If it's not Scottish...

Roving (and very understanding of her tired and cranky co-blogger) correspondent Mad Harper pulled me aside a few moments ago and said, "Table 122."

I'd been by Table 122 several times in the past hour and seen nothing. My eyes are set to look for the familiar PokerStars logo on a hat or shirt. When I'd scanned the table, my eyes had scanned a Scotland cap and completely missed the PokerStars logo on the shirt. Perhaps it was because the stack of chips was so big.





They belonged (and still belong) to Graeme Harrison, a Scottish player with Scottish pride and a mountain of chips 75,000 high. He looked so sour, dour, and, frankly, unapproachable, that Mad and I debated for a bit who would approach him. In the end, Mad went in for the interview. She came back with one heckuva story:

He's been banned from most casinos in Britain for card counting - and there will be quite a lot of players here at the WSOP who'll be wishing Graeme "sacrifice" Harrison had been banned from the Rio as well.

The softly-spoken Scot, from Penicuik, near Edinburgh, reckons he's knocked out at least six players today - and in the last hour has been swatting players off his table like they were ants. Now sitting on 75,000, Graeme is already doing considerably better than last year when he was knocked out at Level 4 by Dave "Devilfish" Ulliott.

Graeme's gaming career began some ten years ago when he took up blackjack and managed to turn a 500 pounds bankroll into 50,000 in less than six months. Of course, casinos don't like this kind of thing and the puritanical Scots banned him for card counting. Graeme was forced across the border to England but found the casinos in the north-east had the same kind of attitude to card-counting as the ones back home. Migrating slowly south, Graeme finally reached London where he got banned by the Victoria Casino, home to one of Britain's most popular cardrooms. All in all, Graeme reckons he's been banned from some 30 casinos across Great Britain.

Forced out of blackjack, Harrison, now 36, moved on to spreadbetting and finally embarked on poker two years ago - mainly online for obvious reasons. He said: "This is certainly the biggest stack I've had in a big tournament, but it's very early days. It doesn't really mean anything at this stage. The ban from the Vic is annoying because I really wanted to play in the British Open but they wouldn't let me in."

Graeme says he's only really had one nerve-wracking moment today - when his AQh was raised by a pair of 10s. He called and caught an Ace on the river to win a giant pot. "Yes, that was a bit hairy," he admitted, "but I also played one of my best moves ever today. Some guy raised on the button and I had Q2 offsuit on the small blind. I re-raised him 2,000, he re-raised me 4,500 and I re-raised him 5,000. I knew he didn't have anything - he folded."