WSOP Main Event Day 3: Downhill and uphill
In many ways the worlds of poker and Alpine skiing are very different. For a start one involves going downhill and the other up - the summit for poker being the tournament's final table. Neither do many poker players don lycra body suits for their day at work, nor measure their progress in hundredths of a second.
But there are similarities if you look closely enough. Both disciplines require nerves of steel and absolute concentration, the slightest mistake likely to cause havoc and ruin your chances. And, with the Vegas air con on full blast, they're pursuits are performed in conditions close to zero degrees.
Just ask Team PokerStars Pro Marcin Horecki and the Olympic champion Petter Northug. Both remain on course to scale pokers most elusive summit.
If you were expecting the tale of an athlete doing his best but clinging on by their finger nails, then think again. Aside from getting a reputation for skiing around Las Vegas car parks first thing in the morning, Northug is receiving glowing references for his approach to poker, not least from Scandinavian poker legend Thor Hansen, who in an article in the Norwegian newspaper Nettavisen, expressed his admiration for Northug's aggressive attitude towards the game.
Once around the car park - Northug (standing) with Swedish rival Marcus Hellner
Northug is a hero in his native Norway, a double gold medallist in the last winter Olympics in Vancouver, he won both the 50km Classic and Team Spring events, adding that to a resume that sparkles with top three finishes across Scandinavia and the world.
Today he sits anonymously at table 278, a stark contrast to his appearance at the EPT Monte Carlo Grand Final where security had to deal with a rampant Norwegian press corp. trying to get close to their champion. Here his target is a cash finish, a result which he says will result in him marrying his girlfriend Rachel, right here in Las Vegas.
But before he books an Elvis and a tux there's day three to contend with. But the headstrong attitude he's known for is serving him well in the Main Event. He currently sits with close to 200,000
For Horecki his journey here is one that began several years ago. Prior to poker Horecki's first love was skiing. As a member of the Polish National team Horecki, from Warsaw, won medals at both junior and senior level before injury forced him to hang up his goggles and look elsewhere to exercise his competitive spirit. First came Magic: The Gathering. Nothing new there. But then Horecki found poker - a discovery that changed his life.
Team PokerStars Pro Marcin Horecki
Learning the ropes on the free money tables of PokerStars, Horecki soon graduated to small cash games and tournaments before trying live events. A cash finish in Barcelona gave him the confidence to try more events and he was quickly making more money in European Poker Tour events, ultimately landing his career changing result at EPT London in 2008, where he finished third for $532,111.
But like all people who seek to thrive in their chosen profession, be they skiers or poker players, Horecki was not content to keep playing in the same way and set about making adjustments to his game that have brought further success at the World Series and across Europe.
He started at 100,800 today, went up to around 150,000 and now, after losing a bit, plays a stack of 115,000.
It's all uphill from here, but both Northug and Horecki didn't get to this point without having to overcome a few obstacles along the way.
JOHNNY LODDEN ROLLER-COASTER OF THE HOUR
Long known for his ability to turn micro-stacks into macro-stacks (and sometimes lose them again), Mr Johnny Lodden is in typical form today. He was down to about 37,000 two hours ago, but currently has about 330,000.
He had queens against nines, two pair versus two pair and then ace-jack against king-jack on a jack-high board. Up and up.
EMERGING THREAT OF THE HOUR
The PokerStars qualifier Max Gurevich, sitting in the Pavilion Room, behind 415,000. Gurevich won his package in the last-gasp 200-seats guaranteed tournament on PokerStars.
TWEETS OF THE HOUR, WOE IS US SPECIAL
@RealKidPoker (Daniel Negreanu): "19,700 took two beats missed a straight flush draw and Hoyt called a bluff. Tough level but not about to quit"
@VanessaRousso: "Well today just isn't my day. Lost another massive pot with aces. Short now w 25k. Feeling pretty awful."
FURTHER TO THE TWEET ABOVE: ELIMINATION OF THE HOUR
Daniel Negreanu is bust. He got the last of his chips in with two pair, holding J♠8♦ and looking at a flop of J♦8♣A♦. His opponent turned a straight with his Q♥[10h].