EPT8 Campione: Could you direct me to the Casino please?
A quick word about the tournament room, although to talk about that we must first have a quick word about the casino.
As we mentioned in the introduction, Casino di Campione is a bit of a landmark in this area, a giant monolith, like the concrete sarcophagus of a now disused nuclear power plant, lumped onto the side of the mountain. A night it's lit up in various neon colours. By day it does its best not to look conspicuous, Gulliver trying not to step on anything.
While Lilliputians scamper around outside, possibly looking for somewhere to buy food (although local market forces seem to suggest changing francs to euros is the industry most in demand), inside the world becomes big. While outside the sun shines, inside there is no natural lighting and a bank of security keeps out the undesirables. It's just how we like it.
Casino di Campione (centre)
It's through this maze that you have to find your way up elevators that only work at certain times to reach the ninth floor. Here the doors open on a vast, airy, high ceilinged sanctuary.
It feels high up in the sky, but after the run around the maze to get here, your brain still clings to the idea that you might still be three floors underground.
Still the difference is considerable. Down there it was a claustrophobic world of queues, armed guards and waiting. Up here anything is possible, which let's face it, is the underlying belief system that keeps us all coming back.
This being a conference space there's a large stage area, on which is a poker table waiting for eight players to fill it. Their identities won't be known until later this week. For now it serves as a reminder of what's at stake.
Play is underway.