Friday, April 21, 2006

Careless memory

I take a lot of stick out on the road thanks to something that has come to be know as Matt's "gay book". My "gay book" actually likes girls as much as it likes boys, but because it's only tiny (and a nice pastel blue) people seem to think it's sexuality is in question.

Truth is, it's a godsend. It comes with me everywhere, and every anecdote, comment, gag and gaff is captured within. Problem is, as I myself have often had a couple of snifters when making use of the "gay book" I'm not always sure what the hell it all means when I come to look back through it later.

Random comments recently discovered:

Author to remain anon: "We bought two bottles of booze for £15,000 each and took three girls back to our room. One passed out, one just sat in the corner of the room crying, and no one can remember what happened to the third."

Entry under the heading of RANDOM FACTOID: "John Duthie has a VERY BIG face."

Pommo: on being one of Company Magazine's Top 50 Batchelors. "As long as I'm above Dean Gaffney and Sid Owen I'll be happy."

Some yank: "Oh I love Europe, especially Australia."

Pommo: "Get pissed the night before a tourney. You feel so shit in the early levels you can't be bothered to play and don't knock yourself out."

Gus Hanson wears 'Jazz Shoes' and walks a "bit funny".

So, as you can see, the "gay book" is not to be dissed. And next time, we shall plunder the "gay book" for what it has to say about the continuation of the Eurostar journey we followed previously.

Be seeing you...

Also does girls

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Liar Liar!

This is a preview of my next poker column written for FLUSH magazine.

The best lies are the believable ones...

One of the things I love about presenting Poker Night Live is the contact we have with newcomers to poker when broadcasting our amateur nights. The other evening I received an email from a new player saying, “My game is coming along nicely, but I still don’t know how often I should be bluffing. I feel it’s a real weakness in my game.” Now then… the following announcement is VERY important. There’s no law that says you HAVE to bluff in poker. Bluffing is a skill that bubbles away in the background and should ONLY be used when the situation calls for it. Now I know that was a lot of CAPITAL LETTERS but it’s an important point that needs shouting.

To expand upon “when the situation calls for it” here’s a quick example of rubbish bluffing for the sake of bluffing. Steve gets dealt 7-4 off-suit. It’s a dog of a hand. The blinds and antes are huge and he’s under the gun (i.e. first to act). “I’m all-in!” Steve declares, pushing all his chips in and staring down anyone insolent enough to look at him. He is “Mr Bluff”. He is a warrior. He is a wild card. He is also called by Dave with pocket kings who busts Steve out of the tournament like the chimp he is.

The key thing to remember is that bluffs should occur as a reaction to a situation. They also need to be misleading, not confusing. You don’t want to baffle your opponent; you want to sell them an untrue story that they will believe. Treat bluffing like lying to your wife. When do you do that? Answer: when it will be believable and get you what you want. You’re late home because you were enjoying yourself and didn’t want to leave the pub/footie/mistress. Do you call and say, a) I lost track of time and the tubes are up the spout so I’ll be home late, or b) an eagle stole my trousers and I tripped over playing cricket on Pope Gregory’s yacht in Africa and punctured my spleen?

Remember; misleading, not confusing.

Imagine you have a small random hand and limp into a pot only to see an ace fall on the flop. If no one takes any action before you, making a decent-sized bet yourself is selling the story “I have an ace”. It’s not confusing; it’s a deliberately misleading lie. If people buy into your story, you’ll get what you want (i.e. they fold and you take down a pot that you wouldn’t have won just by playing the cards).

So remember, bluffing isn’t just about making random moves in the hope of scaring people away; it’s about reacting to specific situations, and selling stories to get what you want. Don’t feel you have to bluff to succeed in poker, but realise that others will bluff against you, and it’s a very useful weapon to have in your poker armoury. Oh, and NEVER lie to your wife. She’ll see through it every time, guaranteed.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

All aboard

The Scene: Eurostar to Paris, heaving to Deauville EPT.
The Players: Me, Ali (Virgin), Dubai, Dpommo.

The Eurostar 'port' at Waterloo is hardly the most glamorous lounge I've ever waited in, but my guts have been complaining about a steak sandwich I fucked up on the George Foreman yesterday night, so I'm just glad to sit down before gravity has the chance to force anything out of my arse unexpectedly. I don't know why I bought the bloody thing to be honest (the grill, not my arse). Like I need another cookery toy in my kitchen. Anyway, I suppose it'll look nice next to the blender (never used) the sandwich maker (some of the residual cheddar dates back to 1998) and an Ideal Home Show slicing machine I haven't touched since I nearly lost a finger just trying to get to the instruction book out back in 2002.

The Bagel Factory is advertising "Hot and Crispy" bacon bagels, and though the doc recommended I avoid eating and starve out whatever weevil rode into my stomach on the Foreman express and started partying, I'm starving and can't resist. Sadly, a more accurate description than "Hot and Crispy" might have been "Microwaved to the temperature of the sun and flaccid like John Pertwee's cock," but I imagine that probably wouldn’t look so good on their poster. It is, frankly, disappointing, and I think I just heard the weevil downstairs cheer at the arrival of breakfast. He certainly just opened another bottle of champagne if the pressure in my sphincter is to be believed.

In a move that I've since come to expect with this bunch, we upgrade to the highest level of travel possible. Pommo is small enough to look comfy, but I know Ali and I are going to have to be careful not to spend the next few hours cracking shins like horny boy elks fighting over lady elks. Exactly what makes this seat "1st Class" I really don't know, but Ali almost immediately pulls the arm off his chair for no apparent reason. "If you're looking for the 'in-flight' movie screen, I think you're fucked son."

A reasonably pretty waitress appears, prompting Dubai to sit up ever so slightly and remove his headphones (which are - just to give you some colour - larger than many family cars currently on sale). "Hope the lobster's fresh." he quips. "Yes," she replies, "Straight from the Thames." Touché. Dubai retreats back into the relative safety of his Craig Davids. "I'll pass on the lobster."

Thankfully, being the resilient chap he is, Dubai is ready for round two as the 'main course' arrives. It's the Eurostar's take on a full English, and Dave ventures a "Sausages medium please". She rewards him with total silence - as if he doesn't exist. I think he could be in here. Apparently Dubai recently turned up at a MacDonalds and asked for the fries to be lightly salted. The spotty underachiever at the till turned to the 'oil monitor' and shouted "FRIES LIGHTLY SALTED!" God only knows exactly how much phlegm his burger contained by the time the youths had had their way with it.