EPT London: Shedding skin

Players have just returned from a 45 minute break - not a dinner break, you understand, because that was served in bowls around the tables, but just a chance to grab some fresh air, move an illegally-parked car, call home, or watch 45 minutes of the Champions League match on the TV in the bar.

One player doing that in slightly more comfort than most was Jason Mercier, well known around these parts as the EPT San Remo champion, final-table player in Barcelona last month, and a familiar figure on the tour.

Shortly before the break, Mercier got involved with another immediately-recognisable EPT face, the one belonging to the Finnish player Voitto Rintala.

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Voitto Rintala, pictured during last month's EPT Barcelona

Rintala, who has had some decent results on the EPT, is perhaps best known for taking Greg Raymer's trademark lizard eyes to a whole new level. Raymer's reptilian apendages are at least in the form of sunglasses; Rintala has snake-eye contact lenses that pierce any poker face and peer into the deepest confines of ones soul. Rintala looks exceptionally sinister, but it's all just a front. He is one of the nicest guys on the circuit; always polite and one hell of a player.

This spirit was recently exemplified when Mercier took on Rintala here, when it was the mild-mannered American who came out on top. Mercier had Rintala covered, Rintala was all in, and Mercier won the hand to add all of the Finnish player's chips to his stack. But that's not all. The America also insisted that Rintala part with his T-shirt - advertised as being on offer to his vanquisher - which Rintala duly tossed over to Mercier, a moment caught by our video blog team, whose screen-grab proves it.

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Rintala had the shirt beneath his chair - he didn't have to peel it off, so we still don't know if he has skin covered in scales. But he has shed one layer and slithered out of the tournament area, leaving Mercier siting pretty and looking for another charge on the title.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour