want to get full value. Anyway. Flop comes 2-4-4.

And this is when my poker brain says to me. WARNING! I’m looking across at Angelo who is in this pot. I’m not so concerned about the others. They’re all playing Ax, KQ, KJ - anything with the lettter A or a bit of paint on it. But 2-4-4. That’s just the sort of flop a mutant ninja turtle loves.

But this is the maddening thing about it. Although the finely-honed, working part of my poker brain is advising CAUTION! – I find that I have suddenly lost bodily control over my limbs. I can see my hands reaching for my chips. I try to stop them, but they do not respond. It’s like the two kings in front of me are actually a pair body-snatching aliens in desguise. You know. Like in the film. And now they’ve taken me over. And drained me of all free will. And they are forcing me to push my entire stack into the middle. And there’s nothing I can do about it.

And on there backs, I stare in terror at the set of twos sent down to planet Earth to vaporize my chips.

The earthling's stack must be destroyed. Exterminate. ExterminateAaaaaaaah!!

Yeah. Then after that. I’ve got the rest of my chips in with the nuts flush – only to lose it on the river to a full house.

So. Now, I’m having to rebuy. £10 for 1,000 chips. There’s only 15 minutes left before the break. I get J-J and shove my solitary green chip in and get a dozen callers. First card up – Jack! But then four diamonds fall and my set loses to a flush. Gary laughs. Bad luck – Phil. Poker – eh? What a game.

Yeah. Right. Thanks, Gary.

Another rebuy. A-10. Shove it in. Beaten by an 8. Another rebuy. A-9 suited. Shove it in. Beaten – by something – can’t remember. Anyhow. Last hand. Another rebuy. Q-8off. Shove it in. Don’t ask.

It’s the break. £30 will buy you 4,000 chips – Mayo kindly informs me. My shaking fingers reach into empty pockets. Cleaned-out. Lend us 30 quid, Gary. Cheers mate. I’ll pay you straight back.

No worries, Phil.

Break – beer – smoke outside. Chat with Jamie and Mary-Ann for a while. Very, very nice people. Very understanding too. Sympathetically shaking their heads, as I take them meticulously through every hand. Then Big-Bad-Dave joins us. He looks different. But it takes a minute before I realise he’s wearing glasses.

Dave. I say. You’re wearing glasses. Yes. Says Dave. Funny. I say. Glasses usually make people look more intelligent. Yeah. All right. Take the p’ss, then.


Back after the break. I need to get a move on. Obviously. Anyway. First hand up. 10 -10. A few limpers. I raise it up. Make it 1,200 to go. Everyone folds, but one. Flop comes J-J-Q. He’s all-in like a flash. I know I’m done for. Have to fold.

Next hand. A-8 suited - I think? To be honest, I can’t clearly remember. Almost past caring. Anyway someone makes a raise. Then Gary re-raises. Makes it 2,000 to go. I’ve only got 2,200 – something like that. So, I think. F-ck it and shove it all in. Don’t ask.

Grab another beer and go outside. No one out there. Jack Jones. Bluddy cold. Drizzle. Pull hard. A few swigs. Skuttle back into the warm – see if there’s any cash action. ‘Course there is.

I’m sitting down with Angelo, Dave-Glasses, Ahmed, Steve, Casper, Ben and some other bloke. The action is hot. And I’m about to get burned.

Be careful what you wish for. That’s what my Auntie Doris used to say – G-d love her. Though at the time I never really understood what she meant by it. I was only little then and of course I wanted what I wished for. Be careful what you wish for? It sounded like something out of The Water Babies. You know. The sort of thing Mrs-Do-As-You-Would-Be-Done-By might have said.

Now, of course, I’m a lot older and (like many a poker player, I would venture to say) I have come to understand its meaning only too well.

We’re playing £2 – £2 optional £5. J-9 spades. Limp. Flop comes 4d – 10s – Qs. Dave-Glasses is first to act - asks - How much goes? 40-odd quid. I decide to flat call. Turn comes Jc. Dave-Glasses checks. He’s got the Q, I’m thinking – but then why doesn’t he bet. Then I’m thinking – he’s only got the 10 – that’s why he didn’t bet. But then I know Dave-Glasses likes to play Jacks. F-ck – he’s got Q-J or J-10. I’m well behind. But then wouldn’t he fear the flush draw and not want to give me a free card? To be honest, I don’t know what to think. Except, I think I’m in trouble. I check. K or 8 on the river will give me the straight. A spade and I’ve got the flush.

Make it a spade – G-d. I pray. Make it a spade.

And guess what? The omnipotent-one duly delivers and the 4s comes on the river. Get me paid – I’m thinking, till Dave-Glasses asks - How much goes - and sticks in over £150. I swallow hard. You see. Over the past few years the good Lord and I haven’t exactly seen eye-to-eye on a number of things. Maybe that 4 has helped Dave-Glasses? Yeah. Maybe, it’s given him trips 4. But. That’s ok. I’ve got the flush. I have to call. Maybe G-d has forgiven me. Giving me another chance. And Dave-Glasses’ trips 4? Well, they're dead meat. Right?


I’ve got the house, says Dave-Glasses – never one to slow roll you. He shows 10 – 4.

Procol Harem is playing in my head…

The sky began to tremble
Rain began to fall
There were four angels standing round me
And it weren’t no social call
Fell down on my knees praying Lord
But it didn’t do no good at all

Oh, Auntie! Why didn’t I listen?

Friday, December 15, 2006

Season's Grettings

So here it is Merry Christmas
Everybody's having fun
Look to the future now
It's only just begun...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Pocket Rockets!

Here's one for you...

It's Friday night at The Big Slick and the place is rocking. You've made it to the final table and now you're down to the last five. The first prize is a very handy £1,300.

POSITION: Under the gun
BLINDS: 2k-4k
GAME: £10 rebuy Friday 13th November
YOUR CHIPS: 35,000

Under the gun, you find pocket rockets. Bear in mind, you've had a few and it's very late - and that's after a long week in the office spent driving the Surrey property market forward. Reasonably well stacked, you decide not to slow play it and make it 10,000 to go. Everyone folds round to the SB who pushes all-in without hesitation. BB thinks for about a second and pushes in his stack too. Both have more chips than you. So, if you get it wrong - it's curtains. On the other hand, if your aces stand-up - you will be chip leader.

So, tell me punk - are you feeling lucky?

What should you do?



Pocket Rockets - probably the most over-played hand in poker. Ask yourself how many times have you had them busted? And chances are you had you whole stack riding on them. Right? Now ask yourself - how many times have you busted out with a rubbish hand?

As it happens, this is a position I actually found myself in a few weeks ago. So, to be fair, I had the drop on you on this one. At the time, I called all-in.

SB showed A6.

BB showed 88.

Flop came three blanks. Turn blank. River - 8.

Like I said, it's Friday 13th.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Friday Night £10 Rebuy at The Big Slick, Purley

Walk that walk
Talk that talk
Angel in the leather jacket
Rock, rock, rock with me

R... oll with me
We gotta move until we reach the top
Ro... o... o... oll with me
You know you're never, never, never, ever gonna wonna stop!

Yo! Just taken down three straight online tournaments. That's right. The Diamond-Man is hot and it's Friday night. There's money in my pocket and rock-and-roll in my soul! Get Down!

So, with the daily grind and the nightmare drive home from work behind me, it's: cheroot, shave, shampoo, a couple of liveners out the fridge - and up to The Big Slick, Purley for some live poker action!

A peep through the window tells me it’s still raining. So, it’s on with the leather coat and a brisk walk to the car. It’s a bit of a way, unfortunately. But I’ve had to stop parking right outside ever since I had that run in that night with the bloke in the flats opposite. You know, I still find myself looking over my shoulder, till I’m safely round the corner. Bastard.

Anyway. I find the beamer safely where I left her. Except, someone’s stuck a note under the wiper. I grab it and get in out of the rain. A lot of the writing’s smudged. But from what I can make out, it seems that someone doesn’t want me to park here again. F-cking people. Who do they f-cking think they are? I screw-up the note up, wind down the window and chuck it out with contempt – just as a cyclist is going past.

Sorry mate!

F-cking idiot! He shouts back. Sorry, I repeat. Fortunately, he manages to regain his balance and rides on, shouting something. I dunno.

Wind-up the window. Blow hard. And f-ck you too, mate, I say, as he turns the corner out of sight. You big ponce in your stupid f-cking poncey hat and stupid poncey tights.

F-ck it. Start the engine. Let’s get out of here! Step on the gas and wipe that tear away. Let’s put on some sounds. Have a smoke.

Hey! What is it with people and cars and stuff? The minute they get behind the wheel of a car, otherwise sane people turn into psychos. It’s like everyone’s living in some sort fantasy world where they think they're Tom Cruise or Jeremy Clarkson or something. Or the next winner of the bluddy Tour de France.

Take tonight. On the M25…

Well. Yeah. You see. I’ve been working at the Woking office lately. But not for much longer. I don’t think. Not after today. No sense of humour some people. Why the new girl had to make so much fuss. What’s her name? Beverley. Yeah. Why Beverley had to go and tell Norman for f-ck’s sake. It was only a joke. Anyway. Norman said he couldn’t see the funny side of it. And Cheryl is very upset, he said. I’m afraid, this is going to result in a written warning, he said. That will go on your file.

Why’s everyone always picking on me? I said. No one’s picking on you, he said. Yes they are, I said. And they bluddy are. Anything goes wrong. Guess who always gets the blame for it. That’s right. Joe bluddy muggings here. You’re being paranoid, said Norman. Yeah. Well, maybe if people weren’t always picking on me, I wouldn’t be so paranoid, I tell him.

Anyway. To be honest. I’ll be glad to transfer back to the South Croydon office. I’m sick of Woking. And I’ve had enough of driving up and down the M–bluddy-25 every day.

Yeah. So, as I was saying. Tonight. On the M25. I’m in the fast lane – doing 50-60. Right? I can’t go any faster. There’s a dirty great queue of traffic ahead of me – as per usual. So, I drop back a bit, as the weather’s bad. Give myself a little bit a breaking distance. You know?

Anyway. This big, black merc comes up behind me. Driving right on my bumper. In the mirror, I can see it’s some fat old geezer with his missus sitting next to him. And I’m thinking. Can’t he see the traffic ahead. I’m mean. There’s nowhere to go.

Next thing – he’s flashing his headlights at me. For f’cks sake. What am I supposed to do? Slow down and pull over. Just so that he can drive up the –rse of the next bloke.

So. F’ck it. I stick two fingers up.

But he keeps on flashing. Bluddy idiot. Bluddy dangerous, I’m thinking. Driving so close. This time I wave an arm at him. Signalling for him to overtake me on the inside. Go on, mate. Overtake me on the inside, I’m shouting. You sad impatient selfish fat old f-cker.

Anyway. Next thing. He’s doing just that. He moves into the next lane and pulls up alongside me. Winds the window down and stares at me. Doesn’t mouth anything - just stares at me. And he’s not an old bloke as I thought. He’s about 35-40, I’d say. And he looks big. Big and well-hard-looking. Wearing a dark suit. Tie.

To be honest, he looks a bit like Joe Pesci. The gangster. Only bigger. Sh-t!

I stare back. Trying to look cool. Unfazed. But really I’m thinking… f-ck. I wish I was wearing my shades. And I’m hoping to Chr-st he’ll soon drive on. Go ahead mate, I’m thinking. Be my guest. You’re obviously in hurry. But he doesn’t. He just stares.

Now. And this might seem strange. But. Instinctively. I find myself drawing on my experiences of other such moments of crisis. Like in poker. Like when you’ve just stuck in a big raise when all you’ve hit is bottom pair. And Casper’s eyes are looking you up and down, while he decides whether or not to go over the top.

Ever had that? Scary. Right? I mean, Casper’s eyes are like… well… you know that scene in Get Shorty when Danny De Vito is practising pulling faces, like he’s the mob boss… well, like that.

And the trouble is. Everytime I’ve ever tried to make a move on Casper, he’s always sussed me out and gone right over the top of me. So. Deep inside I know the guy in the merc’s not buying any of it either.

Anyway. At long last, he drives on. Thank f-ck. Except, now I’m thinking... suppose he really is a gangster. What if he’s taken down my reg number. Luckily, we’re almost at my exit. Let’s hope he’s going on. Except that - just after I start indicating left and pulling into the slow lanes - he starts doing the same. Sh-t. What if he’s following me – from in front – you know. Sh-t.
But. When we get to the M23 - he goes south – and I go north. Thank f-ck for that.

Anyway. That was earlier. And now it's Friday night. Boogey time. And we’re here. Brighton Road. The roundabout. Up the ramp. F-ck. I hit that big hole by the entrance again. Keep forgetting it's there. They should do something about it.

I park the wheels in the roof-top car park. Then it's quickly down the concrete stairs to the courtyard entrance, where a crowd of smokers huddle under the overhang close to the wall. The usual suspects - plus a few new faces. The weather's grim, but like true lovers, a few drops of rain aren't going to keep them from their passion. I know that feeling. And I'll be joining them in a minute - just as soon as I've registered for the tourney and got myself a beer.

Inside, it's warm, dry, bright, music, lively chatter. At reception, the ever-georgeous Ashleigh smiles her smile. Hi Ashleigh, I hail. Hi Phil, she beams. How many runners, I ask. Over seventy, I think, she says. Cool! Should be fun - and a nice prize for the winner.

Warren puts my name down and takes my tenner. The lovely Edina lifts the top of a nice, cold San Miguel.

After a long, hard week spent driving Surrey’s property market forward, man, it's good just to chill. Take it down a couple of notches. You know.

Mustang Sally, now baby. Think you'd better slow your mustang down.

Those immortal, incomprehensible and yet strangely apt words of advice are circling overhead. Perfect. My lips just touch the glass. A dry throat anticipates the impending rush of joyous refreshment. And I'm thinking - Phil - it doesn't get much better than this.


Uh? Phil! I look round. Then up. It's Big-Bad-Dave. All seven foot of him. Yo! Dave. How's it hanging? Yeah, ok. Beer? Yeah, cheers mate. Corona? Yeah, cheers. How's you luck? Yeah, all right.

And two San Miguels and a Henry Wintermans half corona later - I get card for seat 6 Caesar’s Palace...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Verbals In The Poker Chat Room


The Diamond here. How's it hanging.

Sorry to say. I seem to have been getting a bit behind with the old blog, recently. To tell the truth, it's not the only thing I've been getting behind with, of late. I don't know what it is. But I just don't feel right at the moment. Know what I mean?

I dunno. I just don't seem to want to get out of bed in the mornings these days. It's like I'm listless, you know? Permanently knackered. Same thing everyday. Wake up all achey. Mouth tastes like dirt. Blinding headache. Can't work out what's causing it? And can't seem to shake it off.

Anyway. As I'm not feeling on top form, last night, I decide to play in a low stakes ($5) 30 seat multi-table online tourney. I'm watching ‘The Sting’ at the same time.

Great movie! That scene on the train when grifter (con-artist) Henry Gondorph (Paul Newman) turns up late for the poker game pretending to be drunk and intent on relieving mobster Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw) of all his money is, in the humble opinion of yours truly, the best Hollywood depiction of a poker game ever made.

The way Gondorph winds up his opponent is an object lesson to those guys you meet all too often at the poker tables these days. You know. The ones with the verbals - all the poker-jive-bunny. They certainly seem to be on the increase.

Alright. We all know why they do it. P'ss the guy off. Get him on tilt – take his money. It’s as simple as that. If you do it right and find the right customer.

I suppose, it's a bit like sledging in cricket, when you think about it. Afterall. Who are the best sledgers? Answer: the ozzies. Who wins the most test matches? Answer: the ozzies. Maybe, I should try it some time. But, then again, it's not really in my nature. I like to enjoy my poker. Know what I mean?

Anyway. Back to the $5 MTT. As it’s only a small stake affair, I allow myself the luxury of playing much looser than is my usual modus operandi.

And, d’you know what? In no time at all, I’m chip leader. I’m playing all sorts of hands and hitting nearly every time! And, of course, no one’s got a clue what I’m holding. And I'm taking down pots and knocking out players all over the place. Sweet!

Very soon, I’ve got over 6,000 chips, while the average is about - I dunno - under 1,500? Anyway. Talking, as we were, about sledging or verbals, as you might say. Here’s the hand that causes all the trouble.

Blinds are 25/50. Something like that. I'm in the big blind. Cards are dealt. Pass. Pass. Then someone named jackiehammer on 1,200 chips raises it up to 150 – 3 times the blind – yeah? Then it’s all pass till its gets round to me.

So, I'm looking down at AK suited (hearts as it happens). Anyway. I'm dwelling for a bit and then I’m thinking. Ok. What’s she got? AK. AQ. Pair? Maybe even J10suited.

Well, the worst way – she’s got AA or KK – something like that. In which case I could find myself well strangled. On the other hand, if she’s got AQ, AJ or Ace-anything – and believe me some of these low-stakes players play A6 like it’s the crown jewells or something – well I’m in reasonably good shape. And if, as I suspect, she’s got a medium pair, 1010, 99,88,77, something like that – well, I’ve 2 over cards.

So, this is my reasoning. I’ve got over 6,000 chips. If I shove it all in – she may just fold. If she calls and it goes wrong? Well, it won’t be the end of the world. But if she calls and my AK takes the pot – then I am really in the comfy chair and well on my way to the cash.

So. In it all goes. And it’s back to jackiehammer. She calls like a shot. On their backs. She’s got JJ versus my AK. Board comes. Blank. King. Blank. Ace. Blank. Two-pair. Thank you very much. Luvvly-jubbly!

Well. then it kicks-off.

All of a sudden, I’m getting the verbal abuse. In the chat box. It’s filling up with blue text. You know.

(obs) doesnt anyone want to play poker anymore?

That kind of thing. I can’t remember all of it, but believe me, she’s gone right into one.

Then she says: (obs) all anyone ever wants to do is gamble.

So, for fun, I type in: yeah. damn right!

Only that was a mistake. ‘Cos now she’s ranting: (obs) what kind of a play was that moron? She says: (obs) putting it all in with king high.

Well. Not very nice. Is it? Being called a moron. So, I say: you’re the expert. you explain it.

Next thing she’s challanging me to play her heads-up for $50. She’ll show me!

Wow! I’m thinking. $50 whole dollars. Life-changing. How old is this woman? 15? Anyway, while this is all going on, I am still trying to play the tournament. So, I respectfully decline her offer, explaining that I’ve still got chips on the table. A lot of which used to be hers.

I know. I shouldn't have said that. But she is really getting on my nerves by now. And she did call me a moron. Anyway. That last remark of mine seems to have tipped her right over the edge. Just keeps going on and on. Challenging me. Lots more blue text. I mean - it's streaming down the little box. Well. I say streaming. It's more like the bl''dy Niagara than a stream.

And now some of the others in the game are chipping in with their advice that she should ‘grow-up and go-away’. Stuff like that. Well. Maybe a bit stronger than that. You know. (Funny how you can find yourself getting drawn into these things, isn't it? Despite your better judgement). But none of it is doing any good. She's not listening to anything they've got to say. It's me she's after.

So. why don't you go and find another game? I helpfully suggest. But the lady will not be persuaded. Instead she's saying that I’m too scared to play her.

Then she starts saying: (obs) admit you’re too scared to play me and then I’ll go. She types it over and over. No really. Freaky. Like some cheap scarey movie, or something. I decide to ignore her. Play my game. But still it goes on.

(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me

Well. To tell the truth. It’s getting a bit embarrassing. It’s spoiling the game for everybody. And I feel responsible. She really is getting on everyone's t'ts. But, on the other hand, there is a point of honour here. It’s not nice to be told you’re a coward. That you are a moron. And that you are a hopeless loser. I mean. What would you do?

Well. why dont you just fo saddo? I finally snap. I know. I shouldn’t have sworn. Well. I didn't actually swear. Spell it out, as such. Just. You know. fo

But, still it goes on.

(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me

(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me
(obs) admit you’re too scared to play me

Well. It's a bl''dy nightmare. I can tell you. I've got to do something to stop it. So. In the end I say:


you're right.

i’m too scared to play you.

now fo.

And then, after a moment's pause, she types in: (obs) ok. I’m foing.

Nice touch that. foing. Anyway. That. Thank G'd. Is it. She's gone. And I let out a bl''dy great sigh of relief. Now, at least we can get on with the game.

Well. As it happens. I go on and win the whole thing and pick up the $50 first prize. Not a fortune. Obviously. But satisfying none-the-less. Except that it isn't somehow.

I close down the now empty, forlorn-looking table.

gg The last guys types in. But I don't respond. My mind's elsewhere. I get up and stretch my legs for a bit. Open another beer. Have a smoke. The film's ended. I hadn't even noticed. I think about putting on another. Maybe. I dunno. Put on some music. I think about playing another game. But I don't. I suppose, the unpleasantness has taken the shine off it a bit. Well, to be really honest, the whole thing has unnerved me a little bit.

I know it sounds stupid. And I know no one knows who you are online. But. I dunno. I suppose it's spooked me out. And there was that case in the news this week. About the two blokes who paid this other bloke’s house a visit - carrying pick-axe handles - after a verbal altercation in an online chat room.

I've just got this sort of creepy feeling that maybe, if I go to another table, she will somehow track me down. You know. Stalk me, kind of thing. I just can’t stop thinking about that scene near the end of Fatal Attraction when Glenn Close’s head slowly rises back up out of the bath water.

You know?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Hats Off To Charlie

Just imagine it. You take your new bride off on a romantic holiday in a far flung place. No doubt, after letting her buy herself a whole wardrobe of new clothes for the trip. Then you take her to dinner with the President of that country. And, in between sherries, you save a man’s life.

Bluddy hell! No wonder the guy’s an absolute chick-pulling machine!

Alright. He is a bit of a… well… it’s hard to pick the right term… what shall I say… wally? But then again, he does have loads of dosh, a nice big house or two, flash cars… he speaks nicely… and er... oh yeah… just happens to be heir to the throne.

And, to be fair, while he’s getting laid, something really good has come out of it. A man who’s been banged-up for 18 years in some hell-hole is saved from the gallows and gets sent home with a pat on the head.

I don’t suppose we’ll ever know the full story of what really happened, but when you look at the picture of the guy as he was when he went out there all those years ago and see that young, innocent face – it’s hard to believe you’re looking at murderer.

So, it’s hats off to you Charlie, I say.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Play Poker Like the Pros

Play Poker Like the Pros - - Reviewed by Phil Diamond

In poker you never stop learning. Even the greats of the game will tell you this. The Top 10 ways of doing this are probably:

1. listening to other players talk about their bad beats
2. listening to players at your table telling you how you should have played that last hand
3. playing for play-money online
4. playing in low-stakes tournaments online
5. playing in low-stakes cash games online
6. playing in live tournaments
7. doing your absolute b’ll’x in live cash games
8. reading poker magazine articles
9. reading blogs
10. reading books written by experts

Which is the best? Who’s to say. But having tried methods 1-9, I recently decided to tackle method no.10 on the list – reading books written by experts. And maybe some of it has sunk in. There certainly seems to have been an improvement in my tournament results. Notably, my recent successes in some quite big tournaments at The Big Slick in Purley, near Croydon, including a £1,088 win in the Sunday evening £50 semi-freezeout. (Don’t worry. I’ll soon be writing a blog about this win - which had some very interesting moments in it - for all my readers to enjoy.)

Anyway. Back to ‘reading books written by experts’.

The two I’ve tried so far are ‘Super System 2’ by Doyle Brunson (still quite a way to go on that one) and the one I’m featuring in this review – ‘Play Poker Like the Pros’ by Phil Hellmuth Jr.

A quick word of warning about Super System 2 - it is quite expensive. (Luckily, I got mine free.) And it’s very long. I’ve read chunks of it, though it does go on a bit. But then again, it does cover it all. There’s even some really wild psycho stuff in there by a mad guy called Mike Caro. Very interesting. Anyway, I’ll tell you more about that when I review the book in a future blog – though that could be some way off. As I said, it’s really long and it’s gonna take a while to get through it!

Okay. Let’s review ‘Play Poker Like the Pros’. I’ve read most of it. Well, quite a bit of it. Enough to tell you what its about. So here goes…

The author is, my namesake, Phil Hellmuth Jr. If you’ve never heard of him, he is American and he’s won about 100 WSOP bangles and tons of money. ‘He’s the best poker player I’ve ever played against,’ says Johnny Chan on the front cover. (Johnny Chan? Yeah, I know. I’ve never heard of him either. But, apparently, he has won loads of jewelry too). So, I figured, there could well be some highly useful nuggets of wisdom lurking within the pages of this book. It cost over ten quid and I didn’t want to blow that much money on anything less than the very best. Luckily, I was not to be disappointed!

But first things first. Phil Hellmuth Jr’s book is 394 pages long and weighs-in at a substantial 457g. So, not a light read, but pound-for-pound pretty good value for money, I reckon. And much more suitable for reading in the bath (where I do most of my reading) than Brunson’s Super System 2, which weighs an absolute ton and really makes your arms ache after a few pages.

Tip: Super System 2 is also very bulky, making it difficult to handle, especially after it’s been dropped in the water a few times. This has made a lot of the pages go funny – sort of corrugated-up, if you know what it mean – and now the book has swollen-up even bigger than it was in the first place, further adding to its overall unwieldiness and unsuitability for the bathroom. So, for this reader, Playing Poker Like the Pros certainly scores more highly on that count.

So, what can we learn from the so-called ‘poker brat’?

To begin with, if you want success in poker, it has nothing to do with the cards really, or outs, or percentages, or any of that stuff. Which is a relief. That mathematical stuff leaves me cold, I must admit.

No. Success begins with a dream.

The book starts off with a poem actually written by Phil Hellmuth. You can read the full thing at the end of this blog. Basically what Phil’s saying, I think, is: You’ve got to have a dream. Cos, if you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true? Very moving and quite inspiring, I thought.

After that, apart from learning a lot about how great a player Phil truly is, he cleverly shows you the different types of players you will run across at the poker table by likening them to animals. This seems to be one of Phil’s great strengths – an ability to understand the character of his opponents that enables him to get a great read on them. So much so, it’s almost like he can actually see their cards!

The animals he uses are:

The Mouse – plays very conservatively
The Lion – skilled and tough to beat
The Jackal – crazy and unpredictable
The Elephant – plays too many hands
The Eagle – Phil Hellmuth, I think he means.

He then goes on to put you in different situations and how you should play your hands against the various aforementioned animals. Really, quite innovative and informative, if a little hard to keep track of in places. And this, I would say, is the main weakness of the book – trying to remember what each animal is supposed to play like. I found that I had to keep going back to the page that tells you - a bit distracting.

Obviously, Phil must know what he’s talking about. As he says, he is a great player. But sometimes the best doers are not necessarily the best teachers – if you know what I mean? And I’m not saying that it isn't a very good book. But, I must say, if I was writing a book like this, I would have included some other types of animal.

For instance, he seems to have left out the following…

DINOSAUR - waits for big pairs the way a giant lizard waits for the sun to warm its blood, before it can act. Very large, but so slow-moving you’ll see it coming a mile off. Likely to go extinct when the cards go cold.

RABBIT – can’t wait to get it in. Breeds prolifically early on, but usually ends up getting eaten.

CICADA (cricket) - never shuts up, all bloody night long. If you want to play poker, you’ll just have to get used to it.

PEACOCK – looks great and likes to be noticed. Rarely seen flying.

YELLOW DOG – rambles aimlessly from hand to hand. Whines whenever anyone kicks it, though by now you’d think it would be used to it.

HYENA - always on the look out for value and lame animals. A shameless adventurer that will run away when real danger threatens. Not pretty to watch, but you underestimate this brut at your peril. It can be hard to catch and is quite capable of bringing down animals bigger than itself.

OLD LION – a real bully this one. Growls at everyone and doesn’t like it when hyenas try to take its bone away. Not as fast on its feet as it used to be.

ZEBRA - bit like a donkey, but more clothes conscious. Herds of these roam the poker room seemingly oblivious of the lions and hyenas waiting to feast on them.

COBRA – sits quietly coiled and never blinks. Don’t prod this one unless you have a very long stick. When it strikes the result is often terminal. Better to wait until the blinds go up and the slippery little fellow has come out of the corner to shed it's skin.

MONKEY – always jumping up and down whilst making a lot of noise that can almost be mistaken for intelligible speech. Never quite evolved into a man.

WISE OWL – hates monkeys. Hoots in the dark, but the monkey never listens. Scrapes a living feeding off small rodents.

RODENT – they reckon that in London you are never more than three feet away from one. Mostly, they nibble away without causing serious damage. Some are rats and some are nice. Some are pink-eyed, particularly later in the evening when they’ve had a few.

SLUG – we all know this one.

So, what positives can you get out of this book? From what I’ve read, I felt I got a rare glimpse into the mind of a great champion, making me realize that such players live in another world and play at a level most can only ever aspire to. It showed me that if you have a dream (the dream of being a poker champion in this case) you must follow that dream wherever it may lead.

Will it give you an insight into how other players play? Will it help you raise your own game? Will it help you to play like a pro?

Difficult questions that are hard to answer. At the end of the day, you’ll get as much out of it as you are willing to put in, I’d say.

Is it value for money? Definitely.

Where can you but a copy?

Amazon sell it for £10.85 plus postage - if you want, you can buy mine for a fiver. There is a slight tear in the cover – no water damage.

Here’s the poem at the start of the book, which I found really inspiring.

The Universe Conspired to Help

The man had a dream
He knew what he wanted, it seems

Once he was sure in his heart this was it
He vowed someday he would achieve it

He wasn’t quite ready to do his thing
But he felt fairly certain what the future would bring

When one day the time was right
When he was ready to fight the good fight

He conquered all his excuses and set forth
To take the risk-fraught first step without any remorse

Once he took the first step down the line
The universe conspired to help make sure he was fine

He never dreamed he would accomplish so much
That the universe would give him so such incredible luck

Now older and wiser he understood the hardest part
Was convincing himself that it was time to start.

- Phil Hellmuth

After reading that, you get the feeling that whatever Phil had chosen as his path in life, he would have succeeded. If he hadn’t become a Poker World Champion, he probably would have ended-up a poet laureate, or something. He’d have followed his dream.

Learn more about Phil and poker at

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Best James Bond?

Seen the new Bond film yet? No? Me neither. They say it’s pretty good. But I usually wait till they come out on dvd. Saves the bother of going to the cinema. And with a dvd you can watch it more than once – obviously. Which gives me something to do when I’m playing poker online.

I’ve got the den really set up now. Well. I say den. Study. You know. The spare bedroom. Anyway. It's got pc, tv, dvd player, video, play station, sound system… the lot. (Well, almost. I’ve been thinking of getting one of those little fridges. You know – like the ones they do for Buddies and Coke and such forth. Save me having to keep getting-up to go to the kitchen.) Thing is. There’s plenty to keep the old mind occupied while I’m playing poker. And I always think that’s important. Concentrate too hard on the cards and you find yourself playing too many hands. Know what I mean?

Most nights, I like to watch the footie, while I’m playing. If there’s a game on. Later on, I watch a movie, or maybe listen to music.

Tell you the truth. I’ve got some films I’ve watched over and over. Outlaw Josey Wales. Play Misty For Me. Dirty Harry - I must have watched that one over hundred times. Well, punk. Are you feeling lucky? Yeah. I’ve had some of my best results watching Harry.

A while back, I was watching the Bond films a lot. I’ve got the complete series. Well, it was when I bought it. If you know what I mean? On video – that’s the only thing. And some of them are starting to play-up. You know? Break-up. Jump about a bit. And that can be distracting. Especially, if you’re in a big pot.

What I used to do is work my way through the whole Bond set. You know? In the order they came out in. And for a long while, it really worked well for me. I was on a real roll for a time. Except, for Casino Royale. The comedy one with David Niven in it. To be honest. I don’t really think it’s a proper Bond film, as such. It’s got Peter Sellers in it. Which is ok. But, I’ve never really understood what the plot was all about. And I’ve never won any real money with it either.

The best Bond film was On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. From Russia With Love was another good one. But the absolute best movie for playing online poker was definitely OHMSS. I had some right results with that one. For some reason, whenever I had OHMSS on I always played well. I don’t know why. Maybe, it was because I could really relate to George Lazenby’s portrayal of Bond. Empathize. You know. I really identified with the guy. It was like we were kindred spirits, or something.

And then. One time. I remember. I was doing my absolute b’ll’x. You know? I went back to it. OHMSS. Yeah? Played it out of sequence. And d’you know what? It worked. No. Honest. Got me out of the hole. No problem. It was like magic. Play OHMSS and win.

’Course. Then I started playing it all the time. Trying to get that extra little edge. You know? So critical in poker. All the pros will tell you the same. Best poker I ever played. That was. Anyway. I played it and played it. I played it so much, I wore the damn thing out in the end. The tracking became completely f’ck’d. Unwatchable.

And it was never the same after that. Didn’t win a thing for months. Couldn’t hit a flop? I couldn’t hit a cow on the arse with a banjo! I’m telling you. It got so bad that I went out and bought it on dvd. OMHSS. But. I dunno why. The magic was gone. The spark. Just wasn’t there anymore. I even went on ebay and bought an old video. Second hand. See if that would bring the buzz back. Bl’ddy waste of money, that was. The one they sent me was worse than my old one. Knackered. I still play the other Bond films from time to time. And the Clint Eastwood’s. No great success though really. No. I never reached those same heights again. Least ways. Not so far.

Lately, I’ve been trying out my Elvis films. Mixed results.

Anyway. It got me thinking. Who was the best James Bond? Plenty to choose from. And would you believe it? They’ve been making them for over 40yrs now. 23 films. (If you count the David Niven one.) Incredible! Yeah. There’s…

Dr. No 1962 - Connery.
From Russia With Love 1963 - Connery.
Goldfinger 1964 - Connery, again.
Thunderball 1965 - Connery.
You Only Live Twice 1967 - Connery.
Casino Royale 1967. That’s the David Niven one.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service 1969. George Lazenby. He only made the one.
Diamonds Are Forever 1971. Connery again.
Live And Let Die 1973. The first one with Roger Moore.
The Man With The Golden Gun 1974 - Moore.
The Spy Who Loved Me 1977 - Moore.
Moonraker 1979 - Moore.
For Your Eyes Only 1981. Yep. Moore.
Octopussy 1983 - Moore.
Never Say Nenver Again 1983. Yeah. That was Connery again. Not one of his best.
A View To A Kill 1985 - Moore.
The Living Daylights 1987 - Timothy Dalton.
Licence To Kill 1989. Dalton again. He made two. Never really convincing.
Goldeneye 1995 - Pierce Brosnan.
Tomorrow Never Dies 1997 - Brosnan.
The World Is Not Enough 1999 - Brosman.
Die Another Day 2002 - Brosnan.
Casino Royale 2006. And the brand new Bond. Daniel Craig.

So which of them was the best? Well, I’m sure we’ve all got our own ideas. But here are my picks…

Best Bond: George Lazenby
Ozzie George got the part after working as a second-hand car dealer, model and making tv commercials. Only made the one film. Shame.

Best Bond Film: On Her Majesties Secret Service
Tough choice this; between OHMSS and From Russia With Love. They’re both so good. FRWL’s got a great plot. Great villain. The superb Robert Shaw plays a psycho-killer hired by Smersh to assassinate 007 and get the decoder. And there are two great fight scenes in this one. One set in the train carriage when Bond outwits Shaw with the aid of Q’s trixie briefcase. And, for me, one of the great fight scenes of all time when the two gypsy girls scrap it out to see who gets to bed our hero. Quality. But in the end, I’ve got to go for OHMSS. Great film. Emma Peel in her prime. And. As I was saying earlier. It’s been so good for me. You know? Pokerwise.

Best Villain: Odd Job
Has to be. You remember? The guy with the killer bowler hat – how cool is that? A right psycho he was. Tries to stop Bond from disarming the H-Bomb that’s going to blow up all of the gold in Fort Knox and him with it, instead of legging-out of there as fast as possible. I must admit. If it had been me. I’d have probably said. Yo. James. Call it quits? Then I’d see if I could be any help in stopping that timer thing going round.

Best Bond Girl
Difficult one this – there have been some real beauties. Daniela Bianchi is georgeous in From Russia With Love. But for me. It has to. You guessed it. Pussy Galore!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Postcards from Vegas

Vegas de Tegoyo – Lanzarote

Thursday 26th October

Flight delayed, but landed safely. Cloudy, but warm. Bit of trouble finding the apartment – 5hrs! Turns out that there’s more than one Playa de los Chaves on the island! Carl says he wants to do all the driving from now on. Suits me – if you know what I mean! Our apartment is near a place called Vegas de Tegoyo. (Just outside Mordor – joke!) Postcard shows spectacular view from bedroom window. There’s a hell of a lot of building going on out here. Fortunately our complex is almost finished. Great swimming pool. Viva Espana!

Friday 27th October

Rained all day. The bar and the little shop on the site are closed. Probably because there aren’t many people here. But no problemo. There are loads of bars and shops and restaurants a short drive away. No one seems to sell San Miguel. But there’s plenty of Dorado and paella and chips to be had! Cigars are dirt cheap too. Smoking myself to death already! The beach is further away than they said. But on the way we found a great pub called the Coach and Horses where you can get guiness and watch the footie.

Saturday 28th October

Weather much better. Some light drizzle but nothing really and it was lovely whenever the sun did come out. Decided to take in some of the island. Carl got a bit lost. I’ve always been well sharp when it comes to map-reading or navigating. Natural sense of direction I guess. But there are hardly any road signs out here and some roads just seemed to be closed. Then Carl really lost it. Know what I mean? That guy seriously needs to take some chill pills. Anyway. Next thing. The bloody car breaks down! Called rental company. Right stewards. Waited for hours. Eventually when it was nearly dark a police car came by. Bit worried about leaving the car there. But they insisted on giving us a lift back to Vegas. Legged it from there. It was late by then so we decided to stay in. Fortunately there were a couple of beers left from last night. Needed an early night anyway.

Sunday 29th October

No news from the car people. Tried phoning again but no joy. I thought they were all supposed to speak english out here. Eventually someone with half a brain came on and said that basically the car was f’cked and they’d get us a new one tomorrow. Decided to walk down to the pub. Got a bit wet, but soon dried out. At least they can get sky sports. Ran out of euros. Luckily the guy who runs the bar is a geordie and he let us pay with english money. He says that there’s a casino in Puerto del Chavo. Gonna check it out as soon as we get a car.

Monday 30th October

Not a cloud in the sky. Well hot! Still no car. Thought we’d spend some time by the pool but it was closed for maintenance. So we walked down to the Coach and Horses. Only takes about half an hour or so. Bloke in the pub got a bit arsey though. Said we were a bit out of order last night. I don't think Carl's used to drinking guiness. Can’t remember too much about it to be honest. I know I couldn’t find my shorts this morning. Anyway we found another bar. Used by the locals. Which was fine. Except we had to watch spanish telly all night. Still had a great night. Usual long walk home in the dark. At least we’re getting to know the way now. Good job spanish beer helps you see in the dark! Lol.

Tuesday 31st October

Rained all f’cking day. No car. Carl’s done something to his ankle and can hardly walk. Must have been when he fell down those rocks last night. So stayed in. Satellite tv a bit disappointing. The only english speaking channel we can get is CNN. Who watches this pap? People who buy flashy watches and use the services of Credit Suisse I suppose. And they’ve got this guy on there called Richard Quest who’s got to be the biggest knobhead on tv. I tell you. I nearly put my foot through the screen. Ran out of beer and wine and water. And there’s not a scrap of food in the place. Missed Barcelona v Chelsea! B’llox!!!

Wednesday 1st October

Mostly cloudy. Went down the shops and back while Carl rested his ankle. Knackered or what? When I got back found that they had delivered the replacement car. Hoo-bloody-ray!!! I drove us down into Puerto del Chavo to the casino. Arcade more like. Waste of bloody time spending all that time looking for it. Anyway. Got to tell you. This place is great. It’s got everything. They’ve even got a Burger King. A decent meal was much appreciated. Plenty of bars. Watched the Arsenal game in Mollies Irish Pub. It got fairly busy. Some half resonable totty. From up north judging by their accents. Offered to buy them a drink. Waste of time. Slags! Got back really late. Probably would have been better if we’d left before it got dark. Must have driven miles. The roads here are terrrible. Bumpy’s not the word. Thought we we were gonna run out of petrol before we made it.

Thursday 2nd October

Last day! Back in blighty tonight. Had to be out of flat by 10.00am. Rained early on then sun came out at about midday. Beautiful blue sky. Glorious. Drove round the island for an bit before checking in at the airport. No problems with the new car thank god. Bit annoyed though. Because we got back to the rental place after 12.00 they made us pay for another day. Then we had a big row with them about some scratches which they tried to say we’d put on the car. Wouldn’t give us back our deposit. Robbing bastards! Airport was manic. You wouldn’t believe the bloody queues. Then we find out our flight is delayed. ETA Gatwick? F’ck knows when. See yer soon. Phil.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Winter Break


Just to say. I’ll be away for a week.
Sun. Sea. Sand. Sangria and senoritas – hopefully.
Catch you when I get back.

Best wishes,

The Diamond

Monday, October 23, 2006

Sweet. Sweet. Poker.

It’s Friday night. Just home from work.

I was gonna go for a drink with Rod and Rob from the office. But Rod said he was meeting someone at the gym. And Rob said he had an appointment with a client and then it was straight off home. Something about his wife’s family were coming round for dinner, or something. We always used to go down to the Prince for a few after work on a Friday. Pussies!

Well. That’s their loss. It’s been a hell of a week and I’m in the mood to rock!

And getting me in the mood – some icy-cold San Miguel (which I have recently become rather partial to) and John Dawson Winter III, which Richard at the club kindly burnt for me. I said to Richard. Do yourself a favour and burn a copy for yourself. Some of the best grooves ever cut, I tell him.

And whenever I hear this track, I can’t help singing along. Always gets me in a mood to bogey.

Take me back to those good old days again
When guitars were guitars
And men were men
We were heart to heart
Soul to soul
In those golden olden days of rock and roll

Quality. Get down!

Right. Quick shower. Must remember to get into Boots and pick up some shampoo and shower gel. Still, there’s nearly half a bottle of conditioner left (something she must have bought). As it turns out, the conditioner does the trick, nicley. It’s all the same stuff anyway. They just stick it in different coloured bottles and give’m fancy names.

I’m looking for a shirt to wear. But the lot I took to the launderatte still need ironing. The women who’s been doing them for me didn’t come Monday. Funny, I thought she sounded a bit off when I spoke to her on the phone. Said something about the clothes being… next time. And that she didn’t expect to have to... everytime she came. I didn’catch all of it. The reception’s terrible in the flats. Been thinking of switching provider for some time. Just haven’t got round to it yet, what with everything else. Anyway. Then she drops-out. And I haven’t heard from her since.

There’s nothing hanging in the wardrobe. So, I pull a few shirts out of the wash basket – a couple of them don’t look too bad, actually. Pick out the best one. Bit smokey, but I can soon cure that with a generous application of Lynx.

Right. Tie. Jacket. Hair. Sorted.

Quick check in the mirror. Looking foxy tonight, Phil. Sorry girls. I know it don’t seem fair. There just being the one of me an’ all. Funny. When I’m in a good mood like this, I often find myself thinking in an American accent.

Think I’ll to drive down to the Big Slick club. Take a night-ride with lady fortune. I’m feeling lucky. I’m feeling good. I feeling all… all…all…all…ri…right!

Take the disk with me. Play it in the car. Good job the suspension’s tight on this baby. I’ve got it on full blast.

My father was a mother
My mother was a son
Don’t play the Mona-Lisa
We’ve all been twenty-one

Rock and roll people
Born to sing the blues
Rock and roll people
Just couldn’t change it – if I choose.

On the way. Stop at the atm to get some cash. It’s right by The Toby Carvery. Haven’t been in there for a while. Decide to pop in for a quick livener, before going on the club. Never know. Might even bump into some old pals. We used to go in here a lot in the old days. But that sort of died-off, after my bust-up with Kylie.

Get inside and who do you suppose I bump into at the bar. Rod. Rob. What are you two doing here? Oh. Hi Phil. The client cancelled on me. Says Rod. Turned my ankle. Says Rob. And pulls a face. Like he’s in a lot of pain. What are you having? Says Rod. San Miguel, if they do them. I say. Cool.

Get to the club late. The tourney’s already started. I get card for seat 6 Caesar’s Palace. I’ve got about a 700 chips left out of my 1000 by the time I sit down.

On my right is Lee. On my left is a guy I don’t know. Young-ish. Ozzie, I think. Sounds like one. In seat 3 is Big-Bad-Dave. Oh no. Not you. I quip. He buys me a drink. Try one of these. He says. Edina brings us two bottles of Corona with bits of lime sticking out the top. Not bad. I Grab Edina, before she goes. Ask her to bring two more.

Not you as well, Dave. I say, when I notice he’s got a little mascot standing in front of his chips. Well, it’s not so little really. It’s a six inch high penguin. I don’t know why, but from the moment I first laid eyes on Pengo, I thought that there was something sinister about him.

Big-Bad-Dave grins. Picks up Pengo and throws it at me. What the …! I try to duck out of the way. The penguin hits me on the side of the head. Bounces back across the felt. Ends up in the dealer tray. It’s made of foam rubber. I knock the drinks table over. Big-Bad-Dave laughs.

Right. I say. You even think of betting. And I’ll be all over you. Right. Says Big-Bad-Dave gleefully. But Pengo doesn’t smile. Just stares at me menacingly. Later in the evening. Much, much later. I’m standing at the bar. When I see Pengo’s disembodied head flying across the card room in the direction of the Luxor. Bit surreal. Don’t you think? Still. He had it coming, I’m thinking. Next second the head is flying across the room at me. Instinctively, I duck. Spill some of my drink down my best suit. I look over to the cash game. See Big-Bad-Dave’s face grinning back at me.

The cards are coming round. Usual action. Every raise gets a minimum of three callers. I put in a raise with AKsuited. Only to get raised and then re-re-raised before it gets back round to me. Figuring there must at least one genuine hand out there. QQ? KK? I lay the Big Slick down, only to find out after they’re all-in that I’ve folded to Q10off, KJsuited and A6suited. Big-Bad-Dave is in there too, with 74suited.

The old boy (dunno his name) with the Q10off turns out to be a regular calling machine. He hits a couple of times. But mostly he’s re-buying. It doesn’t take long to figure him out. If he’s got a picture he’ll call anything pre-flop. If there’s a picture on the flop and he bets – he’s got it. If the flop come rags and he bets – he’s got an ace with a big kicker. AJ or AQ most likely.

Anyway. The guy piling-up the chips is the Ozzie. Everyone misses and his KJsuited holds-up. (My AK would have taken the lot! B’ggar!)Then he wins another monster 4-way all-in pot when his 10-2 suited, (which has made trips 10s on the flop), looks like losing to a flush on the turn, only to be rescued by a 2 on the river to give him a full-house and about 16,000 chips.

The ozzie chuckles every time the ‘calling machine’ makes a bet. It’s his first time at the Big Slick. I try to explain to him that this is a £10 Rebuy. You’re gonna get a lot of callers. I tell him. He doesn’t really listen though. Keeps making raises and re-raises. Expecting everyone to show him respect and lay down. From 16,000 chips he ends up going broke before the end of the 75mins. Rebuys twice. Busts-out twice. Doesn’t come back after the break.

The play is fast and curious. Typical Friday. There are plenty of rich pots, but I’m finding it hard to get into them. Every time I get a playable hand. Lee to my right makes one of his massive pre-flop raises and I have to quit. Also. I’ve got Big-Bad-Dave to contend with. I just know he’s waiting to pounce on me.

These Coronas are nice, though. Had them once before. Long time ago. When I was in Texas. Big-Bad-Dave orders two more. I tell Edina. Make it two each. Save her keep coming back.

Chips are getting low. I’m close to a rebuy. In fact I decide to rebuy now. That way, I’ve got a bit more clout. And if I do manage to double-up, it’ll put me on a useful 3000 chips.

As luck would have. Very next hand. Get 88. Wondering how to play them.

If I limp, everybody gets to see the flop and the chances are I’ll miss and there’ll be over-cards out there. Or, more likely, someone’s going to raise it up anyway.

If I make a modest raise, I’m bound to get callers. Especially Big-Bad-Dave. He’ll probably raise me up, just for the hell of it.

If I bet half my chips, it’s a bit of a give-away. Might as well tell them that I’ve got a modest pocket pair and I don’t want any callers.

So. I decide the best play is to shove it all in. Ok. I know that still might be telling them I’m on a pair. But it’s gonna cost them a lot to find out. And with my reputation, they are probably putting me on JJ minimum.

Plan works fine. Everyone folds round to the big blind. The big blind is Little Joe. Old guy. Very nice chap, actually. He’s got slightly fewer chips than me. He dwells for a bit. Then calls. Turns over K5.

I must be favourite. Right?

Anyway flop comes 3 blanks. Turn. Blank. River? You got it. King.

Second rebuy.

Play continues. Still can’t get into it. Lee keeps shoving it in. Big-Bad-Dave is calling everything and hitting. Finally I get a hand. QQ. Slow play to the flop. Wait for a bet. Shove it in. I know it’s risky. But I need chips. All-in. My Queens hold-up. Suddenly I’m on 5000 chips. And it’s the break. Great timing. Go for a much-needed smoke and another one of those nice Coronas with the piece lime in it.

Back from the break. The cards keep coming round. I’m getting nothing. And to be honest. I’m not concentrating properly. I can’t decide whether to have another Corona. Or try something different. They’re beginning to make me feel a little queasy. End up having another. Big-Bad-Dave’s already got them in.

Anyway. Next thing is. Dealer’s saying to me. 400 to play. I put the chips in. Then notice that button is with the player on my left. New bloke. Joined our table just after the break. So, I say. How come it’s my big blind, if the button’s over there. You’re not in the big blind. Says the dealer. I said it’s 400 to play. Oh. I say. In that case I don’t want to call. Can I have my 400 chips back. No. He says. The bet must stand. Which is a nuisance. I’m holding K3off.

I know it’s not the dealer’s fault. But I’ve suddenly got ‘ump with it all. I haven’t seen a hand for an hour. Big-Bad-Dave’s laughing his socks off. Pengo gloats.

S-blind calls. The calling machine in the bi-blind checks. Flop comes Ace and two rags. I’m first to act. But don’t like to act with that Ace on the board. I check. S-blind checks. B-blind checks – again. They’ve got nothing. I’m pretty sure of it. But. Still I’m reluctant to bet. Turn comes a blank. Still no one bets.

Last card is another blank. I decide to make a bluff. Shove it all in.

S-blind folds immediately. Excellent. But the b-blind hesitates. I watch his fingers. Playing with his chips. Then he’s counting them out. That’s it then. I’m a gonna. He puts his chips into the middle. I’m already out of there. If he’s calling. He must have hit something. Right?

I’m on my way to the bar. Dump this Corona. Get a San Miguel. When all of a sudden. Phil! Phil! They’re calling me. You won! They shout. I won? I say. With King high. Yes. It turns out that the guy has called my all-in with Jack high. Can you believe that? He’s called an all-in for 5000 chips with Jack high.

Well that has set me up. Out for the count one minute. Over 10,000 chips the next. And I’m on my way. I just don’t look back, after that. Though, I can’t tell you too much about the hands I played. The evening’s starting to get pretty hazy. Know what I mean? Though, I do remember one thing. All the time Johnny Winter and the rhythm of the Rock-and-Roll People is pulsing through my veins. Just won’t let go of me. Ever had that feeling?

Don’t tell me where you head is man
You know it won’t be missed
Don’t play the Virgin Mary
We all know you’ve been kissed

Boy. It’s late. 3 – 4.00am? I’m on the final table. I’m very tired. It’s mostly a blur. So, I figure my best chance is to do nothing. Let the blinds go. Let the small stacks knock themselves out. Wait for a monster. And then.

And then. There they are. Bullets! It’s all I can do not to fall off my chair.

Sweet. Sweet. Rock and Roll.

I’m under the gun. I raise it up. There’s no plan. No explanation. I just raise it up by 10,000. Fold. Fold. S-blind calls. B-blind is all in. Well. It’s a no-brainer. Which is just as well, considering the state I’m in. I call like a shot. But so does the other guy. Two callers. That’s a bit more dangerous. Still. If I win this. I’m chip leader! Big money beckons.

On their backs. S-blind shows A6. I’m thinking. Lovely. B-blind shows 88. Ok. I’m favourite.

Flop comes blank, blank, blank.

Funny. This part of the evening I can remember with perfect clarity.

Turn. Blank.

River. 8.


I’m pretty sure I did cry out. When the 8 hit. In slow motion. Just like clock hitting 6.00am in Ground Hog Day. I remember Scotty Boyle smiling. He’s saying to me. You must let me tell you how to play aces during the end game sometime. Love him.

Sweet. Sweet. Poker.

Veil gets thumbs-up from fat people

You Know. I was thinking. Islamophobia has been a god-send for fat people. Er. Sorry. Obese people. (I believe that is the politically correct term for fat people nowadays).

Anyway. Think about it. For years fat, sorry, obese people have been the subject of abuse and ridicule. And discrimination. You Know. Getting called all sorts of names like fatty, fatso and piggy. (My old mum used to say that they were big-boned, or that they had gland-trouble. Whatever that was?)

Still. It seemed that whenever something went wrong, fat, sorry, obese people got the blame. Following the recent outcry against Muslim women wearing the veil (largely stirred-up by Jack Straw when he declared that he’d prefer his constituents not to wear them when they visit him in his surgery) they are one group I’m not surprised has come out and publicly supported the veil.

It’s like John O’Farell said. ‘Let’s blame the scapegoats.’ In the thirties it was the Jews who got the blame. In those days, of course, there were far fewer fat, sorry, obese people about. The fast-food industry was barely in its infancy then.

After the war, the Irish became the popular scapegoats. And since the IRA ceasefire it has been fa… obese people that have been blamed for dragging the country down. Post 9/11, so much has changed. As I say. Islamophobia has been an absolute result for fa... obese people. Now, instead of fa… obese people taking the blame for everything, we can blame all of the social ills of this country onto a dozen-or-so housewives who choose to cover their faces as an outward expression of their religious beliefs.

How do I know all this? You may be asking. Well, I was reading about this survey in a magazine. While was waiting for someone in Smiths. Like you do. I know. They’ve got magazines on everything now. You wouldn’t believe some of them. Anyway. As I was saying. This survey found that most overweight (I think it’s ok to say overweight? Or, maybe it’s weightily-challanged. Not sure?) Anyway it said that most weightily-challanged people thought the veil was generally a good thing. How about that?

According to the survey:
52% said that they thought people should be allowed to dress in whatever way they liked.
15% said that they thought wearing a veil was a good thing.
23% said that they thought that the veil did lead to separateness in society.
43% said that they had never actually seen a women in a veil other than on the television.
88% said that they were simply relieved that another section of the population was diverting the attention of the blame culture away from them.
18% couldn’t speak because their mouths were full.

Of course. You know what’ll be the next thing. Don’t you? There’ll be grave concern expressed in the press and parliament about the alarming rise in obesity among the Muslim community living in the United Kingdom. And fear about what long term effects islamic-gluttony is having upon the social fabric and economic well-being of the country.

Early days. But it will be interesting to see what opportunities for diverting the public's attention away from the real issues facing this country it will provide to our politicians and what opportunites for stirring-up social division it’ll give to tabloid newspaper editors.

Anyway. Keep yer posted.

All the best,


Friday, October 20, 2006

Judge blackmail cleaner is jailed

The brazilian cleaner Roselane Driza who blackmailed a female judge and stole sex videos from another judge has been jailed for 33 months.

33 months. Wow. That’s nearly 3 years.

Now, if she’d stolen a car, driven it without a licence or insurance and run someone over and killed them – she’d have probably got off with about 9 months. Out in five, with good behaviour.

But you really don’t want to go messing with judges. They are definitely gonna make an example of anyone who f’cks with them. Know what I mean?

Still it could have gone worse for her. Remember what happened to the last brazilian who fell foul of a member of the British establishment – 10 bullets in the head and a confiscated travel card.

The Old Bailey was told that the cleaner had begun an affair with Judge Mohammed Ilyas Khan after being sacked by Judge J. (Judge J can’t be named – don’t ask me why. Perhaps J isn't foreign. And what's really driving me nuts is that I can’t even work out if J is a bloke or a bird).

Anyway, it turns out that the two judges were former lovers and Roseline ‘allegedly’ found a sex video showing them together. (Together – that’s legal speak for at it).

Rosaline also claimed the video, which she said she found at Mr Khan's north London home, showed Judge J snorting cocaine.

Ummm. Wouldn’t mind getting hold of a copy of that one.


Just tumbled. Judge J is a woman. Duh!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Message of support to Macca

Just wanted to say - been there mate – got the t-shirt and the scars.

You should have heard the stuff my ex was saying about me when we broke up. And she told everyone. And I do mean everyone. People at work, my boss, her mum, my mum, all my friends. A load of wild stories about me taking drugs and getting drunk every night. Gambling. Getting done for drink driving. Having it off with her cousin. Bloody nightmare it was, I can tell you.

Alright, in my case it was all true. Still, she didn’t have to go spouting her mouth off about it to the whole bleeding world, did she?

Anyway. Just wanted you know - we're all thinking of you Paul.

Stay of execution for Leeds man

Heartwarming - I thought - Parkistan’s President Musharraf's show of compassion in postponing the execution of Mirza Tahir Hassain for two months.

It had been due to take place on the first day of Prince Charles’ upcoming visit to the country and would have put a right dampener on his holiday.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

WSOP Tournament Rules - Veils get all-clear

Well here they are:

I can't find anything that expressly forbids the wearing of a veil, though there is a limit on how big the logo on the veil can be.

Here's the relevant extract:

29. Tournament participants may wear one item of apparel with a logo no larger than 6 square inches in size. Harrah’s reserves the right at all times, to change the logo size limit, ban the wearing/display of any or all logos, or to ban any apparel or other means of advertising that contains obscene images or words or is otherwise deemed objectionable by Harrah’s. Harrah’s also reserves the right to exclude any individual(s) acting in a disruptive or inappropriate manner.

The veil in poker?

What's this all about muslims not being allowed to wear veils? What's the big problem?

Why can't people do what they like, so long as it doesn't hurt other people? And what about the people walking about with pieces of metal sticking out of their faces? No one says anything about that. And that can be really scary.

Jack Straw says the veil separates people. Yeah? And? What about police uniforms, salvation army uniforms, judges' wigs, bishops' mitres, the different shirts worn by rival footall fans? Tramps wear funny clothes - well mostly old and smelly. The queen wears a crown with a big cross on the top - doesn't that separate her from the rest of us? And no doubt when Jack is finally put out to graze he will eagerly join our other peers of the realm in their fancy dress parade.

And what about Tony Blair? He wears a conventional dark suit with collar and tie - and it's hard to think of anyone more separate from the rest of society than that guy.

What I say is, if a woman wants to cover her face, why shouldn't she? In fact I wouldn't mind if a few more did it. Margaret Beckett, Hazel Blears and Sherry Blair for instance. Yeah, and maybe some men too. John Prescott would certainly look better in a veil - though I'm not sure what sizes they go up to?

Hey. I've just had a thought! What about if poker players started wearing them in the WSOP. Better than sunglasses. No one's gonna get a reading on you if you're wearing one of them - especially not if you wear a veil and sunglasses.

Just imagine it. The Fossilman with his spooky snake-eye glasses and a veil. Intimidating or what? Though, as I say, I'm not sure if they make them that big. And I'm not sure if there's anything in the rules about it. I'll try to find out and get back to you on that one.

Be cool though, wouldn't it. Chris Ferguson - under his black stetson - wearing dark glasses and a black veil with the sponsor's logo on it. When he put in a raise it would be like a wild-west stick-up. Except, a real outlaw probably wouldn't have a logo on his kneckerchief, if he was holding up a stage or a bank or something. Still.

See yer later.

US poker ban official

Yep. Good old boy George W has signed the papers and that just about wraps it for poker in the good old US of A – well, online anyway - or does it?

Apparently billions of dollars a year are loaded onto American poker accounts. And the guys raking in all the money have been threatened with 50 years hard labour if they don’t shut down. Wow!

But I gotta tell you that I strongly suspect some Americans are still secretly playing online. And here’s why.

At one of the poker rooms I play on when you put the cursor over the player’s name it used to tell you what country they came from – but now it doesn’t.

I suppose they’re trying not to give the game away – if you know what I mean – but the names are a bit of a give-away. I mean - idahoboy, busygal, stinkysmom39 – they gotta be yanks.

Who knows how it’s all gonna end.

Anyway. Take care now and remember – you heard it here first!

Some seriously good advice for all online tournament players.

Thursday 12th Oct

Didn’t play much last week, or the week before. Felt a bit rough actually, especially on Thursday. Must have been a bug, or something. Picked-up a bit on Friday. Played online. Mostly sit and goes. Card dead – or what? I’m seriously thinking of changing my nickname.

Then I had a spot of bother with the pc which held me up a bit and that’s why I’m behind with the blog. Well, I’ll tell you about that later. So, all in all, not much to report, you might suppose. But you'd be wrong. There was one shocking bad beat I’ve got to tell you about. And this really does it for me. I am now absolutely certain that the poker rooms are cooking the hands. And I‘ve got a theory on how they’re doing it. Listen to this.

$20 STT. On the bubble. Pays three places. I’m Mr Short-stack, as usual, with about 1700 chips. Blinds are 600/1200. Like I said, totally card-dead. I’ve played really well even to get this far. Anyway, I’m in the small blind and at last my prayers are finally answered. Jacks. Obviously, got to go for it. Shove it all in.

Chip leader on 8000 in the big blind - calls. Now I’m thinking; oh-oh, here we go. AK, big pair, overcards. Knowing my luck, he’s sitting on aces. But no. To my complete and utter surprise he turns over 22. What kind of a call is that?

Flop comes and the first card up is a Jack with two blanks to follow. And I’m thinking, thank you God. Luvvly-jubbly. Doubling-up and I’m right back in it. Then the turn comes. Another blank, except that I notice that there are now three hearts on the board. Both of my jacks are black and matey’s got, you guessed it, the 2 of hearts.

River. I don’t frigging believe it! A heart.

My set of jacks has been beaten by a 2-high flush. 2-high! Runner, runner,runner, bluddy runner heart. The odds must be astronomical.

It’s just not possible! At this point, I think I may have screamed. Then - I’ve got to admit - I did lose it a bit after that. Well, who wouldn’t? Bluddy hell.

But, then I calm down a bit. Mop up the worst of the wine. Luckily, not too much of it went over the keyboard. Waste of a nice Rioja though. Nearly half a bottle. Shame. And the ash from the ashtray has gone everywhere.

I plug the mouse back in. The plug looks alright. One of the pins was a bit crooked, but it went in alright. Try to get the pc going again. You know, the usual b’ggaring about. But it’s not having any of it. Now I am getting the ‘ump. F’ck it. I’ll have to call the banana-man again. Another 75 quid out the window.

The banana-man is our local computer repair man. Yeah, I know. B’llox isn’t it. Elephant this – Goldfish frigging that. Blueberry Butchers. Bison Builders. Barracuda Bookmakers. Where the f’ck is it? Banana Technology. I’m looking it up in the phone book. I’ve dialled his number so many times now; you’d think I’d know it off by heart. He's a big bloke. Gets about on a motorbike. Always turns up late in black leathers. He's been spending so many evenings here lately the neighbours are starting to look at me in a funny way.

I call him up. Answer machine. He’s away on holiday for two weeks. Would you bluddy believe it. Two weeks. F’cker. Well, that’s it then. No more online poker for me for a bit. Well f’ck it. Good. F’cking good. F’cking, bluddy online poker.

I go to the kitchen to get another bottle of Rioja. Can’t find it. Where is it? For Chr’st’s sake. I know there’s another bottle here somewhere. That can’t have been the last one.

Go back to the study. Well, its the spare bedroom, but I call it the study. I've got everything I need in here. Slump back in the swivel chair - staring at a blank screen - wondering if I can be ‘rsed to get dressed, get in the car and drive down to the offy. But a look at the watch tells me it’s 2 o’clock. Can’t be!

Then I remember. I’ve got some Buddies in the boot of the car. Excellent! I grab the keys and make a dash for it outside. Sh't. I didn't know it was raining. Still, it's not too hard. I'll be quick. I’m in nothing but jockeys and T-shirt, but no one’s gonna see at this time of night. Right? Wrong!

A bevvy of little beauties, no doubt on their way home from the local night club, are walking past the flat, just as I'm coming out onto the road. I say walking - staggering more like. There must be a dozen of them. Well. You can just imagine the stick I get. Most of which I certainly couldn't repeat here.

I try to ignore them and the rain and dash on. It's raining harder, though the girls don't seem to care. I just hope none of them recognise me. Get to the car. Step straight into a puddle. B'llox. The girls have followed me and they're giving it full volume. They're like a pack of bluddy hyenas. Yeah, very funny, girls - not!

Then a neighbour's shouting from a window. Telling me to shut the f'cking noise up, or he's coming down there to f'cking shut me up - permanently.

Unfortunately, this only produces increased excitment amongst the ladies, who clearly relish the thought of a bit of live action. Some of them lift their tops and shake their assets up in the direction of the angry voice. Right. That's f'cking it! The guy upstairs rants. I'm coming down. Just you wait there. You f'cker.

It's funny how you can tell a bloke is big just by hearing his voice in the dark. The girls are screaming with delight. Off! Off! Off! Off! They're chanting. I'm frantically struggling to open the boot, anxious not to stay a moment longer than is absolutely necessary. But I can't find the right key. And it's dark. And I can't see in the rain. Come on, I'm imploring. Come on.

At last. It's open. I'm grabbing the pack of Buddies. Slamming the boot shut. Bounding up the stairs ten steps at a time. Breaking the Olympic Triple Jump and World Land Speed Records at the same time.

Safely inside - I only hope he didn't see which door I went into. I've got to sit down. I'm bluddy knackered after all that running. Gotta get my breath back. Take the weight of my feet. I'm actually physically shaking. And my shorts and T-shirt are wet through. I take them off, before I catch double pneumonia.

A beer and a smoke - I'm thinking. That’ll sooth the old nerves. I reach for the bottle opener and break one open. It immediately froths-up and spills all over the place. I rush to the bathroom sink, but it's too late by the time I get there.

Finally, I'm sitting down again. Feet up on the desk. Gotta chill for a bit. Get the karma back. But it isn't really happening for me. The beer isn’t really cold, even though it's been in the back of the car for days. And I don’t know about you, but I always think a Buddy's at its best served really chilled. I try a couple more sips, but to be honest it tastes like p’ss.

I know what I’ll do. Stick a couple of bottles in the freezer for ten minutes. That should do it. Slump back in the chair. Fiddle about with the pc for a bit. Soon give up.

Now I just sit there. Blank screen in front of me. Just sitting there for a long-long time. Then I think I must have fallen asleep, because I can’t remember much else except I remember suddenly thinking that there is a horrible smell in the room. It takes a few seconds, before I realize something’s burning. Sh’t. It’s the cigar and it’s burnt a dirty great hole in the carpet. F'ck. F'ck it.

I stare at it for a bit. Luckily, it’s down by the desk - in a place that doesn’t show too much. If the ex was still living here, she'd have killed me. But don't start me off on that one. Anyway, I gather up a load mags that are scattered about the place. Make them into a nice neat pile. Place them carefully over the hole. Sorted!

Then I’m thinking those beers must be cold enough by now. So, I go to the freezer. Bluddy hell. They’re frozen solid. What time is it? 3.30am. Chr’st. I must have been asleep for over an hour. F’ck it. Still. I know what. Good trick, I'm thinking. She was always warming things up in it. I’ll stick them in the micro.

I set it for 20 seconds. That should do it. Go for a leak. Then, for some reason, I completely forget about the beers. Try one more time to get the bluddy computer going. You know what it's like when you want something you can't have. It just makes you want it even more. But it's no good. Then, all of a sudden, I hear an almighty f’cking bang.

I leg it to kitchen - pronto. The micro’s still going. Round and round. Though not quite as fast as normal. And it's making strange sort of crunching-popping noises. I peep through the little window. It’s like there’s a thunder storm going on in there. Instead of 20 seconds, I must have set it for 20 minutes. B’llox.

I’m back in front of the blank computer screen. I’ll clear the kitchen up in the morning. I suppose I ought to get some shut-eye. Work at 8. But I can’t seem to get myself out of the chair. Away from the dark screen. It’s like I’m stuck here, staring at the dark face staring back at me, sucking on a bottle of warm beer.

And then I start thinking. You know, really thinking. What's it all about? And, you know, I’m starting to see things in different way. It’s like I’m finally wising-up. You know? Starting to see it the way it is. And that’s when it slowly comes to me. And it’s so clear. So – right. So bleeding obvious. It’s like I’m Paul on the road to Damascus or something. Like I’m looking at a burning bush. And, of course, the funny thing is - at times like this, you always wonder how come it's taken you so long to see it.

And this is what I’m thinking. Ok.

It was an STT, right. So, we’ve all paid our registration fee at the start. No rake to come. Think about it, Phil, I'm saying to myself. It’s in the poker room’s interest to get rid of you mate. Get it over as soon as possible. Make the table free. Get another game going. And it’s no one-off. It’s happened far too many times now.

It explains everything.

So here it is guys and gals; some seriously good advice for all online tournament players. And I, yours truly, the fearless philosopher of the felt, Phil Diamond, am more than happy to pass it on to you - free of charge. Players like Phil Helmuth, Danny Negraneau and Scotty Doyle would probably charge you for this. That’s if they’d even tell you at all. But I’m not like them. Really. Don't ever go confusing me with those so-called big shots.

So, come close and listen up, my friends. This is how it is, right.

When you’re down to the last few players in a sit-and-go, don’t go all-in against someone who’s got more chips than you, because if you lose, that’s it – you’re out. Right.

No. Seriously. And believe me. You will lose. And why? Because the software will fix it so that you do. That’s how they do it. The guy with the least chips always loses. That’s how they get the games over with and free the table up for next ten suckers. They’ve done it to me a thousand times. Whenever, I’m getting anywhere near the money - wallop, I’m out.

And that, my friends, is why your pocket aces will go on getting busted by some joker with J10. Forget about outs, percentages and pot odds. I never bothered with any of that anyway. It's all irrelevant. I'm telling you. Its not you versus the other guys at the table. It's you and the other guys at the table versus the poker room.

Anyway, good to talk, but have to go now. Don't worry, I'll be back soon. And don't forget what I've told you. Adjust your online game. Remember it's the software you've got to beat and soon you'll see your bankroll growing nicely.

Go carefully and all the very best, from your candid cardman - the jack of diamonds - Phil Diamond.