Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Across the Pond

The blessed plot was jolly good fun. Good eggs over there.

Slept on the redeye all the way over, stopped by the Dorchester, the best hotel that is on my firm's preferred list (i.e., the best hotel they'll pay for--don't be fooled by the published rates though, our negotiated rate is ridciolously low). Even though I was stuck in the relatively dumpy rooms set forth for mere businessmen, I can honestly say the place is awesome. I must stress the word "relatively", as there are no dumpy rooms in the Dorchester. Despite enjoying it thoroughly, I don't think I'll stay there again as it was so expensive I was embarrassed to order breakfast--25 pounds for standard fare (at almost 2 dollars to a pound) and even if my firm will reimburse it, I can't do it with a clear conscience. Five pounds fifty pence to have one shirt pressed; I considered getting an iron and setting up a competing business in the lobby. Not surprising given the parking lot--one morning I exited feeling sorry for the sad Mercedes parked between the a Rolls and a Lamborgini. This place is over the top.

Question: how do you serve English food that doesn't have all the charm of, well, English food? Answer: hire a French chef. When he came out to ask how my meal, the best roast beef I've had on this planet served with horseradish and strong English mustard, I mightily resisted the manic urge to request ketchup just to see the "you idiotic American" look on his face.

I spent most of my awake time at the hotel at the bar trading Eastern European anecdotes with the Polish bartender, with whom I had a lot more in common than the Kuwaiti businessmen (very pro-Bush), the scion of an American dynsasty not to be named here (very anti-Bush) and a full cart load of Birmingham Barristers (including a genuine Queen's Counsel). Okay, I had a bit in common with the Barristers and ended up introducing them to the bartender's recommended "Polish Martini", equal parts pepper, honey and apple infused vodka, delicious and quite lethal.

I also met a visibly wealthy (she had her bankers with her!) and visibly drunk middle aged English lady who, after being charmed with a few of my poker stories, offered to bank roll me 20,000 pounds with me keeping 25% of the profits. Perhaps insanely, I explained to her that I really was not that good yet; she took my card and insisted she'd call me nonetheless. I'm not holding my breath.

Anyway, on Tuesday night, I did manage to hit the local poker club, not one of the casinos that by law requires 24 hours advance sign-up to become members, but rather the Gutshot. I got there and immediately signed up for the tourney they had on offer, a 5 pound rebuy "beginners tourney". Playing in the 50 pound buy-in pot limit hold'em game (very popular in Europe) while waiting for it to begin at 8, I started to regret registering as I heard they had 120 players and didn't quite see how jet lag from flying overnight, a potential 2:00 a.m. final table and a 7:00 a.m. wake up call for work the next day could fit together. I made my only winning move of the night after the tourney capped when some guy offerred me 15 pounds to by my card. 10 pounds profit for 5 minutes in line.

The pot limit game treated me worse as an early hand with 5 limpers found me with KJ hearts and a king high, two heart flop saw me all in (after a raise and re-raise) against what turned out to be trips and some moron with K8 wrong suit. My KJ, despite catching a jack on the river, was no good and I lost 50 pounds straight away. I played for 2 more hours without much in the way of cards, lost 25 more pounds and called it a night. English poker has laid its first beat on me. My second beat was when, after significant travel time, I showed up on Thursday night and found to my chagrin that the place had been rented out to a corporate event. This is generally not a danger with underground New York clubs.

Mrs. SoxLover joined me for the weekend and we had fun with old friends (no Dorchester on my dime and no poker), coming back on Sunday just in time to see the Pats wait until the 4th quarter to remember they were the Pats.

Since then, I've been back at the salt mine working through the jet lag but I decided to get some live play in earlier tonight (rest of the week booked up so have to do it now), despite having FTrain shrug me off--perhaps he was still hungover from what looks to have been a blast at the Boathouse:

It went well enough, after finding the club I went to the night I flew out nearly dead with only 2 players, I walked up to the club I've been to more recently and enjoyed a very juicy cash game for a few hours till I ran of steam and headed home to write this. It's good to be back.


At Wed Sep 28, 01:51:00 PM 2005, Anonymous jprfrog said...

I wanted to ask if the ham sandwich you encountered on the way over is the same one that every prosecutor on TV indicts regularly. Evidently it deserves to be, at least as much as Tom Delay.

At Fri Sep 30, 04:02:00 PM 2005, Blogger F-Train said...

Al said it best:

A glimpse at the tab....

113 double Soco's
78 Miller Lite bottles
36 double Cap'n and Cokes

We had a good time.


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