The camel-coated brigade


THE SUGARMAN SAYSpoker cards, three of a kind


1.00am on Saturday morning, I’m sat on the couch watching a warehouse forklift truck driver playing cards against a woman I wouldn’t normally bother looking at unless it was 2.00am in the morning, I was three sheets to the wind and armed with my stock chat up line of ‘alright pet? I’ve got half a bag of chips and I think the bins by the alley were emptied yesterday’. 

It was Pokermillion. Five hours of sheer spectacle in which some of the games ‘big fish’ pitted their wits against internet qualifiers and that blonde bird off ‘Soccer AM’. I’ve never really been into poker. Despite being a gambler since I was big enough to see over the local bookies counter, cards just didn’t appeal to me. 

It was a game my nana played on Sundays with her coppers and friends. (as in one and two pennies, I’m not suggesting she was in cahoots with the local old bill). Until now. 

Like many on this site I’ve been lured into the ‘dark world’ of online poker. Unable to hide from it on various late night satellite channels, constantly invited to million dollar tournaments by ‘pop ups’, and lured by scantily clad women promising ‘paradise’ in glossy magazines. I cracked. I downloaded the software from a poker site and deposited $50. 

Now I’m no mug, or so I thought. I’ve watched hours of this stuff on tv, I know when to fold, when to call, Jesus I even have a ‘professional’ ‘check when your hand is good’ to disguise it up my sleeve. I entered the beginners hold ‘em tables. (Playing for an average of $1 a pot). 

All was well initially, I held my nerve, folded the bad hands and won about $15 in half an hour or so. Quickly I dreamed of a new lifestyle. Why work I thought to myself? $30 an hour? 12 hours a day? that’s $2520 a week! I can just do this all day and rinse Norwegian grandmothers out of their pension money. I could retire by the time I’m 30. 


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I quickly upped the stakes. I left the beginners room. Well, I’ve been playing 40 whole minutes. Those people in there had obviously only JUST started. I entered another room in search of ‘bigger fish’ little did I realise trying to find ‘bigger fish’ in a poker site is like trying to find a bloke in Scotland who ‘likes a drink’. 

Within another hour I was wiped out. Sitting in a room with 5 guys who read me easier than a Harry Potter book was no place for a beginner like me. My $50 had withered away like a hot house flower in the cold November rain. I quickly remembered the pop up banner that greets you. 

‘If you haven’t worked out who the sucker is within half an hour…..you are the sucker’.
It was true. 
It was me. 

The Sugarman. A professional in the field of the science of ‘Human behaviour’, qualified up the eyeballs in psychology and reader of countless books on ‘body language’… for fun. 

With all my ‘skills’ that I anticipated would make me an all time poker legend. I’d been embarrassingly cleaned out by MrBravo from Budapest who was sitting on a full house against my 3 jacks. 

Still undeterred I battle on. Learning my craft in and around the beginners rooms. I won a chunk of my $50’s back yesterday and I genuinely believe my game and ability to read others is improving literally with every hand. 

My apprenticeship is just starting, I don’t mind admitting that…..but as a better card player than I once sung… ‘if your gonna play the game boy, you gotta learn to play it right’.  


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