EPT Vilamoura: The boy Barbosa

November 17, 2009

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There are some notable sights and sounds as we press on through level two. As you’d expect at a large event like this all you can hear are the riffle of chips and the occasional rumble of Shaun Deeb laughing. In the corner of the room some people have gathered. It’s not clear why the spot they’re in is so popular until closer inspection reveals this to be where organisers have set up the rail, and that far off place is as close to the action as they can get.

What they can see from their distant vantage point is a playing area and a stage at the far end. The best way to describe the layout is similar to that of a night club in a gangster movie, concentric levels getting closer to the stage, where you can imagine the head mobster being ushered to a table closest to the front while some poor guy who booked in advance is shuffled back to level three.

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Above the stage spotlights, usually aimed down at a band or a magician sawing someone in half, are turned around, shining down on the audience. Naturally the curtains are closed. There’s no place for natural light in an event like this.

The effect though is that if you stand in the wrong place watching a table, a silhouette of your head can suddenly emerge, startling the players. Less conspicuous places are “down light,” where provided you can see past the blinding lights you won’t inadvertently cast shadow puppets on the flop.

The table best placed to take advantage of this is table 18, home to Barbosa, Wendt, Mattern, Mustanoglu and Slotboom, among others, the table most laden with EPT clout.
Barbosa is of course on home soil. If the record books are anything to go by this cerebral local dynamo could fare well here and just took a sizable pot from Steve Eichenburger who, with a board reading 9♦10♠7♣8♦6♦ bet 8,000 on the end. Barbosa starting thinking for a while…

In the past, such is the Portuguese appearance, you wonder if he’s actually thinking through the hand or something totally different. In a button down plaid shirt he doesn’t have the headphones of Wendt or the sunglasses of Arnaud Mattern. Instead he looks like he’ll be teaching math or mowing the lawn once he’s done here. After each hand he types in the details onto an iPhone app. One day these things will exist to tell you exactly what to do but for now this one tells him what he’s done.

Thinking done, Barbosa called.

“Good call,” said Eichenburger.

“Hmm?” said Barbosa, not hearing, but the cards would do the talking. Q♠J♠ for Barbosa and the pot. Another one for the app and that’s the end of level two, and this table, which is broken at the break to fill in the gaps.

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