Monday, May 29, 2017

My new Danish pen pal (Unibet Open Copenhagen 2017)

In 2010 I spent some time with the late great Liam Flood at the Villamoura EPT, one of my first EPTs. Suitably depressed after getting knocked out a bit before the bubble by eventual winner Toby Lewis, I decided to spend the rest of the trip sulking in my room clicking buttons. Liam lured me out telling me he had swapped 10% with an inexperienced player who was running deep.  He said he was a bit worried that this guy might play a bit too tight in the latter stages, and asked me if I could have breakfast with them and give the newb some pointers. I reluctantly agreed to postpone clicking buttons that day and joined them for a late breakfast. The newb in question turned out to be Teddy Sheringham (the footballer). Shortly after I got there, Liam made his excuses and left us to it. I felt the notion of me dispensing advice to Teddy was slightly ridiculous, so I didn't bother. Instead I enjoyed a very pleasant breakfast talking about football, golf, sport and life in general. He asked me who I supported and when I outed myself as a Gooner grinned "you must have hurled abuse at me down the years then". No point in lying to the man: given that he played for Spurs, United and Engerland, he pretty much ticked all the boxes in that department. Hopefully cheering for him on the final table was some sort of amends (he ended up coming fifth).

As we were finishing our breakfast, we were joined by Tony Cascarino (the footballer). Teddy didn't hang around, and I decided just leaving Cas on his own might be perceived as a little rude, so I postponed clicking buttons a little longer. I decided to make the minimum of conversation that would satisfy politeness standard while he wolfed down his bacon, but not get dragged into another heart to heart that might go on until another ex footballer appeared out of the woodwork. Well, you can never be too careful, can you?

It turned out Cas was vaguely aware of me not just as a poker player, but as an ex runner. But only vaguely. Very vaguely.

"You're the former runner, right?"
"Yeah yeah. I remember you running in the Olympics".

My mind started evaluating the two possible lines I could now take. I could check raise him by pointing out that I never ran in the Olympics. In my experience though, people tend to get a bit upset when you check raise them, and they rarely just fold quickly and leave it at that. I anticipated being asked for clarification, which would lead to me having to explain that ultra running wasn't in the Olympics (and possibly why not, and maybe even a lengthy discussion about what ultra running even was). So I decided it was safer to just Call, and hope that ended the conversation.

"Yeah, yeah, I remember it well. Moscow, right?"
"Um.....well.....Moscow, yeah"
"So what was it like? Moscow?"

Suddenly, with no real idea as to why, I found myself backed into a tough conversational spot, having to describe what the Moscow Olympics were like. Despite never having been to the Olympics. Or even Moscow. But here I was having to talk about the weather there, the food, the women, the sights.

I had a somewhat similar experience on my flight to Unibet Open Copenhagen. As we were taking off, my seat neighbour turned to me and said something in Danish. Instead of doing what any normal person would do (make it immediately clear I don't understand a word of Danish), for some reason I smiled and nodded before returning my attention to my IPad. A few minutes later I became aware my neighbour was talking Danish at me again. Figuring nodding and smiling had worked so well last time, I decided to stick with a proven strategy. A few smiles and nods later, the IPad had my undivided attention again. At least for a few minutes. As I turned my face to Danish again, I started to question the effectiveness of this whole smiling and nodding strategy. But I figured I was now pot committed to the pretence that I understood Danish in much the same way as I had been to Cascarino's belief he had seen me in the Moscow Olympics. So I spent quite a lot of the rest of the flight smiling and nodding at my new friend.

This wasn't the most pleasurable in flight experiences ever, at least from my perspective. As we disembarked he insisted we swap email addresses. I fully expect an email in my inbox when I get home saying he actually realised I have no Danish and the whole thing was a windup.

The following day was day 1a. I made a decent start for once adding 50% to my starting stack over the first few levels, before a combination of card death, escalating blinds and a light threebet that didn't work saw me dip below 20k. A much needed double up was secured when my jacks held all in on the turn against A4dd on a TT8hhd3d board. Our table broke shortly afterwards and I was moved to the feature table for the rest of the day. If you want to see what happened it's available here:

I come in around the 7 hour 34 minute mark. It wasn't particularly eventful for me personally but after a tough grind of a day I was reasonably satisfied to bag up just under 35k. Afterwards I stayed at the bar a while celebrating with Daiva's husband John and my future son in law Tim Davie both of whom I hadn't seen in a good while. Honourable mentions for bloggers Tom and Josh who I was meeting for the first time, voucher supremo Simon Steedman and Gerry and Louise from Scotland.

The evening culminated with a 3 am walk to the petrol station for late night food. The hot dogs there are surprisingly good, and unsurprisingly sold out at that hour. I decided to go with Nacho crisps to ease my hunger pangs, but John was keen on something hot. A poor crop at best was on display, so John sought the local knowledge of the guy behind the counter:

"What would you recommend from this lot?"
"I can't decide for you, mate"
"But imagine you were trapped in a petrol station at 3 am"
"I am"

Turns out Danish wit can be dryer than any Danish pastry you might find in a petrol station at 3 am.


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