The familiar, scornful observation about high buy-in events is that they feature the same handful of players sharing what amounts to the same bundle of money between them. Certainly the concentration of familiar faces is higher than in “normal” tournaments, but the very fact that some of the sharpest minds in the game continue to play High Rollers would suggest that there’s a little bit more to it than financial pass-the-parcel.
The table that has drawn the most interest in the early stages today features Mike McDonald, Scott Seiver, Adrian Mateos and Vladmir Troyanovskiy, who must have played against one another on numerous occasions. They have certainly each taken a few parcels in their time, with Seiver still the highest earner from Super High Roller events under the EPT/PCA banner.
(They also have Christopher Frank and Quan Zhou with them today, whose games are possibly less well known. But action seems to be brisk and mental notes will likely be made fairly quickly.)
Within the first five or ten minutes of the second level of the day, Dan Smith also came to join this table. Smith too is a high buy-in regular, with brilliant success at all levels. He too shares long history with his new table-mates, having jousted with them in similar events for at least five years.
Even if they didn’t share a history, Seiver was certainly intent on filling in Smith with the details of how things have gone this afternoon. In response to Smith’s opening “Hello”, Seiver came straight in with, “So far, I have three bet four times and four bet twice and tripple-potted the river three times.”
McDonald revealed that he too had been keeping tally on Seiver’s blunderbuss approach, questioning whether the number of four bets was accurate. (Seiver assured him that it was.) And then Seiver talked Smith through the action again, just to make sure he knew what he was getting into. He was essentially handing Smith a hand-history transcript of the highlights from the previous hour.
This is the thing: despite loud conversation or total silence, whether they are apparently fixed on the table or on their smartphone, players pay a great deal of attention to what’s going on. Or, at least, the good ones do.
Conversation then shifted to the final table of the EPT Grand Final Main Event, the tournament from which Mateos emerged clutching a €1.1 million winner’s cheque. Seiver again led the narrative, and again proved that Seiver had been keeping an eye on the activities of his opponents.
The conversation quickly focused on the hand that Mateos played against Johnny Lodden when they were four handed. This was the hand in which Mateos bluffed all in with jack-high and Lodden very nearly called with pocket fives, clearly thinking (knowing, even) that he was ahead.
Lodden didn’t call, Mateos won the hand and then the tournament.
“Perhaps you want to tell it,” Seiver said to Mateos, but the Spanish champion seemed content enough to allow Seiver to do the honours. And Seiver did a very good job of it, only getting some very small details wrong. (In Seiver’s retelling, Lodden had fours rather than fives, but it was essentially the same thing.)
I don’t know what the sub-text was here or, indeed, whether there even was one. However, by the time the re-telling was done, everybody at the table clearly knew that Mateos was capable of ripping it in with jack high, regardless of the stakes or the gravity of the situation. (“It was the final table of the Grand Final!” Seiver made clear.)
Furthermore everybody was also clear that Seiver did his homework. There was a high chance he’d been watching when McDonald and Troyanovskiy had got out of line too.
To bring everybody up to scratch on the Lodden/Mateos hand, here it is in all its glory. And here’s Lee Jones’s take on the affair.
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