I returned to London after playing in the World Championship at Binion's Horseshoe in Las Vegas very much richer. Richer, that is, in experience rather than greenbacks. Everyone should enter the event once in their lives.

The championship is an intense emotional experience because everyone involved - this year there were 312 entrants paying $10,000 each - knows it is the biggest deal in poker. Fourteen former world champions were competing, and an array of top class American and international players.

What can I tell you? I lasted until almost the end of the first day, by which time 150 entrants had been busted out. I played badly, mainly in not pushing my good hands hard enough. If the eventual winner, Stu Ungar, had had my cards, I have no doubt that he would been $10,000 ahead, rather than $10,000 down, on the first night.

The physical drive of the event is relentless. On the first day we played four two-hour sessions, with a 15-minute break between each one and the next, which is only just long enough to make it to the loo. On the second day, when the field was reduced to 27, the players were in action for more than 12 hours. One slip is enough to ruin your chances.

When a player is busted, he simply stands up and quits the table. No one looks up; no one has time to commiserate. He or she feels simply terrible, but that is the downside of competing. After a day or two, the shock and the pain wear off. Hey! At the end of the championship 300 or so other players all feel bad, too. "Bad beat city" is my nickname for Las Vegas.

Here is my final hand. Sitting on the little blind, everyone folded round to me. I found J-J wired. I decided to try and double through on my remaining $5,000 in chips, and checked to the big blind. (I should have bet, to win the antes, not give him a free draw!)

Down came what I thought was a dream flop:


giving me a higher pair plus a gutshot straight draw. I bet my stack and after some thought he called. He showed 10-8, which stood up. Exit Dave.