This weekend gave me the opportunity of following my favourite poker player to Nottingham. The trip had been put into jeopardy when, just the week before, I was given a 6 month driving ban after totting up 12 points due to four petty speeding fines. It basically meant the whole trip was going to be a little more costly due to the necessity of having to go by train. However, it did solve the dilemma of whether I should go to the football in the afternoon first. As we weren’t going to have to travel together by car, Crissy went up first by train, and I followed along after the Cardiff v Millwall match.
She had been due to catch a train at around 1pm, which would get her to Nottingham by 4pm, with plenty of time to get to the casino before the start of the tournament at 5. However, due to a mishap involving buying a sandwich as her train left the platform, she caught the next train, meaning that she was going to be arriving late, although this didn’t matter too much, with something like 3 hours allowed for late registration.
This was slightly ironic however, in a way. The reason she was playing this particular tournament was that the organisers of the UKIPT events had very kindly granted her a free ticket after a bit of a cock up in another tournament she had played in. We’d gone along to London for Christina to play in a ladies’ event that was part of the UKIPT in January. That one had a buy-in of, as far as we’re concerned, a not insubstantial £165. We had managed to get to this one in what we thought was good time. With the tournament due to start at 4pm, we had made it by 3.50. However, when we got there, we found it had already started at 3pm! Although late registration was again allowed, with a substantially smaller field, starting late could be considered a distinct disadvantage, and understandably, Cris was pretty flustered, not even sure if she wanted to play the event.
It transpired that the website we’d looked up – the official UKIPT site – had indeed stated that the tournament was due to start at 4, but another website had said the start time was 3! My view was that, in light of this, they certainly should have still started at 4 – better for early arrivals to be kept waiting for an hour, I would have thought, than for later entries to have the shock of missing the first hour of the tournament. In all my years of playing, I have never heard of a tournament start early! Unsurprisingly, Cris did not do particularly well in this one. On getting home to Cardiff, I wrote a letter of complaint on Christina’s behalf and the organisers very kindly offered her a free seat to the Nottingham Cup – very generous considering that the buy-in for this one was twice as much!
For Christina and I, this is a good amount of money, and Cris went up without too many expectations, and with the thought that a min cash – probably at least £500 – would be good enough in itself. She does consider April to be a lucky month for her however, after she did extremely well last April (2014), cashing in many tournaments, and making a good amount of money. So there was that to factor in!
I got on the train from Cardiff Central at around 5.45, hoping to be at the casino by around 9.30. It was a relatively uneventful journey. I sat at a table seat, which I usually prefer as it gives you a bit of space to put things down like newspapers, 4 packs of Brains Gold, etc. It’s a while since I’ve travelled by train, and I’d almost forgotten about things like having to fuss over reserved seats, etc. A woman sat down in the seat across the aisle from me in pink leggings, a pink floral dress and a pink hoodie, which was a slight distraction as I read about Bournemouth’s latest tourist attraction, a zip wire along the length of Bournemouth pier in an article in the “I” about the recent rise in popularity of Christina’s home town.
The table I was sat at was in fact reserved from somewhere around Cheltenham, so when 4 older people came to claim their seats, I moved to the seat now vacated by the woman with the slightly eccentric dess sense. A stop or two further on, and again, someone gave some indication of claiming the seat I was in as theirs, so I got up again, and went to sit in the next carriage along. It was here I witnessed what I considered to be a spectacular act of rudeness on behalf of a newly boarded traveller. A family consisting of mother, father and young daughter were sat at a table which presumably they hadn’t reserved. A middle aged woman, with the look of a librarian about her, had got on, and was fairly insistent about sitting in her reserved seat. This meant the husband having to get up out of his seat, and he moved to an adjacent table. I just couldn’t believe that this woman was happy to force this family to sit separately from each other, when she was travelling alone. Furthermore, within minutes of the train starting, it was quite apparent that nobody was claiming the seat on the adjacent table, so she could quite easily have had this seat, and swapped back with the husband. But no, this simple gesture was apparently not something that occurred to the woman, the important thing for her being to sit in her exact reserved seat.
Dressed in red, black and white, this Nazi Librarian then proceeded not to sit there and tell everyone to shush, but instead, in front of the mother and daughter, her next move was to spend nearly the whole journey in some tedious sounding business conversation on her mobile. Bear in mind this was early evening on a Saturday! Did this person have no life?!
The main issue was the way she had forced the family to sit separately though, and it had enraged me so much, sitting in a seat behind them, that on my way back from going to the loo, I mentioned to her and the father that maybe they could just swap back. The father insisted that no, it was fine – I think he was being a little sarcastic though, as I think he also could not believe her nerve – and still, despite vaguely agreeing with what I said, she did not even stand up and demonstrate her willingness to move. I just wanted to voice my support for the family.
What did make me laugh though was, as the rude woman continued her business conversation, the little girl then got up out of her seat. There had been another couple sitting in the seats opposite the father, but they had got off by now (these were 2 more table seats the old bat could have now had). The father had in fact now dozed off (possibly in some ways, he did not mind a little break from family commitments), but I could tell he was a great dad who enjoyed playing games with his daughter. Well anyway, this very cute little girl, got up out of her seat, all smiles, and went across to the other table, and started singing songs and giggling to wake her dad up, who then proceeded to join in with the songs. I had thought the mother would then join them, but maybe she by this stage had felt she wanted to show up the older woman by not moving herself. Within a couple of stops, the family had got off, and a short while later, I felt I had to say to the older woman how rude I’d considered her to be. I realise that people can expect to sit in their reserved seats, but sometimes, surely, compromises can be made, especially when there is an identical seat also available!
Well, anyway, I landed at Nottingham, and by now it was getting dark, but I was insistent on sticking to my guns and getting a bus to the casino to save a few quid on a taxi fare (so many taxis since losing my license!). Cris and I were in communication by text. In fact, if I’d hopped straight in a taxi, I’d have got there during one of her breaks from the tournament, but no worries, I got the bus, which meant a short walk from where the driver dropped me off, and finally, the Dusk Till Dawn was before me.
I have to say, the place did not quite match either of our expectations. I think we’d both expected it to be a bit bigger for a start, given that this is known as being one of the country’s premier sites for poker events. But unlike other casinos, the focus is far more on poker, with other games being by far the secondary attraction. This is good as far as we’re concerned as we like to just play poker, and not get sidetracked by other forms of gambling. Personally, I think there should be more of these places, and I know of the perfect venue in Cardiff – currently, a disused bowling alley – for such a facility.
I had forgotten to bring photo ID (with my driving license no longer a permanent fixture in my wallet), so I had to wait around in reception for a manager to allow me to have a temporary pass, which he said meant I would not be entitled to more than £15,000 in winnings! I didn’t like to say that this amount would exceed any expectations on my part by probably around 15000%!
Finally, I was in, and like I say, possibly smaller than I’d expected, and finding Cris wasn’t as difficult as I’d imagined it might have been, that is, despite 2 major tournaments – the Nottingham Cup, and the UKIPT taking place simultaneously. Was really pleased to catch up with her, and see her looking her usual quietly confident self. At her table was another poker player from Cardiff, Gareth Coles, who appeared on the Sharkcage TV show. We actually had Gareth round for a home game one time, and he was a really, really nice guy, and a good poker player, so we consider Gareth as a friend. I asked if they each needed a beer, but as Gareth had one already, I went to get one just for Christina and myself.
I had thought there may have been one or two more famous faces around given that the UKIPT was in town – the faces of Jake Cody and Liv Boeree were on advertising boards, but there was no sign of Cody in person, though I did hear Liv Boeree had been spotted. I saw another guy that we had seen in London a couple of months back, Ludovic Geilich, who was one of the most entertaining players on a recent TV highlights programme, and I also said hi to Kelly Saxby who had been sat next to Cris in London, but there was not a huge clutch of stars. Crissy was at one point sat at the same table as Willie Tann, the veteran player who we noticed the folllowing week on an EPT highlights show.
Obviously, during a tournament, it’s a bit tricky to have a conversation with anyone while they’re playing, so after a few quick words, I left Cris to it, and went to try my luck at a cash game. There was a 1/1 table just starting up, so I joined that. It was a moderate standard table. There were a few players that had gone out of either the UKIPT or the Nottingham Cup, or both, so perhaps these players could be considered the rejects, but of course, to be playing for the kind of money involved, they are hardly likely to be novices. I wasn’t getting too many hands, and the woman to my left, who had put down a lot more money than me, kept making large re-raises pre-flop, so I was having to fold a lot. I was actually sitting between her and her husband, so I got chatting to them a bit, and it was all quite friendly. I made one slightly ballsy bluff to win a smallish pot, then I finally won with a top pair against a straight draw, took a reasonable pot, and was about £15 up for the session.
Cris wanted a short break, so we had a cigarette and a brief team talk. She was quite short stacked, but in fairness, had hung in well. She always makes me laugh with some of the hands she describes. I think she makes much bolder moves than I do sometimes. She had worked her way through the field, and it was looking likely that she was going to make Day 2, an achievement in itself, despite being short.
It was finally the end of Day 1 for her, and I left the cash table, not minding too much that by this time I was now down by around £15. We had another chat with Gareth and his friend. Each of them were also short stacked like Cris, but it was nice that all 3 of them had made it through.
It was now quite late, and both of us were hungry having not eaten much all day, so we ordered a couple of light meals. One thing about this place is that the waitresses all wear very skimpy outfits, which Cris is not particularly keen on. The assumption does seem to be that this is a male-dominated past-time, and that this is what men want, but I suppose that doesn’t leave too much room for women who have to put up with it, or for men who consider it unnecessary.
It finally came for us to make our way to our hotel. This had been another problematic aspect of the trip. Prior to losing my driving license, the probable plan would have been for the two of us to drive up, and spent the night at my brother’s in nearby Derby. However, with the knowledge that driving on to my brother’s would not be an option, faced with the idea of a hefty taxi fare in the early hours of Sunday morning, we thought we might as well get a hotel, but of course, with just a week to spare, there was not too much available at a decent price. A few days before, I’d tentatively booked a hotel seeing that it was cancellable, however what I hadn’t realised was that it could only be cancelled the day after the booking, not up until the day we’d planned to stay as is normally the case.
So I had a hotel that I now couldn’t cancel, and which was around 15 miles away – I hadn’t properly checked it’s exact location when booking it. Fortunately, Cris had figured out which taxi firm was best value, we booked with them again, and fortunately, the fare was not quite as dear as I’d anticipated.
The pictures of the rooms on the hotel website showed four poster beds, which had been a slight allure – unsurprisingly, we didn’t get a room with a four poster bed, but it was quite smart, and very clean, and the bed nonetheless was very comfy. I had 2 cans of Brains SA Gold left over from the train, so we polished them off, but Cris really was unsurprisingly knackered by this stage – she’d just done a whole week at work, then a long session of poker – and it was no nookie for me!