The new low buy-in Unibet UK Poker Tour will hit five stops in 2016 with full, week-long poker festivals capped by £220 buy-in, £40,000 guaranteed Main Events.
The tour kicked off in Brighton earlier this month and now heads to Nottingham, Brighton again, Glasgow and Manchester.
What exactly is it like to take a seat and punt a few chips? Writer Lee Davy had a go in Brighton and reports back.
The guy in Seat 7 is missing half a finger. The guy in Seat 3 is also missing half a finger.
I feel like I’m in a game with the Yakuza. I’m not, I am playing Day 1B of the Unibet UK Poker Tour in Brighton.
The Rendezvous Casino is a vast cavern. The United game is splayed across three giant screens above an empty bar. I want to shout to see if there is an echo.
The Tournament Director (TD), who looks uncannily like poker reporter BJ Nemeth, tells me that Caesars bought a number of casinos like this when the UK was considering opening a series of Super Casinos.
It never happened, and now it’s home to a hundred people all trying to make it through to Day 2.
Flushy Remembers His Roots
It’s a £220 buy-in. I am not concentrating on the game. It has nothing to do with the cost. I am watching United.
My mates from Wales, Gary and Terry, come in. I stand up and hug them. Jamie Burland is here. I hug him also.
James "Flushy" Dempsey played on Day 1A. I didn’t get to hug him.
There is a trophy cabinet behind me. It contains Dempsey’s 2010 World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet, his 2011 World Poker Tour (WPT) replica trophy, and a piece of jewelry from Tiffany.
It’s a nice touch. It’s nice to see that Dempsey remembers his roots. You don’t find that often in poker.
Five of us are involved in a limped pot. I have Q♥ T♦ on the button. The big blind raises to 250 (blinds are 25/50) and we all call.
The flop is T♠ 4♦ 4♠. A female player in the cutoff bets 500 and I am the only player to call.
The turn is the 2♠ and we both check. The river is the 6♠; the female player checks and I bet 1,025.
I have no idea why. She calls holding 8♥ 8♠ for the flush. I show the table that I am a bluffer from the get go.
“I’m cold,” she says. I hand her my jacket and she drapes it over her legs.
For a Moment I Want Half a Finger
I open KQo from first position and one of the guys with half a finger calls in the small blind. I take it down with a c-bet and, for a moment, I want half a finger, because it looks so cool the way it balances perfectly on top of his short stacks of chips.
I want to ask him how he lost it. But I know if I do I need to ask the other guy also.
Soul read by Golden Girl.
I once played against a guy who had a glass eye. I asked him how he did it and he told me that he walked into a piece of wire. A second player told him that was a stupid thing to do.
The man with the glass eye handed me his glass eye and stuck his head into him. I keep quiet on this occasion.
I lose about 6,000 bluffing. The hands are so embarrassing I don’t even record them on the phone. In one of the hands I am involved with an older lady who looks like she starred in The Golden Girls.
I am chasing a flush, she has top pair (I know that) and I barrel all three streets. She calls me down without hardly lifting her eyeballs away from Candy Crush on her iPad.
Why do I do these things?
I Used to Fancy Emma Samms
The woman next to me is watching Columbo. We get involved in a conversation about old TV programs: Dallas, Dynasty and Only Fools and Horses all get a vote.
Just one more thing before I go.
Columbo? It was a new one on me.
She was a quality player though. She ran over the table and had all of the chips.
Talking about American soaps. An attractive woman, who looks like Emma Samms, is also seated at the table. I ask her if she plays often.
It sounds like the worst poker chat-up line in the world. She doesn’t last much longer, which is a shame. I used to fancy Emma Samms and have an image of her pulling black stockings up the length of her thigh etched into my mind.
It’s a good job the woman lost; it could have gotten a little awkward.
It’s Level 3. The blinds are 75/150 and I limp under the gun holding pocket eights - I receive four callers.
The flop is A♦ 8♦ 6♣. The small blind leads for 600, the big blind calls, and I raise to 3,000. Both players call when the stragglers muck their hands.
The turn is the 5♠ and I bet 4,200. There is a fold, and only the man with half a finger remains. He puts me all-in and I snap call.
He shows A5o for two pair and I double up when the river falls nicely for me.
I ponder. Why did I lose so many chips playing badly earlier? Had I maintained flow I would now be looking at a sizable chip stack with more room to play.
I vow to play solid from that point on. It’s a routine that I go through every time I play poker.
Why? I don’t play often enough for the plays to be automatic. Instead I allow my emotions and environment to interfere with decisions that a professional would make without batting an eyelid.
Toast can take time, though.
“Where’s My Toast?”
The Columbo fan wants some toast. She calls the TD over and makes a complaint. It turns up an hour later.
By this time she has finished her tea. She tells the waitress that she wants her tea with her toast. She isn’t happy.
Fifteen minutes pass and the waitress returns with a cup of tea and toast.
“I wanted white toast.”
The waitress gives her an "evil monkey" like stare and vanishes into thin air. I am hungry. I wanted that brown toast.
Fifteen minutes later she emerges once more. She hands Columbo a fresh cup of tea and two rounds of white toast. I want brown toast. I don’t pluck up the courage to order any.
“Look at that,” says Columbo.
The toast has been made in a toastie maker. It’s thin and creased at the edges. I decide to starve.
Matt Damon On a Ton of Pies
Our new dealer is a Matt Damon lookalike (if you pumped Matt Damon full of steroids and fed him a ton of pies, that is). My mate Terry joins the table. He has less than 10 bigs.
We call him Terry “The Run” Welsh because he calls a ‘straight’ a ‘run’ and always has it. He is here with Gary ‘The Sleeper’ Acreman. Gary is pissed off.
He thought it was a re-entry and spewed his chips, only to be told that he couldn’t buy in twice because he played Day 1A. Within no time Terry doubles up and doubles up again.
He has heaps of chips. I can hardly see him as I move to my new table.
I am in shove or fold mode, with between 15-20bb. There is an open from early position, a short stack flats in mid-position and I put it all-in with pocket nines from late position.
Both players snap call and we go three-way to a Day 1A defining flop. The original raiser has pocket eights and the flatter has pocket aces. I got mugged.
I feel confident though. And my confidence pays off when I see a nine come out from the deck first. Unfortunately, an ace follows and I am out of the contest a few hands later.
The lad who had the aces barely played a hand the whole time I was there. He couldn’t, because he didn’t have any chips.
His name was Curtis Lambert and the following day he won the lot for £11,000.