I was on my way to the corner of the tournament room looking for somewhere to lean. Three others had got there before me, two of them holding camera equipment, and the other a notebook. After looking at the table they were standing next to it was easy to see why. This was no rest area.
“This table got pretty stacked pretty quick.”
This was Josh Calik, a reporter for PokerNews who was doing what we all do in these cases, hanging around waiting for something to happen. Surely he wouldn’t be waiting long.
Turning heads in the far corner
At this table was, among others, Paul Newey, Eugene Katchalov, Chris Moorman, Jason Mercier and Igor Kurganov, a terrible line up for anyone filling in the gaps, but a great one for someone looking to get to the nub of the tournament. It was no wonder that a camera and sound man were perched ready.
But while you’d expect tables like this to play along, with fireworks and Ride of the Valykyries blasting from a speaker, it was strangely quiet.
Pretty soon the four of us were instead watching a table full of young men staring into space, waiting for the guy in seat six to fold. Four players looked at their phones, Mercier and Kurganov spoke quietly to each other. Where had the excitement gone? These fireworks had the potential to be spectacular, but they were still tucked up safely in their box.
Jason Mercier waiting, waiting…
But this is the reality of a major poker tournament. This is what really happens, the side of the game you don’t ever see on a highlight reel. Turns out it’s for good reason. Skip these bits.
* * *
It’s seems ages since we’ve had a player like Pizzo Romano on the EPT feature table–by that we mean a man in his sixties, beard, baseball cap, sensible woollen fair isle jumper for protection against the chill outside. But he also has a rolled up newspaper, perfect for his image of complete disinterest in the activities of his opponents–an image also convenient for keeping up with current affairs. Or at least what’s on television tonight.
Romano is as English as spaghetti Bolognese, a classic Italian-Londoner who has been a feature on the London and UK poker scene for years. He is resolutely old school, reading his paper since play started, which tempers eases those tedious spells spent waiting for everyone else to get on with it, all while oblivious to the cameras pointing in his direction.
But Romano was destined not to reach the sports pages, his departure secured earlier this afternoon.
It was disappointing to see the former UKIPT finalist depart, his pocket nines undone in a race against ace-ten. Romano tried every trick in the book. He stood up (ten on the flop), he put his coat on (ace on the turn) and then fled the stage (nothing on the river). Then he was gone.
Follow the action from the EPT London Main Event this week on the PokerStars. You can also watch live coverage on the EPT Live webcast between October 14-18 on PokerStars.tv.
Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.