EPT Prague: The incredible lightness of day 1a

It seems fitting to end the day with a reference to something relevant to the host town. Milan Kundera may have lived in the Czech Republic’s second city of Brno, but his stories sit well with the life of a tournament poker player.

In ‘The incredible lightness of being’ Kundera wrote that the actions of a single human being have little impact in the general scheme of things. One decision here or there makes little difference, and so they don’t tie us down to anything. He may not have known it at the time but Kundera had laid down a theory that stands as the exact opposite of the poker way.

In this game every decision and every action counts. A few chips here can make for a huge stack there. A small decision can alter your positive mind to one of doubt, leading to swift demise and fury. For some those decisions go the other way, like for the 87 players from 241 who made it to the end of day 1a.

Some things stay the same. The cash games go on in that blinkered way that allows those playing to pretend the world stops at the doors of the cardroom. The cigarette smoke still fills the playing area and the walk back through the hotel is filled with poker talk.

As for today, well, PokerStars qualifier Maximillian Bassil started well. He would eventually face elimination but showed poker at its most fun in those moments of relief after a big hand on a table that would remain one of the toughest throughout the day, with Ken Lennaard, Richard Toth and Team PokerStars pro Katja Thater.

Then there was PokerStars qualifier Pavel Blatny, the chess Grand Master and four time Czech national champion turned poker player, putting his chess wiles to use. Pavel struggled early, down to the felt and his last couple of thousands before his predicted change of fortune began to pay off. Likeable and with a solid result in Amsterdam last month, he’s one to look out for on day two.

The big names are still going strong. Katja Thater finished well, seeing off one player and adding to her own stack by pushing a player off a big raise in level eight. Rob Hollink, a former grand final champion finished at a walk, as did former grand final runner-up Marc Karam, here flying the Canadian flag.

In the meantime tomorrow will see the second flight take seat, likely to number around 200, and play eight levels. Among them will be the EPT Dublin runner-up and the most spoken name in poker Annette Obrestad. Alongside her will be Team PokerStars pros Luca Pagano, his countryman Dario Minieri, Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier and Sebastian Ruthenberg, along with a contingent of 65 PokerStars players and qualifiers of course.

But that’s for tomorrow. Kundera may have been right after all. With another day, another tournament around the corner, what happens here is quickly forgotten there. Tomorrow is a new day and a new start and it all kicks off again at high noon.

And for those who may have missed today’s action you can catch up here:

Check or bet in the Czech Republic

Poker at Maximillian speed

Local hero for a second time

Players can be winners, backroom staff can be champions

Status report at the end of level seven

No time to rest in level eight

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in