Gazette: Poker

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The Independent Culture
SATURDAY NIGHT sees an exciting final play-off in the television series Late Night Poker on Channel 4. The winner will pick up a cheque for pounds 40,000 - nice going. By the ingenious device of placing cameras under the table, the television producer Robert Gardner was able to show viewers the players' hole cards, during the play. This gave the event, a classic no-limit Hold 'em tournament, its dramatic point.

It was tremendously encouraging to show poker on TV, in this format. I understand that, after this success, another series on poker is planned.

The whole event might have been even more stimulating with a fuller commentary. What was missing, so I felt, was the players' own analysis of their play, which could have been recorded after the game and provided by voice-over.

Still, viewers were treated to such stars as Dave "Devil Fish" Ullyott from Hull, and Surindar Sunar from Birmingham. Sunar was only saved in the first round, after imprudently committing himself with a pair of fives against a pair of eights, when four sevens came down on the flop for a split pot.

"I started at university," he informed us, "then I used to play small with pennies, then I was introduced to the local casino - they had small tournaments there. Used to lose a lot at the time."

Ullyott has a jewellery business, but spends all his time playing poker. "I've had quite a bad year. Nobody likes to lose, you know; everybody likes to win. The only good thing is everybody likes a loser . . . It's a road we all go down; you have a lot of ups and downs."

Ali from Iran was quoted in an interview: "I play two days a week and that's it. I've never worked, all my life. I went to university and did mathematics, so after that I tried, you know, to find a job, but for me it's a lot more money and less work to play this game."

Jan Lundberg, from Sweden, summed it up well: "I can handle losing, which is the biggest problem in poker. Winning is the easiest thing." Television brings it all to life.