EPT9 Monaco Super High Roller: The new game in town

There's a new game in town today, taking place at the entrance to the Salle des Etoiles tournament room. It's called "Guess which tournament the new arrival is playing."

Both the Super High Roller and the Monaco Cup take place today, attracting a different breed of poker player for the final three days in town. But which player is going where?
In walks a man in pristine shoes and the kind of clothes that sparkle, the type usually displayed in a shop window, hanging on a mannequin - obviously wealthy, obviously a spender, obviously a Monaco Cup player.

Next up comes a man-boy in t-shirt, shorts and flip flops, all bought on the internet, obviously broke, and without a penny to his name. You wonder how he could afford the bus fair to Monaco - obviously a super high roller.

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The marina, taken a view days ago but the weather is exactly the same today

This distinction continued to take place in the half hour before play started, the tournament room slowly filling up. The Monaco Cup gradually spread out across the floor as one by one the people in the registration queue in one room turned into players holding receipts looking for directions in the next.

The super high roller players meanwhile are relaxed and enjoying themselves. The prospects of victory are never more alive in these crucial few minutes, before any cards or bad decisions ruin it all. They gather around the EPT Grand Final magazine examining the structure, then talk among themselves.

Not all of them of course. Phil Ivey talks instead to a mystery voice on a telephone, covering his mouth with his free hand like a pitch-side NFL coach taking a call from upstairs. Meanwhile John Juanda stands alone wearing a back pack on both shoulders, neat and tidy, like he's here on a cruise ship excursion. Midway through the day we should expect to see an elderly local guide carrying a 12-foot high brightly coloured flag, trailing several tourists in long white socks, here to pick him up.

There's something child-like about the whole scene, the gathering round of friends with an air of excitement, like a primary school field trip. The structure allows for re-entries, like a primary school sports day, encouraging equality of opportunity, only here there's now equality of outcome.

They have to themselves seven tables fenced off at this early stage. Tournament director Theresa Nousiainen welcomed the "super high roller players", perhaps conscious that referring to them simply as "super high rollers", conjures up images of tartan and shang-a-lang.

Instead they're just 20 or so guys who skipped the party last night to be fresh this morning. Their appearance will no doubt change over the next three days.

Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.

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