EPT9 Sanremo: Old fashioned glamour on the way to the baccarat table

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The tournament staff is fairly rigid about letting members of the public inside the roped off tournament area. The rule is simple, keep out, or risk being awkwardly shuffled to the rail by a dealer or floor person who'd rather everyone obey the rules and not cause trouble.

Earlier this afternoon an older gentleman with a bemused look on his face wandered up and down between tables looking for something. To the Sanremo regulars things aren't exactly how they usually appear in the Casino. For a start the gaming floor is now the tournament area, and gaming floor as been relocated for the duration.

Thinking he was looking for his seat the official approached him. "Can I help you?" he asked. "Which table are you looking for?"

"Baccarat," said the old man.

He was directed to the ballroom next door, the new temporary home for pit games, still wondering what the hell was going on.

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The over spill ballroom at Casino San Remo

The new playing space is deceptively big. It seems smaller, a fact driven home by the regular crash of a glass side tables being tipped over, spilling their contents across the floor. But there are more than 50 tables in action, not including those in the neighbouring room which has to be one of the most old fashioned on the tour.

Along the wall are four giant murals depicting various country pursuits. At the far end the scene is of a wild boar hunt, the image of the beleaguered animal running away from a pack of hounds and men with muskets. Next along the picture is no less gruesome, with a rabbit hunt in full swing with those dogs again.

Further along the image gets more tranquil. The beautiful Italian countryside is brought to life, a scene of good country folk enjoying the outdoors, and country gentlemen, in hats and tunics, blasting away at a flock of pigeons. The last image is of a stag hunt. You don't need me to tell you how it turns out.

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Playing on amid scenes of slaughter

From the ceiling hang chandeliers lighting up a small ballroom that looks unchanged from the original opening date of 1905. In the corner there is a long bar that perhaps once served martinis and aperitifs but is now taken over by ham sandwiches and coke zero.

The rest of the room is for poker and will be for the next week as EPT Sanremo continues. But someone please tell the man at the baccarat table.