Confessions of a Poker Writer: Monte Carlo or Bust?

Confessions of a Poker Writer: Monte Carlo or Bust ?

Lee Davy recounts his one and only visit to Monte Carlo, and how he nearly returned broke despite not playing a single hand of poker.

Confessions of a Poker Writer: Monte Carlo or Bust ?Monte Carlo or bust?

It was very nearly bust for me and I didn’t even play a hand of poker.

There are a few live reporters whose idea of a great tournament is one containing a few superstars like Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu and Vanessa Selbst and poker play that both excites and exhilarates.


I prefer my creature comforts.

I want to jump on one plane, get into a taxi for a short ride to the hotel, and just step out of my bedroom and walk into the poker room. I also want all of my food and drinks to be paid for.

I couldn’t care less who turns up. I couldn’t care less about excitement and exhilaration.

This is one of the reasons that there isn’t a single bone in my body that is envious of life on the European Poker Tour (EPT) in Monte Carlo right now.

I was really excited when I first got the nod to cover the tournament that eventually saw Mohsin Charania put a big fat smile on the face of Chris Moorman back in 2012. It was, after all, one of my bucket list goals to visit Monte Carlo, although I have absolutely no idea why?

I think it just sticks in the mind. It’s the opulence, the grandiose snobbery of the place, the James Bond-esque thoughts, and all those fast cars.

I don’t even like fast cars.

It was a pain in the arse to get to. No special helicopter ride for this little live reporter. Instead, it was a series of plane journeys and a car ride that brought me to my hotel room. As usual, on the EPT circuit, the accommodation was top notch, and I had little complaints on that score.

On my first night in town I took a walk and realized that there was literally fuck all to do. I met up with Laura Cornelius and Mantyvydas Plynius and we found this shitty little pizza joint on the sea front. It was the cheapest place we could find and it was awful.

There was a short walk to the tournament area and it was the most spectacular tournament area I had seen. Then I realized that there wasn’t any free grub, or drink, and the vision of splendor started to turn to shit.

Not to worry…I will just eat at the bar.

It doesn’t matter how many times I have to order a drink of water at the bar it never gets any easier on the palate. Having to pay for something that comes out of my tap for free is a royal pain in the arse.

So imagine my surprise when the man behind the bar charged me €8 for a bottle of water that would be gone after one or two swift gulps. That little trip to the bar gave me €2 change from €30 and all I had for my troubles was a glass of water and a cheese baguette.

I quick grumble around the media room and I learned that there was a Spar a short walk from the casino – if you call 3-miles uphill a short walk!

I can’t believe they have a Spar in Monte Carlo!

I managed to find my way there and stocked up on water, cheese, and ham and as much fruit as I could squeeze in my rucksack.

At breakfast I would eat my egg on toast and then steal 4-5 boiled eggs, and as much bread and butter as I could. Back at my hotel room I would make myself sandwiches with the fillings I had bought in the Spar.

This may seem a little extreme, but you don’t have a lot of time to yourself when you are ‘on the job’. This means that if you are not prepared you could end up spending most of your earnings on food and drink. You have to remember that these school lunches only took me so far, and I still had to eat in the evenings at €20-30 per time.

God knows how many poker players go broke on food alone!

It was the first-time I had ever seen Phil Ivey in the flesh. Not as exciting as you would expect. He doesn’t really move a lot. He doesn’t really say a lot. And try as I might I don’t even think I saw him playing a single hand of poker.

It was also the first-time that I had seen a poker player bust out of a €100,000 buy-in event, tell the table he would be right back, walk over to the Craps table, win €100,000 and buy back into the game.

I also met Talal Shakerchi for the first time. It’s unusual not to know the entire field when covering a €100,000 buy-in event, and even more unusual when you realize that one of the players you do not know is British.

I asked around and was told that he was a regular in the High Stakes Cash game scene in London. I have since gotten to know him quite well and you are more likely to see him playing in a $22 freeze out on Stars than a high stakes cash game in London.

He is one of the most humble and giving people I have ever met, and one of the greatest aspects of this job is the ability to meet people like him. A few months later I would see him in Starbucks in Vegas, and I approached him and asked if I could interview him.

“What on earth do you want to interview me for?” Said the man who had just paid a million dollars to enter the BIG ONE for ONE DROP with an intention to give anything he won away to charity.

Mmm…let me think about that one.

I guess it could have been worse.

It’s times like Monte Carlo when I am so glad that I no longer drink alcohol. It’s not just the thought of the dreaded hangover. It’s the bloody costs. It’s bad enough having to pay €8 for water, but can you imagine how much the booze would be.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to imagine, because I had the intrepid Dutch reporter, Frank Op de Woerd to my left and he was always good for a ale tale or two.

I remember one morning when he was a little worse for wear. I thought it was the hangover until he told me that he had been to Jimmy’s nightclub.

“I bought three standard bottles of beer and handed the barman a €50 note. He just looked at me and waited…”

“If I remember correctly, I think it was €25 per bottle.”

Can you imagine how much the cheese baguette would have cost?