They run a tight ship here in Baden, Austria. The advertised start time for this, the second day of the European Poker Tour event, was 2 p.m. central European time. And sure enough, as the clock struck two moments ago, there was a fanfare over a loudspeaker, a deafening clatter of chips, and the familiar words “Shuffle up and deal,” albeit with an Austrian accent.
That sent a bustle of poker players scattering like ants in search of their seats, where they found their overnight stacks already unbagged and assembled for them. A yellow sticky note in front of each stack bore the player’s name and every dealer also had a list of the players on their tables; allowing them to apply names to otherwise anonymous faces.
How’s that for efficiency.
And, of course, the beginning of a new day always means a deluge of all-ins. Small stacks want to double them up or go home; big stacks begin their bullying. One such bet on Thang Nguyen’s table forced the reigning EPT Baden champion to fold, but the table was being punched in aggravation a step or two in the other direction. Cards were on their backs between two unknown players and there was the distinct hint of outdraw: pocket jacks were mucked after a queen had appeared on the river to give the chips to the player holding A-Q.
Expect plenty more of that in the opening levels.
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Qualifiers or champions? Both
Yesterday, PokerStars blog featured a post concerning the quest for a second EPT victory. No single player has ever won two EPT events, although plenty have come close. We ran through a list of potential double champions; names of players still going well here in Baden who could be the first to earn that second crown.
Inexplicably — and apologies to all concerned — there were two very special names missing from that list. Both John Shipley, from England, and Mats Iremark, of Sweden, are previous EPT winners. Shipley took it down in London during season one, while Iremark triumphed in Deauville on season two. Shipley beat the likes of Baard Dahl, Noah Boeken and Marcel Luske on his final table; Iremark saw off Ram Vaswani, Theo Jorgensen and Isabelle Mercier.
Both of them are still in the mix in Baden this time around. And what’s more, both of them booked their seat in this event via PokerStars satellites, each succeeding in a $1,050 event.
Shipley, a PokerStars SuperNova, also played in London last week via this route, and is a major tournament heavyweight. He came to the final table of the 2003 World Series as the chip leader.
Iremark is also something of a serial qualifier. He’s among the most familiar faces on the EPT, often clutching a Rubik’s Cube and with huge headphones clamped to his head. He won the Rookie of the Year award in the 2006 European Poker Awards.
We’ll keep an eye on both of them as they seek that much-coveted second EPT success.
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Qualifiers in the hunt
As ever, there are a number of PokerStars qualifiers near the top of the leaderboard here in Baden, attempting to turn their satellite wins into a huge live score.
Thierry van den Berg, from Holland, tangled yesterday with two of Europe’s top players — Roland de Wolfe and Dario Minieri — and by the end of the day had more chips than both of them put together. Thierry was in fourth place overall, with 42,100, while Roland was out and Dario down to 11,450.
Minieri and van den Berg have renewed their acquaintance today, out on table 12. Both are battling.
Meanwhile, Michael Durrer, from Dusseldorf, Germany, also peered down at most of the field after his day one. He finished with 39,700, but refused to get carried away when we spoke earlier today.
“What’s been the story of your tournament so far?” I asked.
“There’s no story yet. The story happens in three days time, right?” he replied, looking towards Wednesday’s final table.
Eventually, he confessed to taking a huge pot off Sorel “Imper1um” Mizzi in the third level yesterday, when his nut flush got paid off. And it’s been steady progress ever since.
Durrer originally attempted to qualify for both Baden and Dublin EPTs, and qualified for the latter on PokerStars. But he switched to the closer event – and is glad he did.
“I’ll check back later and see how goes today,” I told him.
“I hope you will,” Durrer said. “I hope you will have something to check.”
Also going well after day one is Tobias Reinkemeier, another German PokerStars player. He allowed a brief smile for the camera moments ago, but soon returned to his game face for the rest of day two. He started the day with 30,750 and is going strong.
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Among the early fallers in today’s event is Barny Boatman, whose set of nines was rivered. Noah Boeken, the Team PokerStars Pro from Holland, also departed: his shortstack couldn’t climb today. Both Sander Lyloff and Patrik Antonius took early hits to their stacks but are far from danger. Meanwhile, all of Dario Minieri, Luca Pagano, Katja Thater, RaiNKhan, Barry Greenstein and Sebastian Ruthenberg remain.
We’re in level seven, with blinds of 200-400 (50 ante).