Yesterday as players filtered into the Salle des Etoiles they were ushered into a darkened room, a cavernous cocoon of poker lit primarily by the blazing neon of the new EPT set. It felt epic, it looked splendid but did it look like Monte Carlo? Not quite. This morning it does.
Entering into the room the ceiling high windows opens up to a stunning sea view vista but unfortunately it’s still deemed too windy to roll the ceiling back. Fingers crossed the players will get treated to that before the start of play at least one day while we’re here. Unfortunately for those players in the middle of the room (and fortunately for those right next to the windows) the curtains were to be closed well before play began.
In a few moments Edgar Stuchly, president of the EPT will address the players being ‘excited and proud’ to welcome them home to the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo®Casino European Poker Tour Grand Final. He’s right, it is a fitting end to a spectacular season which has had more than 2,000 qualifiers across the season. In the meantime his tournament directors, Toby Stone, Teresa Nousiainen and Thomas Lamatsch, stand talking with floor man Luca Vivaladi about rule number 57 in the ‘STARS’ magazine. Marked under ‘Penalties and player etiquette’ the point being discussed was: ‘Disclosure – Players are obligated to protect the other players in the tournament at all times. Therefore, whether in a hand or not, players may not…’ and then listed six points of ‘do not’s’. There was general agreement about the policies laid out and how they altered when the action was heads up.
Elsewhere Davidi Kitai, the winner of EPT Berlin just a few days ago, stands tall, looking refreshed and revitalised after a gruelling tournament that crowned its first Belgian and filled Kitai’s pockets with €712,000. Kitai is just one face in the crowd. Team PokerStars Pros Daniel Negreanu, Chris Moneymaker, Barry Greenstein, Andre Akkari, Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Lex Veldhuis, Pius Heinz, Jason Mercier and Jonathan Duhamel are among those playing. Fellow Team Pro Victoria Coren is also in happy in the knowledge that her week will be a winning one: last night she won the €5,000 heads-up beating Melanie Weisner in tight 3-2 victory.
Play has begun. The blinds start at 50-100 with 30,000 starting stacks. We’ll play eight one-hour levels, no dinner break.
Level 1: blinds 50-100
(Day 1A: 165 of 271)
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