It is a serene, spring Monday morning on the Italian riviera, and if you could just cover your ears a moment while I pour this big bin of empty glass bottles into another bigger, metal bin (there might be a deafening clatter) we can get back to listening to the silence, staring at the blue sky, olive-ing our olive skin and thinking about lunch. And smoking a cigarette on a scooter.
One of the enduring attractions of Sanremo, where the European Poker Tour arrives for the seventh time this week, is that it is not immediately obvious why it would be a setting for a modern poker event. It is a sleepy town of few amusements: a beach, a handful of restaurants and only one or two places that play music past 11pm. (‘Nightclub’ would be too grand a word.)
Yet since our first trip here in 2008, or Season 4 in EPT parlance, it has been among the most popular destinations, attracting some of the biggest numbers and crowning fitting champions, including Jason Mercier, Liv Boeree and, most recently, Ludovic Lacay. The biggest ever EPT Main Event took place here in 2010 — Boeree beat a field of 1,240.
It is all to do with the Italians’ extraordinary taste for poker. No country has taken this game to its bosom quite so enthusiastically as Italy, where poker is still on TV every night, spectators still clamber on to vacant wheelchairs to watch a bubble burst and where hundreds of people suddenly find €5,000 tucked down the back of the sofa and decide to give it a spin.
Day 1A of EPT10 Sanremo will begin imminently in what has become its familiar home. We’re in the ballroom of the storied Casino Sanremo, which has stood here for more than a century. We’ll decamp to the ornate theatre for the final three tables, by which something close to 700 players will likely have departed to a chorus of whoops, slammed tables and expletives.
As ever, our coverage is comprehensive on PokerStars Blog: head to the main EPT Sanremo page and I’ll talk you through it. Hand-by-hand coverage will be in the panel in the top, along with chip-counts and prize information (when it is known). Below that, there will be all our feature pieces, which will come in through the week.
There’s a widget on the right-hand side of the page that offers the quickest way to navigate through all the other pages on the site. There’s plenty there. Immerse yourselves.