In this episode of the Confessions series Lee Davy shares his experience of playing at the World Poker Tour National Brussels.
God has flicked the switch. Summer moves into winter. Autumn didn’t even exist. As I walk down the high street, I am reminded of my anorexic frame. A shiver and shake. My shoes squeak. Darkness falls. The night starts eating away at the moon.
In front of me is a gipsy. She is praying into a paper cup on the floor. A baby plays with it. It’s the gipsy’s baby. That or she has hired it for the day. It’s freezing. It’s the middle of Brussel’s town centre. Here is a baby being used as a begging tool. I should feel sympathy. I feel abhorrence.
I squeak away.
I am in Brussels to compete in the World Poker Tour (WPT) National Main Event. My wife and her team are covering the massage work. I had never been to Brussels. It’s a two-hour train ride from London. So I thought I would save up the €770 buy-in and have a punt.
I decided to play Day 1A. My theory being, all the cool cats, would turn up on Day 1B. I started with 30,000 chips and 40-minute levels. It was my first WPT event. A sense of pride filled my chest; then the sweat started to flow like I was part of a high wire act.
It must be the nerves. I don’t feel nervous. But what else can it be? I don’t normally sweat this much. It’s unquenchable. I’m ripe. I start to smell like weed. I have also forgotten my breath freshener. My mouth smells like black and white lies. I decide it’s better to keep myself to myself.
I look around the room. There is an Asian woman who I have seen playing in Amsterdam. Then I notice Pieter De Korver. He is on crutches. I think he’s broken his foot. Next I see Mateusz Moolhuizen and Tobias Peters, two Dutch lads who I first met when they reached heads-up of the 2011 Unibet Open in Malta. I have a particular fondness for these pair as I met my wife during that tournament.
My game plan is to play tight ABC poker. I don’t talk to anyone. Partly, because of the dog breath and weed pits, but also because I want to concentrate on the game. I previously wrote that during the World Series of Poker (WSOP) this decision worked well for me. Keeping quiet was volitional. I thought it was professional and allowed me to make better decisions. I want to change my mind.
This time around I got bored and irritated. The tables were close together. My area seemed to be a thoroughfare. There was space only for Kate Moss. I don’t remember Kate Moss squeezing past me, yet people squeezed. By staunching the flow of conversation, I started to feel drowsy. I had subjugated all of the fun for a professional approach geared up to win.
But this was Day 1A.
What was I thinking?
I made it through to the dinner break. I hadn’t played well. A bit of food made all of the difference. I returned to the game in fine fettle. I was wide awake, sharp, and I even started talking to the Dutch kid to my right who was knocking everyone out and liked to smack his fist into the table as they departed.
Then, just like that, I was gone.
With blinds at 300/600 a75 the hijack opened to 1,300, the fist slammer called in the cutoff, and I looked down to see a pair of queens. I had about 25 big blinds when I made it 6,000 from the small blind. The Hijack folded; the fist-slammer put his head in his hands and gave a cry of despair.
Then he called.
I wasn’t expecting that.
The flop is decent for my hand: [7c] [2d] [4d] and I decide to move all-in. He snap-calls and shows [6d] [3d] for all the draws in the world. The turn is a club, and the river is the [kd]. I am out of the door by the time I hear his fist hit the table.
Afterwards, as I walk into the cold night air, I contemplate my role in poker. I had just spent the better part of a day sitting like a mute at a poker table tossing chips and cards between other mutes. Anger rose. I guess if you play; you’ll pay. I was paying now. Self-pity coated me like the fries coated in white gunk that were in my hands. Pity food. And there she was.
All 12-months of her. Jumping up and down on her mum’s lap, as she begged for food.
I didn’t have any money.
I gave her my chips.
I walked away from the baby, now coated in white gunk, and I thought to myself, “Pull yourself together man.”