EPT11 Prague: The crowd gets their man as Christian Favale bubbles
The most powerful security barrier in the world is not a concrete bollard. It's not steel plated armour or even an electrified fence. It's the invisible line between a tourist, and the person they are taking a photo of.
In any city in the world this creates a virtual obstacle that none dare cross, with elaborate side steps, twists and lunges performed to avoid appearing in shot. Granted, it's only a short term, but for that brief moment it's enough to hold back even the most determined of crowds.
A line of chairs, turned backwards does not work anything like as well, as tournament staff discovered this afternoon as the money bubble approached in the Main Event.
The thing is, short of the last winning hand, the bubble is the only obvious landmark in a poker tournament. Once the bubble is breached the tournament takes on a new momentum, and has new meaning. So while spectators will stand to watch play even when they can't see anything, they will do so with even more determination when it's the bubble.
And so the familiar scenes today, as anyone with free time gathered around the unfortunate souls whose tournament lives were on the line, with little concern for anyone's plight but their own. It's nobody's fault. It's just the natural law of the game.
"What a horrible way to bubble," said Anirudh Seth. "Cameras everywhere, reporters asking 'what's his number? What's his number?'"
Seth's table was taking a turn at the centre of this world for a few minutes--Ji Zhang moving all in-- and Seth was right, it's hardly a moment cloaked in glory ( in this case Zhang doubled up with aces), but the people surrounding them were players, not press.
Because regardless of barrier, it's too good a moment to miss, and today there were nearly a dozen of these moments, packed with the promise of high drama and financial reward each time.
Just not for Team Online Pro Christian Favale. Instead he will likely look back at all those double-ups that came before his exit today knowing that any one of them, had they gone a little differently, would have ensured it was he collecting a min-cash of €8,970, and not everybody else.
But as the level dragged on to its last seconds, and players resigned themselves to continued hand-for-hand play after the break, Favale found what looked like a bankable hand. He must have felt some degree of security holding ace-king, but had the misfortune to run into his countryman Mustapha Kanit, who had aces. It was all over by the turn.
Satisfied, the crowds dispersed and players began a 20 minute break. Behind them was left a mess of chairs, the failed bid to maintain order. Someone on the rail raised a phone to take a picture, but it was too late.
Full coverage of the EPT Prague Poker Festival is on the main EPT Prague page.
Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.