No Novocaine; It Dulls the Senses

I quite like the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel. The rooms are bright and spacious, they have lovely tea and coffee making facilities and decent internet and the balcony gives you a great view of the sea and the beech.

I used to love the tournament room at the Monte Carlo Bay. The curtains that open to look out on the bay and lots of room to get round hundreds of tables. All good.

I hated every single other thing about the place. Having to get a taxi from Nice for 100 Euro, the cost of the rooms, the cost of the Internet, the cost of everything, room service that sold burgers for one arm and one leg, the pretentious, crappy nightclub and the pretentious, crappy people. The people were the worst. So fake, so repugnant

I won’t be going there again.

They moved the EPT Grand Final to Madrid this year. It was a tough choice. They felt they wanted a major European capital city with a large enough casino, no legislation or security issues and no existing successful EPT. I quite like the choice.

The Gran Casino Madrid is around thirty minutes from the centre. PokerStars had shuttle buses running every ten minutes back and forward to "their" hotels so I felt forced to stay in the Westin Palace. When I heard the price, I told the man I wanted to rent the room not buy it. I paid the extra for the executive room. The only difference was the "free Internet". I spent $100 a day to save $30 a day.

In the Main Event, I raised seven pots in the first forty minutes. One guy played every hand (only ever calling) with any two. He three-bet me to 625. We both had 33,000. I decided to go for 3,100 and he obviously called instantly. The flop was 7-6-2 rainbow and when I bet 6,625, he raised to 15,000. I shoved my additional 14,000 and after three minutes of agonising, he passed 8-8 face up. You’d think it was the toughest laydown he ever made. I told him I’d had tens and that he had played great.

I never won another pot.

Nine hours later having played two pots in three hours (I called a min-bet from the big blind and check-folded the flop, and opened 8-8 under the fun before folding to a shove), I three-bet to 5,100 of 20,000 from the small blind. The raiser was an aggressive Russian I’ve played before. He had bet 2,000 at 400/800(100). He now shoved for half his stack and obviously I snapped (there is zero chance of me not having a massive hand here). His A-Q matched well with the ace-high flop, much better than my K-K.

I was starting to feel pain. Real pain, not poker pain.

I haven’t been to the dentist since I was seventeen. I think I’ve run quite good on that front until now, but this was simply not nice. The rest of the trip and the other tournaments were way less fun than they ought to have been.

I went to the hospital within an hour of getting home and there was talk of wisdom teeth, general anesthetics and the kind of delays that could make a fella miss a couple of WSOP events.

I went to an emergency dentist at 8am the next day and got another opinion. I was loaded up with antibiotics to fight off the infection caused by my impacted wisdom tooth damaging the root canal of the next tooth along. It bloody hurt.

A few days later the geezer had a pair of pliers in his hand, a knee on my chest and he was puffing his cheeks and pulling.

I was left with an enormous hole that pissed blood and a few quid less than I had before in the bank. Next week wouldn’t be so bad, he promised. Just a few hours of root canal treatment and some more open-wallet surgery.

I had intended to go to the Vic as many times as possible in the last couple of weeks before the WSOP. I’d been told the £5/10 games had been pretty good, and I wanted to get back into the daily grind.

The swelling in my mouth and the variety of pills I was popping held me back but I did go three times in the last week. I had a five-figure swing each day and the games were definitely good. There was only one day out of the three that I’d have rather been in the dentist’s chair.

The flight to Vegas seems like a doddle once you’ve done Australia a couple of times. I watched The Godfather Part II. That might be the 100th time I’ve seen it. I also really liked The King’s Speech. I declared a load of cash coming through customs and it was two questions and five minutes before they wished me good luck.

We arrived in Vegas on Monday night at 7pm and I was hoping to grab the keys to the enormous Black Belt Poker mansion and get myself straight in the spa. We ended up checking into the Mandalay Bay.

After a nice morning swim on the beech (complete with waves), it was a day of running around. I opened a US bank account ten minutes before closing time and rushed to our palatial villa to hand over the cashiers cheque.

Renting in Vegas has a few pitfalls, but you do get so much for your money. It’s lovely to be away from the constant clatter of machines and the other distractions of The Strip sometimes.

The house would soon start filling with the whole Black Belt Poker team, but for now it would be great to laze by the pool, having a lovely quiet time and preparing for the new bouts of pain that lay ahead.

Neil ‘Bad Beat’ Channing has played a few events now. Pretty sure he’ll be moaning about them to you soon.