Thursday, March 10, 2005

First break Insta-Photo Gallery

Players from around the globe hang out their flag for the E-WSOP

So, let's be honest about the first two levels of a poker tournament. For some players it's a practice in controlling their nerves and adrenaline. They have to make a concerted effort to hold their chips without shaking and resolve the illusion that they must, MUST, double up immediately.

For other players, the first two levels are a time when they roll over their competition, amassing a chip stack at the expense of the players who are too afraid to call big raises.

And then there are those players who sat up all night drinking and playing cards, who are now hiding behind sunglasses and hoping no one recognizes their bloodshot eyes.

Indeed, it's quite a show for the perceptive.

We're entering the first break as I type. Twenty-seven of the original 31 tables remain. I suspect we'll wind our way down to 140-150 players before night's end.

No one has lept forward as a massive chip leader at this point, so I thought a few pictures would help pass the time.

Inside the Concord Card Casino

Willie Tann, money-finisher at the EPT French Open in Deauville. Willie has the stamina of a man half his age. Check that. He has the stamina of a man 1/4 his age. When I left the casino at 3:00am, he was playing pot-limit Omaha. He was here when I arrived today. I'm not sure he left.

Mark Ristine, USA, 3rd place finisher at the French Open

Isabelle Mercier and John Gale share a smile before the start of play. I challenge you to find two nicer people in this city this week

Noah Boeken, Scandinavian Open champion sits next to Oslo, Norway's Morten Stenheim, a man I once dubbed King of the Bad Beats (scroll down to the middle of this post to see why). When he realized I was the one who gave him the name, he didn't kill me. So, I've got that going for me.

Eirik Kolaas, final table finisher at the Scandinavian Open

Henry (top) and Jamie Terranova of Long Island, NY. I'd been wanting to meet this father and son team for some time. Last night, it looked like they might not make it here. Weather and flight delays meant they didn't get here until 10:30 this morning. They are currently playing on no sleep and a mainline feed of adrenaline.

Morten Sembach

Devilfish, again looking fishy. A few moments ago, with the blinds at 50/100, the Fish sat in the big blind. The button raised to 300, the small blind called, and Devilfish re-raised to 1300. After some thought, both the button and small blind folded. With a shrug, Devilfish turned over QJ offsuit. Fishy, I say.

Italian Luca Pagano, final table finisher at the French Open

This Frenchman who now lives in Korea has a real name (Bertrand, if you care), but everyone knows him as Elky. This guy makes a living playing video games. A good living. Now he's doing pretty well on the poker circuit. Talk about a nice life.

I've written about Isabeller Mercier's half-smile before. It's a look that says, "If you call me, you're going to wish you'd gone outside and stepped in front of a train. So, be a sweetie and lay down your garbage."

PokerStars Caribbean Adevnture winner John Gale. I spent a lot of time with John last night talking about his future in poker. The management consultant will play here and Monte Carlo before heading to Vegas in April for the WPT Championship. It's looking like management consulting may go the way of the dodo soon.

Before I go back out on the floor, allow me to send out my condolences to the player (maybe players plural) who got caught up in bad weather and an air controller strike. I've heard from the States that one poor guy is stuck at Logan in Boston with no way to come and sit down in his seat. If they'd let me, bud, I'd play it for you and give you the winnings.

I'll be back in a while with more.