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Barny Boatman
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How I Got a Piece of String in Notts

It's not that long ago, although it seems an age now, when the main event at a UK festival could well have been a slow clocked two day affair priced at what seemed at the time to be an astronomical monkey (they were sending primates into space back then as well as sending real pop stars to the Eurovision song contest).

Five hundred quid is still a lot of money, but it is within the reach of a lot of serious players who had found themselves increasingly priced out of the main events on the British and European circuit, if indeed their local casinos even held such events. Five hundred these days is just as likely to get you a seat in an under card one day crap-shoot, and it's a vicious circle for those who want to get experience with deep stacks and slow structures.

Back in February, the Gala Casino's UK poker tour kicked off in Edinburgh and The Mob were there at the start of what is a truly home grown grass roots addition to the poker calendar.

There were a few familiar faces, including Dave Colclough and Iwan Jones; The pros could clearly see the value of an event that was going to allow a lot of play. I did recognise a few of the Scottish players as well but the majority were new to me. Not to the game though, the standard was high, and I'll draw a veil over my own performance in that event.

Joe and I decided to rejoin the tour at last week's event in Nottingham. I hadn't been there since watching Forest vs. Spurs a couple of decades ago and by the time I'd finally found my way to the venue through the driving rain I had promised my self it was time to splash out on SatNav.

Once again, several pros had made an appearance including local hero Julian 'YoYo' Thew and WSOP super star Stuart Fox. With the event taking place over a weekend the organisers took the sensible step of starting at 2:30pm. With ten thousand in chips and one hour levels it was going to take until 4.00am to get the sellout field of 111 down to the ten who were in the money.

As you travel around the country you are reminded of the wealth of regional dialects, beers and customs in these diverse Islands. It will be a shame in a way when TDA rules eventually become the lingua franca for the world's most popular game, and the nuances of local rulings become a thing of the past. A player had been away from my table for three hands and the dealer started taking a dead blind from his stack for every hand. 'What if he was asleep at the table?' I asked. The dealer seemed genuinely intrigued by the question and called the card room manager over for a ruling. 'About taking dead blinds,' he asked, 'what should I do if a player is asleep?' The clear and pragmatic response convinced me that we had found a perfect new addition to the 'You are the Tournament Director' panel. 'If he's asleep....’ he answered, 'wake him up!'

The event was played in good spirits from start to finish. As well as a strong local contingent there were players from Sheffield Glasgow, at least one Skandie, and the Teeside Mob were there in force. I clashed with more than one player from 'Poker Down the Pub' a very worthwhile organisation as far as I can see, who combine a love of poker with a very proper regard for the role of beer in the game. Not so traditional was the half time snack: An excessively healthy plate of delicious fresh fruit. Next they'll be telling us poker is a sport.

Our old friends from Presentable, those nice Late Night Poker people, are covering the whole tour, and the cameras roamed about all night along with a fair few reporters and photographers. Joe and I both hit some good cards and one or other of us had the chip lead for most of the night. But the race is not always to the swift and within minutes of Joe’s luck running out, at around 3.30 am so did mine. We left the last dozen or so to fight it out for seats in the televised final and a piece of the prize pool which included, like all the tour's events, an added five grand.

I know there were some good players in Sunday's final, and I know the result as well, but if Presentable can spend two days filming the thing, the least you can do is wait and watch it on the tele.

Great British Poker Tour Main Event full results

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