Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Machismo in Deauville, the French Open continues

The French Open players hold on tight and get macho

She had blonde hair, hanging long down over her low-cut shirt. She looked out over the felt and with a small smile said, "Everyone is very macho at this table."

An outsider might think she was playing with her male competitors, throwing some flirt in with the chips. In fact, she was not, even though her English accent made the word "macho" sound much proper than it should.

When I caught her eye, I realized she wasn't talking about macho biceps or chest hair. It was about the cards.

Two players went to war, betting into and check-raising each other on a flop of 235. Finally, one player mucked a six face up. His opponent slid his cards toward the dealer. The cards caught the felt and turned face-up, revealing AQ offsuit. Both players had missed the flop, but both sneered as if they'd flopped the nuts. Only one could rake the pot and the one who did not continued to sneer as if his gutshot straight-draw was a winner he'd inadvertently mucked.

"Next time," he said. "Next time we are heads up, I'm all in."

I guess the lady was right.


An afternoon in France

We started with approximately 245 players. Just before the dinner break, we sit at 191. Notables Noah Boeken and his mentor Marcel Luske have both already left us. Luske suffered an unfortunate beat when he flopped two pair with his 89 and got all in with a player holding aces. An ace came on the river and Luske left, his entertainment value in tow.

The room has quieted down a bit from the early part of the afternoon. The players are focused and intent on making it until tomorrow.

One notable player still in is David "Devilfish" Ulliott. He's been keeping himself strong with soda, a triple-decker sandwich, and a lifetime achievement award.

This afternoon, Casino Helsinki and a board of casino management voters awarded Devilfish with the European Poker Lifetime Achievement Award. And all this time I thought he was James Bond and spent most of his time picking up beautiful women and saving the world.

The Devilfish receives his Poker Lifetime Achievement Award

Aches and pains

For those who aren't familiar with the French way of living and talking, the word pain translates to "bread." I could spend several paragraphs writing about the various breads I've seen and sampled since I've been in the country. But I'm primarily concerned with the amount of pain sliding back and forth across the felt in the form of chips. It's enough to give a lowly tournament reporter a back ache. And if I'm hurting, you can imagine how tensed-up the players are.

Enter: Christine.

A few minutes ago, Warren Karp announced that Christine, the masseusse, had arrived with her massaging tools and that all players were welcome to partake of her services.

I expected a few quips from the players and I was not disappointed. My favorite: A player looked at the felt in front of him and then the dealer, "Will we still play if someone is laying on the table?"

Christine provides one of the most valuable services in the room

We're headed into the dinner break now. We'll be back with more a bit later.