Cards are in the air
It was an early start in Barcelona today. As the guards prepared to open the revolving doors to the Gran Casino, Barcelona, at 3.00pm, there were already a cluster of elegantly clad World Cup poker players waiting outside.
This is not the kind of tournament that celebrates a player turning up 45 minutes into the third blind level: here it's all about getting there on time and either playing for -- or vociferously supporting -- the team.
The first heat begins very soon, and features a familiar face in seat four. Greg Raymer, the 2004 World Champion and PokerStars ambassador, is the celebrity player of Team USA and is taking his place in around the opening table.
But reputation counts for little in poker - and Raymer is out there as the man to shoot at.
The full line-up is as follows:
1 - Derek Murray - Ireland
2 - Razvan Bengulescu (captain) - Romania
3 - Jorge Marques - Portugal
4 - Greg Raymer - USA
5 - Friorik Jorgensson - Iceland
6 - Michael Watson - Canada
7 - Antonio Chiladakis (captain) - Mexico
8 - Patrick Kuberyt
A reminder of the rules:
Essentially, we'll be playing five eight-player sit and gos over the next three days (Heats 1-5), with points awarded for the final placing in each heat.
The winner takes 15 points, second is worth 12, third 9, fourth 7, fifth 5, sixth 3, seventh 2 and first out (eighth) is worth 1 point.
These points then go into the players' country tally and countries are ranked in a league table. The top four countries after the heats then go through into the final, details of which will follow later.
But for now, enjoy heat one. The cards are in the air in Barcelona.