Monday, 8 June 2009

Derby Day

I haven’t mentioned it on here, but most people know that I won a VIP day to the Epsom Derby through Ladbrokes. I say I ‘won’, but all I actually did was send my name via email to the VIP team, then my high raking month of April meant I was a shoe in for 2 free tickets. Me and K – and Mark + wife and Brenos + wife (Briggs) – therefore spent Friday night on the train to London to spend the weekend in London, using a 4 star hotel just outside Victoria train station as our base.

Saturday started early, with a 7:30 am alarm to make sure we were up in time and dressed suitably for the best dressed man / woman competition. New Thailand suits for the men, pretty dresses for the women- although I think Briggs should have gone long dress rather than the slutty short one he chose to wear! The open top bus ride to the racecourse was planned brilliantly – there were multiple bacon sarnies for all, and free champagne and bloody mary’s to wash them down with. I bottled out of the bloody mary after smelling the evil concoction but didn’t pass up the opportunity of the champagne – a theme for the day! :-)

Ladbrokes also hired some musicians to keep us entertained on the bus rides there, with the intention of having them play to us on the top deck, however they failed to anticipate the typical British summer weather. Rain and wind meant most people huddled downstairs, so our musicians, a 110 year old accordion I recognised from my junior school class and a 1920’s jazz singer, sat at the front and belted out the Charleston, Charleston acoustic and Charleston dance remix amongst other classics. Unfortunately the only people that could actually hear them were the 2 Ladbrokes promotion girls, and me and K – meaning we had to sit there for 90 mins grinning and clapping like fools! To be fair to them, they were good at what they did, but the intense social awkwardness led me to drink more than my fair share of champagne. Luckily for me Brennan and Briggs must have been having their own social awkwardness problems (lovers tiff??) as they were both hammered, deflecting attention from my own inebriation.

Welcome drinks followed, so not looking to look a gift horse in the mouth (boom boom) we helped ourselves to more champagne, expecting the well to run dry at any moment and forcing us to purchase our own beverages. How wrong we were! Ladbrokes must have done a deal with a champagne company as Briggs soon spotted the not-so-secret stash of unopened champagne boxes, and we were subsequently plied with top ups at every opportunity – probably by waiters / waitresses trying to keep moving in order to stay warm! Lunch of lobster cocktail starter, roast beef main and strawberries and cream desert slipped down very easily with complimentary white wine, before we were on to the main purpose of the day…… more champagne drinking :-)

I seem to remember a few horse races taking place as well, without much success until K successfully picked out the Derby winner in the sweepstake and backed it at the bookies, putting us even for the day on gambling but massively up on expenses not paid for! The weather even turned in our favour and K began to stop shivering, until I drunkenly demanded we go on the top deck of the bus on the way home for a sing song with the musicians. At least that was the plan – a plan that Ladbrokes should have known was never likely to take place when 30 poker players aged 25-40 are loaded with free booze all day (which Ladbrokes continued to serve on the way home). After one chorus of ‘The Sun Has Got His Hat On’, the 20’s jazz singer soon realised her folly and sat back down to listen to the inevitable barrage of football chants, Oasis songs and more than a few references to me and how I spend time with my dog – all of which are unfounded (I don’t even have a dog!!!). I saw the funny side though as was all in good jest, although the passing London traffic and pedestrians must have wondered who the hell Benny Holmes was!

Needless to say, I had no idea what time we made it back to the hotel, although I am sure it would have been sooner if we hadn’t made two unscheduled stops for natural causes – first where 15 men ran up various alley ways to lose some of the excess alcohol they had pludered in the previous 7 hours, the second where Briggs single-handedly demanded a pit stop and was nearly left abandoned in London! I then (predictably?) passed out for an hour in our hotel room before rousing myself for a final trip to the hotel bar just in time to hear check_lol berate everyone else at Heads Up poker and challenge half of London to ‘play for rolls’. I can’t wait to see if anyone takes him up on this… Our day ended at around 10 or 11 (I think) with a room service pizza, thoroughly exhausted but thoroughly entertained by the whole day. I had already put my name down for Royal Ascot and now definitely want to win tickets there too – if you’re reading this Ladbrokes – help make sure I’m there!!

Just in case anyone is wondering, I’ve played virtually zero poker this month and don’t expect to for another few days at least. My volume will pick up a lot next month though – more news to come on that in a later post….


  1. Ascot winners hear by 1 June :(


  2. Great day ben, i was the big lad singin oasis after taking te microphone off the jazz singer lol and singin them footy songs all way back. regards 0thepower0