Ryan Spittles: My first Las Vegas experience

About a week passed after my horror show at GUKPT Walsall before I started playing online again and during that time I’d invested in a new PC and monitors to help me play more tables online. I instantly went from playing a maximum of eight tables to 12. It was a huge boost and despite still having my mistake in the back of my mind every time I logged in, things were going well and the profits were coming in nicely.

Sky Poker were running Las Vegas satellites and I decided that I’d take a couple of shots at it. My thirst for live tournaments was high and felt I like I had something to prove after my failed final table. The final satellite was fast approaching, an £1100 tournament with one £10,000 WSOP Main Event package guaranteed.  

I got to the final with my very first attempt at a £110 feeder and a couple of weeks later it was being shown live on Sky Poker TV. I can’t really remember much about the tournament but I managed to get to the heads-up stage against a very good player. He had done most of the work really and knocked out the majority of the field to gain a pretty big chip lead. It was a winner-takes-all battle and I was definitely the underdog – both in chips and ability.  

But heads-up couldn’t have gone better and I must have won every major pot to take down the package! Again another Monday morning phone call from Tikay to explain everything, it was the end of May and we decided I’d head to Las Vegas around the 20th June. My passport had expired so I had to go and get one sorted pretty quickly!

The package included a room at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino and a couple of my friends booked to join me a few days later. I was really pleased about that as although at the time we barely knew each other, they are now two of my best friends in poker.

Going to Las Vegas wasn’t just about poker though. It was about having a break. It was my first holiday in a very long time – before the hip operations – and it was just good to get away.

The days went by so quickly and I was soon greeted by the furnace that is the exit of McCarran Airport. I jumped in a cab to the Rio, checked in and couldn’t wait to get started. Tikay had posted online that he was at the Wynn so that seemed like a good place to go, and I found him grinding a tournament which he managed to min cash. I guess it was obvious I was just buzzing about the place so he calmed me down and I went to the cash game area to sit in a $1/$3 cash game for my very first Vegas poker experience. After a couple of hours I made $200 and decided to go and explore.

It must have been a Friday night as walking along the strip everything was so busy. People were everywhere. Somehow I ended up in the Mirage and the only cash game with a seat available was a $2/$5. It seemed like a nice table just by how it ‘looked’ and I was going along nicely. There was one player away though and he had the absolute lot in chips left there, easily $5,000 ($1,000 max buy-in game). An older guy who was sitting next to me kept saying how he couldn’t wait for the away player to return and that I’d probably be in for a big payday too if I got into a pot with him.

I didn’t have to wait long, but the player who took the empty seat was only the legend that is Sam Razavi! My reaction to him at the time must have been a pretty huge tell as after only a few minutes the older guy angrily grabbed his chips, slammed them in a rack, swore and headed to a $1/$2 table with an open seat…

Vegas went pretty well after that. My friends arrived and we played a mix of cash games and tournaments. Cash games went okay for me but it was more about the fun. The WSOP Main Event did NOT go well as I busted with A-K to K-Q just before the dinner break on day one!

Now you may remember my ‘Team Sky Poker’ sponsorship which was on a three month rolling contract. While I was there Tikay gave me the fantastic news that my contract was to be extended, which was an amazing feeling. Ever since I got my place my plan was to retain it, and I had worked hard on the Sky Poker forum, on the tables and on my game to show to the decision makers that I really valued the opportunity that I was presented with. At that time, I was averaging around £1,000 in rakeback per month, and Sky Poker matched it with £1,000 in live tournament entries, so it was a pretty nice bonus.

The head of Sky Poker TV at the time – a lovely lady called Claire – was in Vegas too as she was recording interviews of all the Sky Poker qualifiers. Since the TSP promotion had started a number of the players had been on the TV show as a guest and we booked a date for me to make an appearance with Richard Orford and Tikay.

I’ll tell you about that next month but for now let me remind you satellites to the UKPC are coming to an end on Sky Poker. The week long festival kicks off on Monday February 17 and it should be a great event! I’ll be there looking to win six figures! Will you?

Ryan Spittles is a professional poker player and an analyst on Sky Poker TV channel 861.

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