Losing pounds for pounds

Can the egaming community and a US $10m prize help a seriously overweight Manx Telecom lose enough pounds to be allowed on a charter plane?  Let TSG explain.

      Barry Austin, 38, from Birmingham in the UK and the recent subject of a cover feature in one UK internatonal newspaper weekend magazine, wants to take part in the 2006 World Series of Poker (WSOP) taking place in Las Vegas in July.
      So far, so straightforward. The only problem is no airline will allow him on board any of its planes due to Austin’s present weight of around 45 stone (around 285kgs, close to 900lbs).
      Always a big kid, he says, by age 12 Austin already weighed 13 stone and was always just plain “greedy ”. At one point in his late 20s, he apparently weighted a barely believable 65 stone.
But getting back to online poker. Austin has won enough tournaments on the jonnytexaspoker.com website to qualify   for a seat at this year’s WSOP. However, he will not even be allowed to board a plane or sit at a table to tilt the odds in his favour (sorry).
      Anyway, his ‘manager’ Jonny ‘Texas ’ Hewston, is trying to get him on to a new diet (“down to 15,000 calories on some days ”) and is also thinking of putting him on a boat to New York so be can take the train to Sin City.
      Hewston said: “He is going to be at that World Series. He deserves to go, he’s put the hours in. he’s won it [the WSOP seat] fair and square. ” And Hewston believes the online poker community can help his prot égé in his quest to shift the pounds.
      But if Austin didn’t make it to Vegas for the poker showodwn, he says he would find it “soul-destroying. It’s another thing making me want to lose weight, the first prize is US $10m. That’s a large amount of money ”.
      Indeed, and you  never know what people are capable of when the carrot is that big.

Putting a foot (baler) in it

888’s sports sponsorship strageity is paying off handsomely in terms of publicity dividends. Never mind that the final of the Snooker World Championships featured two of the most crushingly dull ‘personalities ’ abroad in the sport: not that both Graeme Dott (the eventual winner) and Peter Ebdon had ‘Noble Poker’ emblazoned across their waistcoats for the entirety of the tournament; and let’s not guibble over the fact that in at least one UK national newspaper the football team which runs about with 888 displayed upon their shirts goes by the less-than-flattering name of Middlesbore.

      With the English Premiership club due to make its first appearance in a European cup final this month, such is all grist to the publicity mill. Yet none of the company’s logo spots in the papers or on TV had quite the amusement factor of a recent appearance by ‘Boro captain Gareth Southgate in front of the Sky Sports News Camera.

      Merrily pontificating for the cameras, as is the custom, Southgate  was positioned in front of a board displaying the names of the club’s sponsors, including of course 888. And the subject of Southgate’s remarks? Why, the dangers posed to today’s young footballers by the temptations offered by, err.gambling.
      He shoots, he scores – an own goal.

Kerry Gold

Like any other industry, egaming might   be something of a gossip factory, but still it is unusual when the UK’s most renowned celebrity tittle-tattle website, Pop itch, takes a peek under our bonnets, so to speak.
      We were, therefore, surprised by an item a few weeks ago which detailed the problems one egaming company was having with its ‘celebrity ’ face, Kerry Katona. Ms.Katona has been the subject of ‘cough cough’ rumours for some time, so under a headline saying ‘How to use a celebrity to your advantage’ pop itch detailed how the relationship might be severed without seeming to mistreat said micro-celeb.
      The advice included steps such as ‘prepare to leak to the papers she’s been up to some had behaviour so her contract has to be ripped up. ’  But it was the last nugget of advice which explains why we are getting such a privileged insight into the marketing strategy in question. The damage limitation exercise would have worked ‘except it’s not a good idea to discuss this so openly on a Palma-London EasyJet flight, within earshot of two reporters.. ’ It makes ya proud.

Queen of bids

At the recent results meeting, analysts reported Empire chief executive Noam Lanir being less effusive than he had been at previous analyst briefings. “Noam was a bit more subdued than the first time we met him,” said one analyst present a the meeting. “Whether it is because he just wants to deliver the script or because it is all less exciting is impossible to say.

”  Or maybe it was just that Lanir was worn out after the ‘events ’ of the past six or more months. “We are the queen of bids,” he said at one point in the meeting regarding what maybe should simply be described as the ‘plethora ’ of takeover approaches the company apparently received. Hmmm, must be an Israeli phrase that losses something in the translation.