EPT8 Monaco $25,000 High Roller: It's not cricket
As our American friends tend to enjoy repeating, the great game of cricket can be impenetrable to people who don't really understand its subtleties. It is indeed the sport in which a game can take five days to complete and even then no one wins.
Another of cricket's unusual quirks is that for long periods, even the most avid follower will not really be able to tell who is in the lead. "Who's winning?" someone might ask late on day two, and the cricket fan will likely reply: "Difficult to say really" before rambling on about the state of the pitch, the importance of the next partnership, overcast weather conditions due for day five and such like. You will often be well advised to wander away and leave them to it.
Major poker tournaments can be a lot like cricket in this regard. Once the felt starts cracking early on the fifth day, it can be much more difficult to get a read on the tricky players. And flushes are far more common under overcast skies.
Of course not. That is a joke. That is a cricket joke. But the wider point is this: much like cricket it can sometimes be really difficult to know who is winning a major poker tournament for much of the time. A player can double up on the first hand and surge to the top of the leader board, but the chances of them still being there at the end are very slim indeed.
Similarly we almost never see a pillar-to-post champion. You can be chip-leader at the end of the day before the final, but if you have a stinker when the tournament gets to the business end, your dreams will be in tatters.
As reporters, all we can really do is write what is happening at any one time, without any specific inside knowledge as to its longer-term relevance. A player getting knocked out is terminal for him or her, but the winner of the hand is only marginally more likely to go on to climb the winner's rostrum.
At the moment, my colleague Donnie Peters is writing the hand-for-hand updates on this EPT High Roller. And he is also updating the chip count page. You can easily follow all that by clicking in the usual place, and that offers the most traditional answer to the question "Who's winning?"
However we can also offer a brief snapshot, to tell you what's going on right now in the tournament room. Its relevance is unclear. But it is only marginally less relevant than the chip-counts.
Boeree mixing it with Ivey
Few players over the past few years have been more focused and committed on a career in poker than Liv Boeree. She is the player who went from rank amateur on a reality show to the dizzy heights of EPT champion and Team PokerStars Pro. And almost all of it was due to hard work, persistence, and knowing how to grasp opportunity when it is presented.
For all amateur poker players in the modern game, the pinnacle of achievement is playing against Phil Ivey, still clearly in the top three poker players alive, and maybe in the top one. Young players have gone to sleep for about the past 10 years dreaming one day of locking horns with Ivey.
For Boeree, that dream is now reality. In this High Roller event, she is now to Ivey's immediate left - and she is making her positional advantage pay. Boeree has about 30,000 more chips than Ivey and is really putting him to the test.
Just recently, Boeree, on the button, had bet 21,000 on the river, looking at a board of 4♦4♣6♦A♠9♠. Ivey was deep in contemplation, his unflappable demeanour visibly undermined. He counting out calling chips, then counted out raising chips, then put them down again. He peeled off his headphones and tossed them on the table. He looked to the sky, then to the ground. Then he called and was shown 6♣6♥. Ivey scooped up the sixes, put them with his own hand, and tossed the four cards into the muck.
Boeree is not only tangling with Ivey, she's putting him to the test.
Hello, the internet
You might have heard by now that Viktor Blom is the man behind the Isildur1 account. His online performances have probably been watched by more people than any other player's. Today he is back in the live environment, playing his second $25,000 bullet in the High Roller. And yet it must be like home from home.
Also on Blom's table this evening are Bryn "BrynKenney" Kenney and Sami "LarsLuzak" Kelopuro, two other huge online players. Alex Kravchenko and Dan Shak, live pros both, are also involved on that table. It could yet get very ugly indeed.
How about this for tough
Lex Veldhuis busted some time ago from one of the most difficult tables ever assembled in live poker. And Mike Watson has also now bust from there. But no worries, because this slab of felt is still a beast: Alex Gomes sits with Sorel Mizzi and Max Lykov and Patrik Antonius and Ivan Demidov.
Rather them than me.