Darts & Sport Stars Poker

will darts and crypto be bigger than poker during it's boom period

Sky Sports 6th May 2008-05-08

Six top PDC darts players swapped tungsten for clay and battled it out in the darts players heat of the third Sports Stars Poker Challenge. Nobody was interested in the money, all six were playing for pride and bragging rights in the practise room. Fiercely competitive on the oche, this will to win was transferred to the green baize and what a Hollywood production it turned out to be.

Highlight of the heat was Peter ‘4 Kings’ Manley taking out Phil ‘Ace Flush’ Taylor in a hand of pure theatre. If Manley hadn’t considered a role in the movies before, he certainly should now. Not only did he play the hand to perfection, and not only did the cards fall like a dream, but Manley’s performance in sucking Taylor into the hand thinking he had the nuts was reminiscent of some of the greats of the stage.

Slow playing a pair of kings, the flop brought a third king for Manley but also a flush draw for Taylor. Fourth street delivered Manley’s fourth king but by checking he kept Taylor on his flush draw which was duly delivered on the river…with the ace of spades no less. THE worst card for Taylor – and didn’t Manley know it.

Taylor made the decent sized bet and Manley turned into Lawrence Olivier. A good few minutes of deliberation and faux confusion followed, commentator Steve Davis remarked that Manley was doing all he could to not laugh! Stroked goatees, furrowed brows, sighs and moans were followed by the inevitable “ALL IN” call from Manley.

Taylor smiled safe in the knowledge that he’d got his man but he had no idea what Manley was about to show – he’d been suckered big time and Manley’s pre-game wish that he’d love to knock Taylor out had been granted in spectacular fashion as The Power walked first.

Taylor’s pre-game comment was that nobody wanted to do the “walk of shame” as being first out would bring six months of ridicule from the other players. Expect some extra effort from Taylor on the oche over the next six months.

Elsewhere, Wayne ‘I Want My Mum’ Mardle was betting and missing, falling well behind early on after a succession of re-raises that he had to escape from with little more than rags. Even some sneaky mind games trying to cash in on Alan Warriner-Little, couldn’t bring the big pot he craved. He hung in there bringing up the rear for most of the heat but his luck was to change in dramatic fashion later.

‘Might He’ Michael van Gerwen got involved as much as he could, one or two busted bluffs countered some of the decent pots he picked up as he trod water and held the middle ground for much of the heat.

Colin ‘Loose Cannon’ Lloyd’s early aggression initially paid off helping him build a healthy stack but he frittered money away and a nightmare hand, loosely played, did for him as Alan ‘I’m No Mug You Know’ Warriner-Little took him out in fifth place. Warriner-Little’s affection for pairs and high cards paid off several times as the cards came down favourably, winning him some good pots. He eventually exited in fourth place though, leaving Manley, van Gerwen and Mardle to shoot it out.

Manley was next to depart, his big pot courtesy of Taylor did not pay dividends and he perhaps should have been more aggressive when chip leader early on. This left Mardle Heads up with van Gerwen and the final hand turned Mardle’s fortune on its head.

Mardle held J 2 off suit and faced A 7. The flop of 4 5 6 gave no possibility of a flush but put van Gerwen on a straight draw. The turn brought an ace and Mardle was now in big trouble against MVG’s top pair, straight draw. With all the money in the pot, only a 3 on the river could save him and as the 3 was turned over Mardle blew up like a Hawaiian volcano. He could scarcely believe that he had somehow managed to win the heat, nor could van Gerwen.

Mardle’s performance highlighted a skill in poker that is so hard to master – it’s not always how much you win but you well you limit your losses. He hung in there, got away from a few potential disaster situations and then rebuilt his stack and made the last two. He needed a huge slice of good fortune in the end but you sometimes make your own luck and Mardle won’t care when he sits down at the final table of the 2008 Sports Stars Poker Challenge.

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