Hilly The Fish’s pub poker league: #2 Watch your mouth!

HillyTheFish bags his first win in the Chippenham pub poker league!

Don’t shit where you eat. It’s a strong piece of advice, but not one I’ve required throughout my journalistic poker career. As long-time readers will concur, the modus operandi thus far has been to tell whoever I play with they’re the greatest guys I’ve met, wish them all the best, and then stab them in the back in the magazine, safe in the knowledge I’ll never see them again. It’s undeniably a dirty shithouse trick, but one that has kept me in the manner to which I have become accustomed for the duration of my tenure.

Until now, that is. Playing in a weekly game against the same people changes the dynamic somewhat. I can’t very well describe them as a bunch of clueless balloon-heads and then turn up the next week with a shit-eating grin and not expect to get my head staved in. This massive inconvenience is clearly brought home when Woods turns up at The Chippenham bearing gifts in the form of a stash of fresh mags, which the locals pore over intently (or at least glance at quickly). 

Food for thought

Due to work commitments, it’s been three weeks since our initial visit, and Mango the landlord bellows, ‘I thought we’d scared you off.’ It’s mainly the same old faces, and The Laugh points out she would have dressed up had she known we were coming back. It seems that Mark ‘Shafty’ Stuart has indeed been scared off, but Woods and I set about securing a 5,000-chip add-on by ordering a meal from the extensive European menu. But Woods’s fish finger sandwich doesn’t do him any good, as he unsuccessfully runs A-K into 9-8 and promptly fucks off, leaving me at the mercy of the natives. 

I set about folding and drinking my way to my own bounty, but am forced to get involved when a couple of limpers sees me find 7-4o in the big blind. A Seven on the all-club flop keeps me interested, a four on the turn even more so. Two shoves sees me with virtually pot odds to make a full house, which it turns out I don’t even need as The Laugh shows A-Q and a random American called Ludwig tables 9-9. 

It’s a decent chip-up, and affords me the luxury of raise-folding K-Q when a regular shoves on the basis that, ‘My foot’s hurting,’ something I must remember for my forthcoming Book Of Tells (hurt foot = A-T). When I shove with A-9, the same guy makes a bounty-hunting call with A-7, which is enough to propel me to the final table. It’s a short-lived affair as I run A-K into another A-K and the 6-6 of a frantic tousle-haired youth who collects the chips as if he’s playing Hungry Hippos. It’s another sixth place finish, but I foolishly extend my stay by volunteering to deal, at which point I’d like to apologise to Shafty for last month’s ribbing.

Groundhog day

Another week passes in the blink of an eye, and we’re back in the room, the same lineup spouting the same old tales. Excuses have been received, and this time round I’m in this world alone. To compound matters, the food is off, and I’m forced to eat pie and chips in the street while mournfully staring in at Sky Sports News. This culinary calamity has also cost me 5,000 chips, and I am faced with the prospect of quickly drinking six pints, or attempting to play poker. In the event I opt for a little of each, and it turns out I’m reasonably adept at both. I scarcely put a foot wrong, making the right moves on the right people, showing just enough to give the impression of honesty, and throwing in sufficient verbals to put even the most Zen-like on tilt. As Cougar points out over her third bitter lemon, ‘Once a prick, always a prick.’ A prick with chips all the same, and with man-mountain Mango dealing the cards, the numbers are rapidly thinned. I’m rarely out of my comfort zone, and at one point begin correctly naming specific hands, like a low-rent Rounders. 

Rapidly three-handed, it’s a titanic tussle between HillyTheFish, Hurt-Foot and Paulo, a decent player with form in the finals. Short-stacked, I shove and Paulo calls with A-9, much to my relief as I am holding A-A. I’m soon heads-up with Hurt-Foot, who has been sat to my left the entire time, to the extent I begin to refer to him as Crabs, in that he is impossible to get rid of. 

A shove with K-T appears to have done the trick though, as a brace of cowboys on the flop leaves him with less than a small blind. Even when his J-6 beats my 9-9 it’s of little concern. Shoving my next hand into his J-J is a bit annoying, not least to Mango, who cannot wait to get rid of us. As such I have no option but to keep shoving, safe in the knowledge the maths are on my side. It’s not looking good when my J-3 comes up against J-6, but a Three on the turn saves us from the wrath of Mango, and secures my first win of the season: 45 notes in my arse pocket and 100 points on the board. Moving on up…

Get involved!

Redtooth Poker is the UK’s largest pub poker league, with thousands of establishments around the country playing for the right to be local, regional or national champion. But it’s not just pride and trophies. Each year Redtooth Poker flies 100 players out to Vegas for a weeklong holiday in the poker capital of the world. HillyTheFish is already on the plane this May and will be reporting on the shenanigans – will you be going too?   

Steve ‘HillyTheFish’ Hill is playing season one at the Chippenham Hotel in Maida Hill, London. He’ll be there every other Thursday looking to irk the locals by stealing a spot in the regional finals. 

 Each Redtooth Poker season is 13 weeks long and a player must have played a minimum of four games in order to qualify for the regional final. The top three players from each pub qualify for the regional finals. There are 17 regional finals and the winner of each gets a trip to Vegas. The runners-up at each regional final (numbers vary) are invited to play at the next national final (two per year) where the top ten win a trip to Vegas.

 2014/15 dates

  • Season 1 – Sunday Feb 2 – Saturday May 3
  • Season 2 – Sunday May 4 – Saturday August 2
  • Season 3 – Sunday August 3 – Saturday November 1
  • Season 4 – Sunday November 2 – Saturday January 31

 Find your local game by entering your postcode at www.redtoothpoker.com

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