Table Talk

Table Talk

Friday, 22 May 2015

Tony Kendall surveys the UK scene.

British Poker Awards

Another year, another British Poker Awards night, and what a night it was.
The Hippodrome – what a place that is – was the venue, and they spoiled us rotten.

The table draw in these things is a bit like a poker tournament. Not sure about you, but I’m always eager to see my seat and table, to see if I have a bunch of interesting talkers, or 'Team Hoodie', as I like to call it.
I drew pretty damn good at the Awards, sharing a table with Sky Poker Ambassador Neil Channing, and none other than Vicky Coren. Regular readers of this column (we have at least two to my knowledge) will know of my utter respect for Miss C, so that was the nut draw.

Sky Poker, Neil Channing, and myself had been nominated for half a dozen gongs between us. As bag carrier to the ambassador I’d come prepared, with a nice little carrier bag with which to carry all the trophies home safe and sound.

Well we got exactly zilch, not one between us, but for the rubs, Vicky was up and down to the stage all night, collecting Award after Award. Marv.
For once, however, I got it right, and had predicted long ago that Vicky would get the lot. Deservedly so, we should never take for granted her value to poker as a general good egg. Well done Vicky, I could not be happier if I had won them myself. Well, up to a point, like.

Simon Deadman, another fine youngster, got a couple too. Does that man have even one enemy in poker? I doubt it. He was runner-up for a few, too. No change there, then.

The other most notable award was Best Contribution to Growing and Promoting Poker, which I somehow binked last year. A far more worthy winner this year was Rob Yong, who stood on the stage looking, as ever, suitably embarrassed and full of humility.

Rob really is a case of one person completely changing the face of live poker. He has experimented, evolved, innovated, changed and improved pretty much everything about live poker in the UK, and there’s barely a room in the UK which has not copied at least some of his ideas - every single one of us who plays live poker should remember that. Ten years ago, we got disqualified if we missed the first hand of a live tourney. Can you even imagine that now?

Since Awards night, Rob has added another string to his bow, and tied up an alliance with partypoker. As with the ISPT, he got a bit of stick for doing the deal, but if you think he is going to fail, think again, Rob does not do fail. He has some work on his hands, no doubting that, but never bet against Rob Yong.

British Poker Awards

Thank Our Lucky Stars

It must have been around six months ago that the twoplustwo hoohah about the Amaya takeover of Pokerstars kicked off.

You’d think the world had ended, to see the astonishing degree of knee-jerking.

A few changes were made, every one of which was blamed on the incoming Amaya. How they must have laughed at our naivety.

The Stars management is AAA rated, and Amaya are bright enough to know that. Many if not all of those changes were already planned, I’d bet good money on that. Amaya will sit quietly in the back seat, whilst the incumbent management get on with the job of making the world’s most amazing site even amazingier. Not sure if amazingier is a word, but it is now, it’s in Bluff Europe, so there.

The old management designed and implemented all those changes, I’d bet really good money on that. Credit where credit – or blame – is due.
So we are OK, the world as we know it has not just spun off its axis.

Sky Poker UK Championship

All told, it took 12 days over a 3 week period, and I was there for every one of them.

I think it’s pretty important that in these festivals, the players get a bit of tlc and warmth from the sponsors, it helps with the atmosphere, we want players to go away thinking they have had a great experience. And they did.

The Mini was stunning, with over 2,500 unique entries making for prize pool north of £200,000 for a £110 entry fee. There was a turbo day one at 11am on a Sunday morning, and I’ve never seen anything like it – the place was rammed full on a Sunday morning. Who’d have thought so many would want to avoid listening to The Archers (omnibus edition), cleaning the car, or taking the wife shopping?

The main event was wonderful, too, and it was especially pleasing to see James Akenhead and John Duthie play. I had the good fortune to share tables with John in the main, and it was the most fun four hours I can remember in many a year. Later, I played some PLO cash with him. That was not quite as enjoyable, he’s a horrible man and he tried to take all my money.

We had a great final, too. Sponsors always say – quietly – they’d like this or that player to final, or not, as the case may be. We want a good Final, that’s the thing. The whole table were perfect, but special mention goes to Tom Hall, Jon Kalmar, and the UKPC High Roller winner Matas Cimbolas. In particular, Matas is quite extraordinary, he’ll go a long way, that boy.

The winner and runner-up were both recreational locals, too, continuing the UKPC tradition it seems, with Fraser Bellamy shading it from Chris Vernon. Fraser has been playing the Midlands circuit as long as I have. However this was more than double his previous biggest win, which was, as it happens, also at DTD.

DTD were amazing, as we’d expect. It’s like clockwork to them, they make difficult things look so simple, and everything runs to time. Yes, yes, I know I make that point repeatedly, but I used to play the live circuit five or six nights per week, and I could name two cardrooms that never once, in all those years, managed to get a tourney started on time. Does it matter? Of course it does. Do Premier League football matches, or F1 Grands Prix start on time? They do, because 1) they are organized, and 2) it’s disrespectful to those who make the effort to get there on time not to start punctually.

Oops bit of a mini-rant there, sorry.

We had the TV cameras there, too, and the series should start on Sky Sports in May. It should be a fascinating watch.

I don’t actually do much (any?) work at a UKPC, but it’s pretty stressful just being there and helping make sure everyone and everything is just so. This meant I was a very relieved man when it was all over, and I swore I’d never utter the words UKPC again for a very long time.

And what happened the very next morning? Yup, the phone call came to start negotiations and discussions for the next one. I was not sure whether to laugh or cry.


King for a Day

More poker festivals please, be they live or online. Love them, all of them.

Players from Yorkshire are banned from future UKPC’s, we’ve had two from three now, It’s the UKPC, not the YPC.

Switch to Twitch. That Twitch streaming stuff is amazing, and it might just be the shot in the arm poker needs. Go try it, or go watch it, it really is quite something. Big Boys feature a lot, sure, but not at the expense of regular guys like me and you.

The WSOP-Europe belongs in England, in my opinion, in a proper cardroom. So I’m banning all the other countries, and bringing it home, where it belongs. That seems reasonable to me.

That’s me done, take care now.

Tags: Table Talk, Tony Kendall, Tikay, UKPC