The 72 remaining players are now aligned in two rows of tables, behind each a rail not half a yard away, making it a densely packed piece of casino real estate, with the two rows separated by a passageway two feet wide.
Maybe people are mistaking it for the yellow brick road or perhaps the last exit till Brooklyn. Maybe it’s been confused with the path to enlightenment or the way to San Jose. But whatever it is right now it’s the busiest thoroughfare in Europe.
This is the deal when you close in on the money. The mass of media outlets, each with an eye on the next EPT bubble boy, leaves little space to move or air to breath. Instead you must find yourself a spot and dig in for the duration.
Cornered at the far end of the room this meant hanging around the table featuring Sebastian Zink, Rolf Slotboom and Joao Barbosa.
“You build well,” said Maximilian Bassil, breaking the calm.
Was he talking to Rolf Slotboom, whose stack had been assembled as a tall thin tower on top of a spiralling base? Or was it the fact that EPT Warsaw winner Joao Barbosa had somehow turned 35,000 into a new improved block worth 160,000?
Barbosa is no slouch when it comes to building a stack, as anyone who saw his performance in Poland will testify. His power surge to three figures came on just two hands…
In the first Barbosa held K-6 off suit on the button and raised, getting calls from the blinds. On a K-8-7 flop the blinds checked before Barbosa made it 8,500. The small blind mucked but the big blind was still keen, raising to 27,000 before Barbosa moved all-in for a little more than 50,000, good to dissuade his opponent from any more nonsense.
A hand against Sebastian Zink followed. Up to 100,000 Barbosa made it 6,500 from under-the-gun and Zink called from the cut off. The flop came [KC]-[JH]-[2H] which both players checked before the [4C] appeared on the turn. Now Barbosa bet 7,500 which was called for a [7H] on the river. Another 17,000 from Barbosa, this time forcing Zink into the tank for five or six minutes. He called but then mucked when Barbosa showed [AC]-[JS].
That took Barbosa to 140,000 which a few hands later is up to 160,000. Another candidate for a second EPT win.
Looking on with envy perhaps from behind his mirrored visor covered eyes was Dutchman Rolf Slotboom. As alluded to earlier, Slotboom’s ability to win chips is visibly demonstrated by his flair for ornamental chip towers. But today, his once mighty Empire State building has been reduced to a stubby Javits Center, struggling for altitude.
“On with the bag again?” asks one player, referring to Slotbooms’ habit of collecting his things and putting his bag over his shoulder preparing to leave.
This had been coming for some time. Short-stacked Slotboom tends to move his stack closer to the line, as if readying troops for an assault over the top, keeping them on the firing step ready at a moment’s notice. It came soon enough, a Slotboom shove which, despite long pauses of consideration, went uncalled. Then another, bag on, chips front, eyes to the door. But for a second time no takers. Into level 15, four players from the bubble. Slotboom remains in his seat.