EPT9 Monaco Day 3: Congratulations with a catch

When a dealer gets a promotion they are elevated to the status of floor staff. In this case they are given the task of giving out the "Congratulations you have placed..." cards to those finishing in the top 80. It's a type of newspeak widely used in the poker community, a word that now means the exact opposite of what was originally intended. "Congratulations" should really read "Commiserations", but in this business people prefer to look on the bright side.

But the fact is that, with 84 players left everyone wanted to be in receipt of a "Congratulations" card - meaning a guaranteed pay out after three days of play - but they only wanted one until they were actually given one, at which point they became disappointed at having missed their chance at the €1.2 million first prize. It's a neat Catch-22. To get a congratulations card you need to be disappointed, but you'll be disappointed if you get a congratulations card.

So who would be these unlucky beggars all trying their best not to be congratulated? Four needed to depart before the bubble burst. One went in the traditional style, without anyone really noticing, while there followed several all-ins before the next went in 83rd place.

Other all-in hands went uncalled, each time a crowd would gather to watch the action before shuffling away disinterested, like a street crowd, ushered away by police that had just rumbled a three-card monte merchant.

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One of many all-ins called

Then David Yan went out in 83rd place, his pocket sevens battered by Lauri Pesonen's ace on the river. He left to a fluster of "good games" and "good lucks" (more newspeak) which goes to show that it's easier to be cordial in poker when someone is no longer a threat. No congratulations card for Yan, what we were seeing was proper commiseration.

One player needing neither was Jason Mercier, who laughs like a man who has won more than $8 million in live tournaments. It's a distinctive laugh, easily identifiable as a kind of "her-ha!" sound, repeated three times in quick succession in a high-pitch.

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Jason Mercier (center) her-ha-ing

He showed little interest for the all-ins going on around him. There are always dozens of people who want to watch for themselves, but then not everyone. A massage therapist, carrying a big cushion, walked past and, noticing the crowd, tried to see for herself. Then she checked herself, remembered she wasn't at all interested, telling herself so, before moving on looking for work.

In keeping with tradition another table, table 16, had to cope with a player in the time-waster mold. At best Patrick Naxache was just an unusually indecisive player. At worst the rubber-faced Naxache was distressingly slow. He irritated everyone at his table, mainly Alec Torelli and Ville Wahlbeck. Neither paid any attention to the grotesquely expensive watch on Naxache's wrist that he'd likely won playing this exact same way.

Meanwhile Chad Brown departed, un-congratulated in 82nd place, taking things to hand-for-hand. A second all-in almost burst the bubble before it had even been blown.

Most concerned seemed to be the impish Christopher Frank whose habit was to leave his seat after each of his short-stacked folds. On seeing a potentially lucrative hand taking place he laughed giddily, clapping his hands then chewing on the drawstring of his hooded top. He tried to watch the all-in but found himself shut out, the crowd already three-deep having given plenty of time to gather thanks to more tanking from Naxache on table 16.

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Christopher Frank

Frank needn't have bothered as there was no elimination to carry him into the money. He went back to his short stack and repeated the process.

Then his wish was granted. Another all-in was called, some half an hour after hand-for-hand play had begun. Taylor Paur was at risk, and was out a few moments later when his king-queen was run over by ace-jack. As the applause died down another all-in also busted a player, David Vamplew out. A slight reprieve, both players splitting the €16,000 prize money, eight grand each.

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Taylor Paur

Half a "Congratulations" card each then, but neither looked particularly pleased about it.

Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.

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