Wednesday is Day 1 of the PokerStars Women Live EPT Grand Final tournament here in Madrid, and the noon launch tomorrow means the low key buzz of excitement and nerves is starting to percolate through to the players.
Like so many players before them, they mentally plan for what they hope will be their newfound wealth, with an anticipated adrenaline rush rollercoaster playing out in the back of their minds.
Today is the calm before that storm, a day for players to relax and meet friends they have forged relationships with online for the past several months. Then later this evening they will be enjoying an elegant cocktail party, replete with white sofas and lounges outside on the lawn at the Casino Gran Madrid.
Casino Gran Madrid
The satellite players come from an international roll call of nations that includes Croatia, Sweden, Estonia, Italy, Spain, the United States, and others. And, like the variety of stamps on their passports, their experience levels in poker are just as diverse.
Some have been playing for only a few months, while others are pros or semi-pro players. For Anna Maria Lafavia from Italy, it’s her first live event, having played the PokerStars Women tournaments for only a few months. She says she was so excited when she won that she woke her whole family up to celebrate with her. And that excitement carries over into dreaming big. When asked what her plans for Madrid included, she said that the thing she looks forward to the most is winning the tournament.
And for others, like Lee Anne Ball, from London, it’s one of many big events she’s experienced. Lee-Anne played two prior PokerStars events (UKIPT Nottingham in February 2011, and the past two EPT women’s events in London, finishing ninth in 2009). She also finished 24th out of more than 1,000 entrants in the WSOP ladies event, in July 2010.
But even with that kind of experience, when faced with an all-in for her tournament life, the heart-pounding anxiety seems to be universal. Here’s her account of how she handled the all-ins to win the satellite to Madrid:
“Whenever I was all-in and called by another player, I couldn’t look at the screen. I just closed my eyes and hoped my hand would hold up!” Ball says she thinks that looking at the cards jinxes her. It seems that you never get over that fear in your gut when it’s crunch time.
Team PokerStars Pros will also be in the mix tomorrow, with Sandra Naujoks already signed up. So check back tomorrow for more details about players, and for updates on the event.