There was a moment before the start of play during which the players were required to wait in a line to the side of the stage. On the set the final preparations were being made so the players stood patiently, waiting for someone to tell them what to do, a line of superheroes waiting for their curtain call.
Jake Cody and Kevin MacPhee were towards the front, and were the ones doing the talking. It was a bit like being in line for Space Mountain, or maybe the post office. Any moment an automated voice would invite “player number one to seat one please”. But here there was a buzz, that this great event was just minutes away from taking place.
At the back of the line Pablo Gordillo looked anxious, while Jakub Mroczek tried to avoid contact with anyone. These men were gladiators ready to take battle to each other, interrupted only by the voice, not of an emperor, but the floor team.”
“Come over here my love!”
This was Donna of the TV crew, beckoning Pauli into place, as though this was a Christmas production at a local primary school. It was a welcoming, homely sort of invitation, in stark contrast to the business at hand but the kind of thing you’d like to hear if you were far from home, and slightly nervous.
Pauli took his place, second to the back. Gordillo stole a glance at him, with GI Joe eagle eyes. Then Joe Stapleton began the introductions.
In seat one Jonathan Bensadoun. The Frenchman walked in and took his place at the table. Then it was the turn of “home town legend” Cody, who to great applause managed a casual kind of saunter– leather jacket on, one hand in his pocket, cap on backwards, and his girlfriend Alex watching from the sidelines.
Then MacPhee, “shooting for legend status”. The former Berlin champion was even more casually than Cody, as if he’d come in straight from the street, wearing an anorak, and chewing some gum.
Artur Koren, an “EPT reg” was next, walking on stage all matter-of-fact and ignoring any emotions he might have had. That was the opposite of how Kevin Killeen arrived, to the roar of a dozen men in onesies on the rail – a noise you should prepare to hear a lot today.
Gordillo was next. Not only has he lost to knack of losing these days he could also become the first Spanish EPT winner if his run continues.
Sebastian Pauli had one of the shortest walks to seat seven. The applause was polite but muted. With all eyes seemingly elsewhere, could Pauli be considered the first ever dark horse chip leader at an EPT final table?
Mroczek was the last to arrive, taking his seat almost before Stapleton could finish his introduction. Regardless, the players were in place, the rail was ready. It was time to play some cards.
Follow the action from the EPT London Main Event this week on the PokerStars. You can also watch live coverage on the EPT Live webcast between October 14-18 on PokerStars.tv.
Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.