ESPT6 Barcelona: Standing out in a crowd

When you are one of more than 1,000, the challenge to distinguish yourself can be daunting. Then again, when the crowd to which you belong is comprised of players in a poker tournament, standing out might not be all that desirable, especially during the first few levels.

As they say, there's no way to win a tournament at the beginning of it, but plenty of ways to lose -- and thus single yourself out... right out the door, in fact.

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The card-playing crowd

As they move into Level 4 of Day 1B of the Estrellas Main Event -- the last before late registration closes -- the big board is showing 1,090 players having registered today. It also notes that of those 1,026 are still playing, meaning over 60 have already stood out by having to leave already after swiftly losing their 25,000-chip starting stacks.

No one wants to be singled out in that way, offering the grim "good luck" to the table after one's own has run out. Such might have been the thought passing through the mind of Petri Heinanen just now. Heinanen knows something about earning attention, having a distinguished career as a professional footballer in his native Finland before getting into poker, with his countryman, Patrik Antonius, an early mentor.

Heinanen had reached the river in a hand versus the player who has been sitting to his left all day, Alessio Sardone of Italy. The community cards told the story of a king-high flop, a queen (and third heart) on the turn, and a board-pairing six on the river.


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Petri Heinanen (left) and Alessio Sardone (right)

A Heinanen check had been followed by a Sardone shove, and as the amount of the bet exceeded what Heinanen had left, to call and lose would mean having to stand up. And thus stand out.

Heinanen shook his head and rubbed his eyes, noiselessly voicing the words "I have to fold" before pushing his cards forward face down. The chips were duly pushed Sardone's way, the cards collected, washed, and reshuffled, and Heinanen blended back into the crowd, becoming less conspicuous as one the thousand-plus once more.

Walking about we've spotted others standing out to us, albeit because of previous acquaintance and not for anything that has happened thus far today. Four Team PokerStars Pros are playing -- Leo Margets, Marcin Horecki, Pier Paolo Fabretti, and George Danzer. Of that quartet, we'll single out Danzer, if only because he tends to single himself out both by his derring-do and his daring do.


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George Danzer

Both Liliya Novikova and Grzegorz Mikielewicz of Team PokerStars Pro Online are also in attendance. There's Mikielewicz -- known as "DaWarsaw" when playing on PokerStars -- drawing attention to himself by leading out with a bet.


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Grzegorz Mikielewicz

Among the many, many others in the field today are Igor Yaroshevskyy, David Yan, Lasse Frost, Alex Kravchenko, and Kevin MacPhee.


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Kevin MacPhee

Rens Feenstra, Jamila von Perger, Oscar Alache, Sergio Aido, Pablo Gordillo, and Joseph El Khoury are here. So, too, are Andrew Chen, Laura Gallardo, and Charlie Carrel. Carrel stood out in a big way at the last EPT stop in Monaco, where the young Londoner won the €25K High Roller and a €1.114 million first prize.


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Charlie Carrel

We'll head back out there in a few to stand out in the middle of them all and watch some more. Meanwhile the thousand-plus surrounding us will continue to keep their heads down, all hoping much later to be the one standing at the end.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

Martin Harris
@hardboiledpoker in Barcelona