Yesterday afternoon, PokerStars Blog's official Hurdy Gurdy correspondent, Lina Olofsson of PokerStarsBlog.nu, came over with a big smile on her face. "My Scandis are doing well," she hurdy gurdyed. And, naturally, we all ignored her. (It's easier that way.)
But when we began skimming the room at the end of the day to locate the chip leaders, many eyes fell upon Christopher Ulsrud, of Norway, who had amassed a stack of close to 400,000. That was very nearly the chip lead.
Hurdy and indeed gurdy.
Although Ulsrud was pegged back to 338,600 (eighth overall) by the end of play -- and actually lost a huge pot to Kyle Sorel to bust early today -- we were again invited to examine Olofsson's claims of Scandinavian domination this afternoon when we started looking at the always fascinating nationalities piechart provided by the tireless Mad Harper, the EPT media co-ordinator.
Despite sending only 13 representatives to the Bahamas, there were still six players wearing viking horn helmets and swilling from two-litre beer tankards in the Day 3 starting field of 215 players. The impossibly bearded folk from the chilly north had therefore constituted only 1% of the starting field of 1,013 players, but were now punching considerably above their weight as the money bubble loomed.
It was a similar story for the Swedes. There were only ten blue-eyed, blonde-haired, death metal aficionados in the PCA 2014 starting field, but five were still air-guitaring it into Day 3. These guys hadn't seen daylight since August, but they were making hay while the sun shined in the Bahamas.
The Scandinavians were, and still are, the unexpected success story of this year's PCA, which is otherwise progressing almost exactly as expected. As you can see from the piechart below, American players accounted for 35% of the starting field and, as Day 3 began, still had 69 representatives involved (32%).
Canada began with 14% and still had 14%; Brazilians, Germans and Russians constituted 6% each at the beginning of both Day 1 and Day 3. Even the UK was still shooting exactly on par (5% on Day 1, 5% on Day 3) and it was a pattern repeated through the Netherlands, Argentina, Mexico, France, Poland, Spain and Belgium.
The only another anomaly in this year's nationality breakdown is Bulgaria, which sent 12 players to the 2014 PCA. Last year, only seven came but one of them, Dimitar Danchev, took down the title. The 40% increase this year in players from Bulgaria is a very visible indication of the Danchev effect, which is turning Central Europe into a new poker hotbed.
However, none of them made it to Day 3. They've got the quantity, now to work on the quality.
One other interesting* stat from this year's PCA is that we may have cleared up once and for all the quandary of which starting flight is better than the other.
From 295 players who opted for Day 1a, there were 66 still left on Day 3 (22%). From 710 who started on Day 1b, there were 148 still here this morning (21%). It's a difference so negligible as to render it almost entirely irrelevant. Day 1A or Day 1B? Who cares.
*Word used guardedly.
Our coverage of the 2014 PCA is comprehensive on PokerStars Blog, and it is simple to follow. The PCA 2014 Main Event page has a box at the top in which you'll find hand-by-hand coverage and chip counts after the action commences at noon. Below that are feature pieces, interviews and analysis updated throughout the day. You can also follow the action on PCA Live.