I’m fairly certain that everyone in poker is aware of the concept of shot-taking. That definitely wasn’t what I was doing when I sat with in a €2/5 game at King’s Casino earlier this month. Especially when the lineup included WPT & EPT Champion Niall Farrell, Chris Moorman (who has over $13 million in online tournament earnings) and Parker ‘tonkaaaa’ Talbot who is one of the most well-known poker streamers on Twitch.
It was the last day of the 888Live Festival at King’s Casino in Rozvadov. Niall was coming off the back of a 3rd place in the Main Event, and he along with Chris and Parker floated the idea of starting a cash game in the private area of the casino to let off some steam after a long week. Chris had been involved in a whole lot of ambassadorial duties, and Parker had been in the commentary booth the whole week alongside David Tuchman (who also joined us for the cash game).
Cash games are a very small part of my poker-playing repertoire. The last one I played was in Vegas last summer. In fact there were several $4/8 Mixed Game/Dealer’s Choice games I participated in, with a moderate amount of success. This would be the highest stakes cash I would ever played, and my plan was simple: Enjoy myself.
After a short while of playing (read: folding), a new player entered the game. King’s casino owner and EPT Prague Super High Roller champion Leon Tsoukernik’s private game broke, and he walked over to our table. “Five thousand,’ he said, taking a seat.
Earlier, before our table opened, I was watching Tsoukernik playing in his game. On a 976TK board, Leon moved all in and his opponent called. Leon checked his cards and turned over a King. His opponent smiled and turned over King-Nine for two pair. Leon then re-checked his cards and after a brief pause, he turned over his other card. It was an eight, completing his straight. His opponent smiled and actually reached across and shook his hand.
Here was man who embodied my approach to this table and these stakes: Enjoy myself.
And enjoy myself I did. Through a series of double ups, and a well-timed shove over a quadruple straddle(!) I ran my minuscule stack up to €500. Tsoukernik joined the table and the chaos started. First he doubled up Chris Moorman without looking at his cards. Then the same happened with another player at the table. And when he entered a pot and I looked down at pocket nines, I knew I had to go with it. A third player in the hand had tens, and that was that.
Sure I’d have loved to have a story of how I sat with the pros, with a meagre bankroll, and emerged hours later in the wee hours of the morning with a healthy profit. But in hindsight I got as much enjoyment from sitting and playing and just shooting the breeze with them.
‘Firaldo’ is an absolute pleasure to chat with, especially when he’s polishing off bottles of prosecco. ‘Tonkaaaa’ is genuinely one of the nicest down-to-earth guys you’ve ever met. Moorman is an eloquent and professional ambassador. And Tuchman loves a drink, and loves poker as much as anyone.
It was as if the €100 I ponied up to sit in the game was an admission fee. And trust me, it was worth every penny.