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Travels With the Camel

Broadway Brilliance

by Keith Hawkins |  Published: Dec 01, 2005


I'm increasingly becoming known as the guy who always sees the worst in poker. It's not without good reason – as there is a lot wrong in the world of poker, and it would be great if everything was as good as it could be.

In all fairness, though, when something is done right, I applaud, and last month I attended a tournament that fully deserved a doff of my cap.

The Broadway Casino, Birmingham held its first major event in early September. I decided to play the main event, a £1,000 no-limit hold'em freezeout.

The Broadway is a brand-new establishment, just down the road from The Rainbow, which used to hold major tournaments about five years ago. The venues may be close to each other geographically, but that's where the similarities end. The Broadway is up there with London's Grosvenor Victoria Casino as the best poker venue in the UK.

The Broadway is a large, well-designed building. There are two excellent restaurants, one for snacks and one for more formal dining, while a plush bar area boasts three huge plasma TVs to watch sports events. And there are plenty of gaming tables for the tilting poker player to spin up a few quid. In short, it's a great casino.

However, it's the poker room that really merits praise. All the events at the festival were juice-free, an occurrence that is unique on the European poker trail (with the exception of the main event in Amsterdam). Drinks, including alcohol, were complimentary, and many players were comped their meals. The dealers were well-trained, and the tournaments had very slow structures. It all added up to one of the best events I have ever attended. The only disappointment was that just 45 players showed up for the main event.

I think it's important for poker players to show appreciation to casinos that try hard to give us a good product. I sincerely hope that all events at the Broadway's next festival are sellouts. They certainly deserve it!

How The Camel Got his Name
Since I started writing this column nearly a year ago, I have needed to field one question with almost alarming regularity: "How did you get the nickname The Camel?"

Contrary to popular belief, it's not because I smell terrible, spit at total strangers, or get the hump when I get outdrawn in a pot. To save myself breath in the future, here is how it came about:

Many years ago, when I was just starting out in poker, I scrimped and saved and found a few hardy souls to buy shares in me, so that I could play in the main event at the Master Classics of Poker in Amsterdam.

During one of the breaks, I spied a friend at the bar, went over, said hello, and ordered a couple of beers.

"I think you've got a drink problem, mate," I told him. "You are always at the bar."

"Me? You are playing the biggest tournament of your life, and at the break you are supping a pint," he indignantly reminded me.

"Humpf!" I responded, "I haven't got a problem. I can go days without a drink."

"You are a bloody camel, then!"

I was fortunate enough to make the final table. I was nervous beyond belief, playing for life-changing money. The MC started introducing the players, and unbeknownst to me, my friend had had a quiet word with him.

"In seat four," he announced, "from Reading, England, is Keith 'The Camel' Hawkins." I burst out laughing, and immediately relaxed.

Unfortunately, it didn't help too much, and I busted out in eighth place. The nickname, however, stuck!

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