EPT Barcelona: Unknown now. But by Saturday...?
As ever on the EPT, the Barcelona field is swelled by a sizeable number of PokerStars qualifiers, that significant bunch of "just another internet player" who seem to invite the scorn of the so-called established names, before relieving the contemptuous of their chips, titles and dignity.
It's likely to be no different here. Lurking among the TV pros today are 36 players who won their seats in online satellites hosted by PokerStars. And some of them are already attracting the attention that they probably deserve.
Take Sonny Petersen, a 26-year-old qualifier from the Faroe Islands. The Faroes are hardly renowned as a poker hotbed, but then they're hardly renowned for very much at all*. This small group of islands, positioned between Norway and Iceland in the Norwegian sea, has a population of a little more than 48,000, making it the 202nd largest country in the world, just smaller than St Kitts and Nevis, but bigger than the Cayman Islands.
There are no casinos in the Faroes and certainly no poker rooms. But that didn't stop Petersen entering a $100 satellite to the $1,000 EPT qualifier and winning both, earning him his spot in Barcelona.
And that in itself is big news in the Faroe Islands: Petersen was interviewed on a national radio station about his qualification, and now carries the weight of a country, albeit a tiny one, on his shoulders. We'll follow his progress on behalf of all the Faroese -- and PokerStars players -- here.
Also in today's field Jorge Correia, from Portugal, and New Zealander Clinton Herring. Correia's progress to the EPT cost him a grand total of $22 after he won a special PokerStars qualifier restricted to Spanish and Portuguese players.
Just one seat was on offer in this unique qualifier, and it went to Correia, which was all the more impressive since he didn't take a single rebuy. (An add-on at the end of the rebuy period accounts for the additional $10 he had to spend.)
Correia is on the same table as Marc Goodwin and Liz Lieu.
Herring's journey from New Zealand to Barcelona clocks in at around 8,000 miles. So it's just as well that he didn't take too long in qualifying: he signed up to PokerStars about two days before entering his first EPT satellite, from which he qualified at the first attempt.
To get near the money will take significantly longer, but with a played one, won one record in PokerStars organised events, he could be one to watch here.
"I'm in first place. Write that," chimed Anton Smolyanskiy, a PokerStars player from New York City. He was right: the tournament hadn't quite started yet, so technically his 10,000 chip stack was as dominant as any other.
With confidence like that, there's plenty this actuary from Manhattan, originally from Russia, could achieve. And if he gets stuck in Barcelona, he's happy as well.
"This place is awesome," he said. "I could live here."
"Everybody works so slowly. It's awesome."
*Except, obscure soccer stats fans, once holding Scotland to a faintly amusing 2-2 draw in a European Championship qualifying match in 2002.