Not too many miles beyond the mountainous ranges that tower menacingly over the Casino Baden, Julie Andrews sang that the hills are alive with the sound of music. No more. Instead, this area of Austria is buzzing with the poker elite of Europe gathering like a swarm of bees for a momentous battle.
Yes, folks, we are here for another epic European Poker Tour event, the third of season three, and the prospect of forceful raise, bluff, and fold is mouth-watering. Tomorrow (Sat) at noon, the cards will be in the air, and one of more than 300 runners will be a wealthy man or woman by the time the TV lights are turned off over the final table on Tuesday.
Woman? Yes, Brit journalist and broadcaster Vicky Coren won the last EPT in London, collecting a handy £500,000, and she is here again, with PokerStars, to try and make it a remarkable double.
So too are a host of PokerStars online qualifiers, ready to test their mettle against some of the finest poker aficionados Europe has to offer. I would not say it was scientific, but I have a funny feeling in my bones that one of them is going to go very deep here.
One man who knows all about success in Baden is Finn Patrik Antonius, who won this event last year despite turning up hours late for the start on Day 1. His flight was delayed, but no matter. He sat down, regrouped his chips (blinded away by half), straightened his collar and got to work. The rest went down in EPT folklore.
So what will our players find when they wake up and head for the casino in Baden? A poker paradise, that’s what.
The town, about 40 miles from Vienna, is a little gem, steeped in tradition with historic town houses towering over quaint streets lined with open-air cafes, boutiques and musicians.
The casino itself is luxurious inside, and from the outside it nestles seamlessly among the tradition that surrounds it. Little old ladies walking their dogs on the outside, brash young folk playing high stakes poker on the inside. A strange mix, but that is poker.
This tournament is a 5,000 Euro-entry No Limit event. We have a Day 1A, Day 1B on Sunday, Day 2 on Monday and the final table on Tuesday.
But you need not miss a moment of the action. From noon tomorrow (Sat) we will bring you the news, stories, secrets and chip counts from the biggest show in town. And as for my feeling of a PokerStars victory – join me over the next four days to find out.
Until tomorrow, sleep easy. But before you go to bed, your enterprising blogger has been hard at work changing the Sound of Music’s Do-Re-Mi for your enjoyment. Here goes….
Doh! A pair, what do I do?
Raise? But I might get out-flopped,
Me, afraid to make a stand,
Far, a long way to go home,
So, why not go for it,
Blah! He went and made the trips,
Eeeh, he has nicked all my chips,
That will bring me back to doh, doh, doh, doh!