Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Lucky Boy

So I know the last post was a bit doom and gloom, but things are on the up! I appear to slowly be transforming into a session musician while remaining closely connected to the poker world without having to rely on it entirely. Which is nice.

This week sees the recording of the final week of the radio show I've been doing with Jesse May for over a year now - It's incredible to think we've done 32 weeks of this! We started out producing three three-hour live shows a week for twelve week runs. We did this for the first two seasons (seems like even we English now prefer the term 'seasons' to 'series' - how very '24') but the third season has seen us shift to three podcasts a week, no more than 70 minutes in length. It's proved much easier both practically and from a content control point of view. I won't lie to you; with nine hours a week to generate we often had dullards on the phone that I STILL let talk for 30 minutes just to eat up the shows (shame on me). With these more compact shows we've not had to fill in such a way, while proper planning has allowed us to keep the quality high.

I'm not sure if the show will get picked up for a second year right now, but it would seem a shame to have built up a good name for ourselves to not continue. I'm also worried that if we don't have a radio show I'll never get invited to any PR jollies again. Which brings me to... BRIGHTON!

Yes, thanks to my affiliation with The Poker Show and also the ON THE RAIL podcast, I was fortunate enough to be invited down to Brighton for the relaunch of the seafront G Casino. I introduced myself to the group via a slight faux pas, involving a rather attractive PR lady who brought out the never-useful 'alpha male' in me. I attempted to take over the manly duty of instructing the taxi driver, and promptly sent him down towards to the wrong casino some 15 minutes away (doubly embarrassing considering the G Casino turned out to be literally one minute from our hotel). Still, everyone agreed it was nice to see a bit more of Brighton (ahem).

Inside the G you can see where Vegas has really set the trend for UK casinos. I remember my first experiences in London casinos, where nursing-home carpets and silence were the order of the day. The G Casino has smart decor (is it too metrosexual to REALLY like chocolate and orange as a colour scheme?) a lively sexy atmosphere, with music and chatter providing a much more welcoming background noise than the snorting and gambling of old. Another interesting introduction to the G Casino is... SPACE! Yes, rather than dedicate every square inch to gaming machines, there's lots of room to simply 'be' without having to constantly face flashing slots or avoid eye-contact with a blackjack dealer.

I've always envied how relaxed casinos are in the states, where the majority of visitors are there to party, meet friends, have a drink, grab some food, and MAYBE gamble. In the UK it's always felt like you have to walk in, check your coat, shuffle to a table, must immediately gamble, and then quickly leave to make way for more 'winners'. I'm glad to say the G seemed to be full of young people (well, young at heart anyway) mostly more interested in the bar, restaurant and Four Tops tribute singers (of which I counted only three - a small technical error I'm sure).

Poker-wise there's a 10-table room, boasting games such as a mid-week £15 freeze out (which I think is the perfect kind of level to encourage people to play that might not normally). In my journalistic guise I sampled the beer, lemonade (which seemed fine but NOT as tasty as beer) and also attacked a few plates from the bar menu. The PR team even pitched in with the eating and drinking to make sure I had a good time. God they work hard.

I know this has ended up like a bit of an advert, but I'm keen to impress upon you that casinos are becoming nice places to be - regardless of whether you consider yourself a gambler or not. Rank now have about a dozen of these revamped G Casinos in the UK, and if the Brighton one isn't near enough for you, I suggest you find one that is and make an evening of it. You never know, you might even win something (or at least meet a pretty PR lady dragging hungry journalists around).

Happy hunting.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Serious Poker

It’s been a very strange 2010 so far. Sadly I’ve had one close family member death, one VERY close family member near-death/hospitalisation/drama, and a continuing lack of anything much to do. I bet that REALLY makes you wanna read on eh! Do I know how to capture an audience or WHAT!

The funny thing is I thought I’d accounted for the way in which a freelancer’s life tends to come and go with various bits of work. In case the TV stuff ended I had my writing; in case the writing ended I had the radio; in case the radio stuff ended I had my voice-over work… and so on. Sadly I failed to implement an “in case it all ends at exactly the same time” plan, which is kind of where I find myself.

Sure the radio show ( is still going very strong but it’s changed shape this series. Rather than three three-hour live shows a week, it’s now three pre-record 70 minute shows that we nail in one LONG day. Also – and I’ll just be straight with you on this – I’ve already been paid for the work so it kinda feels like I’m ‘doing it for nothing’. I know that’s twisted logic, but there you go.

The funny thing is, with all my work suddenly dormant I find myself in a position that I’d previously dreamt of, namely with no reason not to take my poker more seriously. I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions, but I have regularly (for about the last six years) promised myself that I would DEFINITELY go out and play more live poker. I have another recurring self-lie that says I should take my poker more seriously, perhaps dedicating two or three days a week to playing online as if it were a job. In the past this hasn’t happened because other guaranteed paying work options have popped up to block it, but now I have no good reason. The interesting thing is… I find I don’t want to do this.

But why? Isn’t this every poker enthusiast’s dream? Well yes, but also… no. If you’re commuting every damn day to work a 9-to-5 (and just for the record I did this from the age of 17 to about 33, so I do know) then this must seem like a dream. However, playing a game for love is different to playing a game for need… and next time I’ll explain further.

I know: just like a proper blog isn’t it! ^__^

Be seeing you…

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Post Office

F**king Freedom Passes!

Now that might not mean a lot to you if you don't often visit the Post Office, but as I am currently enjoying the life of a 'home trader' (i.e. I'm so skint I am having to sell most of my personal belongings to pay the mortgage) I spend a lot of time in the Post Office waiting to weigh and flog my old games, books, guitars, clothes, pride, etc.

Pretty much every day since the new year has been shite thanks to the oldies renewing their Freedom Passes (Just WALK or STAY INDOORS love!) but today was particularly crap for some reason, and I had a book AND an Evel Kneivel toy to sell (I shit you not).

Matt walks into the Post Office. It is VERY busy. After a 10 minute wait...

OLD INDIAN TELLER IN WINDOW 6: Anyone NOT renewing their Freedom Pass?

Matt approaches the counter and plops a heavy book on the scales.

MATT: I want to send this in the UK. Just the cheapest method please.
TELLER: It will be £4.41 or £4.45
MATT: What's the difference?
MATT: No, I meant the difference in the services?
TELLER: One is standard post, one is Parcel Force
MATT: Umm... Just which ever is the cheapest one then please
TELLER: Well I'm just worried that that might take a long time
MATT: Well that's why I asked what the difference was
TELLER: It's 4p
MATT: No, I understand the monatery difference, I meant the difference in the service - i.e. if one was faster than the other...
TELLER: Well if you want a faster service...
MATT: NO! The speed isn't important to me, I'm just trying to explain why I asked!

Matt is clearly becoming somewhat flaberghasted and appears to be getting 'slightly' louder. A nearby teller has twigged...

WINDOW #5 TELLER: Is there a problem?
MATT (through gritted teeth): NO! Just a misunderstanding. It's fine now.

Matt's teller passes him a postage sticker for the book. Matt now produces a HUGE box and places it on the scales.

MATT: Same again please.

The teller looks at Matt and opens his mouth to ask what service he wants. However, before he can say a word...


Matt manages to pull a smile out of the bag so the authorities aren't called for. The elderly teller passes another sticker to Matt. Matt applies the label, pays the man, thanks the man, walks to his car, turns the radio on VERY loud and BLOWS HIS BRAINS OUT WITH A SAWN-OFF SHOTGUN.

The last bit didn't happen, but you can understand why people just turn up in Post Offices with guns sometimes.

I'm not saying I'd do it... but I understand.

That's all.