EPT10 Vienna: The Main Event enters Happy Hour

Play has entered the last level of the day, by far the best level of the night, and perhaps the entire tournament. It's not that the thought of finishing for the night is enough to cheer anyone; it's more about the atmosphere, which changes in this period from one of tension, to relaxed bonhomie.

It could be a post-dinner tranquility, the rumination of a steak or schnitzel, making the mood lighter. Or perhaps it's simply that day two is now a distinct possibility, a landmark worth noting. Regardless it seems to serve as the junction between what was and what could potentially come. The tournament changes in character, and it's for the better.


Clement Thumy enjoying Happy Hour

Even the eliminations that come in large numbers are undertaken in a different mood. A busted player can be disappointed that they didn't reach day two, but can at least take solace from a good effort that saw them through the dinner break.

Then there's the subtle change in drinking habits, from cups of a dark brown to glasses of a paler brown, with froth on top, delivered by a surge in late-shift waiting staff. Its effects are huge.

All of a sudden that guy you've sat next to in silence all day starts getting chatty. Other players grow more relaxed. Even Alex Kravchenko grows a beard. His countryman Ivan Demidov, who we referred to earlier as combating the need for sleep, now moves into that time of day during which he is usually awake.

The combination of this, the late hour, the prospect of a return tomorrow, the promise of a couple of hours relaxing and a good night's sleep, makes this short spell in the main event its "happy hour". It's brief, and the morning after is usually quite painful, but it's good while it lasts.

Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.