Different. Compared to many other EPT stops, the one in London has indeed something that makes it just different.
Something that makes it both impressive and invisible as a cloud in summer bluest sky: it is there, but as soon as you move your eyes from it… it does not exist anymore. It has never existed
What is it making it so impressive, you ask? The field.
Strolling around yesterday’s Day1B tables (sadly for Day1A but, hey! That’s how live poker works) felt somehow as having a walk on Wikipedia visiting those pages that made all of us at least once wish we were there. Those pages dedicated to the historical moments that made poker the superb game it is today.
Seeing at the tables, one next to each other, characters as Barry Greenstein, Barney Boatman, Marcel Luske and Phil Hellmuth would already have been enough for an old-fashioned goose skin – but adding to them names as Daniel Negreanu, Liv Boeree, Vanessa Selbst and Marvin Rettenmaier…well, that’s almost calling for an heart-attack.
And what about Ms. Victoria Coren Mitchell, that one we used to simply call “Vicky” at the time she was the first woman ever to ship an EPT title at the “Three Vic’s” tournament (The Vic, Vic-tory, Vic-toria), and who today appears so confident and seducing to deserve the honor of a day-long TV-table?
“Here in London there’s an impressive field, “said Giuliano Bendinelli, Italian young gun who recently choose to leave his home country for the challenge of playing against the best in the world right from the middle of the British capitol city.
For playing against those players who, for those ones who elected poker as a pagan religion, are nothing but idols to worship.
Yet, this is England, this is London – and at the pub I went to for getting some of my writing done they started playing the Beatles. And as soon as Yesterday went for its triumphal march from the loudspeakers, it all suddenly becomes much clearer. Clearer and different, as I said.
Because even such a great EPT tournament, once in London, becomes nothing more than the effimere representation of a dream which, at the end of the day, I am not even sure even really exists.
I some 50 steps away from the Grand Connaughts Rooms. Seventy steps, maybe – but not even a single one more than that.
Right in front of me, Liv Boeree is getting over the hand that busted her from Day2 by having a beer with some friends under London grey-ish sun.
And for as much as she can be one of the most desired poker players around, for as much as she can be the one who shipped the record-breaking San Remo EPT…here she looks like nobody.
Nothing more than a nice girl with long hair enjoying her pint during a nice autumn afternoon right in the heart of London.
Nothing more than any of those other ten nice looking girls with long hair enjoying a pint during a nice autumn afternoon right in the heart of London.
“The location is perfect,” told me yesterday Dario Minieri, one of the very few Italians who can claim keeping a WSOP bracelet in his safe.
“Once you leave the tournament, you are right in the middle of London” – a city that seems to perfectly afford ignoring even the simple existence of an event as the European Poker Tour.
“What’s happening there?”
“They are having a poker tournament – I guess.”
I heard this conversation right twenty-four hours ago at the “Hercules Pillars”, a pub just opposite the entrance of the tournament hall. A pub where everyone seems to be so oh! So British not to care about the enormous event that in the mean time is taking place in the Grand Connaught Rooms.
As if Finnish sniper Lauri Pesonen, PokerListings Awards winner Luca Moschitta and Victoria Coren Mitchell – once simply Vicky – would just not be there, one elbow against the other, fighting for writing their name in poker great history book.
But the Beatles are over, Yesterday left the battlefield to Lana del Rey and my Guinness has nothing left but foam.
Even Liv disappeared, unavoidably swallowed by that London crowd that makes her look just like anybody else.
I guess it’s time for me to head off and restart living my EPT dream. To restart walking around those tables staring at those names doing what they do best: playing poker.
Hoping that, for once, London did not swallow also Phil, Barry and Victoria-once-simply-Vicky while I was away. As it already did with Liv.