EPT10 Vienna: "Mr Lewzey, with this tanking, you're really insulting us."
There was an advert for Ferrero Rocher chocolates on UK TV in the 1990s which marketed the golden bauble nibbles as a high society treat. The choccies were piled high into a pyramid, upon a silver platter no less, and served to a crowd of big-haired ambassadorial types who were wowed by the sweetie, despite apparently otherwise living on a diet of steak tartar and foie gras. All washed down with vintage Krug champagne, no doubt. They probably washed their teeth with the stuff, too.
While the players here are more interested in chips than candy, there is definitely a similarity of surroundings. The Hofburg palace has hosted more than its fair share of presidents and prime ministers, kings and queens, dukes and despots. If you've been following the blog these last few days you'll have heard us banging this drum before, but it really is quite an incredible venue. It feels as if it may be rubbing off on the players involved: there's been less bad behaviour and sledging than usual. Sure, there's still been plenty of people ignoring cordoned-off areas, but that's only to be expected. When words are heated the exchanges are somewhat classier: less spit and sawdust, more champers and velvet.
Here's a case in point. Andras Kovacs had either limped or min-raised under-the gun (I missed that bit, but suspect a min-raise) and Day 1A chip leader Oleksii Khoroshenin had upped the ante to 85,000 from the button. Steven Lewzey had flatted from the small blind, but not before there had been a little confusion regarding the call which required the floor. Kovacs, undeterred, announced that he was all-in for 889,000. Khoroshenin passed relatively quickly. Lewzey did not. He sat staring at Kovacs, a final tablist from EPT Loutraki, who seemed at once comfortable and ill at ease - as is standard in this big pot situation. Lewzey, who had his legs crossed and re-crossed under the table, played with a small stack of red 1k and blue 5k chips. He stared some more at Kovacs who alternated between staring back and at a small spot of baize a few inches ahead of his stack, which was pushed out in front of him.
"If I fold..." started Lewzey with the old spiel. Khoroshenin had long since walked off.
Lewzey was now a good five minutes into the break and folded his hand face-up. It was A♣T♣. Kovacs tossed his ace-king over, a little astounded.
"With this decision, you kidding? Are you insulting me?" asked Kovacs, looking surprised and exasperated in equal measure. The guy's got a real talent for double expression.
Lewzey started to explain his thinking but Kovacs was having none of it.
"I'm not shoving with ace-rag for fifty big blinds. You can't call," said Kovacs, before departing for what remained of the break.