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07 August 2007

Celebrities Behaving Badly at Ladbrokes

The Poker Million VI is all but wrapped-up and in the can.

The final - televised live - will, of course, be an early Christmas treat going out on December 21st, accompanied by the now notorious Live Final Party. But, for fifteen weeks beforehand, starting 18th September, Tuesday nights on Sky Sports will be poker night capturing all the best and worse bits of this year’s tournament.

It all kicks off with a celebrity qualifier heat where former Westlife star Brian McFadden, celebrity cook, dancer and once rugby player, Matt Dawson, along with actor Dexter Fletcher, Mr P from comedy act Hale & Pace and Poet Laureate elect, Des Wilson, all squared up against pin-up model Danielle Lloyd.

McFadden, who classically described professional players, sat upright and emotionless, as ‘corpses’ during his post-match interview, was intent on enjoying himself.

Likewise Fletcher, who has appeared in more films than the infamous ‘grips man’, clearly loves the cameras and between them the duo provided some memorable television moments.

Naturally, when getting down to business, they knew they had to stop the frolicking and concentrate on the card playing whilst stopping staring at Miss Lloyd’s cleavage. They did the first two parts well, possibly because they did the third so badly!

What goes in the show and what is edited out remains to be seen and I fear the editors may do their worst; leaving the best moments on the cutting room floor.

My old mucker Jeff Kimber will not be best impressed if the line “It’s true, television cameras put five pounds on you …so it really is time Jeff stopped eating cameras!” makes the final edit. But what can you do?…Report it here instead!

The majority of players in this year’s event took advantage of Ladbrokes hospitality, enjoying a pre-match meal in the Casino’s restaurant and accommodation at the Paddington Hilton Hotel.

Of course everyone knows casinos are traditionally a good place to learn the Chinese language - after all they are the world’s most enthusiastic gambling race - and expressions such as “doo lay lomo chi hi" – I actually don’t know what that means but they say it a lot, especially when losing – are easily picked up in them.

But all this fun apart, it can be, and often is, quite sad working on these things. As you will discover when watching Poker Million VI on the box, grown men were reduced to tears whilst embroiled in the emotion of high-stakes poker.

In the mornings, when the posse of players and their jovial supporters were leaving the hotel, doormen could have been forgiven for thinking they were going off to a wedding, but come early afternoon the vast majority of those once cheery groups were returning as sombre as a funeral procession.

Thankfully, as a television correspondent once famously reported from the deck of an aircraft carrier during the Falkland’s War, “I’m not permitted to give you exact figures of those that went on the raid but I counted them [aircraft] all out and I counted them all back in again.” So at least no one decided to become Hovis on the back of a painful Poker Million defeat.

The hotel forecourt was actually familiar territory for a number of us as one night we were evacuated to it at some unearthly low digit hour of the morning courtesy of a defective fire alarm. At least it gave five players a valid excuse for a below par performance the following day.

Amongst the players in Poker Million VI was Jon ‘Skalie’ Kalmar, the World Series of Poker final table finisher who reportedly had more shareholders than British Gas.

Strangely Jon appears to have taken a new job as a chauffeur as he was regularly seen at the wheel of a new 7-series BMW during the week.

But seriously, well done to the guy, what a fantastic result and good to see he’s ploughed part of his hard-earned into something other than a bankroll.

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