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18/12/2006 No. 7
he Guardian G2 Poker Column
Victoria Coren
Monday Dec 18th, 2006

A few nights ago, I found myself in a small-stakes home game with the 2004 world champion, Greg "Fossilman" Raymer. He was in London to commentate on the European Poker Tour for his sponsors,

I am prepared to admit I was wrong about Raymer. When he won the world title, I thought he might be a bit dull. This was based on a press conference after the event. One journalist, keen to inject colour into a news report, asked him why he used fossils as card protectors. Raymer thought carefully, then replied: "So that the dealer doesn't accidentally take away my cards."
Hmm, I thought, this patent lawyer isn't one of poker's most dazzling characters. He must want to deflect publicity from himself, and will quietly disappear in a few months. I was wrong. Raymer seized the baton, signed a big sponsorship deal, and has blossomed into an internationally known commentator, TV celebrity and great ambassador for the game. He's likable, humorous, unstarry and approachable, always taking time to chat or play poker with smaller-stakes fans.

While in London last week, visiting this social game in Shepherd's Bush, the ex-champ improved his lifetime winnings ($5,792,365) to the tune of £130 - about enough for a sandwich during the big game at the Bellagio. More impressive even than his eagerness to play for these sums was his enthusiasm for "the funnies", the poker variants I discussed here a couple of weeks ago. If you thought Omaha sounded exciting, you'll love Raymer's new favourite: Knightsbridge, a hybrid of American-style paduki and deuce-to-seven triple draw.

If I might as well be speaking Japanese, don't worry. Our journey through Poker Variant World will continue with small steps. After Christmas, we shall cross Stud Bridge, travel through the Land of Lowball, and arrive in the beautiful realm of High Low Split. It's a bit like Bethlehem, with fewer angels but (if you're lucky) just as many donkeys.

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