A flurry of shrewd and entirely made-up money has witnessed the suspension of the ‘What Is Neil’s Next Project ?’ market. When the book opened in mid February, imaginary bookmakers priced up Around The Irish Races In Eighty Days as the uneasy 6/4 favourite, but significant recent support for Around The Tourneys In Eighty Hours has seen the price collapse from an opening show of 4/1 to 2/7 favourite before the plug was pulled.

William Hill legend and odds supremo Graham Sharpe* responded guardedly when asked about the liabilities of his firm: “I haven’t got the faintest idea what you’re talking about” he mused.

Neil Andrew confirmed the worst-kept secret in sport this morning, “Yes, I’ve finalised the deal with Las Vegas [booked the plane tickets] to be the subject of my next chosen project. I would like to reassure my loyal followers that, in the true spirit of ATRIED, this shall be investigative journalism of the highest calibre and not simply a four-day jolly with a couple of mates.”

The Strip in Las Vegas

The Strip in Las Vegas

“I aim to discover the real Vegas, the one beyond the bright lights and dazzling websites. I intend to delve beneath the glossy exterior and rummage around in the disease-ridden intestines of the American Dream.” When asked what exactly he meant by that, Andrew simply responded “You’ll see.”

It is understood that the adventure begins next Tuesday, and will involve Andrew playing tournament poker at all of the 17 possible venues on The Strip in an 80-hour window – an increasingly futile attempt to maintain his weird ’80-based’ sporting travelogue franchise. The concept has led some onlookers to question the author’s mental faculties.

Renowned poker pundit and commentator Jesse May* said “It can take eight or ten hours to win a big tourney at The Bellagio or Ceasars. This guy will be attempting something that isn’t physically possible if he wants to progress beyond the opening levels of each contest!” However, it is clear that May has never seen Andrew play poker – if he had, he would have realised that his standard of play is so poor that it is quite feasible he has excess time on his hands to waste further chunks of his children’s inheritance at the blackjack tables.

Further details are sketchy at this point, but it is rumoured that the opening salvo shall be fired in the Bally’s Shovefest less than two hours after landing on American soil. This somewhat optimistic approach to the efficiency of US Customs officers demonstrates both just how tight the schedule is, and the myriad of opportunities for the whole project to unravel from the very start.

At just a fraction of the overall length of his previous project, Andrew was keen to stress the dedication and endurance required to undertake such a mission. “Some people will see this as the smaller and weedier cousin of ATRIED, but have those knockers ever tried to play poker and drink beer in 17 different casinos in less than four days? I have been in training for years to be at the peak of my physical and mental powers for the challenges that lie ahead.”

Critics have argued that the timing of this heroic challenge is unfortunate, given that it could further distract attention from the problem-strewn Rio Olympics. President of the IOC, Thomas Bach*, confirmed his fears when quizzed earlier: “Sewage infested lakes, green swimming pools, and now this – a rival sporting extravaganza from a talented, committed and ruggedly handsome author. All I can hope is that Neil Andrew helps us to integrate poker into the Olympic roster for Tokyo 2020.”

The first update from his Vegas venture will appear, as always, on these pages next Wednesday.

(* names changed to protect the identity of those involved and because all of the quotes were made up, none of the real people with these names actually said anything of the sort)