It’s been a month since I last updated this blog, which happens to be the longest period of time I have ever gone without publishing a post. The main reason for the long gap in posts is I simply couldn’t be arsed sitting and writing an update after spending most of my day sitting and writing.

I contemplated closing this blog and stepping away from the blogging world altogether, but having got my break in the community courtesy of the world of blogging it didn’t feel right to stop blogging just because of my laziness – for want of a better world.

Another reason for the lack of updates is that I’ve not had much to write about. This was set up as a blog that focussed on poker, either playing it or reporting on it and I’ve played hardly any poker since returning from the 2014 World Series of Poker. I’ve played recently, cash games mostly, yet that isn’t why I have decided to update my little corner of the interwebs.

Those of you who have followed my ramblings for a while will probably remember a number of posts I wrote claiming I was going to try lose weight and increase my fitness. Most – read that as all – of my previous attempts failed within the first week, because I (1) liked food too much, (2) liked beer too much and (3) liked sitting on my arse and doing nothing too much.  I still like all three of these things, in fact I more than like them. However, on September 1, I decided to make some life changes and two weeks later I am still going strong.

At the start of the month I topped the scales at 16 stone 3 ¾ pounds, the heaviest I have ever been. I felt like shit. I couldn’t walk anywhere without huffing and puffing and breaking out into a sweat. I was drinking too much. I was a mess.

I’m still fat, but I’m less fat that I was two weeks ago because I have managed to lose 8.5 pounds and now weigh in at 15 stone 9 ¼ lbs through dieting and daily exercise.

Gone are the almost daily sausage sandwiches, large carb-filled lunch and huge portions of dinner. Also gone are the nightly four cans of lager or cider or bottle of wine.

Replacing the bad, if you like, are much healthier options and much smaller portion sizes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sat here starving myself thin, but now I am looking at the nutritional information on food and making good choices.

I’m using MyFitnessPal to log everything that I eat and drink in an attempt to keep to the set calorie limit and it’s helping me to see foods in a different light and sort my portion sizes out, too. God knows how many calories I was munching and slurping through on a weekly basis before I opted to stop being a lazy fat twat and do something about it.

The biggest change, however, is my exercising. Every day since September 1, I have done at least 20 minutes of cardio. I’m still not fit enough to jog for this length of time, but I have been jumping onto the treadmill and walking at 5.5km/hr, usually for 25 minutes. Doing this gets the blood pumping and the sweat flowing and I’m finding it so much easier than on Day 1 – now I’m not even out of breath afterwards!

My plan is to continue on the diet and increase my exercise. I used to be as fit as a butcher’s dog in my teens and early 20s, then everything went downhill afterwards. I can’t wait to be able to jog again and jog for 30-45 minutes straight, or even longer, without fear of having a coronary and being found at the bottom of the treadmill by the Mrs or kids!

I feel great. I’m more positive mentally. I feel healthier and now that I am seeing genuine results it is making me want to improve even further. I might still be lardy, but I tell you something, I feel like I could take on the entire fucking world right now!

So I guess this post is a brag post of sorts. The type poker players write when they have won a big tournament or have gone on a heater and are continually going deep in everything they play. I’ve wrote those. We all have. But this is a legitimate brag, IMO and I’m damn proud of myself.


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Onto The Next One

It’s been a while since I updated my little corner of the internet, mainly because I’ve not been inclined to write anything on here. With this being primarily a poker blog and the fact I’ve played little in the way of poker since returning from Las Vegas in July, I didn’t think you’d be too interested in stories of my playing on the Xbox or the pulled rib muscle that’s kept me popping codeine tablets as if they were Smarties.

As it happens, I played some poker on Thursday, hence this latest update, but it didn’t exactly go to plan. I was invited to play the Sky Poker UK 6-Max Poker Championships Main Event at Dusk Till Dawn in Nottingham, a £1,000 buy-in tournament with a £500,000 guaranteed prize pool, and I obviously accepted the offer to play. Managed to sell 20% of my seat to cover my travel and hotel costs and was looking forward to mixing it up with some of the UK’s finest poker players.

I almost missed my train to Nottingham after leaving the house later than expected thanks to finishing some work. The train I’d pre-booked left Huddersfield station at 08:31 a.m. and I arrived in the town centre at 08:25 a.m! After running like a complete loon – running as well as a fat, unfit man with a rucksack and a suitcase can – collecting my tickets from the machine, then darting through the station, I somehow managed to catch the train with a few seconds to spare. Didn’t have a heart attack, which was a major bonus.

Nearly forgetting to get off and change trains aside, the journey to Nottingham was straight forward and as boring as you’d expect. The boredom was broken up by the sound of a toddler screaming its tits off and its mother moaning about how it “was always fucking crying.” Dug out my trusty Bose headphones, fired up some The Smiths and whinging baby was no more.

My run good of managing to catch my train, not have a coronary and being able to drown out high-pitched whining continued when the hotel – Jury’s Inn – had a room ready for me at 11:00 a.m. despite check-in not being available until 2:00 p.m. A quick shit, brush of my teeth and a “squaddie wash” later and I was ready to head to DTD for the pokers.

Arrived at DTD and saw that I was on Table 23 Seat 1. In a full ring tournament, Seat 1 is a pain in the bollocks, but in the six-handed format it isn’t as bad, still not ideal though. My starting table seemed great when you consider the plethora of big names who had bought in. The two players to my direct right were very aggressive, one busted relatively early and the other was a constant thorn in my side and he ran the table.

I splashed around a little with small pair in an attempt to make a set, but never managed to flop one. Then whenever I raised light, I would get three-bet huge and when I three-bet with the good they would fold, or at least it seemed.

There were three hands of note and I lost all three. The first saw me lose with a set of jacks versus As-Qs that went runner-runner flush for a decent chunk.

The second saw a player new to the table raise from the button and I three-bet from the small blind with Ah-Jh. He called and the flop came down 8c-8s-2c. I led and he snap-called. The turn was the Ac and I tapped the table and checked only to see the button instantly bet ¾ of the pot. I was going to jam over the top of him, but I went with my gut that he had me beaten and folded. Later, after I busted, I saw him and he told me he had ace-seven and did so before I told him my hand. He said he wanted it to look like a flush and I guess his plan worked.

Hand number three was my exit hand. I raised to 1,100 from the button with 10s-9s and the big blind, an older guy who had been quite loose, called. The flop fell Q-10-9 with one spade and the big blind checked. I bet 1,900 into 2,750 and the big blind check-raised to 5,100. At this point I think he has a hand like KQ, QJ or JT so a pair and a draw and against such a range I have around 60% equity.

“I’m all-in” I said as I pushed my remaining 15,500 chips across the line.

“Call,” he said with a slightly worried look on his face, but he needn’t worry because he had fucking Jc-8c in his hand for a flopped straight. The turn was the 7s to give me a sweat and the river the 2h to send me to the rail.

I ran the hand past a few players and they said that even if I flat-call the check-raise on the flop, we’re getting it all-in on the turn anyway. Guess it just wasn’t meant to be.

Hung around DTD for a bit, played like a twat in a £1/£1 game and made my way home.

Played a small tournament online on Friday while I worked, a €1 rebuy on Betfred on the iPoker Network. All was going swimmingly until I min-raised to 800 with As-Ac from under the gun and the button raised to 8,000! I raise all-in for 8,900 in total and he calls with pocket sevens and then flops a seven to bust me. Win that and I have a stack for a deep run.

Onto the next one.

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10 Things I Won’t Miss About Las Vegas

It has been a little under two weeks since I returned home from Las Vegas from my stint as a 2014 World Series of Poker (WSOP) reporter yet it feels like I was months ago that I spent most of my waking day traipsing around the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino looking for interesting hands to post on the PokerNews site.

While I enjoyed my time in Las Vegas, despite the length of the trip, there are a few things that I do not miss about the place the affectionately call “Sin City.” Here they are:

The Heat

Being a Briton from the North of England I am not used to the weather being hot. Sure, occasionally in the height of summer the temperatures will soar to around 80F (26C), but the average temperature in summer where I live is actually only 68F (20C). Compare that to Las Vegas, where the average is 92F (33C) and temperatures after going as high as 110F (43C) you can see why I won’t miss the heat!

The Mrs asked me why I came home without a tan and the answer was simply because it was so hot I couldn’t be outside in it for more than 10-15 minutes without feeling like I was cooking.

The Air Conditioning

With the entire city being constantly baked, every public building you go into is blasted with ice-cold air conditioning. While I won’t deny that stepping out of the heat and into a freezer feels superb, after a while the air doesn’t feel real, not to mention my nose was constantly bleeding from the dryness of the fake air I was having to breathe.

Not Being Able To See Outside

As I type this blog entry from the comfort of my office, which is really the spare bedroom with a desk and chair in it, I can see outside into the street. I can plenty of greenery; there is grass, plants and I can see the tops of the trees from the nearby woods.

During the week, while I am typing away at my trusty laptop’s keyboard, I often have looked outside for a few moments, usually to be nosey and see what’s going on, but also because it’s nice to actually see the outside world from time-to-time.

None of the casinos have windows in them and the massive conference halls that the WSOP takes place in are void of glass, too. This ruins any sense of time you think you may have, plus it is fucking depressing.

The Dealer Break Room

They say you should never look a gift horse in the mouth, whoever they is never had to eat in the Dealer Break Room (DBR). The free food in the DBR ranged from shit to downright awful, although I must admit I was partial to the odd schnitzel-type thing that appeared once a week.

If I return to Vegas and the WSOP at some point in the future, I’m going to have to stump up some extra cash and avoid the DBR and its liquid shit inducing slop like the plague.

Over The Top American Tourists

I get that people are excited to be in Las Vegas and are over the moon when they manage to win a hand of Three Card Poker, win a bet at Roulette or see the dealer bust at Blackjack, but is there any need to whoop, Yeehaw, hi-five everyone in the room or scream your bollocks off EVERY time you win a bet. No, there isn’t you set of annoying wankers, not even if you are winning a grand at a time.

Piss Poor Internet

The internet in the Rio at the 2013 WSOP was a complete pile of cack and almost resulted in me going postal a couple of times and definitely contributed to my alcohol intake that summer. This time around, the WSOP put Ethernet cables at all of our desks, which made me a happy Pudding. Sadly, the same couldn’t be said about the Extended Stay’s internet.

Last year I paid $30 for the extra fast broadband in my room and felt ripped off because it didn’t make one iota of difference to the snail-like pace of the WiFi so I gave it a swerve this time around. While the internet worked in my room, it may as well have not because it was ridiculously slow. The download was something like 0.3MB despite the fact there is fibreoptic right outside of the place.

In this day and age, there is no excuse for shitty internet, none at all. At least by the time I arrive home in the UK my broadband had been upgraded to 100MB and my phone downloads at 15-20MB so all is well in the world again.

Not Being Able to Have a Bath

I don’t remember any of the houses I grew up in having a shower installed in them, which explains why I am a bath person. Some people say baths aren’t hygienic because you’re laying in your own filth and to those people I respectfully say fuck you.

Baths are awesome. Baths allow you to lay back, zone out and forget about the world for a few minutes. I find them peaceful and need a nice soak now and then otherwise I start to feel shit.

It appears that people in the U.S don’t like baths if the bathtub at the Extended Stay is anything to go by. The kitchen sink at home is deeper than the bathtub at the Extended Stay. I did try and fill it one morning only to realise that when it was completely full, it still wouldn’t have gone over my cock and balls when I got into it.

Stupidly Sized Beer Cans

One of my little pleasures at the end of a long shift was a couple of cold beers when I arrived back at the Extended Stay. Out in Vegas my main drink was Coors Light or Budweiser Platinum, two beers that are sure to get the beer aficionados slagging me off from the rooftops, but it was cheap, cold and helped me off to the Land of Nodd.

What started to piss me off, however, was the fact each of the cans were the same size and shape as a Red Bull can. Here in the UK, cans of beer are generally 440ml and a nice, chunky size. These Vegas cans were 335ml, skinny and didn’t feel like I was having a beer and reminded me of having a half-pint at the pub – which I almost always poured into an actual pint glass, a real pint BTW.

Bacon and Sausages

OK, this is probably going to get me flamed to hig heaven butWTF is American bacon and sausage all about? I love bacon and sausage, in fact I love most things swine. Americans are meant to, too. So why do they insist on having bacon that resembles a load of fat with a bit of pink splashed on it and then burning it to a crisp.

As for my beloved sausages, here’s a little tip for you yanks: FRANKFURTERS ARE NOT FUCKING SAUSAGES. Also, most sausages should have a decent meat content and not looks like a sausage skin full of rusk and other unknown bits of shit.

The Feeling You’re In Grand Theft Auto

There is no place on Earth like Las Vegas, it is an amazing place, but one that is so fake and so insane that I often felt like I had been sucked into my Xbox and was a character in Grand Theft Auto.

Near the Rio was a bullet-proof vest shop which resembled Ammunation in GTA, while adverts for gun shows and shooting ranges were everywhere. Massive trucks, SUVs, flash sports cars and motorcycles ridden by riders sans helmets blast around the roads seemingly following no rules at all, while the Wal-Marts make it possible to buy a pizza, some socks, beer in stupidly shaped cans and a fucking AK-47 or Uzi.

Now I know bad things happen in the UK, but can you imagine how fucked up the place would be if we could all carry guns, buy guns and flak-vests in shops and basically do what the fuck we wanted. It’d be like Vegas.

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Pud at the WSOP – Days 45-47: Main Event Starts, My Trip Ends

When I first started this series of blogs about my World Series of Poker trip, I said to myself that I wouldn’t combine several days together and slap them all into one blog, yet here I am doing exactly that and several days after the days in question actually took place.

Day 45 was the start of the 2014 WSOP Main Event, which meant I had to be inside the casino for around 11:30 each morning for a 12:00 pm start, report on five two-hour long levels (each with a 20-minute break after them), enjoy a 90-minute dinner break, head home, do some more work, try to chill out enough to go to sleep and repeat times three.

Day 1a of the Main Event was as nondescript as you can get when you consider the people I reported on were hoping to win the $10 million first place prize. Only 771 players chose Day 1a as their start day of choice, hardly surprising since the previous day was July 4 and most of America got pissed up and probably had several muscular injuries from giving each other high-fives and patting each other on the back for being so awesome.

The second day attracted a much more substantial crowd, but I wasn’t overly bothered thanks to being mildly poisoned by the undercooked food in the dealer break room. Before I started work I ate a couple of these burger-type bits of meat, not too dissimilar to the Grills that Dalepak make. I’d had them before on the trip and they were surprisingly tasty so was happy to see them on the menu. Wasn’t as happy to see them ejected from my arse a few hours later in a deluge of burning hot liquid.

Was heading back to the Extended Stay to make myself some food on the dinner break – I had some pasta, sauce and some sandwich stuff that needed using before heading home – and as I approached the front door of the Rio I realised that there was no way that whatever was rumbling in my bowls was going to stay put until I got home. Found a toilet that required the least piss wiping from the seat and sat doing my business. For 40-long fucking minutes. Felt like I’d been shagged up the arse by a porcupine.

Rest of that day was spent drinking water and hoping not to fart.

The final start day, Day 1c, was a half day for me and I struggled to get into the swing of things. I headed home on the dinner break and didn’t need to come back as the powers that be allowed me to finish early so that I wasn’t stuck in the casino working until 1:00am or whatever.

Made some food at the Extended Stay, caught up with a few bits and pieces, made sure that my suitcase was packed and I hadn’t left anything out that was crucial and then watched some crap on the TV.

Decided to head out and play some poker to kill some time, opting to play at the casino that the first free shuttle bus took me to. First bus came and it was the one that headed to Harrah’s, the home to my $250 win a few nights ago. Got dropped off, walked to the poker room and there wasn’t a single soul in there. FFS.

Walked around to Bally’s with the intention to heading home if the waiting list was too long. Managed to be seated within a minute of arriving then promptly lost $45 to piss me off. Maybe the Poker Gods didn’t want me to play on my final night?

Managed to turn things around over the next 90 minutes or so, selling two stacks of $5 chips to players at the table before cashing out for an addition $250 having bought in for $100 in total. Jumped in a taxi back to my room, had a couple of beers, popped a couple of the sleep aids and headed to bed knowing I was heading back home in only nine hours or so.

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Pud at the WSOP – Day 44: A Small Win, But They All Count

After my $250 win on Day 43, I was full of confidence and itching to play in a tournament. William also had a day off, as did Zaun, so we agreed to meet up and play in a $100 buy-in tournament at Planet Hollywood.

The tournament was part of their Phamous Poker Series and featured a $10,000 guaranteed prize pool and a $4,000 first place prize, which I obviously planned on binking. Before the tournament, I headed to the Strip with Zaun because I needed to go to the M&M store. The weather was baking hot so we stopped at the Harley Davidson café for a beer and to escape the sun.

Some guy at the bar heard my accent and wanted to know where in England I was from. I always say a three-hour train ride north from London because there is no point in saying anything other than London when 99% of Americans ask you about the UK.

Halfway down my beer, the same guy said to me that my accent was “badass” and that he would buy me any shot I like as long as I recorded myself saying something! I declined, saying that I didn’t want a shot because I was playing in a poker tournament, finished my beer and headed back into the oven-like heat.

Got to the M&M store, bought what I needed, paid massively over the odds, left and headed to the casino. Plan was to play some $1/$2 cash games until the start of the tournament, but then we discovered that the tournament had been cancelled due to it being July 4th. Bit shitty to cancel the tournament because they had no chance of the guarantee being reached, why schedule such an event on July 4th in the first place?

Ended up winning $30 at cash with no hands of note and headed to the Rio for some food. Was still quite early so played some Three-Card Poker and then some $5 Blackjack, broke even and headed home to the Extended Stay.

Thanks to sleeping in until 2:00 p.m. two days in a row there was no way I was going to be able to sleep so I fired up V For Vendettathat had magically appeared on my laptop. Really enjoyed it and I’m surprised I’d never seen it before. If you haven’t watched it then I suggest you set aside a couple of hours and sit in front of the gogglebox and do so.

Main Event starts on Day 45 which means working from 12:00 p.m until around 1:00 a.m. then having to do some other bits of work, then trying to cram some sleep in before heading back to rinse and repeat. Thank fuck I only have three days to do!

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Pud at the WSOP – Day 43: Booking a Win in the Cash Games

Day 42’s entry was rapidly reaching the too long didn’t read (TL;DR) stage so I neglected to write about watching Taxi Driver before I decided to hit the hay and call it a night.

After mentioning watching Leon: The Professional a couple nights ago, a few people said that I had to watch Taxi Driver because it was an all-time classic and that I should love it. With a few bits of magic, Taxi Driver found its way onto my hard drive during a live reporting shift and I settled down to watch it knowing that I didn’t have to be up early the next day thanks to having back-to-back days off.

When I was told that it was an all-time classic, I didn’t realise they meant an all-time classic piece of shit. Fuck me, I’ve had more enjoyable fillings in my teeth than that film. While I have to concede that it looks amazing for a film shot in the 70s, the rest of it fucking gash and I went to bed extremely disappointed with the experience as a whole.

Some have said that it gets better the second time of watching, so maybe next time there isn’t a documentary about a girder rusting or what’s inside a ping-pong ball I may give it a second viewing. It’s got goodreviews on IMDB, all I can say is whoever reviewed it must have been off their tits when they watched it.

Woke up much later than planned on my day off, which put me on the back foot from the word go. Decided to do my last lot of laundry and settled down to do some work, but for some reason I couldn’t get into the swing of things and struggled to get anything done.

Then I received a procrastinator’s dream, a Skype message asking if I wanted to do something. Jason also had a day off work and wanted to know if I wanted to hit the curry house that is inside the Rio and with boxes for eating spicy goodness and not having to work ticked I agreed.

I ordered a lamb Kahari medium-to-spicy, some rice and a tandoori naan. The food was really nice, with just the right amount of spice and tons of flavour. Wasn’t overly impressed at the fact they charged me $12 for a bottle of Kingfisher beer or the fact my half of the meal came to something like $50, but it is not like I have been blowing my budget on lavish celebrations and meals while I’ve been here, and if you can’t enjoy a nice meal when you’ve been away from home for six weeks then what can you do?

Finished up with the meal and said goodbye to Jason who was working the next day before heading home to his family and because I wasn’t due to work it would be the last time we saw each other this trip. I’ve enjoyed working with Jason these past few weeks and with us working a lot of shifts together, both having a family back home and having shared similar experiences within our families we became good friends.

Jason headed off to the tournament area to say his goodbyes to the people he wouldn’t see on his final day of work and I headed down to the Strip to play some $1/$2 cash games. Jumped on the first free shuttle that arrive, which turned out to be the one that drops off outside Harrah’s.

Harrah’s isn’t one of the trendier places on the Strip so it doesn’t attract the younger crowd who are usually better at poker than the oldies. When I got there, there wasn’t a free table available so I was tempted to head elsewhere. Then the floorman said he would open a new table for the seven people on the waiting list, myself included, and that we should take a seat.

Within a few hands I picked up pocket queens and raised to $8 only to receive four callers and thinking I was setting fire to that $8. The flop fell Qs-7s-3d which is pretty awesome for my hand, obviously. It checked to me, I bet $26 and one guy called. The turn was a blank like the 2c or something and it checked to me. I bet $53 and this guy ums and ahs for about 45 seconds before calling. At this point I put him squarely on a flush draw and am praying for the river not to be a spade. The river was a spade, but the 3s giving me a full house and unless he had pocket threes I have the nuts.

He Hollywooded for a bit before taking a pissy $25 stab at the pot. I look at my stack, then at his and ask what the bet was. Then say “I’m all-in.” Fucker bit my hand off and I flipped over my queens that are now a full house. He triumphantly showed As-Ts for the expected flush and starts high-fiving and fist-bumping his mate at the side of him thinking he’d won. The pot got shipped to me and he was like WTF, then realised his flush was crushed.

Lost a pot that I shouldn’t have when I opened pocket jacks UTG and an old guy wearing a t-shirt with fishes printed on it and the text “The whole trout, and nothing but the trout, so help me cod” three-bet on the button. I called and the flop came down Ad-5d-8c. I checked and he checked. The turn was the Ts. I checked and he checked behind. The river was the 5h and I checked again. He bet $20 and I thought to myself “he wouldn’t have check an ace on that board twice” and made a loose call only to be shown As-Ac for a boat.

Played aces like a pussy against a tricky younger guy for a small pot, had nines lose to an old guy’s sixes who had squeezed all-in for $40. Then won a nice pot when I did the old raise pre, bet flop, check turn, bet blank river with pocket kings and an Italian guy looked me up light saying he thought we were splitting with ace-king. That last pot took my profit to $251 for the night and I left shortly after.

Headed back to the Extended Stay via the TGIs at the Gold Coast where I treated myself to a rather tasty mixed grill with my free money. If only I’d played some cash games sooner into the trip.

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Pud at the WSOP – Day 42: At Last, A Nine-Hour Work Day

Whenever I get into a conversation about what I do here in Las Vegas, which happens more than you might think, the most common reaction is one of awe and that’s followed by telling me how lucky I am to do what I do.

Of course, this is true to some extent, I am lucky to be able to work in the poker industry, to be able to see the best players play the game I love for vast sums of money in front of my very eyes. All four of them. Non-poker tournament reporting people can’t quite grasp that you’re actually at working despite enjoying it and that a typical day is usually at least 12 hours long and sometimes in excess of 14.

While days off on live reporting duty are as rare as rocking horse shit, early finishes are as rare as white dog shit, which anyone who is over the age of 30 and from the UK will attest to. Where has all the white dog crap gone? I remember standing on some as a kid and it was like a pumice stone that crumbled away. I’m guessing it was all the shite in the dog food back then. Regardless, you never see white dog shit anymore and we hardly ever get a short day in this job.

With that in mind, imagine my delight to discover that the Little One For One Drop tournament that Jason and I were reporting on only had eight hour-long levels, with a 20-minute break every second level and no dinner break. Can you say FUCK YEAH?

As soon as I arrived I asked Jason if he wanted to grab a pizza when we had finished work because every night when I return home to Chez Pud at the Extended Stay, there is at least one pizza menu shoved through the door. I think the not-so-subliminal message from the pizza guys finally got to me and my craving for pizza needed satisfying.

The tournament itself was about as interesting as I’d find pushing screws through my scrotum, but it was over fast enough and despite missing the end-of-night chip leader, it went without a hitch. And was only nine hours from start to finish, meaning we were packed up and heading to a local pizza place for around 9:00pm!

Jason and I attempted to cut through the employees car park, thinking it would be a better route to take than walking around the vast Rio. When we arrived at the end of the car park we realised that the entire thing was fenced off with one of those spike-topped metal gates. I wanted pizza so was prepared to climb over a concrete structure that was conveniently placed next to the only section of fence without bollock-ripping spikes on it, but thankfully many people before us must have had the same problem and one of the bars of the fence had been bent backwards. Again thankfully, my fat arse fit through and we were on the way for much needed pizza.

We decided to share a pizza that had the perfect porno name in it was called 14” Meat Lovers. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen the first three volumes of that movie. The pizza itself was OK, filled a gap and was cheap so I can’t really complain, but after having a slice of a pizza from a place called Grimaldi’s a few days previous I have to say it was nowhere near on the same level.

Bought some shit from the mini-mart next door, not actual shit although I am sure you can buy people’s logs somewhere in Vegas, headed back to the Extended Stay, caught up with work and chilled out knowing the next two days were not going to be spent working.

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Pud at the WSOP – Day 41: Mixed Max Mash Up

At the end of Day 40’s blog, I mentioned I was going to be covering the Little One For One Drop, but got it wrong because that doesn’t start until Day 42. Instead, Jason and I covered the Mixed Max event, a popular tournament that I think would be good fun to play.

Day 1, which happened yesterday, starts with players playing nine-handed and play swaps to six-max on Day 2, then four-max and finally heads-up. There were plenty of big names left in the field and it’s always fun to watch how they handle themselves. You can always tell who the top talent is, even if you don’t know their names because they always seem calm and composed despite being under a lot of pressure.

I covered a few hands played by Brandon Cantu, who has the nickname “Any Two Cantu” because of his ridiculously loose-aggressive style of play. His aggression is through the roof and I imagine he’s a real pain in the arse to pay against, but I can’t help but think he’ll come unstuck against better players.

Weaker, less experienced players panic when they see Cantu check-raising, three-betting, four-betting and setting them all-in every five minutes, but good thinking players surely call him down lightly? I guess many avoid him because they don’t want to take a high-variance route, instead preferring to trap him with strong hands. Regardless of what you think of him, you have to doff your cap to him, if only because he’s entertaining to watch. Hopefully he is on a final table that is streamed so I can see his hole cards.

One of my favourite players made it through to the final day’s play so I’ll be rooting for him to win his first bracelet. Mike “SirWatts” Watson has over $7 million in live winnings and it a total fucking boss. I’ve never seen him get flustered and he always seems to be there or thereabouts when the money starts being awarded.

I got to see Watson heads-up at a World Series of Poker Europe final table in Cannes and the concentration and focus he showed there was immense. On that occasion, Watson lost to Tristan Wade, another great guy who I like to see do well.

Won’t be reporting on Day 3 of the Mixed Max, instead I am switching to the Little One For One Drop. Although I’d like to have finished the Mixed Max, the Little One only plays eight hour-long levels and has no dinner break so I should be finished working for around 10:00pm and that, my friends, would be awesome.

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Pud at the WSOP – Day 40: The World’s Tightest Player

One of the great things about poker is you can play any style that you wish, as long as it is within the rules of course. Some players choose to play a tight style – only premium holdings – while others adopt a looser style – lots of different cards – but one guy yesterday played a style that was so ridiculously tight that I had never seen anything like it. Tight as a duck’s arse springs to mind.

Jason and I were covering the final day of the $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em event where there were some decent players competing for the $582,321 first place prize and the commemorative and much sought after gold World Series of Poker bracelet.

Among the 16 still in contention for the title was a Canadian amateur called Michael Ferrer who had no previous tournament cashes to speak of, but now has one of $361,207 to shout about, a result that puts him 155th in Canada’s all-time money listing. How he managed to bink such a ridiculous amount is beyond me, but he did and fair play to him.

Relatively early after the restart, Ferrer raised to 40,000 on the button and faced a three-bet to 100,000. He thought for a couple of minutes and folded Qh-Qd face up, despite being around 50 big blinds deep again his opponent!

Later he would fold Ad-Kd to an eight big blind shove and when he doubled up I angrily tweeted that my work day had increased by two hours.

He eventually found himself heads-up against the Asi Moshe and was raising four-times the big blind! He was eventually coolered when he made a wheel on the river and Moshe held a six for a higher straight, bringing an end to the torture and giving Jason and I a nice early finish at around 10:30pm.

Headed to the sports bar in the Rio here I got a free drink from Jon Zaun and then one from Jason who agreed to buy me a beer in exchange for writing the end of day recap, had another swift one at TGI Friday’s with Jason, bought some chicken wings and headed back to the Extended Stay with morale nicely boosted from being able to relax before heading home.

Watched an episode of The Sopranos and hit the hay ready to start work the next day on the Little One For One Drop, a $1,111 buy-in tournament that usually has a huge field.

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Pud at the WSOP – Day 39: Death Warmed Up

By the time Jason and I were finished with work at the Rio on Day 38 it was gone 3:15am or so, which is one of the later finishes that I’d had all summer. Making the late finish worse was the fact I still had to do some work when I got back to the Extended Stay, find time for sleep, a shower and then be back on the tournament floor for 1:00pm the same day.

Didn’t crawl into bed until almost 6:00am thanks to having to write a few bits and pieces and feeling wired from the million and one chip counts I’d done that day. Plus I was apprehensive about going to bed because the noisy fuckers from next door would no doubt scream at each other in the next hour or so. To help me to the land of nod, I took another Nytol / sleep aid thing and hit the hay.

Last time I looked at the time on my phone it was 6:20am and when I awoke it was 12:00 and I felt like death warmed up. A combination of a long shift at the World Series of Poker combined with only a few hours sleep, then some sedatives thrown into the mix – I think they were still in my system when I woke up – made me feel like a zombie.

The shift dragged its arse for 13 long, arduous hours before we finally wrapped up and headed back home for some much needed sleep. Not the most exciting of days, mainly because it was all a blur due to living it through extremely blurry eyes.

Day 40 sees Jason and I cover the final day of a $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em event that only has 16 players remaining. Fingers crossed for a short day and an early finish, even though they’re as rare as rocking horse shit.

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Pud at the WSOP – Day 38: Live Poker Is Rigged!

Woke up fresh as a daisy thanks to behaving on my day off and not drinking enough beer to sink a battleship – maybe drinking less is the future – and made my way to the Rio where I was covering the Monster Stack event, a tournament where players started with 10 times the buy-in in chips instead of the usual three times.

The big starting stacks attracted plenty of big names and a decent number of them made it through to the second day that Jason and I were reporting on. My job is more fun, and easy, when there are some stellar names to cover so I was looking forward to it.

One of the players I like to see do well is fellow Brit Mathew Frankland, who I think is among the best in the world. This guy is an absolute beast and it is only a matter of time before he helps himself to a massive score and gets the recognition that he deserves.

Jason and I headed to the All-American Diner on the dinner break and “Franky” joined us for a steak dinner, which was remarkably good to say it only cost $25. I ate there once last year and enjoyed it and will probably eat there again before I return to Blighty.

The reason for the title of this blog entry isn’t really that I think live poker is rigged, but more tongue-in-cheek. Everyone takes the piss out of online poker sites such as PokerStars, saying they are rigged and that miracle cards land on the river with alarming regularity. Sometimes this is true, but I can tell you something for nothing, live poker is no different.

I lost count of how many times an ace appeared on the flop to break the heart and dash the dreams of a player or how many times a pair managed to hold despite the all-in player having a million and one outs. One hand in particular stood out, the one that eliminated Jason Wheeler who is a beat online.

At the 15,000/30,000/5,000a level, Wheeler opened to 60,000 with Ts-9s and called when a French guy called Clement Giraudo-Pourchot three-bet to 125,000. The Frenchie continued with a 150,000 bet on the Q-Q-J flop, Wheeler moved all-in with his open-ended straight draw and la Frenchie called with pocket aces. An eight on the turn gave Wheeler a straight, but another queen on the river improved our French cousin to a full house.

How many times online do you see the old suckout re-suckout and think that the Random Number Generator (RNG) is pulling your pisser?

All trip I’ve seen horrendous beats that we have joked are “online hands.” It has certainly opened my eyes and I won’t be moaning about bad beats again anytime soon.

Didn’t get finished with work and back to the Extended Stay until gone 3:30am and have to be back on the tournament floor for 1:00pm so Day 39 will almost definitely be seen through red, blurred eyes.

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Pud at the WSOP – Day 37: A Free Night Off

Day 37 was my penultimate day off live reporting duties, but once again I spent the most of it attempting to catch up with some work that I had been neglecting. I hadn’t been shying off my “normal” work on purpose, I basically have been sleeping, getting up and heading to work for the past few days so I simply didn’t have time to complete anything.

Finished up around 20:30 and decided to sink a couple of cold ones at the sports bar inside the Rio. After knocking over my first free beer, the barman kindly gave me another freebie and then a woman sat down beside me, ordered an ice water with an olive in it and then started to chat to me.

Straight away I knew she was a brass and then when I saw her mouth it 100% confirmed it. This bitch could have eaten an apple through a tennis racket, it must be the meth or crack that fucks them up. Anyway, I basically ignored her and she stopped pestering me before starting on some other poor, unsuspecting soul a couple of seats away.

Headed back to the Extended Stay where I fired up my laptop and checked Twitter and al that shit. Realised I had no beers in my fridge so arranged to meet Jonathan Zaun when he finished work so we could walk up to Terrible’s garage to restock.

Then I noticed a tweet from Laura Cornelius who I have worked with dozens of times before that said a few Brits were in the bar of Palms Place, so Zaun and I headed there on our way to the garage for a sneaky beer.

Said hi to a few of the people who I knew and then the plan was to go to a bar called The Loose Kaboose. I headed off with Barny Boatman, Zaun, Jerome Bradpiece and Jerome’s girlfriend Sarah. Within minutes of arriving, Sarah hit a royal flush on the video poker machine for a $2,000 score. The bar said it didn’t have that kind of money on site and had to call the firm who owned the machines.

Sarah and Jerome were great and decided to treat us all to a round of drinks, followed by some food in the attached diner, followed by another round of drinks. We all chatted, took the piss and it was a really enjoyable night, even despite only drinking five or six beers (not pints). Sarah finally got her money some 90-mins to two hours later and we said our goodbyes, headed to Terrible’s as initially planned and then back home to the Extended Stay.

Watched an episode of The Sopranos and then hit the hay with a smile on my fat face after an enjoyable, if unexpected and tame, night off in Las Vegas.

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Pud at the WSOP – Day 36: A Bucketful Of Ramen Noodles

Going out for dinner has been something of a rarity for me this summer, mainly because I’ve been trying to spend as little money as possible without turning into a complete hermit / monk. Dinner time, that’s teatime for us Brits, has mainly consisted of trying to avoid food poisoning in the dealer break room or burning my mouth to bits with an Angry Whopper from the Whopper Bar.

On Day 35 I was working with Mo on a $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em event. It was Day 2 of the tournament and that meant we had a 60-minute dinner break instead of the usual 90-minutes. I hadn’t planned anything for dinner, but my friend Sam Cosby was in town and heading back home on the Friday so asked if Mo and I wanted to meet him for dinner as he was heading to his favourite Japanese ramen noodle place. Having never eaten anything Japanese I agreed to tag along, Sam picked us up from the Rio in his car and drove us to the place.

I can’t remember its name, but it was quite small inside with only enough room for around 30-40 people if they were all crammed together like sardines. Hardly understood the menu, so Sam had to tell Mo and I WTF things were. I opted for the pork dish – with extra pork – ramen noodles in a soy sauce based broth I guess you’d call it.

The food arrived quickly in something the size of a bucket; it was so big and deep that I had to leave some because even my guts couldn’t fit it all in. The pork fell apart it was that tender and everything tasted so nice that I was disappointed that I couldn’t finish it. Had some fun trying and failing to eat with chopsticks and reverted to basically shoving everything into my face and chewing fast to minimise spillage.

I always wondered why the Asians in the dealer break room eat fucking disgustingly with three-quarters of a chicken hanging from a fork. It’s because they don’t use knives, try and eat noodes with a pair of twigs and see how you manage. 
Sam dropped us back off at the Rio where Mo and I had to work another five hours with bellies full to bursting and almost falling into a food coma.

Was good to see Sam again, even if it was only briefly. Sam I worked together on a few tournaments last summer and we got on like a house on fire, so much so that I was genuinely disappointed when I found out that he wasn’t working this year’s World Series of Poker. Maybe sometimes he’ll be in the UK or I’ll be in LA and we can have a laugh, at each other’s expense, for a bit longer.

Day 37 is another day off live reporting duties, my last until July 4, which is then my last until I return home. Looks like I will be a busy Pudding.

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Pud at the WSOP – Day 35: How Much Water Do You Need in a Toilet?

Despite having had my haircut only a couple of weeks ago, my mop was starting to resemble a Dandelion clock and was in urgent need of being taken down to the wood. The old guy at the Gold Coast barber shop was away when I went in, plus I wasn’t overly eager to part company with $20 plus tip for shaving my bonce, so Jason Ainsworth agreed to let me borrow his clippers that he’d brought from home.

These clippers were awesome. You know how Americans have to do everything bigger and better than anyone else? Well, it extends to hair clippers. These bad boys, although battery powered, were immense and I swear they could have chopped down a couple of the palm trees outside, the ones where the tweety bastard birds sing their knackers off all day long. It’s fair to say I was back being a balder in a matter of minutes and no longer sporting a white afro.

Headed to the Rio where I was working on Day 1 of the $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em event with Mo and after a couple of hours watching some of poker’s elite play the game I love, it was dinner time. We get 90-minutes dinner break on Day 1s, which is more than enough time to do whatever you want. I wasn’t exactly hungry after eating a couple of suspect burgers in the dealer break room, but had a craving for some grape Gatorade so decided to top up my Vitamin D and walk to the nearby mini-mart to buy some.

The heat and intensity of the sun even at 6:30pm was almost unbearable. Unless you’ve experienced the dry desert heat of Las Vegas you can’t even start to imagine what it is like out here. On the way to the shop, I started getting stabbing pains in the lower part of my guts, which I know from experience is a tell-tale sign that I need to drop the kids off at the pool. The cramps started to get worse and I thought I was going to shart in my pants and that wouldn’t have been ideal.

Bought my drink, drank most of it on the way back and considered heading back to the Extended Stay to evacuate whatever it was that was causing me some grief. Made a few rough calculations and came to the conclusion that I’d have shit myself by the time I was three-quarters of the way home, so headed back to the Rio.

Got inside the Rio and out of the scorching heat and made my way to the gents, where I discovered half of the world needed a piss so the cubicles were full. Had to follow a guy in, but thankfully he’d not had a dump, instead he’d kindly coated the bowl in a couple of litres of piss. How thoughtful. Mopped up the 20 different types of piss, wiped the dried on piss from the seat and flushed it away.

It was at this moment I thought I had entered an actual bathroom and was about to lay some cable in a bathtub. Have you ever been to an American toilet? There’s so much water in them it is untrue. The picture above is an actual American toilet. I swear I saw Michael Phelps doing a few laps in the pisspot before I sat down. Not only that, the water is so deep and the bowl so low down that you have a hell of a job on not dipping your dick in the water underneath you! Fuck knows how you guys with big dicks cope here, you probably get to wash your bellend each time you go for a dump.

Won’t go into details about my liquid-poops, but will say that my “experience” was made all the worse by the fact the guys in the cubicles either side of me continued their conversation by shouting at each other mid-fart and giant, noisy splosh. Really dudes? You couldn’t until you’d finished having a Brad Pitt to carry on your conversation. ‘Merica.

Thankfully, whatever had irritated my bowels was now gone and I could get on with the rest of my shift safe in the knowledge that I was not going to fire a Guinness milkshake out of my bullet hole. Life’s all about these minor victories.

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Pud at the WSOP – Day 34: Lots of Work and a Missing Poker Player

I’d love to be writing a blog post about how I went wild on the Strip, sank $200 worth of cocktails, won $1,000 playing blackjack, lost it playing roulette than won three times the amount grinding a cash game somewhere on my day off, but the truth is I’m a boring old fart and spent my day off working.

Next door must have finally got the message because I slept all the way through until around midday and wasn’t woken up by a fucking banshee screeching its head off. Before I’d gone to bed the previous night, the internet was completely wank so I didn’t even fire it up after I got dressed, instead I headed to the Rio where there are hard lines that are pretty decent.

Arrived at the Rio for around 1:00pm and basically worked on various articles until almost midnight, stopping occasionally to steal some of the free stone baked chicken and jalapeño pizza that a firm called Grimaldi’s dropped off for the WSOP media people. Was tasty while it was cold so I’d love to try it while it was hot.

Finished my work, spoke to the rugrats via Skype, had two comped beers at the Rio’s sports bar, chewed the fat and headed back to the Extended Stay. Had some grub, watched the second half if Inception that I’d started watching the night before and then went to bed.

During the day I discovered that a prominent German poker pro called Johannes Strassmann had gone missing while he was in visiting friends and some fellow high-stakes cash game grinders he had been coaching in Slovenia.

While on a night out with them, Strassmann was separated from the group and hasn’t been seen since. This was on June 21 and there hasn’t been a peep from him at all since. No phone calls. No texts. No social media. Nothing.

It seems that poker players, especially the high-stakes guys, are being targeted at the minute with so many stories of theft going on. At European Poker Tour Barcelona, a few high-stakes guys had their laptops stolen and then they mysteriously reappeared shortly after. One player took his machine to F-Secure, an anti-virus company, and they discovered a Trojan had been installed that would have allowed people to see his screen while he was playing.

Here in Las Vegas, there have been reports of money and laptops going missing from rooms, although that was early in the World Series of Poker and nothing has been reported since. Now there is this.

I hand-on-heart hope the Strassmann case ends up being some crazy misunderstanding and that he shows up back in Vienna (where he lives) wondering what the fuss is all about. Here’s hoping.

Stay safe people.

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Pud at the WSOP – Day 33: I Think You’re Missing the Point

My sleep pattern has gone to shit again these past couple of night, although I am not feeling as tired as I was earlier in the trip and I’m putting that down to drinking enough water during the day to fill a couple of Olympic-sized swimming pools.

The old nosey neighbour fucked off a while back and was replaced by a new breed. One who for the first two days of their stay nosily threw up – is there any other way – for half hour each morning. One who thinks it’s a good idea to have full-blown screaming matches with its kid at unholy hours of the day. One who seems as thick as shit in a bottle neck.

For the past three nights, I’ve been woken up by this woman screeching and shouting in the early hours of the morning, usually around 6:30-7:00am. Back home I would be up and about at this time, but here in Las Vegas I’m often not going to bed until 4:00am so being awoken in this manner after a couple of hours sleep has started to really fuck me off, so much so that I actually went around last night and said something.

The last time I looked at the clock on my phone it was gone 5:00am after tossing and turning for an hour or so. Then at 6:45am the screaming started. Stuck some clothes on, wiped the eye bogeys from the corners of my eyes and headed to the room next door.

Knocked on the door and an overweight woman in her late thirties early forties answered. The look on her face was one of “what the fuck.”

“Excuse me,” I said being typically British, “You’ve woke me up at stupid times on a morning for the best part of a week with your constant shouting and screaming at each other. I’ve got kids myself and know they often need telling off, but I don’t think you appreciate how thin these walls are.”

*vacant look*

“I often don’t get home from work until 2:30-3:00am and then you start at each other a few hours later.”

*vacant look*

“Any chance you can try not killing each other before around 9:00am?”

“I’m sorry, it won’t happen again,” said the woman as she shut the door on me.

Climbed back into bed feeling satisfied with myself and ready to go to the Land of Nod for a few more hours. The smugness was wiped clean off my fat face a few minutes later when the woman and her kids started arguing about waking me up every morning! For 90 fucking minutes! Seriously, I don’t think she got the point of my request.

Hopefully the pair of them will move on in a few days and aren’t replaced by another set of morons.

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Pud at the WSOP – Day 32: Planning to Make Sweeping Changes

Before I restarted this blog in time for the World Series Of Poker I wrote a now-deleted entry detailing how I was going to make some life changes in order to increase my fitness and quality of life. For one reason or another – mainly that I’m a lazy twat – those changes never happened at the time, but upon my return to the good old United Kingdom I will be making some sweeping changes to many aspects of my life.

The first one I am making is to exercise at least three times per week and gradually increase the number of days I do so. Prior to coming to Las Vegas we bought a treadmill so I am going to start there, I think. Probably start with brisk walking foe the first dozen or so sessions because I’ll probably have a heart attack if I start jogging from Day 1, but also because the last time I tried running I was in so much pain for three days after that it put me off doing any more.

Once my fitness levels have increased I’ll mix in jogging and plan to go swimming too. As a youngster I used to love swimming and remember my dad dropping me off at the baths on his way to work a few times when it was the summer holidays. I’m thinking that swimming would be the best exercise option all round with it being extremely low impact, so maybe I will start with that?

Another area that has to change is limiting the amount of booze and bad food from my diet. Both have a dramatic effect on mood, energy levels and general wellbeing. Not going to be cutting booze completely because I like a beer, but I’ll be cutting down dramatically, especially on a school night, in an attempt to reduce my calorie intake, reduce monthly outgoings and be healthier all round.

Lastly, I’m going to try and change my attitude towards most things. I’m a naturally negative person and my first reaction is always to fear and think of the worst. I’ve worked alongside some very positive people this summer and I guess it has rubbed off on me.

The reason for the upcoming sweeping changes are that I have had a LOT of time to think over the past month. Being by yourself does that to you. I’ve thought about my health now and what it could be like in 10 years if I carry on as I am.  I’ve thought a lot about my kids, how they perceive me and how I want them to be, and what kind of a person, friend, boyfriend and son I want to be. Thinking about it, I’m failing on all front of the lofty standard that I have now set myself, hence sweeping changes.

Seeing some of the obese people here in the U.S. has opened my eyes, as has the Mrs telling me stories about the old folks she used to look after. Then I thought about my kids and tried to imagine what they would go through should something happen to me, something that I caused from being fat and unhealthy. I can’t even start to think about how I’d cope if something happened to mine and I’m 33-years old, never mind if something should happen to me while the kids are still kids.

I want my kids to remember me as the fun dad who ran around like a dickhead with them, not one who was out of breath after five minutes and wanted to sit on his arse playing on the Xbox supping a can of cider while moaning that it’s time for them to go to bed.

A friend of ours, who is married with a lovely little girl, faces the prospect of having radiotherapy and even surgery on a long-running brain problem, yet you would never know. Her and her family are the happiest, smiling, caring and positive people I think I have ever had the pleasure to meet. They don’t mope around being miserable and grumpy, they have a positive outlook on life and enjoy it as much as they can. That’s what I am going to do.

It’ll take time for the changes to fully come into effect, but they’ll be worth it in the long run.

I can’t change the past, but I will shape the future.

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Pud at the WSOP – Day 31: Ironing, Writing and Leon

Day 31 was a day off live reporting duties and with it being a Saturday I didn’t have too much work to do. I do write articles on a weekend, but hardly any compared to during the week simply because the traffic is not there so it’s a waste of time unless it is a tournament report or some breaking news of sorts.

Woke up feeling refreshed for once, something that is quite rare these days, yet welcomed nonetheless. Checked my emails, published a couple of pieces on the UK & Ireland PokerNews website and made myself an extremely tasty spam breakfast.

Ran out of socks so it was time to do some laundry at the on-site laundrette. Walked down to reception to buy some washing powder for a dollar and had the bright idea to go down barefoot, not realising that the sun had turned the white concrete slabs into almost molten rock and I started to cook myself from the soles of my feet up. I tried running but ended up looking like I was doing some weird form of the 110m hurdles – I must have looked a right twat.

Headed to the laundrette, stuck my washing in, inserted the eight quarters and waited the 28 minutes it takes for the machine to complete its cycle. Threw everything in the drier, inserted another eight quarters (I’ve been saving them) and headed back to my room while the 43 minute cycle ran its course.

Why the company who makes the machines settled on 28 minutes and 43 minutes I don’t known, much like I’m not sure why I remembered it either.

Decided to keep up my role of house bitch by ironing all my clothes, something that took me over an hour. Watched some World Cup match while I tried to get the wrinkles out of my threads, can’t remember who was playing or who won. Must have been a great game.

Wrote a couple more bits and pieces, made some pasta and then hit a bad case of procrastination. At one point I was watching college baseball instead of completing what I wanted to do! In order to shake the laziness off, I jumped in the shower, got dressed and headed to the Rio for a change of scenery and so I could leech the internet for a movie or two.

Had a good chat with Ryan Spittles (Sky Poker pro) and Tony “Tikay” Kendall (Sky Poker), Lee Davy and got two-and-a-half hours worth of work in while Inception and Leon made their way down the internet superhighway to me.

Said my goodbyes, headed back to the Extended Stay, spoke to the Mrs and brats who’d had a good day, then sat down with some spicy beef jerky, buffalo wing flavour Ruffles crisps and some cheap rose plonk. Fired up Leon The Professional and got watching, munching and slurping.

I’d never seen Leon despite the fact it is from 1994 and ranked 27th best movie of all time by IMDB. Have to say it’s a great film, but what struck me is how amazing Natalie Portman was in it. When filming started she was only 11 years old, yet her performance is nothing short of astounding. I’ve not seen many films with her in, probably only the Star Wars ones, and didn’t think she was that good in them, but fuck me she’s ridiculously good in Leon, especially when you consider her age.

Once the film had finished, and the last dregs of my vino consumed, I hit the hay in anticipation of having a good night’s sleep in preparation for covering a $1,000 buy-in donkament that could have up to 2,000 players in it.

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Pud at the WSOP – Day 30: Online Poker Will Have to Wait

Been itching to play some online poker tournaments, but it appears that WSOP.com, one of the legal sites in Nevada, won’t be taking my business.

Those of you who have been following my daily updates on these pages may remember that a recent trip Downtown ended in disappointmentwhen none of the casinos there were prepared to open up a Mississippi Stud table despite four of us wanting to play. It was a bizarre situation considering the casinos in Las Vegas will do anything to relieve you of your hard-earned beer tokens.

It appears that WSOP.com is following in a similar vein judging by the hoops I’m having to jump through to fully open an account with them.

I signed up for an account a couple of days ago and part of the registration process is to send them a copy of your ID. This is pretty standard in the poker industry, more so in the recently regulated world of online poker in Nevada. No problem, or so I thought, I’ll do what I do with sites back home and use my phone to take a photograph of my passport.

Did this, ensuring that you could read everything on my passport and sent it via their secure upload facility. An hour later I received an automated reply informing me that my “documents were unclear” and to resubmit. I thought this was strange considering you could even make out the fingerprints on the photo pages, but took another 20 megapixel image and sent that off.

Another hour passed and I received the same automated email. Not to be deterred, I took another photo, uploaded it and put a message in the notes field asking them to tell me what was unclear if this image did not pass their checks. An hour went by and I received the same fucking automated bullshit email, with no mention of how to rectify the situation.

Decided to fire support an email, received the standard reply saying my email was in a queue and all that gubbins, then I received this:

“Matthew, thank you for submitting the copy of your passport again. As previously advised, this document has been accepted. Kindly note, in addition to the passport, we will need a copy of a Utility Bill or Bank Statement to verify your address.”

Great, we all carry these around with us when travelling, don’t we? The statements I can pull from my online banking don’t have my address on them, plus there is the problem of not brining my printer with me in my suitcase.

I let them know that I am only travelling in Nevada and that I don’t have these documents with me. They have told me they will accept a screenshot of my bank statement as long as it has my full account number on it, but as I mentioned, my online statements don’t have my address on.

With that in mind, it looks like being able to play some micro-stakes tournaments on my day or after work is off the agenda. I have a VPN that I could use to cheat my way onto some sites back home, but I don’t want to risk having my accounts closed, especially as I have a decent rakeback deal on the sites I would use.

Guess I’ll have to wait until I return home and get paid before sticking any cash online. I’m itching to play too, I always am when working at tournaments, but even more so this time around as I feel I have learned a lot from watching the best players in the world and talking to some top poker talent during breaks.

Until next time, happy grinding.

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Pud at the WSOP – Day 29: Breaking the Vicious Circle

Those of you who have followed these ramblings from the start are no doubt fed up with me constantly moaning about how tired I am due to having little in the way of solid, unbroken sleep on a night.

Back home, I am used to having little sleep. As a rule, I go to bed around midnight – later if I am playing poker online – and then the kids are up at the crack of dawn, usually around 6:00am. Six hours is usually enough because once in a while I force the Mrs to get up with them and I get a bit of a lay in and the cycle repeats itself.

I’m not suffering from jet lag at all, although I did for a couple of days when I first arrive, but my sleep pattern is shot to shit. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been finishing work at the World Series of Poker for around 2:00am, returning to the Extended Stay half hour later and not feeling tired or ready to sleep until sometimes 5:00am.

The problem lies in that I then don’t drag my carcass out of the sack until close to lunchtime, sometimes a little later, feel groggy, head to the casino for the cycle to continue. It’s difficult to do this job and try write articles for the UK PokerNews site at the best of times, never mind when you feel like an extra from The Walking Dead, so I made the conscious decision to break the vicious circle.

Today I set my alarm for 9:00am despite not hitting the hay until close to 4:30am. As soon as my phone’s alarm sounded, I made myself get out of bed, brush my fangs and jump into the shower. I then drank close to a litre of water that I’d left chilling in the fridge, got dressed and was in the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino for 10:00am.

Doing so meant I had time for breakfast, a coffee, a quick chat with the kids and a couple of pieces of work that needed completing, all before I needed to start work. Hopefully my plan of being able to sleep properly will work because throughout the day I was yawning my bollocks off despite not feeling as tired as I looked. I guess we’ll find out soon.

Work was covering Day 2 of the $3,000 No-Limit Hold’em event in the ice-cold Amazon Room. There was an added interest in this tournament because there were a number of British players among the returnees. While we have to try and remain impartial when reporting on these events, every blogger wants to see their fellow countrymen do well and it adds a buzz of excitement when the make it into the money places.

James “Flushy” Dempsey, Ludovic Geilich, Barny Boatman, and Sunny Chattha managed to progress into the money places and secure some profit for themselves, although no Brits ended the night with any chips.

Keep an eye out for Sunny Chattha in the PokerNews blogs because I have a feeling he’s going to go super deep in an upcoming event. I met Sunny, whose brother is fellow pro Chaz, for the first time this summer and having written articles about his exploits back home, he recognised me. I spent a few of the breaks chatting with him about poker and general chit chat. He had a terrible seat draw for a lot of the $3,000 event yet still came out of the other side with stacks of chips.

Top player and a top bloke to boot.

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Pud at the WSOP – Day 28: Sweet Dreams Are Made of Cheese, Who Am I To Diss This Brie

Everyone knows that you should avoid cheese before bedtime otherwise you run the risk of have a night of weird and wonderful dreams or even nightmares. With that in mind I can tell you that last night I decided to have some cheese as a pre-bedtime snack.

I always thought the whole cheese-before-bed story was a load of old bollocks, mainly because eating mouse food never gave me dreams. There are usually completely bat shit crazy to be had after I go for a curry and a few beers, but cheese had never affected me in the slightest – except my waistline obviously.

After chomping down some American cheese the other night I can now admit that I was wrong about cheese causing dreams. Maybe it was a mixture of being too hot, dehydrated and a belly lined with dairy goodness, but some of the shit that was flowing through my head was pretty fucked up.

Remember waking up at least twice and each time said out loud “what the actual fuck?” One was a bit nightmarish that I think was fuelled by having watched Edge of Tomorrow the previous night, and another was like I was tripping. Everything I saw was covered in a flowing psychedelic pattern, much like those visualisations you can put on the media player when you’re listening to music on my computer.

LSD cheese FTL.

Spent most of the day reporting on the $3,000 No-Limit Hold’em event that started with a 992 strong field and ended with 205. The fields are that large at the World Series of Poker that they are akin to reporting on an online tournament.

One important part of the job is to find the chip leader at the end of the night so the photographers can snap them so they get their five minutes of fame and so we have a nice image to accompany our end-of-day recap of the action.

We were 100% sure that a guy called James Mackey, known as Mig.com online, was the chip leader, got a photo of him and then wrote a recap with him as the leader. Except he wasn’t the overnight chip leader, some other twat snuck in at the last minute and pipped him by a handful of chips.

Sometimes, poker players like to write the wrong information on their overnight chip bags for no other reason than they think they’re funny. They also give fake names when asked at the table if you don’t know who they are for whatever reason. If ever you do either of these things then you’re a cunt. Pure and simple. The job’s hard enough without douche bags thinking they’re the next Peter Kay or whoever.

Been itching to play some poker myself and I might just do so on Saturday when I have a day off again. WSOP.com still won’t accept my passport photo nor will they tell me what’s wrong with t, instead they choose to ignore my emails. They obviously don’t need the money. Probably for the best to be fair because I can’t really afford to soak up any losses at the mo, such is life. Roll on payday.

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Pud at the WSOP – Day 27: The Edge of Tomorrow

Had another day off live reporting duties on Day 27, yet I spent the vast majority of it working on various bits and pieces that I had fallen behind on.

Can’t remember how many articles I wrote, all I do remember is that I started typing away at around 1:00pm and finished for close to 8:00pm, stopping at some point in the afternoon to make a chicken dinner of sorts.

As I didn’t want to go out boozing and wasn’t really in the mood to play any poker at the casino – I did consider playing online – I looked for things to do. I really want to go see one of the Las Vegas shows, but they’re so pricey and I’m not exactly flush with dollar bills at the moment so crossed that off the list. Someone said that if I went to one of the cut-price ticket outlets I could probably get a huge discount as I would be on my lonesome. Maybe I’ll look into that on my next day off.

Eventually settled on heading to the cinema at the Palms across the road where there was a 9:35pm showing of the new Tom Cruise move Edge of Tomorrow. It was being shown in 3D IMAX and having never seen a film on IMAX I was sold.

Only cost $17 (approx. £10) and that included the hire of the 3D glasses. The glasses were like a welder’s mask they were that big. Arrived at screen eight about a minute into the film and was pleased that it wasn’t packed out meaning I didn’t have to hunt for a spot to sit.

The edges of a couple of the early scenes seemed a little blurred at first, but I think it may have been my eyes adjusting or something because the rest of the film looked amazing. My TV at home is 3D yet we’ve hardy watched anything in 3D. I think in future that I am going to watch most of my films in 3D because regardless of what the naysayers say about it, if shot properly 3D adds a lot to the film.

Not going to spoil the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it by telling you what happens, but what I will say is that if you are a sci-fi fan then it definitely worth a watch. I looks superb, some of the action scenes are extremely intense and I found it entertaining from start to finish. The fact some of it is shot in London and there are loads of Brits in it did not have an influence on my opinions – honest.

By the time the film had finished it was almost midnight and I thought I was ready for bed. That was until I stepped outside, got hit by the warm fresh air and immediately got a second wind. The kids were in bed so couldn’t speak to them, so I attempted to go to sleep. Gave up after an hour, realised it might be because I was starving, got dressed again and went over to the Gold Coast.

My mate William Powell wrote a great blog for PokerStrategyabout him losing at Pai Gow Poker at the Gold Coast so I followed in his footsteps and had a go. Although I’d never played the game before, I knew the rules from the many casino articles that I had written in the past and wanted to give it a try. The odds are obviously stacked in the house’s favour, but they are only just so if you play a proper strategy and don’t make the sucker bonus bets.

Anyhow, long story short, I broke exactly even after about 90 minutes of play, binking a straight flush to push me back to exactly where I started. That’s a good result where I am from!

Bought some buffalo wings from the TGIs to satisfy my need for (1) chicken and (2) something spicy, headed back to the Extended Stay, watched The Sopranos while I burned my lips off with the wings, popped a couple of Nytol sleep aids and hit the hay.

Next day off is Saturday and I am hoping to get all my work done prior to it so that I don’t have to do anything. I need to do laundry, but apart from that nothing with a bit of luck.

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Pud at the WSOP – Day 26: All Work and No Play

Day 26 was yet another day dominated by work, but such is the life of a poker tournament reporter.

My sleep has gone to shit again and I’m starting to feel drained so have taken to popping some vitamin C pills to help the old immune system out. Should have been working on the $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em Eight-Handed tournament with my good buddy Josh Cahlik, but he’s got some sort of man-flu going on and headed home when I got in so he could get some much needed rest and to avoid giving the other bloggers the aidz.

Instead of working with Josh, I again worked my Chad Holloway so all was not lost. Saying that, I’ve enjoyed working with everyone this summer so I’d have been happy with working with whoever.

The tournament itself passed without incident, as most do, and my day was made easier by the fact the field was stacked with big names. When you have a tournament where every table has three or four well-known players it’s a much simpler day for you because you don’t have to spend every five minutes asking for players’ names.

As the tournament Chad and I were covering was at its first day we had a 90-minute dinner break and decided to take advantage of the extra half-hour by heading to the Gold Coast and the Noodle Exchange in particular.

We ate there a couple of times last summer and it’s spot on, especially for the price, and the kung pow chicken, fried rice, spring roll and fortune cookie were a nice little morale boost to pick us up and see us through until the end of the night.

Finished up work, Chad drove me to the Extended Stay meaning I am now 26/26 for not getting shot, maimed or raped on my way home – long may this continue. Wrote a quick article so that there was fresh content on the UK PokerNews site for the morning and hit the hay.

Another non-action blog, but that’s how I roll sometimes. Day off tomorrow. 

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Pud at the WSOP – Day 25: The Most Ridiculous Adverts in the World

When I’m at home in the UK, it is quite rare that I sit and watch TV. Soap operas bore me to tears and at least 95% of other shows don’t appeal to me. I’ll gladly watched films, some cartoon – Phineas and Ferb is awesome – and some documentaries, but on the whole I generally don’t bother with watching tele.

One of the things that fucks me off about TV is the fact we have to pay a TV licence because the BBC refuses (or is forbidden) from showing adverts. Most adverts are about as appealing as having leaches attached to my testicles, yet here in Las Vegas I am glued to them whenever they come on the box.

The past couple of occasions that I have worked from my room at the Extended Stay I have turned the TV on for a bit of background noise. At home I listed to DI.fm, a dance music radio site, and while reporting at the World Series of Poker I hear the constant sound of chips riffling, of cheers, gasps, oohs and arrghs and the unforgettable sounds of a poker player’s dreams being shattered. While sat on my lonesome in my room, the only noise I get is that of the air conditioning unit blasting ice cold air at me from about 10 feet away.

With that in mind, I have been sticking the TV on, more so now that the World Cup is in full swing, as to keep me sane while I tap away at the keyboard of my trusty laptop. I may need to stop doing this, however, because some of the advertisements show are purely ridiculous.

You know when you get some medicine from the doctor or over-the-counter and inside it is a list of instructions like “don’t drink the entire bottle,” or a warning that a sleeping pill may cause drowsiness (I should frigging hope so) and then there’s the potential side effects. American TV adverts go to extremes.

In the UK we may see an advert for, say, Nurofen and at the bottom of the screen there will be some warning about when you shouldn’t take them. Here in the States, because companies are so afraid of being sued for the smallest of side effects, they tell you them all while the advert is airing.

For example, one today was Cialis, which is basically Viagra. If you have a Hotmail account I guarantee someone has tried to flog you a few packets of Cialis to go with your penis pump and the $200,000,000 cheque from a Nigerian prince. Anyway, it starts off with the middle aged man going on a dinner date with his wife, dances around the houses a bit about the fact he wants to get his end away, but doesn’t fancy the prospect of trying to thumb his floppy cock in after a few shandies. So far so good.

Next they pitch it to you saying you can get a free trial from your quack and shit like that, then come the potential side effects.

“If you use Cialis please be aware it can cause headaches, high blood pressure, low blood pressure with certain medicines, nose bleeds, heart palpitations, blurred vision, blindness, vomiting, rectal bleeding, a stroke, heart attack and even death.”

It then ends by warning users that if you end up with a hard-on for more than four hours then you should visit your doctor immediately.

Fuck me! Imagine getting all excited about this wonder drug, even getting a stirring in your loins and then listening to the list of shit that can happen to you. By the end of it the guy would be a nervous, limp, wreck. Never mind shagging, he’ll probably stick to playing bingo or doing the crossword.

All of the adverts for drugs or cosmetics are the same. There was another yesterday that was for some testosterone product that it warned could cause death and that if you or someone you loved had suffered from death to phone this number and to sue for compensation.

Another said that if you have it in your house, keep an eye on your pre-teenage children because if they start to develop the signs of puberty early then they’re probably scoffing your tablets without you knowing.

Yanks are nuts!

My work day was fun and went remarkably fast. Anthony Charter, one of the Canadian bloggers, came to work in an Argentina shirt so we had a bit of banter about that and on the way home I got to chat with Lane Anderson who looks after the Canadian PokerNews site, something I’d not really had chance to do before. I like learning about people, what makes them tick and what they do outside of the realms of the live reporting scene because you often find parallels with your own situation and circumstances.

I guess that’s all for now, so until next time, please be warned that reading this blog entry can cause nausea, headaches, eye strain from reading the text for too long, can cause your electricity bill to increase due to power usage of your chosen reading device, should not cause lung cancer or brain damage and if you die don’t come moaning to me.

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Pud at the WSOP – Day 24: Spicy Pulled Pork FTW

Day 24 was a bog standard day thanks to me having to begin work at 1:00 p.m instead of my standard 4:00 p.m. Actually slept during the night, which was a bonus, but I slept a little too well and didn’t get the chance to write a blog or an article before my stint in the casino.

I was reporting on the $2,500 No-Limit Hold’em event with Chad Holloway, something of a rarity for me. The reason for our shifts no coinciding much is Chad often covers non-Hold’em events such as stud and the draw games and I suck donkey dick at reporting on stud.

It’s always good working with Chad, not only do we have a similar sense of humour – which is a godsend in this job – but we’re both on the same page when it comes to live updates and this makes both our lives easier.

The tournament itself was nondescript, just your standard event, with the exception of the hand that burst the bubble. I didn’t see the flop and turn action but a guy called Oleg Badmayev checked on a 8h-6c-8d-5h-Ts board and was facing an all-in bet from a player a couple of seats along. Badmayev sat pondering his options for close to five minutes and I was 100% certain he was going to fold and show something like pocket nines, but amazingly he called with a pair of threes and was good against Jh-7h. A superb call and one I doubt he would have made online.

Highlight of the day was a spicy pulled pork sub from somewhere called Quiznos, which bills itself as the home of the Toasted Sandwich. It was basically another version of Subway to be fair, but the sandwich was superb with just the right spiciness and was a little boost to morale, just what I needed to see me through the last four hours of the day.

Headed home to the Extended Stay, watched an episode of The Sopranos, ate some beef jerky (I’m fucking addicted to the stuff) and headed to the land of nod.

Not the most interesting of days I’m sad to say, but I can’t go around offending prostitutes and getting pissed up on Long Island Teas every night of the week. Sometimes, in this job, you eat, sleep, work, repeat.

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