EPT12 Barcelona: Accounting for the whereabouts of 426 travelling poker players
Barcelona is not a town at peace right now, in more ways than one. It's a city still adapting to the rigours of modern tourism, which has proved both a blessing and a curse since it got the Olympics in 1992. Thousands come here every day to experience Las Ramblas, the beaches, or just warmer climes. The internet helps, making accommodation cheap and plentiful. But that's where the problem starts.
The "sharing economy" isn't exactly popular around here. Airbnb avoids the €0.65 tourist tax hotels have to charge, while it's suggested it's causing other problems too. There's the noise, the mess, the drinking and the inevitable, how to put it, behavioural incontinence?
There's also what it means to the city. Properties bought to let to tourists force locals further away, meaning fewer local amenities, and less of the atmosphere that makes cities like this appealing to begin with, one in which people live as well as visit. The locals are not shy about making their fears public.
It's complicated, and there are arguments for and against on both sides. And so tonight there's a demonstration planned in the La Barceloneta district of the city where much of the trouble is. The hotel management has pre-emptively apologised for the disturbance, because, well, La Barceloneta is a short walk from Casino Barcelona.
But if you were wondering if the reputation of travelling poker players was about to take a nose dive, I bring news to reassure you. No poker player will be out making noise tonight, in fact I'd be surprised if the people of La Barcaleta heard a single peep out of them. The reason is simple: they're all in the €10,000 High Roller.
It might not be all of them, but with the count so far at 426 and rising, it's hard to think who we might have missed. We've reached the wall we mentioned earlier, and several hours later there is still no spare room. The playing area is packed, and others are still lining up to play. In short nobody is going anywhere. The number of players goes up, not down. It's as though time has stood still.
So, officer, I can vouch for the whereabouts of every single one of these people and say that, rather than being outside causing trouble for people and being rowdy, they are all right here, in the tournament room, causing trouble for people and being rowdy.
Besides, poker doesn't really lend itself to a "sharing economy" anyway. Is there a "chop it" economy?
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Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.