Saturday, June 16, 2007


Guys. Girls. Sorry, it's a long long time since I last posted, but you know, wow, like have I been busy, or what.

Anyway. I'm gonna have a go at getting regular again. I know a lot of you have missed my informative blogs and the insightful slant I bring to the great game.

A bit of a cheat, I know, but I'm gonna kick it off with an article I wrote some time ago for the BiG SLiCK in Purley. They posted it on their website, but some of you may not have had the benefit of seeing it yet.

Oh! And by the way. Some d!ck-head who calls himself Alan Windsor Castle has posted a so-called interview I did with him a couple of weeks ago. The guy is a total A-HOLE. The whole thing is a pack of lies in which he totally misreprented what I said and twisted things to try and make me look like some kind of idiot. I must say I am pretty disappointed that BiG SLiCK went ahead and decided to put it on their website. Do not on any account read it.

Oh. And Alan. If you're out there cocker. This thing ain't over yet!

Anyway. Here it is. The article I told you about. It's called Love That Turbo - only it's a shame they don't run that turbo touney anymore. Still.

Dark clouds before my eyes
Can't face the morning skies
Day comes again too soon
I'm waiting for that silver moon
Maybe I'm wrong, but I feel like
Another night will make it all right...

Bit of Camel there - playing in the car on the way over to the club. Moon Madness. Blimey. Haven't heard that one for a long time. Good sound. Though not exactly uplifting - for a Wednesday night.

No. I think a little bit of you-know-what is called for. I push the eject button. Then search blindly - fingers riflling through the piles of discs cluttering-up the central console - looking for the one-and-only Mr JW - whilst at the same time making a rather tricky maneouvre at the lights outside 'Chav Central'. (Tesco Extra). Someone sounds their horn at me. Go forth and multiply - I exhort them. A hatchback with blacked-out windows streaks alongside - cuts me up - gains one car-body-length in the queue down Purley High Street. F-r! Anyway. Enough of all that. (Uptight's - out of sight.) So, let's stay in the groove. Hey! It’s Wednesday. Turbo night! I finally manage to grab hold of the one I want and load it into the player. That's more like it! Ladies and gentlemen - please put your hands together for - Mr Johnny Winter. Let's rock!

I get card for seat 6 Caesar’s Palace. Empty chair on my right. Fella on my left is new to me. ‘What’s your name mate?’ I ask. ‘Barnes.’ He says. ‘Barnes. Phil. What are you drinking?’ ‘Oh, nice one,’ says he. ‘Kronenberg. Thanks very much.’ ‘No problemo,’ says I. ‘Anyone else?’ I look around the table.

To Barney’s left is Filthy Sye. He beams at me from under the peak of a tight-fitting corduroy cap. Reminds me of a pair of trousers I once had. Very fashionable at the time. ‘Yeah. Phil. A Kronnie. Ta.’

Next to Sye is an empty chair. Then comes a guy in blue, nice fella, black tash. George, I think his name is. ‘What you havin’ mate?’ I ask. ‘Diet coke. Thanks.’ He smiles.

Next to George is Chris (sans shades – I think he only wears them for the big freeze-outs). Orders a fat Coke. ‘Sure you won’t have a diet?’ I jest with a knowing wink. He laughs roundly at my little quip, but assures me that he’ll take the real, full-bodied thing.

Somehow. (Don’t ask me why). But next thing we’re talking about - Julie Andrews. Yeah. No. That’s it. I do remember. I’m saying that I can’t hear the music. ‘Is it on loud enough?’ ‘It is for me,’ says Chris up the other end of the table. ‘What is it?’ ‘Dunno,’ says Chris. ‘Not Stevie Wonder, is it?’ ‘Nah,’ says Chris. ‘Dunno what it is. Not my kind of music, anyway.’ ‘Right. What is your kind of music?’ I ask. ‘Oh. I like all sorts. Weird stuff.’ ‘Weird?. Weird like what?’ I persist. ‘Oh. The Sound of Music,’ says Chris. ‘What, Julie Andrews?’ ‘Yeah.’ says Chris. ‘Oh. Right,’ I nod encouragingly – thinking, Yeah. That is weird

Next to Chris (a lovely bloke - who clearly needs help) is another face that’s new to me. Well, it’s a while since I’ve been down to the ‘Slick’ – what with all the bother I’ve had lately. Did I tell yer I’ve moved? Yeah. J’sus. Never again. What a drama. But I had to get away. The neighbours. Bad karma. I gotta tell you. Well, I probably will - later - if I have enough Guinness.

Anyway. (Back to the poker). It turns out that guy next to Chris is a bloke called Almir. Very nice guy, as it happens. Very polite. Friendly. ‘Orange juice,’ he says. ‘No ice.’ He’s very specific on this point.

The dealer is Alex. (Know who I mean? Yeah, that’s him. But. To be fair. He is actually a very good dealer). 'No, I'm fine,' he tells me.

‘As for me,’ I announce. ‘I’m in the mood for a pint of Guinness.’ Lovely it is too. Goes down a treat.

Tell me, Alex,’ I enquire, after a deep and cooling throat-load of the dark stuff. ‘What’s the drill on this one? Rebuys are £10, right? And how many chips do we get for the super add-on?’

‘Twenty pounds buys five thousand chips,’ says Alex.

‘Five thousand! Blimey! I think I’ll just sit tight for an hour then. Wait and pick up my five thousand at the break. Thank you very much.’

‘Yeah,’ says Chris. ‘No point in getting involved till then.’ Round the table heads nod sagely. Very good advice, we’re all agreed. Funny none of us follow it.

First out of the blocks is Sye. No surprise there then. The blinds have started at 25-50. He’s betting a 1,000. There’s 125 in the middle. Everyone folds.

‘What’d you have?’ I ask him. ‘Eight, four, off?’

Sye grins that cheeky-wide-bright grin of his.

After that it’s all caution to the winds for most of them. Just Chris and me passing every hand. Barney, George and Sye are at it hammer and tongs. Their stacks going up and down quicker than a you-know-what’s you-know-whats. Then Barney busts-out. Re-buys. Doubles up. It’s all action. Very exciting. (Almost found myself playing a hand at one point).

‘Fast and furious,’ says Sye. He loves it.

After a bit, even Chris can’t resist. Having steadfastly passed everything, he’s suddenly shoving it all in for (of all things) a flush draw on the river. It doesn’t come and he has to re-buy.

But it’s Almir who’s piling-up the chips. The hands he’s getting! AK. JJ. 99. AA. AA again. Then he sneaks in with K2. Hits a King on the flop. He’s walking on water and soon he’s way ahead. A great wall of chips in front of him.

‘Ready for another one?’ says Barney. ‘Uhmmm. Another Guinness would be nice. Cheers.’ Barney gets them in. Play continues.

Till now, I haven’t played a single hand. Get sixes one time. Decide to make a raise. But before it gets to me we’ve had raise and re-raise. I fold. Next thing. George and Mrs Maker are all-in. (Oh yeah. I forgot to say. Mrs Maker has joined us – lovely woman – real lady – sitting on my right). Anyway. It turns out that George has got 2-2. (George, I should tell you, is at it most of the time. He’s busted out at least once. To George 2-2 is a monster). Mrs Maker’s got KJ-off. ‘I’ve come late,’ she explains. ‘I have to get some chips.’ Fair enough. And you know. I'm thinking. There's something almost heroic about the way she said it. And then. Would you believe it? A jack, two queens and a six come on the board. I would have had a house! Instead Mrs Maker takes it all with her pair. George’s volatile stack takes another tumble.

Then I get QJ suited. After the rubbish I’ve been getting, it looks like El Dorado. I make a small raise. Get one caller. A queen hits the flop. I bet out. Other guy folds. And that’s more or less it for me until after the break.

No. Wait a minute. There was one other hand. That’s right.

There are several cries of ‘player down!’ - I remember. Then Angelo joins our table, sitting to Sye’s left. And I get eights. That’s right. My chips have dwindled a bit with the blinds, (they’re up to 100-200 by now), so with enough limpers already in to make the pot worthwhile, I decide to join the merry scramble and shove it all in.

Everyone folds, except for the newly arrived Mutant Ninja Turtle - Angelo. After very little consideration, he calls.

‘Mmmm’ I’m thinking. I didn’t really want a caller – not with 88. ‘So, what’s he got?’ I’m asking myself. Angelo will have put me on a reasonable pair - maybe even a high pair – or AK, AQ – something like that. Which means that either he has a big pair himself, which is worrying. Or, AK. Or, is he playing one of those dark little subterranean reptilian hands of his? I’m hoping it’s the last of these three possibilities..

Then it’s on their backs. And would you Adam&Eve it! Angelo’s got 88 and it’s a split pot.

After that, it’s the break.

'Coming outside for a smoke, Phil?' Almir invites me. 'Yeah. Why not?' I agree. But now I remember that I didn't bring any cigars with me. I've deliberately left them at home. I'm really trying to cut down. You know? Funny - I felt very positive about it earlier. Taking control and all that. But now. Now that Almir's put it into my head - I'm suddenly busting for one. 'I can't,' I tell him. 'I didn't bring my cigars with me.' 'Here. Have one of mine.' Almir waves a pack of ciggies in front of me. 'Nah. Thanks for the offer, Almir, but no.' 'You only smoke cigars?' he asks. 'Yeah', I whine. 'Ok,' he shrugs and walks to the door. Bugger it! I could really murder a smoke now. But instead I have to make do with a plate of Manuel's marinated chicken on a bed of rice (delicious as it happens) washed down with a cooling pint of Guinness. Very nice. Well. I was bluddy starving hungry. And that always makes food taste better. Dunnit? (Sorry Manuel. Only kidding mate. No. Honestly. The food really is really, really nice. Honestly. No. It is. I was only kidding. For f-k's sake, Manuel. You don't have to be like that about it. It was only a joke, for Chr-st's sake. All right. All right. I said I'm sorry. Chill, why don't you? 'king hell).

Then it’s freezeout. Time for some proper poker. Right? You must be joking.

Blinds are 200-400. On the button, I get AQ–suited. I make it 1200 to go. It folds round to George who’d just limped in. He pauses. Looks at me and smiles. Looks at his cards. Then looks at me again. ‘You’ve got me worried,’ he says. ‘You haven’t played a hand for an hour.’ ‘If you’re worried, you’d better fold my friend,’ I advise. He shows me a king and mucks. ‘Good fold,’ I congratulate him.

Then all of a sudden, I get a succession of very playable hands – especially for a turbo. AJ-suited. AJ-off. 88 - again. 22. AQ-off. But, you know, you can get too many hands sometimes. Well that’s what I think. I mean, sometimes you just don’t want another marginal playable hand. You’re bound to end-up in trouble with one of them. Know what I mean?

Anyway. I call with the AJ-suited – miss the flop – fold to a bet. I call with the AJ-off– miss the flop – fold to a bet. The 88 I raise-up to 1800 (blinds are 300-600 by now) – everyone folds. I dump the twos. The AQ-off is another story.

I limp. And all of a sudden, George is all-in. And Mrs Maker follows. One of them I’d call – but two? There’s got to be a pair or AK out there. So, I fold. On there backs. What do I find? George has got 85-suited. Mrs Maker A9-off. They both miss. Mrs Maker takes the pot.

‘I folded AQ for you two.’ I smile through gritted teeth. George manages to smile and frown at the same time. He clearly doesn’t believe me. ‘You shouldn’t be playing poker then,’ he admonishes. ‘You don’t believe me, do you?’ I plead. George arches one eyebrow. No, he doesn’t.

A few Guninesses later and we’re down to the last ten players. One place away from the final table. Two tables playing alternate hands. I’ve got a reasonable stack – about 13,000 – but I’m nowhere near the leaders. Nevertheless, I tell myself to sit tight. Whatever happens - stay in control - get to the Bellagio. Then get busy and hope to make some luck.

But now I’m staring down at A10-suited. I don’t really want to play it, to be honest. But I'm feeling - I dunno - a little looser - more happy-go-lucky, shall we say. Anyway. Instead of folding, I find myself making a raise. Yet again, George is all-in on me. And not to be left out of things - Mrs Maker quickly follows. Bluddy hell. What is it with those two? Now what to do?

I dwell-up for a bit. I'm thinking it through. Calmly. The chances are I’m in front. But I’m so close to the final table. And I’ve never liked A10 much. And maybe this time George has got a genuine hand. But, the way these two have been playing, you've got to fancy that my A10 is in front. And if I do win – I go to the final table with a very playable stack of chips. So. S-d it. What do they call it? Fast and furious. I decide to go for it. And they’re on their backs.

George shows: A6-off. Mrs Maker: QJ-off.Yours truly: A10-suited.

And suddenly everyone from the other table is round our table - like vultures viewing the kill.

Flop comes K 10 4 Turn 2 River 9!

‘Mrs Maker!’ I cry. ‘You broke my heart.’ ‘I’m sorry,’ she says. And I really believe she means it. ‘I shouldn’t have called, but I needed to get more chips.’ And so she did.

Then there’s an all-in on the other table. We all rush to take a look. Cries. Moans. Arms raised. We’re down to nine. I’ve made it to the final table – but I’m crippled. Barely enough to pay the blinds.

Bellagio. And first to fall is George - almost immediately. Then me. Just a few hands in - I find 33. Not great, but at least it’s a pair. Sye goes all-in. I call without much hope. Sye hits his set of sevens. I hit the road.

Soon after that, Sye went out. Then Pav. Then Almir. That left four. Three places paid.

As it happens, it was Chas Brook who went on to win the tourney, carving-up the money with Barney. Dimps made third and picked-up a few quid too. And good luck to them all. They played well.

The heroic Mrs M? Alas, she fell at the bubble.

Keep smiling - Phil Diamond

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