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.