21/05/2008

Not as Scandinavian as You Might Think

Barry Carter

While I’m not going to go into the finer details of my sponsorship deal with VC Poker, I can say that if I wanted to, I could have picked a higher buy-in this month than the £550 Norwegian Poker Championships. But there was no way I was going to miss this one, the prospect of 400 pissed up Scandies a 40 minute drive from my house was too good to pass up.

Walking around Dusk Till Dawn when 400 Norwegians have invaded it is a surreal experience. It’s a bit like going back to a house you once lived in and seeing what someone else has done with it. You feel happy and nostalgic to be back, but you feel violated at the same time and want to throw everyone out and make it like it was before. I eventually found someone I knew before the other Brits got there, Barry Neville, which I thought was funny, I’m at the Norwegian Poker Championships and the first person I speak to has the same name as me and is from the same city.
My very first table was the TV table, which I was very excited about, until we were told the hole card cameras were not part of the live webcast and we had all been putting our cards on the bit of glass in a vain effort to look like bigshots. I broke the ice with our visitors by producing my Norwegian Phrasebook, which made a few laugh and then I put it under the table, never to be used again, as they all could and had to speak their quasi-American English at the table anyway. I’m sure the £1.45 gesture from Amazon was a much appreciated olive branch across the International poker divide.

I actually played pretty crap for the most part (hence me writing this column while the tournament is still going on) and if I could equate it to one unifying reason (rather than my plethora of leaks) it would be a bad mindset going into it. That is, that perception that the Scandies are all a bunch of maniacs. I joked to someone before the event its the only event where you could contemplate mucking top set in a reraised pot because of the likelihood that your opponent was holding 5-2 and maybe this joke stuck with me a little bit.

So maybe I was a little gun-shy because of this preconception I had, which I can now say is way off the mark. There was a side bet at my table that the first player out would be Norwegian, and he was in fact English, despite the 4-1 odds against. Generally speaking the play went down just like any other tournament (although a lot more inebriated) and the big hands played the same, the early bustouts were all pretty standard and there wasn’t any plain stupid hands that I know of.

This isn’t to say the whole lot of them aren’t crazy, because they are. By all accounts, DTD have been taking more behind the bar than a local pub does in a month. It was a lot of fun to see 400 drunk Norwegian men running round the way we all did the first time our parents trusted us with the house when they went on holiday. Every table was having side bets on, well, everything and whole bottles of vodka were being bought by 18 year olds who probably have spun up more money online in a month than the rest of us will see in a lifetime.

All nothing a bit of National Service wouldn’t sort out though.

The overall attitude of the Scandinavian players is actually very refreshing. They take bad beats losing to questionable hands much better (bar one miserable sod who sat next to me on my second table who let the rest of the side down) and graciously. I heard a lot of moaning English players, swearing under their breath and lamenting their bad luck, which you didn’t get from our guests (although I’ll once again reiterate, we weren’t drunk and they were, which may explain a thing or two), they took their lumps and they carried on.

So the Scandies are nowhere near as crazy as I thought they were (maybe it’s the Swedes and the Danes that have created that image) but they all do run round likes toddlers who’ve had too much sugar. The atmosphere and the banter has been amazing at Dusk Till Dawn all week (it has really demonstrated the potential DTD has and let’s hope another big event lands there very soon) and I think even the most narrow minded of UK players has to admit that the Norwegian Poker Champions are more than welcome in England next year.