Bluff Europe In A Timeline

Bluff Europe In A Timeline

Monday, 12 May 2014

Former editor Philip Conneller picks the best bits from the first 100 issues.

In March 2006, the first ever issue of Bluff Europe burst onto the poker scene. Since then, we've interviewed the biggest stars, covered all the most important news, and shared the most cutting-edge strategy, all in the name of keeping poker alive. Former editor Philip Conneller presents: 100 issues of Bluff Europe.


Ah, heady days! March 2006 was the height of the poker boom and it was high time we launched a European version of Bluff, dammit. So we did. Phil Hellmuth, always good for laughs, graced the cover while we attempted to understand the “Life of a Poker Mega Lord”.

In April, all hell broke loose. Andy Beal was back in town and we got the exclusive scoop. Between 2001 and 2004 Texas Banker Beal had taken on the Vegas pros at the highest stakes imaginable, at times $100k-$200k, in limit poker. Now he was back and we flew Michael Craig, author of The Professor, the Banker and the Suicide King, to Vegas to cover the game. This time around, Beal was up $13.6 million against a corporation of pros, including Doyle Brunson, Howard Lederer and Jennifer Harman.

But as was reported in the May issue, Phil Ivey took the stage and turned it all around. Beal lost $16.6 million to Ivey in three days before wisely packing it in. As far as we know, he hasn’t been seen near a poker room since. Almost as monumental, Neil Channing joined us as a columnist this month. Can you believe he’s been turning in copy every month since?

In August, Phil Laak was on the cover with one of the funniest interviews ever, while one of the most controversial took place the following month as Jamie Gold was crowned WSOP champion. We interviewed him the day after his victory, which was the day before we went to print. Some of what he said just didn’t sound right in print and it kick-started a lot of Jamie Gold-hating. We kinda liked the guy, though.

Also, in September we reported on a piece of legislation in the US called HR 4411, which threatened the rights of Americans to play online poker. They would never pass a bill like that, though, would they?

Oh my God, it’s October and the US government has just passed a bill that threatens the rights of Americans to play online poker! It’s called UIGEA and it was smuggled through unnoticed as an add-on to something called the Ports Securities Act. Many of our US columnists respond in dismay. Little did they know that things would get a lot worse. Oh, and we had a very cool Gus Hansen cover.


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By now, Patrik Antonius was a big deal and we had the big interview. I remember I agonised about a header for ages; I quite liked “Standing Pat”, but eventually went with “I’m Patrik Antonius, Now Give Me all Your F*ckin’ Money.” Patrik hated it, apparently. Oh, well. Better than “Standing Pat”.

Meanwhile, we hung around with two internet kids called Tom Dwan and David Benefield. We even went to their house and checked out their mad lifestyles! This was before Dwan became one of the best-known players in the world. “Internet kids” were still sniffed at by many pros. How things have changed! Bizarrely, we also have an interview with Pamela Anderson. We have no idea how that came about.

While poker legend Johnny Chan dropped in for a chat in April, the issue will always be memorable because Phil Galfond joined the strategy team and immediately espoused his theory of “G-Bucks”, thus creating a little bit of poker history.

June ushered in the World Series, and we featured some of the great British hopes on the cover. Several didn’t turn up; Roland de Wolfe did but he’d been up all night. Devilfish was several hours late and immediately suggested we ditch the other guys and just use him. “What’s that piece of shit?” he spat, pointing at the racing green vintage Jag we’d hired for the shoot. I should have brought my car. Ah, poker players…

In July we heralded the opening of the Casino at the Empire and announced the first ever Poker in the Park, a free poker festival in Leicester Square, that was massive fun and ran for five years. Phil Hellmuth was back on the cover in August brandishing his record 11th bracelet, while WSOP winner Jerry Yang was our September cover star. Remember him? Us neither.

Meanwhile, in October, 18-year-olderstwhile internet phenom Annette Obrestad stepped out of the shadows to become the first-ever WSOPE winner. Alas, it was also the month that the UB / Potripper scandal first reared its ugly head.


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The cover of the January 2008 issue read simply: Chip Reese 1951-2007. The great man died in early December, just before we were about to put the magazine to bed and break for Christmas. We had very little time to put together what we hope was a fitting tribute.

In March – and, up until that point, unusually for a French poker player – Bertrand “ElkY” Grospelier was hot property, and he was all over the cover with a cool, techy Matrix kinda vibe. We topped it the following month by dressing Party Poker premier League winner Andy Black in a straitjacket with the legend “Revenge of the Mad Monk” emblazoned across the front. And in the same month, US poker players got up off their arses and matched on Washington to protest the UIGEA.

And talking of eye-catching covers, Neil Channing won the Irish Open, so in May we decided to dress him up as a boxer. Not sure what we were smoking back then, but we got Neil’s life story inside, and it’s something of a rollercoaster.

Nik Persaud had been killing it at the GUKPTs and he graced the July cover, although we spelt his name wrong (Persuad) on the initial print run. Now I’m not saying we’re always perfect, but that was the worst, and most costly, mistake ever. Sorry, Nik!

In August we hailed the new November Nine and some guy called Peter Eastgate was in their midst. But that would have to wait, because in September we kidnapped Mike “The Mouth” Matusow and subjected him to some highly scientific experiments in order to determine just how unlucky he really was. All very silly, but we can reveal he lost nine out of ten coin flips!

In November, John Juanda was WSOPE champion after surviving the longest final table in poker history, while Lacey Jones and Christina Lindley were merely skipping around in their underwear.


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We were all excited in February when our cover star Tom Dwan revealed his new high-stakes challenge to the world. However, years later, it’s still going on – maybe not so exciting now.

March was definitely exciting, though, because we got to hang around with Ilari “Ziigmund” Sahamies, and he’s awesome. We photographed Ziigmund lighting cigars with burning banknotes (not real ones!).

April brought the surprising news that Jamie Gold had signed the biggest sponsorship deal in the history of poker, with a new site called Aced Poker. Looks like they overspent on Jamie because they didn’t stick around for long. Meanwhile, Gus Hansen and Theo Jorgensen were engaged in the gentlemanly art of pugilism (boxing to you and I), and Gus got mashed upside his head.

In May we got to meet Luke _FullFlush1_ Schwartz, a high stakes phenom with an endearing pottymouth and pathological hated of Tom Dwan. We wanted him on the cover flipping his finger at the world. “What if your mum sees it?” I ask, breathlessly.

“I don’t give a fuck,” replies Luke. We were suitably impressed, but we chicken out on the lewd cover. Big regret.

In July that weird “Bluff Factor” thing came into play, where nearly every time we feature someone in the magazine, they go on and do magical things shortly afterwards. James Akenhead was our man, just days before he went to Vegas to play in the Main Event, and he only went and made the November Nine! He even offered us some of his action. Still pretty sick about that, actually.

James wasn’t the only person to make the November Nine that year. Eight others also did, to be exact. And one of them was Phil Ivey! This news had the poker world rocking and we just had to get him for the cover. We stayed up many, many nights before we finally got him on the phone, but it was worth it. The cover was an image of Phil staring like a stone-cold badass into the lens, and was stripped of cover lines, apart from “What more can we say?”

We had to swallow our pride in November, however, and put Barry Shulman, CEO of Card Player Magazine, on the cover when he won the WSOP. How did that happen? Meanwhile, our mate, bad boy Luke Schwartz, was ejected from the EPT London for stealing a sandwich, which was awesome.


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We celebrate the New Year of 2010 with an awesome Phil Laak comic book cover for the launch of, and we asked "Who the f*ck is Isildur1?"

February was our 50th issue and it featured Jason Mercier who shockingly revealed to us that, on the very night of his first-place finish at the EPT San Remo, his breakthrough live tournament, he was stabbed in a nightclub and should have died. WTF?

More WTFs rolled in in March, when there was an armed heist at the EPT Berlin. Meanwhile, we shot Roland de Wolfe for the cover next to an enormous, terrifying stuffed wolf. “I’m not sure readers will get the association,” quips de Wolfe. And since you're all dying to know, it costs £750 to hire an enormous wolf.

May might just be our best cover ever; a washed-out black-and-white image of Tom Dwan looking like a young Lou Reed, but with a dark red nosebleed. It bore the legend "King of the Nosebleeds". And don't worry, readers, we didn't bop him one, we photoshopped it.

“Poker just got sexy,” we declared in June, because Liv Boeree had just won the EPT San Remo. And to think she was way out of our league before she won a million quid! We'll let you into a secret; Liv has two left feet in this photoshoot. The boots we bought for the shoot turned out to be two lefties. Liv's a pro, of course, and she pressed on regardless, but if you look closely, you can tell. That same month we threw a marvellous party because Bluff at the Mint, our very own card room, opened its doors.

In October, we hailed Jake Cody and Toby Lewis as true representatives of "Generation III", and this was when young British players were really starting to make an impact on the international circuit.

In December, it was "The Poker and the Glory", as Jonathan Duhamel graced the cover as the new world champion, draped in the Canadian flag. The addition of Daniel Negreanu inside made it a very Canadian issue indeed.


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In January, Sam Trickett was posing in front of Battersea Power Station – the implication being that he's some kind of "poker power station", or maybe it's just a good location for a photoshoot, who knows? Sam gave us an exclusive peek inside the Macau Big Game.

In April Jungle was MASSEEEVE!!! Daniel "Jungleman12" Cates was suddenly the best heads-up NLH player in the world, and we tried to get to grips with his stratospheric level of thinking in an in-depth interview.
In May, characters from the animated series The Micros were superimposed on the front of the magazine, hanging out with Erik Seidel. It was our cutesiest, wackiest cover ever. And then Black Friday happened. The very day we were going to print with our cutesie cover, April 15th 2011, the DoJ switched off online poker in America. Before it even had time to settle in, we put a feature together speculating on the ramifications, although maybe we didn't yet fully understand them ourselves.

In June, as we sifted through the ashes of Black Friday, we asked what now? We tried to stay positive and look forward to the WSOP, but we wondered whether anyone would turn up. Life goes on, though, and we caught up with Chris Moorman who was killing it now that all the American players had disappeared. Silver linings…

Happily, lots of people turned up to for the WSOP, except Phil Ivey and most of the Full Tilt pros. The Brits were on fire, though, and early bracelet winners Jake Cody and Matt Perrins starred on the cover. Jesse May went to Vegas to hang out with the British contingent and we were rightly proud of our poker players that year. "Like most Brits abroad, they do a lot of chanting and drinking beer. Unlike most Brits abroad they temper that with humility, focus and a superhuman work ethic," we said.

In August, stunning photography from Rankin accompanied a Viktor Blom interview. At last we had our man, and it was the first interview with the notoriously publicity-shy Blom in a print poker magazine. Viktor said something libellous about Brian Hastings and Cole South, however, and we got in trouble. Oops!

In October we looked back at the career of the Hendon Mob, while in November we celebrated Eoghan O Dea's presence among the November Nine. However, Eoghan couldn't quite seal the deal and WSOP champ Pius Heinz was our December star.


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Sam Trickett was back in January, 12 months after his first stint on the cover. What can we say, the kid just can’t stop winning! In February, Eugene Katchalov was US Player of the Year, while we declared Gus Hansen to be "freakin' awesome" in March and depicted him ripping open his shirt to reveal a superman-style costume with a big "G" on the front.

On the anniversary of Black Friday in April, after many phone calls and lots of late nights, we finally tracked down international poker exile Tom Dwan to Macau to find out just how things have changed for him since that fateful day and what he really thought about Full Tilt.

In June, Amarillo Slim died. Jonathan Duhamel spoke to us about his comeback, having made numerous final tables throughout the year after surviving the trauma of being beaten and robbed in his home.

In July we met the only poker player who has been into space! Guy Laliberte, circus performer, billionaire, poker player and astronaut, spoke to us about the upcoming Big One for ONE DROP, the richest poker tournament ever devised with its million-dollar buy-in.

The August issue simply had $18,346,673 emblazoned across the cover, with an image of Antonio Esfandiari nonchalantly adjusting his tie. Antonio had won the aforementioned richest poker tournament ever, and was now the winningest player on the planet. Craig McCorkell dropped in too, to chat about winning his first bracelet.

In September we spoke to Vanessa Selbst, the high-flying top female poker player and Civil Rights Law graduate, about pride, prejudice and poker. Then amid much fanfare, Full Tilt re-launched in November which meant Gus, as the first sponsored pro of the new regime, was back on the cover and was pleased as punch to be getting his daft avatar back. Talking of Full Tilt, Howard Lederer came out of the shadows to talk to former Bluff US editor Matt Parvis; we picked apart the resulting "Lederer Files" interview. Meanwhile, Phil Hellmuth won the WSOPE. Go Phil!

Greg Merson was the popular new WSOP champ in December, while we took a look at a new craze called open-face Chinese poker.


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Erick Lindgren, formerly poker's golden boy, gave a warts and all interview about money owed and his fall from grace in January. We also spent a day in the life of Sofia Lovgren and took a look back at the Ship it Holla Ballas.

In March Daniel Negreanu was the world’s most powerful poker player in our list of the most influential people in poker. Meanwhile, Chris Brammer was our Player of the Year and the PCA was a decade old.

What better way to celebrate the coming of spring than a new beginning? On April 30th, UltimatePoker dealt the first ever hand of fully regulated and legal online poker in the United States, closely followed by the second, and then the third. They're still dealing those legal and regulated hands as you read this.

And talking of poker booms it was a decade in June since Moneymaker kick-started the first one. As we knuckled down for the WSOP, we spoke to Chris ten years on. And guess what, it almost didn't happen; he revealed how he tried to swap the 2003 WSOP seat he won on PokerStars for cash because he was broke. No, Chris, no!

In July, to celebrate the monumental launch of Ultimate Poker, Antonio Esfandiari, the site's first ambassador, dropped in for a chat. In August Barny Boatman delighted everyone by winning a WSOP bracelet. "Tell us about the bracelet, Barny!" we demanded on the cover.

In September we took an in-depth look at high-tech cheating scandals and how we, as poker player, can protect ourselves from them. Chris Moorman was back in November, having become the first online tournament player to top the $10m mark, and we also introduced the November Nine. Then, in December, we hailed an amazing year for Daniel Negreanu, his best since 2004.


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This January, and maybe you remember this because it was, like, four months ago, we took the plunge and featured high-stakes button-clicker Alex ‘Kanu7’ Millar on the cover. Two months later, Alex won ‘Player of the Year’ at the British Poker Awards. (The “Bluff Factor” still exists! It’s a real and glorious thing, we promise.)

February saw us venture down a slippery slope of clock-related puns after catching up with the unstoppable force that is Mike ‘Timex’ McDonald, as well as the notoriously publicity-shy Steve O’Dwyer. Sadly, this was also the time that I vacated my post as editor. I stood proudly at the helm of Bluff Europe for eight years before seeking new pastures. Someone give me a medal – or at the very least a stiff drink.

But the show must go on, and in March Eve Goodman picked up the reins. We bowed down in awe in to the one and only Phil Galfond, who has now made a name for himself as not just a shit-hot player, but also as the CEO of a successful business. Of course, you can never have too much ballerosity in one magazine, so we popped Sorel Mizzi in there too for good measure – I mean, the man’s on fire!

April rolled around in time for us to come over all French, celebrating Winamax pros Davidi Kitai, Sylvain Loosli, and Gaëlle Baumann, all of whom kindly dressed up as superheroes for us in capes and hotpants galore (as you do). We also have a giggle with Joe Beevers and Barny Boatman. Some things never change – they’re still some of the nicest guys in poker.

So blimey, by our calculations that brings us to May – aka the present. One hundred issues – who’d have thought we’d make it this far? As a celebration, you can read our interviews with some of the biggest and best poker legends from the past eight years: Jamie Gold, Doyle Brunson, and last but most certainly not least, Mr Phil Hellmuth. Catch you on the flipside, reader, because this is one special issue. We’ll see you again on the 200th!

Tags: Philip Conneller