EPT8 Deauville: A man with a stick and the balloon boy


Or, "300 words about a balloon."

By far the most notable incident of Day 1B so far has involved a man, a stick and a helium filled balloon.

There are 90 poker tables in the tournament room. A large work station is in the middle of them with the tables surrounding it. Here and there are positioned large helium balloons in various colours, hovering over the tables. It's not clear what their purpose is. Photographer Neil Stoddart ventured that they denoted different tournaments taking place in different corners of the room, but this seems far too sophisticated.

Whatever their purpose one of them has escaped, or was perhaps set free by a player irritated by the string of cable attached to a heavy weight on the floor.

Seeing this wayward balloon the staff were not content to let it blithely bobble along the ceiling, so a man was called for. He promptly arrived, carrying, well, a big stick.

At first it seemed a simple problem to solve. Use the stick to hook the balloon and drag it back down to earth. The man tried this, and then tried again. But a long straight stick wasn't getting the purchase needed and the thread simply drifted away.

Tournament director Thomas Lamatsch directs capture of the balloon

Another man arrived, this one in a suit, and attached an additional piece of wood to the end of the first piece, using duct tape. This helped the other man reach the balloon but nothing else. The balloon remained stubbornly airborne.

More tape was applied and this time a red All-In triangle, used by dealers to denote when a player is all-in, was wedged between the old stick and the new stick, creating a fork effect. The other man, the original stick man, then guided the thread from the balloon into the fork-gap and, like you would eating spaghetti, twirled the thread around the stick, simultaneously lowering it to where tournament director Thomas Lamatsch was waiting, smiling, ready to grab the balloon.

And who doesn't like a balloon?