EPT9 Barcelona: Don't judge a book by its cover

ept-thumb-promo.jpgAssembled in a loose throng in Barcelona about an hour ago were seven young men, between the age of about 20 and 30. Between them, they could boast only three pairs of shoes (one a pair of scruffy red espadrilles), three pairs of sandals, two pairs of socks (one inside the espadrilles) and two pairs of long trousers. They were otherwise dressed in shorts that stretched to calf level, but only because they were shoved off the waist line to what in the fashion industry is known as "approximate mid-ass".

Under many circumstances - for instance, had they been loitering around a skip - this cast of unlikely characters might have been moved on. But they were actually gathered together in the lobby outside the EPT Barcelona tournament room, forced to congregate there during a 15-minute break in their tournament.

The tournament they are playing is the €10,000 High Roller event. Like much in poker, their appearances are deceptive. The group included Scott Seiver, Steven Silverman, Sam Chartier, Ronny Kaiser, JC Alvarado, Andrew Lichtenberger and Philipp Gruissem, all of whom were still playing into the later stages of day two. Alvarado was actually dressed pretty sharply; Gruissem had neither shoes nor socks.


Scott Seiver, left, checks in on ElkY

The point is, these guys are dressed for comfort rather than to impress. But their net worth is comfortably into seven or eight figures. And examining the chairs left behind by this group, as well as the other high rollers, revealed a bit more about them.

Anton Astapau's big stack was being guarded by some over-ear Beats By Dr Dre headphones, while the flex of some in-ears were weaved around Stanislav Labutkin's chips. Tobias Reinkemeier had left an iPad and some sunglasses worth more than the average bar bill for the week beside his chips, Jean-Noel Thorel's chair had an expensive black jacket draped over its back.

Alexander Roumeliotis's sweater, left marking his chair, would probably shrink very quickly on a warm wash (ie, very expensive wool), while Tom-Aksel Bedell's chips were being guarded by a figurine of an owl that looked like the Maltese Falcon. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that it was worth about as much as Miles Archer's life.

The High Rollers are now on their dinner break and there are 30 of them left. The biggest stack is that of Stanislav Labutkin (340,000), though Seiver has 300,000, Jonathan Duhamel has 265,000 and all the way down the list are economically attired, but exceptionally talented poker players. ElkY has 195,000; Mercier 105,000.


Jason Mercier, in the right gear

They may well be turned away from a few restaurants in these parts. But it would be those establishments' loss: they are all celebrities - and high rollers - and they pay well.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour