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.

Breaking News!

Apparantly America has banned poker.

I can't believe it. Not in the land of the free, the side of fries and the mail-order semi-automatic anti-tank gun.

I'll get back to you just as soon as I get anymore info.

£20/£10 Rebuy at the Big Slick

Wednesday 20th Sept

I get card for seat 6 Caesar’s Palace. Ray’s on my right. I ask him if he thinks we need the air-con on. He says he’s comfortable. I’m a little hot, but say nothing, I’ve got a nice cold Becks to take it down. The familiar strains of ‘Now That’s What I Call Music 43’ waft through the cardroom. I’m cool. I’m waiting for a big pair and enjoying the atmosphere when the chap sitting to my left says, “Do you know what the biggest threat facing mankind is?” “Eh?” I have to think for a moment then say, “The admiration of the ignoble?” “What?” he says. “The admiration of the ignoble,” I say. “No,” he says. “Africa.”

He’s a very personable sort of guy. Know what I mean? Quietly spoken, friendly smile. “What’s your name, mate ” I say. “John,” he says. “Hi John,” I say, “my name’s Phil, fancy a beer?” “Thanks,” he says and goes on to explain how the West’s indifference to the suffering of the World’s poor will eventually result in a lethal pandemic that will wreak devastation upon rich and poor alike.

While John expounds this cogent and humane theory, I find my eyes irresistibly drawn to the words emblazoned upon his sweatshirt - Ladbrokes WSOP Team - and wonder if he might prove to be the biggest threat facing me.”

It’s the first level of the rebuy period. I limp a couple of times into friendly pots, folding without pain when I miss. Don’t get involved again until I find AK suited. Call a raise, flop a King, call two all-ins and treble-up.

Feeling chipper. Should make it to the break without having to rebuy. Chat with John. He’s a really nice guy. He introduces me to his mascot Ralph. Ralph’s a little porcelain squirrel perched a-top John’s growing pile of chips. “Why a squirrel,” I ask. “Because he’s always got the nuts,” says John. I chuckle.

Sit tight during the second period. John buys me another beer. I return the favour. Get no cards and with no more friendly pots, just watch, as the action gets livelier. Only action I get involved in is when Jerome who is dealing on Rio gets up from his seat and knocks my drink over. Amazingly, Ray and I both escape without a drop on us. Carpet and chairs get a drenching though. Sarah comes with a cloth. I order a replacement.

More action. Perry is all-in. His A6 goes up against AQ. Perry wins when a 7 on the river makes his straight. By the end of the third level, I haven’t played another hand, people going all-in pre-flop every hand. Buy my double add-on and go off for a beer and a smoke.

After the break, sit down with just under 7,000 chips. Totally card dead. Resolve to be patient. Action all round me. 2 players go down. The clock ticks. Growing aware of the danger of getting blinded-out. Dying for a smoke. Waitress brings two more Becks. I suddenly notice Perry’s gone. “Has he gone out?” I ask. “No,” says John, “he’s been moved to another table.”

Soon after, Big Stu comes and sits opposite me with about double my stack. A quick recky of the table and I calculate that I am Mr Short-stack. Notice that Dru Doshi has joined our table too and he’s got an absolute bl’’dy mountain of chips.

Look round the room to see that we are down to 2 tables. Manage to knock over my beer. Still, things are going well, we’re down to two tables and I’ve only played one hand. Look back. Get 73 off. Fold, then notice that Ralph has got a peanut. No honestly, I'm not making this up, he’s got a real peanut sitting in front of him. I look at John, say nothing. Obviously he and Ralph are very close. Order a replacement for the spilt beer.

Still no cards. Well, I get a 66, but I’m under the gun, so I fold. Then I get 88, but Arif has pushed all-in before I can bet. Decide to fold, wait for something better. Arif gets a caller. 8 comes on the board. Would have made a set. Would have trebled-up. Arif goes out. Get KQ, but Raj pushes all-in, so I fold. Raj gets a caller. Flop comes QK something-or-other. Raj goes out. I miss out.

Not to worry, we’re having a great evening. John is telling me and Perry that in his experience poker players are in the main really nice people. We all nod. I look at Perry’s lucky charm. It’s a bright silver coin in a clear plastic case to keep it pristine. But it can’t have been Perry. He was moved to another table. Must have been Stu. Decide that John really is a nice person, but wonder if he may be judging people by his own standards, if you you know what I mean. Could do with another beer.

Play continues. Get Q10 suited. Right, this is it. Must act now, but before it gets round to me, Gary Wiles raises and Dru Doshi re-raises, scattering chips into the middle like a bleeding shower of green confetti. I fold.

Next, I find A9 suited in the small blind. Decide to pounce. The blinds are 400/800. Time I got busy. Push, as they say. Bully the big blind (nice John) into surrendering a much needed 800 chips. Make the correct bet of 2400 chips. This is confirmed for me by Big Stu. Nice John in the big blind thinks for about two seconds and goes all-in on me.

For f ''k's sake! (Sorry, ladies).

Take my time in folding, though there is never any doubt in my mind that I am going to fold. Pretend that I am on the point of calling, but really I am wondering how to cover my embarrassment. Wish I could think of something clever to say. Can’t. All I can think to do is to fold with an exaggerated air of reluctance. John tells me he had 1010. I believe him. Just my luck.

Next, Ray is raising. John calls. A king hits the flop. Ray pushes it all in. John calls. John has a king with an ace kicker. Ray doesn’t have king.

The blinds are up again and I can’t buy a hand. Down to about 3000 chips. When am I ever going to get a hand? Wonder if maybe I should get my own little mascot or lucky charm or something. Stare in disbelief when I notice that Ralph’s peanut has gone. Spooky.

The big blind is getting close. Must concentrate, but I can’t stop looking at little Ralph the squirrel sitting proudly on his tower of chips. I wonder that he doesn’t get vertigo, stuck up so high. The peanut must have fallen off, I reason, though I can’t see it anywhere. Must have.

Cards are being dealt. Next hand I’ll be in the big blind. Look down to find rags. Again. It’s hot in here. Bottle’s empty. Order another. Could really murder a cigar.

Big blind is on me now. John’s under the gun. He limps. Everyone else folds round to me. Even the small blind folds. Look down. J9 off. Try again. Push in half my chips with a air of invincibility. John thinks for about half a second, then calls. Flop comes two rags with an A. I think for a bit. Feeling under pressure, realizing that delay looks weak. If I am to win this pot, I decide, I must make a continuation bet. I shove it all in like a hunter who has trapped his quarry. John doesn’t need to think. Calls instantaneously. John has got an ace with a king kicker. I shake his hand and wish everybody luck.

Bit disappointed. Thought I'd played well. Unlucky not to make it to the final table this time. Still, you get 10 bonus league points on a Wednesday. Make a mental note to see where I am in the table. Go to the bar to get a beer, then wander over to the cash table.

Find out later that Dru won first prize with John and Ralph coming joint second.