Cannibalism, poker style

Team PokerStars vs Team PokerStars, "twins" at the table, and Neverwin blind

In the jungle, when the food runs out, when a band of lost travelers is looking for for any nutrition it can find, the members sometimes turn to each other in a none-too-appetizing way. I'm not saying it's a pretty concept, but I'm saying it can happen.

In the poker jungle, road gamblers of the same band may sometimes turn on each other, as well. I'm not saying it's a pretty concept, but I'm saying it can happen. And I'm saying it happened today.

As it happened, Team PokerStars members John Gale and Isabelle Mercier found themselves at the same table. They further found themselves heads-up in a pot. Gale came in for a raise, Mercier pushed all in, and Gale, finding himself with the odds to call, did so. He held A8s. Mercier held 77. The board gave Gale a straight and sent Mercier to the rail. When it as over, Gale said he felt bad, but admitted, "she would've knocked me out if she could."

John Gale, the nearly-satiated

Indeed, in a dog-eat-dog world where the entire field is wearing milkbone underwear (my thanks to Cheers' Norm for that one), it is kill or be killed, eat or be eaten. The evidence is everywhere. It's in the smoky corridors where husbands phone in their bad beat stories to their wives. It's in the bathrooms, where people feel slightly more comfortable crying. It's at the bar, where people go when the smoking, phonecalls, and crying won't help.

It's perhaps most evident in the empty tables left in the far quadrant of the room. Once full of chip-hungry card players, it's now nothing more than a wide expanse of green felt and tired railbirds.

The killing fields

In other less gruesome news, blog correspondent Madeleine "The Mad Salmon" Harper happened upon a couple of PokerStars qualifiers who were drawing a lot of attention. She brings us this report:

Only Their Mother Can Tell Them Apart

They look completely identical - same PokerStars shirts, same PokerStars caps, same silver frame sunglasses and exactly the same deadpan expression. They're even chewing gum at exactly the same speed. All day people have been walking past Table 151 and doing a double take. Is that twins there? Really? That's wierd - and how come they got to sit next to each other?

As it happens, Carmen "dolfan" Marino and Allen "thebookie" McLean were just about the only people in the room who hadn't noticed that they're dead ringers for each other. "I saw people were taking a lot of pictures of us", said Carmen, a 38-year-old researcher for General Motors, "but I thought it was just because Allen has got such a big stack. I didn't even realise I was in the pictures until just now." The pair had never met before this morning, but after more than ten hours sitting next to each other, the two PokerStars qualifiers are even finishing each others' sentences.... "Well, we did go to the restroom earlier," said Allen, 47, a bookie from Dublin , "and it seems it's true, we're identical in every way", finished Carmen. Right now, the only real difference between them is the size of their stacks... "I've got about 3,000 in chips," said Carmen, "and Allen's got 25,000".

Mirror images, disparate stacks

Finally, as this first flight of Day 1 winds toward midnight, PokerStars star Neverwin is playing games with his table. After amassing a very nice stack all day, he's trying to convince his fellow players he loves to play hands blind.

An opponent asked, "So, how do you do that when you play on PokerStars?"

"I put a piece of tape over the monitor," he said, then raked another pot.

Neverwin wins again