Sunday, July 04, 2010

A Frightfully British Invasion

By Chris Hall
Leeds, U.K.
“The enemy is coming! There'll be two lamps in the steeple if they're coming by land and one if they're coming by sea.”

(Three lamps appear)

“They double-crossed me. They're coming by land and sea! Ride through every village and town! Wake every citizen up hill and down! Tell 'em the enemy comes from afar with a hey-nonny-nonny and a ha-cha-cha!” - Rufus T. Firefly, Duck Soup

Writer's Note: Please read in English accent for an extra 17.3% in comedic value.

Well, one thing's for certain, we Brits did not come to the WSOP for the beer.

Blandness personified is Milwaukee's Best Light, I'd rather drink that godawful All-In energy drink...hang on, actually no I wouldn't. But scarily, this implies that there is a Milwaukee's Average Light hiding somewhere in this world, which would probably be the answer to the question, “What does the colour grey taste like?” And that's before I even think of the horrors that would be 'Milwaukee's Bleached Scrapings Of The Barrel...Light.'

Ahh, 'Light beer', from the people who brought you such other great inventions as the chocolate fireguard, the English defence in the World Cup and Victory Poker's advertising campaign (honestly, all they have are what I can best describe diplomatically as 'buxom wenches' and then guys trying, laughably, to be macho, shooting guns and pointlessly blowing stuff up – it's like a really crap Dolph Lundgren movie).

But I digress, it's the eve of Independence Day and I, like I suspect many of you, remember that historic date from all those years ago. From the opening credits, to watching as the alien spaceship destroy the White House and then cheering, loudly, joyously even, as the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air himself made some wise-ass jokes to Jeff Goldblum while saving the whole of humanity. The world had been facing complete destruction by aliens so lame and naïve they'd not properly installed decent anti-virus software onto their computers. If only they'd had Macs...but of course then that would imply that Apple users are twisted parasites who are simply intent on sucking the soul out of the planet.

Which is definitely not the case.

Of course in those fourteen years since that epic occasion, much has changed. Certainly the British are no longer sitting around in Iraq waiting to be told what to do by the Americans as they are portrayed in film. You see, now we're in Afghanistan.

While we're often playing the bit-part villain roles in Hollywood films (let's face it you guys aren't ever going to be able to stop squeezing all the juice out of the lemon of triumphalism, are you?) the Brits have taken a starring role at the WSOP this year, mainly through the capture of five bracelets (at the time of writing) but also from the loudness of the final table rail, amplified by the atmosphere of the World Cup.

The interesting thing is that the five all come from different areas of poker, Steve Jelinek, generally plays a high volume of smaller buy-in tournaments, he's the value hunter who will go literally anywhere in Europe for a good tournament, so it makes sense that he should win the $1,500 PLO8 event – probably the best value tournament at the series.

Richard 'Chufty' Ashby is already well-known for playing in the nose-bleed PLO games on Full Tilt, but the first thing he ever learnt was Stud which is where he picked up his bracelet.

Mike Ellis is the 'old-school' one of the group if there is such a thing, he's a regular at the cash games in the Vic in London, where he makes his living against players, many of whom are older than the US itself. Indeed I would wager that some of them fund their poker games by trading off on their future worth to the National Museum of History, certainly the fossilisation process has already begun in a few.

Next, there's Praz Bansi, now a double bracelet winner and part of the group of friends known as 'The Hitsquad', I guess that makes them English assassins, so they'll most likely distract you with impeccable manners and then kill you with tea.

Finally, there's James 'Flushy' Dempsey who all the reporters who use to work for Blondepoker (Djinn, Snoopy, Dana, Rod and myself) know very well, indeed the idea that he could possibly win Player Of The Year and we'd be forced to see a giant image of his grinning mug every year is equal parts hilarious and traumatising.

But why have we done so well? I put this question to Rod, who now works over at Pokerlistings who simply replied, “Brits are doing well because they are a good group of players who have run very well on final tables. Plus the crowd support has been great.”

Neil Channing, who runs added, “There's also a load more of them than I've ever seen...”

I'd hoped to have had more input from other English players, but they're all still crying into their pints lamenting our (latest) loss to Germany. Personally, I blame the ball for being too round.

Anyway, both the above points are very valid, certainly the younger English players all tend to know each other, regularly swapping tips both live and online. The mentality that has developed with it is rather like that of away fans at a football match (I refuse to call it soccer, deal with it) it's very much a 'them against us' scenario. However, this is not to say anything is taken too seriously, while many of these new stars have inflated egos, there is a constant vein of piss-taking which keeps most of them punctured. It's common, dare I say standard to see someone post on their Facebook update that they have just been disappointingly knocked out of a tournament on day 1, within five minutes this is usually followed by about twenty friends 'liking' that fact and a further thirty wishing said player good luck for day two. This latter part can go on for several days.

No-one is spared in this respect, last year online prodigy Chris Moorman bought his dad, Simon, into a £1,000 GUKPT event as a birthday present. With a bit of luck and more than a little bit of skill, his dad ended up winning the entire tournament for about £80,000 prompting Stuart Rutter to post the perfect back-handed compliment over on Blondepoker. “Congratulations to Chris Moorman, one of the top three online players in the world...and top two in his family.” Not that Chris cared by this point, having railed his dad for the entire final table he looked happier than if he'd won himself.

Does the loud vocal support help though? British players have been tending to finish in the top three spots more over than anywhere else on the final table so perhaps the football-esque songs have been making a difference, which is maybe where all the Americans and Canadians need to get more inventive. You see when railing, the British plan is to have as much fun as you can winding up any target without get into too much trouble or being too rude, it's a technique we learnt from Gandhi.

Rod said, “Americans could learn to be funny and original like the English rail. Shouting 'Durrr, durrr, durrr!' at [Tom] Dwan is lame. Whereas singing the Super Mario theme tune at one of Sammy Farha's supporters because he looks like Mario is funny.”

With that in mind, here are a few songs to get you started Americaland:
To the tune of “Yellow Submarine” by the Beatles, “We all live in Erick Lindgren's house.” - To be sung by E-dog's horses on the rail whenever he makes a final table.

“Durrr, durrr, durr...Another one bites the dust!” For whenever Tom Dwan knocks out someone.

“It's The End Of Howard's World As We Know It” by REM, for when Ivey next makes a final table.
The best stuff though will always be the spontaneous songs. So next time your best friend is heads-up for a bracelet in the biggest, most important moment of his life but then you notice that the security guard really, really looks like a bit like one of the guys from Flight Of The Conchords, well then, you'll know what to do...

Chris Hall is a writer from the U.K.


  1. Prieure7:37 AM

    A British guest writer for Tao of Poker, I love it brilliant stuff one of the funniest guest spots ever. The line about refusing to call it soccer is my favourite and you got a reference to Flight of the Conchords in at the end, now I want to go to the Rio just to see that security guard.

  2. RioRodent1:02 PM

    See - - for the truth about Independence Day.

    Nice piece btw Floppy.

  3. PokerOso1:37 PM


    Success of Brit in 2010 WSOP = Variance

  4. Have played against all 5 of these players the past 4 years. A good year for the UK - does this mean Channing will FT the Main Event?