EPT11 Grand Final: Dogs, diamonds, lifts and monkeys. Another day on the EPT
Mad Harper does many things. She is the all-action media co-ordinator on the European Poker Tour and if there's a pie, she's got a finger in it. It's her job. One of the things she does perhaps better than anybody else, however, is meet interesting people in lifts.
Over the course of the tour's 11 seasons, Harper estimates she has picked up at least 20 stories for the media from overhearing elevator conversations. And true to form, here's one of her finest from the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo®Casino EPT Grand Final.
Yesterday, Harper was in a lift in Le Meridien Hotel with a man named Lyndon Basha and his girlfriend, Rachel Guinan. Basha was, it turned out, also in the €10,000 Main Event heading into Day 4. And Guinan was, it turned out, somewhat slightly more than Basha's girlfriend. She was soon to be his fiancee. He had planned to pop the question in Monaco this week.
It was a strange engagement plan, not least because Guinan already had the ring in her handbag and had agreed, to all intents and purposes, to be Basha's wife. But he hadn't actually formally proposed yet, and they were waiting for an opportune moment before making it official. The poker had got in the way.
"I think she'll accept," Basha deadpanned today.
But if the engagement was unconventional, it was entirely appropriate for the manner in which they met. (This is where Harper is particularly good: delving deeply into personal affairs to get the nitty gritty.)
Basha, who is 47 and originally from Australia, is a veterinarian with a practice in Ilford, Essex, in the United Kingdom. He's a "super vet", with 40 staff, treating animals from all over the world.
Guinan was one of his customers, taking her bull mastiff dog named Monkey (it cost £500 to buy, natch) to see Basha when it was sick. And last year, at 13, Monkey breathed his unfortunate last. Beset by poor health, Basha had to do the decent, if tragic, thing by poor Monkey. (Must. Not. Hum. This. Song.)
But every cloud has a silver lining and although Guinan was naturally upset to lose her cherished pet, she found solace in the vet who had had to administer the last rites. She sobbed on his shoulder and "From that moment, we fell in love," she said.
The couple started dating and last weekend - on a vet work trip to Amsterdam - Basha bought Guinan a ginormous diamond ring. (Harper: "I have actually never seen a bigger ring.") The ring was delivered in the last break of play on Day 3, ahead of a proposal presumably sometime after Basha is knocked out. However, at time of writing, Basha is still among the final 27 players.
As a coincidence, which the couple only found out after they started dating, Guinan works as a croupier/poker dealer at corporate events and he plays poker recreationally, online on PokerStars, and at London casinos.
Assuming Basha gets around to proposing, they are getting married on October 10, the same date as Guinan's parents.
It's a heartwarming tale. What did you last learn while travelling in a lift?
Additional reporting (obviously): Mad Harper.
Follow all the action from the €10,000 Main Event on the Main Event page. Also watch on EPT Live. The €25,000 High Roller also starts today, over on the High Roller page. It's also about time you downloaded the EPT app. There you will get all the latest news, chip counts and payouts. You can download it on Android or IOS.