EPT9 Prague: Lundmark and Romanello, the mute and the muted
When predictions start pouring in for the first two-time EPT champion, very few people mention the name Kent Lundmark. "If a 'landmark' is something you easily notice or remember, then a 'lundmark' is something you easily forget," said my colleague Stephen Bartley, as we were discussing the merits of the former EPT Barcelona champion.
No one has actually forgotten Lundmark - his victory in Spain on season six, worth €825,000, was only one of a string of high-profile successes - but the way he goes about his business pretty much defines flying under the radar. He is focused but almost entirely silent.
In the first couple of orbits of day three in Prague, where he is one of only three former EPT champions still in contention, Lundmark uttered the grand total of two words. But there was no need for any more. They got the job done.
After folding a succession of hands, Lundmark was in the big blind when Mads Amot made it 6,600 to play from the button. Michael Gross called from the big blind and Lundmark, silently, raised to 17,200. Amot made it 29,300, Gross folded, but then came Lundmark's big speech. "All in," he muttered, pushing 125,000 forward. "You win," said Amot, and folded.
Lundmark is wearing a bright green hoodie today and has a pair of PokerStars headphones clamped on his head. They are plugged into an iPad, on which he is leafing through an extensive musical catalogue. His table-mates include the British duo of Stuart Rutter and John Eames, both of whom favour the more conversational approach to their poker.
Lundmark is not overly concerned with picking up audible tells, it seems, but he maintains a hawk's gaze on his opponents. When Eames got involved in a pot with Georgios Stefanopoulos, Lundmark never shifted his attention from Eames's face. Similarly when Rutter got involved with Luciana Manolea, a pot that would end with the latter's elimination, Lundmark focused intently on the Brit. (Rutter had J♣9♥ and out-drew Manolea's A♠9♠ when a jack flopped.)
It is, of course, one of the perils of longer-form tournament reporting that players can bust at any time, and at the very moment that the finishing touches were being put to that sentence above, Lundmark was seen heading out of the tournament room.
According to Eames and Rutter, he six-bet jammed with ace king and this time couldn't get a fold from Amot, whose pocket queens held up. That was a 300,000-odd pot and vaults Amot close to the lead.
Suffice to say, there was no yelp of pain, nor even much more than a slight, silent grimace from Lundmark, who will now probably wander over to the side events arena and look at adding to his six-figure lifetime haul. And then he'll be back, to do all this again.
Lundmark's elimination leaves Roberto Romanello and ElkY as the only former EPT champions still left in today's field. In stark contrast to Lundmark, Romanello's table talk is the stuff of legends. He is somehow able to elicit all kinds of information from opponents from a continual barrage of questions, observations, chitter and chatter.
If Romanello sidled up to your table in a pub and started with the inquisition, you could be forgiven for edging politely away. But there's nowhere to hide at a poker table - and doesn't Romanello know it. He'll force you to talk, even though you will instantly regret it.
That said, even he is struggling to get much conversation out of his table-mates today. They hail from Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Russia and Finland, among other countries, and none seems especially talkative even by the standards of most Eastern or Northern European granite cliffs.
"Can I have change," said Luis Rodriguez, from Spain.
"Change? Yeah," said Romanello. "Is that OK?"
But the conversation ended there, leaving Romanello to exchange smalltalk with the dealer about antes.
He then plugged his buds back in his ears, adjusted his grey wooly hat, and got back to work.
As for ElkY? He's still ElkY.
Follow hand-by-hand coverage, plus latest chip counts, in the panel at the top of the main EPT Prague page.