The European Poker Tour is sometimes the victim of its own success. Today, for instance, the poor casino employee whose day at work usually consists of little more than the leisurely punching in of passport details of one, maybe two, new visitors was besieged by more than 500 anxious poker players wielding ID cards from numerous countries and keen to get themselves registered for the start of the main event. It was, in a word, chaos as nervous energy became raw excitement and an awful lot of pacing back and forth.
But, as tends to happen, things gradually sorted themselves out and now, as the end of level two approaches, it finally feels as though the tournament has properly begun. For some, though, a tournament properly begun is a tournament already over. Both Bengt Sonnert and Magnus Petersson have departed, both from the same table, and both beaten by the same player. Both also had the same hand: pocket queens falling first, in Sonnert’s case, to pocket kings then, in Petersson’s case, to pocket nines, with a nine appearing on the turn.
Their assassin was Gregor Larsson, from Sweden, who must be close to the chip lead with an early big stack of around 35,000.
Also on that table is Greg Raymer, who has been lured back to the European Poker Tour by the mouthwatering double-header of this San Remo event and next week’s Monte Carlo Grand Final. There are close to 1,200 players here and there will be something similar along in the French Riviera next week. That’s the kind of field Raymer relishes facing — let’s not forget he beat 2,575 others to the world title in 2004 and then outlasted 4,996 to finish 25th the following year.
Raymer is plodding along nicely: he still has something close to his starting stack and, having watched the table for a while, he seems content to be playing position, backing his reads, pinching a few small pots here and there. Recently he just picked one up with Q♠3♣, raising three limpers on the button, seeing a queen-high flop, and tossing in a value bet on the end, which was called by one adversary. Simple stuff.
Across the room from Raymer, his fellow Team PokerStars Pro William Thorson has found himself on a table with Laurence “rivermanl” Houghton and Jonas “Tulkaz” Klausen. All of those were still sitting with around 10,000 as the klaxon sounded for the end of level two and the first break of the day. We’ll be heading on a sweep of the room for some latest updated chip counts as soon as the players return.