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The 2024 Card Player Poker Tour Venetian $1,600 buy-in no-limit hold’em main event attracted a field of 458 entries, blowing away the $400,00 guarantee to create a final prize pool of $650,360. After three starting ...


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Travels With the Camel

by Keith Hawkins |  Published: Aug 01, 2005



Over the years, I have stumbled upon numerous ways to make myself disliked. I have an annoying habit of opening my mouth when it would probably have been more prudent to keep it shut. But, a couple of times this year, I've discovered a new way of making myself unpopular.

I performed quite well in the main events at the Grosvenor Grand Challenge at Luton in January and the Blackpool Bonanza in May. When we neared the "bubble" of each tournament, several players suggested a saver, whereby a small amount of money was taken from the top prize and given to the players who would otherwise have finished just outside the money.

At both venues, there was just one dissenting voice to this agreement – mine. About 10 years ago, I was playing in a £100 tournament in Southampton. At the time, it was a pretty big event for me. My chip stack was reasonable, we were one off the final table, and I was quite excited about the possibility of a big win.

As usual, play ground to a halt at this stage. Everyone was desperate to get into the money. I suddenly found that

I could raise with less than premium hands to steal the blinds, because most players didn't want a confrontation before they were guaranteed some sort of payday by making the final.

After half an hour, someone suggested taking £200 off the first prize, and giving it to the "bubble" finisher. I agreed, because I wanted to be going home with something after a long evening's play.

Two hands later, I picked up K-K in late position. I dutifully raised the pot. A tight female player was in the blinds. She looked at her cards and announced, "I'm happy, I've made a profi t on the night, and don't care what happens now," and then pushed it all in. Naturally, I called. She showed Q-J. Fate is cruel sometimes, and the rivered a straight. My stack was crippled, and although I did manage to creep into the final, my chances of winning were gone, and I finished eighth or ninth. Ms. Q-J ended up splitting the tournament for her biggest ever win. Good luck to her.

But, the stark fact is that she would never have gone all in with her hand if she hadn't been guaranteed the £200.

While driving home, very frustrated, I made a decision: I was never going to agree to give the bubble boy money again. This is not because I'm mean; it's because the play of the tournament is severely compromised by players making bets and calls they would never make if they weren't in the money.

So, if you look around when the bubble nears and I'm still playing, don't bother asking. Whether I've got one chip left or I'm the chip leader, my answer to the question, "Shall we take £500 off the top for the bubble?" will always be, "No!"

I was playing a spot of online poker the other day (surprise, surprise!) when I outdrew a guy on the river to win a big pot. I wish I had asked for the hand history at the time, because the verbal exchange that followed the hand was quite bizarre.

It went something like this:

Him: "I feel a bit sick now."

Me: "Me too, I had a dodgy pizza earlier."

Him: "Have you any pizza left over?"

Me: "No, I gave the leftovers to the cat; now she's feeling sick, too."

Him: "I'm going to find out where you live, hunt you down, and eat your cat!"

As a friend correctly stated, this story is hard to believe, as it is extremely doubtful that there would be any leftover pizza chez Camel. Nonetheless, there wasn't much I could say in response to that unique bit of abuse!

Keith "The Camel" Hawkins is a well-known presence on the European poker scene, as he travels to most of the major tournaments from his home in Darlington. Poker is his work, but Keith's passion is Queens Park Rangers. Keith's regular poker blog can be found at