Winning in Stockholm

So, I won the TeamOnline Battle at VIP Club Live in Stockholm. For those of you who didn't hear about it, it was a fun little battle between the three Team Online members at the event in which we would compete at Swedish Trivia, juggling, and slot car racing (skalextrics) with the winner taking home a nice trophy as well as winning a load of prizes for people smart enough to vote for them both at the event and on the PokerStars client.

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Before I get to that in detail, though, I should say that Stockholm is a really nice city. I took my girlfriend along, and we arrived at around lunchtime on the Friday. With the VIP Club Live event happening on Saturday night, we had some time to look around a bit.

We were pretty tired when we arrived, so we started out with a boat tour of the city. It was great to just sit back and relax on the boat and find out a bit about the city. Although, I found myself close to dozing off once or twice. I kept myself amused by changing the language of my girlfriend's audio-tour to Chinese and turning the volume up a bit when there was no talking on it for a while and she was looking the other way. There was a very satisfying look of shock on her face when the talking came back on. Yes, I am very childish. Guilty as charged.

Later on that evening, we went out for a very nice meal down the road from the hotel before heading back for an early night. I knew the next day was going to be a long day, so I thought I'd better get some sleep since I would no doubt be dragged out of bed to make the most of our one full day in Stockholm the next morning.

The next day we did some touristy stuff, saw the changing of the guard, went to a chocolate shop that did all sorts of disgraceful but delicious stuff, and generally wandered round the city getting a feel for what the place was like.

By mid-afternoon, Kat had arrived. Having met her a couple of times before and got on well with her, we decided to head back to get a massive cinnamon bun at a café near our hotel with her and Chris (the head of TeamOnline) before the event started.

The night started with me, Kat, and Luka sitting at a desk welcoming people, each of us having a sheet of paper in front of us which people could write their name on to register that they were voting for us in the battle later on.

I was sitting furthest away from the direction people were coming with Luka closest to everyone. A lot of people who didn't really know what was going on would come up to the desk and write their name down on Luka's sheet, clearly oblivious to the fact that they were able to vote for the fountain of knowledge and champion of physical skill that was sitting just two seats away from him. Or at least that's my excuse for getting fewer votes than him. Perhaps they just saw that I had more empty beers in front of me than he did.

I'm going to put Kat getting more votes than me down to her use of her feminine charm. Her efforts to explain the rigorous training program she had put herself through in preparation for the event and the lack of any alcohol in front of her may also have helped.

Never mind. It just meant the people making the right choice would have more chance of winning prizes when I took down the competition.

After everyone had a chance to vote, it was time for the battle to begin. It was supposed to be a fun little battle where nobody really knows what they're doing, but someone did not get the memo. Katerina had spent a week learning about Sweden as well as buying some juggling balls and learning to juggle! Clearly Luka and I had our work cut out for us if we were going to take down the event.

Fortunately for me, I had a trick up my sleeve . Someone bought me some juggling balls when I was about 10 and I learned to juggle three balls kind of okay. I hadn't tried since, so I was unsure if I would still be able to do it. But, as Kat found out to her dismay when she threw me her three juggling balls to practice with before the event, my limited skill was still significantly better than her feeble efforts. The juggling section was in the bag I thought.

First up was the Swedish trivia round, and I wasn't holding out much hope for that. My general knowledge is appalling. My brain is too full of poker knowledge to be remembering facts I can just google if I need to know. That's what I tell myself anyway.

Luckily that round was done quietly in the corner without everyone watching as I predictably came last with Luka second and Kat winning. Juggling, on the other hand, was to be on a stage in front of everyone, and there were going to be four juggling "tricks" we would have to try. Only one of those was juggling three balls, and we only got one attempt each at all of them. Oh dear. It was no longer in the bag.

We all failed at two of the tricks and managed to flip a hoop and land it on our heads to go into the three-ball juggling even at one point each. That was my time to shine. With Kat second and Luka third, we went into the third and final round of the battle: ten laps of the slot car track, with Kat having a three-second advantage on me, and me having a three-second advantage on Luka due to the results from the first two rounds.

We had a chance to practice earlier, and I'd spent the time working out how fast it was possible to go without any risk of the car going off the track, thinking that any trip off the track would probably lead to massive delays as people put the car back on. Sure enough, Kat and Luka spent more time off the track than on it and I avoided going off to win by a few laps for a convincing victory.

If you want to read a different version of events, the delusional ramblings of a sore loser you might say, I highly recommend reading Katerina's blog about the event. We'll stick to the facts here.

Then the people who voted for me got to race for the prizes which included a PS4 and an iPad. We got a chance to mingle and take advantage of the open bar. There was also free food, but I found myself constantly talking to people and missed all of it. I didn't mind though, I have actually really enjoyed all of the VIP Club Live events that I have been to, and this was no exception.

It's nice to have people come up to me who have seen me play online and want to ask questions. I'm happy to give out bits of advice where possible. Some people feel a bit weird about coming up and speaking to someone they know about but haven't met. The event would be pretty rubbish for me if nobody spoke to me, so if you ever come to one of these events, definitely come up and say hi!

After a while it was time to head downstairs from the bar to the club where there was another open bar. There I met one of my biggest fans. He plays as DanielLUCKY on PokerStars and we've played against each other a bit. He really admires my game and looks up to me, so it was good for him to meet his hero and get some advice about how to play at lower stakes.

Just kidding. We had a few drinks and joked around a lot. He actually thinks I suck at poker, and he can't wait to move up a couple of limits to beat me, so we had some fun banter. I tried to explain to him that he wasn't the first Swede to have such self-destructive thoughts, and that he should speak to some of the other poor Swedes who used to have some unfortunate ideas about their skill levels relative to mine. He wasn't having it. Some people just don't like money, I suppose!

The next couple of hours were spent drinking and chatting to loads of different people and showing off my distinctly unimpressive dance moves which occasionally come out after too much to drink. Kat had just about forgiven me for beating her in the battle, so the three of us TeamOnline members hung out a bit as well,which was cool.

So far I haven't met anybody from Team Online that I haven't liked, which makes these sorts of things so much more enjoyable than they would otherwise be. Luka seems to be another great addition to the team who will fit in just fine. Kat is great fun too although she may no longer like me after some of my comments in this blog. She gets outraged really easily by my joking around and sometimes resorts to violence, so she's great fun to tease. It's an effort to not do it so much that she gets actually annoyed but she still likes Dale who is much worse than me. So I think I'm good for now!

At around 2-2.30am, I decided it was probably time to head back to the hotel. I had to leave the hotel at 5am to catch a flight to Monaco for a photoshoot for PokerStars, so there wasn't going to be much sleep. Kat and Luka decided to head off too, so we went to get jackets. Somehow the club had lost one of the two jackets Kat had come with. After a while of us trying to sort it out, Dylan (the PokerStars guy who organises these things) said he'd sort it out with the club the next day. So, we headed off to the hotel.

Or so I thought.

Kat said she was hungry which reminded me that I hadn't eaten anything for a long time either. So the three of us went to Subway for a late night sandwich which Kat ate slower than anyone has ever eaten a sandwich in the history of mankind. Finally we got back to the hotel at about 4am. I went up to my room, had a shower, packed my suitcase and it was time to head off to Monaco.