Report by Joe on Monday, 3 October 2005 at 3:26 pm

The Victoria Casino in London had a few firsts this week. For over 30 years the Gaming Board’s 1968 act has dictated that new casino members must wait 48 hours (reduced to 24 hours) after joining before they can enter the premises. Now, providing you are armed with the necessary ID, you can walk in off the street and do your proverbials. This weekend also saw the Victoria host its first poker tournament with the starting day spread over two evenings. Capacity at the Vic for an event used to be about 170 players but with a 256 player ceiling for the London EPT event half would start on Friday and the other half on Saturday with the remaining players playing to a conclusion on the Sunday. This is a process that has been used to good effect with huge fields in America and some European casinos – the WSOP championship event this year had three ‘first’ days.

You would expect the simplest thing to do would be to designate a table and seat number as well as a starting day when the entry ticket was bought. That way players could plan ahead and the logistics would be easiest all around. Not in London though. The players had to be in the casino, in person, at 2.30pm on the Friday and had to queue with the other 250 odd players. If you drew the Friday start you had to hang around until 4pm and if you drew Saturday you had to go away and return at 3pm the next day – not exactly player friendly.

There were rumours that the casino had done this to ensure that all those players were in the casino hoping that they would play side action or table games. If this is the case it worked as whilst queuing near the touch bet roulette machines you could witness several young Swedes jamming £20 notes into the slots and bashing the screens in order to achieve the roulette equivalent of ‘all in’.

The casino, however, says that the players have to suffer this inconvenience because of the Gaming Board rules. I would like to bet that the Gaming Board isn’t that familiar with poker tournament ‘first days’ and I don’t really see them getting upset if players were allowed to draw their day in advance.

Rumours that two players were disqualified for exchanging their tickets for different days were unproved but what makes a mockery of the whole thing is that you could buy your ticket, make the draw and then simply not turn up if you got the day that you didn’t want. This is because if you aren’t present to play the first hand of the tournament the casino have to refund the entry fee. This is very different to America or even other European card rooms, where they simply put your chips up and ante you away.

It’s only taken 30 years to get rid of the 48 hour rule. How long before they get really logical and straighten out the silly situation above?

Another good thing for poker that you wouldn’t have had in previous years was the banks of media present. Laptops, cameras and TV crews filming in the London Victoria – we are making progress in some places.

The Mob only played two events at the festival. I managed to finish 16th in the £1000 NLH event having been chip leader 17 out. Three quick hands in a row and I was walking out the door. In the £3000 EPT main event Ram made it through to Sunday with decent chips and managed a cash finishing 19th.

Congratulations to eventual winner Mark Teltscher who collected £280,000 and also to our good friend Tony ‘Tikay’ Kendall of Blondepoker who made short work of The Gutshot main event the same evening.

Today was no rest day. We were up at about 7am for a meeting at the PokerZone TV Studios which was followed by a promotional photo shoot around various London landmarks. How many poker players can you fit in a red phone box? I’ve just got back to the office where this is being typed and on the way Ram was talking about jobs and going to work. As we drove past a betting shop in Camden Town he told us that he once worked there for three months. He was reminded that he once ran a cake stall at Milton Keynes market seven days a week. He said that he actually worked there two days a week but he spent the other five dreading it so much that it felt like he was working seven days a week!