EPT10 Prague: A blank look or a McDonald stare?
There's a lot of staring going on in the High Roller event right now. In fact, looking at it from the rail, that's about all there is taking place.
You cannot help but notice how time is simply ticking by, albeit very slowly. It could be because it's sister event, the Main Event, flashed by us in less than four hours, making it feel like the High Rollers are being kept in suspended animation. But it doesn't help that nobody is talking, or looking animated, or doing anything. It seems a lot of the High Rollers are merely staring and waiting.
Of course that's not entirely true. Isaac Haxton was in a hand for instance, although it proved to be his last. He lost out with his eight-six (he flopped an eight) against Benjamin Pollak's pocket kings. But even Haxton's reaction was in keeping with that of everybody else, an almost complete lack of any discernable emotion. Denied his first choice of preoccupation, Haxton simply looked around trying to spot the next best thing to do, and walked towards it.
Soon to be looking for some other form of entertainment: Isaac Haxton
Everyone else was too busy waiting to notice. Juha Helppi was slumped slightly in his chair, while others either leant forward, backward or sat riffling chips. Oleksii Khoroshenin looked like a bad memory from a previous life had just appeared in complete clarity, and he didn't like it.
Mike McDonald was also doing some staring, although when McDonald stares others look away. The McDonald stare is fully armed with intent, drilling into an opponent's psyche. I've seen grown men broken by it.
Funnily enough, it's this which Stephen Chidwick credits with helping transform his game this year, bringing in numerous live cashes, including those this week.
Speaking earlier, Chidwick detailed how, following the advice of McDonald and Elio Fox, he had taken to watching every opponent closely, picking up as much information as possible.
"I think for the whole year I've been staring people down, whoever turn it's on I'm looking at them and just kind of not worrying what I'm giving away and trying to pick up anything I can on my opponents, and it seems to be working very well."
Perhaps everyone in the High Roller is trying the same, albeit on tables, chairs, the ceiling, and that girl on the rail. Regardless, time ticks on.
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.