A Dutch Geography Lesson
Master Classics Of Poker 2003, Amsterdam
on Sunday, 2 November 2003 at 12:11 pm
There is a tradition on our poker trips that goes back for years. Ross and I go to the airport together, we arrange a time to set off and I knock on his door at or after that time. But no matter if I’m bang on time, five minutes or twenty minutes late, he always opens the door in his underwear. I’ll re-phrase that… he is never dressed when I get there. Ross is not a man to be hurried. But yesterday there he was, dressed and ready! The traffic was light the queue at the airport was short, the flight was smooth and when we got to Holland it was not raining, another first! Poker players believe in omens and I had seen more good ones than a seaside fortune teller. This was going to be a good trip.
Yesterday was the no-limit holdem ‘freeroll’ open to all players who had pre-booked for three or more of the other tournaments. In one of the most generous promotions in any card room in the world, the final ten all win. Tickets in the EU 3,000 main event for the first seven and EU300 satellite tickets for the other three.
The casino was teaming last night. The main gaming floor is a huge round high ceilinged area, which looks and feels like a giant chaotic circus tent. It is the only casino in Europe which is on a Vegas scale and being circular it can be disorientating.
During Master Classics week it is a heaving tower of Babel and the only rule about finding your way anywhere is that you have go via the bar. The only rule about going through the bar is that you have to have at least one drink with the throng of old friends that press against you from every side; It seems that this is the one event in Europe that just about no-one misses.
At 8.00pm about two hundred Dutch, German, Russian, Swedish, Finish, Irish, British, French and American players sat down to play. Everyone was in a great mood, we were ‘up for none’ and this was a chance to hit the ground running. Several hours later with about four tables left Ross, who finished on the bubble in this event last year, got up; leaving me as the case Mobster.
Down to two tables and with the 3.00pm cut off point approaching the blinds were climbing at a dizzying pace. I made it to the last seven along with Dave Colclough and Bob Coombes and collected my EU 3,000 prize. Then it was back to the bar where Alan Betson and Keith ‘The Camel’ Hawkins had about twenty pints lined up in front of them, and having missed last orders I had some serious negotiating to do.
Anyone who has been to Amsterdam will know that there are coffee bars everywhere, and there is something about the coffee and the relaxed atmosphere that brings out the comedian in people. One person who doesn’t need it bringing out is ‘Mad’ Marty Wilson and coming to Amsterdam has reminded me of a favourite Marty incident that happened in a coffee bar here a couple of years ago. Marty has an encyclopaedic general knowledge and loves quizzes. A group of us were sitting in The Bulldog bar and Marty and I were taking it in turns to set questions. One of our party was a young Scouse lad; the fact he was from Liverpool is irrelevant except that for some reason it sounds funnier in his accent.
I set the question: ‘Name the Island that the Dominican Republic is on.’ And people started guessing various Caribbean and Hispanic sounding place names. In the middle of it all the Scouse kid piped up with ‘Germany’! Marty and I caught each other’s eyes for a split second and I knew what he was going to do. With perfect comic timing Marty waited until four or five more guesses had gone by and then with a straight face said ‘Is it Germany?’
‘Well done Marty.’ I said. ‘You win.
The kid went mad. ‘I said Germany first.’ He yelled. But even when he practically turned the table over we all agreed that Marty was the first to realise that Dominican Republic was in Germany.
For the rest of the week, whenever me or Marty bumped into him he would smile good-naturedly and say. ‘I’m telling you, I did say Germany first.’
Winners of EU 3,000 seats:
Barny Boatman, England
Jacky Lee, China
Antonio Turrisi, Italy
Günther Mach, Austria
Bob Coombes, England
David Turnbull, Scotland
Winners of EU 300 Satellite entries:
Sherkhan Farnood, Afghanistan
Morten Semback, Denmark
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