Steve Hill heads into cider space with the Sherborne mob…
In rural Dorset, it’s not where you’re from, it’s where you’re to. Where we’re to for the opening fixture of Hilly’s Home Games 2 is picturesque Sherborne, a town that arguably boasts more antique shops than interesting things to do.
One PokerPlayer reader has overcome the lack of local amenities by effectively building a poker room cum pub in his back garden. Mark Woolmington is our generous host and member of Deuces Wild (www.dwpoker.net), a Yeovil-based poker league that pools its resources to enter members into some reasonably high stakes tournaments. They’re taking things seriously tonight, and even held a qualifier to decide the final six, as well as providing a bespoke dealer and a reserve, who we kindly allow to play.
Editor Shafty has come along for the ride, and drops the first clanger of the night, casually asking ‘Who’s the Arsenal fan?’ having somehow picked out only the word ‘Emirates’ amid a raft of Chelsea memorabilia. However, it’s a faux pas that pales into insignificance compared to my own social blunder. Getting into character and cracking a few funnies, I start writing down the players’ names and occupations. When it gets to Warrington’s Steve ‘Tomo’ Thomas – the freeroll winner – he says that he’s retired due to ill health. In reference to a Half Man Half Biscuit lyric, I cheerily ask him if he’s got a ten-year-old doctor’s note. ‘No,’ he replies sombrely. ‘I’ve got MS.’
Curb Your Enthusiasm
It’s a howler of Larry David proportions and casts a shadow over the early play. I’m not making any friends, but I am making some chips. Taking down a couple of pots with what I believe to be the best hands, I am marginal chip leader when I reraise with pocket Kings. Retired Stoke-ite Alan Crowe makes the call and bets into a nine-high flop. Shoving all-in, I am surprised to be called, even more so when he turns over K-9. No miracle card arrives, and enforcing the unwritten rule that the first one out serves the drinks, I promptly announce, ‘I’ll have a cider please, Alan.’ It’s a cruel punishment for an old soldier, and after a quick vote he’s unanimously allowed a rebuy, unsurprising given that he’s driven half the players to the game.
Despite his superb hospitality our host Mark is first to fall, which at least gives him more time to clamber up a ladder and attempt to get the snooker on the big screen at my behest. Girded by cider, I start throwing my big stack around and get involved in a pot with Shafty. An 8-9-T flop gives me a set of eights, and although I correctly predict he has a straight, I call his all-in to double him up.
Further damage is done when I push all-in postflop with an overpair and am called by the flushing Darren Starnes who makes it on the river with the Ace of spades, something I am continually reminded of courtesy of a ringtone comprising the titular Motorhead song. Big on comedy ringtones, another one that does the rounds simply consists of the words: ‘What a prick!’
It’s a phrase that’s appropriate to my next move. Short-stacked with A-2 in the small blind, I ask if I can ‘verbally declare all-in.’ Darren in the big blind replies, ‘If I can verbally call,’ and promptly shows Kings. Sent to the rail, it gives me a free run at the fridge as players begin to drop, accompanied by increasing levels of abuse, not least from Gary Cox, who berates Tomo as a ‘FÚ:;ing knob’ for calling with A-K to knock him out.
Shafty is the unfortunate bubble boy, getting it all-in with A-Q against sub Dave Pulford’s K-J, which hits on the turn. Appropriately, the final three are the top three in the Deuces Wild league, but they soon become two as freeroll winner Tomo exits after one shove too many.
The heads-up is a turgid affair, with Dave at one point declaring ‘I feel like calling just to get it over with.’ Having been crippled with top pair versus a set, he gets it in with 4-5 against Matt Fowler’s K-9, which flops two pair to send the youngster to the final.
With most of the players having to get up the next morning to do proper jobs (pie baker Gary at 4.30am), Shafty and I are spat out onto the streets of Sherborne at midnight. Trapped in our box room with nothing but Babestation, The Sopranos and online poker, I am on the verge of winning a turbo when a power cut takes out the wi-fi and leaves us alone in the dark. That’s living alright…