They say a change is as good as a rest don`t they? Well, who should ring me but none other than my old friend DC or as you probably know him better "El Blondie" Dave Colclough. The Broadway have a festival on and I hear you`re coming up for a couple of days so I thought I would invite you to stay at my place, you can use the east wing... east wing? I remind him he lives in an apartment... not a bloody mansion! Joking apart DC does live in a very large and well appointed pad, complete with sauna, office and gym.. though I doubt he uses the latter very much! So having thanked him for his hospitality and cleared up the rumour that he is no longer with Blonde Poker (he has retained his shares but is no longer promoting or managing the site) I set off for Birmingham.
I forgot how pleasant the two and a half hour drive to the great capital of the midlands can be, so having sat in numerous road works and hold ups I finally arrive...some five hours later. After a quick shower and change I offer to treat my pal to a meal at the casino before the start of today's event so off to the casino we go. On arrival we are greeted by the cardroom manager Raj, pay our entry's and take a seat in the restaurant. Incidentally the Broadway casino in Birmingham is in my opinion one of the best cardroom venues in the country. It has class, it`s well run and all customers are made to feel welcome, oh and the food is superb. We have a great meal and I`m just about to pay the bill when the manager returns to tell us it`s all taken care of. I begin to thank him profusely when.... they hand the bill to DC to sign and I sheepishly realise that it may be something more to do with his status in the poker community than mine. Oh well a quick ride on someone's coat tails never harms.
The event itself has just short of one hundred runners and I outlast DC but both of us fail miserably, oh well off to the east wing.
I get up next morning and I am treated to the sight of DC, dressed in boxer shorts and t shirt playing on his laptop.. did you go to bed I ask? Of course he says, but I always get up around 10am to play online and catch the yanks who are stuck and steaming, oh right, so how are you doing? ... Want a bacon butty he snaps!.. Oops. Bacon butty and coffee dispatched DC says he is off to the sauna and that I can play on his account seen as he`s stuck several hundred dollars and I`m supposed to be an Omaha expert... err Ok. So I`m left with an $8.000 bank roll and no instructions to try to save the day. DC returns from the sauna half an hour later to find he`s now nearly a grand up , his mood has changed and he decides to try to hook my laptop up so I too can earn a few quid. Now you may not know this but DC is a computer expert (he used to write programs before he was rich and famous). Well, three hours later having nearly trashed my laptop he surrenders muttering something about stupid wireless network. I eventually play under my own name, in the same game with the same line-up on DC`s computer and manage a small loss... ironic or what!
We both play the next evenings comp but the results are just the same as the night before, so no change there then. One result of note was that Mickey Wernick and his son David both reached the final, we may well have another Wernick to contend with over the coming months.. a chip off the old block so to speak.
With no results in sight and TV work on the EPM booked for me and a trip to the Johnny Chan Invitational booked for DC we left the Broadway, him to his huge and fabulously appointed apartment in a somewhat iffy location and me to my much smaller and less opulent apartment in a fabulous seafront location.. I was left to reflect on the drive home as to how differently the cards had fallen for us over the last fifteen years.
The new kid on the block of the poker calendar is the EPM (European Poker Masters) and the first stop on the four event tour was the Fifty Club in St James`s London. The event sponsored by Full Tilt Poker turned out to be a who`s who of poker. Now you may have heard this phrase used before but, check out these names: Phil Ivey, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, Gus Hanson, Allen Cunningham, Jennifer Harman, Howard Lederer, Eric Siedel, Roland De Wolfe, Mike Matusow. Add to this the likes of Marc Goodwin and Willie Tann and you can soon start to get the picture. The line-up for the televised table included Bambos Xantos, Phil Ivey, Gus Hanson, Marc Goodwin, Willie Tann and Melissa Hayden.
First out was Bambos, then quite a long spell of nothing before Gus despatches Phil Ivey, and the hands ? Gus had Q-8 versus Phil`s Q-K ..if my memory serves me. Willie Tann runs pocket fours into Jeff Buffenbergher`s (at least I think that`s his name) pocket tens and he`s gone. Gus now decides he`s played tight long enough ... about four hands! Melissa raises, Gus calls and Melissa rolls over A-K, Gus flips up 9-10 and when the dust clears it`s bye bye Melissa. We lose our internet qualifier (sorry I just can`t remember the name ) and Jeff Baconburger..oops Buffenbergher, and we go to heads up Gus versus Marc.
Gus seems to have getting in pots with the worst hand and winning down to a fine art, so I can`t resist asking him about it in the break before the heads up play. His reply?...it was something to do with the backgammon theory of taking the cube, even though you know you`re behind, but it is the correct play in the long run money wise...got it??
I just decided he was the king of the underdogs and left it at that! So heads up Gus v Marc quite a ding dong but you knew there would be only one result and sure enough it was the "King of the Underdogs" day and our first EPM winner Mr Gus Hanson.
But this display was about to pale into insignificance with what was about to happen next day in the "Million Dollar " cash game. Read on.
The line up for the million dollar cash game included John Juanda, Phil Ivey, Jennifer Harmon, Marc Goodwin, Alan Smurfit, Tony G, Alan Cunningham, Eric Seidel, Howard Ledehrer, Mike Matusow and Roland De Wolfe. Oh yes almost forgot and of course Gus Hanson, how that name will come to haunt some of these. The commentator on the event was my old pal Gary Jones who I spoke to before it all kicked off. He relayed to me how he found this so ironic as he had recently played with most of these on the internet and having run $4,000 into nearly a quarter of a million he then proceeded to lose the lot to one or two of the players in this line up, and now to top it all he will get to comment on those winners playing with his money. Oh the irony of it all!
The rules of the game were that of every cash game and players were free to come and go as they liked. Initially the game was pretty slow which was predictable as the minimum buy in was $100,000. so nobody was in a hurry to rebuy. The early winners to get up and leave before dinner were Jennifer Harmon and Marc Goodwin, and an early loser was the unfortunate John Juanda. Gus? Oh he was up and down the odd $50,000!
How the game changed after the dinner break. Into the fray came one Paul Kemsley or "PK" as he likes to be known as. He`s a regular big game cash player in the London area and didn`t he just stir up a hornets nest? He plonked $150,000 on the table and declared that whatever he won he would donate to charity! As you can imagine he had the full support of much of the crowd.
During the melee a very unfortunate Eric Seidel managed to flop trip eights against top pair of yes you`ve guessed it Gus Hanson. Gus then hit runner, runner, to make a bigger full house than Eric and remove around $100,000 from Eric`s stack. Many of the pots played during this wild and reckless period were well over $150,000. Unfortunately for "PK" all his brave and reckless plays were for nothing but the biggest loser by far was the man who came to the table declaring himself to be the best no limit hold`em player in the world - Mike Matusow - and his result was... a loss of over $200,000 and plenty of expletives to go with it!
The biggest winner of the day was the quiet and workman like Phil Ivey who patiently amassed a profit of close to $100,000. Well they always say class shows eventually. The most entertaining was certainly PK and the most fortunate, well that`s an easy one, for the second day running that award goes to Gus Hanson.
The two shows should make excellent TV, they were fun to work on and had some great eye opening moments. I am booked to work on the future EPM events so will have reports from them as they occur. For me my next assignment is playing at the EPT event starting next week in London. Incidentally the reports from Barcelona were that the first event on the EPT tour was full with four hundred odd runners and nearly two hundred reserves, so I am pretty sure that London may well follow suit. Look out for a report on this event in my next column.