There were many choices in January of where to play so, of course, off to Copenhagen, Denmark I went. I could choose from the Bahamas, Melbourne, Tunica, or Copenhagen.
I am pretty sure that not many players would choose the seven plus hours of daylight and high winds of deep winter in Northern Europe, including the Scandinavians, but I had never visited this area and looked forward to it. After two long flights I arrived six days before the European Poker Tour [EPT] main event and had the opportunity to see some of the city as well as adjust a bit to the change of time zones. I adjusted my schedule and then had to adjust it back to normal after a few days as I discovered that the pre-tournament poker was played here from 7:30 pm to 3:30 am, and that once the tournament began with a preliminary event of 10,000 dkk [Danish Kroner – about $1,750 U.S.] that the hours would be about 4:00 pm to 4:00 am. The casino was open from 2:00 pm to 4:00 am, with license issues making it necessary to close completely at 4:00 am. These were dark hours and well suited to all Dracula-like players.
Let me address some other issues before we get down to playing poker! The food and coffee was far better than I had been led to expect. I prefer fresh California-like fare but if you like more meat and beer in your diet you will easily find that as well. You can expect to pay for your visit if you are exchanging dollars as everywhere in Europe has gotten much more expensive in these past five years.
Lastly I wish to touch upon my impressions of playing live poker. I have always thought that the reason that so many players from Scandinavia choose to play on the internet is not only the obvious advantages of staying home, or that of enduring long harsh winters, but also the fact that no one seems to understand that poker players would like to have an environment to play in that one can enjoy, not one that you have to be self-destructive and brain dead to be in! The casino here is a lot like most stops that I have made in Europe, elegant and beautiful and designed to take as much money from you as possible in as short as time as possible.
I have always had two problems with the casinos here; the first is that most of the competition smokes. In Copenhagen the one and ten seats [next to the dealer] are the only non-smoking seats and when I sat in the two seat for two nights I was truely fortunate as the only other non-smoker was a local jeweler who liked the three seat. This is supposed to change on April 1st, 2007 when the whole casino is to go smokeless! We will see as my experience tells me that the smoking powers manage to delay such events multiple times, often for years. Another amusing footnote to this is that one tool in their box that they always bring out is that they expect business and the local economy to suffer, whereas after about a month of dip they tend to discover that play not only rebounds it becomes more robust! This might be a shock to cigar smokers, but for every smoker they make happy they keep many customers away!
My second problem is that casinos seem to be run by pencil pushers who do not understand the potential value of a vital thriving poker room. In Copenhagen they take what I call the "European rake", they charge 5% until they arrive at a cap of about 40 dollars of US currency and then the dealers demand a one percent tip on top of this. If you are not used to 60 dollars being taken out of your pot you will be in for a very rude awakening and you will understand the 'brain dead' reference that I made earlier. Why have a poker room of many tables that run for as many hours as the law will allow when you can have seven hours a day of a slow game on one table for some months every year? Hmmmm…..methinks the pencil pushers have made a mistake when they set out to get as much as they can when the sun is not shining. As one wit that was dealing the game suggested 'it is a good thing that there is fruit on the trees, otherwise the dealers would starve in the summertime'. Amen.
One rich Russian gentleman at the no-limit holdem game that I played in ridiculed the idea that any professional would attempt to beat this poker game. He said it had to be played for 'fun' and without any hope of winning! The casino here has properly brainwashed its players.
Okay, okay, enough unwanted philosophy, it is off to poker we go.
In the EPT event itself one of my few hands of any interest was in the big blind with 5-5 with the blinds of 100-200 and most of us having 8,000 to 12,000 in chips. Under the gun raised it to 600 and three players called before the button, I called also. The flop came 853 rainbow and what to do now that I have flopped a set? I opted for betting out 1200 into the pot of 3100 and hoped that someone would have an overpair and raise me. Nope. They all folded and I felt foolish for betting. My rule of thumb is that if I have more than two opponents that slowplaying any hand less than a full house will usually cause problems. It certainly did not work well in this case.
When the event got to two handed I thought the key hand was a raised pot that came T72 with both players checking, action came to Elky, and he bet out with Magnus Petersson calling, it came 3 on the river and Magnus got all-in and doubled up holding 33 to Elky's A2. I was not close enough to the action to verify this but Lee Jones told me that this was correct later on. His remark was 'that's poker, if you can't deal with it, take up a different game!'
Until next time play good, and get lucky!