Popcorn or Chips

I played several big tournaments at Bellagio in Las Vegas in December, and did extremely well. I even finished one off the bubble in one of them. But while sitting at the same table as Phil Hellmuth, I suffered one of the worst beats of my life. I like playing with Phil, because at least it’s never boring, and to be fair to the guy, Phil can usually take it as much as he gives it. We were having a great old time until Phil played a hand like a novice and dumped off three-fourths of his chips to some guy who did nothing except play his own cards. This drove Phil absolutely berserk, and he ran around the room, stopping back at our table every now and again to tell the chap how badly he played. The guy was one of those expressionless players who peered out at Phil over a huge mountain of chips and didn’t seem too phased by the string of insults that were leveled at him. When Phil finally sat down again, he dumped off half of his remaining chips in the first pot he entered when he slightly overplayed a pair of fives. Anyway, he got saved by the bell, because there was a 15-minute break immediately after that hand.


Most guys can compose themselves in 15 minutes, and I include myself in this illustrious company, but Phil seemed to find it an uphill task. He arrived back after the break with a bucket of popcorn and announced to the table that we all were going to be in big trouble if he hit any cards. I immediately spotted a window of opportunity and thought I might be able to take advantage of Phil’s legendary liking for a proposition bet. I politely suggested that we have a last-longer bet: Phil could bet on his chips and I’d take the popcorn. But do you think I could get on? No. When you’re out of form, you are out of form. Phil told me to go away, and the popcorn won by a distance. Ah well, next time.


Belfast Bedside Manner

I love Belfast. The working-class Belfast people are the most hospitable and the funniest occupants of this island. They specialize in gallows humor and have a wonderful way of telling things exactly like they are, no frills, as Liam Flood discovered only a few months ago.


Everybody knows Liam Flood. As a player, he’s won both the European Championship and the Irish Championship. As a tournament director, if he’s not the best, he’s definitely the most highly paid. Liam has been involved in the Irish Open since the days of Terry Rogers, when it was the only poker tournament in Europe, and a few years ago he did a great job in reviving and breathing new life into one of the most popular events on the circuit. (It’s especially popular with the publicans in Dublin 2, who, if there was any justice, would be sponsoring the event themselves.) Liam has also won the European Poker Personality of the Year award and has been considered very unlucky not to have followed this up with the Lifetime Achievement award. I mean, if anybody has pulled off a bigger lifetime achievement than Liam winning the Personality of the Year award, I haven’t heard it.


To his friends, Liam is known as both a hypochondriac and an A-Q suited lover. If it was possible to marry a poker hand, Liam would have danced up the aisle with the A-Q suited years ago, or even the offsuit if it would have him. Liam visits the doctor with more enthusiasm and greater regularity than most Irishmen visit the pub. The only thing Liam likes better than blue tablets is red tablets. He also likes all the other colors, as well. Well, anyway, Liam had an interesting week a couple of months ago; the A-Q won three times in a row, once from in front and twice from behind, which was the good news. The bad news was the hypochondriac’s nightmare. He was actually ill and required a pretty serious and painful surgery. Thankfully, the operation was a complete success, and Liam was looking forward to telling his war stories to any poor individual who happened to phone and ask him how he was. I phoned Liam a couple of days after the operation and found him in a state of shock. He had just gotten a phone call from the organizer of a tournament in Belfast, and the conversation went as follows: “Hi, Liam. Are you going to be able to come and help me with this tournament at the weekend?” “I’m afraid not. I’m in the hospital recovering from a very serious operation.” And before Liam could continue, “OK. So, I’ll see you!” That’s bedside manner, Belfast style.


Tenners for Everyone

Speaking of Belfast, Darren and his two mates had stopped off at the Maidstone studios, where the PacificPoker Open was being recorded, on their way to Gatwick airport, and decided to have one last £10 sit-and-go tournament for the road. Twenty minutes into the tournament, they got the security guy to phone a taxi. The sit-and-go was taking a bit longer than usual, probably because it was only 2 o’clock in the afternoon and at least half of the competitors were sober. After some time, the security guy arrived to say that the taxi was there, but the Belfast lads told him to ask the driver to wait, and to promise him an extra tenner on his tip for his troubles. Twenty minutes later, while two of the lads were still involved in the business end of the tournament, the security guy came back to say that the taxi driver was of the opinion that if they didn’t come immediately, they would miss their plane. Quick as a flash, one of the lads told him to tell the pilot that there was a tenner in it for him, as well. Well, it was Ryan Air, so I’m not sure what happened.


Even Fish Can Forget

Dave “The Devilfish” Ulliott is considered to be extremely funny by about 10 percent of the guys he plays with. Another 88 percent would think he was very funny if they could understand a word that he said, and the other 2 percent think that slow rolling is just so funny that nothing other than a guy dying at the table could even come close. [In Ireland, if a guy is iced at the table, the Laramie rule is invoked. The dead player can call but he can’t raise. This rule also applies at poker games surrounding the Galway races if a guy involuntarily falls of his chair three times in one hand. It may not be perfect but it keeps the game flowing.] Well, anyway, I’m one of the 10 percent, and Dave didn’t disappoint me in Tunica, Mississippi. The Devilfish won this event a couple of years ago by absolutely running all over the Americans. The Travel Channel tried to censor it to make the Americans look a little bit better, but anybody who witnessed poker online 2021 the final day’s play either live or through the live Internet broadcast knows what happened. It was a massacre. The Fish tried to level the playing field this year and give everybody else a chance by playing a little longer in his warm-up pot-limit Omaha game that he may have planned when he sat down the day before. But despite giving the opposition a start, Dave was still involved late into the second day. I spoke to him during one of the breaks and The Devilfish had just doubled up to $90,000 in chips when his A-K beat Men the Master’s two fours. [The Devilfish doesn’t call him Men the Master.] This put the Fish in a great spot, and it was the last thing a lot of the other players wanted to see. Ten minutes later, The Devilfish was on the move — away from the table, that is. I politely asked him what had happened, and he winked and gave me a classic reply. “I can’t win a race to save my life!”

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