On Saturday I was lucky enough to be one of the bloggers invited to the #holdem4charity poker event in Leeds. The event was in association with Ladbrokes Poker and held at the Hilton Double Tree hotel in Granary Wharf.
The theme for the event was the Great Gatsby so I dug out my best bow tie and velvet dinner jacket and dressed up to look the part. We were instructed to meet in the iconic sky lounge for a drinks reception before the main event got underway, having been to the sky lounge before I was excited to return. It’s amazing panoramic views of the city make it the place to be on a Saturday night.
After a welcome glass of fizz and some friendly hello's to faces old and new we were ushered through to the poker room to get started and test out our skills and knowledge of Texas HoldEm. I must say all the bloggers looked fantastic, there were sequins, feather boa’s, headdresses and sparkle in abundance and we definitely caught the eye of the early evening clientele of the sky lounge! The organisers did a great job in keeping with the Gatsby theme as the room was set up to reflect a time gone by, a homage to the vintage era of the 1920's.[caption id="attachment_542" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Photo from Search Labs[/caption]
Once inside our private poker room we were separated into 3 groups and sat down at our table with our croupier for the evening. As we had guests of varying skill levels ranging from complete novice through to experienced we had a quick lesson from the dealer to get everybody up to speed. After a few hands we were ready to go. Ladbrokes really kept the event professional and having played poker in a casino before I can say it was very authentic in the way it was structured. Our first session was around an hour long with the opportunity to rebuy back into the tournament twice if you were eliminated. Unfortunately for me a run of nothing hands and a few backfired bluffs led me to use my first and only rebuy of the night, thankfully things improved after taking down a massive pot with an ace flush hand that got me right back in the game. By the time the session ended I was sitting pretty as one of our tables chip leaders, so far so good!
The second session started with a smaller group after some people had been eliminated. The blinds (minimum bets) were going up at regular intervals so I had to be a bit more savvy in choosing which hands to play and which to fold, again I did quite nicely and made it to the second interval without any major concerns. By this time the pool of players still in the game was small enough to make up the final table so a group of 6 of us took our seats and prepared to duke it out for the top prize of £500 to donate to our chosen charity, this was kindly donated by Ladbrokes and was a wonderful gesture that added an extra edge to proceedings.
Now that the big prize was in sight people took the game a little more seriously, there was some great poker faces and brave bluffs around that final table! My chip stack was diminishing rather rapidly due to a run of bad hands and the cost of the blinds being high so when I received the hand of Queen/King suited (both hearts) I took the plunge and called all in, unfortunately the cards didn't fall my way and I was the first to be eliminated from the final table in sixth place, not too bad to say I haven't played poker for a few years. I'd like to say a massive congratulations to Bryony who was the overall winner despite never playing the game before! She was a player on my table at the beginning of the evening so I was quietly rooting for her to win when she went heads up.
I was happy with my play on the evening and had a thoroughly good time, it's fair to say my love of poker has been stirred and I will definately be playing more regularly in the future.
Throughout the evening we were provided with wine and canapés which were delicious, it was lovely to mingle with the other guests once the poker had finished and get to meet some of the local bloggers, who I follow on social media, in real life. Complimenting the event was a fantastic magician, Pete James had some serious skills so be sure to check him out if you’re looking for a magic man. We also had a blackjack table for those who wanted to keep the stakes rolling after their exit from the game (thankfully we were provided with fake money to play with so nobody went home with a serious hole in their pocket). It was good fun to relax and unwind in a laid back atmosphere after the tense drama of the final table!
Just before saying goodnight and making my way home I was given a goodie bag consisting of a small bottle of prosecco, a #holdem4charity cookie, a dice key ring and a pack of playing cards, a lovely gesture to take away to remember this great evening.
All in (I had to get a poker pun in somewhere) all I had a great night, it was lovely to dress up and pretend we were back in the roaring twenties for the evening, I imagine Mr Gatsby himself would have had a great time!
Thanks to Jennie from SearchLabs and Ladbrokes for the invitation.