01/07/2005

The Mad Hatters Tea Party

Ashley Alterman 'The Poker Cynic'

Well, it wasn't exactly a tea party, but even Lewis Carol's opium fuelled imagination would be hard pressed to compete with Ladbrokes Poker Million.

The inspired commentary team of Jesse May (Stanley Unwins spirtual succesor) , aided and abetted by RoytheBoy, mixed more metaphors than you can shake a stick at in the bush, and both got more excited than the Queen of Hearts. My own personal excitement was slightly dampened by the taste of sour grapes in the back of my throat, but I swallowed hard, and accepted ladbrokes invitation to have dinner and watch the Poker Million live at the Metropole.

The problem was that although they created an atmosphere of sorts with tables of supporters cheering for their favoured players, the size of the room meant that the audio quality was bad, and that made the action harder to follow. I had the free dinner, and left to watch the finale on TV at home, where I could appreciate the finer points of NoLimitHold'Em in the comfort of my underwear.

One pro, Martin from Denmark had the chip lead for the majority of the tournament, until he eventually succumbed to the fearless amateurs, going out third. MadMarty Wilson, dressed as a woman and using the name Helen fell only at the last hurdle, and even then I suspect she got bored, and didnt really care whether she won $400,000 or $1,000,000. Given that she won three, one table satelites, to get to the final; along with a special one table event that included the current World Champion, The Mad Irish Monk and The Salmon (Lewis Carol eat your heart out), I could only watch her play with admiration along with the tiniest tinge of envy as she made the game look so easy.It wasn't just the aggressive moving of her chips, or the fearless nature of her play, but she also made many great reads on her opponents, and was capable of passing a big hand. Credit must also go to the winner, whatever his name was, who also demonstrated his ability to play well under pressure, and who outlasted the field, finally disposing of the seemingly indestructable MadHelenChamberlinWilson. His name is Tony Jones (I think), and I suspect he will derive pleasure from his performance for years to come, and the money should last a while too.

In case anybody wasn't sure before hand, hopefully it will now be more apparent that the six handed one table satelite on a thirty minute clock is a great leveller. I don't know whether this makes for good TV or not, as it becomes apparent that an hour or two's coaching and a 'devil may care' attitude, is more than enough to take on some of Europes Top Pro Players.
Moving on, but staying on the subject of institutionalised madness, it is hard to understand why English casino (and online-site operators) behave in the way they do. Its not like they don't have an example to follow to help them along. I don't normally lavish praise on American institutions, but when you compare them to their English counterparts, they seem to be in a league of their own. Casino operators in the UK who have poker in their casino's are doing poker players a favour.At least that is the attitude that comes across. The idea that they are valued customers seems to be lost on the Casino's, who begrudgingly allow them on to the premises, even though they appear to spend less money than the punters at roulette and blackjack. The fact that they are able to attract large numbers solely because of the poker is lost on them. The expansion of the poker market via the Internet has generated a brand new customer base, so the casino's are able to carry on as before. It will be a long time before they manage to exhaust the market so no doubt they are all congratulating themselves on their successful method of working. The truth is they have a license to print money, so even the brain dead members of their respective boards feel reassured by their success. The truth of course is, if they knew what they were doing, they would be even more profitable. Personally, I hope they all go skint.