‘It’s about 90 per cent luck and 10pc skill’: Chigwell poker champ, 83, shares tales and tips
- Credit: Archant
Growing up with the Krays, witnessing bombings during the Blitz, Alan Trinnaman has certainly led a colourful life, and has the stories to prove it.
This has made the dapper 83-year-old a popular figure on the poker circuit. Known as ‘the Screamer’, Alan, of Grange Hill, Chigwell, has enjoyed a flutter since learning the game while in his twenties.
And he’s hoping for a big win over the Easter weekend, at a tournament in his stomping ground the 888 Poker Cardroom, Aspers Casino, Westfield Stratford, with a bumper £100,000 up for grabs.
“I’ve had the name ‘the Screamer’ now for 50 years, said Alan. “I shout, I get overexcited. If I didn’t I’d burst.
“I get away with murder here. The young boys have a good laugh with me, even if they lose.”
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A “typical East End boy”, Alan grew up in Stepney with his parents, five brothers and two sisters. Money was tight for the family, and his father, who came from a tailoring background, worked a few jobs to earn between £60 and £70 a week.
When Alan was four the family moved to Hackney, and a couple of years later the Second World War broke out. He remembers going down to a shelter at night, with “bombs dropping all round”.
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The war didn’t stop what some may call an entrepreneurial spirit developing in Alan: he collected floorboards from bombed homes and chopped them up to supply firewood to families, for six pence a bag.
As a teenager, he became a keen boxer, as did the Kray twins Ronnie and Reggie.
“That was part of my life when I was a kid,” said Alan. “We were good friends. [But] they were getting a bit wild, I was interested in girls, going to dances, I was a jiver. I used to fight in the ring, I had a few fights, then I grew up. I broke away from them, I wanted to do my own thing.”
Alan completed his National Service, serving in countries such as Germany, and dabbled in factory work, including tailoring and sweet factories, but this held little interest for him. His main enthusiasm was reserved for betting on the horses and dogs, and poker, once a friend had introduced him to the game when he was 28.
“A friend of mine was always playing,” he said. “We used to get up at four in the morning then go out to all the different places, there were clubs all around.
“When he played I sat behind him, learning, then a couple of years on I broke out myself.”
Alan moved to Chigwell from Tottenham about five years ago when his wife Patricia, known as Pat, died aged 76. The couple were married for 57 years and when Pat became ill with Alzheimer’s disease Alan cared for her. “When she passed away I was there with her, it broke my heart,” he said.
The pair had two children, a daughter and a son, and Alan now has eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. One of his sisters is still alive, the rest of his siblings are no longer with him.
Alan pours his energies into poker almost daily, so is a familiar and popular sight at the 888 Poker Cardroom, always dressed immaculately in a suit.
“I love it, I get on well with everybody,” he said. “It’s a wonderful place and keeps me active.
“I play with all the young kids, don’t make no difference to me. I despair with the clobber they wear at times, the hoodies, hats. They shouldn’t be let in unless they’re dressed properly.”
And having played for so many decades, what are Alan’s tips for newcomers wanting to have a flutter?
“They need to learn it, don’t rush in too quickly and don’t try to be clever. Everybody’s got a chance, it’s about 90 per cent luck and 10pc skill.”
The tournament begins today, with the final on Monday. Hundreds of players will take part, paying £440 to enter.
The Gambling Commission urges the public to gamble responsibly, for information and advice visitgamblingcommission.gov.uk.