It’s the return of the mackerel as Steve ‘HillyTheFish’ Hill makes his triumphant return to the UK scene…
Eight years ago I received a phone call that would change my life forever. The man on the horn was one David J Woods, and he posed the million-dollar question: ‘Have you ever played poker?’
I hadn’t, but agreed to meet him in a London pub where he dealt me my first ever hand of hold’em. It was the initial step on a journey that would take me to the feature table of the WSOP Main Event, and within a quim hair of the cash. En route I spent a week in the shark-infested waters of the Bahamas, and enjoyed an evening at the flat of supermodel Caprice, ending the night by cleaning her toilet (not in a good way). Bizarrely, snooker legend Steve Davis became a huge fan, regularly dropping at my feet in worship.
A European tour followed, the undoubted lowlight of which was being held at gunpoint by a drunken Mafioso in a St Petersburg toilet (definitely not in a good way). And for sheer strangeness, there was a lost weekend in Lithuania with a monosyllabic Geordie reader who ingratiated himself to the casino locals by drinking himself blind and setting fire to his hand.
Come back to what you know
Of course, it was the infamous Hilly’s Home Games that secured the cult status of what I should chin-strokingly refer to as the ‘HillyTheFish character’. A distressing excursion into the heart of darkness of the UK amateur scene, two series saw me physically endangered all the way from Exeter to Dundee, not to mention getting a lift home in a police car.
My final assignment for the magazine was the 2011 Aussie Millions, an 18-day stay in Melbourne that tested even my cast-iron resolve. The final night was spent with an alcoholic Swedish poker agent as he talked me through his stab wounds. Half a world away from my unborn son, and on the verge of mental collapse, it felt like the end of something, and I decided to take a breather.
People bounce back. So another call from Woods has brought things full circle, and I am on the cusp of my second UK tour. In musical terms, we’ve had the stadium gigs, the drugs hell, the drinks bill – this is a more intimate affair, where you can get on stage and join in. The real question is not where have I been, but where have you been?
Join the Fish as he takes on the Surrey all-stars in a £40 freezeout
Where: Big Slick Club, Surrey
When: Wed Oct 3, 7.30pm
The first reader to show HillyTheFish a copy of PokerPlayer and say the code ‘Do you five-bet light?’ will win a free subscription to PokerPlayer magazine!