EPT Baden: The night before
Hello all, and a warm welcome to Baden, Austria, the third stopping point on this, the fourth season of the PokerStars European Poker Tour. So far this year, we've been to Barcelona and London, where a Danish backgammon expert and a Lebanese property developer, respectively, have worked their way to the top of the pile.
The game's the same in Baden, but the setting, as ever, is something new. Imagine if you could walk around the village painted on the front of a box of chocolates: attractive, multi-coloured cottages, rolling hills, the occasional cow or sheep. That's similar to the feeling one gets while approaching Baden.
There's something of the pastoral, something of the Alpine and a definite sense of well-being; the result of the natural spa minerals that course through the water and permeate the air.
In truth, healthy living was not high on the agenda as the PokerStars welcome party kicked off this evening in the salubrious Bar 2, one of the town's very few nightspots. PokerStars qualifiers mingled with Team PokerStars pros -- and a complimentary bar left no one empty-handed.
So it was that Barry Greenstein, Hevad "RainKhaN" Khan, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, Vanessa Rousso, Noah Boeken and Katja Thater -- all seasoned PokerStars pros -- joined Marcel Baran and Chad Brown -- appearing in the PokerStars livery for this event -- in meeting the assembled party population of Baden, as well as the numerous qualifiers who had booked their seat in online satellites. Joseph Mouawad was once just a PokerStars qualifier, like many in Bar 2. Now, of course, he's EPT London champion and the man all are trying to emulate.
Barry Greenstein, Vanessa Rousso and Chad Brown
The tournament begins at 6 p.m. central European time on Sunday and concludes on Wednesday, when we'll have our new champion.
But for tonight, at least, the focus was less on poker and more on chocolate fountains -- both white and dark -- and dancing the night away. Some players might be nursing a sore head when we convene around the tables tomorrow afternoon, but the action is unlikely to be quiet if past EPT are anything to go by.
Perfect pre-poker sustenance
Join us here for complete coverage of the event. We'll have photographs, reports, interviews and updates. It's going to be another cracker.