First came a delicious dinner at the Italian restaurant called Belluccis which is just across the road from the Royal Dublin Society. Went over with my colleagues Howard Swains and Stephen Bartley and had a terrific caprese salad followed by a ribeye steak while listening to the two of them share stories about the Gutshot Poker Club.
Open from 2004 through 2007, the Gutshot was essentially an illegal poker room in London that purposely challenged the Gaming Act, eventually losing the case brought against it and closing thereafter. Howard and Stephen spoke of a brief revival of another club with a different name, though that, too, only had a short run before getting shut down.
Was fascinating to hear about the various characters associated with the Gutshot and to compare how the club, Late Night Poker (which originally ran in the U.K. a few years before), and other details of the explosion of poker’s popularity in London paralleled the “boom” in poker that happened in the U.S. during those same years. As both Howard and Stephen played at the club and in fact helped chronicle it by writing about it at the the time, I told them they needed to compile an oral history of it (or some kind of narrative about it). They’d surely be the best to do something like that, if they wanted to.
As entertaining as the conversation was, I couldn’t stick around long post-meal, though, as the media tournament was scheduled at 10. I ran back across Merrion Road and soon was seated along with around 40 others for the tournament, among them Lex Veldhuis of Team PokerStars Pro Online and Friend of Team PokerStars Felipe “Mojave” Ramos.
We played in the cash room which has actually been set up inside the Royal Dublin Society library. Was kind of a comfortable setting for your humble scribbler, the walls around us all lined with shelves full of books from floor to ceiling. (That pic above taken by Mickey May is from the tournament, although you can’t see the books over to the side.)
I know Felipe pretty well from covering LAPT events -- in fact, most recently in the Bahamas I talked to him at length about poker’s growth in his native Brazil. He and I ended up playing a somewhat memorable hand in which he raised under the gun, got a caller in middle position, I called from the button with K-J, and someone from the blinds came, too.
The flop came 9-10-J, giving me top pair and a gutshot straight draw. Felipe jokingly asked the dealer if king-queen made a straight before continuing with a small bet that only I called. I called another slightly bigger bet after a blank came on the turn, then the river brought another jack and a check from Felipe.
I’d made trip jacks and thought I was probably best. I’m sure I would’ve called a bet again, and perhaps even for all of my relatively short stack (given that we were playing lightning-quick 10-minute levels). But after he checked I thought about it for a few seconds and decided just to check back. He turned over K-Q, and when I showed my cards the table was surprised I’d escaped without losing more. But I couldn’t see him calling any bet from me on the end there with worse.
Anyhow, felt a little like I was freerolling after that, but soon lost my short stack in a hand that saw me pushing with A-10 and getting called by K-10. If I wanted to be dramatic -- or press forward with some sort of leitmotiv here -- I’d call the king that came on the flop a “gutshot,” but that would be misleading. Was a fun hour or so of poker, and I didn’t mind that much having an early night of it for once.
Ending up having to walk back to the hotel through a pretty steady and cold rain, but I wasn’t soaked too badly and am glad to get to sleep at a decent hour.
Back at it on Wednesday for Day 3. There are 127 players left from the 605 who entered the EPT Dublin Main. Check the PokerStars blog for more today.
Photo: courtesy Mickey May/PokerStars blog.