EPT8 Monaco: Humbled at the payout desk
Dominating the Salle des Etoiles is the televised feature table, what with its neon stripes, giant screens, cameras and lights, with a smattering of people watching from its rail and on the two big screens, one at either end. It over shadows the two outer tables, although they still have cameras buzzing around them.
Tucked in between them is a small trestle table, at which two dealers sit with some pieces of paper, a few pens and a desk lamp. If the feature table is where players suspend reality and chase their dreams, this little table is where reality makes a dramatic reappearance and dreams are officially unmet. This is the pay-out desk.
It's here that a week of tournament play comes to a close. Sure, it means financial compensation, but to come this close to the richest title in Europe makes for bitter disappointment.
It also marks another change. From being the centre of attention, with cameras following them and floor people shepherding them in all directions for interviews, players suddenly lose their allure. No longer needed, they're stripped of their microphone (if they're at the TV table), thanked for playing and escorted to collect their money. They get this at the little table with the table lamp and the two dealers.
Chips on Day 4, not those of John Andress
When John Andress busted it was suddenly his turn. He was guided from the TV table down the centre of the stage by a TV floor man waving his arms like a Landing Signals Officer (lollipop man) directing aircraft at an airport, ensuring the newly departed exited the stage in a camera friendly way.
The floor man had a job to do, removing his microphone as Andress, disappointed, explained it was his aces versus ace-ten, with a nine on the river making his opponent a straight. The floor man shook his hand but was needed to wire up his replacement.
Andress took a seat with the dealers who began to ask their questions. Both worked with their heads down scribbling away while Andress waited patiently. From his spot under the lights, a position of strength at the TV table, he now sat slumped, forward slightly, politely answering. Somehow, despite his success, it seemed an unfitting end to an exhausting week at the sharp end of European Poker. It'll happen to 18 players before play ends today.