EPT12 Barcelona: We're happy to report that sporting gestures are alive and well
Poker is not always a game that lends itself to sporting gestures, but Pascal Hartmann just reminded everyone that it's still possible, in a hand that went wrong.
The problem came from one of those mistakes that are difficult to put right. When Pascal Hartmann raised in middle position Jiachen Gong then re-raised in the seat next to him. That's about the time the problem started.
As Jonas Christensen and Saar Wilf were folding their blinds, Hartmann asked how much the raise was. Only the dealer gathered Gong's cards along with the button and the blinds - he'd left his cards unprotected while he tidied his stack. What was left was a poker player's nightmare - his 3-bet in front of him, but no cards.
The floor was called. Then the tournament director was called.
If Gong was to get his cards back from the muck, TD Luca Vivaldi insisted some strict criteria had to be met. Each player - Gong, Christensen and Wilf - would have to name the hands they just folded. You might think this is easy, but do you remember every hand you fold? Maybe on the river, but pre-flop it gets complicated.
Christensen was pretty sure he could remember his, while Wilf said he was 90 per cent sure of the suits. There then followed this slightly comic scene where the pair of them stepped away from the table to whisper their hands to Vivaldi, like it was some sort of magic trick. They'd named their cards, Vivaldi now just had to pluck Gong's cards from thin air, or the small pile of six mucked cards that were believed to contain them. He looked. Then, as everybody waited, he looked again. But however much he tried, he couldn't find the cards he was looking for. Someone had got it wrong. He had no choice but to declare Gong's hand dead.
Gong was good about it - every player knows that protecting your hand is their own responsibility - and took the news as well as he could. Hartmann now only had to call to win the pot, and make his progress into the money a little easier. But he didn't call. He folded. He said he was going to do it anyway, but he conceded the pot to Gong. The gesture wasn't missed by anyone.
"That's the best play of the tournament so far," said Christensen, tapping the table a little louder than he would any other good hand. Others joined him.
A humbled Gong raked in the pot after shaking Hartmann's hand. Cards are easily forgotten, but I suspect Hartmann's gesture will be remembered for much longer.
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Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.