There are mixed emotions when you sit down at a table to find that you've been drawn with a bit of a poker superstar. While there's the downside of having a world class player at your table, hopefully to your right, you do have the opportunity of scalping them to claim lifelong bragging rights back home in your local €50/£50/$100 card room tournament. This is, of course, only a benefit if you're an amateur or up-and-coming enthusiastic semi-pro.
If you're a professional grinder there's just one thing you're left thinking: 'damn this seat draw to hell'. Joe Ebanks was sat with the most recent PokerStars high roller champ two seats to his left, Alex Bilokur, who overcame a two-to-one heads up deficit to beat a resurgent Jonathan Duhamel in the PCA $25,000 High Roller for $1,134,930. John Gale, a player with $3,301,782 in live tournament winnings sat two seats to his right along with a couple of other patched up players but overall Ebanks didn't look overly concerned. Then his face fell. Seat one, table one had arrived to play.
Wearing large black sunglasses with an unzipped padded vest top over a tight black sleeved top, Bertand 'ElkY' Grospellier sat down quickly skewing the balance of the table towards the category under which 'terrible seat draw' can be filed. Two PCA winners and two High Roller champs (albeit that ElkY counts for one in both disciplines) had suddenly turned this draw from unfavourable to a downright stinker for Ebanks.
"We had the same sort of table last year," said Ebanks sounding less than thrilled with life. That said Ebanks did go on to finish 30th for €20,000.
ElkY nodded and said his hellos to fellow PCA title holder Gale, a man with a rumbling voice as suited to a British gangster flick as the poker table, before looking at his first hand and raising. Little surprise in that or that the Team PokerStars Pro opted to open the next hand too. The only change in the usual script that the Frenchman failed to win either pot but let us not forget that is just act one - a mere prelude to the real action.
While Ebanks and co will grind away in tough conditions other players are already rubbing their hands in glee. Liv Boeree, inexplicably drawn yet again at the same table as Kevin MacPhee, has already witnessed pocket nines calling all-in against ace-king pre-flop for starting stacks. This is Deauville Day 1, anything can happen.