ESPT6 Barcelona: Constant crises, as is customary
Most of us live our lives avoiding crisis situations, if we can manage it. We seek the familiar, that which brings us contentment. We consciously avoid conflict, prepare for potential hazards, and do whatever we can to preserve our well being.
Poker players are a different lot. They must be. If you think about it, every single hand is a kind of crisis, introducing all sorts threats to self-preservation. And in tournaments, the effect is heightened, with the "survival" metaphor often the first grabbed when describing those who avoid pitfalls and those who are less fortunate.
Walking about the huge poker room during the first one-hour level of today's second day of play in the Estrellas Barcelona Main Event, it's hard not to feel as though one is surrounded by crises. The incessant calls of "Seat open!" make it so. The all-in triangles are coming out constantly, the shape suggesting a kind of warning sign causing anyone nearby to pause and observe.
Team PokerStars SportStar Fatima Moreira de Melo was among the first to fall, her crisis coming in the form of committing her stack with ace-four versus another's pocket fours and failing to improve.
Kirill Zheleznyak was another. He was dealt a pair of kings, precipitating a crisis when Uri Michaeli sitting nearby had picked up ace-king. An ace on the board sent Kirill railward.
Kings failed Farid Chati after Xavier Carriere cracked them. It was ace-queen that ended Dragan Churlinovski's run once he committed his chips versus Benjamin Richardson's pocket queens, then watched the case Q fall among the community cards.
Seconds later Daniel Novak open-pushed his short stack with a pair of sevens, then watched Lasse Frost reraise all in behind him, eventually showing two queens after the others got out.
"You have more than me?" asked Novak, eliciting a nod. The crisis deepened.
The board was delivered in the familiar three-step way, and soon Novak was wishing all well before leaving.
During the time between Novak's initial shove and his "good luck" signoff, we heard "Seat open!" called twice from the neighboring tables.
There were 3,292 players to start this event, 984 of whom returned at noon today. Just one hour later, they are down to 830. Empty seats were refilled according to the usual procedure, and a dozen tables in the far corner were swiftly abandoned.
That's more than two-and-a-half crises per minute, if we only count the ones ending in an elimination.
Truth be told, no one seems all that concerned as yet. That's probably because most here are used to it. Or the fact that as the tournament continues and the field continues to winnow, even greater crises await.
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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.