EPT8 Monaco High Roller: Balancing act begins
The 7.40am Sunday morning flight from Gatwick to Nice is not, it is fair to say, one of the busiest. There were nine of us on it today - at least on the cheap side of the privacy curtain - which meant five or six rows each.
Actually, that's not true. Despite the approximate attendance of a voluntary after-school hymn practice, the aeronautical boffins were apparently required to pull off quite a balancing trick in order to get this 85 tonnes of metal off the ground.
We were all bunched up on three rows and it was evidently so delicate that one young woman, with the approximate body-weight of a sparrow, could not even escape her fate as row-mate to a PokerStars Blogger. She tried to sneak a couple of rows forward, out of the immediate fug, but was ordered back.
"It will mess with the balance," said the flight attendant, not even really convincing herself.
The hurry to Nice, and then on to Monte Carlo, was in honour of today's High Roller tournament, which began at 1pm in the Salle des Etoiles. It will be another big balancing trick around the poker tables, where a hefty $25,000 has been plonked down in exchange for 50,000 chips.
Taken individually, those chips are about as relevant to the tournament as the waif-like airline passenger is to a jumbo jet. But once they start acting in union, like all nine passengers running to one side of a plane, the turbulence can kick in.
The field, of course, is stacked and turbulence is most certainly expected. Indeed, within the first couple of hands, the Dutch High Roller regular Govert Metaal managed to get all his chips in with ace-eight, on an eight-eight-six board. Big problem: he was facing pocket sixes. Metaal nose-dived into the ocean and was out of the tournament before many had even arrived.
At last glance there were 55 players signed up to play, but with registration open for the first four levels - and not all pros keen to get out of bed before about 4pm - the number will rise.
It is going to take two days to get down to a winner, and we will attempt to follow the shaky course all the way. We have Messrs Grospellier, Negreanu, Veldhuis, Ivey, Mizzi, Moorman, MacPhee, Haxton, Bonomo and Seidel already at the table, as well as Ms Selbst.