There was widespread conviviality this morning as the High Rollers showed up again to kick of day two of this event. Viktor Blom, one of the first seated and originally on the table furthest from the television stage, was absolutely delighted to see Sorel Mizzi enter the room. Blom pointed excitedly to the seat opposite him with both fingers, waggling them like a 10-year-old playing a Wild West game. He then saw John Tabatabai and hugged him as though Tabatabai was his mommy. “Bro, bro, bro,” said Tabatabai, patting Blom on his back.
The bear-hug lasted longer than the table draw, however, as tournament officials looked around at the field with registration now closed and realised they didn’t need that table at all. Blom picked up his bag of chips and trudged quietly up to the feature table, now resembling a child sent to his room without his dinner, trailing the bag like a beaten-up teddy.
Blom is garrulous on the outer tables, but tends to wind it in when he finds himself under studio lights. If he wasn’t such a marvellously compelling player, he might get his wish to do all his damage miles away from the spotlight.
At the other end of the spectrum, and on the other side of the small tournament area, Daniel Negreanu was preparing for another day on the secondary feature table. A solid, tattooed figure silently came to the chair to his right, prompting Negreanu to look up from his smart phone. “Oh hello Patrick Antonius. Do you still play poker?” Negreanu said.
It was indeed Mr Antonius, the much-feared Finn. Antonius chuckled and allowed his chips to do the talking, making a small opening raise from under the gun on the very first hand of the day. Justin Bonomo three bet from the cut off and that put the decision back on Antonius.
He tanked for a few minutes and then put himself all in. Bonomo, who had clearly already planned for this precise move, said: “You had 96 at the start, right?” and then insta-called when Antonius confirmed it. But Bonomo’s pocket fives were behind Antonius’s pocket nines and stayed there. Antonius doubled up. He clearly does still play poker after all.
“Did you bring your own balsamic, Fabian?” Negreanu said to Fabian Quoss, who was sitting across the table and splashing some brown liquid across a mountain of goodness in a bowl, with two sliced boiled eggs perched on top. “Fabian, did you bring your own balsamic?”
Quoss said that he didn’t. The five star Monte Carlo Bay Resort and Hotel is apparently equipped with sufficient balsamic vinegar to sate the taste of a German high roller. Who would have thought. Quoss tucked into his salad, which prompted Philip Gruissem to beckon a waiter over. Dan Smith hopped onto that order too.
Conversation was then loudest on Antonio Esfandiari’s table, where he and Mizzi were attempting to persuade Tobias Reinkemeier to go to the Burning Man festival. “It was top two experiences of my life,” said Mizzi.
Esfandiari had less altruistic motives. “I want to get Tobias alone in the desert. He might tell me all his secrets, like position and four betting.”
Reinkemeier’s secrets may actually lay at his feet. The German superstar came with a red-capped flask marked “Maximuscle” that contained a thick liquid. It was probably just coffee but resembled the gloop served to Luke Skywalker by his aunt on Tatooine.
That was how the day began. How it panned out is all available on the main Super High Roller page, which includes all the hand-by-hand details of the what is already a bust-a-minute day.