Baltic Festival: Packing them in for day 1b
Last night in the restaurant on the 31st floor of the Swissotel - with the lights of Tallinn shimmering and blinking in a 360 degree panorama in the background - the conversation turned inevitably to the ten hours before in the conference facilities on the sixth floor, where the opening day of the PokerStars Baltic Festival had played out. As ever on the first day of a new venture, the principal question was: "Was that a success?" But this was a less-than no-brainer. Oh yes.
As if further proof were necessary of that conclusion, today is day 1b of the same tournament, and even more players have filed into this tournament room. There are at least 30 players more than yesterday's 130, meaning we're getting close to that magic 300 runner figure.
That would make this the biggest poker tournament in the Baltics, but to put it into even sharper perspective, the opening event of the European Poker Tour (you know, that juggernaut that has been steaming through the whole continent for five years) attracted 229 entrants to its €1,000 buy in tournament. The EPT now regularly attracts more than 500 with buy-ins of more than €5,000. So while this event still has a long way to go, the Baltic Poker Festival has opened with a head start.
It won't be documented anywhere now, but I'm willing to bet that that first EPT event had at most one World Champion, and only a very small handful of World Series bracelet winners. There definitely wasn't an Olympic hockey champion, and neither were there former tennis professionals, speed-boat racers, nor internationally renowned former chess prodigies. Here in Tallinn, we welcome comfortably more than that.
The reigning World Champion Peter Eastgate is playing his final event before heading back to Vegas to hand over his crown to a new contender.
Eastgate is joined by his Team PokerStars Pro colleagues Katja Thater, William Thorson and Johnny Lodden in the field today. There's also the hockey great and Team PokerStars SportStar Mats Sundin, and the Formula One Poweboat World Champion Sami Selio. Jeff Sarwer, meanwhile, takes another step on his journey to replace the epithet "former chess prodigy" with "poker player".
They're in their seats now and cards are in the air. Stick with us all day for the latest action.
* * *
As we prepare for this day, take it easy with Lodden and Thorson, who arrived yesterday and went straight in front of the video blog team's cameras.
Watch Pokerstars Baltic Festival: Thorson and Lodden have arrived in Tallinn on PokerStars.tv