EPT12 Malta: Chatty times in the High Roller

One of the many things to admire about Dzmitry Urbanovich is his near-perfect grasp of selective English. By that, I mean his ability to speak English when he fancies having a conversation, coupled with his blithe willingness to claim he doesn't speak the language when he doesn't want to be bothered. (He complements this, by the way, with his expert use of headphones. His Skull Crushers are often clamped on the side of his head, but not always over his ears.)

Urbanovich has hurried into the top five counts in the one-day €10,000 tournament and was recently moved to the chair immediately to John Juanda's right. Urbanovich sat down and Juanda greeted him with a respectful, "Oh, this guy." And Urbanovich found himself keen to chat with the recently-crowned EPT Barcelona champion, quizzing him about a hand the two of them played in Monaco when, according to Urbanovich, one of them had a straight flush.

dzmitry_urbanovich_ept12_malta_10k_sd_hr.jpg

Dzmitry Urbanovich: He's not always listening in those headphones

There are plenty of measures by which to gauge the precipitous rise to prominence of Urbanovich, not least by the figures in his "money earned" column. But for a 19-year-old kid from Warsaw, Poland, sitting down beside a man with $17 million in live career cashes -- and most recent Hall of Fame inductee -- and immediately launching into a conversation about straight flushes in Monte Carlo is convincingly indicative of his stature.

Juanda is on talkative form today. Rid of the face-mask he wore in Barcelona, and presumably free of the illness that forced him to wear it, the Indonesian-American is leading conversation on a table that also features Dan Smith and Huidong Gu, while also leaning over his shoulder to talk to other tables.

In between hands, he turned around and said to Igor Kurganov, "Hey Igor, are you playing the main today, or just this one?" But Kurganov had cards in front of him so didn't answer, forcing Juanda to ask the same question of Liv Boeree, one table along.

"We're playing the main too," Boeree said. Then she picked up a very small pile of chips, showed them to Juanda and said, "I'll be playing it very soon."

john_juanda_ept12_malta_10k_single_hr.jpg

John Juanda: Chatty man

Juanda turned his attention back to his own table and was there in time to see Smith ask Gu how much he was playing after Gu opened a pot. "That's how much respect he has for you," Juanda said to Gu. "He didn't ask anybody else."

Smith responded: "He knocked me out of the twenty-five K", proving poker players never forget. But Gu didn't seem to notice that either of them were talking either to or about him. Gu was busy chatting to another friend who had come by for conversation. This is how these high buy-in events tend to be. Everybody is friends with everybody else.

Attention span back to Kurganov. He had now open-shoved all in after action folded to him on the button and Christoph Vogelsang, in the big blind, quickly looked at his cards and called. It was a bad spot for Kurganov, who had run K♠7♠ into A♠J♠.

The board was blank throughout. It ran 6♥4♣2♣8♣6♣, and Kurganov ended up beating Boeree out of the door (although not before a goodbye hug from his girlfriend.)

So on they go in the High Roller, which is due to finish tonight. The official number of players was confirmed at 99, plus 35 re-entries, and that created a prize pool of €1,299,800. Seventeen places will pay and the winner will get €327,030.

Everything about EPT Malta is on the main EPT Malta page. More specifically, all the hand-by-hand coverage of the €25,000 High Roller is on the €25,000 High Roller page and everything from the IPT Main Event is on the IPT Main Event page.

No really, begin plotting your own bid for EPT glory by downloading the PokerStars client and having a crack. Follow this EPT event via the EPT app. There you will get all the latest news, chip counts and payouts. You can download it on Android or IOS

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour