You’re playing at your first EPT, you’ve just cashed in the Main Event and out the corner of your eye you notice the best players in the world sitting down to play the High Roller. You’re an amateur, you only took up poker two years ago and, what with work commitments you only manage to play a dozen a year at most. Plus, you had to work around the clock for the past month just to get the time off to come to London. So what do you do? Obvious really: you buy into the High Roller event and spin it up. That’s what you do.
This is the story so far of Carla Sabini, who not only went from first Main to first High Roller last night, she ended the day as chip leader, against the kind players she looks upon with awe.
“It was a spur of the moment thing,” said Sabini. “I just thought it’s my opportunity to play with only really good players and learn from them. To me, honest to God, I don’t care if I don’t cash! I just love being around them and learning, watching, because they all play differently.”
It’s all part of a steep learning curve for the Canadian, who scored her first big cash by coming second in a Heartland Poker Tour event in Colorado in September of last year, earning $139,839. Since then she’s played her first World Series Main Event this past summer and is now debuting on the EPT. So far so good.
“I’ve made some unbelievable bluffs,” said Sabini, talking at the break. “I think if the guys saw what I bet into with absolute air, I wish there was a camera to see. And I got them to laydown unbelievable hands. I guess they think I’m older, a women and tight, so I’m really proud of those hands.
Happy to be here: Carla Sabini
“My stack was built with no kings or aces. It’s all been built by making people lay hands down, which for me is huge, especially with who I’m playing with. I’m like in heaven right now.”
Heaven to Sabini would no doubt be described in less glowing terms by others, given the line-up she faces at her table. It started with Dan Shak, Philipp Gruissem, Jason Mercier, Sofia Lovgren, Talal Shakerchi and Steven Silverman, all of whom have their eye on Sabini. For her part she doesn’t mind who it is trying to take her on. It’s all about the experience.
“There’s no one I haven’t played that that I’ve wanted to play. They’re all a calibre ten times over than me.”
Sabini’s approach is classical in nature, almost by the book, with no distractions that might prevent her from paying close attention (something she cannot fathom other players doing). If she’s going to pay £10,000 to play against the best, she wants her money’s worth. So far it’s paying off, although the family at home won’t know that yet. Sabini lets her husband know how things have gone only at the close of play.
“I give them updates but I don’t tweet or look at my phone,” she said. “I don’t do any of that stuff until the end of the day. Then I tell them if I’m in or out. No news is good news.”
And so she plays on, surrounded by the players she has almost an affection for, looking up to each of them, even though in terms of chips they’re currently looking up to her.
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.