EPT Barcelona: And we're off (really)
The dynamic doctors
We're on our way, and as promised, I'll be following the fortunes of Poker Stars qualifiers from all over the globe in the days to come. First up are a pair of players who both won their tickets to Barca in $475 freeze-outs; they're both from West Bromwich in the Midlands of England, both veterans of the thriving live poker scene in that part of the world; they're pals, and they're both doctors.
Doctor no.1 is Pri 'Demon1' Hallan, a 34-year-old GP. He's no tournament newbie. This is Pri's second EPT event - a very early exit last time - and he's fresh from victory in a £300 freeze-out in the Broadway Casino, Birmingham, chopping the first two places and pocketing £7.5k.
Pri is travelling in domestic style, with his wife Kiran, and six-month-old daughter, Grace. I saw the three of them trundling round the shopping centre earlier. Rock'n'roll!
Pri is in it to win it or make the final table, not just hang on for a cash - these doctors are minted, you know - but if he does bag the big one, he'll not be giving up the day job.
Doctor no.2 is Arul 'Dark Swan' Sivaguru, a 39-year-old neurologist, mainly a live game player, who's notched a few four- and five-figure wins in his time.
He's had table experience with some of the biggest names in British poker - among them the two Daves, Ulliott and Colclough - and was feeling fairly fearless when I chatted with him.
His superb Poker Stars user name is in part a nod to his father, an artist who signs the family surname, Sivaguru, in the character of a swan.
Here's wishing you both luck, Docs, though I'm sorry to say - and surely in direct contravention of their Hippocratic Oath - neither of them offered to take a look at my fallen arches prior to kick-off. Maybe in the first break...