EPT13 Barcelona: I see poker players
This past two months I've seen countless poker players. It's becoming a problem. You might have experienced it yourself.
On the school run, just before the summer holiday began, I saw Mike McDonald buying milk, and Steve O'Dwyer waiting for a bus. A few weeks later there was Jake Cody on the High Street. At the super market I saw Shaun Deeb, and Justin Bonomo was taking a walk in my home town by the beach, pink hair an' all. When I saw Mickey Petersen I waved.
It wasn't just players. Toby Stone was in the local green grocer, and I saw Kevmath (Kevmath!) walking a dog along the street where I live. All of this in my quiet sleepy home town, some 35 miles from the nearest poker room.
Only I didn't see them.
I only thought I saw them. Because I'm suffering a little understood condition, brought on by the absence of high stakes poker in your life, called high-stakes-hyper-familiarity, or to give it its more common name: "Hey, I know that guy!"
It's been more than three months since reporting on a major poker event, three months since watching a high stakes hand of poker, and three months since the likes of those listed above were part of an ordinary working day. Quite frankly I need to get back to work. Of course that wasn't ElkY, peroxide hair and all, waiting in line at the post office, I need to pull myself together. In our town, people who dress like ElkY stand out like men from outer space.
But I see players everywhere. The kid in Sixth Sense saw dead people. I see poker players. Walking around like regular people. They don't see each other. They only see what they want to see. They don't know they're poker players.
It's not good for me.
Thankfully though, there's a cure. It's one devised over 12 years of dedication, hard work and experimentation, not by men and women in white coats so much, but men and women in black suits, co-ordinated ties, and who can explain the colour-up rule.
It's called Season 13 of the European Poker Tour.
The dosage, available without prescription, is simple and guaranteed to succeed: a festival in August, followed by two more by the end of the year. I'm told I'll be back to my old self almost immediately.
These symptoms may well sound familiar to you. In which case there's no need to go on suffering alone. The cure is free of charge and is delivered by internet.
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Luckily I'll be getting the total immersion treatment, as will the entire Blog team reporting at EPT Barcelona from tomorrow, when the Estrellas Main Event and €10K High Roller begin. That's the recommended route back to full strength. However, the long distance version, undertaken from home, will get rid of everything except your competitive spirit.
So after ten long weeks, no more poker players in the street. As Haley Joel Osment would say, "I'm ready to communicate with you now".
Or at least I will be in just a moment. I just saw Jason Mercier go past on a bicycle doing his paper round. Amazing. If I'm quick I can catch him to say hi!
Live updates on the PokerStars Blog begin on Wednesday with coverage from the Estrellas Main Event. Bookmark this link to get all the latest news from the Barcelona festival.
Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog. Follow him on Twitter: @StephenBartley.