WSOP Main Event: Staying happily out the way

by Howard Swains

As some of my colleagues may have intimated, the Amazon Room at the Rio is a lot like a convention for PokerStars fashions; anywhere you turn there is the familiar logo, frequently behind a tower of chips. Spotting the generic PokerStars qualifier is less a case of finding a needle in a haystack than trying to spot the hay.

Identifying the country of origin of these various needles is, however, a different story and the European reporter (c'est moi) must be ready to be pricked. While our transatlantic cousins relish the publicity and chase after their chance to appear on the blog, the reserved European takes shelter in the crowd and only agrees to appear under duress. "Are you from Europe," I ask of the assorted T-shirts. "Might be," they reply in a peculiar accent, telling me all I need to know.

This is only partially the natural European politeness. Occasionally it is because they know who they're talking to - and the dangers my presence can confer. Anyone who reports on sport - poker very, very much included - lives in fear of the commentator's curse: that moment when the reporter arrives just in time to witness a horrific suck-out, sometimes feeling as though he is the cause.

"Hey! Stand right there only until I get involved in a pot." This was Ferit Gabriellsson, from Stockholm, Sweden, a PokerStars FPP qualifier for the second year in succession. Last year things were going just fine for Ferit until yours truly strolled by to check on his progress. I watched one hand, one big slick hit a king on the flop, one check-raise and one excellent call. Ferit had the top pair, top kicker, his foe had K-Q for top pair and junk. The turn was a queen, the damage was done and Ferit was out soon after. Well done me.

So, Ferit was right to frown at my approach today and I did the decent thing and scuttled away when he put in a pre-flop raise and found a call. I have no idea how things turned out, but I skipped past a moment or so a go to see more than 25,000 in front of him. My absence makes the stack grow stronger.

Curse update: Luca Pagano has bitten the dust. It was the words "he'll be around for a few hours yet" in the last post that knocked him out.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker