The cricketing cat, Phil Tufnell, is mad keen on poker as well: “I usually think f**k the odds, I’ll have a go”

From wicket to thicket, Phil Tufnell gives PokerPlayer the spin

As the country’s leading spin bowler during the 1990s ‘Tuffers’ has experienced more than his fair share of bad beat stories. But after a successful foray in the jungle on I’m a Celebrity… ‘The Cat’ (so named for his dressing room power naps) is putting his newly found fame to good use, by turning his arm to poker. And what better time to release a DVD (Win at Poker with Phil Tufnell) than in the run-up to Christmas…

What games did you used to play on tour? And who was the daddy?

We played 7-Card Stud and Texas Hold’em. Mike Gatting and John Emburey were good – the older boys used to take us, but we got our own back through the years. We kept it sociable – we were pretty poor back then.

You’re a fairly laid-back character. Is that an approach you bring to the table, or are you a bit of a maniac?

I kind of lose my head a little bit actually. You know, I don’t have nice, neatly stacked chips – I’m a bit off the wall and make stupid bets. The percentages always do me in. How you’re meant to sit there and work out the f***ing percentages just by looking at a game of cards in fi ve seconds, I don’t know. I usually think, ‘F??k the odds, I’ll have a go,’ know what I mean? I tend to start off playing tight and conservative, and then as the night gets going, get a little bit aggressive. After a few drinks you get a bit braver, don’t you?

Being a bowler’s all about alternating your plan of attack. Is that something you take into poker?

Spin bowling’s all about bluff and second-guessing what the other guy’s going to do. In poker I’m always trying to read people like I read a batsman.

Do you think professional sportsmen bring a more competitive edge to poker?

Yeah, very much so. I think most sportsmen are competitive in anything they do, whether it’s gardening or poker. I think you have to have that competitive mentality otherwise you don’t reach the top level. Even pissing up the wall – I want to piss higher than you. Gets me in a lot of trouble.

Funniest poker moment?

On tour in Adelaide I ran out of cash and desperately needed to make a bet. I had to round all the boys up. I was going ‘boys, boys, quick I need some money.’ Luckily I won and managed to pay them all back.

And your best?

I can remember doing the boys at Middlesex a beauty. Gatting and Emburey were playing – they were the daddies and I was the boy. I lured them in, then all of a sudden, boshed them, and they had really good hands as well. They were well f***ed off. And then it stopped raining and we had to go out and play so they didn’t have a chance to win it back. Happy f***ing days…

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