Thursday, March 17, 2005

Dinner in Monte Carlo

There were two different menus tonight. At the Café de Paris, there was roasted lamb, baked ham, ravioli Marsala, and a shrimp cous cous. I also had a nice strawberry tart.

In the poker room, the menu was a bit different. The appetizer was a ripe grapefruit. The salad was a one-outer. The main course was a mysterious Swede. I suspect those who feasted are now sitting somewhere with the top button of their trousers undone.

Andreas Harnemo (above, second from the right) a quiet man from a little place on the Artic Circle, seemed to be the man to beat. Fresh off a second place finish in Vienna. Harnemo rolled into today and collected chips like wild tourists during a seedy Las Vegas casino brawl. Somehow over the course of two levels, Harnemo created a mountain of chips 90,000 high. Ever the quiet, affable Swede, Harnemo sat quietly, using his chips and re-raises as daggers.

And then the waiters walked in and quiety announced the dinner menu. Apparently everyone was hungry for some Harnemo. French Open winner Brandon Schaefer flopped the nut straight against Harnemo. Jan Heitmann got all in with aces versus Harenmo's ace-king. It began a series of events that ultimately resulted in Harnemo breaking his silence, slamming his hand on the felt, and, yes, losing every one of his 90,000 in chips.

Now, Schaefer and Mikail Ustinov, who were both diners at the Cafe d'Andreas, have come together as chip leaders, each with more than 90,000. Schaefer cleansed his palate with a ripe grapefruit, which was apparently not an homage to Johnny Chan.

Table talk defined

If silence is golden, the featured table is no precious metal. In Europe, table talk is not all that common. In some cases, it just doesn't happen at all. So, at our new featured table, it's amazing the European sensibilities haven't combusted into something like the Sterno flames that keep the food warm.

The first ingredient is John Fanning, one of the Fannings behind the (in)famous music downloading service Napster. I feared for a few minutes Fanning may fall unconscious, as I didn't think he was breathing between sentences. Funny, it seemed, because of majority of conversations took place with the second ingredient Robert "Merci, Mama!" Cohen, a man who speaks little English.

A Frenchman standing near his table remarked with a smirk, "He doesn't speak French very well either." I'm pretty sure he was kidding.

But Cohen is a good player who can hold on to his small stack for hours on end.

If you add a sprinkle of Nathan Kelly to that mix, you have the recipe for a table so loud and gregarious, the words rumble all the way down the French coastline.

Because the table was made for TV, the EPT producers put the players on the featured table.

Steve Stolzmann, a Wisconsin firefighter who learned poker from his son, had fallen into a long run of folding. At one point Fanning looked up and said, "Steve, where are you from?"

"Wisconsin," Stolzmann replied.

"Do they ever raise in Wisconsin?" Fanning smirked.

"No," Stolzmann said dryly. "We only limp. And fold."

Just about the time I was thinking Stolzmann should've said, "We only raise dairy cows," Robert Cohen exclaimed, "Ssssssssh!"

The table looked up and Cohen nodded to Stolzmann. Cohen closed his eyes and rested his head on his hands in the international symbol for, "He's sleeping."

Who says you need to speak the same language to have a good laugh?

As I was recovering from my chortle, young Nathan Kelly jumped up and threw on his coat in disgust. He'd been steaming for the better part of an hour. Cohen had put him on tilt by raising and raising and raising.

Now, Kelly had pushed in the rest of his stack with a pair of sevens. Fanning had called with pocket eights.

The dealer laid out the turn as Kelly begged for a seven. It didn't come.

On the verge of full implosion, Kelly watched as the dealer laid out the turn...a seven.

Kelly reversed his implosion and exploded into his wireless mircophone, removing his coat and getting ready to sit. Then someone pointed out the four diamonds on the board. Fanning had the eight of diamonds.

Kelly pulled his coat over his head and begged for a club. When the dealer laid out a black rag, Kelly again fell into his chair, exhausted. He had held on again.

The funny thing...someone had mucked a seven. Kelly had a one-outer and hit it.

He yawned last night and today has found no chance to rest

When it came time for dinner, I rushed in the direction of the ravioli Marsala and found myself at dinner with Patrick "curzdog" Curzio. His fiancee, a fine young lady, was almost in the middle of an apoplectic fit. While she'd brought a book to read (The House of Sand and Fog, I noticed), she'd not read a page. Curzdog had been giving her a heart attack all day long. At one point he was down to just more than 1000 in chips. Just before dinner, he'd brought his stack back up to a respectable level, but gotten all in with Barny Boatman. Curzio held pocket queens. Boatman held pocket eights. The flop came down with an eight and Mrs-to-be Curzdog nearly died. Right there on the floor. It was only made worse (better, actually) when the dealer laid out a queen on the turn, giving curzdog the set-over-set win and rocketing him up to 25K in chips.

They both had wine with dinner (that's curz and his fiancee, not curz and Boatman)

Feel free to look below for chip counts from the dinner break. We've started back now with 57 players remaining. We'll play either two more levels or down to 27 players, whichever comes first.