Over a civilised cocktail and a quick sit-and-go, Norman Pace clinks glasses with PokerPlayer
As the slimmer, moustache-free half of 1990s TV comedy duo Hale and Pace, Norman Pace was a pioneer of the alternative comedy scene, appearing in ground-breaking shows like Saturday Live, alongside Ben Elton and Stephen Fry. Now, once again, Pace is at the forefront of a new phenomenon – the poker explosion. Firmly establishing himself as a key figure at the tables, Norman’s earning respect from the pros for his grasp and command of the game.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO POKER?
About three years ago, I bumped into Barry Hearn at Stansted airport on our way to a charity golf tournament. We got talking about poker, because I’d been watching it on TV. Later that night, Steve Davis was doing a snooker exhibition, but it was f ing boring. So when we got to Gleneagles, Barry sent the manager out to get 2000 two pence pieces to act as chips. And that was it – I was hooked.
WHEN DID YOU START PLAYING ONLINE?
I went online the next day. A couple of months after I played with Barry, we were online at the same table. He typed into the chat: ‘How’s it going Norm?’ I replied: ‘You’ve ruined my life.’ Apparently he dines out on that now, mainly because he has very little life to dine out on!
YOU AND THE WIFE OFTEN MEET AT A TOURNAMENT TABLE. DO YOU HAVE A POLICY WHEN PACE TAKES ON PACE?
I can tell from the glint in her eyes that she wants to take me down. She hates me if I’m bluffing and she hates me if I’m not. When I turn over the nuts, she calls me a bastard. I’m a very gracious man, although inside, every time the cards are dealt, I firmly mean to win. Bev’s a much better online multi-tournament player than me. I lose my patience doing the maths, and shout at the screen. She’s already qualified for the 2006 World Series.
YOU RECENTLY WON CHALLENGE TV’S SHOWBIZ POKER TOURNAMENT. WHAT WAS YOUR STRATEGY?
I worked out an idea about how beginners play. They’re either calling stations or rocks. Once you’ve identified them, you milk the calling stations and bluff the rocks. In my heat, I was stuck in the middle, with two calling stations to my left and two rocks to my right. I had to be very patient for the first few levels, to the extent that the tournament director said to me after an hour: ‘You’d better get involved Norman.’ But I thought ‘No, I’m going to wait.’ Patience is a big thing in poker. With the money I won from Showbiz Poker, I’m going to buy myself into the WSOP Main Event.
DOES THAT CONFLICT WITH YOUR SCHEDULE?
It’s a tough decision. I’m in a play at the moment – Breakfast with Jonny Wilkinson – and they’ve changed the schedule to fit in with me going to the World Series. When I get back, we take it to the Edinburgh Festival. If they want you enough for a job, they’ll do things like that.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE BEEN GIVEN?
In a tournament, get your chips in when you’re ahead. You should know by the turn whether you’re ahead or not. Cash is very different. The advice I’ve been given with cash is, whatever the limit, you should have a bankroll big enough so that every time you reload, when you’ve just lost all your money, it doesn’t wound you emotionally.
WHAT’S YOUR BEST POKER MOMENT SO FAR?
It’s probably winning Showbiz Poker, for two reasons. First, I’ll always have the trophy. Second, because I beat Michael Greco. I played in a televised tournament with him a year ago and I got him to put his chips in when I had Kings and he had Sevens, and he muffed a set. You carry bad beats around like baggage. In this heat, Michael would say I got lucky heads-up, but I think I outplayed him, and I feel very proud about that in a humble way.
Set up by Mrs Pace, the idea is to send players around the world, and organise poker holidays and weekends for players of all levels to learn or improve their game.
LADBROKES POKER CRUISE
‘I met and watched so many good players on the cruise, that in the 10 days aboard the ship my game improved 100 percent.’
‘I love him like a brother’. Seems the Australians do too, as the boys regularly sell out tours down under. Norm taught Gareth to play and he ‘totally muffed me’. Sigh.
PokerPlayer magazine is the oldest and best so why not grab a copy HERE to see what you are missing