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Barny Boatman
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A Ukranian One-Two

Five Diamond Poker Classic, Las Vegas
Report by Barny on Monday, 13 December 2004 at 7:09 am

For Joe’s birthday celebration we went to the massive Mandalay Bay Arena to watch the pride of Brixton, Danny Williams take on Vitali Klitschko of the Ukraine for the world heavyweight championship. Tickets started at $100 but Ram, who would ask for an upgrade in a lift, insisted on paying $1,300 to go close to ringside. The rest of us had a great view from the gods alongside other pennywise punters such as multi millionaire poker pro Ted Forest. Everywhere there were groups of Ukrainians dressed in the orange we have been used to seeing on the news in the last few weeks. I think if Danny had won it on points they might have occupied the ring and demanded a recount!

Just before the main fight there was as stampede as we all piled down to the empty $400 seats just behind the press corps and were surprised to find that Ram had moved there too. ‘You couldn’t see their feet where I was sitting’ he complained. Mind you, he wouldn’t have had too much trouble seeing Danny’s feet as they were up in the air so much. To be honest it was total mismatch and although the atmosphere was fantastic it reminded me of why I don’t like boxing that much. There is something admirable but distressing about watching someone who won’t admit when he’s beaten picking himself up over and over and coming back for more punishment. But enough about my tournament form at the Bellagio.

As always the taxi driver was insane. He claimed to be half Navaho Indian and half Welsh, which apparently meant he could see into the spirit world and get cheap tickets to see Tom Jones. He was very scathing about Vegas drivers;

‘I’m the only one ain’t in a hurry and the only one who knows where he’s going’ he told us.
‘Where’s that?’ I asked.
‘Well, if you could drop us at The Bellagio on the way…’

With poker you should never say you’ve seen it all. Today for example I saw a flop of King of diamonds, three of clubs…three of clubs. And in the $25 $50 no limit hold-em game I saw this: The player under the gun (a Ukrainian funnily enough) thought a miss- deal had been called and turned over his pocket aces in disgust. When he realised his mistake he turned them back over but he didn’t seem to know what to do. ‘Just move all in’ I advised him and the whole table started yelling ‘go all-in and take the blinds!’ But what he did was flat call! Of course everyone now felt obliged to call him to teach him a lesson for ignoring their helpful advice. Amazingly, the first card on the flop was an Ace and he took it with a bet so small I was tempted to call with a backdoor draw, but the real winner was the bloke who passed second set.
Five minutes later I had the Aces and the Ukrainian maverick called my $1,000 preflop re-raise with A9 of hearts. He flopped a four flush, all the money went in and the flush came on the river. Us Londoners aren’t having much luck against Ukrainians at the moment, although even Klitschko puts his hands down sometimes!

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