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Heartbeat Turner…

Heartbeat Turner… Martin Turner, Sky Sports director of the whole deal, put it best. “Baby,” he crowed, “we’re gonna break this sport wide open!” That was the kind of excitement that summed up the week of the Poker Million tournament. Sky Sports laid on a staff of sixty to seventy people who did nothing for three days but work on poker. Ladbrokes laid on smiles and strewn blank checks. And not one player complained about minor hitches relating to the disposal of what had been their ten thousand dollars. Because from the moment they hopped out of the stretch limo into the rabbit warren of a green room, as soon as heart monitors were strapped on and they were lying back in the make-up chairs, when they saw the galley where fifty-four banks of monitors were displaying space age poker charts, when Steve Davis and Jimmy White confessed that their hero was “The Gentleman”, when thirty-four cameras were catching every move so that if you played a great hand there were no worries because there were no bluffs ending on the cutting room floor, well you didn’t hear anybody saying they wish they hadn’t played. Everything was about breaking this sport. Wide open…

Where’s the Poet?… There was a bit of a Peter Costa panic coming into Friday morning. Apparently everyone was panicked but Peter. Costa had last been seen in Las Vegas. Though his money was paid, there had been neither hide nor hair of him all during the week, and a mad scramble behind the scenes lining up players with readies waiting by their car, promising to come on a one hour’s notice. It was all unnecessary, because when I hit the lobby Friday at 9 am, Peter is sitting on a couch fifteen minutes early, sipping his coffee and immaculately dressed, looking all the world exactly where he should be. “C’mon!” he says. “Of course I was gonna be here!”… Even though John Duthie lives close to the studios, he still checked into the hotel the night before he had to play. “I can’t sleep in my own bed the night before a big game,” he said, “It’s too comfortable. I need to be in a strange bed, in a bit of strange place. That’s what puts the fire in the belly…” Who’s to argue?…

More than Money… A lot of players donated more than their money to this television enterprise, they gave their time. It’s not fair to ask someone who’s paying to play to be distracted by spins in the commentary box, but they all did it generously. Devilfish, John Duthie, Barny Boatman, Roy Brindley, and Simon Trumper all took turns putting up with yours truly, and it couldn’t have been more fun. Trumper showed up on one hours notice with still wet hair, found in bed with the place all a panic, and he talked his chops off for four hours straight. It was great... The main obstacle to commentating with the Devilfish is trying to catch your breath, because he’s cracking you up at every opportunity with the north of England one liners… The silent hero was Joe “The Elegance” Beevers, who spent about twenty hours in the galley, telling all the technicals what was gonna happen before it did. And by the way. “The Elegance” is still the best poker handicapper on three continents. If Joe Beevers is betting it, take any amount in the blind – you definitely want to be on the same side as him!

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