EPT11 Barcelona: Taking a seat, and then another seat as Super High Roller field begins to grow
It's become a tradition to start each new EPT season with a Super High Roller event, like inviting a coach load of dignitaries to cut a ribbon or to pull the cord on a small curtain, unveiling a plaque.
Or perhaps it's more like a soft launch before the official opening on Wednesday when the main event kicks off, just to test the tables, chairs and chips. Either way it's a familiar and comforting way to start things. The world has turned full circle and all is well.
The players are the same, the setting is the same, so it's the small differences that are noticed most. Player's hair length for instance.
Scott Seiver's curls always seem between an inch and two inches long. They're at the shorter end of that scale today. Some players have lost a bit of weight, or put on a few pounds in that natural poker cycle that coincides with the latest health surge. But all seem happy and contented.
Most of the Super High Rollers--and something like 50 are expected to arrive throughout the day-- arrive wearing clothes from the EPT summer collection, all shorts and flip flops. Funnily enough this range extends into winter, and back into spring again as the season goes on. But here at least it's a useful reminder that just a few feet away, beyond the double doors, is a world of sunshine, vitamin D, and optimism with a new season spreading out in front of them. I'd feel the same if I wasn't entirely sure I hadn't used that same remark last year.
The tables are gradually filling up. There were three tables in the start, then a fourth opened and now a fifth. Some players find themselves moving tables after a single hand as the gaps fill up. It's slightly irritating to some, although you wonder if it doesn't have its advantages.
Super high roller newbie Fedor Holz may have figured as much after he clashed in an early hand against Vanessa Selbst.
Selbst, fresh off a bracelet win in Las Vegas this summer, doubled up through Holz, flopping two pairs and getting the money in on the king turn which paired the one Holz had in the hole. The river was a blank, leaving Holz with 100,000 as Selbst moved up to more than half a million chips.
Holz was immediately spirited away to a new spot on a new table. It was as though it had been decided he had suffered enough and was being taken away to convalesce. That might have been the case had his new seat not meant sitting next to Ole Schemion.
Schemion has yet to win a Super High Roller, although with 11 wins to his name, that's the kind of fact that you instinctively feel you ought to double check. Nope, no EPT Super High Roller title, but he did win a $100k Super High Roller at Aria, in Las Vegas, back in July.
Back on Selbst's table, she was stacking up chips as Martin Jacobson, one of the November Niners getting in some practice ahead of their return to Las Vegas later this year, got comfortable in his new spot. She turned to him, unable to resist asking:
"Are the nerves starting to build up?" she asked.
Jacobson paused a second. "Not so much nerves, but excitement," he replied, powerless to remove the big grin from his face.
Yep, it's a good day to be in Barcelona.
Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.