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Tikay's Table Tales

by Tony Kendall |  Published: Jul 06, 2005


Mad Italians and Englishmen Go Out in the Midday Sun

The Adriatic resort of Jesolo was the venue for the second Italian Hold'em and Omaha Championships during the last week of April. The tournament was held in a beautiful hotel, right on the beach, and the weather was glorious. Poker 425 came along to film the action, so we had the prospect of Rhowena Colclough doing player interviews on the beach in her bikini. It's a tough life, but someone has to do it! The temperature was blisteringly hot and everyone got burnt to a frazzle. Strange, but this never happens in Blackpool. As was the case last year, the tourney attracted a very cosmopolitan lineup, with players from just about every European country plus a couple of very pleasant Americans, which was a novelty in itself, and even a South Korean – don't see too many from there at the poker table! But the place was dominated by Italians, for reasons I have yet to fathom. Approximately 50 locals played, split almost evenly between men and women. Boyish enthusiasm was the order of the day, with baseball caps worn backward, shirts opened to the navel, and designer stubble mandatory. The men were much the same. They're lovely people, mind you, and very tolerant of the habit we Brits have of refusing to learn any other language, but they're mad as March hares, every one of them. And I mean that in the nicest possible way. The comps were run in typical Italian style: Sunday's €150 rebuy event was due to start at 3:30 p.m., and it started bang on time – well, bang on 6 p.m. But nobody cares in Italy, as the atmosphere is all so relaxed – until the play begins, that is.

I sat next to a local in the main event; he wore a bandana and had the biggest gold medallion you ever saw clanking about on his hairy chest. He was incapable of speaking without using two hands while shrugging his shoulders. By his side sat his dutiful lady; she was his permanent moody and a fateful distraction if ever I saw one, dressed in a skintight leotard and precious little else. How is a man supposed to concentrate on his cards? Bandana man took a beat in a big pot and muttered darkly for all of 20 minutes, never stopping for a breath. I don't speak a word of Italian, but I felt I understood every word he said. Then, he rivered a gutshot straight, and suddenly all was well with the world. We both eventually busted out on the same hand (I never cease to be amazed at how frequently my Q-5 fails to hold up against K-K), and we then ended up seated next to each other in an Omaha cash game.

If you want to experience the joys of cash Omaha, Italy is the place to go. Even old Tikay cleaned up, but poor Bandana man must have dropped enough cash to feed an entire village. Imagine this hand and tell me what my opponents were holding. It's Omaha and I am in the big blind with J-8-6-6. The flop was a dream, J-J-6. But how can I get paid? I have sixes full and jacks full, and my two opponents need to have the case six and the case jack between them. I check, an Italian player checks, and Bandana man on the button bets the pot. OK, a pure steal, I think, so I call. The Italian player calls, too, so I figure one of them must have the case 6 and the other has the case jack. But the turn brings the last 6, and I am sitting with quad sixes. Bandana man bets the pot again and I call, as does the Italian player. What? I take another peek at my cards, casually as I dare, and I still have the quad sixes plus jacks full. I wonder, is this a regular deck they are using? What on earth can these two be holding? By now you can guess the river – the fourth jack. Check, check, and Bandana man immediately says, "All in." I call, and then, amazingly, the third player calls, too. Am I playing a different game than these guys? I turn my hand over, first showing the quad sixes. "That's my backup hand," I say, being a smart aleck, and my two crestfallen foes instantly muck without showing. Then, I flip over the four jacks, as the dealer pushes an almighty pile of chips my way. I wanted to ask the two others what they held, but they both left in a hurry, not to be seen again.

Soon thereafter, a tired Dave "El Blondie" Colclough arrived at the table. He sat down with €500, and despite clearly being, shall we say, a little under the weather; he showed what a real class player can do to the likes of Tikay and a table full of regular guys. Every single time the action reached Dave, he'd take another mouthful of his drink; carefully put the glass to one side, and with an exaggerated stab of his finger, shout, "Pot!" The only time El Blondie checked was when he had the nuts. It took Dave a full eight minutes to run his €500 up to €7,000, a goodly portion of which was my ill-gotten gains from Bandana man. I mean, El Blondie just took us to pieces. Mind you, it took only marginally longer before Colclough's €7,000 became €500 again. The Italians got their revenge on the blonde icon, catching him time after time, as he overdid the "Pot!" malarkey just a shade. The Italians may be mad, but they sure aren't daft.

The next major Italian tournament is in Napoli in October. A bundle of fun is guaranteed, so get yourself there and you won't regret it; Bandana man is planning his revenge!

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