A couple of months ago my light bulb went on — I would join a Texas Hold’em Poker tournament and donate my winnings to TMW (underwriting all losses personally). Despite the fact that the “Thurloe Court Poker Nights” only consist of a quasi-weekly huddle of friends in a South Ken pied-a-terre, what they lack in Monegasque grandiosity and sophistication they make up in wholesomeness and humour. Being a largely ILF (Italians in London in Finance) affair the nights revolve around food, Berlusconi impressions and trans-alpine infidelity gossip mongering as much as they do around poker, nevertheless there is money to be made or, more realistically, money to be lost…
The concept is simple: a minimum of 5 players come round for dinner, someone cooks, everybody eats. A lot. Especially il Signor Quagliuolo, who regularly reminisces about the days when he was a fat kid whilst stuffing a spoonful of gelato in his mouth… Each player hands over £20 pounds for the buy-in and is allowed a further £20 re-buy in the first hour. Once les jeux sont termines, £20 pounds of the pot are set aside as prize money for the end of year grand final, £20 pounds go to the runner-up and the rest to the winner. Importantly the winner has to write up a report of the match the next day giving grades to each player’s performance in the style of “La Gazzetta dello Sport” post football match reviews. Bonus points can be provided for the most spurious of reasons; sometimes as banal as a short skirt or the ability to provide a soundtrack which can effortlessly mix Eurotrash club anthems with old-school Italian crooning (think a cross between a Saturday night in Tramp and the launch night of a mid-range P&O Mediterranean cruise ship…)
As a biotech stockbroker (possibly the purest form of gambling) who begins most of her conversations with the word “statistically” I thought my gambling pedigree was enviable. Afterall my parents initiated me to poker at the age of 6 when they probably recognised my potential from my natural aptitude to card games (scopa obviously…). Or, more likely, they had found an educational way to extort me out of my pocket money. Anyway turns out that although my probability maths may be fine, my risk apetite may be considered by some as borderline suicidal and I guess this has held me back in the first few installments of Thurloe Court Poker and thus my lack of commentary on this blog.
The first several nighta were dominated primarily by my Roman compatriot, il Signor Cianfoni, who has an enormous ass. This is translated from the Italian “grosso culo” which metaphorically means having a huge amount of luck. Ironic really given my pulling power can be charted pretty linearly against the size of my gluteus maximus. Another relevant great Italian saying is “Sfortunato al Gioco, Fortunato in Amore” which literally means “Unlucky in Games, Lucky in Love”. Thus it follows that the more you win the more your partner is cheating on you… Coincidentially Cianfoni’s girlfriend had been travelling around Brazil during that period obviously enjoying the carnival in Rio and Samba lessons with professional dancer Kotekinho…
Finally to the joy of all the Thurloe Court posse she returned and settled back into her etiquette-conscious Milanese ways and we could all return to playing normal poker without the risk of Cianfoni drawing a poker of queens, a full house of asses and a royal flush in rapid succession. This is when I steppped up my game and in the first show-down between women I showed Barbie how stamina and perseverance can sometimes beat skill and panache. She tried to tell me the reason she let me win was because she didnt have time to write the reports the next day. Erm whatever… So to cut a long story short here is the first £100 I am personally contributing to the TMW pot… may the winnings become more regular otherwise it would “statistically” take me 1 year and a quarter to get to the £500 target.
Finally I would like to thank Nick for his donation, Quagliuolo for pledging his winnings if he does end up the victor of the year-end final and my friend Kryszia who has raised over 600 pounds for TMW by running a half marathon…so much more money, so much more impressive…!