Professional and recreational poker players have their favourite events. For a lot of them, especially the recreational players, their favourite place to play will be a hometown venue. So players from the Old Town in Tallinn will be looking forward to the EPT Tallinn and players who live in Luton, who let’s face it don’t have much to look forward to, will be salivating at the sound of the local GUKPT coming to town.
Amidst the green, green grass of home, where sheep invade your rubbish bins and the voice of Tom Jones blares from everyone’s stereo; the cast of the Ogmore Poker Tour (OPT) has their own little poker festival. For the players who play on the OPT, the Tondu Poker Festival has as much excitement as the World Series of Poker (WSOP). The venue, hence the name, is the rugby club in a little tiny village called Tondu. We are allowed to use the upstairs room and the club even provides a beer-runner for us in the shape of a backward looking man with train spotter style glasses and a terribly funny stutter.
The room is a dump, but for that day and night it is our dump. Not a lot of lights work in the place so some of the cash games are played in darkness and we all put our mobile phones in the middle of the table and keep pressing them on so we can see our cards. The bogs are a living nightmare. Again there is no light so there is a one at a time rule to reduce the likelihood that we will piss over each other. The toilet seats are missing and the toilet paper feels like that stuff your Nan uses to wrap Dundee cake. You are more likely to try having a shit in a Glastonbury portaloo that in our toilet. During one event Bevan brought his missus to play and Bobby Eggs followed her into the women’s toilet by mistake (Bobby can’t see shit). In the furor we all piled into the women’s toilets following the screams and were all gob smacked to see that not only did the light work, but the toilets all had seats on, there were flowers in a vase on the side, toilet paper in the holder and a handy little bin next to each toilet where you could put your fag buts.
“Can I have a fucking shit in peace!” Shouted Bevan’s missus.
“Where did HE get toilet paper from?” Asked Bobby Eggs.
Tondu has one of the best Chinese Restaurants in Mid Glamorgan and a few of us would go in and have our fill ahead of the big game. One year we invited Bobby Eggs to join us. Bobby Eggs told us that he had never eaten Chinese food before and hadn’t been into a restaurant for twenty years. In the first twenty-minutes he had complained that the toothpicks were too big (chopsticks), ordered shit-cake mushrooms (shitake) and when asked how he wanted his teriyaki steak cooked he said, “on the griddle.”
The event was the brainchild of one Eddie Ace. Eddie Ace is known as Eddie Ace because when he gets to showdown he always has an ace. I am pretty sure Eddie Ace looks at a pair of pocket kings with the same disappointment as a hairy Mary with a piece of string hanging out of it. The first ever Tondu festival consisted of a £100 Deepstack Freezeout with a grand going to the winner and then a lively night of Dealers Choice card games. The first time we held the event Eddie Ace brought all the playing cards, chips and set up all the tables. He even brought along a flip chart and wrote the blind structure on it. The guy had single-handedly turned Tondu into the Late Night Poker TV studios.
“I don’t know why but I am so nervous. I have been looking forward to this event all week,” said Eddie Ace.
Shame then that Eddie Ace was at home with his wife and kids eating his Sunday roast after being the first person eliminated. After that year Eddie Ace had another kid and we didn’t really see him on the circuit apart from the odd appearance at the Tondu festival. The organisation of the event changed hands and the brother of Eddie Ace; Andrew “The Mekon” Edwards took over but his governance only lasted one tournament. He decided to bring along table covers from work but they were all covered in asbestos or something because everyone developed a rash from head to foot and we nearly had to cancel the game because nobody could stop itching. Still to this day we are waiting to die from some rare skin disease caused by the Mekon.
The winner of the inaugural event and the thousand pounds was Andrew “Too Nice” Bayliss. Incredibly it was the first time he had ever played in a tournament and just goes to show the exhilarating quality we have amidst our ranks. The year after Too Nice won the tournament a foreigner won it in the shape of Danny Mac. When asked what he was going to spend his winnings on Danny Mac replied in true Irish style.
The year after Danny Mac won the tournament it was my time to shine. I am fortunate enough to have more of a poker education than the rest of the players on the tour and also play more poker. Theoretically I should rank amongst the better players and should be taking these tournaments down for fun but alas poor Yorick I cannot win a single tournament. The fact that most players play every hand and never fold make the strategy pretty simple, value, value and value. You nail ace-king on a kx4x2x board, then you nail the 9x turn and you nail the 6x river and he shows kx6x for two pair, fml! But this particular year the fish kept missing and I kept holding and so I was heads up with Scott “Skit” Harris. I have known Skit for 20-years and the fact that he kept asking me who I was, is an indicator as to the amount of Magners the boy had drunk. I had to wake him up in between hands and he even kept showing me his cards asking me what to do next? It wasn’t a very difficult heads up encounter.
But it wasn’t the tournament or the toilets that we all looked forward to; it was the DC cash games. One year we were all hammered and deep into a game. One by one everyone left until there was Danny Mac, Bevan and I left playing three-way. The backward looking guy wearing train-spotter style glasses kept staring at us and complaining that we had to leave because he had work the following day. He had the most horrendous stutter and the fact that he couldn’t complete a sentence, and there was no way on planet earth he had a real job, helped us squeeze a few more hours out of him. To shut him up we kept forcing him to drink shots of tequila and the poor boy was fucked.
In the end we took pity on him and decided to take the game back to my house. It was 05.30 in the morning and we were all steaming. Bevan was so drunk that he kept snorting chalk. He had bought what he assumed was coke but quickly realised it was chalk. Later on he was so dunk that he forgot and started snorting it again! As we spilled the cards, chips and three lines of chalk onto my pool table I realised this was probably not my best idea when my wife came downstairs and played holy fuck. Someone had walked into her bedroom and started to piss on her thinking he was in the toilet. I looked around the room and both Bevan and Danny Mac were sat around the pool table with their cards in their hand. My face was a look of total confusion. I was in that drunken haze when you don’t really know what is real, but I could smell the piss, sees the stain on her nightie and the rage on her face. Then the door behind her opened and in fell a backward looking guy with train spotter style glasses in one hand and his dripping wet cock in the other.
“Gggggggggguys... yyyyyyyyyou... hhhhhhhhave... totototototototo... llllllllleave... iiiiiiiiii... hhhhhhhhave... wwwwwwwwork... .inininininininininin... thethethethethethethe... mmmmmmmmmorning!”