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Sleepless in Fulham: Rambling and gambling by David Young
Thursday, 10 June 2010
Laak of Enthusiam
Topic: Poker

Happy New Year! Oh dear - my first post of 2010 and it's mid-June! Facebook-led inertia strikes again. I've been woken out of my slumber by a reply to a post I made nearly four years ago, concerning Phil Laak. Back in September 2006 I wrote this:

and today, someone purporting to be the man himself has replied to tell me that Phil is now 'the bomb' since breaking the record for poker endurance by playing a 115 hour session at the Bellagio. I'm equally impressed and revolted. It can't be healthy. But well done anyway.

What's amazed me about this is that someone, possibly Laak himself, has bothered to comment on a 4 year-old post made on an obscure blog that hasn't had a fresh entry for six months! When I got the notification, it took me about twenty minutes to find the original. I'm curious whether someone bookmarked the original post at the time and waited until now to reply. Or whether Phil employs someone to trawl the internet looking for comments about him. I must ask him when I see him again. I say "again", because I've since met the man and his girlfriend Jennifer Tilly and found them both thoroughly charming. If you're reading this Phil (which I doubt), I once gave you, Jennifer and Neil Channing a ride back to the Metropole hotel from the Vic.

Anyway, apologies again for the lack of posts. I really do believe that Facebook, and perhaps Twitter too, are killing blogs like this. Andy Ward and Roger Kirkham are finding the same thing. It's hard to summon the enthusiasm to post a blog entry when these social network sites are so much more convenient for small messages that don't require long elaboration.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009
'I'm a crook. Let's do business!'
Topic: Poker

If there's one thing that's always amazed me, it's how some people will admit to being dishonest and then be surprised when you don't want to go into business with them. About ten years ago I showed a room in my flat to a French guy who'd seen the advert in Loot. Within minutes of being in my presence, he explained that he was doing work for a French company overseas instead of national service. The company would pay his rent, provided that he submit an invoice from me showing the rent that I was charging him.

You can perhaps guess the rest. In return for inflating the actual figure we would split the saving 50/50. He seemed genuinely surprised that I didn't want to share a house with someone who'd just told me that he was dishonest. I didn't bother explaining.

Wind forward to 2009 and my e-mail address appears in a group e-mail, sent to people who subscribed to blackbeltpoker. Apologies swiftly followed from them for failing to blind copy the address. Sure enough, someone was soon to take advantage of this mailing list:


To - subscription list

From - "Tea Towlel"


I have bought Cole South's $1850 E book and although it has extremely improved my game I cannot play at the stakes it is suited to, I am a micro stakes player and I withdraw my roll to pay bills etc.  I would like to recoup some of the money spent on it so am offering to send you a copy if you are interested.  I printed it and scanned it back onto my computer as well as a few other things to get round the security and anti copying measures.  I am letting it go for $100 as it is only a copy, still a massive bargain though as i bought it for $1850!

Email me back if you are interested, I will accept payments on Cake/Ipoker/FullTilt



From DY

To - "Tea Towlel"

So let me just get this straight. You've scanned copyright material and are now writing to people who've never heard of you to invite them to send a hundred bucks to someone who is, by his own admission, dishonest!
Good luck with that.
To - DY

From - "Tea Towlel"

LOL, you've never watched a knock off DVD or listened to knock off music, LMAO welcome to the real world, i've sold 10 already.


From DY

To - "Tea Towlel"

So I have your word that after cheating Cole South, you turned straight and fulfilled your part of the deal with people who sent a stranger money?
No idea whether you're telling the truth and I don't care. It just amuses me when people admit to being crooked and then expect me to trust them. If you've found a few trusting souls, good luck to you.
To - DY

From - "Tea Towlel"

You trying to tell me you have never watched a dodgy DVD?  Get real.


From DY

To - "Tea Towlel" 

If you want to know the answer to that question, wire me $100 through paypal. I promise to tell you the answer
To - DY

From - "Tea Towlel"



From DY

To - "Tea Towlel"

You started it!

_ DY at 3:00 PM BST
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Tuesday, 11 November 2008
It started as a joke.
Topic: Poker

Several years ago, when I used to read UK poker discussion forums and find them amusing, someone posted a brilliant spoof. The background was that there had been a card room manager from Estonia named Andres Burget, who'd been advertising his festivals on sites like the Hendon Mob and Gutshot. After a couple of years of this, someone decided it would be amusing to spoof it, with a joke press release about a card room manager in Moldova telling the world to come to the 'Golden Sow' casino in Chisinau.

At first I thought it was unkind to parody the unfortunate Estonian, but every time I read it, it got funnier and funnier. I laughed for days. It was a bit like what Borat did to Kazakhstan, but much funnier because of its brevity. Burget took it badly and never posted details of his card room again. I'd forgotten about it until yesterday, when I saw this in the latest edition of Poker Europa magazine, issue 106, page 36:

Moldova joins poker scene

Latest country in Europe to become pokerised is the former member of the USSR, Moldova. The tiny country, population 4 million, saw its first (and only) card room open in the capital Chisinau in September. The card room is in the Casino Europa near the city centre. Adventurous players in search of new action can contact poker boss Igor Letic on e-mail: or phone +373 69 818 338

There's much I should probably be writing about today - the banking crisis, Obama etc. But just now, I'd like to welcome Moldova to the poker world! Good luck Igor.

_ DY at 1:43 PM GMT
Updated: Tuesday, 11 November 2008 1:49 PM GMT
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Wednesday, 10 September 2008
Stop this Madness! (parts one and two).
Topic: Poker

Stop this "Double-Chance" Madness.

The first double-chance tournament was the Pokermillion in November 2000 that John Duthie won. Roy Houghton had the idea that players who'd travelled from as far as Australia and America to the Isle of Man should have the option to protect themselves from being knocked out in the early stages of the only big buy-in tournament of the week. Thus he devised the format in which players are allocated only half their intial stack at the outset, with the option to take the second half at any point in the first three levels. Unfortunately festival organisers have adopted the idea without knowing the reasoning behind it.

In the last two 'double-chance' tournaments I've played, half the players at my table took their entire allocation before the first hand was dealt and half of the rest took theirs in the first twenty minutes, without having lost their whole starting stack. Is there really a demand for this format? The whole point of double-chance is to give some possible extra play for people who've travelled across many time-zones to play a big buy-in main event. It's completely pointless in mid-week £500 London-based freezeouts where all the players live within the M25.


Stop this Max Buy-in Madness.

Why do no-limit cash games in Britain all have maxinum buy-ins? I've asked this question to countless dealers and floor managers and can't get an intelligent response. The reason is that they are all copying what they consider to be normal practice, which in fact originated online. Few people seem to know the background. It's worth explaining.

The first online poker games were all limit-bet structured. Initially they were all hold'em. Later came seven-card stud. It was a long time before anyone offered 'big bet' poker (pot-limit or no-limit). By my recollection, the first site to do so was one that I'll hazard 90 per cent of you have never heard of. It was CCC poker (the online operation of the Concord Card Casino - an Austrian bricks and mortar poker business). The first big-bet game they offered was not hold'em. It was Pot-limit omaha. There was no maximum buy-in.

Because the skill differential between novices and experienced players is so big in PLO, the seasoned players all bought in for large stacks and proceeded to wipe out the beginners. I recall people in the Vic telling me of the thousands they'd made very quickly from people who thought that a queen high flush or a small full-houses was a big hand. Very soon there was no more game. The beginners had been wiped out. Therefore the next sites to offer 'big-bet' games decided they needed to blunt the good players' edge and figured that a maximum buy-in was the best way to do this. The practice was adopted by all others sites for no-limit and pot-limit games.

If you ever fancy driving yourself insane, ask the players at your table why the max buy-in exists (it never did when we played pot-limit). You won't believe the utterly bogus explanations you'll hear. As things stand, I see little good reason for max buy-ins in bricks and mortar poker clubs. I certainly don't understand the argument that it's to make the game less 'intimidating'! It's no-limit hold'em. It's meant to be intimidating.

And in any case, you can only lose what you sit down with!

Sunday, 20 July 2008
Hellmuth rants.
Topic: Poker

I realise that 'Hellmuth Rants' must be the 'Dog bites Man' headline of poker journalism, but bear with me on this. I've met Phil a couple of times and he was very polite on both occasions. He's not always like that however, mainly because he has unrealistic expectations of how consistently he can win in a game where luck is a big factor. He seems to have a deep-seated insecurity about how he's perceived, which leads to a constant need for acclaim. He likes to suggest that his antics are for show, but I'm not convinced that this is the case. More likely is that he's making virtue of necessity. I don't think he can stop.

In a recent posting he relates how brilliantly he played in the Main Event of this year's WSOP and deserved better than to finished 45th:

This earns the usual opprobrium that he always attracts, with some extra added for his continued involvement with the scandal-hit Ultimatebet. I doubt that any of this will hurt his feelings, nor lower his standing among those who do rate him. To pick on someone's known weaknesses achieves little if you're determined to damage their reputation. What hurts more is attacking their strengths. If you can prove that someone's chief strength isn't really that good, you've swept the rug from under their feet. That was why revelations of George W. Bush's drink-driving conviction and the fact that he didn't serve in Vietnam didn't stop him winning two elections. Everyone knew those were his weakneses. But when John Kerry 'reported for duty' at the Democrat's Convention in 2004, the Swift Boat Veterans were able to derail his bid for Commander-in-Chief by undermining his strength: the fact that he had three purple hearts from his service in Vietnam.

Hellmuth's chief claim to fame is that he is the 1989 World Champion. It surprises me then that none of his many detractors point out that along the way he benefited from precisely the same luck that he berates others for receiving. This YouTube clip from the action on the final table that year shows two hands:

The first shows him claiming to have folded a pair of tens (spades and clubs) pre-flop in a three-way pot against Johnny Chan (99) and Don Zewin (AJ). He's folded by far the best hand here, hardly something to be proud of (you can see the hand start at the end of part two of the series). Against those hands, with no further betting, he would have had an equity of roughly 44 per cent. Bizarrely the commentator says 'And Phil Hellmuth is delighted to be out of this one!'. Heaven knows why. A jack and an ace win the hand for Zewin and this brings us to the second hand, where Zewin skillfully makes a sort of anti-squeeze play to get all his chips in holding tens against Phil's ace-ten and a pair of twos held by a short-stack. Phil gets lucky and catches an ace on the flop to eliminate two opponents and get heads-up with Chan.

Zewin's equity was over 50 per cent against both opponents ... and he could have survived a loss to the twos. Hellmuth got lucky here. Don't let him forget it. Next time he charges off about how unlucky he is in the WSOP, remind him how Zewin outplayed him.

_ DY at 9:46 PM BST
Updated: Monday, 21 July 2008 1:22 PM BST
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Friday, 4 July 2008
Victoria Coren online.
Topic: Poker

Victoria Coren has kindly informed me that she now has a website featuring her work. It has archives of her Guardian and Observer columns (if you can find them) and its own blog. Check the latter now to learn of her progress in the $1,500 HORSE event.

She's asked me for my thoughts on the site. The content is impeccable of course, but I find the text rather small. The presentation may change in due course.

Wishing her all the best in the main event.


Tuesday, 13 May 2008
The whistle is the warning.
Topic: Poker

There was much fun to be had at Neil Channing's post-win celebration in Holborn last month. Not just because of the free booze and food he laid on, but for the chance to see who turned up in a suit. It's a curious fact of life in the poker world that the people who are the most smartly dressed are the ones most likely to be seeking to borrow money.

With one exception, the evening didn't disprove my theory. Though when I saw Paul Parker dressed in a suit, I did express my concern. He knew the cause of my distress and assured me that the suit didn't mean he was on the nip. He gets a pass.

One person who clearly does understand this principle is the woman in this YouTube clip -

Clearly she's spent a long time in the Vic and knows what she's dealing with.

Talking of YouTube, I love the way the 'Related Videos' section works. I once looked at an interview with Meir Kahane and got offered 'Natalie Portman upskirt video'.

_ DY at 8:18 PM BST
Updated: Tuesday, 13 May 2008 8:25 PM BST
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Thursday, 27 March 2008
The delusion.
Topic: Poker

I'm doing some clearing up in my bedroom today. There is dust flying everywhere and I'm knee deep in books, brochures and periodicals. Going through a pile of old Spectators and Economists I stumbled across a copy of Time Out from November 2004, featuring an account of the poker-playing exploits of Jon Ronson as he took on the London leg of the EPT. Taking advice on offer from the various professionals in attendance, he quotes this vital warning from Neil Channing:

"Anyone who plays tournaments long enough will eventually win some championship or other .... Then three years will go by - you'll win nothing, lose all your money - and suddenly you'll realise all you've got left is the delusion that you are a champion."

Well done Neil!

_ DY at 11:19 PM BST
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Saturday, 23 February 2008
Poker thoughts for February (long)
Topic: Poker

It’s a while since I wrote about poker. Here are some scattered thoughts about the game.


Online –




I continue to be amazed at how blase people are about the whole Potripper fiasco at Absolute Poker. For those who don’t know, I should explain that late last year some players at one online poker site (Absolute Poker) noticed that some of their opponents had a win rate that was hard or impossible to explain away as being due merely to better play. Having gathered hand histories together, they realised that certain players had to be able to see the cards of their opponents. Nothing else could account for how these users (perhaps all the same person) never made a losing call on the river, among other things. They alerted Absolute and were initially given a denial. But they pressed on until Absolute investigated it again and concluded that something was seriously wrong. That’s a brief summary of the story. The upshot was that Absolute paid back $1.6m in compensation to those who were cheated.


What hardly anyone seems to comment on is that this shows how poor the cheating detection must have been at the site. How was it possible for certain players to have such a high win rate compared to their peers without suspicion being raised, especially users who played such a high proportion of the hands dealt to them? Doesn’t anyone wonder whether there are others out there who’ve done the same thing, but are much more subtle about it? What made people suspicious about the player named Potripper was that he made a big call with a Ten High to win a tournament when his opponent was bluffing with Nine High! What a giveaway! What if he’d been more sensible?


But nobody seems to care. Some people closed their accounts at Absolute, but others have joined up since the exposure of the security breach and the overall traffic is not harmed. I’ve heard some industry insiders tell me that Absolute’s turnover has increased. I have heard many people tell me their theory that only good players would know about the breach and close their accounts and that therefore the games must consequently be softer, so now might be a good time to sign up. I fear for the future of satire when I hear logic like that. Frankly, if I ran an online site with a well resourced cheating detection department I would wonder why I bothered given that customers don’t seem to consider security that important a feature.


World Series Sats


I see in one or more of the poker magazines floating around card rooms these days that online sites are being told by the UK Gaming Commission that they can’t offer satellites for main events taking place outside the European Economic Area. That might prevent the giant sucking sound that I’ve heard in previous years when thousands of Britons splash their money away trying to qualify for the World Series. Most come back with nothing.


Saving time


One of the key advantages of online play is that it deals many more hands per hour than the live game. I’m all for speed, so can I suggest that online sites with a large contingent of Scandinavian tournament players install an ‘Auto-Squeeze’ button? It would save a lot of time.


Live poker –


Solving the drugs crisis in Britain


The War on Drugs can be won! Here’s how. All the government has to do is legalise all drugs, on condition that they can only be distributed at British casinos. Ensure that card room managers are put in charge of customer service and sit back and watch the fun. Picture the scene if you will. A keen newbie junkie comes to the room and asks to be put on the list for Heroin


Manager: Sorry, but we don’t have any dealers yet. If you wait a couple of hours we might.


Junkie: But I want some now.


Manager: We’ve had three dealers phone in sick today and I can’t get any more from the pit bosses. Etc


The rigid way that British casinos are staffed is totally archaic and is one reason why I go to Gutshot from time to time rather than licensed casinos. You never have to wait for hours to get a dealer at Gutshot, because the staffing system is so much more flexible. Casinos can’t forecast with absolute certainty what demand for their services will be. It’s crazy that they are held to staffing rotas that don’t reflect reality. The upshot is that you feel that the business is orientated towards minimising costs rather than maximising profits.


While I’m on this subject of casino mismanagement, can I ask whether I’m the only person who keeps thinking of Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore and the character of Sir Joseph Porter, who becomes Head of the Navy without ever having been on a ship?


He explains his career in this hilarious song -


ending with this vital advice:


Now landsmen all, whoever you may be,

If you want to rise to the top of the tree,

If your soul isn't fettered to an office stool,

Be careful to be guided by this golden rule.

Stick close to your desks and never go to sea,

And you all may be rulers of the Queen's Navee!


It seems like that’s the way to go if you want to rise to a position where you make decisions about card rooms. On no account should you ever actually have played or worked in one. So many things are wrong that would never happen if seasoned players had any say in the matter at all. The lighting of most rooms is wrong. The kidney-shaped tables have a pointless indent for the dealer that means players One and Nine can’t see each other. Sometimes player One can’t see seat Eight either (ditto Nine/Two). I’ve long thought that this makes a mockery of the idea that poker is a game of observation of physical tells.


The City Boys Myth


For a long time I used to believe that there was an huge missed opportunity for poker clubs to get ‘City Boys’ playing poker. I’m not the only person who’s fallen into this trap. It seems to make sense that people who earn money trading shares, currencies and derivatives for a living would enjoy using their wits to play card games for money.


Yet it never seems to work like that. In my experience, City Boys tend to come to card rooms only when they are with a few friends from the same career and whilst totally pissed. They only want to play for a couple of hours and are incredibly slow. They are also the worst slow-rollers you’ll find anywhere and seem to think that giving people the rub-down when they beat them is part of the game. I actually walked out of one very slow game recently because of one such player who thought for about a minute on the turn whilst holding the nuts against a player who’d bet all-in. The long dwell up served no purpose except for the pleasure of springing an unpleasant surprise. There’s no need for that.


Aggressive Calls


Do you remember the great furore when Vanessa Rousso talked about making some "aggressive calls" in an interview she gave last year? It’s on YouTube somewhere if you look for it. It caused great hilarity on 2+2. But why did Dan Harrington not get the same abuse for implying the same thing in his second ‘On Hold’em’ Book? I can’t find the exact references now, but on more than one occasion he describes making certain calls as "aggressive".


No Limit has finally beaten Pot limit at the entry levels of the game at the Vic


It used to be that all the cash games at the Vic were pot limit. Now I would say that the No Limit games have taken over at all but the highest levels. All the games below £100 buy-in are now No Limit games and the £100 No Limit is now spread more often than the Pot Limit game of the same price. In fact the latter is often not spread at all. The increasing frequency of £250 buy-in games has sucked a lot of money upwards. The £100 games are now a lot shallower than they used to be and I may have to adjust my play accordingly.


Conspicuous Consumption in Las Vegas


From time to time I’m reminded that some poker players don’t like Las Vegas. To be honest I was pretty bored during my trip there last year. I found a lot of the games tighter than the ones I was used to at home and I was bored by the sterility of the conversation at the tables. I began to miss listening to David Binstock (yes really) babbling on about the issues of the day. It annoyed me that so many people there had no idea what was going on in the outside world.


But that isn’t the reason that Miriam from Gutshot dislikes Vegas. Apparently she’s put off by the sight of ‘Conspicuous Consumption’. I suggested to her that she should play Downtown, where the Consumption was a great deal less conspicuous … unless you’re looking for the Tuberculosis variety.


Don’t flatten the prize structure


I came second in a competition a few weeks ago. It didn’t have many players and so there were fewer prizes than players on the final table. When we got down to six players, with five prizes, the guy with the smallest stack started asking that there be an extra prize for 6th. I vetoed this and got the usual insults in return. The player in question is fairly tight and had done little in the final apart from waiting for others to knock themselves out. I saw no reason to reward this. Pleasingly, despite doubling up in the next hand, he still went out 6th and got nothing.


The next day I played a competition at other casino and he came up to talk to the woman sitting opposite me on my starting table. She asked how he’d fared and he explained that he’d won nothing because of me (pointing at me). When he left I said that I generally don’t do deals on tournament finals until the very late stages and even then don’t usually bother.


She said she would have agreed to his deal because she thought it was polite to ‘give something to the bubble’ – an unfortunate choice of words given the ethnicity of the man in question – but I strongly disagree. He was low stacked at that particular stage of the tournament for a good reason. It’s the way he plays. And there is no reason for that style to be rewarded. It’s not "polite". If anything it’s an insult to the people who went out just before him trying to build a decent stack.


Shuffling Machines


The Vic has bought and installed shuffling machines on two of its tables. That’s the good news. The bad news is that they are only being used on the raked £50 No Limit games. Quite why I felt shocked by learning this I don’t know. The only reason to use them on hourly-charged games would be enhanced customer satisfaction and we all know how important that is in the UK gaming industry.


League Deductions


On a couple of occasions last year I went to Brighton and Luton and found that there were league deductions being taken from tournament prize pools. The money raised was set aside for a free tournament held on a given day in the future for those who accumulated points from play in other tournaments. 


I am dead set against this idea. It penalises people who can’t play regularly at the same place, as well as anyone who has other plans for the day of the Freeroll. The manager at Brighton said that they wanted to reward the regulars. That’s fine by me if it comes from their profits but I don’t see why out of town visitors should have to pay for it. I am pleased to see that so far this madness hasn’t been repeated when I’ve been to Luton this year.

_ DY at 5:23 PM GMT
Updated: Tuesday, 4 March 2008 1:30 AM GMT
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Friday, 9 November 2007
A hand from live play.
Topic: Poker

There used to be a time when it was considered an insult to describe someone as an 'online player'. Now I think it's more of a compliment. You still see a lot of terrible play in slow-clock tournaments from online qualifiers, but in terms of cash play, I think it's a lot tougher to make money online than live.

Here's a hand that I won at the Victoria a few months ago. I wrote down the detail immediately after it happened because I think it so perfectly illustrated the difference.

The game was £100 Pot limit hold'em, with two equal blinds of £3. In this hand nobody posted an optional straddle.

I was in the big blind with JJ.

Two people limped from middle position and the 'small' blind raised £12. I re-raised another £30 and the two limpers folded. The small blind called.

The flop was 442.

The small blind bet £75. I raised another £125 to £200. The small blind called.

The turn was a 4.

The small blind checked and I bet £240 all-in.

He called and announced 'There's no way I'm passing this hand!'.

I showed JJ, he showed TT. I won a pot of £976.

If you've played online cash no-limit hold'em lately you'll know that it's almost impossible to win a pot of 325 big blinds with my hand on that board. If your online opponent were in this spot he would either have a lot less money or he'd only call you on the flop and turn if JJ was losing.

You don't win $1,300 pots with JJ over TT in $2/4 NL hold'em online. Period.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007
A fool and his house.
Topic: Poker

So the International Monetary Fund has 'warned' that Britain may be facing a fall in house prices similar to that currently being endured in the US. I always wonder why the media pre-supposes that this is a bad thing for everyone. About time too, say I and a lot of my friends.

I'm glad I haven't put any predictions of a housing market crash down in writing, because I've been expecting a fall for several years now, in which time prices have been bid ever higher. One person who has done so is Roger Bootle. Despite this, he's done it again in this Monday's Telegraph. Bootle's article prompted an interesting discussion on the Motley Fool Property Market and Trends forum.

I find myself in strong agreement with one poster who explains why his (and my) expectations of a correction have been wrong:

"I would just like to applaud many of the resident uber Bulls on this board for seeing what was coming post 2005 in the property market, I (and Roger Bootle and many others) failed to see...

1. That lenders would loan a nurse for example, on £25,000 wages a year, £500,000

2. That 55 year olds who have no wages coming in and who are on welfare and also handicapped given huge mortgages

3. That you could apply for a mortgage with some of the British sub-prime lenders and using self-cert create your own pay slip (15 x not uncommon).

4. Estate Agents actively and in large numbers guiding buyers into how to get a mortgage in the 2000s, from getting fake passports (the first Panorama mortgage scandal) to downloading fake pay slips.

5. FSA releasing mis-leading information (I won't risk posting what I really want to say), ie repossession figures higher than what they release, their excuse being they do not submit the sub prime.

6. A substained and constant barage of property porn on TV and the media that even Adolf Hitlers propaganda machime would have been proud of.

7. And a Labour (LABOUR) Government whose active policy was to NOT build houses and NOT release land

8. 750,000 official (some would argue far more) Eastern Europeans allowed to swamp an already over-populated country without a backlash from the more deprived areas of the UK who have to take most of the pain.

No Guys, I would never of guessed that any of this would be allowed to stand in the UK, but you got it right, I take my hat off to you."

Add in the favourable tax treatment of non-domiciled foreign millionaires and that pretty much says it all.

_ DY at 11:47 PM BST
Updated: Wednesday, 17 October 2007 11:58 PM BST
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Friday, 31 August 2007
Casino changes.
Topic: Poker

The first serious changes to the laws concerning casinos in four decades come into effect tomorrow, 1st September. As you can imagine, I'm mainly interested in how poker is affected, especially at the Victoria.

1) Casinos will be able to open from 12pm every day instead of 2pm. They will no longer have to close at 4am on Saturday night/Sunday morning. The Victoria card room will be open from noon to 5am every day.

2) Cash games will be able to charge per half-hour instead of every hour. This ought to save a lot of time, as it eliminates the arguments about who's on the half and who's on the hour.

3) Dealers will be able to play at other casinos not in the same group as the ones in which they work. Several Vic dealers have told us to expect to see them in action in other places. This could be good for players in general if it leads to a 'best practice exchange'.

4) A rake may be taken instead of an hourly charge. We are assured that the Vic won't do this.

5) Tournaments will be allowed to admit 'alternates'.

6) Tournament players will no longer be disqualified if they are not at the table for the first hand. Instead their chips will be in play until they arrive. If you know you can't make it to the tournament you will have to contact the card room in advance to ensure a refund. You will get your entry fee returned, but if you register and de-register a second time for the same tournament you'll forfeit the fee.

Friday, 6 July 2007
Winners can laugh. Losers make their own arrangements.
Topic: Poker

Great moments in text messaging:

From DY to Andy Ward -

"Titmus, Oakley and I win a fiver in pub quiz - and I doubled up with a side bet with Oakley. We are winners!"

From Andy Ward to DY -

"No one remembers who came second :-)"


Thursday, 1 February 2007
Scenes from the Vic
Topic: Poker

Long-term followers of dull feuds on the Gutshot forum will appreciate the irony of Padraig Parkinson writing about me in an article for Card Player. If he sells the same story to someone else later, you won't hear a word of complaint from me about it! The story is really about Frank Hughes, a Vic regular who had a bad day a few weeks ago:

Now, David Young gets on pretty well with Frank, but has never been accused of having any tact whatsoever. Legend has it that when tact was being distributed, David arrived too late because he'd been getting measured up for his blazers. A couple of years ago, I was having a drink in the Vic with some of David's friends, and they were hoping that David would be invited to take part in the reality TV show Big Brother, so that they could bet the farm on him being voted out first.

Anyway, true to form, David arrived in the club, completely ignored all the obvious clues, and asked Frank how things were. Unless you're in the medical profession, it's not a good idea to ask a guy who's bleeding how he got the cuts. Frank provided the gory details and threw in a few philosophical quotes on the unfairness of poker and life in general. Any normal man would have stopped poking the snake, but not David. His idea of consoling Frank was to shrug and say "It happens like that."

Actually Frank and I were already in a game together at the time this conversation took place and he appeared to think I hadn't heard him telling me his misfortune, so I said something so he would know I'd heard. The story is otherwise spot on.

Frank isn't just a 'survivor' by the way, he's a gourmet too. You've eaten a good meal? He's had a better one! You've found a great new restaurant? That's nothing, you should try this other place! You think the Blue Elephant is a good Thai restaurant? It's a dump! If you want to know where to eat in London, he's the man to ask.

I'm not deriding the man, in case it appears that way. I like being around people who have some conversation and who express opinions. Recently we got on to the topic of films and someone, probably Neil, asked for the top ten films of all time. It was typical of being with men that all the films the two of them suggested were gangster films or war movies. Frank nearly choked when I suggested 'The Wizard of Oz'. I'm not a 'friend of Dorothy' - I just think it was years ahead of its time (1939). Still, Frank would have none of it. All three of us did agree that Lawrence of Arabia deserved a spot in the top ten. And that lead to the conversation we've all had:

Frank - That film has the best opening sequence of any ever made.

Me - When he falls off the bike?

I didn't see him yesterday, and with Neil away too, the place was a bit less fun than usual. I got no reaction to this:

Tal  - I've just been in France with my uncle. He's got a sanctuary for animals ... all kinds of them. He's got a panther in there that's friends with him. He goes in the cage and gets right up close to it.

Me - Is his name 'Claude'?

Silence. Blank look. Channing would have given me a drum roll at least. Come back soon, Neil!

_ DY at 2:33 PM GMT
Updated: Thursday, 1 February 2007 9:34 PM GMT
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Wednesday, 31 January 2007
Russian casinos.
Topic: Poker

I'm surprised how little attention has been paid in the poker media to the decision of the Russian government to close its city-based casinos. In two years time, casinos will only be allowed in designated areas many miles away from the major conurbations. The BBC reports that the government is concerned about the increase in gambling addiction in Russia, but there is also an ethnic undercurrent to the move, as many of the existing casinos, especially the smaller slot-machine arcades, are run by Georgians.

I've never been to Russia. Whenever I mention the country's lawless reputation, people who have been there tell me that they felt safer there than in London. If you want to play poker in St Petersburg or Moscow, time is running out.

_ DY at 3:03 PM GMT
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