So… last time I attempted to entertain you with my take on the preliminary stages of the Monte Carlo EPT. The bad news? There’s more!
In the main tournament room, I’m scribbling away at my note book – making notes on interesting table draws – when Hendon Monbster, Barny Boatman walks in. I find myself hiding because I still owe him 50p (he lent me some change for a parking meeting outside the Ladbrokes casino a month or so back). It then dawns on me that, considering the company I’m in, hunting down a stray 50p is probably a long way down Barny’s debt collecting priorities right now.
An hour into the game and Hellmuth still hasn’t arrived. Famous for these late appearances, anyone with a spare seat at their table is literally playing every single pot in an attempt to get as many chips stashed away before The Brat arrives to rape them all. Metaphorically speaking, obviously.
A journo (who managed to trick the gullible PR team into buying him into the main event) waddles over: “I’ve got Chris Moneymaker on my table. I’m off for a shit.” Now whether these two statements are related or merely next to each other chronologically I couldn’t say. I personally love to play against such poker luminaries; but then again I had eggs for breakfast so am probably less likely to shit myself if a World Champion pushes all-in against me than most of these Red Bull-fuelled lads.
I bump into Katja Thater (magnificent at about 6ft 5” in heels incidentally). Out of 650 players, she somehow managed to defy the odds and draw the same table as her husband. One can only imaging the quality of pillow talk if one of the Thaters knocks the other out. I wonder just how long conjugal rights are suspended if you knock out your wife to the tune of €10,000?
I’m a big fan of Mr David Devilfish (as I like to call him) but he is gradually turning into that guy from The Fast Show (the one who’s your dad’s age, but is clinging onto his youth for dear life). Resplendent in leather biker jacket, ripped designer jeans, dark glasses… well, I never thought I’d say it, but I find myself wishing he’d go back to the old gangster suits. He does, however, make an amazing laydown on the river holding KK against a guy with AA who slow plays it to the river. Dave loses the hand but saves a considerable amount of chips. He turns round and shrugs at me. He’s seen this a million times…
AK is easily the most over-played hand I see all tournament. In one hand a guy with big slick can’t resist going all-in despite a board containing an ace (of course) a pair of threes and three hearts. Needless to say a slightly more cunning player has 7h8h and lets his AK-obsessed friend know how it feels to only have 1,000 in chips at only the 3rd level.
Almost as if the poker gods can’t help further punishing ‘AK boy’, he (now very short-stacked) pushes in with Q-8 on a queen-high board only to run into Q-K. He can only survive by hitting one of the three eights left in the deck, and on the river… he does. Those poker gods are sick bastards. What a silly silly game poker is. Never mind; I’m sure another AK will come along shortly so he can bust himself out the tourney once and for all.
I bump into The Fossilman, who loves to wear his WSOP bracelet while playing. On someone else it might seem a bit of a ‘bling’ show-off act, but on Raymer it doesn’t seem that way. You just get the feeling that he’s proud and happy to have it. God bless him – lovely chap.
It’s nice to be reminded that the subtle art of PR hasn’t died, as the Dusk Til Dawn contingent spills into the room. This basically involves lots of large-breasted ‘models’ in porno heels, hot pants, crop tops and too much make-up staggering around the room putting off any of the poker players who happen to be male and under 60 (i.e. 99% of them). Screw rakeback deals and deposit bonuses, THIS is how you capture your target audience.
I later bump into the DTD girls again who – having whipped up all the men into a state of total and useless arousal – are now relaxing by the pool. It’s a bikini-clad vision to be sure; right up until one of them opens her mouth and shouts, “Oi! Darlin!” in a voice not entirely unlike Grant Mitchell of Eastenders fame. It’s a jolt to the system, and I’m immediately transported from Monte Carlo to Romford Market, where I believe one can purchase ‘arf a pand a cherries’ for 50 pence. Delightful girl.
On the matter of attractiveness, I feel I’m capable of recognising a good-looking bloke when I see one, but with Patrik Antonius I just don’t get it. To me he looks like a well-groomed yet gaunt potato, but all the PR girls are gathered around him like snails in the rain licking the top of his head (metaphorically speaking). He even manages to get away with massive fashion faux pas such as flip flops with socks (generally a look monopolised by Greg Raymer and the over-60 crowd) and yet the girls STILL wilt as he enters the room. I REALLY hope this doesn’t become a trendy new look for poker players because, to be quite frank with you, I just haven’t got the socks for it. A few days later I bump into Patrik again, and can’t help but notice his spud-head appears to have been gradually cooking under the Monte Carlo sun. I don’t know whether to offer him some sunscreen or stick a fork in him to see if he’s done.
Back in the tournament room, a clearly silicon-enhanced masseur is touring the tables offering a damn good rub down to anyone with cash to spare. She’s bang-on attractive, and has become somewhat of a status symbol for the players. If you’ve got her boobs mashed against the back of your head, you’re clearly one hell of a player!
One particular chump has obviously been waiting hours for her to finally become free so that he can make his table-mates jealous, but doesn’t realise that he’s finally reeled her in only seconds before the dinner break starts. Just as he’s about to bask in the kudos (as her thumbs slip between five folds of fat where his shoulder blades used to be) everyone files out of the room to grab some chow and he’s left sitting there, missing his dinner, being given an over-priced backrub in an empty tournament room. Priceless.
At one point I snap a picture of the attractive masseur (just for research purposes, of course), and Gus Hanson spins around as the camera’s flash fires off; mildly disappointed that I wasn’t taking a picture of him. I’d personally have enough trouble playing against Hansen at the best of time, but how the fuck you concentrate with old ‘big tits’ rubbing away at your jowls I really don’t know.
Hellmuth is up to his usual tricks over on the far table. He spends five minutes thinking about folding pocket 2s against a board containing a ten, a Jack and an eight. When a player quiet asks if they should put the clock on him, he goes totally insane. Shouting the floor manager over Hellmuth demands a new dealer, insists he only took 80 seconds (which I can confirm is at least 450 second out) and even starts offering people to bet for money on exactly how long he took. It would be mildly amusing if it wasn’t for the fact that the level is ticking away while all this is going on, and most people came to play poker rather than watch The Brat Road Show.
Everything finally calms down on the Hellmuth table once no one cares any more, and I move over to a table featuring the key player who took all my chips from me out at the Ultimate Bet Aruba Classic. He seems pretty disappointed that I’m only reporting on and not playing in this game, but that’s probably just because it was all my poorly-played chips that helped him cash last time. I can only imagine that when he looks at me he sees a big bag of cash with $$$ on the side in much the same way a hungry cartoon Tom would see Jerry as a small roast chicken complete with trimmings.
And I am again, out of space. Who’d have thought I can say so much about so little. And even better, I think I might carry on next time. Bet you can’t wait…