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In the second of his two reports from behind the scenes at’s Late Night Poker tournament, Warren Lush finds big poker names and a little monkey business.

(For Warren’s first report, with some Devilfish mischief, see here)

The brilliant Late Night Poker tournament filmed in Cardiff, Wales, featured a strong line-up of top players and PartyPoker qualifiers who were impressed with the format – seven heats of seven players, with an eight-seat final. One was Annette Obrestad, the youngest-ever winner of a WSOP bracelet who also came second at last week’s European Poker Tour event in Dublin. Annette was a great person to meet and thoroughly nice for such a shark. But the Norwegian found herself at a table next to old Late Night Poker “villain” Kourosh, a man who is quite simply evil but brilliant for TV! He hadn’t got his buy-in when he arrived in Cardiff – something about it being left in the Mercedes rather than Porsche – but he eventually sorted it out and was at his villainous best.

Big pair: Kourosh and Annette Obrestad

Then there was a Late Night Poker debut for Jon Kalmar from Lancashire in the UK, who finished a sensational fifth in the WSOP Main Event this year, winning a cool $1.25 million. Jon had nothing before the event, but the ultimate fairytale saw him walking away from Vegas a rich man. Unfortunately, for me anyway, one of the online qualifiers at the WSOP had backed Kalmar at 250/1 with $100 to make the final table at before the event. Cue me revealing myself as an idiot as I was involved in the odds! Fair play for putting up the $100, though, especially as Kalmar wasn’t even going to play in the Main Event until a last-minute satellite win!


Big WSOP winner: JonKalmar in action

One person I know extremely well is Londoner Roland de Wolfe, who was around for the week as he has developed into an excellent commentator. Roland and I crossed paths way before he was a World Poker Tour (Paris) and European Poker Tour (Dublin) multi-million-dollar winner and one of Europe’s hottest pros. He was originally a writer on a poker magazine, which prompted Phil Hellmuth to say when they first met at Premier League Poker: “I know where I recognise that guy – the last time I met him he was interviewing me!” Roland is now well and truly amongst the big boys, though, and his instinct in laying down hands in particular was applauded by everybody all week.

Later in the week we hit the town again following our earlier excursions with the Devilfish, Padraig Parkinson and Maud Mulder. This time it included me, the majority of our PartyPoker online qualifiers, some colleagues, Robert Williamson III, Roland and the Devilfish (again!). That night, much to the delight of most, Robert Williamson really thought he was a monkey (don’t ask, but it all started when the bar manager came out in a gorilla suit).


Monkey nuts?: Robert Williamson III

These guys who are used to the glitz and glamour of Vegas just go a bit wild in Wales! In typical poker player fashion it was time to play rock, paper, scissors for the bill – and I got down to the final two before my rock blunted Swedish pro Bo Sehlstedt’s scissors and he had to pay up. Phew! One person who would have found it particularly funny if I lost was Erik Andren from Stockholm, Sweden. This man is the PartyPoker King of Qualifying – he seems to win a seat everywhere we go! I would actually be surprised and concerned if he wasn’t at the next one. He’s like part of the family now, but I wish he would stop trying to buy me drinks – it is supposed to be the other way around!

Suffice to say all our qualifiers had a great time in Cardiff. To play in Late Night Poker is a prestigious opportunity and, because it was a small group, it made for a fantastic atmosphere all the time. There were a number of German qualifiers there and they spent a lot of time picking the brains of Premier League player, countryman and bracelet winner Eddy Scharf. What I will always remember about Eddy, though, is that he is an airline pilot and is not full-time on the poker scene despite all his success. Just imagine: “Hello, this is your captain speaking. I am going all in, I repeat, I am going all in.” It sounds like something Tony G would say.

Towards the end of the week another wildcard entered the tournament to play with the pros. Agnieszka Rylik is a top Polish TV presenter and all-round action girl. She does reports for primetime television in Poland on flying F16 jets and is also famous for being a boxing champion. She’s glamorous, solid and not the type to put up with being called “baby” by the Devilfish. By coincidence they were drawn at the same table but you will have to wait until you see it on TV as I’m not going to tell you what happened!


TV star: Agnieszka Rylik and Joe Beevers

The last day saw the celebrity heat which featured a variety of UK comedians and entertainers. All of them were good value, but only one of them was the last person in the Hilton bar on the last night of the tournament. Step forward Mr Howard Marks. We didn’t finish the tournament until 1am that night and it was time for goodbyes and see you soon.


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Good luck at the tables!


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