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02/07/2007 No. 32
he Guardian G2 Poker Column
Victoria Coren
Monday July 2, 2007

Last night, in one of those surreal scenes that crop up during the World Series, I watched a group of poker players high-rolling on roulette with Vinnie Jones. Personally, I steered clear. I often indulge in unwise table games in Vegas, but I wasn't keen to hang out with Vinnie. I'm a bit squeamish about a man with an assault conviction becoming a macho movie hero, and I remember (though Vinnie naturally doesn't) that we have met before anyway. I interviewed him when he was promoting a range of men's moisturiser, and he explained to me earnestly: "If you're in the public eye, you have to look good. I mean, if you yourself was a model or an actress, you'd take a bit better care of yourself." Charming.

Anyway, the sight of these poker professionals playing roulette for footballer-sized stakes reminded me how dangerous casino culture can be. Everyone knows the financial risk of playing crazy table games - which is why it's ridiculous that pure poker clubs like the Gutshot in London and Dusk Til Dawn in Nottingham (both safe alternatives to a casino environment) are having difficulty getting licences. But there is an extra hidden hazard to casino gaming: it can seriously damage your poker play. The adrenaline rush of big swings on roulette or dice can create a general impatience which ruins the discipline required for cash poker and the early stages of tournaments. You can simply lose the ability to play small, slow pots.

This is also a risk for anyone playing too big on the internet. If you have recently increased your poker stakes online, my advice is to keep your hand in with the small games too. If you have a bad run, you'll be back there - and you mustn't forget how to care about the smaller sums.

Your can read more byAnthony Holden at his website

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