While surveying the scene at the World Series of Poker, UK Poker News was pleased to grab a few minutes in the company of the very famous ex-snooker world champion – and here representing Ladbrokes Poker - Steve Davis, just a day after his debut in the WSOP Main Event, an endurance test that he has managed to survive.
In part 1 of this interesting and very amusing interview, Steve recounts how he came to be representing Ladbrokes Poker here and relives some of the day’s hands on his first day at the Main Event.
In part 2, to follow shortly, Steve recalls his hilarious introduction to poker in the Bellagio at the hands of his long-time mentor, Barry Hearn, and weighs up the poker-playing merits of his fellow snooker players. Not to be missed!
UKPN: Welcome Steve, and thank you for talking to UK Poker News.
SD: You’re welcome.
UKPN: We are here at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, in the Ladbrokes Players’ Lounge, and you are representing Ladbrokes Poker. How did you get involved with Ladbrokes for this event?
SD: It all started about five or six years ago when Barry Hearn, my effective agent/manager from the snooker world, started getting involved with poker as a television sport in the UK and introduced Poker Million to the masses of people watching on Sky TV. As a result of that, Ladbrokes and Poker Million got together and I started playing online. One of the reasons I did start playing online was because I was put into the second Poker Million series as a celebrity player and by luck I won my heat, which included the Devilfish and Roy Brindley, who was the Ladbrokes representative although I didn’t know that at the time!
So I knocked out two pros at my table as well as….oh, and there was Bruno Fitoussi! Who else was on my table? It was a great table and I ended up winning it! That was recorded – they recorded all the heats – and I had two months, perhaps a bit longer, to wait for the live final with the cameras and hole cards. I then proceeded to play, in that two month period, 80 online sit’n’go’s and tournaments to try and learn the game. After that, I was totally hooked on what I didn’t realise was such a great game. I thought it was just a gambling game, I didn’t realise how clever a game it was.
UKPN: You survived Day 1 of this year’s WSOP Main Event yesterday. Is this your first WSOP event and can you describe some key hands from yesterday?
SD: The Ladbrokes package was a very good one I think for the players because there was a $1,500 event included beforehand, so it gave you a taster of the room and the feeling of effectively being in the Big One. There were about 2,800 in that $1,500 event so that was good preparation and a very good idea to let the players have a taste of it.
It is my first ever WSOP and hopefully won’t be my last. The razzmatazz is going to get bigger around it although I’m sure there will be people that disagree but it is sure to get bigger.
As for key hands, I lost half my stack calling down kings against aces. I tried to trap somebody who then called my raise on the river after I had flat-called on the turn. If I had gone all-in then, I might have got his money but I bottled it and lost half my stack after about five hands, to a big “Ooooooh!” from the rest of my table! I didn’t show my kings but they must have been thinking “what else could he have had? Maybe AQ and he was stupid enough to bet a lot of his money?” It was a bit better than AQ but it wasn’t good enough. My head was spinning for about 30 minutes. I was absolutely gutted, what an idiot! Why didn’t I raise on the turn to define what he had?
A couple of bluffs later, I was nearly getting back up to about 10,000. I was at 10,000 for ages, then lost 3,000 with AK trying to bet the flop when there was nothing on the board. Why did I bet then with AK? It’s a horrible hand!
Later I went all-in over the top of a couple of people which took me back up to 10,000 or 11,000. The guy I had gone over the top of a couple of times raised on the button and I had AK again. I re-raised to 4,500 out of my 11,000 and he went all-in. I said to myself “I’ve done it again – I can’t believe what I’ve done!” I could have put all my money in at this point but I put him on aces or kings because he was a pretty hard player, a good player. I thought “what a fool, why didn’t I just call. I’m doing too much damage with it.” I threw them away thinking I don’t want to get involved!
I then got AK suited and I raised. A guy re-raised and I went all-in. I had had enough of it. He turned over queens – this was my big hand. The flop came down J 10 rag. Rag on the turn. Queen on the river. That made my straight and his trips - no use to him! As he went away from the table, I went up to 14,000.
Right at the end of the day, a guy to my left had a smaller amount than me and he had been talking about the fact he needed to double up. Another guy in early position raised; I had a pair of queens. I felt that the pace of the game was getting more frantic towards the end as people needed to double up and accumulate chips, so I went all-in with the queens for 14,000. The guy to my left said, “that’s what I was going to do!”. I thought that was interesting as if he had had kings or aces he would have put all of his money in without hesitating. I hoped he was holding a pair of jacks. He went all-in and the first guy folded.
I had the queens this time and he had AK. This time I flopped a full house queens and jacks. Whoosh - 23,000! Two or three hands later it’s time to finish the night and we all cheered and clapped as we had all got through the day. Gruelling! I found it so hard to manage – I know this will sound stupid – the toilet breaks! You drink a load of water and you need to have a cast-iron bladder! Every 20 minutes you can go to the toilet in a snooker match, unless it’s a long frame, maybe 40 minutes, max. Two hours sitting down there drinking. Don’t drink coffee, don’t drink alcohol, you’ll just want to go to the toilet all of the time. It’s hard!
UKPN: Apart from your own performance in the WSOP, how would you rate the whole experience of the festival?
I’ve heard a few complaints from various poker people. It’s a situation where, if you ask the powers-that-be, they would say you can’t please all of the people all of the time. They are obviously trying to do the best they can and cater for everybody’s interests and how much they have put into the event. From a media perspective, everybody’s clamouring to get in there and I’ve heard some criticisms that they are not allowing enough access. Everybody’s trying to push in the right direction but people are being stopped from doing things.
You only hear one side of the story. It would be sad to think it was becoming a total machine that stops everything. But people do pay money for the rights so I suppose that’s the way it goes. My overall experience is one of efficiency – to get everyone together must be a logistical nightmare.
The trade show impresses me. The fact of how big it’s going to get. It’s big but it’s going to get bigger, you can feel it. I don’t particularly like the sex angle; I know it’s a largely male-dominated game but I think it’s offensive to some degree. Poker enthusiasts don’t need that. I’m not saying it’s wrong, that’s how trade shows work, but if you are walking through with your girlfriend or your wife and you see some company from a website, and there’s a girl with her crotch hanging out, right? You don’t need that. But do it in a sophisticated manner and it’ll be OK. The trade show still impresses me except for that part.
Return to UK Poker News soon for more of Steve Davis
[I]Ed note: Follow Steve Davis and download Ladbrokes Poker for qualifiers into the best tournaments around