Gianna and I went down to the hotel lounge around 1:00pm to gather wits and alleviate the nerves that have been building since she won the trip in December. It was a crazy scene… imagine…
Around us a few dozen european players. Another couple dozen Americans all sporting Pokerstars t-shirts and walking around with a jet-lagged look. Marcel Luske and Devilfish Ulliot are there next to the casino entrance chatting to media in front of a rolling camera. We keep chilling there in the lounge and meet a few new people. Brad Augsburger (sorry Brad from Illinois, who plays as augie99 on stars, chilled out a bit with us. We also saw Noah, who is my pick for the coolest poker player. He’s always in a good mood… they call him “mini-Marcel” because he’s pretty much always seen with Luske, who as the story goes has helped him a lot with his game. Noah is already getting qutie a name for himself, and he can play… plus he’s pumped up from last year after buying a 4% stake in David Williams… $400 into $140k. Must be nice. I’ll be talking more about Noah in the next week and a half because we’re going to be chilling with him some down in Amsterdam when this crazy tourney is over.
Upstairs, the tournament directors are getting the tournament ready. We saw Warren Karp yesterday… he’s here running the show. Warren was the tournament director for that Grand Slam event I wrote about… I remember meeting him there. I have to say, Warren is hands-down my favorite tournament official. He’s very soft-spoken… talks about his family a lot (married with one daughter). He’s also a great player. And I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who could listen as sympathetically as he does to a bad beat story. After running so many of these main events, he’s well practiced at that art.
Also upstairs is a meet-n-greet lunch that Pokerstars is throwing. We decide to go up there. Greg Raymer is chilling out with a coke. Also up there is Isabelle Mercier. She’s been getting a lot of press lately… she’s not hurting in the looks department, evidently has some decent game, and it appears that Pokerstars is set to make her into the next Clonie Gowan. The analogy to Clonie, actually, is pretty good since it was Isabelle’s win in the second WPT Ladies Night which stands as her major tourney accomplishment. I think she’s sponsored by stars and will probably be playing a lot of the events, so we’ll see what she can do.
So Gianna and I chill out there for awhile… meet the Pokerstars rep (I think his name is Conrad, but not 100% sure on that one… cool guy though). Get signed up and before we know it the tourney is about to start. We’ve got 10 minutes left, so we go upstairs to the hotel room and have a little prayer.
Now I’ve never prayed before a poker tournament. It was all Gianna’s idea. I pretty much thing God has already made up his mind about who’s going to win and lose well before the cards are dealt. So I was thinking it’s probably a little late to ask him to turn the tide a little bit for the girl.
But… it seems to have helped a little I think. After the first break, Gianna ended with around $12,500 in chips. I was on the rail for most of the first hour and a half literally sweating her. It’s so much more nerve-racking watching her play than playing myself. I keep wanting to give her pointers, and tell her about other players at the table… I want to shout “RAISE HIM” when I see a little weakness, “RUN BABY!” when she’s involved and I think the guy is strong. But instead, I just sit there watching. I’ve got to let her play her own game.
About twenty minutes before the break, I see John Gale walking around the rail with a wounded look. He had the honor of being the first player knocked out, doubling up Martin de Knijff (the WPT Championship winner last year). I talked with John a bit, and he gave me the skinny on how he got knocked out.
Here’s the hand : Blinds are 25-50. Everyone still has about 10,000 in chips. He had pocket QQs. Raised to 200. Martin reraised to 500. A player in the middle of them quickly flat called. Also, he says, he figures the quick-caller probably has AK or AQ… maybe AJ. Chances are Martin doesn’t have the aces, and if he doesn’t have exactly that one hand he’s not going to call for the rest of his chips. So John makes the move. Martin had the aces. Asking him about it, John said he’d make the same move with 72o. He felt that he could win the pot right there, and he went for it. Sounds like he’s kind of a believer in “The Perfect Path”. You gotta respect that kind of attitude.
I took lots of pictures after getting a media pass. Conrad, the Pokerstars guy, was ultra-friendly. I wish he was the one making the decisions about whether I can play on that damn site or not, instead of whoever the guy is who IS making that call. Maybe if Gianna ends up winning this tournament she’ll have a little pull over there and can sweet-talk them into letting me back in.
So now I’m back upstairs updating the blog. There’s a Pokerstars rep out here in Copenhagen doing a great job covering the event in the official blog. You can check that out for some more details about the event. Worth seeing… some of the bigger players who are in : Marcel, Devilfish, Gus Hansen, Vaswani and Boatman from the Hendon Mob (Barney is at my girl’s table), Raymer. Hopefully you’ll see Gianna’s name on the list of heavies pretty soon.
Next door I hear a resounding “YES!” while typing here. I stop for a second to check it out, since I’m pretty sure it’s a poker player who must have just hit a good pot. Sure enough, it is… a guy named Peter who plays under the screenname The Flute or something like that. He’s got three 5-10 NL games going. I chill out for a minute and then back to work.
The pics are pretty big and I’m going to have to edit them down. But I’ve been away from the tourney for too long, so it’s going to have to wait for a few minutes. Gotta go check how she’s doing…