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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries
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SIAS poker evening - review by James Williamson

The atmospheric Loose Cannon Poker Club in London EC4 hosted the annual SIAS poker competition in January. 115 players entered, all hoping to be crowned SIAS poker champion 2009 and pocket the first prize of £200. The evening began with lessons in the basics — the entrants being a mix of true beginners wondering what they’d got themselves into and hustlers pretending to read lists of hand rankings. Then the competition started and a nervous quiet engulfed the club.

Players were given two chances: all started with 1500 chips, but if those got frittered away during the first three levels of blinds, then another 1500 chips replaced them — a ‘double chance freeze-out’. All players at the end of the third level who had not taken their extra chips were given them anyway.

Amazingly, hardly anyone got knocked out before the competition was paused for some much-needed refreshment. But once a few beers had been consumed, the blinds and bets started getting bigger and more players started to go out. Not that this was a problem — players then had the opportunity to either ’win big‘ on the cash tables or just relax at the bar.

After four hours of hard play, only the final table of nine was left in the competition, comprising David Barnard, Nick Bennett, John Clements, Tom Hukowski, James Lumb, Louis Manson, Rajiv Patel, Guy Whitby-Smith and Martin West. All of these players were now guaranteed a prize and Louis, who had also reached this stage last year, was hoping his “lucky shirt” would see him through.

By midnight, only three players remained — Louis, John and David. Despite the shirt, Louis could only manage third and, with his stack of chips much healthier than John’s, it didn’t take long for David, who works in Hewitt’s retirement practice, to seal the victory. Afterwards he said, “It was my first live game (aside from playing with mates at home). I’ve only been playing poker online for six months but I have been helped by reading Caro’s Book of Poker Tells — highly recommended. I thoroughly enjoyed the night, it was played in the right spirit and the dealers were very helpful and charismatic.” Congratulations to David and thanks to everyone who took part.