EPT11 London: A new one of those scary types of player
What would sport --or competition in general--be if it didn't have those Goliath figures, representing something more than just ordinary standard issue talent, but an almost magical capacity to scare the living bejesus out of you?
You can probably name a few of these characters for yourself. They're the outliers, the Lionel Messis, the Michael Jordans, the Tiger Woods. The threat they pose is almost existential, possessing a talismanic advantage over those whose task it is to beat them, even before the things begin.
And so it applies in poker. Scattered here and there in the EPT London Main Event field are these Talismans, players who wander up to your table, toss a seat draw card at the dealer, and immediately have you bringing your flight booking forward. I've seen tables of players sit still and quiet when these people arrive, as though they were errant kids, watching as the police chief arrived to ask which one of them stole the new kids' lunch money. They all pay up.
So who are those people?
Well there's Elky. Outside, the peroxide and mirrored sunglasses, not to mention his black jacket made from what looks like crate paper, gets a "look at that guy!" reaction from the general public. In here though is his domain, and that look is the look of the closest thing poker has to a super hero. You almost expect him to emit a humming noise, like power lines. If you use your phone next to him it makes that interference noise that is rumoured to interfere with aircraft navigational systems.
The same goes for Viktor Blom. He may be out of the Main Event, but few realise this is in fact his biggest strength. You may care whether you bust on Day 2, but he doesn't. He leaves that sort of thing to ordinary people, the type who pay bills and have to explain
where they've been to their wives.
But there's a new talisman in town, in the form of new WCOOP Main Event Champion Fedor "CrownUpGuy" Holz.
In case you missed it Holz, had a blinder in Barcelona. In case you missed that he didn't do so badly in the WCOOP 2014 either, winning the main event, and $1.3 million after skipping the bulk of it.
"I just skipped the tough grind right into heaven" he'd said in an interview with the PokerStars Blog, causing those who had slaved away fruitlessly in 66 events to lay down and weep.
But now he's in the London Main Event, and those seated around him seem aware that they are up against another, new Talisman, whose more than just a bit nifty with suited connectors. Even a German TV crew were humbled, asking him for an interview only to be turned down. Refused? Maybe interviewers were fine in Barcelona, but Holz is a superhero now, and they don't always answer fan mail.
Follow the action from the EPT London Main Event this week on the PokerStars. You can also watch live coverage on the EPT Live webcast between October 14-18 on PokerStars.tv.
Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.