Get It Quietly

Football, bollocks and a bit of poker if you're lucky.

Location: Enfield, London, United Kingdom

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

It's A Jungle Out There

You may have heard the latest gossip in the poker world ; how Phil Ivey took Marc Goodwin and Ram Vaswani for a lot of money on the golf course. The Hendon Mob thread is here, and it contains links to the 2+2 and blondepoker discussions. The main reason I wanted to post about it is to draw your attention, if you're interested, to Blair Rodman's take on it. Rodman has been around poker and golf for a long time and talks a lot of sense IMO.

Now I don't know a lot about golf and what's considered fair game and what isn't. Rodman makes an interesting distinction between organised competitions and private gambling games, a distinction which many people on the various fora don't make at all. However, the most illuminating comment IMO is buried deep in the blondepoker thread. Someone says that Marc Goodwin told him that Ivey told him [1] "The last person who took me for that kind of money is driving taxis in Vegas now".

My best guess is that Ivey, pissed off by the amount of money he had lost (and possibly by what was being said about him being a "golf fish"), pushed the limits further than most people would. Frankly only Ram comes out of it unscathed in terms of reputation. Personally, while I stress I don't know a lot about the ins and outs of golf betting, I would say the losers can curse Ivey in his eye, tell everyone what they think of him and refuse to place a bet with him ever again but, having done those things, they should cough up.

It's a jungle out there on the golf course and you have to be careful. I also can't help thinking that the best mark of all is the guy who thinks he's the one doing the hustling. Betting this kind of money has ended in tears before, and it surely will again.

[1] Yes I know but it's always going to be he said she said in this kind of thing.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Holla For A Dolla

I have about $4000 in cash, if anyone would like to buy some or all with £ at mid-rate then Email me, provided we can exchange somewhere convenient which would be North or Central London.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Wrapping Up

Writing this in Charlotte airport, and I can post it too. This wireless thing is pretty cool. Anyway, obv this was the best trip ever in terms of results. Although it didn't bother me that much, it was a niggle that I had never "won anything". But I don't think you'll be seeing me on the EPT trail any time soon ; I'm sticking to the plan of paying off the mortgage and re-assessing at that point. Thanks to the result in Tunica though I'm only about $20K short of doing that, and I have half that online already. I'm not even sure about the WSOP this year ; I seem to have lost interest in playing single table satellites and I notice that they have kicked the second chance tournaments up to $1000 this year which I think will toughen up the fields. I mean you can go to Vegas any time and play $500 at the Bellagio every day, and they seemed soft enough to me over New Year.

The one thing about Tunica that's worth pointing out is that I like the people there. Both the staff, most of whom seem genuinely friendly and, better still, the ones who aren't don't fake it (although they're perfectly polite). Unless they were all faking it and I didn't realise :-) People are just generally more laid back in the South. Players too, I only ran across one real tossbag at the table on the whole trip (until the Main Event anyway) ; in Vegas it was odds-on there'd be one at your table wherever. Also Johnny Grooms and his floor staff were top notch. I didn't see a bad ruling in three weeks, and that included a couple of tricky situations, which were all handled calmly, fairly and with common sense.

Finally the shuttle driver took me down the back roads to the airport, and I couldn't help noticing a couple of those church signs. Thanks to the magic of Church Sign Generator, I can reproduce them here.

Yeah, I can see that. Assume a stable position to avoid backsliding into the ways of Satan. But why stop there ? Surely it would be better to adopt some kind of three-point stance, like an NFL lineman.

What ? No one told me ! This is what I get for not reading the Bible. It's probably in the small print. So what kind of interest is He charging ? And if we don't pay up, is He going to send the Angels round ? Worrying thoughts.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Picture Gallery

Here are some pictures of me in "action", from The Eye On Poker :

Poker Is Exciting

Nil By Mouth (See also 20 other pictures of me in this pose)

John Connor Is Terminated (See what I did there ?)

We Have A Winner

The Money Shot

And some from the stud :

What Would Tom Myland Do ?

I Told You She Was Smug

I Like This One But Can't Think Of A Caption

Order now while stocks last.

Update : Corkins felts Hellmuth with the worst hand. Now I'm happy :-). I've just been reading back through previous entries, and I was happy enough when I left Vegas with $1500 profit. It seems churlish to sulk over the main event after clearing $70K here. Tough beat for the Devilfish there though, ouch.

Wednesday :
I have posted a review of my Main Event here, on the other blog as it's a bit technical (and boring).

Monday, January 22, 2007

Day 2 - Busto

Made it to level 8 when I reraised the cut-off's raise allin with KQ. He thought for about a minute and called with - AK. I lose, down to 1000, and lose that on the next hand. Hasta la vista baby, somewhere around 98th. Funnily enough I'd have had a better chance with 64 or 62, both of which I had moved in with earlier in the tournament. It's a shame if only because I was enjoying myself and now I've got to sit around here flicking my plums for two more days.

Cool dudes I played with : Chau Giang, Mark Seif, Hoyt Corkins

Dorks I played with : Vinny Vinh

Other dorks : Negreanu, who this morning I saw shouting at the minimum waged staff because they didn't have any fucking tofu or something, the dick. There, I feel better for that.

Day One

I closed the day on 23,900 from a starting stack of 20K. There are about 180 players left (of 300) and we'll be playing 300-600/75 tomorrow. The details will have to wait but they will be worth waiting for :-).

Thursday, January 18, 2007

In The Bank

The cash arrived in my bank account at home this morning, so (bearing in mind the lesson of Juno And The Paycock) now it's time to celebrate ! Large Hot Tea over here please !! Hats off to the staff here for sorting out the transfer, although they seemed very doubtful about the procedure at the time, and a rare hat off to the bank (First Direct) who changed it at $1.981 which is better than I was expecting. This seems to be a very good time to bank some money. With Neteller pulling out of the US market and Gutshot losing their case, poker is at least temporarily on a downturn. Gutshot are appealing (insert own joke here) but unless they have a better reason for the appeal than "because we lost" this seems like throwing good money after bad to me.

So now I am safe from anyone popping up and saying "Hey, I got someone out of Scooby Doo to wear a shirt for you, give me half". And if Jamie Gold keeps rebuying on High Stakes Poker 3, he might need that money. Not that he's playing so badly, but I can't see what he's going to gain from playing in this game. Money won or lost is neither here nor there you would think ; if it's kudos he's after, I can't see how he's going to do much good on that front. I mean he's not going to outplay Brunson or Negreanu, and if he lucks out on them the kudos won't be forthcoming. Meanwhile if he should get stacked by Matusow or Sheiky ... anyway Matusow wins the irony prize so far for calling Bill Chen (co-author of The Mathematics Of Poker) a "frigging idiot". Oh the humanity.

Finally a couple of snippets back here in Tunica : I gave one of my "Jesus knows how to Hold-Em" chips to a guy called Jesus. He was well pleased with that. I do like to spread a little happiness where I can. And in the same tournament, as I moved to a new table there were about three separate pots on the table and, as usual, someone was complaining about an opponent "betting into a dry sidepot". However on closer inspection the complainant was one of the short stacks who was already all in. That was definitely a new one.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Pulling Myself Together

What day is it today ? Wednesday ? Right, so on Monday night I watched Pirates Of The Caribbean 2 in my room (more about that later), which was moderately entertaining. Afterwards though I thought come on, I can watch DVDs all I want when I'm home. There's poker to be played here and if I pull myself together and concentrate again I can trouser a few more bucks.

So yesterday they added on a $300 second chance at 4pm. I ponied up and 8 hours later finished 6th/220 odd for $3200. The final was a little disappointing as I went in 2nd chip leader, but I wouldn't do anything different. All the money was in the top two again. I lost a coin flip for 40% of the chips when the button raised, I moved in with TT in the small blind and he called with AQ. That knocked me down to two big blinds and I was unable to pull off a patented speed tournament recovery. The field was quite interesting, mostly the usual mouth-breathers but there was a guy in the final who said he won $200K in the WCOOP and played $25-50 NL on Stars, which I believed, and also this guy, who finished 2nd in the WPT Championship for $1.9 mill when Roland was third. I hope he wasn't playing for $300 due to being busto as he was a nice guy. Although from what I saw I'd call him a good player rather than an exceptional one. Anyway there's another one today which I will probably spin up. These $300-500s are the value, no doubt. If only they would play 30 minute rounds in the main event I'd have a great chance.

Pirates Of The Caribbean 2 though, yes [moderate spoiler alert]. Johnny Depp's Keith Richards impression is always fun and another thing I liked was that the villain (a sort of undead squid thing) was Scottish. Makes sense really. That's two films I've seen lately (Casino Royale) with a non-English villain. I think two is Hollywood's quota for the whole year. What really annoyed me though was that a bunch of stuff was left hanging at the end. Why ? Why oh why ? I mean you expect this from like The Matrix Rebutchered, and fair enough Lord Of The Rings you stick to the story and no one wants to sit there for 10 hours but Pirates Of The Caribbean ? Or Spiderman 2 which does the same thing ? Is this really necessary ?

Consider the best sequel ever, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (obv). Did they leave the hero dead or alive (unresolved) ? Did they re-introduce a main character from the first film three seconds from the end ? No. They fucking didn't. In fact, correctly realising that they had achieved comic nirvana, there wasn't even any need for a third film. Their work was done, and done well. Everyone responsible for unresolved cliffhanger endings in popcorn explosion films should be rounded up at gunpoint and shot - in a bit. They'll have to wait till next year to find out. And pay another £5.50. Twats.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Always Take The Weather With You

A quick break from poker, this is brilliant. Romanian snowboarders organised a protest at the lack of snow - at the weather forecasting centre.

I hope this catches on over here. Michael Fish had better be careful answering the door. It might be a posse with flaming torches.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Treading Water With The Devilfish

It's very quiet here today, as there is a $5000 WSOP Circuit tournament up the road at the Grand. When I was last here, in 2003, I went over to the Grand to play a Stud Hi-Lo event, which I found was full up. "Ok then, " I said, "can I buy in for tomorrow ?". "No. Registration starts at 8am, but it will probably be full by 8-30". Bye then. Don't ask me why you would schedule a festival at the same time as a festival at a nearby hotel and then make it as difficult as possible for anyone from that hotel to actually play. So I haven't been to the Grand this time. Otherwise, I'd have played the $5K, of course, even if I hadn't won here. Not :-)

Pokerpages gives us an indication of who is in the house. No doubt most of the names will be here for the $10K. If I see the guy in the top hat, I'll knock it off for him. And throw it in the river. Note picture of Devilfish, compared to this picture which the Goldstrike posted after his $100K win here (beat me by $30K, damn him). The Grand picture is how he actually looks now. I think he looked miles more intimidating before, but no doubt he has his reasons.

If I dare mention myself in the same breath as The Fish, that's two bracelets for jolly old England, which isn't bad seeing as I haven't met a single other Englishman in 10 days here. Some of the female staff here are extremely taken with my accent. One or two go as far as giggling and clapping their hands. "Say Wendy !" asked a waitress (called Wendy) at the deli the other day. I ought to be in there really but the accent deal works both ways and I can't understand a single word most of them are saying without making them repeat it three times and (leaving me) looking like a simpleton ...

As for poker I'm treading water really, and haven't been playing much. I tried the $500 second chance last night but wasn't at my best. I had all the chips in 50/50 on the flop pair and flush draw v overpair but missed it. Perhaps if I skip it tonight I can build back up to form in the rest of the week. (Not complaining overall but) I can't drag a pot in the single tables. Many of them pay two seats and I have tried a couple just to see what they are like, but when you bust out the first time you're all in they're much the same :-)

I think taking it easy is probably a good idea before the main event anyway. The make-up of the field should be interesting. There are unlikely to be any internet qualifiers at all. Let's face it, this isn't exactly Aruba. But they are running a lot of satellites on site. And a few fish have lucked their way in by winning preliminary tournaments. Finally I have sold/reserved most of the shares I was looking to sell but I could probably accomodate a few more people at $100 a time. You know, that'll be $15,000 if I win. Speculate to accumulate :-)

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Coming Down

It's all calmed down a bit here now. I played the $500 Stud Hi-Lo the day after the win, I really shouldn't have played but I did want to play the Hi-Lo. Predictably I was in a bit of a daze and that cost me 2 or 3 bets, which doesn't sound much but the limits we were at that was about 1/4 of my starting stack. Anyway I couldn't get going in that one and was out fairly quickly. Yesterday I had a much-needed day off and I felt much sharper today in the $1000 NL.

However, this was a fair bit tougher than the $500s, generally because the standard of play was better and specifically because I had Barry Greenstein on my immediate left, which wasn't ideal :-). Even though he seemed quite bored, understandably in a tournament which cost him about 1/2 a small blind in his biggest game, he was certainly playing well and I might have picked up a pointer or two from watching him. He was quite cool, although he lost a couple of points for telling me a bad beat story. Anyway I hovered just under the starting stack of 2000 until we reached 100-200, then I tried the old BB push after two limpers, both of whom had been limping continually. The first one called me with 66 and I couldn't hit my 68.

I shall probably stick to the $500 second chance tournaments as my main game from here on in. The single tables aren't too bad, but it's kind of hard to dredge up the motivation for them. For some reason :-). I was in one last night and this guy was trying to drum up interest for a last longer. I didn't bite and nor did Frankie O'Dell who I know is a very good player. "Well I guess it's good," says this egg, "if no one else has the confidence to make the bet". This guy was so confident he called 1/3 of his chips pre-flop with 87s, when a nervous player like me would have been doubtful if he had sufficient implied odds. 8 on the flop, all in, lost to Aces and first out. Confidence can only take you so far.

One more thing, Maxjet clobbered me for changing my flight. The change fee was only $100 but now all the cheap seats had gone and I was stuck a $700 fare increase for what is presumably the same seat. Not that I'm expecting any sympathy, but bear this in mind if you're thinking about flying with them. Right, I'm off to bet the NFL. I did laugh when that egg Romo fumbled the snap last time, that was funny.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Main Event Shares

I'd like to sell some of my action in the $10K event. Email me for terms and conditions if you're interested, but basically it's pro rata $100 for 1% and it has to be paid up front (by Stars/Full Tilt Transfer, Neteller, or bank account transfer).

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Kerching ! Bling !!

Thank you to everyone for the good luck and congratulatory messages. What actually happened was that we chopped it even heads up and played for the WPT seat and the bling, which I won. It was nice of a couple of posters to say I deserve a result but poker doesn't work like that ! Well it does in the long run, very much so, but on the day you can't believe that you're entitled to anything. Did I deserve the result yesterday ? Probably not quite. I played OK except for one half hour spell where I was wobbling quite badly, whereas James Mallinak played very well throughout. That's why I asked for a chop as soon as we were heads up, he was playing better than me no doubt.

I might go into some hands later but a lot of what happens at a final table is just random noise really. I suppose there were two key pots. Three-handed I reraised JM's button raise all-in on a complete re-steal, but he called me with AQ. I made a flush with my 96. Never in doubt :-). Unfortunately he won most of them back with AQ v my AT, a hand which I could possibly have folded to his reraise. Possibly, it was 3-handed. That topped off my wobbly half-hour but luckily for me there was an immediate break, during which I pulled myself together. After that I worked back up with some move-in mojo, to the clear frustration of eventual 3rd place finisher John Connelly. He started bleeding chips to both of us, and took a fair hit when I check-raised him all in with J8 on a board of QJxT. I have no idea what he had, he just made the right size of bet that was asking to be check-raised, and he folded.

I set John allin with AQ against A3 but he escaped with a chop ; soon after I set him in with Q4s only for him to call with ATs. Queen on the turn, so that was the second key pot. Or suckout, if you like. We immediately made the deal with virtually even chips, I moved into a small lead, we smashed it all in with my A9 v his A8 and I won.

So that's $61,000, a bling bracelet and (most amusingly) a seat in the WPT main event. Not bad for 12 hours work. I really wasn't expecting this to happen and it hasn't sunk in yet. I'll post some more thoughts as and when I have them. It's a shame I don't know anyone here, then again as Frode says that means no one to nip me :-)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Now We're Cooking On Gas

I've made the final of the $500 No Limit, 4 pm here today. I'm second chip leader I think, with 174,000. First place is 80 something thousand, so wish me luck because this is for real money !

I did enjoy myself yesterday. Nothing much happened early on, and after the first break I kicked into all-in mode. I was pleased with the two moves with 23 and 34, both uncalled. The geezer on my left started chirping about it. That works every time but one, I'll have all your chips, the usual. I found KK in early pos and moved in, natch, two or three people chirped about "one move" and the big blind decided to be a hero and called with KQs. Kerching ! "Works every time but one, huh ?" I couldn't resist saying. But he said "nice hand" and we were ok after that, he was alright. It was just funny later on, around the first bubble, when I set him in from the small blind with 27 and he showed me AJ in the big blind and passed. Way to take all my chips !

Anyway, shortly after we hit the money, 54 places paid, I doubled up in the key hand. Playing 1K-2K/300, I made it 6K with Jacks. Geezer called around the button, he'd been fairly active, and we both had about 50K or so. Flop came Jack high. Song tunes going off in my head Mike. So, and this is the key to the whole play I think, I led out for 6K making it look like a weak continuation bet. He made it 10 more. Time for Best Supporting Performance In A Poker Hand. I dwelled a little bit, not too long, called and checked the turn fairly quickly. After about 10 seconds he declared "all in", and 10 nanoseconds after that I called. He turned over 33 and I thought "oh, another set, unlucky mate". However on closer examination there was no 3 on the board and he had shoved the lot in with an underpair. Give him credit for trying I suppose !

Soon after that there was a break and I vowed to just keep doing what I know is right and not worry about how it turned out. And so it turned out pretty well. The situation I had on the last two tables was an absolute dream. It was so fucking sweet. I had double the chips of all the table except one guy, and no one was standing up to me. I was even getting a walk in the big blind about 2/3 of the time. I worked it up to about 210 when a geezer made a gutsy call with KQ, fair play to him, and won the race against my 44. Soon after that we lost players 11 and 10 on the same hand, which was a bit of a shame, but never mind.

So now I have 170, average is about 130, I know one guy from the other table has 200+ and there might be one or two others close to me. Blinds are 2K/4K with a 500 ante so there's a bit of play in it (bugger). I'll just try to take the same attitude into tomorrow. I've played this scenario thousands of times on my software. Literally thousands. I know what to do, so just do it and see what happens. I didn't get much sleep, but I can probably doze a bit through the morning, as we don't kick off till 4. I don't know if there will be any live coverage, I'll try to find out. But it will be 10pm in England, and I wouldn't bother if it was you, so don't feel obliged :-)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Super Stud

I think the best way to catch up with my trip reports from here is to go backwards. Like Time's Arrow. Except hopefully it won't suck as much. So today's hot-off-the-press news is that I chinged for $6500 in the Stud. Woo hoo !

All those years playing £20 pot-limit stud against Luton's living dead have paid off again. There were 97 runners, and 2 players on our table who thought they had signed up for No-Limit Hold-em. We've all signed up for the wrong game online, but it takes some doing live. One of them wasn't too bad, but the other was so hopeless he couldn't even give up when he was trying to. Even amongst those who did have a passing familiarity with the game, it was noticeable how often someone put a heap of bets in and then passed the river. I started off reasonably well, pinged four Aces for a nice pot and worked up to 8K (from starting 3K) by the dinner break. At that point I thought this would be a good time to go on a tear, and that's kind of what happened. I did win a fortunate pot (one of two in the tournament) with Aces in the hole against what turned out to be concealed trip Queens on 4th street. He slow-played them, I made three nines showing and had to check the river because I was so obviously full and he couldn't call without a better one. He missed it, and from there I didn't win any big pots, I just kept taking down 2 pots per round, some of them on 4th or even 5th street, but almost invariably without a showdown. The bubble was profitable (paying 16 places) and when I finally did play a reasonable pot (around 10K) I bubbled the geezer with (AK)9 against his (JJ)5. At that point I had 40K, more than double the average stack.

Then it all went pear-shaped. The table re-draw was a horror show. All the short-stacked old women (both literal and figurative) were packed off to the other table. On my table, everyone had chips and everyone wanted to play. A couple of them were good players too. Every move I made five-handed was smacked down and by the time the last desperate hanger-on was kicked off the other table I was down to 22K. So as I said earlier, I wasn't overly excited about playing the final because I could easily be out in one hand. In fact, last time I returned on a second day for a final, I went out on the first hand. To John Ruppin. So it couldn't be any worse than that.

I nicked a couple early on, we lost one player and it soon became clear that there were two desperate weak-tight hangers-on across the table. I won a medium pot, lost a medium one and then won my second lucky pot of the event. A geezer raised in front of me with a 9, I reraised with (QQ)A and then the dude on my left flat called with (??)T. When he raised card 4 I was worried about 2 pair minimum, but I figured that I was committed and was going to call him down. Yes, I'm a fish who doesn't like putting big hands down. It's not nearly as big a handicap in tournaments as you might think. So he bet, I called on 5th and then I scored a magic Ace on card 6. He passed, obviously well peeved, and claimed KK in the hole, which I believe. So that was fortunate but, like the other one, it was just one of those cold decks that was going to fuck someone or other. If I had lost I could just as easily say I was unlucky. After that I started to enjoy it a bit more. Especially when the desperate weak-tight smug woman busted in 6th. Her smirk when anyone was knocked out, earning her another $500, was really annoying. One geezer made a terrible blunder 5-handed, misreading his hand and failing to bet his full house on the river against a short stack with less than one bet left. Of course, shorty made a comeback to equal chips. Then 5-handed we chopped it equally [1] and played on for the bracelet, which I have to say was quite nice. They reckoned it was worth $4K retail, not sure about that myself. If I had won I could have asked the Devilfish who I've just spotted in the lobby. But I busted out 5th. I doubt I would have played it any differently without the chop.

Good old 7 card. I wouldn't mind playing that event every week I can tell you. There's a 7 card Hi-Lo on Thursday which I will be first in line for, but tomorrow it's back to the No-Limit madness. It's nice to have had two days off NL, so I'm looking forward to it. Unfortunately there will be a lot more than 97 players to fight my way through.

[1] I had 55K which was about 5K short of average. Two guys had between 55-60, chip leader 78 and shortest stack 38. What the chip leader was doing agreeing to an equal chop only he could tell you. I thought he was the best player too. The chop was probably zero EV for me, it would have been different playing NL, but having not played Stud for 2 years I thought fine, I could easily fuck it up short-handed.

Monday, January 08, 2007

We Apologise For The Interruption To Your Service

Right. I'm back online, after sending out for a wireless card. I will update fully soon, in the meantime I'm in the final of the 7 Card Stud which starts in about an hour. It's not that big a deal, I'm below average chips and with 97 runners @ $500 it's no bigger than the daily Bellagio or Pokerstars $100 rebuy. I doubt if it's being updated live anywhere, which is good, so no one can bok me, Titmus. Tune in later and I'll let you know how it pans out.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Ring In The New

I've always hated New Years Eve. The whole proceedings have such a sense of enforced fun that it feels like, in the words of Hunter Davies, what the whole world would do on a Saturday night if the Nazis had won the war. No wait, that was Hunter S. Thompson. Hunter Davies writes bollocks about Martin Chivers. I'd like to see Ralph Steadman illustrate that. Anyway, I might have a gamble later on or I might just leave everyone to it and get some sleep. In the meantime I'm here and, in the spirit of the fantastic "Is It Just Me Or Is Everything Shit" book I have just finished, I'm going to vent about everything that needs venting about.

It is a very funny book if you haven't read it, a totally inspired collection of rants. A sample joke about bling-heavy hip-hoppers : Once it took a nation of millions to hold them back, now it takes a nation of millions to hold their coats. Admit it, that's funny. While the authors do admit the irony of writing an essentially anti-capitalist book and hoping to trouser a lot from the sales, I have counter-bluffed them by borrowing it from the library which, even more ironically, is one of the things they say is shit. Levelled !

I have always thought that none of these new rap guys can hold a candle to Tone Loc anyway. He ruled. It is surely no coincidence that when Funky Cold Medina came on in the Venetian the other day, I picked up Aces on the very next hand. Any Vegas visitors are aware of the strange late 80s timewarp that all the casinos are stuck in with regard to the music they pipe in. And this has been the case ever since I came here for the first time in 2001. It's not like x years back, so that by now we should be catching up to Britpop, it's just stuck in 1988, presumably forever. When Magnus Pyke added special guest vocals to Thomas Dolby's "She Blinded Me With Science", who would have guessed that 20 years later it would be piped down the Las Vegas Strip on an hourly basis, accompanied by the flick flick flick of those skanky dudes with the stripper cards ?

One exception, however, is the Venetian which has taken to piping Phantom Of The Opera into its elevators on a continuous loop. Imagine being stuck between floors. I think I'd jump after 10 minutes. The Venetian's current Phantom production has, I am told, been improved by paring the show down to an hour and 35 minutes. Frankly anything by Andrew Lloyd Webber would be greatly improved by being pared down to a minute and 35 seconds. Musicals are all shit, except the Producers which is allowed because it's about musicals being shit. Levelled once again.

The Orleans break the mould every now and then, as suddenly you see that KT Tunstall is warbling away in the background, out of nowhere. On the downside they also play that fucking Snow Patrol song all the time. If I just lay here. Yeah, if you just lay there and SHUT UP, DAMMIT. Half way round the world and I still can't escape that dirge. It was even on the radio in the cab to the airport on Christmas morning. I don't know why they even bothered with Slade and Shakin Stevens, why not just stick on OK Computer for the kiddies to open their presents to.

I'm having a day off poker today, so I went up to the cinema in the Orleans to see what was on and it all looked so dire I had to settle for Casino Royale. However, I must admit that I enjoyed this much more than I thought I would. Of course the poker is all ridiculous hands but they did manage to fit in a sort of nip, a good slow-roll and an absolutely fantastic rubdown which I won't spoil just in case you haven't seen it. If that was Dr. Tom's work, the boy done good.

Especially when compared to poker's flagship publication, fucking CardPlayer. Does no one on that magazine have a single clue ? When they "sign up the world champion" and they first read the aimless babbling that he brings forth for them, does anyone involved think "Oh bugger. That was a bit of a waste of money" ? Or do they have no shame at all ? Still, they're trying to go upmarket too. Jim McManus' guest article is entitled "Jeanne d'Arc and La Hire to the Naked Singularity of Spades". Not too far up himself then. Go on, read that title again. It doesn't make any more sense the second time does it ? And yes, that's really it, because I just copied it out. My brain has such a low tolerance level for bullshit I knew there was no way I could remember that in the time it takes me to get to my laptop from the cardroom. I could have read the article to help me remember the title but, on the other hand, fuck off.

So at this point I was faced with a dilemma. I could write that down in the cardroom, but then someone might think I was copying out Bad Beat Stories From A Broke Author Who The Game Passed By Five Years Before Internet Poker Never Mind Now, er I mean Tom McEvoy's Tournament Trail. But surely it would be even more embarrassing to pick the thing up and walk through the casino with it ? Dilemma. In the end I hid it in a copy of Pervo Spank Monthly - Readers' Grannies Special. Phew.

Hmm, what now ? Maybe a bit of blackjack ? I am definitely becoming a real poker pro. A couple of days ago I tried to get out of it on the blackjack after losing $70 in a cash game. Then today I bet four NFL games at random and watched them in the sportsbook going "Yeah ! Touchdown ! " and "Boo-ya ! Tackle for loss on the 33-yard line ! That's Schmartenheimer's 14th in the regular season which places him equal 137th in the whole AFC" and so on. And I would have won if it wasn't for the so-called Titans. How can you call yourselves the Titans when you don't have a single 30-foot tall three-headed fire-breathing monster in your offensive line ? Damn them to hell. Maybe I can get out of it on the college basketball. Or the trotters. See you later ...