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Tikay's Table Tales

by Tony Kendall |  Published: Sep 01, 2005


They Play Poker in Norway?
Well, of course they do. What sort of daft question is that? OK, I'll rephrase it. Is it legal to play poker in Norway? No, it's not, not at all. So, how come there are so many of those Internet hotties playing out of Norway? What gives? Well, it's sort of obvious, really. They play online because it's against the law in Norway to play "games of chance" for financial gain. Actually, it's illegal to play online, too, but almost impossible to enforce. So, is poker a game of chance or skill? The Norwegian government, in its infinite wisdom, deems it a game of chance. So, it's illegal, and that's that. Who'd have thought it, in these enlightened times?

Poker Festival In Bergen, Norway …
"But you just said that … " I know, and it is. But someone has to break the barriers down. So, the Blue Club in Bergen decided to hold a poker festival during the first week of June. In effect, it said to the police, "Look, we don't believe we are doing anything wrong, so here we are, come and get us." Well, you can't bluff an idiot, so it was no surprise that the police decided to defend their big blind. They pounced. "Any more of this and you will all be in the clink." OK, Plan B, then. Money is out and chocolate bars, as currency, are in. Try not to get hungry, though. With a Mars bar being the buy-in for the equivalent of a £200 tournament, The Camel would be in serious trouble.

But Then The King of Norway Turned Up
I jest not. The King of Norway, with his royal yacht, visited Bergen, as is his wont; the occasional visit stops the natives from getting restless. Can't have them wanting life's luxuries, now, can we? They'll be asking to play poker next. Intolerable.

Get Those Chips Off the Table, Now!

So, there we all were in the Blue Club, playing the $1,000 buy-in main event - with real chips, too, not Mars bars. They found a bit of a loophole, and decided to try to wriggle through. The doors were locked at all times, a man was posted as the lookout, and there were no signs outside advertising the presence of the Blue Club. Suddenly, the cry goes out from the lookout man, "Get all the chips off the table, now!" We rush to the window, and, sure enough, there is a whole convoy of police cars and vans, complete with wailing sirens, parked outside. Panic sets in; we even have TV cameras there. Film the raid, or run, to safeguard the kit? Count our chips, or pocket them just in case? Blind stealers operate at the strangest times, you know. At that moment, the cavalcade bearing the King of Norway swept past, and, with it, the dozen or more police vehicles that had, by chance, waited outside the Blue Club, screeched off on their escort duty. Phew!

The Show Goes On

Once it was clear that the police had found something else to preoccupy them, the event continued, and we were privileged to watch a master class in power poker by one Johnny Ludden. Johnny won the $500 no-limit hold'em event in St. Marteen last year, but this was my first look at the young Norwegian. This boy has game, big game, believe me. Talk about "any two cards"; Ludden makes Gus Hansen look like a rock. The players at the final table were mashed, mauled, minced, marinated, and murdered by this Johnny-come-lately. He destroyed them with a show of power poker, the likes of which I've never seen before. "Going to Vegas, Johnny?" I enquired afterward, as he wiped his opponents' blood off his chips. "I wish," he replied, "but I'm not old enough to play in the States." Not old enough? Heaven help us when he grows up.

Tony "Tikay" Kendall is the presenter of Poker 425, and a partner in