EPT9 Sanremo: Surviving the bubble

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Often the most revealing aspect of bubble play is not the all-in hands themselves, which usually end with a double-up for the player with aces, but the players with the short stacks who play, and live, hand by hand.

One such player was Nadir Yusupov. The Russian seemed to spend the bubble period folding every hand and keeping the strained look on his face from worrying his wife.

He had less than 30,000 when play went hand-for-hand. Soon he had less than 25,000 with blinds at 2,500-5,000 with a 500 ante. As all-ins were called on tables close by he couldn't help himself. He had to watch.

It's predominantly the media who surround a table during these moments (and in Italy they swarm into every gap), but any remaining space is filled by players, poking their heads through to catch a glimpse of the player who could grant or deny them a min-cash.

For Yusupov, built like a former boxer, wearing sandals and carrying a man bag, doing this seemed to help with the nervous tension. It may have been all he could do to stop himself screaming. Yet he remained calm, despite the growing redness in his face.

Another all-in and another double up. Yusupov made it back to his seat, shrugging to friends as he weaved past tables, stopping to shake hands with countrymen. No one really admires the weak-tight player, but there is a grudging respect for those who chooses to hold on.

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The typical scrum around the bubble hand

Suddenly the waiting was over. Yusupov waited, open mouthed, for confirmation. There had been a second all in which ended in elimination. It was true. Yusupov was in the money, like 119 others. He said something to his wife, and she smiled back.

Time to loosen up? With 26 players gone since the bubble, Yusupov plays on.

Keep an eye on the live tournament reporting from EPT Sanremo for all the news from the tournament floor.

Stephen Bartley
@StephenBartley in Day 3