What’s the metric for determining the popularity of a poker tournament? Naturally, the Excel spreadsheet that finds its way to our inboxes holds some clues — the number of lines used to list the players is a pretty hard and fast fact.
But there are other, less common points of reference if you’re here on the tournament room: number of cameras loitering in the corridors, number of floor-staff hovering around the registration desk and the number of dealers sitting at tables surrounded only by pristine stacks.
In the EPT Barcelona tournament room this morning, there was a lot of all that. I counted 19 tables allocated for the start of the €10,000 High Roller event, which is surely some kind of record. This used to be an exclusive event, the old “same group of guys swapping money between themselves”, but the field here is now going to be bigger than some of the €1,000-€2,000 Main Events in the early seasons of the EPT.
It is amazingly unusual to see a line of High Roller snaking out of the door. The buy-ins to these tournaments usually meant that you could show up when you want and sit down straight away, without the indignity of queuing.
But this exclusive club continues to get bigger, and nobody is complaining. There’s a very real chance that the player numbers in this tournament will creep beyond the 200 mark and (whisper it) maybe up to 300, including re-entries. At time of writing, there are already 169 players, which is more than the 138 who showed up 12 months ago, and who added 40 re-entries between them.
The prize pool last year was €1,764,000, so we may edge close to €2m.
Early arrivals included Leo Fernandez, who may have broken the record for the earliest-commissioned massage ever seen on the EPT. With 15 minutes still to go before the start of play, Fernandez was in his seat and Jade, one of the EPT’s familiar massage therapists, was already employed on his back.
Steve O’Dwyer, whose Main Event was brief, was aiming to make the most of his €10,000 this time and had got there early. George Danzer had already taken his seat and got up again, moving over to rail his friend and Team PokerStars Pro colleague Jan Heitmann in the Main Event.
Michael Brummelhuis was seated. Ami Barer too. Sergio Aido and Adrian Mateos Diaz were wandering around as though they owned the place which, in this country, they kind of do.
Stephen Chidwick, David Vamplew, Antonio Buonanno, Jonathan Little, Manig Loeser and Niall Farrell were in the queue.
There’s no two ways about it: our third marquee event of the week is going to produce our third record-breaking field.
Follow all the action from the tournament floor on the main EPT Barcelona page. There’s hand-by-hand coverage in the panel at the top, including chip counts, and feature pieces below. Follow the action from the High Roller on the High Roller page. There’s also EPT Live, which is streaming action from Day 4 of the Main Event.