“Catman, I Need To Talk With You Now…”

“Catman, I need to talk with you now”, cackled the cockney. An hour and half later we were sitting in the sun outside Café Nero’s discussing Roy’s dream. “You know I told you I always wanted a poker club, well I’ve got it, almost.” Roy had called me 14 months prior to this conversation, where I had advised him that a poker club was great, but please make sure you are fully backed. Roy is 66, I pleaded with him, that if he wished to face the stress of starting a new business, to at least make sure he did not do his nuts.

Loose Cannon ClubFor the last 4 months of so, I have watched Roy suffer the pain and agony of making his dream a reality. To be honest, not a day has gone by where I haven’t teased the old rascal with the words, “Roy, it was always your dream to open a poker club, wasn’t it.” Repaying him for the many thousands of hours we all spent with him at the Dungeon, where he was as sympathetic as Jade Goody on steroids, when one dared to ask for chips. Luckily the man has a sense of humour as powerful as his card room patter, inside he is an absolute saint.

Roy teamed up with Robert Carlyle, Sonny Osman and gained the powerful sponsorship VC Poker behind the main games arena, ‘VC Players Lounge’.

Roy and his colleagues have played a trump card that will insure their chances of survival. ‘Reconnaissance and research is the art of winning a battle,’ words probably actually whispered to Roy himself by Churchill.

For Roy and his colleagues had invested their nuts into a cavernous city venue, that is licensed for 450 persons and is as big as virtually any of the Vegas rooms. Filling such a venue is not an overnight job, but more importantly, it must be a legal long-term project. With a major investment into legal fees, that long term security was to be gained in the form private members license that allow for a games room. It is now looking, that this model will set the shape of things to come for anyone other than a casino that wishes to offer poker.

For come September, when there is some form of liberalisation of the laws allowing poker in pubs, life is going to get very tough for anyone flouting poker without the correct licensing. Even fish on a smaller level such as Nick Savic of the Staffsmart Spalding and District Poker League, have to obtain a personal gaming licence at this very moment.

Finally it was the right time for the club to officially open it doors and celebrate its full time opening. VC Poker had kindly donated a $10k free roll prize, along with a VC Poker Cup ticket for the finalist to play for. Our good friends at Poker Zone covered this historic event, for no matter how we look at things, I really do not think there will now be a glut of clubs offering poker. If there is one, then surely it should be run by one of the men responsible for the first official UK poker tournament.

With the hard work out of the way, the night was upon Roy and the team. Naturally Roy decided it was best that each and every member of the poker playing community and press were greeted by his good self, not entirely true, he just wanted to make sure that all legalities were complied to. The slight hiccup was that the pr team, err led by me, had managed to give Roy a list in alphabetical order, with plenty of names missing. “Catman, I have given my seat to Wez,” Joe Beevers politely commented, as I dropped my head to the floor, naturally Wez was on the list and Joe got to play in a free roll with the likes of Marc Goodwin, Willy Tan, Tony Holden, Al Alvarez, Michael Greco, a fairly strong line up for a free roll.

Whilst Roy grumbled and roared with his guest lists, Teddy Sherringham and Alex Best got to pose with the VC Grand Slam Girls, Elvis and life sized dogs fresh out of the picture by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge. Roy, Jean and David coped brilliantly with the never-ending queue, but surely this was all part of the fun.

After the throngs had enjoyed Champagne and hopefully what was a very pleasant selection of canapés, king prawns and various other delicacies the actual event kicked off, a mere thirty minutes or so late. Two hundred and thirteen seats were filled and the event commenced after an enjoyable speech from ‘I lost my fecking speech Roy,’ and Lee Ferris marketing director of VC Poker. The event captured the spirit and feel, not only of the venue, but also of what poker is all about, competing, a sociable community and having some damm good fun.

The dogs and the celebs were all bounty players, each had $100 and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot on them, adding further to the players pleasure in knocking them out.

Players started with a very respectable 3500 chips and fair blind levels, the game was for real and no crapshoot. After around 8 hours of play we were left with a final table, with no less than 3 female players left.

The eventual winner of the first place $3,000 prize money was announced just before 5am on Wednesday 7th February as journalist Matthew Wilson. After an intense nine hours of play, Wilson overcame stunning runner-up Alina Salnikova in a thrilling final to scoop first place. Third place was taken by Jason (you have a pair of 7s) Cajigas with model and actress Ashly Rae (her legs are insured for one million pounds) coming in at a respectable fourth despite it being one of the first major tournaments she had participated in.

The top ten players on the night were as follows:

Full Name


Matthew Wilson

$3,000 + $100 + $100

Alina Salnikova


Jason Cajigas


Ashly Rae


Jonathan Raab


Hesam Kiani

$600 + $100

John Granite


Olivia Boeree


Jonathan Blum


Osman Ramadan


The winner Matthew Wilson will face Teddy Sheringham or Sonny Osman, heads up for a seat in the VC Poker Cup.

The job of the pr team, The Poker Agency and IMA had been a fair success with the name of the joint brands reaching The Daily Mirror, Star, Telegraph and Indy up until now. Now this is appoint of interest because I spend half of every day trying to reach the mainstream press “Catman, who is this fecking Pandora in The Independent, she hasn’t mentioned the name of the club”, rasped my dear boss Roy, showering me with his compliments. Luckily for Roy, my wonderful and obviously short-sighted girlfriend, Alina Salnikova, received two potential sponsorship offers (not for the night), so I refrained from further teasing.

This event was a monumental day for Roy and all those involved, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a long road ahead, but the wheels are certainly turning.

The Loose Cannon Sports Bar and VC Players Lounge will shortly present a mammoth hold’em event and some very enticing regular guaranteed events.

At last, a bright light is shining at the end of the tunnel for Roy, and it isn’t an oncoming train.

Photo Credits – Neil Horne 71329 71226