LAPT Grand Final: Galina Nikolaevna's lament
When I was a college student in St. Petersburg, Russia in late 1996, Galina Nikolaevna drilled the phrase "Извините за опоздание" ("forgive me for being late") into my head. Galina Nikolaevna was my professor for Conversational Russian, a class that met four times a week, and was a stickler for punctuality. Her policy was simple: don't be late for class. But if you're late, you damn well better apologize for being disrespectful to her, to the class and most of all to yourself.
Galina Nikolaevna would have received a ton of apologies from poker players.
It seems that every tournament I attend, players turn up late for Day 2, 3 or 4. Here at the LAPT Grand Final, three of the 107 Day 1 survivors weren't in their seats at the start of Day 2. Their chip bags sat unattended on the felt in front of their chairs, small holes in the bag allowing each player's dealer to collect blinds and antes that were quickly forfeited. I'm not naming names, but those three players showed up 23 minutes, 30 minutes, and 45 minutes late.
You can say "Well, it's Carnival. The players want to go out and have as good a time as everyone else." And I will concede that point. Two of today's culprits are Brazilians. There's a good chance they bagged up their chips last night and immediately joined the Carnival party. It's what I would have done had I not been such an old man.
The thing is, each player paid 4,000 Brazilian Reals (about $2,400) to play in this event. They're playing for a first prize of 324,000 Reals ($191,000). These are significant sums of money. To a casual observer it seems disrespectful to yourself (if not your bankroll) to turn up late, especially when it's so easy to be on time.
Look, it's their money. They can play how they want to play. Yesterday Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu was hungover and opted for a 2-hour nap prior to joining the field. But the stacks were deep to start Day 1. Today the average starting stack was 44 big blinds. You can be sure that Daniel was in his seat at the starting bell today.
When all is said and done this post won't change much. There will be plenty of other poker tournaments where plenty of other poker players turn up plenty late for a Day 2, Day 3 or Day 4. It is a fact of life on the poker tournament circuit. As a lowly scribe, all I can hope is that I've convinced even one poker player that his or her bankroll demands a level of respect that only showing up on time can provide.
It's how Galina Nikolaevna would have wanted it.