THE problem with competing in a poker tournament when you can’t really play poker is an obvious one – you can’t really play.
But was I going to let this stop me? Shouldn’t have thought so.
Did Britney Spears stop when she realised she couldn’t really sing? No, she went on to sell 100 million records worldwide. Did Arnold Schwarzenegger stop when he realised he couldn’t act? No, he got paid $15m for 700 words of dialogue in Terminator 2, ‘Hasta la vista, baby’ scored him $85k alone – He who dares Rodney, he who dares.
I wasn’t going to win, I knew that, my new mate knew that, the dealer knew that, actually the whole table knew that. Bollocks to it then let’s ruffle some feathers.
So off I tottered to Manchester’s swankiest city centre den of vice, Manchester235, with at most a half hour of Youtube tutorials, a devil-may-care newbie attitude and a brain repeating over and over: high, pair, two pair, three kind, straight, flush, full house, 4 kind, straight flush… high, pair, two pair…
I’m sure I’d been told we had to register by 6.15pm, yet here I was, stood alone amongst row after row of pristine poker felt. Intimidated? A bit. “Where is everyone?” I ask, “Oh they’ll be here. Don’t worry” comes the ominous reply.
Well now I am worried, because you’ve made them sound like a descending vampire horde, From Dusk Till Dawn anyone? Not too far off the mark actually, I’m pretty sure they could smell my new blood.
So what does a newbie do with half an hour wait until the tournament begins. Why start drinking of course. That’ll quell the nerves. And what a bar to drink in.
235’s new Vega Lounge is a truly swish affair, all white leather and celestial backlighting. It’s a glammed-up Vegas style number – minus the human-conveyer belts of corpulent laggards and Celine Dion. It’s the kind of swank that’d make Ol’ Blue Eyes himself feel underdressed.
Back down to the action and they’ve started to filter in. They’re a motley looking crew, one actually looks like a member of Mötley Crüe, another like a bona fide Hell’s Angel. Handlebar moustache, leather jacket and wraparound sunglasses.
I imagined the exaggerated archetypal poker characterisations to be resigned to U.S. TV tournaments. Turns out they’re right here among us: The crass obese one, the quiet and contemplative Asian guy, the pasty dork with headphones and bumfluff, the city slicker and the surprisingly attractive female.
As the screens flash up our names and table numbers we take to our seats, some will be there for up to five hours, I’d be lucky to make one.
Initially feeling a little out of place I try to replicate the actions of the others, getting to grips with the small blinds, big blinds, the flops, the turns, the rivers. Turned out they were a more than friendly bunch, the atmosphere was positively jovial – not the face-down mutes I’d expected at all.
Sensing my beginner status the bawdy Scot to my left even took me under his wing, giving me hints and tips along the way. “You’re small blind mate” “50 to see pal.” Top bloke.
After I’d cut my teeth on the first couple of hands (by folding at the first possible opportunity) I reasoned that I had absolutely nothing to lose. I wasn’t going to win, I knew that, my new mate knew that, the dealer knew that, actually the whole table knew that. Bollocks to it then let’s ruffle some feathers.
Smash. I won the next three out of six hands. The table didn’t know what had hit it. A young upstart so artlessly raising in the first round? I was bound to burn out.
The best thing was that I hadn’t had a hand better than a pocket pair of Queens. This was easy, I was a natural, a prodigy… it was clearly beginners luck. But I was intending to ride it out until I crashed and burned in a crowning blaze of glory. No limping towards the finish line for me. Sink or swim.
My luck soon began to dwindle. I folded the next four hands. A two four, a five seven, a three eight, a seven eight. Where’s that royal lot got to? Where’s all my picture cards? They’re avoiding me. It’s a conspiracy I tell you. Cocksure comeuppance.
I’d started to worry that I was looking like ‘a folder’. That I’d won a few hands, gathered enough chips to see me on through to the next round so was playing it safe. Fold after fold.
Cautiousness, unfortunately for me, wasn’t my style.
An Ace, yes. And a five, not so good, but still good. This was it. I was to rise again. I’d force the rest of the table into submission through sheer audacity. I raise. A few fold, a few call. That’s fine let’s see the flop.
A five. Get in. I had a pair of fives with an ace in the bag. Raise again, to hell with it. A couple fold and it’s just me and Andy (bloody Andy). Man to man.
All in. Andy calls. Oh dear.
Me: Two 5’s and an Ace.
Andy: Three of a kind.
Out before the hour mark. Oh well, I’d stuck to my guns and gone out in a blaze of glory. More like a whimpering damp squib actually, but I prefer to recall it as the former. Off to the bar and buffet then (first to the grub, who’s the real victor here).
But I’ll be back, oh I’ll be back. It was all too much bloody fun to not give it another go. The wits, the chips, the bluffs, the roughs, the smooths. It’s quite a surprise this gambling lark hasn’t caught on.
Most importantly though, I hadn’t come last. There were already two dropouts at the bar. Which, when you think about it, makes me a winner of sorts…
The actual winners:
There were 81 entries with a total prize pool of £2835. Nifty.
really enjoyed the game , would have liked to be in longer but did manage over 2 hours , And happy…Read more
I really enjoyed the tournament and was a bit gutted to go out 13th, so close yet so far, heres to…Read more
great turn out and immensely enjoyed the day,well done to all organisers and the dealers!!!!Read more
june 5th is my tourney watch out the dukes about!!!!Read more