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UK News

by Ross Jarvis |  Published: Aug 01, 2008

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The UK summer is known for a few things: frequent rain, a depressing lack of football, and an equally depressing rise of cricket on the TV to name a few. It is also the time when our finest poker players abscond to Las Vegas in search of fame and (more) fortune at the World Series of Poker.

Full Tilt Poker pros the Hendon Mob have long been recognised as amongst Britain's best, with Ram Vaswani breaking the Mob's bracelet duck in the 2007 limit hold'em shootout event. Here, fellow Mobster Barny Boatman gives his thoughts on the changing nature of the WSOP and which UK players people should be keeping an eye on at this year's festival.

Card Player: How does the WSOP compare now to your first visit in 1998?

Barny Boatman: Obviously, it's changed considerably since then. People often get nostalgic and long for the old days when it was held downtown (at Binion's Horseshoe), but the WSOP has become something so different now mainly because so many people are a part of it. The WSOP is still very, very special though, and there is nothing like it in the calendar. You find every poker player in the world there, and the excitement will always be there.

CP: Since the WSOP moved to the Rio, how have Harrah's done in running the event?

BB: It seems that Harrah's are trying harder this year to make a real effort to cater to the players. This is from the range of events they schedule to simply how close the toilets are to the tables now. But as far as the tournament being commercialised and the players feeling exploited, it's never been so bad! The WSOP has always been a bit of a cattle market. You can't move an inch when you're playing, and there's nowhere to go for space except for the VIP area, which you have to pay $2,500 to enter! There must be a line as to how much the players will take. Yet, however badly the players feel they are being treated sometimes, they always end up coming back because everybody wants a World Series bracelet.

CP:
What are your thoughts on the final table in the main event being moved to November?

BB:
I've got mixed feelings about that. What's good for Harrah's isn't automatically bad for everyone else. They are trying to make more of the event and generate interest, and that's good for everyone in the long run, especially as television interest in poker is waning now anyway. For me, personally, if I ever get to the final table after a week of playing, I'll be knackered so I'm happy!

CP: With some exceptions, why do UK players seem to underachieve each year at the WSOP?

BB: First, you're playing away from home, which a lot of people don't like. At the end of the day, though, there simply aren't that many UK players compared to the size of the huge tournament fields. There is such a fine line between success and failure. In 2006, I had the chip lead halfway through in about eight different tournaments, but it doesn't count as an achievement because I couldn't finish it off.

CP: Which UK players do you predict great things for this year?

BB:
Praz Bansi again. I really like him and his crew (the HitSquad). They've got the right attitude, they're not too egotistical, and are quite professional the way they think and go about the game. And obviously this is Neil Channing's year, too. He's full of confidence, and his style will be suited to the American game. And then there's always people like Julian Gardner, Dave Colclough, and Dave "Devilfish" Ulliott who have been coming here for a long time. The "Devilfish" used to come here before any of the other guys had even heard of the World Series! I also think my brother Ross and I are well overdue for a big result this year.

Dusk Till Dawn Expands

Nottingham's Dusk Till Dawn poker club continues to validate its claim as Europe's premier poker venue by extending their opening hours and introducing a new tournament schedule this month. The club will now be open seven days a week and has introduced a weekly £100 rebuy tournament that is all set to become the UK's largest regular event. Since opening in late 2007, the club has quickly established a reputation for affordable and well-structured tournaments that have regularly attracted locals like Julian Thew, Mick McCool, and Paul Jackson. Whether there will be enough interest and money floating around the UK poker economy to get good numbers each week for the £100 rebuy is another matter entirely. While the players will feel the credit crunch as much as any, it can only be good for UK poker that the European Poker Tour and national festivals such as the Grosvenor UK Poker Tour are being offered quality competition by dedicated clubs such as DTD.

Chocolate "Devilfish" Rain

Never one to be out of the news for long, Dave "Devilfish" Ulliott's talents have been splayed across the Internet this month. For once, this was nothing to do with winning tournaments or breaking UK poker records, though. To celebrate the re-launch of his poker room, www.devilfishpoker.com, Ulliott decided to showcase his musical talents. The Devilfish has been treating us all to his unique performances on the poker circuit for years, but now he is forever immortalised on YouTube. Ulliott has added his own stylings to a cover of Tay Zonday's phenomenally popular "Chocolate Rain" song. Simply search for "Devilfish" on the site, and you can join the 50,000 other viewers that have made this one of the most popular poker virals of all time.

Ross Jarvis is a freelance poker journalist and poker player.