Ex-PokerPlayer writer now one of poker’s biggest names, Roland De Wolfe tells his enthralling story

Roland de Wolfe talks about tearing up the WPT World Championship and how he pissed off Jesse May

It didn’t start out so well, but in the end, it’s been what you might call an eventful month. The highlight was the $25,000 WPT Five Star World Poker Classic at the Bellagio and I was really looking forward to it. I went out there on the businessclass MAXjet airline and about an hour into the flight I was woken by a steward. I could have sworn he said, ‘We have to land in China.’ What we actually did was land in Ireland, because someone on the flight was badly ill. We sat on the runway for four hours before we took off again, and by the time we got to Vegas I was knackered. Not a good start, or the ideal way to begin the world’s best tournament.

Driven to distraction

Still, there are worse places to stay than the Bellagio and once the tourney was underway I began to feel better. Day one was solid really, not much happened. It’s such a slow tournament and if you’re a bit tired you’ve got to do stuff to keep your mind from wandering. Fortunately, I was at the table with a mate, Guy Laliberté, who owns the Cirque du Soleil. We were making prop bets on what colour the flop would be and so on. It was a bit of a laugh really and it certainly helped keep the tiredness at bay. He came fourth in the end and made $696,000.

By the end of day one I had 77,000 in chips, so I was in pretty good shape. Then on day two I went on a massive rush. I was in big hands, hitting flops and really playing well. One hand sticks in my mind. The blinds were 400/800. I’m dealt Kc-Qc and push out the minimum raise. It’s a raise I make a lot on a variety of hands, but for some reason I really fancied this one. I get called in two spots. The flop comes down Kd-Qd-2c. The first player checks and I’m thinking I’ll just check to see what happens. The other player bets 3,000 – about two-thirds of the pot. I make it 12k, and straight away he comes over the top for 40k. I moved in for about 100k, which is all he had. He called me with 5d-2d. Fortunately my two pair held up, or I was toast.

At the end of day two I was chip leader and Phil Hellmuth was second. Day three was uneventful; I remained in the top five. Day four, on the other hand, was mental. I kept running into big hands and kept having to fold good – but not great – hands and ended the day pretty short. Day five I got caught making a squeeze play with A-J against A-Q and went out. There you go. But I came 26th – the highest placed Brit.

It was a massive achievement for Carlos Mortensen to have won the event. Massive. Hats off to him, really. The rest of the week was spent by the pool playing Chinese poker. Loads of us were there. Ram Vaswani, Ross and Barny Boatman, Marc Goodwin. Funny thing is we had to persuade Kevin O’Connell to get into the game. He makes Croesus look skint he’s so rich and he didn’t want to stump up the $25,000. I’ve got a bet with him that he couldn’t quit drinking for three months so I paid out early and in he went.

Jesse may cry

Anyway, back in the UK I played the PartyPoker World Open and Betfair Poker Masters. I was first out of the PartyPoker thing when my trip 6s were busted by trip 8s. There you go; bet them when you’ve got them I suppose. But on the upside, I was invited to do some commentating with Jesse May and it was a scream. I was betting with him on the heats and I won every one. Not big bets – £50s and £100s, but he got so pissed off.

Then it was down to London’s Sportsman club for cricketer Dimitri Mascarenhas’ benefit poker night. Some big names were there, Greg Raymer to name one. I came fifth out of 66, but I had to listen to Shane Warne’s bad beat stories all night. He’s a legend though and I ended up buying his shirt at the charity auction. Finally it was a bit of charity work for the One to One Children’s Fund at the Sketch bar in Mayfair. I enjoyed that. It sounds funny but it’s good to put something back with poker.

Roland De Wolfe used to work for PokerPlayer magazine so why not try a digital copy HERE

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