Friday, December 1, 2006

Playing With The Suicide King

To continue the theme started on my first post and inspired by Warren Wooldridge’s piece on about playing with world class American pros at past WSOP events I thought I would add my paltry reminiscences. I have been going to the WSOP since 1996 (the year Huck Seed won the main event) although unlike Warren I have only ever played in three bracelet events. Why go? I hear you ask. Well, basically I used to go for the cash games and general pissing about (aka playing dice or pai gow) with various other layabouts, liggers and chancers (aka poker pros). Before the internet/ WPT/ Moneymaker revolution (choose which you think is applicable) the WSOP was a great laugh. The ease of flitting between the Nugget and the ‘Shoe fostered a real camaraderie between the European players. There was always somebody at the Horseshoe bar to share a poker story or two with.

Over the years I have played with many faces in both low limit and mid limit games. I’ll never forget looking over and seeing Surinder Sunar playing in a $1 - $5 stud game! This was in 2004 as well, not way back in the mists of time; he must have wanted to practice stud with weak players or something – no way could he have been potless. I remember playing with O’Neil Longson in a $1/$3 blinds no limit hold’em game when the last time I had seen him was the previous year when he was playing $50/$100 blinds. All these hands and players and games just jumble into a blur, but one of the most memorable is sitting down to play the $1,500 Razz event in 2005. I looked around the table and felt good, most of the other players looked like your typical poker desperadoes. The WSOP had been running for well over a month so by now most people were skint, and whereas a few weeks earlier they would never have played a non hold’em event the Razz tourney looked like maybe a good way to get out of it. My optimism was short lived though as who should fill the last seat but Ted Forrest, aka the Suicide King or Professor Backwards himself. Great, not only is the guy considered one of the best players in the world, but any type of stud game is his speciality. I have been around poker a fairly long time and usually my first reaction on seeing a good player at the same table is one of disgust (as you can tell from the last sentence), but I must admit this time I actually felt a little excited at the thought of playing with a bona fide legend.

Ted surprised me by limping into lots of pots, even when he had the lowest showing door card. I suspect he felt very confident of his play on the later streets and it was also his way of keeping the pots small until he wanted to make it bigger (remember, this was a limit tournament; rammin’ and jammin’ on 3rd and 4th street usually means no-one is folding by the last card). I tussled in a couple of pots with him, but nothing memorable although I do remember that I was fortunate enough to hold good cards over him and was never faced with a tricky decision against him.

What was notable was the amount of players who came up to Ted whispering asides to him and weighing in. Occasionally Ted would dip into his pocket and pull out a massive wad of hundreds and peel a few off and hand them over to whichever hapless railbird was talking to him. I later told Neil Channing about this and he remarked, “Yeah, he runs this town”. Interestingly, one of these players was former main event winner Huck Seed. He came over several times to report on his and others’ progress in the tournament. I had the feeling that Ted was Huck’s backer, but this is purely speculative.

I played the tournament quite well, I think, apart from one hand which I related to my mate Ben Battle who had bought a piece of me. “I was the bring in with a K and this guy raised in late position after about 5 players folded around to him. I had A 2 in the hole so I called. I then caught good and he paired, so I bet and he called. Then I paired my deuce and he caught good. I now checked and he bet and for some inexplicable reason I called. Now on Sixth street he catches good and I get a bad one – he bets again and I finally see sense and fold. The whole hand was a disaster and I never should have defended my bring in with a King showing, that just can’t be a good play”, I said. As I finished this sad tale I noticed Ted nodding in agreement with my last sentence – acknowledging my rick and maybe, just maybe, giving me a little encouragement. He could see that I was at least self-aware and not blaming my wasting of precious tournament chips on bad luck. At least I like to think of it like that, for all I know he was nodding at some fellow degenerate across the room. As an aside, I later realised that the late position raiser was Prahlad Friedman, another professional with a pretty good record too.

In the end, Ted and I got knocked out at exactly the same time in a weird three way coup. I had the best hand, but of course got done over. It turned out that Ted and I had exactly the same amount of chips too, so although I didn’t do very well in the tournament I can at least say my play was equal to that of one of the best players in the game. Or something like that……


Fred Titmus said...

Good start sweep, don't let it die like the Camel and Miros!

the chimney sweep said...

ah thank you mr titmus, when's your blog appearing?

Fred Titmus said...

I have nothing to say.