Back in January of this year I set up Backdoor Quads as a place for me to write, free from criticism or analysis. Somewhere where I can put up semi-regular content, in order to have a portfolio of work for the future. I had no idea that Backdoor Quads, or at least the enthusiasm, passion and creativity of Backdoor Quads would lead to me ending up working for PokerNews.com in Monte Carlo.
People have been asking me all about Monaco and how it was, and my only answer is that it was amazing. This isn’t me just saying that, it truly was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I was going to write a long list of surreal things that happened to me, but I came to the conclusion that it would just sound like me bragging.
Therefore I will only mention a couple of stories.
One of the skills that I hadn’t expected I would learn is how to count chip-stacks very quickly. During tournament play it is important to keep track of the stacks of key players, in order to add a certain level of detail to a live-blog. Seasoned poker journalists can read a player’s chips at a glance, but my technique was a little rusty.
Speaking to poker players while they’re at the table is a very peculiar thing to do as a live blogger. You might need to ask them what the action was earlier on in a big hand, you might need to double check their name, and sometimes when you see them counting out their own stack, it’s easy to just ask them how much they’ve got.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. From the floppy hair to the technicoloured wardrobe Charlie Carrel is nigh unmissable across the tournament floor. I think of all the poker pros I knew, Charlie was the one I was most excited to talk to. Why? He’s roughly my age, he’s British, and he’s very, very good at what he does, at least according to the Pokerstars Blog.
It was during day 1a on a hunt for chip-stacks, that Charlie saw me eyeing up his chip-stack from afar. “About 65k, maybe 66?” he said, beating me to it. “Cheers Charlie,” I replied, and went along my way. It was only until the day 1a chip-stacks were published, that I saw he was 6th overall with over 150k! On Day 2 I saw him again, and he explained that he had been looking around for me at the end of Day 1a to prove to me that he had more! Well he’s chipped up considerably since then, taking down the €25k High Roller for €1,114,000. Congratulations Charlie!
I was talking with Chad Holloway on the tournament floor, when the topic of my degree came up. “What is it you study?” he asked. “German,” I replied. “Oh. What do you want to do with that?” he continued. The honest answer to this is I don’t know. I wanted to become an interpreter/translator, but that’s changed considerably. But the German is still there. I said that I could use my German as a poker journalist. “How so?” Chad said.
Max Altergott was sat on a nearby table, playing in the High Roller. I cleared my throat:
“Max, wie viel hast du jetzt, ungefähr?”
“Fünf hundert? Fünf hundert fünfzig?”
I turned to look at Chad. “Yeah, I can do that, watch.”
“Max, how many chips do you have?”
“Five hundred, maybe five hundred and fifty?”
I laughed, but it was still a moment that stuck with me. As was reassuring Christopher Frank that he had indeed survived long enough to jump up the pay-outs in the Main Event. And proving to Dario Sammartino and Mustapha Kanit that I can speak a bit of Italian: “Como va a piedi dalla stazione di treni?” And finding out that Steve O’Dwyer is about the only person who has put as much time into Prison Architect as me. And meeting Sean Astin.
All in all, it was an incredible trip. Exhausting and tiring, but if someone asked me to do it all again this week, I would do so within a heartbeat. Except I’m back to being a student now. And tomorrow is translation.