The Ogmore Poker Tour: Turkish Kurt

Poker is a little slut.

It doesn’t care who you love, or share your bed with. It doesn’t care what you do for a living and it doesn’t care about any of your interests. Poker knows it needs you and knows just how to behave to get you. Just like a little slut, when poker slaps on that lipstick and those little lace stockings you don’t stand a chance.

When I first met little miss poker I had a certain lifestyle. Contained within that lifestyle were my family and friends. At first people who loved me just thought poker was my new Playstation. Nobody could see the relationship lasting and thought it would join the Megadrive and ZX Spectrum in the things to do when you are bored graveyard.

To this day, little miss poker has had me by the balls. She hasn’t been squeezing them either, instead she has been caressing them and tickling them and I have loved it. It is an addiction and I know this because I have a dependency on it. Slowly and surely my friends and I parted company because of little miss poker. I didn’t miss them either because as friends departed new friends came on the scene. Friends, who I never would have believed I would associate as friends in a million years, again proof that you should always walk through life with an open mind.

The poker world is full of characters. It is like a real life Eastenders or Coronation Street. In the Ogmore Poker Tour (OPT) we have a great cast. We have petty drug dealers, millionaire scrap dealers, Iranians who look like Super Mario Characters, Scottish people who nobody on this earth can understand and people like Turkish Kurt.

The first time I met Turkish Kurt was in Les Croupiers Casino in Cardiff. He was a heavy set man, (meaning he was a right hard looking bastard) well dressed and wearing a Dai Cap (or a flat cap for any of you not living in Wales). He was in the company of Danny Mac and I later learned that he owned a kebab and pizza shop in Pencoed; I mean why wouldn’t he with a name like Turkish Kurt? I assumed Danny Mac supplied Turkish Kurt with potatoes.

I would next bump into him during a card game in The Kings Head in Pencoed. When I had the fortune to interview The Devilfish a year ago he told me that he used to carry a gun to some of the card games he went to. I assume if he were playing in the Kings Head this would have been the type of pub he would have arrived with a little bit of added protection. It isn’t for the faint hearted and fights regularly break out and people regularly snort chalk when all other opiates are of short supply (or the kids just con them for £20 per sniff).

In the beginning I was a little wary of Turkish Kurt. In my second meeting his Dai Cap was missing and underneath it lived a breeze block of a head. You could use it as a mirror to brush your teeth in, it was that shiny, and I reckon I could see a few teeth marks in there for good measure. I immediately sensed that poker wasn’t his only way of losing money and he was good at losing money at poker. Turkish Kurt will be one of the first people to acknowledge that he is a fish…ok maybe a fish is not the right description…no…a Whale Shark is more like it.

You see Turkish Kurt is no different from a lot of my new friends since little miss poker came into my life. Turkish Kurt is a degenerate gambler. I swear, if I borrowed his meat cleaver (I am sure he has used to kill thousands of babies) and cut him open, there would be Chinese blood coursing through his veins. The guy is a huge Turkish crazy eight. He realises that the slot machines, craps and roulette are games of luck and that doesn’t stop him doing his nuts, and his approach to poker is no different. He loves a gamble and therefore likes a drawing hand more than a made hand. Turkish Kurt hands out more suck outs than a Dyson.

As he started to become more of a regular on the OPT I finally plucked up enough courage to speak to him. Underneath the big hard bastard exterior is a man with feeling, a man who cares for his family and friends, a really big softie. I learned that his real name was Erhan and I started to use it and I think he appreciated it. He has his own little idiosyncrasies like we all do. He will often get into the most amazing arguments with people over his right to be heard and have his voice. He goes crazy if he believes people are disrespecting him or not letting him have his say. I remember one particular argument between Turkish Kurt and Eddies Dad Steve when Turkish Kurt thought Eddies Dad Steve was being disrespectful. It kicked of royally and I thought Turkish Kurt was going to take Eddies Dad Steve home and turn him into a kebab, but in the end, as always, they were both kissing and cuddling each other by the end of the evening. The funniest arguments were always between Turkish Kurt and Danny Mac. The two of them had known each other longer than Danny had been feeding spuds to his kids and were always arguing about money.

In a recent game in Pencoed I played for hours with Turkish Kurt and Alan the Bookie. My eyes were closing as I was so tired, but every time I went to leave The Bookie would kick me in the shins reminding me that I had to stay. Turkish Kurt was not really with it. He kept complaining about back pains and telling me that he had not been able to sleep for a very long time. He knew that I had once lost a shed load of dosh through sports betting and he too had gone down that same road. Now the combination of his bad back and the money problems were having a direct impact on his life. It seems that whenever you seem to have a problem (such as my gambling addiction) someone always comes along to beat your Top Trump. Turkish Kurt’s gambling problems made mine looking as gay as a gay guy called Gay, wearing a pink top, living in a gay house in Brighton at number 72 Gay Street. I left that night feeling worried for him and hoped that he would not let it get on top of him but was doubtful.

After my recent trip to Estonia I couldn’t wait to get back and play Dealers Choice with the boys.

“Where is Turkish Kurt?” I asked looking for the Big Whale Shark.

The question was met with the “Haven’t you heard?” line. Turkish Kurt had found out why he had a bad back and couldn’t sleep and it was because he was suffering from Cancer of the lungs and bones. I feel strongly connected with this guy. A guy I met flicking some money and cards around wonky tables in dodgy pubs around the Valley. Little miss poker helped make that connection. A connection stronger than some of the connections I have over the years with people I have known a hell of a lot longer. Then I realised that the OPT is like a little family. I care about them all, the old ones, the young ones, the ones we catch regularly with their fingers in the cookie jar and even Louie.

Turkish Kurt is a big part of that family and I reckon there are many more families containing Turkish Kurt’s up and down the UK, all connected by little miss poker. I am not a Doctor and have no idea whether or not he will get better, so for once I will ask the poker Gods for a little bit of help.

“One Time!”