EPT9 Berlin Day 4: The face (and smell) of a winner
In horse racing circles there's a school of thought that suggests the appearance of the horse prior to a race can tell you a lot about its chances in the race. For instance, a horse that's light on its feet, dancing even, is likely ready to run at its best, whereas a horse that's sweaty, irritable and breathing heavily is wasting too much energy before it's even reached the starting post, effectively ending all hope of it being first past the post.
Those of us who have experimented with this system of picking winners know that it's not an exact science, and is rather an expensive one too. But there's some truth in it and perhaps that could be applied to an EPT Berlin main event.
If it's possible there are a few contenders already making themselves known, players who are obviously "up for this". There are also a few sweaty ones, and that's regrettable.
One of those dancing on his feet is Khiem Nguyen. If there were ever an occasion in which someone urgently needed to see an example of a poker player in the zone (an illustrated history of facial expressions perhaps) then a picture of Nguyen right now would suffice. Hair meticulously spiked, sunglasses, headphones and a menace in his eyes and voice which Thomas Richter just encountered. He'd got his chips in with ace-seven only for Nguyen to call with ace-king. That sent Richter to the rail, none of which concerned Nguyen, who made a curt fist pump before helping himself to Richter's now abandoned stack.
Khiem Nguyen (earlier this week)
Sandra Naujoks looked resigned from the moment her chips went in, showing king-jack against king-queen. The former EPT champion, dressed in tweed, tapped the table and departed. It was hard to tell if Ramil Yusupov, who had shown the king-queen, even knew who he was up against. Instead, stern faced, he busily stacked his new chips.
Sandra Naujoks (earlier this week)
We were witness to the silent pain of Oleksii Khoroshenin whose pocket nines were pulled up by a turned ace. He immediately slapped his forehead with a little too much force and marched out of the room to cosset his silent pain, returning a moment later, presumably because that was the only way he would get paid. His forehead was red.
Elsewhere was the sign of a player who had turned up to do good but who found almost immediately that this was not going to be his day.
Marc Witt, who sports ginger facial hair and a pony tail, could easily have been among the finalists on Saturday but for a little thing called Day 4. First he ran a flush draw into ace-king, a hand that cost him greatly. He knew it had been a pivotal hand and his congratulatory words to his opponent were stripped of any harmonious feelings, betraying irritation.
Moments later he was out, running seven-six suited into pocket aces. Witt had dropped from 640,000 to out in a little over 15 minutes. "Short day," he said, before adding: "I'm not too unhappy." But he looked it, his feet not dancing, but knocked out from under him instead.
If there were ever an occasion in which someone urgently needed to see an example of a poker player beaten in every way (that same illustrated history of facial expressions perhaps) then a picture of Marc Witt right now would suffice
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.