High Kicks, High Prices
If the best things in life are worth waiting for then the two hour queue to register for the EPT Dortmund had to be a sign of something great to come. Although if the best things in life are free then the thirty euros a day entry fee on top of the three hundred juice and the twenty three euro buffet was not such a good omen. But the thirty euros did cover the cost of unlimited soft drinks which came round frequently, and when Roberto Romanello discovered that the draught beer was - quite correctly - placed in the soft drinks category, the entry fee didn't feel quite so steep.
An hour and a half after scheduled kick off we were all in our seats and itching to go but at this point they decided to stick with the program and wheel out the dancing girls. It was a game effort at Vegas glitz and was kitsch and good natured enough not to seem like too bad a thing even to those of us who realy just wanted to get started. The sense of being determined to muddle through and put on a good show made you warm to our hosts, and when a tune made famous by Mel Brooke's The Producers briefly blared over the PA it was impossible to know who was in on the joke.
I was drawn on table five which the massed media seemed to have designated as the unoffical 'featured table'. This was probably because the bloke two to my right who was min raising every pot was Sebastian Ruthenberg, star of the EPT circuit and a thoroughly pleasant chap. He struggled early, and when he got his short stack all in with tens against my queens and someone else's AK, scores of bloggers and photographers, a couple of film crews, half the chorus line, six waiters and the hat check girl all pressed around the table to learn his fate. I wish him luck on day two.
It's funny how one thing leads to another in poker. I had been going pretty well for most of the first six levels. I was playing a lot of flops against one opponent (usually the same one.) Alex Kravchenko was playing very defensively and had pretty much antied down to a short stack. He had just reached the point where he was looking for good spots to push all-in over raises and had done it once against the one player at the table who was raising more than Ruthenberg.
I picked up 8 9 of diamonds. Alex (four seats to my left) was on the bb and had his hands round his stack so I couldn't see it without asking. This is my pet hate in poker, I think dealers should be trained to tell players to keep their chips in view so that other players don't have to do it and signal their intentions in a pot. No matter, I knew his situation and didn't want to open the door to him by raising; So, unusually I opted to limp.
The small blind (a young ipod-surfer dude who was new to the table) came along to make us three handed. The flop of 4 J 4 (no diamonds) was checked around and the turn brought a king. The dude now put in a small bet (700 into 1100) Alex folded and I called! No I'm not Sammy George in disguise, I just didn't believe that he had a four. The river brought a queen and he bet 1,600. I raised to 5,600 and took the pot with nine high. So far so good, but for the first time all day and for reasons it would take too long to explain I decided it was a good idea to show the bluff.
The very next hand was dealt just as the last break of the day was announced. I decided that limping was the new raising and came in with A 6 of spades. My friend from the last pot came in with a raise. He seemed to be itching to play another hand with me so, as the rest of the table peeled off for fags and fresh air, I made a call I would not usually make against most players.
The flop was 6 6 9 with two hearts. I checked, He bet 2k I raised six more and he moved all in for another 14k. As it turned out he had one green 25 chip more than me. He showed K J of hearts. More outs than I'd hoped to see, but I was in good shape. Was. Funny how one thing leads to another in this game.
I made for the bar where Roberto had lined up a few dozen beers, one of which led to another. No, it wasn't the entry fee that was steep, it was the steps out of the casino. There was a lot of excitment about how big this event was but also a sense of uncertainty about who was in charge when it came to bread and butter issues like the structure of satellites. Something was missing: It was the reassuring presence of EPT supremo John 'Mr Big' Duthie.
I believe that John was jetting in from his nerve centre in Clapham just as I was boarding a train for Berlin. I just hope he has a room reserved because although his word is law in the card rooms of Europe I've found that dropping his name in an over booked hotel meets with blank faces all round.
Get sponsored by the Mob