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Rented Rooms (A History of Budget Accomodation)

As a poker player travelling the live tournament circuit, it is important to keep expenses low. If you aren't sponsored or don't satellite into the event and win a package with accommodation - then every cent you spend on lodgings comes directly out of your potential profits. When travelling alone, I generally try to find the cheapest and most convenient place to stay, which has unfortunately led to me staying in a few what might be described as ' absolute shitholes '.  Am I cheapstake? Probably . But I have found a few diamonds in the rough over the years and I take a perverse pride in finding the best value place to stay. In the following posts I will write about some of the worst places I have frequented over the past 15 years travelling and playing poker. I should point out that I am highly privileged to have been able to travel around the world playing cards and I don't take that for granted. We will begin with an honorary mention of staying with a nudist in A
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Bad Beat Stories From the Back of a Moped

It is 1:30am and I am riding my bicycle through Berlin. A man pulls up beside me on a moped and slows down to my speed. He is waving his hands and shouting. He sounds angry. Or perhaps he is not actually angry and he is just shouting in German. When I hear people shout in German, I always think they are angry. I double check that I have my lights on and that I didn't just drive through a red traffic light. Momentarily I am confused. He is wearing a helmet and I recognise, him from somewhere, but can't quite place the face in the dark. I am also trying to concentrate on the road as I am a nervous cyclist at the best of times.  "So I had kings..." It isn't until I hear some poker related phrases that I realise that this is the man I have just beaten heads up in a poker tournament. He seems to be berating me once again for my play. This time from the back of a moped. I have a 10km to cycle home after my glorious victory in the nightly casino tournament in Berlin. I p

Click Clack

To me the sound is unmistakable.  The repeated click clack echoing around the room as hundreds of people sit around those green felted tables. Mostly in reverent silence but punctuated by the occasional groan or roar of celebration and shout from a dealer or floorperson. Thousands of clay poker chips hitting each other repeatedly as players riffle them with their hands as they play cards. The Art of the Riffle For the uninitiated – a chip riffle is when you have two stacks of poker chips, perhaps four or five in each stack if you are a skilled ‘riffler’. Then you line them up side by side beneath your hand on the poker table. Using your fingers and thumb you create a little bit of air in between each chip and in one seamless motion merge them into one stack. Then separate and repeat. Is it for concentration? A habit? Something to do in the monotony of folding? Every riffler undoubtedly has their own reasons. A good set of clay poker chips has some weight to them, so gravity assi

Chairs missing

The Thai Park takes place in southwest Berlin every weekend. From spring to autumn a bunch of Thai ladies gather with camping stoves, cool boxes and supplies and make various delicious dishes . It got kind of famous now and there are always rumours that it will close down but each year so far it has started up again with the warmer weather. The 'soup lady' from the park even now has her own Imbiss (small restaurant) called Thai Art and all food there is always tasty. Photo from berlinfoodstories.com On this occasion several years ago the park was busy and buzzing as usual. The crowd sat around the park on the grass and blankets enjoying the food, sunbathing and having a generally lovely time in the sun. Set apart slightly there were a collection of older men seated around a table in a shady spot under a tree. I ambled over and saw that they were playing poker. Texas Holdem in fact. I watched a while longer and it appeared that they were playing for real money and th

Naked flush draw

I was in Austria. It was winter. The time was after midnight. I had busted the main event of a large poker festival. It had been close to the bubble in a hand where I had got it in good and been outdrawn on the river. I had invested the maximum time and emotional energy for no financial reward. I wasn't in a great frame of mind. The walk back to my accommodation took around 15 minutes. I remember it was snowing and that I had inappropriate footwear. My room was cheap and quiet, ideal for my needs. But there was a caveat to consider that I had half forgotten. When travelling for poker I often book someone's spare room instead of a whole apartment as it works out more affordable and I am hardly ever there. This time my host was a jovial guy in his 50s. He was awake when I got home and greeted me in the lounge with a friendly hello. I'd already been there three days but he took this moment to decide to ask me about life as a professional poker player. He asked all of the q

Marrakech Express

I went to Morocco on a whim really. I went because I expected that no poker player worth his or her salt would be there. They would all surely be in Las Vegas playing at the World Series of Poker - the biggest poker event of the year. Why would anyone good be at this weirdly scheduled North African event? I dreamed of tables full of suave but clueless French businessmen and friendly but naive locals. Generic French Businessman As is the way with travelling to poker tournaments, you are conditioned to expect the disappointment of failure and financial losses. This is simply the way tournament poker works. The creeping inevitability of losing trip that perhaps can be staved off by a 'min cash' in the main event or a nice run in a side event or finding some good cash games. To be break even is beautiful. Sure - someone is going to win the tournament, but it sure as hell won't be me, right? Expenses would have to be kept to a minimum and focus maintained. I would fly Ry

Man wins poker tournament

I have played poker for many years and in all that time I have only managed to win one live tournament. Shockingly in the second half of 2018, despite having recently 'retired' from poker - I managed to take down two events. Warning - post contains a lot of poker. Summer Cup I went back to day two of the Berlin Summer Cup (€220 buy in, 250 runners) with just 22 big blinds, lying around 50/62, with 27 players paid. I commented to my friend that at least it would get me out of the flat for the afternoon, but I expected to be available to watch the Uruguay v Portugal match later that evening. About 15 people bought in for 8bbs at the beginning of day two to swell the prizepool and we were off. Early on average stacks were very shallow, due in part to the number of day two re-entries, so there were a lot of all ins. I didn't do very much and dwindled down to 10bbs where I had my first (and I think only) suckout, doubling with A8 vs AQ. Shortly afterwards I went on a tea