EPT12 Barcelona: Stuart McDonald bedding down in the Main Event
Bagging up chips after a long day is an exhilarating experience. It combines all your achievement and potential in one convenient see-thru plastic bag. Meanwhile you get to take home what's left of your adrenaline, dealt with either with beer or, in Stuart McDonald's case, by talking.
I'd never met McDonald before last night, but after bagging up he looked like a man who wanted to talk, and it didn't matter who listened.
"Nothing is going to stop me getting eight or nine hours of sleep tonight," he'd said, looking exhausted - more exhausted than even a long day might leave a man who had spent the past 12 hours in a state of perfect concentration (or thereabouts).
He'd had trouble sleeping at his hotel, he'd said, which had building works going on. So he'd changed rooms and was looking forward to peace and rest (I didn't have the heart to mention the noisy car-horn protest planned in Barcelona for that night). Then he talked about his day.
He'd lost most of his chips early and had had to work hard to get them back, finishing on a not enormous but respectable 1.3 million. He was disappointed, but also quietly proud of his performance, one set to eclipse any of his other successes so far in Europe or on the LAPT, where he earned his first major cash in Colombia in 2011. He'd even enjoyed a spell at the feature table.
Now though, adrenaline or no adrenaline, he was heading back to the hotel (probably after speaking to a few others on the way). It wasn't chips he now needed, but sleep.
Well, he got it. Perhaps a little too much. As the field returned to unpack their bags this morning McDonald was nowhere to be seen. The dealer tore open his bag and his chips left in a pile next to his player ID. A couple of hands in McDonald finally took his seat.
"Did I miss anything?" he asked, to dead silence from his table (his chatty nature might suffer on a table featuring five eastern Europeans). Detecting a lack of interest from his tablemates he looked at me and shrugged.
"At least I got an extra hour's sleep," he said. "It could be worse."
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Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.