The Ogmore Poker Tour: Changing Faces – Landi

One of the greatest appeals that poker offers is the ability for the common man to take a seat next to one of the world’s greatest players. I doubt that the common man is ever going to find himself in a game of headers and volleys with David Beckham or crazy golf with Tiger Woods; but sitting across the table sharing chips with Phil Ivey can easily happen. As poker grows in popularity so does the status of it’s greatest pro’s. Poker superstars are rising from the ashes of the common man everyday but sometimes you get a little reminder that the two worlds are not that far apart after all.

I was sat on a huge white couch in the bar of the luxurious Kemplinski hotel in Slovakia. A young, good looking, lady was sat on my left and Andrew Feldman was sat on my right. Feldman was on his laptop and he was watching his money moving up and down on the Betfair exchanges whilst sipping a cup of tea. Roberto Romanello had just won WPT Bratislava and he was sat opposite me in a chair fiddling with his phone. Jesse May walked in from the cool outside to pick up his tumbler of whisky. Alessio Isaia was sitting resplendent in his suit sharing an expensive wine with a lady. James Akenhead was exchanging stories with Warren Lush and “Mad” Marvin Rettenmeier was trying to finish his online tournament whilst playing the Grand Piano at the same time.

These people have had their faces printed on the front cover of most of the worlds leading poker magazines. They have won millions of dollars between them and can be classed as superstars of poker. The lady to my right makes her apologies and goes outside into the Slovakian night air to poison her lungs. I look over at Romanello and he looks exhausted. He is sipping a glass of brandy and I turn around to Feldman.

“He’s a top bloke.” I tell Feldman as I nod towards the direction of Romanello.

“Yeah, Robbie is one of the best.” Feldman acknowledged.

“I actually play in a local game with one of his friends. An Iranian business man known as Landi.” I told Feldman.

“I know Landi. Top bloke.” Said Feldman.

So here I am, sat in the most luxurious hotel in Slovakia, and Andrew Feldman not only knows one of the Ogmore Poker Tour (OPT) regulars, but he thinks he is a top bloke!

I first became aware of Landi a few years ago when I was playing in a tournament in Aspers Casino in Swansea. He was running around complaining that the only cash games on offer were No Limit Hold Em (NLHE). He was begging people to play Pot Limit Omaha (PLO) Hi/Lo with him but he couldn’t get any takers. You could tell right away that he was a character. He was buzzing around the place as if he owned it and all of the regulars knew him by name. Back then the only game I played was NLHE so I for one did not take up his challenge. A few years later and the OPT was born and we started playing dealers choice cash games (DC) every week after our tournament had finished. I was in Aspers one night when Landi asked me to join him and a few of his friends to play DC. There were a lot of games that I didn’t know how to play such as Badugi, Hi/Lo and Super-Stud but Landi had this charm about him that made it difficult to say no – so I sat down and did my bollocks. This is how Landi made his money – finding DC fish like me.

Over the years the OPT has evolved and as a group of players we have all improved tremendously (£12k in tournament cashes in GUKPT Blackpool 2010). With our improvement has come an increase in stakes. We still play the same old £50 freezeout and the cash games are still £1/1 blinds but the pots are much bigger. The foundation of the OPT has always been it’s characters. For every Roberto Romanello on the EPT we have a Bobby Eggs on the OPT. But the change in the stakes has resulted in a change of personnel. Some of the old school that can no longer afford the swings have left. But for every character that has left a new one has stepped up to the plate. One of those new players is Landi. Three of the crew started to play quite regularly at Aspers where they told Landi about the OPT. Landi drives 30 miles each way to play every night and his appetite for the game is ferocious. He never plays in the tournament because he cannot see the point but instead comes to play DC cash games. Landi is a spitting image of Manuel from Fawlty Towers or Super Mario depending on your age. He is always impeccably dressed, brings one green apple every week and has a strange blue ornament as his good luck charm and card protector. His game of choice is always 6-card PLO Hi/Lo and his least favourite game is the same as mine – 6-card PLO double flop. Since Landi has joined the OPT our evenings have been extended from a 02:00 finish to 06:00 finishes. Like I said, the man has a respect and charm about him, so when he asks Rob the Scot if we can play longer there is no argument. I remember the first time that he came to our game. He ordered drinks and when Rob The Scot came over to him for his money Landi gave him a £5 chip from his stack.

“Weetthefuckistheet?” Said Rob the Scot.

Landi looked at me with those what the fuck did he just say eyes and I just laughed and gave Rob a fiver.

He says “Teen” instead of “ten” and plays a very tight and straightforward style. He is not about to bluff three streets into you holding nothing but the inside of a balloon. If he is taking the betting lead he generally has you smashed. He plays the game like Speedy Gonzalez on mouse-crack. For Landi the 60-mile round trip means you need to get as many hands in as you can. I liken him to a pace setter in a track and field event. The other night we had split the game into two tables of five. My table had two youngsters in their early twenties Kai and Josh, a newcomer to the game called John Bayliss (brought from Swansea by Landi), Gary “The Sleeper” Acreman, Andrew “Too Nice” Bayliss, Andrew “The Mekon” Eddie, Loose Hands Louie and myself. Over on the other table was Landi, Eddie’s Dad Steve, Alan the Bookie, Danny Mac, Bobby Eggs and Terry “The Run” Welsh. We kept taking the piss out of them because the average age of the table was about 72. It was Too Nice’s deal and the game was 6-card PLO, before he dealt Josh threw out a £2 straddle. John Bayliss made it £4 and Louie made it £8 before The Sleeper refused to straddle any higher. After succumbing to our threats to put him on the old fogey table he straddled to £16 and The Mekon made it £32. Action back onto Too Nice on the button and he straddled to £64 and as I was tilting I decided to make it £128 from the small blind.

“£128 straddle over here.” I shouted to the fogeys.

Landi and Bobby Eggs came over to the table.

“Fuck it. I am all-in blind.” Said Kai from the big blind.

Everyone folded around to me.

“Well, when I read my stars this morning they said that today was going to be my lucky day so I call.” I said.

The bet was £400 and I thought the worst that could happen was we would split the pot. I was wrong and Kai took down a £800 pot in a £1/1 cash game without seeing his cards (Annette Obrestad eat your heart out).

“Stupid game, stupid game Ching.” Landi said to me with a disapproving look.

“But it was in my stars.” I said jokingly as I pulled another wad out of my wallet.

“It’s my birthday today so maybe I have your luck.” Said Bobby Eggs.

“What star sign does that make you then?” Asked Landi.

“Herpes.” Said Bobby Eggs.

This article first appeared in BLUFF Europe magazine