Adventure 2: High-Stakes Poker at Hippodrome Casino

#JOESLONDONBUCKETLIST: 30 Adventures Before 30

I’m Joe – and I’ve challenged myself to complete 30 of the 50 activities in my book The London Bucket List before my 30th birthday. The challenge was set exactly 30 weeks before my birthday on 1 October. You can read about all of the activities I’ve completed so far here. You can download an electronic version of The London Bucket List at the bottom of this post – or buy the paperback here.

A casino is a brilliant venue for a date.

The games always give you something to speak about, they’re generally classy environments and if the girl doesn’t know how to play, you can teach her. It’s more fun and less pressure than a bar or cafe.

The Hippodrome is arguably the capital’s most famous casino. It’s open 24/7, there’s no membership required and soft drinks are free. The food looks pretty good too. An ideal date venue.


…so the plan was to engage in something a bit more exciting.

On the fourth floor, the casino hosts cash games of no-limit hold ’em. Take a seat with up to £400 at the £1/£2 blind tables and you could potentially win a four-figure sum with one hand. Of course, it could all be over as quickly as that too.

An early distraction

Outside the tube station, I spotted a leggy Danish girl smoking a cigarette. I invited her for a romantic game of roulette, but she had to meet her friends.

We swapped phone numbers. She told me her lucky number was three.

Inside, it was less serious at the poker table than I anticipated. A few players were chatty and most were messing about on their smartphones between hands.

I was sat next to the stereotypical young mouthy player who chats shit and hardly ever folds.

Dressed in tracksuit bottoms, he gave a bit of banter after I folded near enough every hand in the first hour.

Meanwhile, he lost more than I earn in a week going all-in with a flush. His opponent hit four-of-a-kind.

I lost close to £40 by forgetting what hand I was dealt. I thought I had A7, which would have landed me a straight, but I actually had A5.

Minutes later, I was dealt pocket aces. The best hand in hold’em poker. I felt my heart beating faster than it had all year. Faster than before my bungee jump. My poker face must have been pretty easy to read…

Still, I slow played then went all-in on the turn. The mouthy bloke next to me matched my bet. He only had a flush draw. He needed the last card to be a diamond or I was in the money. Card comes down. Diamond. £100+ to the rudeboy instead.

I think he expected me to whip out a wallet full of £50s, like he had after losing to that four-of-a-kind, but that was that. You win some, you lose some.

A twist of fate?

Only at the exit did I remember meeting that Danish girl.

In a last-ditch attempt to win my money back, I turned to the roulette tables and stuck £3 on red 3.

It didn’t come in. And the Dane hasn’t returned my texts yet. Fairytales don’t always come true, but it was great fun all the same…

Do you want more ideas for brilliant things to do in London?

Hippodrome Casino originally featured in my book The London Bucket: 50 awesome things to do in London.

You can get a FREE electronic copy of the book by dropping your email address in the box below.

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