Making Money On The Sofa (2)
Sunday, 7 September 2008
Ooh… the tear-jerking single father. This is the closest we’ve seen yet to an X Factor winner. You can’t bet until the final nine are announced, but sometimes you see the winner in advance (Shayne Ward was obvious within the first few seconds of his audition; I was waiting for that market to open like an eager pensioner pitching a tent outside Wimbledon three weeks before the tournament).
I wouldn’t say that Daniel Evans is a shoo-in yet – he doesn’t have an astounding singing voice, so might not even survive boot camp – but everything else is in place. I cried during his audition. A male friend of mine cried during his audition. He appears to have all the requisite Enid Blyton qualities I mentioned in the previous post on this subject. He is a brave, kind, straightforward, upright, immediately likable man. And he is overcoming something terrible, which happened through no fault of his own. If his voice gets better over the weeks, he could lock it up. I’ll definitely have a decent bet if he makes the live shows.
It occurred to me, as the Poker Nations Cup is about to start (Tuesday nights on Channel 4, from September 16th) how little use these ‘X Factor Winner qualities’ are in poker. I was remembering the recording of the first Poker Nations Cup, back in 2006.
This is, unusually, a teams event. The Danes and the Swedes showed beautiful team spirit. They went out to dinner together every night to discuss tactics and strategy; they gave each other tips about strengths and weakness in each other’s games. The Americans were also a strong unit, bonded together by a strong sense of patriotism and pride in representing their county. The Irish team, I need hardly say, were constantly together in the bar, drinking and telling stories – and they did the best job of making their online qualifier feel like part of the family. All of these teams were constantly in the green room when one of their members was playing, ready to cheer or console as the case demanded. And all the money won by individual players in individual heats was divided equally between the whole team.
The British team… they were a little different. They certainly weren’t going to help tighten up any weaknesses in each other’s games, when this might backfire on the advice-giver in future (non-team) events. And when it came to turning up and watching each other play, they were a little distracted. Ram Vaswani had online poker to play. Tony Bloom had a massive gaming business to run from his hotel room. Devilfish and Julian Gardner had hangovers to sleep off. These are all friends of mine, and all good people, but I couldn’t salute them for good team spirit. They were also the only nation in the cup to decide against splitting the money: dog eat dog, every man for himself, your loot’s your loot and mine is mine. None of this messing about with sharing, bonding, fellowship, 24-hour support – these are poker players, not volunteers for the bloody Samaritans!
And what happened? Straight to the top spot, first place, trophy banked, never in doubt. Their ruthless solo instincts were a strength, not a weakness. It was those same instincts that carried them through to success.
What can I say? They were my home team, I was proud of their victory. But none of them would have a chance in hell of winning The X Factor – even though Devilfish in particular, I suspect, would love that more than anything else in the world….