EPT9 Barcelona: Welcome to the family Artem
It's time to welcome Artem Litvinov into the EPT family. Let's face it. The man has played countless main and side events, even a few high and super high rollers. It's time he was considered a regular, even if he can be a little irregular.
If you've heard of Litvinov, who plays online as "roi kin23" (and who appears to use a picture of a garage door as his avatar), it's probably because of behaviour without cards rather than with, mainly his eye-catching celebrations; either performing the splits - his legs propped on adjacent chairs - or discreetly shadow boxing in the corner of the room.
In the past these little moments have been described in a variety of ways: "Trying to beat up the voice inside his head", for example, or "punching his way out of a balloon".
This used to cause concern. No one likes a "live one" in a public space, particularly one who has been known to use his phone to film himself as he plays. After these private moments of celebration he would return to find his table mates pretending they hadn't noticed anything, like 12 year olds pretending they hadn't just seen Dad throw his shoes at the neighbour's cat. Now, they hardly blink.
Litvinov is part of the scenery now. From St Petersburg, he looks northern European pale as well as permanently tired. He plays a lot, high stakes both live and online, by the looks of it in a dark room, or down a coal mine. To see him makes you think it wouldn't be a bad idea to get some sunshine later on. To talk to him though he's friendly and approachable, and not scary looking at all unlike other regional stereotypes. That said we didn't understand a word we said to each other.
Those that can talk to him speak of him well. According to the Russian poker press in Barcelona he's good enough to reach the final of the Super High Roller, but may struggle to win it. Play continues with names dropping off the chip count list: Negreanu, Grospellier, Moorman, Katchalov. But not Litvinov.
If you haven't heard of Litvinov, well, other than this brief bio there's not much to go on. He works in marketing, but while some people say this with a straight face Litvinov says it with a grin. Google produces a man photographed with a rifle and a fishing rod; the resume of a ship's engineer looking for work paying $80-$108,000 a year; the director of a telecoms company and a member of the World Dance Sport Federation. They were all Artem Litvinov, but just not Artem Litvinov.
Right now what we do know is that he's among the final 20 players. As play reached 24 the redraw took him from one outer table to the other (he's not yet feature table material). With his chips in one hand and carrying a chair in another (my imagination tells me he was also holding something between his teeth), he hobbled across the central neon-lit runway leading up to the feature table, and dumped it all at his new spot. Then he kicked away three discarded bottles of water from under his seat, only to discover a second later that they belonged to the biggest of all the camera men. He quickly apologized.
But there's no need to apologize Artem. You're part of the family now.
Things are moving fairly quickly in the Super High Roller. Right now just 19 players remain. Current chip leader is Dan Smith with more than 3 million chips.