Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Poker player hoping for winning Vegas hand

A PUB poker player from Henley is off to the brights lights of Las Vegas to compete in a tournament with thousands of pounds in prize money.

A PUB poker player from Henley is off to the brights lights of Las Vegas to compete in a tournament with thousands of pounds in prize money.

Brant Harrison, 62, will swap the bar of the Saracens Head pub in Greys Road for the American entertainment capital when he and 99 other British qualifiers are flown out on Wednesday.

The former taxi driver, 62, of Remenham Hill, will then spend a week competing in the Redtooth Poker Vegas 100 tournament.

He said: ?It will be the first time I have been to Vegas but I have wanted to go ever since I started playing poker in 2010.?

Mr Harrison, who no longer works as he suffers from emphysema, will travel to America with his wife Linda, also 62, who also plays poker and only narrowly missed out on qualifying for the competition herself.

He normally plays in the Redtooth Poker league and qualified for and then won the regional final at the Grosvenor Casino in Reading. Mr Harrison taught himself to play by watching tournaments on television and reading books about the game. ?I started playing online,? he said. ?My first win was £250 from a £1.50 buy-in. Then I went to my first face-to-face tournament at the Saracens Head.

?Playing online and playing in person are completely different as there are different skills involved. Both have their pros and cons. It is quicker online and I can play three tables at once but it?s a better experience in person as you can get more ?tells? and know how people are going to play.?

Mr Harrison moved south from his native Yorkshire in 1984 and worked as a bar manager before he became a taxi driver in Henley and met his wife at work.

He recalled: ?We both worked as drivers for what is now Henley Taxis but used to be called Talbot?s. She would phone me up and ask me where to go because she didn?t know where she was going.?

The pair were married Reading Spiritualist Church in 2007 and started a cleaning company together. They ran the business for eight years before retiring in September when Mr Harrison?s health deteriorated.

Mrs Harrison took up poker herself after being left in charge of one of her husband?s online games when he had to take a phone call and also watching him play.

She said: ?I?ve become quite good and Brant refuses to play against me. If we end up on the same table at an event or online he tries to move!?

Mrs Harrison missed out on the Vegas trip at a qualifying event but will be going as her husband?s guest.

She said: ?I came 19th at the nationals, which meant I was the last woman standing and only just missed out on a ticket to Vegas.?

The couple have preparing for the tournament by playing online at home. Mr Harrison plays in tournaments with relatively small bids of £10 or £20 and the most he has won is £260.

?I have never lost a huge amount as I play within my means,? he said. ?The most expensive buy-in to a tournament I have been knocked out of was $24. Though I can make a little bitv it is not an income because what I win I reinvest in playing.?

When playing at the Saracens Head, he tries to ?read? other players.

He said: ?I sit and study the people on the table ? how they bet, the patterns they bet and the smile when they get a good hand. It can be something they can?t control, like an eye twitch or a neck pulse. I used to shake when I started going to the pub but that was because I was nervous. They used to say it showed I had a good hand but I shook on every hand!?

Mr Harrison said that to improve at poker you must keep playing, learning and concentrating but added: ?It?s important to remember it?s 50 per cent skill and 50 per cent luck.?

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