World Series of Poker Europe, 2009: 1


“YOU look like a million dollars”. That’s what they say. But who’s actually seen a million dollars?

Well now I have, at the World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE), in tight tempting little bundles of crisp hundred-dollar bills.

And they’re right. It is a knock-out. Untie the bands holding the cash together and you could put it on Page 3.

On the first day of the WSOPE, running in London’s Casino at the Empire until October 1, one lucky player in the Betfair Free Poker Million, 23-year-old Anestis Metsas, scooped the lot.

The day after, it’s my turn: I’ll be playing against more than 500 of the world’s best for a share of half a million quid.
Like one in four Brits, I play poker occasionally. Like one in seven, I even play regularly. But I’m no pro.

Not like Phil “Poker Brat” Hellmuth, who’s won a record 11 WSOP bracelets, or fearless Betfair pro Anne Obrestad, who won the first WSOPE two years ago just one day short of her nineteenth birthday.

Poker is a game of skill, not just luck: it requires a brain like a calculator, the intuition of a lie-detector, nerves of steel – and buns of iron.

You need real focus to sit for 12 hours at a stretch, when a lapse in concentration can lose all your chips.

But I’m ready. In five years as a poker-player and writer, I’ve had to keep my cool in some distracting situations.

I’ve played against Rebecca Loos in a low-cut dress (her, not me!), shortly after she had a boob job and came out as bisexual.

I’ve stood up to Dragon Duncan Bannatyne, and knocked him out of his Den.

And at last year’s WSOPE I played swinging from a CRANE, 45 metres up, after a bunch of lads’ mag editors wimped out from fear of heights.

Twelve hours of poker? World’s top players? Bring it on. Find out how I fare.