WCP Day 3

We've completed 2 rounds of the WCP, and yesterday we started the 3rd of the 5 heats in this competition. We're nearly half way to deciding which teams will play the WCP final. Just 4 of our 8 teams in Barcelona will play in this tag team game on Saturday - with the chance to win $100,000 for their team, and a shiny trophy, but most importantly the honour of claiming their country has the best team of poker players in the game.

The World Cup of Poker trophy

We now have points on the table. Not a prettily drawn table admittedly. I could whine and say that I spent ages back home creating a snazzy little table (with flag graphics and everything...!) only to find the limitations of our blogging software meant I couldn't use it. But of course I won't whine. I'm a professional poker blogger now. No one would ever know I'm really just a Support email-answerer who got lucky, and was sent to Spain because the proper journalist was writing about some other World Cup. (Soccer)

Here's how my less-than-pretty table looks after 2 heats:

 TEAM        Heat 1     Heat 2     Heat 3     Heat 4     Heat 5  Points
1 USA 2nd 1st 27
2 Israel 3rd 2nd 21
3 Brazil 1st 7th 17
4 Poland 4th 3rd 16
5 Iceland 7th 4th 9
6 Ireland 5th 6th 8
7 Canada 8th 5th 6
8 England 6th 8th 4
Luckily the teams don't care how the points are presented to them, all that matters are the numbers in that final column. Around a few teams there's a mood of quiet desperation now, other teams are full of confidence. Players stop at my table to check out the scores, or chat about what these numbers mean to them. They find themselves willing for certain teams to win, and others to lose. Of course all this figuring out who to root for doesn't actually change a thing, the only thing in their control is doing their best to play great poker, to try to gain maximum points for their team.

Team USA top the table at present. Other teams tell me they want the USA to continue their good run, they feel a 15 point top place finish for the USA in Heat 3 will open up the race for the other 3 final places. Of course there's nothing malicious in it, yet still many teams are hoping teams with middling points will go out early on today. No one wants any other team to gain ground.

Team USA seem happy and relaxed. I spoke to Dave Smith of Team USA last night after his impressive Heat 2 win. He tells me Team USA have already decided which of their 3 players will play the tag team game if (should that be 'when?') they make Saturday's final. He also pointed out that at the close of day 2, Team USA's Tom McEvoy held the Heat 3 chip-lead. Team USA are counting on Tom's experience to gain them a top 4 finish in this heat.

PokerStars blog has received many messages of congratulations for Doctor Dave. Many new mums whose babies this pediatric physician has helped to deliver are getting up for night-time feeds, and also checking Team USA's progress on this blog.

More baby news for you... Team Iceland's Birgir Gudmundsson was last night desperately trying to get a flight home, his new baby is on the way. Hope he gets home safe and sound to partner Arna.

All the player's here are keen for me to post pictures of their family, pets and homes. Or else to say, 'Hi' to friends or colleagues. I wish I could oblige them all... Team Poland pointed out I hadn't had a picture of anyone in Team Poland on the blog before. Here's one to make it up to them.

Team Poland in the crowd

Perhaps it's because this competition cost not a cent to anyone to enter, that it feels like it's more about people than money. It's quite unlike most other poker games I've come across, where money is all that matters. Perhaps it's because PokerStars has paid the bill for 40 players, and their guests too, to fly from anywhere in the world just to be here? PokerStars has also provided the whole of the $200,000 prize pool. All the player's here won their places through skill at poker, it wasn't about having a big bankroll, or paying a competition fee.

I know that lots of these players have family and friends back home wanting Dad or Mum, or sister or brother, to make them proud. And I know it's hard for anyone who feels they may have let the side down. Team England are bottom of the WCP standings right now, and I do feel for their players. Both Anthony Holden and Robert Fairs were unlucky in different ways, as many other players in the games have been. Even though players must know they did nothing wrong, you can tell they feel unhappy that it was their ill-luck that cost their team points.

I was busy one dinner break and had to turn down an interview with Anthony Holden, my all time favourite poker writer, this was because I was trying to track down a Brazilian FPP qualifier, who was otherwise going to be just a name on the team sheet. I want to write about everyone, I want to put faces and quotes to those names. The very best bit of this job is the chance to introduce players to blog readers. Poker about people. Yes, I do like that...

My attempts to meet and write about everyone has meant I've still found no time for the beach. However some progress has been made - I've seen the beach now! As I was running to get a sandwich I discovered it's just a short walk from the casino. I expect you're unlikely to see that photo of me in my bikini, but I'm happy that it's because I'll be bringing you photos and news of the people it's really about. In a few days one of these eight teams will hold the World Cup of Poker. I'm hoping they'll have a beach party to celebrate.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Cup of Poker