When play starts it's time to concentrate, to buckle down and minimize distractions. But who's the tall, dark haired young woman talking to the guy at your table, ruining your composure?
"In the first minute I was already all in!" said Carman Zainescu, who didn't say that it was also "sick" making it difficult to tell whether she was bragging or not. It seemed not as she spoke to Jason Gray in the one seat while the others at the table did their best not to stare. One young player put his hood up, the pokering equivalent of blinkers on a horse, and possibly tapped the heels of his shoes together. The others giggled and folded. The dealer stopped short of dealing her in.
It became clear that Zainescu, from Romania, was taking part in the ladies event which started a short while ago with four tables in full swing a few tables along from the main event. She wished them all good luck and, after various high-pitched salutations, the look of grim determination returned to their faces.
That same look was on the face of Martin Kabhrel who plays with a large text book open at the table. He's up to pages 102 and 103 of something, so presumably understands whatever it is. What he couldn't quite work out were the intentions of Anthony Poole in seat six who re-raised him pre-flop, growling the word "raise" with some menace, a word that stands out in a world in which the chips do the speaking.
The tournament room in action
Kabhrel, who had opened from the hijack, looked over at Poole in the big blind and called, his arm resting across his text book as though in an exam, hiding his answers from the boy next to him, who in this case was Riccardo Piano who was tolerating the slight invasion of personal space because his own wrist watch was just as wide.
Kabrhel called for a flop of three hearts and both checked for another heart on the turn. Poole, an Englishman with something of the Iggy Pop about him, with clearly defined wrinkles built on things seen, done and heard over the past forty years, stared at the board, then checked his cards again before announcing "two thousand", tossing a blue chip into the middle with a kind of sidearm action.
Kabrhel was unimpressed, at least in the short term. He looked at his cards after looking over his shoulder to non-verbally tell the man standing behind him, chewing an unlit cigar, that it was time to move on. Then he raised to 4,000. Poole noted Kabrhel's unimpressedness, and raised him complete ambivalence. He moved all-in. Kabrhel folded immediately.
The table also featured Eoghan O'Dea and John O'Shea, two of the notables at that end of the room. Elsewhere Bertrand ElkY Grospellier players, as do the likes of Eugene Katchalov, Jeff Sarwer, Ilan Boujenah, Dan Smith, Liv Boeree, Jonathan Duhamel, Juha Helppi, Arnaud Mattern, Stephen Chidwick, Toni Judet and Steve O'Dwyer.
It's a busy field about to reach its first break of the day. Six more levels will follow and a dinner break to those brave enough to go outside.