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Christoph Haller

Created on: 8. May 2008
Last update on: 19. August 2013
Entry from 8. May 2008       

Letter from the Mediterranean – Bad Beat on the High Seas

Complaining is usually strictly forbidden, but such an inconceivable series of bad beats even brings me a little out of composure. The receptionists here on the boat hate me. The London taxi drivers cheat me (as always). My Ukrainian girlfriend didn't get a visa and the youngest single woman among the passengers has dyed, pale-purple hair and is pushing 60. Things are only going flawlessly with poker. But who's interested in that?

Vienna – London – Vienna – Lake Wörtersee – Venice. All that in barely 75 hours. First, jetted off to the Party Poker European Open IV. After all, I had a record to defend there. My fourth attendance, six table shootout and me, with the sum of my standings, somewhere between last and second to last. First off, I forked out money for the standard idiot-tax for the just-as-standard "shortcuts" the London taxi driver took, then proudly mounted the PokerStars logo onto my shirt and went into battle.

This time it went a lot better and my friend, Thomas Bihl, got my usual hands and with that received my usual standing. Whereas I was doing well and ultimately in the heads-up for entry to the finale, even in a good stack situation. But without luck it doesn't work. One dumb misdeal, two lost coin flips and instead of getting into the finale I was admitted into the Turbo Second Chance. An interesting format and very much recommended for all those who enjoy a deep stack that's well taken care of. Every seven hands the limit is increased and so that thinking doesn't get too difficult, you have to make all decisions within 20 seconds, otherwise the hand is dead. That's what I was also about to be. Dead, me and my ego, and I was out.

Checked my messages and right away the tragic news. For inexplicable reasons, my Ukrainian girlfriend, Tanya, had her visa application (that had been applied for six months earlier) denied by the embassy. Too bad! Had everything reserved and planned. From Vienna, with a romantic stopover on Lake Wörtersee, direttissima to Venice and then check in right away on the MSC Poesia for the sixth edition of the Party Poker Million cruise. My family, mother, brother, sister-in-law and others would all be on board too (as a belated Christmas present). A good opportunity – according to my original plan – to introduce my girlfriend to the family. I've already told them a lot about her. Beautiful, slender, pretty face, great figure and velvety, shimmering mid-length hair. And now this crap with the visa.

I needed a replacement, an adequate replacement – even just to not let the cruise ticket go to waste. And what do I do in the dizziness of my confusing feelings about London, still battered from the quick elimination at the Turbo Second Chance? I invite Thomas Bihl to accompany me. Incredible – and another bad beat of the visual variety.

Flight London – Vienna without notable incidence. Then a fully entertaining night in Vienna and then off in the direction of Italy. Pulled off the planned stopover on Lake Wörtersee according to schedule. So virtually almost on target. According to my experience, a stretch of barely 90 minutes to Venice. But either I must have had a different car back then or a different watch? Or maybe it was also on another lake? In any case, it was a hellishly stressful three and a half hours and just in the last moment we were able to check in on board.

A few facts. The MSC Poesia has room for 3000 passengers. 15 floors, 300 meters long and 1275 cabins. Two of these cabins are, by the way, for some technical reason not equipped with internet connections. The socket is there, but in true meaning of the words, there's nothing behind it. Now take a guess who the receptionist elected to have this lonely destiny, without the world wide web on the sea? Maybe one of the many retired 90 year olds (accompanied by their 70 year old daughters)? No, me – who else? – met this destiny. Me, as a vibrant and halfway young poker tourist with a computer bag under my arm and a digital camera hung around my neck. Well – like I said. I won't complain and after an endless three hours and after mobilizing all my patience and diplomacy I was rebooked. In the meantime, my friend, Thomas Bihl, had already accumulated the year's budget of a small city on the virtual poker table.

To the tournament itself. Now first the good news. I actually made it into the money. Unfortunately lost my second all-in of the entire tournament. Even so, $ 11,260 (buy in $ 8,400). Interesting and fitting the ambience of a cruise boat is the average age of the dealers. Generally speaking, ones that you know from the WPT, so in effect, three times older than the average EPT dealer. But really flawless performance. They're very experienced and relaxed as they do their work. But no reason at all for complaints.

Very much unlike my life in the cabin. There was something acoustic and extremely annoying to complain about, but no break. With that, no one can be helped. Regulations are regulations and the small – but extremely powerful – cabin loudspeaker terrorizes me beyond all measure. You have to imagine life on board like this. As a well-adjusted poker player, you go to bed after the cash games at around 7:00 in the morning and then no later than 9:30, at a piercing volume, the announcements start in seven different languages. "Attention, attention. To all passengers. Do not worry. The following emergency exercise is only for staff. We wish you a pleasant day!" Delightful to hear that there is not really an emergency and for all intents and purposes we could have assumed that was the end of the alarming information. So I turn over onto the other side and continue sleeping.

"Evacuation team B should convene immediately on the 7th floor" or "Leave the life boats 1-5 in the water. Please, fire team to the theater's locker room immediately – I repeat –fire team immediately to the theater's locker room!"

Each of these announcements inconceivably loud and then followed by Italian, Greek, Turkish, English, German, Spanish and French. Turning it off or even making it quieter is impossible. At best, you could pull the loudspeaker out of the wall and tomorrow morning I'm going to do just that, too.

Just a few final words about the cash game. We have a set round and play a special game. Nine changing variations. H.O.R.S.E , triple draw, NLH, PLO and Badugi. Sometimes you lose view of what game is currently being played. In moments of confusion like that, you can get out of the affair with the following trick. Just scream loudly "all in" and hope that no one has the nuts (whatever the nuts are at the moment). In any case I win and feel like I'm on top of the world. Normally the blinds start with 50/100 and are then increased to 100/200. In a marathon session with Mike Sexton and Mr. Ralph we gambled the entire day. The three of us and the blinds at 200/400 outright. Fearlessly Thomas Bihl joined in with me and we won nicely.

But back to my life in the cabin. My internet works somewhat well (for the bargain price of 50 cents a minute). Generally, I get to sleep for two to three hours before the rescue nonsense gets going. So I see the world completely bleary-eyed and in oddly surreal colors, or is that because of the – guarantied real – name brand Ukrainian sunglasses?
About that, my girlfriend sent me a message asking if I miss her. Of course I answered how much I miss her. But that was a bluff. First of all, I have Thomas and second, yesterday at the fruit buffet the fresh, 59 year old with the pale-purple hair winked at me. Maybe I'll take her to the onboard disco tonight. – Whether or not that works and everything else in my next report.




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