I'm going to have to eat my words. In my last blog entry I stated: "Perhaps the biggest difference between Brits and Americans can be seen on the rail," suggesting that English players are more reserved when it comes to offering their support. I did actually believe that. Then James Dempsey won Event #9.
The truth is that the British rail was more raucous, more boisterous, more vocal and more drunk than any rail I've ever seen. For that one day, I felt like I was back in the Holte End at Villa Park, cheering on Tony Daley as he pelted down the wing, or Dalian Atkinson as he fired another rocket into the net. With their plastic cups of beer glued to their paws, the Brits sang their little hearts out, making security earn their crust for the day. At one point, I believe a couple of overzealous fans were escorted away from the stage, whilst Stuart Rutter was mistakenly warned for waving off one of Dempsey's conquests when really he was giving an evicted John Eames the rubdown. The noise got so loud that Mike Matusow even had a moan from across the room. Mike Matusow ffs! He's the first fucking voice you hear when you enter the Rio! If Matusow thinks it's too loud, then it really must have been loud.
Despite my contradiction, Brits are, on the whole, a pretty reticent bunch, and in the UK are discouraged against celebrating. If someone even claps after winning a pot, he's frowned upon. Here, however, it would appear as though celebrating, like any sport, is a part of the game, and the Brits have taken that opportunity to release all those years of rail repression and just go wild. A bit like when Ned Flanders finally snapped in the Simpsons.
It's strange. No other World Series has seen crowds go this crazy. It's almost as if the first rail has started a chain of rowdy rails, in which each rail is trying to out-shout the previous ones. I might be a grumpy fucker who refrains from hollering, but I'll admit that it certainly adds to the atmosphere. In fact, it's a shame that these final tables aren't being televised, as the crowd are entertainment in themselves, even if they do go over the top.
If you were looking for an 'atmosphere', then the durrrr final was like none other I'd witnessed. In what is a rarity for a non televised final, the stands were jam-packed with people standing on tippety toes to get a view of the 'action' (ie. nine players moving chips and cards around a table). The attraction was not only durrrr, but his prop bets. Like many, I didn't really know about durrrr's bracelet bets at first. There were quite a few pros railing, but I didn't think anything of it at the time. At one stage Daniel sat next to me before heckling durrrr, but I wasn't listening. If I'd known at the time that durrrr was on the verge of single-handedly bringing down the poker economy then I might have taken notice.
When they were short-handed on the final, the room was electric. You wouldn't have noticed at the time, but I was simultaneously covering the $1,500 Limit event before a sparse crowd. Even the smattering of folk who were railing the Limit were eventually lured over to the durrrr match. People just didn't care who won my event, and I doubt many were even reading what I wrote. It's like when you think someone's not really listening to you and you start calling them a twat and they continue to nod. I could have written anything in that blog and people would have been like, 'Really, yeah, that's cool, I wonder how durrrr's getting on.' It kind of makes it harder to blog. Nevertheless, when Matt Matros won, he almost cried. I don't know him, but I was pleased for him, as I sensed that he'd worked hard over many years and finally achieved one of his goals. He didn't care if nobody was watching (or reading), he'd done this for himself, and that was all the satisfaction he needed.
Meanwhile, durrrr was nearing closer to breaking multiple bankrolls and increasing his reputation to legendary status. Some said Phil Ivey was in for nine million, but nothing was confirmed. Nobody seemed to know the actual figures (although durrrr claimed it would be his biggest winning day to date), but the audience were aware that something epic was happening. You could just feel it in the air.
I don't think I've ever seen a hand take as long as the infamous one between durrrr and David Randall. There's been a bit of fuss about it since as the tournament director called the clock after about 10 minutes, but the rules state that he is within his rights to do so if he considers said player to be stalling. I know it was an important decision, but I don't think anyone needs 10 minutes to make a decision. I mean, how much is there to think about in a single hand? If you're waiting for a tell, then I can understand, but you have to draw the line somewhere. Some say that durrrr could have called the clock himself, but players often refrain from doing so incase it influences their opponent's decision, or gives away a tell. Even durrrr's voice is vulnerable to breaking under pressure, as we witnessed in that High Stakes Poker hand against Ivey. Personally, I think there should be a 15 minute maximum time allotted to any decision. I don't like to leave too much subjectivity in the hands of the T.D. as you know they'd never have called the clock if it had been durrrrr. He's a nice guy, but he's still part of an elite group that get treated differently to everyone else, whether he's aware of it or not.
As you should already know, durrrr didn't win. The difference in money between first and second is likely the biggest in poker history. Durrrr received $381,885 for second, but he would have won millions for first (reports suggest anything from 5 to 15 million). I imagine it would be like me winning £3,818 instead of £100,000. I'd be standing on top of London Bridge as fast as I could get there.
It's perhaps this difference that makes me return to munching on my alphabetti spaghetti. When durrrr was being pumelled by Isildur, I jumped on the bandwagon and started questioning him as a player. It's always possible that even a successful pro has just been 'lucky'. It was a momentary lapse in faith, and a naive one of that. Since that turbulent month, durrrr has rebuilt his bankroll and continually proved himself as a one of the game's greatest talents, whether it be through the durrrr Challenge, his Live Challenge in Mayfair, or his impressive performance on the latest season of High Stakes Poker. I think what impresses me the most, however, is that he takes everything in his stride. He could be broke tomorrow and I think he'd still be the same, mild-mannered guy.
When he missed out on the bracelet, he just left the building without collecting his prize. Negreanu claimed in his blog that he was still smiling. The next day I was talking to Neil outside the Pavillion when durrrr passed. Again, he wasn't moping or hiding bandages over his wrists; his head was held high and it felt as though he'd already put the tournament behind him. The Series is far from over, and I expect he was thinking positively about the upcoming events rather than worrying about what was now in the past. I've always imagined that that's the mentality that allows the nosebleed players to play such high stakes. Neil [Channing] poked durrrr as he passed to ask about the prob bets, but durrrr was remaining secretive and said he couldn't talk about it. From interviewing him a few months back, I didn't expect anything else.
When Simon Watt won the bracelet, I heard that Mike Matusow thanked him personally. I think people should be thanking durrrr for making the World Series a spectacle less than two weeks in. When he's around, we don't have to wait for the Main Event for the Series to get exciting. I heard that a number of players tried to buy out of the bet, but, apart from Huck Seed, durrrr said no. He could have sewn up a tidy sum there and then, but he wasn't interested, he didn't want to settle for less. He had them by the short and culries, and he was going to push them to the very limit. You may not be his biggest fan, but you have to admit he has testicles the size of Giant Meatballs. Will we see another durrrr final table? I wouldn't put it past him. We'll definitely see him serving up those meatballs again.
May 23: My Old School Teacher
May 31: Welcome to America; Let the Institutionalising Begin
June 1: Pleasure & Pain
June 5: 100% British Beef
Sites/blogs I read:
blonde Poker 'Feed Your Wild Side' Thread
Hard Boiled Poker
Tao of Poker
Wicked Chops Poker
Sites/blogs I would read if they weren't in a foreign language:
Las Vegas, Off the Record