EPT9 Monaco Day 3: Out of the darkness and grudgingly into the light

It's a little known fact about Monte Carlo that there is no shade. Not on the streets, the beaches, even behind the tower blocks. Nothing. Now that also applies to the tournament room.

Monaco is swathed in beautiful, punishing sunshine this today and, to mark the occasion, organisers have removed the roof from the Salle des Etoiles, bringing forth a new period of enlightenment.

This sounds more energetic than it is. Nobody gets up there and actually hauls it off. Instead a man in overalls flicks a switch and the roof divides, each section disappearing in the opposite direction. The effect is quite dramatic; add a rocket powered death ray machine poking out the top, and a monorail, and we've got a Bond film.


If you've never seen the roof off it really is quite something. What is usually a dark place, with curtains drawn, fills with daylight. The Salle des Etoiles is then bathed in sunbeams, as if it has just woken from a three day dream about darkness, chips and cigarette breaks.

All this is fine for those outside in shorts and t-shirts, maybe carrying a skateboard. But for anyone in a collar, tie and tweed jacket it makes for a punishing commute. But even the players, as they arrived this morning, showed the effects of the sun even after their short walk across the road from the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel. Each wiped sweat from their foreheads as they reached the air conditioned lobby, only to find their punishment was about to continue when they looked for their seat in the tournament room. Each looked up, like Lost Boys, and put their sunglasses back on.

The only people not wincing in the heat were Natalie Hof and Gaëlle Garcia Diaz. While the rest of us suffered the indignity of sweat patches and seeing the creases in our trousers drop out, Hof and Garcia Diaz looked up into the light and stretched out their arms, both turning a deeper shade of flawless. It was as though their mother ship had appeared overhead to take them home.

Natalie Hof

Gaëlle Garcia Diaz

But all this had to end. The man in the overalls flicked the switch again and the curtains began to close, followed by the roof, all with a worrying ache as the wheels, pulleys and ball bearings were put to work.

Our hollowed out volcano was delivered back into darkness. Instinctively everyone looked up, perhaps wondering whether it hadn't been better with the roof off after all. The shadows crept along the floor, perhaps the last daylight we'd see today. The last of the sunshine illuminated a line of players, the last of them being Simon Dansker, singularly glowing amid a field of shade -the Sun Gods' own pick to win.

Perhaps Shakespeare was right - there is no darkness but ignorance. But if that's true, speaking as the man in the tweed, it's good to be stupid again.

Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.

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