For some players the day did not start in the nicest possible way. There was a fire alarm at the neighboring Kingsway Hall Hotel this morning, and most, with the exception of perhaps one Swedish journalist, followed supposed rules and made their way out onto the street, avoiding the elevators, and congregating across the road.
It’s not the threat of fire that confuses people first thing in the morning (it proved to be a false alarm), but the noise the alarm makes, which is horribly loud and continuous. When caught in the middle of it you instinctively think the noise is your fault and you check all the mechanical devices in your room to see which has gone wrong. You even pause long enough to consider whether the new iPhone software is causing the noise and it’s merely the alarm you set the night before.
But no, the noise always seems to come from some other place. That’s what causes the panic in the corridors. At least, that’s what I took to be the chief concern of the man standing naked in the hallway, save for a pair of green underpants. A simple “good morning, it’s a fire alarm” put him at ease.
There’s nothing like an involuntary early start like this to get a look behind the scenes of the poker community. At least that’s what you assume, although those players caught up in this little drama looked oddly tranquil (Martin Finger looks the same heads up in a Super High Roller and facing potential death by fire). David Yan for instance, who looked fresher at 9am than he did walking into the tournament room a short while ago.
When you’re smiling: David Yan
Actually Yan looks like the kind of man who finds it difficult to look unhappy in any circumstances. While that may come back to bite him in later life, perhaps when watching Bergman films, but it’s refreshing in a poker tournament. I asked him if this was because of his fortunes this week or whether it was a default setting.
“It’s probably just a natural setting,” said Yan. “I wasn’t really aware of that. I had a really good day yesterday. I went from 100k to a million so obviously I was pretty happy about that. I’m genuinely quite positive. I don’t get too upset if I lose big pots.”
Yan will be put to the test today, as will be the almost superhuman confidence of another player, Kitty Kuo.
Kuo may not have had a fire alarm to wake her this morning, but those who follow her on twitter will know she’s not immune to hotel trouble.
But if you’ve been following things this week you’ll know Kuo has been one of the central characters, for her approach to the game as much as her playing style.
No more talking: Kitty Kuo
Kuo plays like a woman with something to prove. Actually she doesn’t have anything to prove – she convinced everyone that she’s a good player- but perhaps she has a few more things to prove to herself. As she arrived to take her seat I asked her where her self-belief came from.
“I just feel like I’m doing well,” said Kuo. “When you’re doing well you always have a confidence.”
Fair enough, but that didn’t seem good enough from her. Some players play well and get confident. Kuo it seems gets confident and then plays well.
“If you don’t have confidence you cannot sit in a tournament here. When you come here you need to know you are the best. Sometimes, like yesterday, it was a bad time for me. I had the two toughest players on my table. I was a little nervous so I didn’t play very well. And I give it too much information to my opponents because I was talking too much. Actually I try to get information from them but I gave away information to my opponents. So I will try to be quiet today and just play well.”
So no more chatting from Kuo, who has her work to do improving her stack, which at 162,000 is a little on the short side. But so is Kuo herself, and that never stopped her.
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.