EPT9 Berlin Day 1A: On this day in history - Kitai triumphs
Quite conveniently for someone hoping to highlight something that happened "On this day in history", it is exactly a year to the day that Belgian pro Davidi Kitai triumphantly hoisted aloft the winner's trophy in the Berlin main event. I would have accepted some other news, an unusual hand perhaps or a chip leader with a funny hat to remark upon, but Kitai proved as dependable as he was a year ago.
Kitai was a laudable winner, largely because we'd heard of him before. As much as a brand new champion, bringing a brand new name to the Tags box, is worthy of celebration, there's nothing quite like a familiar face for plentiful copy, and secretly those reporting events were delighted.
Sheer relief: Davidi Kitai
Kitai is among that breed which has been beating the European circuit for years. One thing that's often lost in this world of six-figure pay outs, hotel club sandwiches and those machines that spurt glitter onto the stage at the winner's presentation, is that it's really quite difficult to survive as a professional player, a world of buy-ins, hotel bills and economy airline tickets. That look you see in the eyes of the winner is not joy but sheer relief. Check out, and the room service bill accompanying it, is rarely a comfortable experience for the peripatetic pro.
For Kitai it meant €712,000, which was good because up to now if you've play every single EPT main event you'd be running up a bill of about half a million Euros, with a hotel and travel bill added up to a further, well, $212,000.
Finishing in second place was Andrew Chen, the quiet Canadian in the familiar baseball cap. At least he's quiet on the outside. On the inside one suspects that, behind his polite smile, he spews a stream of obscenities at the string of opponents -- a list that grows every year -- who deny him a major title. Sure, there was that PCA Bounty Shootout win in 2011, but before then and since, life has been an endless frustration for arguably one of the best Canadian poker talents not to feature under the "Other personalities" heading on the "List of Canadians" Wikipedia page.
Still, Chen has made a handsome living out of near misses, so far worth $1,781,089. And all without a glitter cannon in sight.
One year on neither Kitai nor Chen is among the field today, although both may well be among the day 1b field tomorrow. One player who is here, however, is Liv Boeree, who won her EPT Sanremo title exactly three years ago today. In her victory pose hers is a genuine smile as the €1,250,000 she won came relatively early in her career, early enough to spend.
Come back tomorrow for tomorrow's "On this day in history," which will feature Alex Kravchenko's victory in the mixed event in Sanremo. Decide for yourself what his facial expression really means.
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter