You can tell a lot about the calibre of a rock band by looking at the support acts they attract. Back in the day, there were these awe-inspiring bills featuring the likes of the Rolling Stones jostling with The Beatles, Bob Dylan appearing with Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and the like.
Today in the Hilton Metropole hotel on the Edgware Road, we have the poker equivalent. Although the £5,000 Main Event of the EPT London Poker Festival does not begin until Friday, the curtain goes up in about 10 minutes on the warm up: a gentle £20,000 High Roller event. Three days, 50,000-chip starting stack, and a galaxy of shimmering stars to keep us entertained.
In truth, our gratification is not necessarily the stars’ main concern. The field is likely to feature around 45 runners, and that’s going to produce a first prize of something like £350,000. It could be a £100,000 either side, which says much about the dizzying heights at which these rollers roll: what’s a few hundred grand between friends?
And many of them are friends, both of one another and of PokerStars. There’s this year’s November Niner Joe Cada for starters. Then there’s last year’s trio of Dennis Phillips, Ivan Demidov and Peter Eastgate. A couple more world champions, Joe Hachem and Greg Raymer are in the house, and the two-time WCOOP bracelet winner Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier is here. Then there’s Luca Pagano, Dario Minieri, Humberto Brenes and London’s own Vicky Coren.
Doubtless Jason Mercier would be here to defend his title if he wasn’t in the final 32 players left in the WSOP-E Main Event taking place down the road. That’s where Daniel Negreanu and Andre Akkari are also to be found. No doubt they’ll swing by if things go south in Leicester Square.
We also have Tom Dwan, Per Ummer and, oh my, there are too many. Stick right here, and check over on the chip count page. We’ll be following the action all day and night.