Saturday, January 6, 2007

Vic Players Part 2

Mark Mead

When I first went to the Vic, two players really intimidated me, Declan Devereux and Mark. Both were from Tooting (just like many of the great legends of the game in America seem to hail from Texas, it seems as though many of the top players back in the day at the Vic hailed from Tooting) and both were really tight, strong players. Mark had a trademark cackle and was very good at befriending the stars and making them feel good about gambling and just playing poker in general. My first impression was that Mark was maybe a bit of a thug, but that was a clever fa├žade to hide the fact that he was actually a really solid player. Seven Card and Omaha are his best games and he always excelled in the £50 or £100 games where he sat deep. As I got to know him I found that, even though I didn’t want him in the game, I didn’t mind playing with him as he was always really funny and could tell you who the stars were (and how to play against them now and again). His favourite joke in Omaha would be to ask, “Were those deuces double suited?” and then he’d let out that distinctive and infectious laugh. He was a big pot head and I’m pretty sure he spent every night in Rousseau’s after the Vic shut getting stoned and playing whatever variant of Omaha they spread there. He also had a way of saying “call”, dragging out the vowels, that never failed to amuse me every time. I guess I learnt quite a lot from watching him and Declan play, I certainly aspired to play as well as they did. Out of the two, I would say Declan is maybe more versatile. I remember Mark once told me that if he wasn’t playing poker he would be on a building site, so I guess he’s done well out of the game. He hasn’t been to the Vic for at least 4 or 5 years now, I hear he now just spends his time getting stoned and playing online, no doubt getting the absolute lot.

Roger Jones

Now dead, Roger was an excellent Seven Card player who also made the occasional foray into the odd Hold‘Em tournament. He was also exceptionally good at crosswords. A very nice man who didn’t suffer fools gladly (a cardroom not being the ideal place to spend time in then) I’ll never forget his exasperation at players who didn’t know it was their action, what was in the pot, what the bet was etc. A sarcastic “How much?”, often delivered as an aside to me or any other halfway competent player who was nearby, was his standard way of coping with some idiot (usually another regular who had been playing for at least 20 years). He once won a pot off Andrew Georgiou at Seven Card with a flush. When asked why didn’t he raise with his hand, Roger replied, “What? Raise a Bubble showing an open pair? You must think I’m mad”. He once came up to me and said, “I’m not taking the piss, but are you a Latin scholar?”. Unusually for him, he was stuck on a crossword clue; I wish I could’ve given him the answer.

Kenny Miller

With his massive hooter and hang dog looks, Kenny was always easy to spot. A nice guy who, when I first started playing, seemed to make a final table every week. Kenny seemed to have two leaks - the dice (many a poker player’s weakness - as Mick “The Clock” Cook once exclaimed, “How this game has ruined us!” ) and staking Alec Rowley (I may have his last name wrong). Alec was an awful poker player who had a stream of bad beat stories, quite often involving the craps game at Charlie Chesters. Kenny was soft spoken and very stoical, winning and losing with equal grace. I’ll never forget one time at the Stakis when everyone was sitting around waiting for the tournament to start. A backgammon game was in progress and most of us were watching. One of the players rolled double fours and I heard Kenny mutter under his breath, “Hard eight”. A true gambler through and through.

No comments: