EPT10 London: The gentle introduction of mystery man Dhru Patel

Dhru Patel is already causing quite a stir at EPT London. According to people in the know (and these are real people in the know, not the other kind of people in the know, who know nothing), Patel has been a regular in recent months at the high stakes cash games in the capital where, one assumes, he is doing pretty well.

A few days ago, he bought in to the £50,000 Super High Roller event -- as auspicious a debut as you can make on the live tournament poker scene. But this experiment among the tournament high rollers didn't last especially long. Patel lost his stack in less than 20 minutes, bluffing into Tobias Reinkemeier's pocket kings.

But Patel came back for the £5,000 main event and started the day on the same table as Erik Seidel. He would have remained playing with the Hall of Famer through the entire day had Patel not knocked out Seidel en route to the tournament chip lead. Patel's 241,000 (from a 30,000 starting stack) was the most of all 335 survivors from either day one flight.


Dhru Patel: Day one chip leader and future superstar?

It's very tempting already to label Patel the new wonder-kid of British poker. He has only recently turned 21, yet has already apparently mastered two forms of the game: high stakes online cash and high stakes live cash. He reportedly switched from the virtual felt to bricks and mortar games and has found both to be entirely within his abilities. He was born in Portsmouth but is now based in London, where he is an economics student by day and poker hot-shot by night.

Already he is said to be an associate of Sam Trickett, arguably the UK's most successful modern player, and even Richard Yong, the billionaire Malaysian businessman and Macau-based high roller. Patel is apparently doing everything he can to do all this away from the glaring and unforgiving poker spotlight, but is finding that increasingly difficult. Today he has been drawn on the same table as Phil Hellmuth and in poker mathematics, Tournament Chip Lead + Phil Hellmuth = Television Feature Table.

PokerStars Blog spent the best part of 40 minutes standing on the steps outside the Grand Connaught Rooms this morning, waiting for Patel to arrive in order to verify all of this hearsay, and maybe find out a little more about this enigma. It was an unusual style of paparazzi door-stepping, which involved the reporter waiting on the doorstep for the celebrity to knock, rather than the other way round.

But even as the biggest names in the game -- Daniel Negreanu, Liv Boeree, even Hellmuth himself -- arrived and mugged and/or threw gang-shapes to the cameras, Patel steadfastly refused to appear. The clock ticked towards noon, the scheduled start of play, and even Jake Cody had now arrived, clutching coffee and stumbling in about 20 minutes late.

Still Patel's seat at the feature table was empty. The cameras out the front had been turned off or moved elsewhere, to capture footage of the actual game being played. PokerStars Blog also retreated to the press room. Even if Patel showed up now, he would be ushered to the television stage to be wired with a microphone, leaving no time for a chat.

But wise poker spectators should now do two things: 1) watch Patel make his televised poker debut on EPT Live and 2) don't believe anything you read or hear about him until it has been corroborated by Patel himself.

He may well be the next wonder-kid; he may be even better than that. But at the moment, at least, NO ONE REALLY KNOWS. So let's hold our judgment and let him come to the party in his own time.

I'm sure we'll all find out soon enough.

Follow all the action from EPT London on the EPT London Main Event page, with chip counts and hand-by-hand reporting. EPT Live is at EPT Live.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour