EPT10 London £50k SHR: Watching the Super High Roller watchers
A middle-aged man in a baseball cap, and in turquoise trainers to match his track suit top, walked in and positioned himself at the far end of the tournament room to watch the table featuring Sorel Mizzi and Talal Shakerchi. After a few minutes he tried a different table. Then another. After several attempts he gave up trying to find anything that looked remarkable and left to do something better on his Friday afternoon off.
Two other men entered a little later, one with a face that had undergone involuntary re-arrangement some years ago and the other with an ordinary looking anorak draped over his shoulders. He may have been going for a donnish look but instead looked like a kid playing Superman in the school playground. But they liked what they saw, and their grins proved it.
The tournament room at the Connaught Room
There's an air of grandeur, not only to the Connaught Rooms, but also to the playing area. The novice may not appreciate the intricacies of what is going on in front of them - it certainly looks ordinary -- but the poker fans, here to see for themselves all the poker stuff they watch in the middle of the night on British television, look on in bewildered awe.
For that kind of experience day one of the Super High Roller is the perfect time to come and watch. Not only do you have the complete album of poker's high rollers, whose faces make up the magazine covers of the world, but they tend to stick around, choosing re-entry to such an early humiliating elimination.
For the railbird it's a perfect anomaly to proper procedure, although the story on the other side of the rail is a little different.
At least Richard Yong might agree. He became one of the first fallers, making his way to the rail, explaining himself to German Pro Philipp Gruissem along the way in a private conversation recorded and filmed for television.
Richard Yong and Phillipp Gruissem
As far as the onlookers were concerned Yong's departure was not one to mourn, he being one of the lesser known players in the field. They hardly noticed him, except for his t-shirt, a sequined Ferrari one that caught the lights as he turned. They also might not have noticed him pay another £50,000 to re-enter.
Nothing yet though to make the committed spectator leave. It may look like nothing more than the civil exchange of cards and a few chips. But for poker players and fans alike, they have a front row seat to the centre of the poker universe.
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.