Baltic Festival: The latest fashions
Over the past eight years, the fashions of the poker community might have changed dramatically, but one particular style has remained at the vanguard. The garb of the serious internet player has always featured a familiar red spade and the word "PokerStars" in its design; the font has been modified slightly, but the core components have stayed the same.
Here in Tallinn, PokerStars-branded players have never been so prevalent - and for a very simple reason. Generously added to the prize pool at the Baltic Poker Festival is a full buy-in and hotel package for January's PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in the Bahamas. It will go to the winner of a mass last-longer bet, for which anyone in PokerStars colours automatically qualifies. If you're the last man or woman standing in your favourite T-shirt, polo-shirt or zip-up top, you better start shoving that stuff in a suitcase because you're off to the Caribbean.
With such an incentive, you can barely move for that clobber on the sixth floor of the Swissotel. At least two tables of nine have every single player kitted out in the familiar livery, while the least represented table has a mere five. It's not aiding my attempts to identify these players much -- "What does he look like?" "He's the one in the PokerStars top." is a regular conversation -- but it's at least pleasing on the eye.
Level four has just ended and players are on a 15-minute break. There are 101 of them left at this stage, and a few big stacks are beginning to appear. The Norwegian player Bo Kjaer Erichsen has perhaps the largest of the lot: he has close to 40,000 at this very early stage, four times what he started with. It also seemed as though Joe Bolnick was going to be making a charge but it looks like Knut Whist stopped him in his tracks. Bolnick is still in, but Whist now has a bunch of chips that he didn't have a moment ago.