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Vienna Spring Poker Festival … It Meant Something to Me

by 'Mad Marty' Wilson |  Published: Jun 01, 2007

Despite having played poker all over the world for the past 16 years, and having known Thomas and Marina Kremser for the last nine, this was my first visit to Vienna and the Concord Card Casino. I had, of course, heard about it being one of the best-structured tournaments, with the added bonus of being set in such a beautiful city, but I had never managed to make the trip, until now. PartyPoker, which was sponsoring the event as well as offering a bonus freeroll to all of its online qualifiers, both of which were being televised, had asked me along to be the co-commentator. Another dream job! Being paid to watch, and talk poker.

The freeroll was a team event. Forty-nine qualifiers representing east Europe and 49 representing west Europe were headed by team captains Tony G and Dave "Devil Fish" Ulliott, respectively. Players representing west Europe began play first, playing against each other in a shootout system to determine who would be the four to join their captain at the final table. This was then obviously repeated for the east, and eventually we had a final table of 10. A total of €100,000 was on offer in prize money, in two lots of €50,000. Each of the 50 players on the winning team would receive €1,000. The other €50,000 was to be distributed at the final table.

Peter Jensen from Denmark finished first, holding his nerve when heads up against the Devil Fish, who, after five hours of play at the final table and representing the same team, leant over and asked, "What's your name, son?" This heads-up battle ensured victory for team west and the €1,000 bonus for each of its players.

This was all played over one day, and there was still a five-day main event to commentate on.

A total of 206 players entered the €3,150 Spring Poker Festival, which was to be played as a multitable event with televised action from every day coming from the featured table.

After receiving the €1,000 bonus, and having been pleased with her play despite finishing third at her shootout table, Katharine decided to enter the main event and leave the sightseeing till later. I had figured that this was the plan all along, despite her protestations that she really had come over just to keep me company and have a little holiday!

As I walked up to wish her luck before heading off to the commentary booth, I saw her seated to the right of Tony G and opposite Roland De Wolfe. Having nearly trebled her stack on day one, and being fifth in chips at the end of day two, I still hadn't considered the possibility of her being at the feature table and having to commentate on her play.

Play ended on day three at the remaining 24 four runners, all of whom were now in the money, including Katharine, who had just been drawn to the TV table. Day four would play down to the final eight, and once again, Katharine was still there. I had managed to keep what I thought was an unbiased commentary going for nearly two days, until she picked up her first hand of those two days. She had pocket queens in an early position, and I was just about to say that her raise would get through to pick up the blinds and running antes, which were quite high at this late stage, when the big blind flat-called with pocket aces. In fact, I'm sure that my exact commentary was to scream, "Oh no!" Katharine managed to keep it more together than I did, and after a king-high flop, she escaped with still over 300,000 chips. She eventually finished sixth, and there was still more than six hours of commentary remaining before the winner was named, Branimir Brunovic, and only enough time for a quick thank you and goodbye to Thomas and his team before we raced to the airport to catch our flight. Besides the hotel, taxi, and Concord, I still haven't seen Vienna, but this definitely had been a trip to remember and an event to mark down for next year.

Now sees the start of a busy couple of months in the lead-up to the World Series of Poker. My next event is always one of my favourites, the Irish Open, which runs right until my next job - a women's poker boot camp held at Champneys health spa. In the run-up to the European Ladies Championship (ELC), Ladbrokes has offered the opportunity for 10 ladies to come along for a weekend of pampering and poker tuition - another dream job!