PokerStars Festival Dublin: Busy, busy, busy
The city of Dublin is buzzing on a fine autumn afternoon, with sports fans heading to stadiums, shoppers hitting the high street and plenty of folk finding all the entertainment they need from a glass of black liquid in their right hand. I know who I envy the most.
It's also a frenetic afternoon inside the function suite of the Regency Hotel, where the Main Event represents only a relatively small portion of the activity. If you take a wander through the tournament room, it doesn't take long to notice action with every pace you take.
Closest to the media desk, the cash tables are in full flow. Richard "CHUFTY" Ashby is playing PLO; Orpen Kisacikoglu is at one of the hold'em tables. Both of those luminaries fired two bullets at the Main Event and hit the rail twice.
Take a sharp right turn from the cash tables and you come across the satellite event for the €2,000 High Roller tournament. The satellite cost €150 (+€20) and attracted 96 players. It means that the top six will get a ticket into the highest buy-in event, which kicks off at 4pm. (The player out in seventh will get €471.)
Just as I strolled past, Andrew Christoforou got his small stack in with J♠T♠. It was a pretty hand but it was no good against an opponent's A♠K♣.
A few paces over from that, the €100 Win The Button tournament was just getting started. Soccer stars Wayne Bridge and Michael Duberry have pulled up a seat in that one, sating their new-found appetite for live poker tournaments.
Both players have sampled the highs and lows of elite sport, so you might think a side-event poker tournament wouldn't quite get the pulse racing enough. But the two of them have been like kids with a new toy this week in Dublin, desperate to find out what events they can play next, and distraught at the point of elimination.
It's early days in the Win the Button, and both are still involved.
Over the way again and we find the Main Event, which is now down to a double-digit field. Deborah Worley-Roberts, the overnight leader, is still in the event, but she had to spend an orbit on the rail after exposing her hand out of turn. There was better news for Stephen Hendry, who found jacks and was able to knock out Mercedes Osti when they got it all in pre-flop. It looked like Osti had shoved with a smaller pair.
Meanwhile, the likes of Michael Koran, Tom Hall and Kevin Kileen are beginning to build stacks, as those of Chris Moneymaker, Chris Dowling, Jason Wheeler, Niall Farrell and Jason Tompkins have dusted theirs off.
At time of writing, 97 players remain, meaning the bubble is a couple of hours away.
By that point, the High Roller will likely have started (and, one suspects, will have dragged Kisacikoglu and Ashby from the cash tables), as will today's flight of the Dublin Poker Cup. That kicks off at 7pm.
If you happen to have had your fill of either sport, shopping or the black stuff then I can recommend a trip to the Regency. Still plenty to keep you occupied down here.