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Thinking about the old poker school days…

The other morning (well is was afternoon by the time it finished) I was actually sitting here watching the final table of the World Series of Poker main event live on my tellybox. I mean how far has technology come that I can watch a live poker tournament – not just on some dodgy live internet stream but in glorious High Definition – amazing. Anyway it came down to two relative youngsters – both depressingly younger than me and they battled it out to win more money than I’ll ever have in my life (unless I win the EuroMillions tonight) *fingers crossed*

Anyway if you want to see the final hand of the final table then please view it below:

Away from me sulking that neither guy was me it took me back to the days when I actually played poker and was part of a very active poker school. It was mainly staged at my place and had a strong group of players who were all mates of mine from school. The school had a mainstay of five players who were Martin, Baz, Goldring, Beattie and myself. Other players like Hillman would play if around but he went straight to uni and didn’t gap year and Nick played every so often too.

The thing was we always sat in exactly the same place and therefore we always played behind the same player so you had a feel for how everyone would play. Goldring & Beattie would often go all in early and play aggressive because they decided they wanted a smoke so wanted to go out the back. No smoking in the hose was the rule you see. When both played properly they weren’t half bad players. Baz always wore sunglasses (like we all did – we saw the players do it on Late Night Poker so wanted to be like them) but Baz’s were the reflective kind so we could always see his cards. I don’t think he ever twigged – well unless he’s reading this now then he may well have done.

Martin was one of the more predictable players until he realised we all knew he didn’t bluff and went in big when actually had something good. Then he mixed it up a fair bit. I liked to play aggressive early and try to get the chip lead and then sit on it whilst everyone else duked it out until we went heads up. That is how I liked it as heads up I was always pretty wild and no-one knew what I’d do.

When I disappeared off to university alas we didn’t play a lot of poker. We played a little bit but not a lot. I went back to the Isle of Wight a few years later and there was a game on. The old poker school had moved to Goldring’s by then and had several new players who had never played against me before. By then they actually played for real money and not just a token prize of a bag of doughnuts or whatever. I sat with the three players who had never played for me directly behind me and I knew my game plan. Wild raises that shocked them all.

One of them screamed ‘that isn’t how we play’ and I replied that is how I play and I saw a couple of sniggers from the players who knew my style. It reminded me of Phil Hellmuth – who is by far my favourite player and his ways of talking and then blowing up. One of my favourite Phil blow ups is embedded at the end of this paragraph. The guy I was playing basically called me everything under the sun and I just said calmly that if he wanted to see what I had he’d have to pay up. He didn’t and I bluffed my way to a big haul of chips and on the very next hand I did it again – this time though I had the nuts and the guy behind wouldn’t be bullied. A huge chip lead was mine! Pretty quickly I had bullied my way into a large chip lead and would go on to win the table and in doing so actually paid for my train ticket down for the weekend – which was a nice bonus shall we say!

Seriously the way the table erupted when he showed the 10/4. Hilarity!

Apparently by this point the school had become really serious and league tables were kept for how everyone did. I think Hillman was top of the tree and that isn’t a shock as he was a pretty darn good player. I miss playing poker though not for the actual cards but for its general casualness of catching up with your mates and just relaxing. I haven’t lived on the Isle of Wight now for ten years (bar a couple of summers home from university in 2003 and 2004) and everything and everyone has moved on. People are married. People have kids and yet I have neither and would still thoroughly love to just play poker with the guys once a week just like old times.

Of course these days I can still get that poker fix online at sites like Fulltiltpoker which is great for the hardened poker player who is in the business just to make money. For me though it was more than that. As I’ve gotten older I have drifted away from those friends mainly because I don’t live there (or visit there in all honesty) any more and I miss the social side of things more. Having said that I’m not averse to lining my pockets with silver…I’m all in!

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