Playing on TV

I was crapping myself as I headed down the A1 to London for my TV heat last week. It was a nervousness I haven't felt for a very long time as a player. When you play poker for a living you often will feel like a fraud; a bad session and you question your own reasoning for leaving a comfortable job and a big win can make you delude yourself you are good enough for the Big Game at the Bellagio. My fear was that under the scrutiny of a camera, hole card cams and Jesse May in the commentary box I would be exposed for the fraud that I sometimes think I am. Sometimes you fold pocket jacks and, without knowing what your opponent had and nobody knowing what you had, you can convince yourself it was a great fold, do it on TV a you better pray the guy had queens.

My heat was in the morning and I spent the night in a hotel the night before. We all got a minibus together, which actually took the edge off the whole thing. Bronwyn Campbell and I became quite chummy and she confided that she was more nervous than I was, which made me feel both better and worse at the same time. Liam Flood was entertaining in the back of the bus, asking "are we there yet?" every two minutes like a child in need of some sweets.

My interview was wooden and boring. I'd advise anyone who watches my heat to put the kettle on at this juncture, I think I mustered a high pitched "I'm cacking myself" - which will probably be the best bit from the whole stuttery affair.

TD Mad Marty Wilson was on hand, telling stories as usual. I can listen to that guy all day long, todays exert was the story of how he inherited a large hotel after being jailed by accident by the Father of the woman that plays Audrey on Coronation Street - you really cant make stuff like that up.

I'd told myself "sit out the first few hands" - just so that my VC Poker shirt would be guaranteed a reasonable outing on TV and because of a nervousness about busting first. I can drive 200 miles, turn up at a £1000 tourney and not be scared to bust first hand, but today that fear was as present as it ever has been, just like the first time I entered a casino years ago, feeling well out of my depth.

But then the cards were dealt.

And it became just another poker game. I am delighted to say that the fear disappeared once the game started and I played my A game. I actually raised 7 of the first 10 hands (I was more surprised as anyone) and I fired three barrels on a pure bluff on my 2nd hand. I was as loose and aggressive as I always was and the cameras didn't change a thing.

I built up a big stack, made a lot of moves and was pretty much the table captain prior to my bust. The blinds go up very fast in this format and I found myself reraising the joint chip leader, Robin Keston, all in. I had pocket queens and I thought I was miles ahead of him, even when he called me. He had been showing down a lot of crap thus far and got all his money in on hand one with ace ten, so I felt he could easily have had jacks, tens, ace-jack, ace-queen etc. He actually called me with ace-king and spiked the king on the flop. I would have had 60% of the chips had my hand held up and Keston cruised to victory.

I wont go into details on the other hands, I want to forget about them and wait till the show aires on channel 5. I will say that I think I played really well and Mad Marty and all the backroom boys were telling me how well I had done (Like I guess they would to everyone). Had my queens held I might be a very rich man right now, but it was just a coin flip, so lets not dwell on that.

I've caught the TV bug and I want to do it again soon, though I might need some help on my interview technique if I want to prove I have any type of personality at all.


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