The Tuesday Night Home Game Regulars Attend the BLUFF Academy – Part One The Journey
They have only given me quarter of a cup! - Black 4 after ordering his first ever Expresso
The stench that has filled the room is unbearable. I am trying to avoid it but I can’t. I have to breathe in order to live. I start breathing in a strange shallow kind of way hoping that I can reduce the impact. It isn’t working and instead I feel like I have a hangover. I start to dry heave. I am desperate to get some sleep. This hotel room has cost me £50. I must sleep in order to gain value. I am cold. The pillow is like a rock and the sheets are like paper. There is a ray of sunlight hitting me right in the eye through a gap in the curtain, a curtain that would fall off the wall if I tried to close it properly. One of them has just farted again. They are both snoring. My earplugs are not blocking out the sound and I have no defence left against the smell. Garlic, stale beer and farts. It’s disgusting. I look at my phone and remember that I have no battery power left or a charger. I get out of bed and walk over to the boys and look at one of their phones next to them.
I go into the toilet to escape. The boys have not poisoned the air in here. I need to go to the toilet before I leave. I can’t bear the thought of having a dump on the train and opening that door to be greeted by some hottie waiting to use the can after me. I sit down to go and empty my bowels. I remind myself that I have left my wet wipes in my bag. Shit! Literally! I look at the toilet paper. It is made out of the same material your Nan used to wrap her Dundee Cake in. The kind of toilet paper you used to have in school as a kid, the type of toilet paper that would leave you bleeding after too many wipes. I wipe and my finger pokes through the Dundee cake and into my shit. One of the boys farts again.
I clean my finger, brush my teeth and leave the boys behind, breaking into the nice clean air of London! The doorman tries to stop me from leaving. He wants me to pay for my room. He is a Turkish foreign looking bloke, like an extra from the film Hostel.
“My friends pay. Not me. They are still in room.” I tell him while speaking like I assume a Turk would speak. I have no idea why I speak like this to people who look foreign but I do.
It is a short walk to Paddington Station but one that I need. I start to look around for a way of charging my phone. I notice a bloke talking on his iPhone in the coffee shop. It is plugged into his Macbook. I sit down next to him and wait for him to finish his conversation. When he does I ask him if I could charge my phone on his Macbook in return for a coffee. He agrees and the thought of having my phone brought back to life is worth the price of a double expresso. The guys name is Bill and he has just returned from Cambodia where he has been working for the past few months. I do ask him what his job is but don’t listen to his response. He asks me the same question.
Now here is a quandary. What do I tell people I do for a living now I have finished my job? Am I unemployed? A writer? A Poker Player? I decide to tell him I am a Poker Player, it sounds cool and I doubt I will see him again.
“Can you make money playing poker?” He asks.
Mmmmm. Interesting question. Lets see!
I receive a Tweet from Alex Rousso advertising the latest BLUFF Academy, which is to take place at The Vic. The price is £150 or one hand in a game of Dealers Choice. I ask the lads in my local Tuesday night home game if anyone wants to come and Steve “The Rock” John and Neil “Black 4” Farm are in.
Our first task is to organise the travel. We could either drive or go by train. Given the fact that we can’t play cards and drive a car at the same time, we opt for the train. This is good for me because I have free rail travel. Not so good for the boys as they have to part with £60. On the return journey the lads catch an earlier train than the one they reserve and have to pay a £20 surcharge.
We jump on the train and make our way through 2nd class trying to find a table. The train company have removed most of them in order to squeeze in more paying passengers. I eventually remind the lads that they have pre-paid for their tickets so they must have seats reserved. They check them and luckily enough we have two seats reserved out of four and we have a table. Unfortunately, there are four Chinese girls sat in our seats.
“Ching, you speak to them and get them to shift. You know their lingo!” Said Black 4.
I eventually manage to get the girls from Tenko to shift, although it was more through sign language than any form of the Mandarin tongue. We sit down and hide the two other reserved seats that don’t belong to us so we can have our own table for the next two and a half hours. I can hear the Tenko girls speaking in Chinese and pointing.
“I understand you!” I say pointing back.
“Leave your girlfriends alone Ching. Have you got the chips?” Asks The Rock.
I go into my man bag and pull out a little silver container and open it. There are a few chips and a pack of Hello Kitty playing cards. We decide to play a £20 freeze out and I win it. Black 4 decides to go and get some drinks after being knocked out first. He has decided at the age of 33 to take up drinking coffee. He has never drunk it before but everyone is telling him how nice it is so he is going to give it a try. The Rock also orders a coffee and I order a coke. A few minutes later he returns and takes the lid off his coffee.
“Shit! They have only poured me a quarter of a cup!” Says Black 4.
I look into his cup.
“Its Expresso, you daft twat!” I tell him.
The Rock opens his and he also has Expresso.
“I am not drinking Expresso.” Says The Rock.
“I have just paid £7 for those. You’ve got to drink it.” Says Black 4.
The Rock pours his Expresso into Black 4’s cup.
“There you have a full cup of coffee for £7.” Says The Rock.
One sip later and Black 4 has tasted coffee and decided it is not for him. The three of us share my coke.
Energised by his sip of Expresso, Black 4 wins the second freezeout and after hitting his first ever Royal Flush, The Rock wins the third freezeout and we end the series all square. We get off the train and type in the postcode of the hotel into the iPhone and start walking. Luckily the place is only a few minutes walking distance from Paddington station but why we even booked a hotel is beyond me. Chances are high that we will be going from the Casino straight onto the train. The Rock took a more conservative approach and wanted some digs just incase he did his bollocks early and needed a place to hang his head in shame.
The hotel is a shit hole. The woman at the front desk is from Estonia or somewhere.
“Is there anywhere we can leave bags? Won’t book in until much later. Ya?” I do it again. Only this time in a sort of cross German-Swiss accent even though I am trying to be Estonian!
We can’t book into our room because it is too early. We leave our bags in the cupboard under the stairs. I kiss it goodbye, doubting I will ever see it again and we head off over to The Vic.