Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Isle of Man Trip Report

Hi everyone!

Last month André got invited to attend the UKIPT at the Isle of Man. He accepted the invitation and I was more than happy to follow him for some mini-holidays. I didn't really know what to expect going to the Isle of Man, so I was rather skeptical. I had never been to the UK before, and the Isle of Man is a rather special case since it's not entirely part of the UK. Located in the Irish sea, it has its own government, its own currency and is somewhat independent.

When packing for a poker trip, I always make sure to take some books with me so that I can keep myself busy for many hours in a row while André is working. After my preliminary investigation on the Isle of Man, I found out it was a pretty small place with a population of 85k people and not a ton of stuff to do, so I packed some extra books just to be sure. Let me tell you, I didn't read a single page.

Day 0 - The arrival

We arrived on the 29th of October and were received by a very friendly taxi driver that took us to our hotel. On our way there, he told us a few things about the island. The thing that I found the most interesting was the low (almost nonexistent) criminality. People would leave their cars unlocked, wouldn't worry if their kids stayed out of the house until late and if someone left their bag on a restaurant table while they went to the bathroom the bag would still be there (with all its contents) when they came back. I grew up in a city of five million people so all that sounds quite unreal to me.

Sefton Hotel

After a short drive we arrived at Sefton hotel. It looked quite cozy and the staff was very friendly. We got settled in our room and soon afterwards we went down to the lobby to meet Chris (Team Online's manager) and Alex Millar (Team Online member). We walked to Chris' place and ordered Thai food. Coming from Portugal, which is a country that hasn't really embraced the idea of food delivery, I really enjoyed the luxury of ordering, plus, the food was very good! The company was great, I really like both Chris and his wife. Alex seemed to be cool too and easy to talk to. I knew nothing about him apart from the fact that he was the latest addition to Team Online, so I was astonished when the conversation turned to poker and he mentioned what he was playing and the amount of money he dealt with on a daily basis! I played it cool though, so no one at the table noticed! :P I guess I didn't expect someone as successful as him to be so down to earth. One more person that I added to my favorite Team Onliners list!

Day 1 - Office Tour & VIP Party

André and I went to have breakfast and soon we were joined by Alex and Dale Philip, another Team Online member that I had never met before. Up until that point I thought my level of English was pretty good and my accent pretty understandable. Apparently, it's not the case. Dale's simple question "So what did you guys do last night?" fired up a big misunderstanding. I tried to tell him that we went to have dinner with Chris. At first, he was staring at me saying nothing. I repeated my answer, but the blank stare continued. "You went to Greece?", he asked. Eventually, I had to spell it out for him C-R-H-I-S. "Oh, you mean Chr/ɛ/s", he said with a Scottish accent. During the week we were at the IOM I laughed a lot with Dale's struggle to understand my Greek version of English (and André's Portuguese version of it)! By the end of our stay I think he could understand me pretty well, but I still couldn't imitate his accent no matter how hard I tried... Too bad, cause I think it's cool!

Anyway, the four of us stayed talking long after the breakfast was over and the room was closed. Pretty amazing how sometimes you get along with people you just met. After that André, Alex and I got a cab and went to Pokerstars' offices. Chris was waiting for us to give us a private tour! At the entrance they had the most amazing coffee machine. It had a touch screen, you didn't have to pay and the coffee was delicious. If anyone offered it to me I would gladly install it in my living room! <3

So many options...

We went upstairs to have lunch at the company's restaurant and then we went through all the different departments. It was interesting to see how everything is organised and learn a bit about what each department does. I wanted to take some pictures to show you guys, but at the same time I felt a bit like I was intruding so I didn't even ask. :P But all in all, it is a very pleasant place to work in!

Headquarters!

Later that night, we went to the VIP Club Live party, which was held at Salt restaurant. Food and drinks were free which was nice! There were a lot of Team Online members there. Also, there was a magician that would go from one group to the other and perform tricks! I was staring open-mouthed at everything he did, I'm the best audience for that kind of stuff, I fall for everything! André on the other hand, would understand how some of the tricks worked and he would whisper in my ear, ruining the magic! Lol!

Anyone can attend those events as long as they get an invitation through the VIP store. Even though I could get in as André's +1, I got an invite of my own online. At some point, I noticed that all the people around me were wearing badges with their names saying "Pokerstars Staff", "Pokerstars Supernova" or "Pokerstars VIP". Since we were one of the first ones to arrive, nobody was at the door to check us in so I didn't have a badge. I thought it was cool, so I went to the door and asked the guy behind the table if I could have a one. He said "of course" and picked up one of the "Pokerstars VIP" badges to give me. At that exact moment, André showed up behind me, all patched up with the Team Online logo and said "No, no, give her the Supenova". Kindly enough, the guy put the "VIP" back and gave me the "Supernova" one instead. I'm 100% sure he did it as a favor to André and not because he truly believed I was Supernova. Cause I mean... Girl. Supernova. At the Isle of Man. Yeah, right!

Caleb from the VIP Club was in Halloween mode

Day 2 - Exploring the island

The next day started with another Team Online breakfast. As on cue, everyone showed up 15-30 minutes before the buffet closed. That day we also met Felix Schneiders that joined the team earlier this year. I won't go on and on about what a nice guy he is. By now you have probably figured it out, if you're not cool then you don't make it to Team Online! Anyway, it was the first day of the UKIPT and André was playing. Since I had the day to myself, I took the electric tramway with Dale and we had a little tour of the island. We went to Ramsey, which was one hour and a half away from Douglas where we were staying. Unfortunately Dale had some commitments in the afternoon, so we could only afford to spend 15 minutes in Ramsey. Not a big deal anyway, since the most interesting thing was seeing the landscape while on the train. We grabbed some sandwiches from Ramsey and had lunch on our way back. The island is beautiful, but don't take my word for it, just look at the pictures below...

Stop in Douglas

Baldrine station

Another tram in Laxey

Laxey wheel

Inside the tram

When I got back to the hotel I found a big group gathered in front of the reception desk: Daniel Negreanu, Liv Boeree, Jason Mercier, Vanessa Russo, Barry Greenstein, David Williams and Fatima Moreira de Melo along with more poker players and some familiar faces from Pokerstars staff. I mean, I already knew we were all staying at the same hotel, but to see so many poker celebrities in such a small space was almost intimidating! I resisted the temptation of asking them for a photo, maybe next time I'll indulge! :P

Unfortunately, André got eliminated from the main event on Day 1. The cute fox that you saw in the picture above cruelly took all of his chips! After all the poker business of the day was over, we all gathered again at Chris' place for dinner! I was playing it cool on the outside, but mentally I was jumping around clapping my hands for another delivery night. This time it was a delicious pizza! Apart from your usual group of suspects, there were VIP Events manager Dylan, Isaac Haxton and his wife Zoe. Obviously that night was a lot of fun as well! Oh, and we got to watch Isaac's Team Online short video before it was released! Hehe!

Day 3 - Time off and another Pokerstars Party

André didn't have any work obligations during the day so we could just relax. After breakfast he was feeling tired so he went back to sleep. Since it was sunny (a rare thing on the Isle of Man), I decided to go for a walk around the hotel and found a street full of stores. Shopping frenzy! Around lunchtime, I took André to a cozy restaurant that I discovered. As it turned out, apart from a nice decoration it also had really good food!

André ordered salmon, always eating healthy!

I couldn't resist the profiteroles on a cake

At night, we had another Pokerstars party to attend. This time it was at Tahiko club and not at a restaurant. Louder music, but again, free drinks! They also had a costume competition but most of the people attending chose not to dress up. Still, we all got to hang out together so it was fun! Isaac, Zoe, André and I left the club around 1 or 2 a.m. Since we had all skipped dinner, we went to a kebab place and took some food back to the hotel. We all ate together, spent some time chatting and around 4 a.m. Isaac and Zoe went back to their room. So far so good. 

What was not so much fun, was what came after the party and the dinner. At 6 a.m., just when everyone was getting into a deeper sleep, the fire alarm went off. I'm talking about the loudest, most annoying fire alarm on the planet. Seriously. Since it didn't seem like it would be turned off, we took it as a sign that we needed to evacuate the hotel.

We joined the rest of the hotel guests outside, they were all gathered next to a fire truck. Poker players going out of the building, firemen going in. What was interesting is that almost everyone was dressed in clothes. André and I of course were among the few that chose to go out in pajamas :P I think the award for weirdest after-night appearance was between us two and Mickey Petersen, who was fully dressed except that he was bare footed. I'm talking no shoes, no socks, no slippers. And then of course you had people that remembered to bring their phones or iPads but it didn't dawn on them to grab a jacket. November, nighttime in England. Freezing cold, just saying! Apparently there was no fire, so after half an hour or so, we all went back to our beds.

Day 4 - Magic day

Most of us followed the ritual of going to have breakfast 10 minutes before it closed. Only this time, we were feeling so hangover (from the fire alarm, not the drinks!) that we just went back to sleep afterwards. When we woke up it was around lunchtime and we got invited by Quentin (Play money and social media manager) for a cube draft. David Williams had brought his cube with him... I know this is a poker blog so I don't want to bore you with Magic: The Gathering details, but for those of you that do play the game I want to share this epic picture:

Going through cube draft cards only to randomly find... a Black Lotus!

This was my first time playing this format and I though it was awesome, even though I wasn't good at it... Towards the end, we ordered Thai food again (delivery heaven!).

Drafting! Good thing that a lot of poker players have a MTG background!

We ended the night getting drinks at a local bar. Another great day!

Day 5 - Girls' time

In the morning all Team Onliners had a meeting, so I got to hang out with Zoe. I thought it would be nice to go back to that nice little restaurant for lunch since it was my last day on the island and Zoe hadn't been there. Since it was a Sunday, most poker players gathered up at the Villa Marina where the UKIPT was held. You see, the internet there was better than the one at the hotel and nobody wanted to miss the Sunday grind. I just spent the entire day with Zoe which was nice. I finally found someone who fully understands what living with a poker pro player means, so we had a lot of things to talk about!

If you ever go to the Isle of Man, do not miss this one!

Delicious onion soup

Day 6 - The departure

We had an early flight to catch, so we didn't see anyone that day. We went to have breakfast right after it opened at 7 a.m. Too early for the poker people! Overall it was a great trip, probably the one I've had the most fun at out of our poker related destinations. I hope you enjoyed reading this trip report! I'll leave you with some more pictures from the Isle of Man...

Douglas Bay at night

Tea time!

Manx triskelion

The view from our hotel room

The Tower of Refuge at sunrise

15 comments:

  1. Great trip report, seems you had a lot of fun and ate really well :D It must be so cool to hang out with so many poker pros for a whole week and visit the place where online poker literally takes place.
    GL Kate!

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    1. Yeah, it was great! I must admit it cost me a bit to come back... :P
      Time for more grinding now! Good luck to you too! :)

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  2. Enjoyable.
    I don't usually read any reports but when i do, it's damn worth it.
    Anyway, game seemed kinda boring, I was missing your all-in's ^^

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    1. Haha, thanx Petr! Glad you liked the report. Also glad that you were missing my all-ins! It's good to know that I spice up the games (as long as your comment wasn't implying that you were losing profit during my absence - lol!). See you tomorrow at the tables :)

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  3. "Cause I mean... Girl. Supernova. At the Isle of Man. Yeah, right!"- priceless... Nice report :)

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    1. Hey Strac! Thank you for commenting! I'm happy you liked the report! :)

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  4. WOW what a great blog post!!! I love to read about your trips, whata life you live!!

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it, hopefully I'll have another trip report in a couple of months!

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  5. Great report, as always Katerina! Thai food delivery must have been delicious!!Good luck at the tables συμπατριώτισσα :-)

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    1. Γειά σου συμπατριώτη! Το delivery ήταν εξαιρετικό, ειδικά για μένα που εδώ στην Πορτογαλία το στερούμαι. Αλλά μεταξύ μας, περιμένω πως και πως να έρθω στην Ελλάδα τώρα τέλος του μήνα να φάω κανα σουβλάκι!!! Χαχα!

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  6. Kαλές διακοπές και καλές μάσες! Αν ποτέ βρεθείτε με τον Andre στην Κέρκυρα, θα χαρώ πολύ να σας γνωρίσω! Και φυσικά αν είστε διαθέσιμοι στο μέλλον για coaching, let me know!!

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    1. Ευχαριστώ! Δεν έχω πάει ποτέ στην Κέρκυρα αν και έχω ακούσει ότι είναι πολύ όμορφα... Το έχω στη λίστα με τα μέρη που θέλω να επισκευτώ! Αν έρθουμε, θα σε ειδοποιήσω για να μας δείξεις τα κατατόπια! :D

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  7. bocado fora de topico.. mas gostava de saber ke pensas deste artigo katerina? http://www.cardplayer.com/poker-news/15033-dusty-schmidt-this-is-my-brain-this-is-my-brain-on-poker

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    1. Hi Paulo! Actually I had already read that article... I think it's interesting, although I believe we shouldn't be taking things to extreme... Poker (same as any other activity) affects different people in different ways. Take smoking for example. Everyone knows it's bad for your health, yet not everyone that smokes will necessarily die from it. On the other hand, not everyone that doesn't smoke is immune to lung-related diseases. So overall, I think it's important to be informed but also keep things in perspective and not assume that just because something happened to one person it's gonna happen to everyone else as well.

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  8. The guy keeps his black lotus in a simple plastic and plays with it..... Royal !!

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