EPT Warsaw: A start for some, an end for another

Play is underway in Casino Poland. As touched on earlier, it's a basement den two floors into the ground beneath the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Over 20 tables have been shoehorned into all corners and into space between the other features you’d expect in a European casino –principle activities being roulette, blackjack, smoking, slot machines, and drinking at the bar. It’s lost none of the charm of last year but makes it a snug fit for the starting field.

One player making his EPT debut might not be well known to the live tournament world but the chances are you’ve collided with him if you play regular tournaments on PokerStars.com. Mark Hirleman heads the Tournament Leader Board and interestingly his brother is not far behind. For the record his sister doesn’t play poker.

Anyway, he makes his EPT debut on day 1a. From Arizona in the United States, he’s an author of three books and now plays full time. Today his immediate future features Marc Goodwin and Patrick Bueno.

Whilst Gino Alacqua and Kara Scott play on table three it’s table four that’s putting together some early excitement just fifteen minutes in, kicking off with a call of “all-in.”

It’s a table laden with familiar faces such as Woody Deck, Lars Bonding and Robert Binelli. The board is reading T-K-Q-A with two hearts. Essan Haji Chiab pushed, followed into the middle by Swede Christoffer Sonesson on his immediate left. As expected both players turn over a jack but for Chiab the sight of Sonesson's two hearts must have flooded his frontal lobes with panic. A split pot had now morphed into something more sinister - an early exit; for Chiab to be exact, when the eight of hearts hit the river.

“Nice” said one player, just glad to have played no part in the carnage. A few other players come over for a post mortem in Swedish. Relief for the victor, an uncomfortable silence from Chiab, forced into a painful minute waiting for the stacks to be counted before his demise was set in stone.

A few tables along in the far corner sits last year’s winner Peter Jepsen, having his shoulders sculpted like play-dough by girlfriend Frida. Team PokerStars Pro Dario Minieri sits next to him, altogether more relaxed having shown up late.

And in another corner, behind a pillar and out of sight of the rail, is Katja Thater, who earlier shared her insight into the ideal pre-tournament preparation with the video blog team...


Stephen Bartley
@StephenBartley in EPT Warsaw