2008 World Series: From one extreme to the other

The day really started in the orange section of the Amazon Room three hands in. A player busted out, his day two cut short by 12 hours 57 minutes - a fate that won’t be uncommon for several hundred players today arriving with hope, departing with painful memories.

Two particular PokerStars sponsored players sit close geographically but chip wise they could hardly be further apart. I’m talking of course about Kara Scott and Anthony Holden. There’s also another difference, which Tony may or may not seek to punish me for later for suggesting - whilst both are well established in their fields, being on TV makes Kara more recognisable, as the small pool of railbirds go some way to prove.

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EPT presenter and PokerStars sponsored player Kara Scott

Kara is the face of the EPT, is featured in magazines as well as presenting the PokerStars video blogs (when she’s not playing). While Anthony is among the premier writers in poker; author of the fabled Big Deal - his account of a year as a professional player - and more recently Bigger Deal, an updated account of a year on the PokerStars EPT, he can sometimes disappear in a field, not appearing on chip counts. But many of those in the know credit him as their own inspiration to take up this great game.

I mention this only because of Tony’s wristband problem. Each day players are given a coloured wristband which is a different colour each day. Today it’s sparkly blue. Very nice. Only they can be uncomfortable if fastened wrong, which brings us back to Tony who, finding this to be a problem, just yanked his off to adjust.

But once these things are on, they’re supposed to stay on. Suddenly realising this Tony gave me a look that said “for crying out loud” and slipped the sparkly tatters into his breast pocket. He may have written one of poker’s greatest books, he may be a life peer among poker’s aristocracy, but if the security guard doesn’t recognise him on his way back from the break there may be trouble.

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Author and PokerStars sponsored player Anthony Holden

He cuts a distinguished figure sat as he is in a PokerStars straw hat, another stark contrast to Kara Scott, well tanned and in designer sunglasses. Whilst he puts up a rear guard defence of his remaining 15K, Kara has none of those pressures. Starting today with 111K, she leads the charge at the head of the field, smiling all the way.

The usual sounds of battle go on around them. One Italian player nearby busts out “nah, nah, nah...” he says, walking away dealing with the first wave of shock, “nah, nah, nah...” he continues, coming back only to collect the picture of his kid used as a card protector, then he disappears. Elimination on day one it’s hard, but on day two it can be painful to watch.

But this was all just scenery; I was here to monitor the fate of Great Scott of Brighton and Lord Holden of Poker. I was ready to tell Tony this was no death watch, that instead I was on double-up patrol and that this was only the beginning. But I could see in his eyes he was having none of it, so I tried not to make it obvious.

A hand came along though, a 5cKsQh8sAh board, which Tony bet at, was called and promptly showed his pocket eights. It was as good as a double up for the Englishman, who looked up at me as if he’d just appeared at the top of a well having spent the night in its depths.

Youth may come with glamour, sunglasses and look good with a stack of over 100K, but you have to work at the game when you’re back down in the foothills. Tony knows the situation is critical but there’s fight in the veteran yet. This is no death watch. He’s back up to 24K.