EPT12 Barcelona: Why poker players plan to set an Orphanage ablaze


Steven Warburton describes the route of a cockroach across the wall to Matthias de Meulder

There was a rumour a few days ago that Neymar Jr, superstar Brazilian soccer player, was watching some televised poker and enviously said something like: "Look at these guys, travelling the world playing poker. What a life!"

There's an argument that Neymar Jr should spend some time with Matthias de Meulder, Steve Warburton and Scott Margereson this week. That might rid him of these fanciful notions about the glamorous life on the poker circuit.

You see, another rumour has it that those three, despite all being still alive in the biggest European Poker Tour Main Event ever hosted, are not exactly living the luxurious life of the international jet-set here in Barcelona.

"We call it 'the Orphanage'," Warburton said this morning, referring to the house they have rented to share while they play this festival. It has not quite come up to five-star standards. "It's the worst place you've ever stayed," Warburton said.

It's pretty common these days for small groups of poker players to rent a house or an apartment in the city of a major festival, providing a way not only to cut down on expenses, but also to get some community spirit going, a place to dissect hands, talk through the day's action and, if things don't work, a base from which to start the party.

scott_margereson_ept12_barcelona_day4.jpgIt's remarkable how many times we've reported that two or more players from the same house have gone deep in the same tournament, so the theory seems to work. In addition to De Meulder (21st, 840,000 chips), Scott Margereson, left, (20th, 950,000) and Warburton (7th, 2.15 million), Eric Lescot, who was eliminated yesterday in 38th, has also stayed in the Orphanage this week.

However, at least according to Warburton, they've not necessarily had much opportunity to sit around and chat when they've got back home after the day's end. "We're there shivering, it's so cold, cockroaches crawling across your face," Warburton said.

De Meulder is carrying the can for this, having been the man to book the accommodation on behalf of the group. But the Team PokerStars Pro from Belgium says he is getting a raw deal, insisting Warburton was also involved in the Skype conversation when the group agreed on the Orphanage.

He also believes that what happens in the Orphanage stays in the Orphanage. "That's private, Steve, you shouldn't be saying those things," he said.

As the pair ripped open their bags this morning, preparing for Day 5 action, an argument then ensued over the merits of otherwise of their digs.

"It's not that bad," a house-proud De Meulder insisted.

Warburton wasn't having it. "It's the worst place you've ever stayed. Agreed?"

"I've been in worse places," De Meulder said.

"You have not been in worse places," Warburton fired back.

"For one night I was in a hostel," De Meulder said, in a fairly efficient clutch at some straws. "It was really, really bad." He then added, "I like it. It's just the English, they always moan, moan, moan."

Warburton described the bathroom. "If you want a shower, it just trickles down the wall," he said.

De Meulder said he felt it had character. "Would you call it your home?" he asked.

"No," said an unequivocal Warburton. "I'd call it a place to go and die."

Margereson arrived to offer a third opinion, in a way seeing both sides of the argument. "The Orphanage is sacred," he said.

Warburton wouldn't budge. "It's so bad," he began, "we said if anyone wins, we're going to buy the Orphanage and burn it down."

I guess that's the final word. Meanwhile, the De Meulder Travel Agency still awaits its first TripAdvisor recommendation.

You can follow all the action from the various tournament floors on PokerStars Blog. The Main Event action is on the Main Event page. And the €10,000 High Roller is in its second day. Follow that one on the High Roller page.

Everything from the side events is on the side events page. It will be busy over there today as well.

There's also EPT Live for your video-based needs.

You can also begin plotting your own bid for EPT glory by downloading the PokerStars client and having a crack. Follow this EPT event via the EPT app. There you will get all the latest news, chip counts and payouts. You can download it on Android or IOS.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in Neymar Jr