EPT8 Berlin: Watching from the sidelines as Hagrid saunters forth


Play starts, with the three tables of the main event taking up a small portion of the tournament room with side events filling the rest of the playing area. On the way in to take his seat in a side event, or to watch from the rail at least, is tournament oddball Artem Litvinov, dribbling a tennis ball for a few moments before, one assumes, he realised he was a grown man.

Inside the tournament room he was among those eyeing the action in the main, a sight obscured by at least three camera teams ready to pounce on any scrap of action.

To stand between them is to live precariously, as one quick reflex pan shot is all that stands between you and some weighty travel insurance forms which may or may not cover you for your own incompetence. It's crowded, and awkward, but the end product, which will be broadcast later this year, is typically excellent.

One player not understanding what all the fuss about is Vladimir Geshkenbein.

"This is interesting," he said, that sardonic smile of his on his face as two players went all in, both with ace-king, forced to wait a few moments for the cameras to arrive.

A few moments later he was in a hand, facing a raise and taking a moment to consider his options. In the meantime two pike men, carrying extended boom microphones, hovered inches above him.

"Can you guys move away," he said. "You're not going to get anything interesting."

As if to prove his point, or more likely to spite them, Geshkenbein folded.

The main feature at this table is not Geshkenbein though, nor is it Pratyush Buddiga who is beginning to show signs of being a likely final table candidate. It is the man next to Geshkenbein, Tomas Cibak, who is increasing his stack hand by hand.

Thomas Cibak

Cibak is a big man, a giant when seated alongside the wirey raptor Geshkenbein. What's more he's wearing a hooded top, which he pulls down over his face, his long hair pouring out from either side of his head. It gives him a Robbie Coltrane in Harry Potter appearance (or Rubeus Hagrid if you watch children's films).

Watching him play is Roberto Romanello, from the rail, taking a moment from playing the €10,000 side event. He's interested to hear about the main event but keener to find out whether Ondrej Vinklarek, his chief rival in the hunt for Player of the Year honours, cashed in it. He didn't, but he may have done in the side event yesterday. Also Bryn Kenney leapfrogged a few places on the leader board after finishing second in the €2,000 event.

Romanello returned to the €10k to double his efforts.

Stephen Bartley
@StephenBartley in Berlin