OrianaThe fourth annual european poker cruise took place recently. An international group including players from England, Italy, France, Spain, Scotland, Australia and America set sail aboard Festival cruise lines luxurious European Vision. They would experience fine food, beautiful weather and a different port of call each day to explore and enjoy. Oh yes, and a little bit of poker aswell. As the manager of the poker room I didn’t have time to take in all the sights and sounds but here is my diary for the week.
Sunday 14th September – Venice
Although the ship didn’t sail until 4.00pm I found myself on the docks at 8.00am waiting for the ship to arrive so we (myself, Claudio and Luca – the organisers of the cruise) could take all the tables and things on board and set about transforming the ship’s business centre into a poker room for the week. After all this was done it was up to the top deck to watch the breathtaking view as the European Vision slowly left port passing St Mark’s square and the Doge’s palace on its way out into the open sea.
Monday 15th September – Dubrovnik
I’m afraid I missed this picturesque medieval port due to catching up on some much needed sleep after the previous days exertions. I have been there before though, and the walk along the walls of the fortress provides panoramic views and is well worth doing. On a poker note Emile Elias captured the opening Limit Hold’em tournament and the live games established for the week were Pot Limit dealers choice and Limit Hold’em 6 – 12. Both of which went well into the night.
Tuesday 16th September – Corfu
Very sorry, didn’t make it off the ship again. If you want to know more about Corfu I suggest you watch ‘Wish you were here’ or some other travel programme because I can’t help. One of the things I like about cruises is that at dinner you are Unique Casino seated on large tables and get to meet new people and have interesting conversation. On this night the topic of birthdays came up, and Carol from Birmingham ventured that if you had 22 people in the same room 2 of them would have the same birthday. “Nay” I protested this cannot be true. On hearing the debate El Blondie, apparantly not satisfied with his six figure tournament earnings this year smelled a wager. “I’ll bet €100 it is”. “You’re on”, says I. So when we get to the poker room we poll the first 22 people to enter. It only takes 11 and I’m out €100. But being a gentleman El Blondie graciously offters to accept a round of drinks for the room. And then proceeds to order the most expensive cocktail on the menu,complete with multi straws, umbrellas and plastic parrot!
Wednesday 17th September – Santorini
I finally make it off the boat. The main town in Santorini is perched on a clifftop and is accesible by either cable car or a donkey ride up a winding path. Cable car for me then. After exploring the narrow streets and shops in the main town I join the dealers and head off to the beach. After a 10 minute taxi ride we find a near desserted stretch of black volcanic sand and stay there for the remainder of the day. Back on the ship it’s the ladies free-roll which dealers Sarah and Billy carve up after they see off the opposition.
Thursday 18th September – Rhodes
Poker players keep strange hours as the bemused restuarant staff on the ship can testify. As most of the passengers were just waking up the poker room was just closing. And did the remaining players go straight to bed? No, no, no. After a champagne breakfast where the usual tea, cofee or juice was replaced with bubbly and cocktails, to bemused looks from the waiters. They headed for the nearest beach. Why sleep in your cabin when you can get a tan and some z’s in one go! Of course if history and culture are your thing the symbol of Rhodes was the Colossos of Rhodes, a huge bronze statue of Helios, the God of the Sun, one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the World.’ It was placed at the entrance of the harbour at Mandraki, serving as a lighthouse until it was destroyed by an earthquake in 225BC.
Friday 19th September – Piraeus (Athens)
Acropolis smopolis. I’ve seen it twice and decided to take a rain check this time around. But seriously if you haven’t seen it, it is well worth going to see. Italy’s Piero D’Ancona won the Pot Limit Hold’em but was still losing on the trip thanks to the blackjack table. The casino manager had a smile on his face all week as his usual action is a couple of euro’s on red or black. When on a cruise ship it is perfectly acceptable for grown men to drink girly coctails of all colours, shapes and sizes. The most popular of the week was proving to be the ‘B.B.C.’ baileys, banana and something else I can’t remember. It tastes like milkshake and the alcohol content is only evident in the morning when you wake up with a splitting headache.
Saturday 20th September – Day at Sea
Forget the poker, we piled into the theatre to try and land the €3,000 jackpot on the last night of the bingo. We came out empty handed after the longest game of bingo I’ve ever seen. Each number is called out in 5 languages! The main event No Limit Hold’em tournament was won by cruise organiser Claudio Pagano, beating dealer Ian James to the near €3,000 first prize. What’s that I hear “Stewards Enquiry.” The last night is when you get your bar bill. (The ship operates a no cash policy and you simply sign for your drinks throughout the week.) The white envelope stuck under your cabin door came as quite a shock to some. Gala diner in the restaurant brought us singing Maitre ‘D’s and dancing waiters and a good time was had by all.
Sunday 21st September – Venice
Back to where we started and another cruise was at an end. On behalf of Claudio and Luca I’d like to thank all the players for coming and the dealing staff for doing a very proffessonal job. Hope to see you all again. P.S. If anyone knows the math behind the birthday probability thing please drop me a line as I still don’t believe it.