The kind of conversation referred to as “banter” is usually best kept within the confines of online dating profiles, along with use of the word “random” to mean “slightly out of the ordinary” and “bubbly” to mean “boring”. (All that goes double for the notion of “Twitter banter” which, well, I’m not even going to continue with this train of thought.)
However there’s a good deal of what might sometimes be called banter going on at the €25,000 High Roller final table in Monaco this afternoon, and when it costs that much even to enter the conversation we can expect it to be of a slightly higher calibre.
Certainly Max Lykov, Justin Bonomo and Daniel Negreanu are keeping their twit-fans happy with some cyber-jibing. “I knocked out Max Lykov with AT vs his KK he was short. I’m back to a million. #DNegsGrind2012” tweeted @RealKidPoker recently, and although that gleaned replies of “Goodluck!!!” and “it’s your time sir” from Negreanu’s followers, @superdecay hit back with a succinct “@RealKidPoker now i hate you!!! :)”.
Moments later, @RealKidPoker was at it again. “Just doubled thru @justinbonomo with QQ vs his AK up to 1.6 million now. Revenge from the flip I lost to him in the super high roller,” he tweeted, which got a “Weird. Actually lost a flip for 1.5m.” from @JustinBonomo, followed quickly by a “Cold 5 bet shove took it down. Back to 2.2mil.”
And they’re at it in real life too, especially as the action hots up. During the pot that would result in the elimination of Noah Schwartz, most rail-birds were more interested in the commentary than the hands themselves, even though it would prove to be a belter of a hand.
It began innocuously enough, with Negreanu taking delivery of a box of vegetation for lunch and Artem Litvinov spotting an opportunity to get a barb in after a morning of one-way banter. “Don’t eat me up any more,” Litvinov said. “Eat your food.” Negreanu did so, setting about a maze of high-energy fibrous shoots and tendrils with some gusto.
But he was forced to pause a moment to watch the hand go down. Philipp Gruissem started things, making it 51,000 to play from under the gun. Igor Kurganov and Bonomo both paid, in cut off and button seat respectively, as did Schwartz in the big blind. That’s how come four of them saw a flop of 8♣5♦3♣.
Schwarz checked, as did Gruissem. Then Kurganov bet 144,000. Bonomo folded but Schwartz moved all-in for about 460,000. Gruissem then announced that he too was all in, covering Schwarz, but with marginally fewer than Kurganov.
“Is this real life?” asked Negreanu, quoting yet another Bonomo tweet from earlier in the tournament.
“What the hell,” added Bonomo, in real life.
Facing two check raises all in, Kurganov had a tough decision to make. He turned to the tournament supervisor and asked if he had pen and paper to help him figure out his decision. He was only half joking at most.
Gruissem helped him out, throwing over his smart phone (presumably with calculator feature enabled). “We’re all friends,” said Negreanu, giving his consent for the calculations.
“Yeah, what’s the turn card going to be? Bonomo asked the dealer, just out of polite interest.
In the end, Kurganov folded and it was Schwartz’s 8♥5♣ against Gruissem’s A♣9♣ for all the beans. Gruissem needed to hit a club and the J♣ on the river sealed it in his favour, sending a somewhat downcast Schwartz to the rail.
Litvinov, who had spent much of the time shadow boxing beside the table, and chatting to his friend, celebrated Schwartz’s elimination with more relish than anyone else. He now takes his place in the final five as this surprisingly light-hearted final table continues to edge closer to seven-figure payout time.