Late last year, I "announced" my retirement from the UKIPT circuit. The fact that I accompanied the announcement with a YouTube clip of David Bowie announcing his retirement live on the Hammersmith Odeon stage in 1973 should have been a clue that I didn't really expect the retirement to stick, but it seems pretty much nobody got the reference. That's what happens when you make cultural references that are older than all your readers.
David Bowie's retirement lasted all of six days. Mine lasted a little longer, but even before I left for Vegas this year I had decided to shift my online focus back to satellites, because they are what I statistically do best. Even a successful Vegas is no real reason to change that plan, so I hit the satellites for Lille, Bristol and Barcelona. If nothing else, I get to meet a lot of old and new friends in nice places.
I'd only been to Bristol once before, for the last UKIPT here and found myself unexpectedly loving the place. So while this trip went as badly as possible in a poker sense (not only did I brick all four tournaments I played, I never even got close to a bubble), it was still a fun trip. Too soon after running insane good in Event 45 to start complaining about bad beats and run bad? I guess so, so let's just say it was great to catch up with people like Dave Curtis, Daiva Barauskaite Byrne, Fergal Nealon, Neil Hefs Raine, Tom Jabracada Hall, Brett Angell (who once again proved nobody crushes UKIPTs more with an umpteenth deep run), Marc Convey (kudos for winding David Lappin up more than David's rather dreary Twitter parody ever has by referring to him as my "sidekick" on the Stars blog), Gareth Chantler, Paul Murnin, Sameer Singh, Chihao Tsang, Kevin and Steo. It was also great to put faces to online names such as Bertie "bigstealer" Bayley, Conor Beresford, JHBInfinity and AnOnlineGuy.
Bristol is a very nice place to spend a few days, particularly sunny ones. It's a shame that numbers were down a bit. To be fair to Stars and the UKIPT team numbers were undoubtedly affected by a few competing attractions like Goliath, but it is noticeable that more and more of the recreational player regulars seemed to be missing. Those are the guys and gals who made the UKIPT the most fun tour, and hopefully they are not gone for good. With the next stop being in the Isle of Man the challenge is to get people to travel there for a 440. I hope so, I certainly intend to be there as its a fun place to spend a few days with friendly locals. Credit to Dave Curtis and the rest of the UKIPT crew for doing the best they can in difficult conditions at a time when Stars no longer enjoy the kind of goodwill they did pre Amaya.
My main event was very uneventful at a tougher than normal table. I basically just withered away until the time came to get all in, and I lost the first one of those. So the highlight was a mixup when online beast Lawrence "Bertie" Bayley asked another guy at the table if he was SlowDoke, as recorded on the Stars blog.
After leaving the baggage monstrosity overnight (thankfully our hotel had a room large enough to accommodate it) we somehow wheeled it onto the airport bus past a dubious looking bus driver. One annoyingly long check in queue later (and long check in queues are rendered all the more annoying when you have actually already checked in), I was told I had to go to the ticket desk and pay 55 quid. After finding where that was, I found myself stuck behind an elderly group of German speaking travellers. A long drama played out where the lady behind the counter would say something to a young guy who seemed to be acting as interpreter, he'd look confused, she'd say something else, he'd still look confused, and on through a few more iterations of that. Then he'd say something in German to the old folks, they'd look confused, he'd say something else....well, you get the idea. Finally, the Germans would start rooting in their luggage and produce portfolios of documentation, which would be slowly scrutinised before one would be selected and presented to the lady behind the counter. She would then look confused, but eventually shrug and type some stuff into the computer. Then we went back to the start and repeated the whole process. Several documents later, me and the guy in front of me (who also just wanted to drop 55 quid and run) were a riot waiting to happen, our mounting exasperation heightened by another employee who would wander towards the counter raising our hopes only to dash them by veering off at the last second.
Eventually the Germans looked ready to wander off, and the guy in front of me dived in with his 55 quid. It was not accepted as discussions remained ongoing between the counter lady and the Germans who were now behind us in terms of location, but still clearly ahead in terms of priority. After a few minutes of this they were moved ahead of us in location terms, and the whole shambolic document exchange was rebooted. Several iterations of this later, the Germans wandered off a little, and the guy in front of me dived in again. Half way through his processing, counter lady had another brainwave and offered to escort the Germans somewhere else. As she got up to do this, the point of mutiny had finally arrived. She was told in no uncertain terms that she'd be processing the other guy and me before she did that.
So yeah, if a Canadian whose surname sounds like Chancer ever asks you to bring a bag for him, don't do it. And Gareth, your coffin awaits you at Doke manor.