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Christoph Haller

Created on: 17. April 2008
Last update on: 19. August 2013
Entry from 17. April 2008       

Letter from Monte Carlo – Problems with the Personnel

Always trouble with personnel. Especially finding a good chauffer is not an easy thing. Either he sleeps with the nanny or secretly sells compromising pictures to the press. That wouldn't bother me, I don't have a nanny, though sometimes I could use one, and I also haven't had any problems with the press. But most importantly, I didn't have any transportation from the airport to the hotel, though Mike Svobodny wanted to send me his driver. That’s a tradition and has come to be a kind of "running gag" between us. We see each other at least twice a year. Once at the invitation-only backgammon tournament in Cancun and once in Monte Carlo for the EPT. A few days before each event we talk on the phone and this conversation always ends with a friendly, "Christoph, I'll send my chauffer to the airport for you." To which, as a polite German, I always respond that it's not necessary and Mike Svobodny, being an equally polite Brit, insists upon it.

I learned from Mexico. There, the chauffeur that had been announced didn’t come, because he either didn’t find me, the airport or his car. What do I know? And then I was left standing there at the airport somewhere in South America and hadn't even written down the name of my hotel. This time I was, admittedly, standing at the airport alone again, but this time wiser and above all, kept informed by Mike via text messages. Unexpectedly, his chauffer had the day off. No problem. I got into one of the deceitfully expensive taxis and went off to my five-and-a-half-star hotel, "Le Meridien."

Then I got dressed up, or to be more specific, put on the jersey of my Monte Carlo sponsors, “T6,” and went to the EPT event. Tony G. was the topmost representative on location and just like me, had a short black polo shirt with the “T6” logo on the chest. Notable people, both foreign and German, on location and my Austrian friends on the team. And then I noticed the good-looking girls also wearing the dark, sponsor polo shirts. Delighted, I thought Tony G. had assigned them to take care of the team. Little neck massages and so on. But far from it, the girls were real players and in the main event.

Background of the story. The night before, the always well-attended EPT player’s party took place and there, the T6 girls were not allowed to participate, because they were “branded,” as you say it nowadays. In any case, the T6 bosses were so irritated by this that they paid the buy-in for the main event for all the girls that could tell the difference between hearts and clubs on the first try. Then of course, Sandra, for example, came further along than us professionals. The tournament was over for Tony G. after a good hour and unfortunately I didn’t get to experience the second day either (unlike Sandra).

From the start, I had a nice table with plenty of action and little competition, but at some point I was shifted and right away had to cope with Daniel Negreanu and Chad Brown. Whether you believe me now or not, Daniel Negreanu was asking me extensively about my articles. Someone must have translated them for him or he can speak a lot more German than he usually admits.

The table was mobbed by cameras, photographers and autograph-hunters. But I still wanted to exchange a few words with my friend, Casey Kastle, and briefly pushed my way through the crowd after a hand had passed. Out of the corner of my eye, I see the dealer as she doles out cards and as if I could feel it, I start sprinting my way through all the people blocking me and reach my seat just in the last second before my cards would have been withdrawn. Aces, my opponent got two pairs of them at the flop. I was bad without knowing it. All the money came creeping in and then I won at the river because the small cards paired. Doubled, thanks to my amazing athletic performance. But it didn’t help me much. Two bad beats later, the EPT finale was over for me.

The next night, I talked a little with Katja Thater at first and then started the search for a big cash game. Playing poker in Monte Carlo, that sounds like big pots and spectacular parties. However the rake is exceptionally spectacular too. In the Sun Casino, for example, you pay a rake of € 200 an hour at the “NL Hold’em € 5,000 buy-in table." Tips not included, of course, and you have to pay up front. Those who end up going all in, possibly just following a full hour, also end up with a double bill.

Lots of poker youths at the table. Young Italian faces that would never be able to order a beer in the States without having to show ID, but of course, here in the Sun Casino, gamble at the highest table and in the middle of it all, my friend, Abu. A rich Lebanese guy who lives in Cyprus but invested his money in Odessa. During the first hand I see, three players each slide more than € 7,000 into the middle of the table The classic XA XK versus X8 X8 and then Abu with CJ C4. Naturally they have to pay and soon a boy is at the flop; turn and river don’t change anything. With ultra active trading, I secure a buy-in right away. Then I get a second one and start getting a little hungry. In this noble casino, food isn’t served at the card tables. You have to eat in the restaurant and, of course, still pay the rakes. When you have good manners and chew carefully, a house-special salad comes to € 42 plus the 30 minutes easily add up to another € 100. On the other hand, who knows what bad beats I save myself from during my healthy meal. Maybe a completely new concept for bad form. You just pay the hourly € 200 and never leave the restaurant. In my life there were evenings when that would have definitely been the cheapest way to visit a casino.

But not tonight. Thanks to blackjack, at five in the morning I stood shaking on the street in front of the casino and waited for a taxi in the cool morning air. I waited for more than twenty minutes and longed for Mike Svobondy’s mysterious chauffeur.

The second night at Sun Casino went very similarly and there wasn’t really anything spectacular to report about. Completely unlike my breakfast on the day of my departure. What happened to me then made up for the all transportation problems of my stay. In case you didn’t know until now, Tony G. has a brother and a Mercedes. The car and brother have virtually grown together somehow. Tony G. takes the plane and his faithful brother takes the highway. Vilnius – Monte Carlo, Copenhagen – Barcelona or London – Istanbul. All no problem. As soon as Tony G. climbs out of the airplane, it's waiting there, the so-called “Tony G – Mercedes” along with the always-cheerful bother. The best of the best, of course. And as I was sitting there at breakfast, completely innocent, not expecting anything, the most loyal of all brothers comes, picks me up and brings me to the airport. Inciting a lot of emotion, I wore the T6 polo shirt in the plane too. So if you hear a few stewardesses talking about “value bets” and “drawing hands” in the near future, you know why.

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