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Mad Marty's Wild Card

by 'Mad Marty' Wilson |  Published: Nov 01, 2005


Business Sense
Recently, I bumped into an old pal, Rob, whom I hadn't seen for more than 20 years. The last time we'd been in touch was when I was working in the betting shop that I'd won in the early '80s. Our meeting brought to mind the circumstances in which the betting shop had come my way.

After a heavy downpour, I'd noticed a ground advantage at Newmarket. The track was now favouring the horses in a low draw. I had half an hour before the next sprint race, so I quickly permed the horses in stalls No. 1 to 5 for the forecast and tricasts. I had to break down the bets in several different shops, and the last bet I placed was in a small independent bookmaker's, where I also backed the horse drawn in No. 1 – a 50-1 shot.

The horse came first. The horse drawn in No. 2 came second, and the third-place finisher? The horse drawn in No. 3.

I'd netted a small fortune – well over £25,000, with the majority from the independent. The bookie seemed a bit flustered, telling me to wait awhile for him to settle. I don't think he'd realised quite how much he'd stood the bets for.

So, I left, saying I'd come back the next day. The next day, after collecting nearly £5,000 in cash from a major chain, I was prepared to tell the independent that I could wait for my winnings, or he could settle weekly. Before I had a chance to tell him this, he gave me a fiver, told me to get a pint over the road, and he'd be over later. At the end of business, over he came, with a drink and the keys to the shop, saying, "Tomorrow, I'll work for you." Naturally, getting up to open the shop at 10 a.m., after a long night in the casino, was going to be a problem, so I employed my friend Rob.

Ultimately, Rob decided it wasn't the best career move for him, after he saw that whilst the shop was taking £2,000 a week, I was over the road in another bookmaker's punting £3,000 a week. Rob went to college and is now a bank manager. I eventually lost the shop in a bet.

Some People Still Believe My Bluffs

While working on the TV series Poker Den recently, I was promoting another event that I'm involved in. It's a short golf/poker break in Portugal, sold as a package: flights, five-star accommodations, pro/am golf tournament, and a poker tournament. The golf was optional, and when pitching the event I got a bit carried away, saying that a variety of day trips were available, if there was sufficient interest. My list included a trip to the local orphanage, a trip to a nocturnal animal farm, and a trip to the women's prison, with the chance to participate in their annual volleyball game against the wardens.

A few days later, an irate Andy Pyrah from Matchroom rang to say that a writer from another poker publication had heard about this. He was writing an article on the stranger side of poker and wanted more information on our Portugal trip. It took Andy the best part of a day to convince him it was a joke.

Quick Tip

Here's one quick tip for newcomers to the game. I am often asked how long I've been playing poker, and what – or who – got me started. I'd been playing for a few years before I first went to Vegas. It was a revelation for me when I found I could sit behind players. I was able to sit for hours behind players for whom I had a great admiration, such as Lucy Rokach and Johnny Morgan. Just being able to watch these great players in action really helped, and was a big influence on how my game changed and progressed.

"Mad Marty" Wilson is a professional poker player from Wolverhampton and a poker consultant for Matchroom Sports.