There’s a saying in poker, designed to maintain orderly etiquette: “Act like you’ve been there before.” As the players of two final tables assembled in the conference facility of Casino Barriere Deauville this afternoon, they quickly divided into two sections: those who had been there before and those for whom all this is enthrallingly new.
If we forget for a moment the Team PokerStars Pro Eugene Katchalov, who is headlining the €5,000 Main Event final table, the last lucky handful in his particular posse are all pretty new to the late stages of the tournament game. They all arrived at least close to on time (roll call was 11.30am), then fidgeted around on the main webcast stage, opening their chip-bags, fumbling with their towers of chips, and some receiving the assistance of tournament staff for this particularly arduous task.
It’s not especially difficult to pile chips up in orderly stacks, but while your hands are shaking in anticipation of winning €614,000, and tens of reporters and cameramen are swarming around you, even the most rudimentary jobs can appear daunting.
“Eugene’s fine,” said Neil Johnson, the EPT Live Events Specialist, as one of the floor staff offered to help Katchalov stack up his chips. He was indeed fine, although he was also both the first and the last to show up. He got there early, got whisked away for an interview, and therefore was last to sit down for the photographs when Neil Stoddart, the PokerStars snapper, tried to get them all in line.
“How about a couple of smiles?” Stoddart said, faced instead by eight nervous grimaces. Eventually they were coaxed into enjoying the awkwardness. The first out among them will get €63,900, so it’s worth a quick grin.
The “other” faction mentioned at the top of this page were, of course, the final table players of the €10,000 High Roller event, who also convened at noon. The business end of the tournament room is today divided into three sections: the webcast stage for the Main Eventers, plus a larger High Roller pen (it’s fenced in), and the two divided by a kind of pool of spectators, with three rows of chairs.
Currently the chairs are all occupied and all faced towards the Main Event, but if anyone cared to swivel their heads owl-like through 180 degrees they would observe a much calmer scene.
The last eight in the High Roller features four former EPT champions (Martin Scheich, Davidi Kitai, Dominik Panka and Kent Lundmark), a WSOPE champion (Adrian Mateos Diaz), a former WSOP final table player (Nikolay Losev) and an EPT Player of the Year (Ondrej Vinklarek). They had all been there before.
Ironically, the man leading them all, Albert Daher, was the least experienced of everybody, yet seemed to have an even better idea of how it’s done at the beginning of days of poker. In short, while all the other seven were there at the stroke of noon to get things started, Daher still hadn’t surfaced.
“We don’t wait for him,” a tournament official said. “Start please.” Schleich opened the first pot and took it uncontested.
And just like that, the first of our two tournaments were under way. Here’s birthday girl Laura Cornelius speaking with Rick “Everyday’s my birthday” Dacey about today’s play:
You can follow the Main Event on the Main Event page and the High Roller on the High Roller page. We’re working with a one-hour delay on the Main Event as the action is being screened live on EPT Live.