Main Menu
No. 1
No. 2
No. 3
No. 4
No. 5
In Association with
The Sony PlayStation 2  £289.99 !!
  GGG Home   | Index   | Info   | This Week   | Diary   | News   | Email GGG
25/05/2001 No.5
he Good Gambler
The Editor or one of our professional correspondants make regular contributions to coverage of the gambling world.
Email : TheEditor on any subject.
El Nino Returns (2001)

Starting where we'll finish, Las Vegas is once again the scene of more mushroom cloud debate. Through the 1950s people went outside to look at the tourist attraction nuclear test bomb clouds. In the 1960s they stayed inside for fear of the fall-out. In the 70s they felt the underground tests but those went silent in the 80s and 90s. Now President Bush has decided on a new nuclear program and a super dump for waste, 90 miles north of Las Vegas under a mountain. The local republicans who helped Bush get elected are up in arms about it but we think they'll change their tune when the power crisis means Vegas businesses without power during the day and Strip hotels with 40% bigger power bills this summer.

In the UK the casino business looks on with vague interest as Damian Aspinall, son of the late John, makes big moves into the online casino business. He figures to use his good name to woe fearful customers from those Caribbean sites and make lots of dough-ray-me. This seems like a ploy to get city money because aside from industry watchers like me, no one really knows who Aspinall was. Unless you live near one of his zoos.

Also in the UK the lottery people are showing that it is annoyingly difficult to take peoples money year after year without giving them much in return. It was only a couple of weeks ago that the silly debacle over not paying a jackpot winner ended. There, Camelot, the lottery organisers, spent much time finding first that the people claiming to be the lost jackpot ticket holders were in fact just that and then second that they couldn't pay them. Lost tickets prizes have to be claimed within 30 days instead of the 6 months for normal claims. Further more its only a few months since Camelot won the race against Branson for the new franchise and new figures show that ticket sales are through the floor. In 1996, sales of Scratchcards reached £1.5bn, last year they were just £546m. 1998 saw the peak sales for the main draw, £5.5bn, the 2000 figure was under £5bn, a drop of more then 10%. Camelot management say its down to wasted energy on the fight against Richard Branson.

Back to Las Vegas. In 1997 there were two El Ninos, one in the Pacific and one in Madrid. When I sat down in a small underground card room in Madrid in 1997, my friend Fernando introduced me to a kid they called El Nino. He'd been playing cards for only 9 months and had completely destroyed the pot limit omaha game that I thought I was going to get rich on. Now it was him and me and a few stragglers who couldn't pull up more than a few hundred thousand pesetas. He didn't understand the cards and position too well but he sure moved the chips good and although we shared their money, he took 75% of it. A little after that he was playing high stakes Kalooki down in Marbella with another friend and taking his money too.

But for El Nino the action wasn't big enough and he said buenas nochas to Spain for the shores of the poker playing country and the center of poker activity, Los Angeles. He did well in the cash action but rarely ventured into tournaments because he wanted to stay pure. In 2000 he tried Vegas and came a decent 7th in the 300 player $3000 NoLimit Texas event. Then in 2001 he won a tournament in San Jose, California, with a bonus prize of entry into the 2001 World Championship event. And so of course on 18th May 2001, with only one cry of "Viva Espania", 29 year old Carlos Mortenson, in tee-shirt and fisherman's cap, brought back the World Champion poker crown to Europe for only the third time. Oh, and $1.5 million. Viva El Nino. Viva Espania.