EPT9 Grand Final: Workers of the world unite, and then ante up

If anyone had work to do today it was Team PokerStars Pro Jake Cody. Returning as the short stack, Cody had Victor Ramdin on his right and Freddy Deeb on his left, not to mention the regular interrogations of Daniel Negreanu, the man who four months ago had ceremonially slapped a Team Pro badge on his sleeve at the PCA.

First though Cody moved in, with no takers.

Negreanu is in a bright mood, for poker is more fun when you're chipper with chips. He peeled the wrapper off of a bar of something, like a banana, and tucked in. Deeb was curious and asked what it was. It looked like chocolate, he was eating it like chocolate, but because it's Daniel Negreanu we knew it couldn't be chocolate.

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Daniel Negreanu

Negreanu replied by rattling off an improvised advert for the company that supplied these protein bars, food he depends on when the vegan food shop is either shut, or in Italy. Deeb, who probably regretted asking, said: "do they send them to you free?"

"They better do now," said Negreanu, laughing.

Everyone looks different under the lights of EPT Live, no less than Deeb.

The larger than normal TV table has the effect of making Deeb seem even smaller than he is, his arms forward, hanging onto the edge like a man sliding off the roof of an apartment block. The feature table is highlighting some of the best poker ever seen on the EPT, but at the price of a man's dignity.

Meanwhile Jake Cody shoved, with no takers.

Buzzing on protein, Negreanu turned to everyone to talk business. Or at least what jobs people had had before poker. Cody had been a paperboy, and dabbled in college. Did Lichtenberger say he was in the circus? Then Negreanu turned to Deeb.

"Did you ever have a job, Freddy?"

"Once," replied Deeb. "For one hour at a Del Monte factory".

Suddenly we were seeing a side of Deeb that nobody knew of before - the working man - albeit briefly. The man from Del Monte had said yes, but Deeb said no.

"What the hell," recalled Deeb, telling the story. "For 90 cents an hour? I said 'I'm leaving'."

Everyone laughed, although it's not impossible to think there are poker players out there now who would happily settle for 90 cents an hour. Fortunately Deeb's decision to turn his back on the work of fruit juice packing paid off (he headed back to Vegas) with more than $8 million in the tournament income column since.

Meanwhile Jake Cody shoved, with no takers.

The blinds went up, which the LED display behind the players flashing up information, only it came up in Russian, words that one thought to be the blinds written in Cyrillic. No one understood what it said, it could even have been subliminal, what with all the talk of work. It was hard to tell, but a little later I felt an uncanny urge to create a stateless social order and maybe storm a local Del Monte factory.

Victor Ramdin didn't say where he worked, probably because Negreanu knows he owns grocery stores in the Bronx and can undercut his supplier on wholesale protein bars. Besides, he was getting involved in a hand that would ultimately lift Cody out of chip poverty.

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Jake Cody

Cody found kings and in a four way pot with Deeb, Negreanu and Ramdin, moved in on the turn. He'd made a set on the flop while Ramdin, holding king-four, had turned two pairs. Cody was out of trouble and, more importantly, still in work.

Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.

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