EPT12 Prague: War, religion and politics. Your typical Day 2 conversation
If there are topics to avoid at the poker table, war, religion and politics must be up there. Coincidentally they also happen to be Fuad Serhan's favourite subjects.
Serhan played only one level today, but no one could say he didn't leave an impression on the young crowd he left behind. There's something fun about the older guys taking on the younger ones, with cards and banter. For most it was enough to get the headphones on. For others it was a reminder that poker has a social element, or at least it used to.
"I make it five-five". This was Serhan re-raising Danish pro Morten Mortensen on a board showing two queens.
Serhan doesn't really look like a threat. No hoodie or headphones. He's an open neck shirt and reading glasses on a chain type of guy, with a second pair of spectacles for everything else. To some this ambivalence to table image is a weakness. But anyone familiar with Serhan knows him to be a regular on the London poker scene, having played there and won there for more than a decade. Old school you might say.
"I have 100 that you..."
Serhan was trying to make the hand interesting, but he trailed off as he leaned awkwardly, trying to remove money from his trouser pocket.
"That I end up calling, or what?" asked Mortensen, giving him a moment.
"Actually, I don't have a 100..." said Serhan.
It didn't matter. Mortensen called, regretting it immediately. Serhan had made trip queens on the river. He was triumphant.
"Either you kill me or I kill you," joked Serhan as he raked in his chips and looked around to see who was laughing. It was a kind of verbal deftness not seen since the Austrian player Elmar Dirnberger called himself "The Wolf" and referred to himself in the third person. It's funny until it gets weird.
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Play went on. Serhan welcomed the new dealer, using it as an opportunity to tell him that he was from Palestine. Then he started talking about Jesus and Moses, which made everyone nervous. Perhaps spotting this, and in a gesture to international relations, Ruben Visser changed the subject, raising Serhan's big blind.
"Are you raising my blinds?" asked Serhan.
"It would appear so", replied Visser, who until now had been wearing his headphones to pretend he couldn't hear anything. Turns out he could hear all along.
It was enough to force Serhan out of the hand, which gave him more time to talk. But just as he was getting warmed up he was on his way to the rail.
A bet from Frank Williams in seat five, a raise from Brian Benhamou in seat six and a shove by Serhan.
"Thirty-two point two."
Benhamou called. The news for Serhan was bad.
"Sh**", he said. "Alright you win."
Jacks for Benhamou, queens for Serhan. The board changed none of it.
"Ok gentlemen, I'll find something else to play now."
Serhan got up, gathered his spectacles and looked for the nearest exit.
"We will miss you. It was fun", said Visser, I think sincerely.
With Serhan gone everyone relaxed, relieved to talk about something else, in this case how he'd made them nervous.
That much was true, but the table wasn't as fun without him.
Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.