EPT11 Prague: Fergal Nealon switches one flight for another

There's a lot of hidden luck in poker tournaments, one of which is the table draw. Having Vanessa Selbst on your table is a bad result regardless but if she's on your left rather than your right then you're in more trouble. As the tournament progresses having big stacks on your left or a poor table draw in general is are both big hidden luck factors.


Seat two is in for a tough day

But at the start of Day 1 the luck factor is far more fickle, far more discerning as it's not who you've got at your table it's more how many you've got. Tournament rules dictate that three players must be present at the table for the dealer to get the game going. Whilst some tables, like number 12 for instance, had seven players - almost a full complement - there were others where the players who'd shown up early were not being rewarded.

On table 35 Norbert Szecsi had only his iPad for company, he was busying himself on that whilst waiting for the cavalry to arrive. A cursory look at the seat draw shows that he'll be joined by EPT10 London champion Robin Ylitalo at some point today.


All by myself...

Alex Goulder was another player who was looking a little lost, the Brit has already had a big result in Prague this month, winning €105,000 after taking down a €2,000 event that attracted 251 runners. But, only Felipe Boianovsky had also shown up on time so Goulder was stretching his legs as he waited for a third participant to rock up.

Over on table 61 there were only two players at the table but the game was already under way, had the dealer made an error? On closer inspection a pair of reading glasses and a tournament entry slip were adjacent to the stack in seat seven, its owner absent from the table from unknown reasons. A moment later he returned, the stack belonged to Fergal Nealon who found another reason to be wary of playing short-handed with deep stacks. "It's always ominous when you're at a table where nobody shows up on time," he said. "You wonder just who it is who's going to casually turn up 30 minutes late, they're probably good though."


Nealon - on time

The Irishman will have Sebastian Von Toperczer to contend with later, when the Norwegian - who finished sixth at the EPT10 Grand Final shows up. Nealon should have been occupying a seat 30,000 feet skywards today but instead he's playing in the main event thanks to a last minute spin up. "I won a seat in the turbo satellite last night, I had a flight booked for today" said Nealon, who finished 100th in the Eureka4 Prague Main Event for €2,730. "I decided to use the cash from the Eureka event for a couple of spins at the satellites."

Nealon is something of an online satellite specialist having won multiple seats to the UKIPT on numerous occasions. "There's much more value in the live EPT satellites than the online ones," he stated though. Nealon says that he was 'hugging the bubble' at the end of the satellite. "I had three-big blinds and it was definitely squeaky bum time."

Given the flat payout structure of satellites they have a curious end game and Nealon recounted one hand from the satellite that illustrates that. "There was one hand near the end where it's folded to me in the small blind, I've got three big blinds and K-8 and I've shoved on the big blind. Even though he's getting ridiculous odds to call, he can't call me because he's got enough chips if he folds, but he'll be in the danger zone if he calls and loses. He was a bit stubborn though so I had to talk to him!"

Anyone who knows Nealon knows that talking is another of his specialist subjects: "I said to him: 'You have enough to make it through, you can't call me.' I talked to him for about two minutes and eventually he folded and he said to me, 'I really wanted to call you, just because you were telling me that I couldn't!'"


Nealon - survived a satellite scare

That scare over Nealon went on to be one of 38 players who won their seat through the €1,050 turbo satellite with Mick Graydon another player to have got in at the last minute. In fact Nealon says it was the perfect satellite. "I was never all-in and called the entire time, which is great as you don't need all the chips to win a satellite. It's all about survival."

The same can be said of Day 1 of an EPT main event, as the saying goes, you can only lose the tournament on the opening day.

Follow all the action from the Main Event on the Main Event page. There's hand-by-hand updates and chip counts in the panel at the top of the page and feature pieces below.

Nick Wright
@PokerStars in Prague