EPT12 Barcelona: A question high rollers won't lose sleep over



isaac_haxton_shr_d1.jpgWide awake: Isaac Haxton

Day one of the Super High Roller will likely be a long one, playing into the early hours of Sunday morning. These hours tend to be unique to poker, with punishing hours. There are other ways in which poker is unique. Isaac Haxton just nailed one of them.

"What is it about poker that makes you play until you can't stay awake anymore?" he said. It was a good point, and one his table mates, among them Dani Stern and Igor Kurganov, had some sympathy with. Haxton elaborated. "If someone plays golf, they don't play for 22 hours and then sleep for three. Not even if there's money on it. People would still sleep!"

He's right. What is it that makes poker players press on regardless, even as their shoulders droop and their eyes begin to close. What compels them to stay glued to the screen, often to extreme lengths. Take one player; we'll call him Deorge Ganzer to save any embarrassment. He once explained to us how even using the bathroom can be a waste of time.

And so players eat while they play. There are no health and safety leg stretches, no mandatory lunch breaks, even if the occasional walk to the water fountain might increase concentration levels. That's not really how poker rolls.

"No breaks at all," said Haxton. "You just play till ya can't say awake any longer."

Actually, there have been exceptions. We know one colleague in the PokerStars office who playing four rounds of golf in a single day to raise money for worthwhile causes. We'd expected it to put him off golf for life, much like being caught smoking and being forced to inhale a full box cigars while locked in a wardrobe by parents from the late nineteenth century. But his only regret was carrying his clubs, rather than using a trolley. He could have gone on longer.

I was thinking how macro this was when the conversation at the table suddenly ascended into the micro level, something about representing king-jack and a deep analysis of a hand that they each player at the table found hilarious. It left me rooted firmly to the ground, thinking of swings and birdies. Maybe that's another way in which poker is unique. In its upper levels a language is used that the casual observer will never understand.

These super high rollers are a unique crowd, and not just because they don't know when to go to sleep.


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Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.