The European Poker Tour’s ninth season is now in full retreat, ready to dig in against a long and dreary summer with nothing to do. As in all retreats there’s an unintentional element of scorched earth to it all, a trail of devastation that is more noticeable now that there are so few people here to cover it up.
The effect is noticeable even before you are arrive. Juan Manuel Pastor, Jason Mercier and Nacho Barbero lean backwards against a wall in an awkward pose, their image anyway, on a branded hoarding tipped over against a wall, where one person, rather than several hundred, smokes a cigarette.
Inside the cash game players wring the last of the action out of the week while the tournament room sags with the absence of the bluster that previously held it up. Only eight tables are in service, three of them used by people playing online. Another is used by the camera men on a break, waiting for two more exit interviews before they can finally clock off, between the wreckage of half-empty water bottles and half-eaten paninis.
The Monte Carlo Bay Hotel
All of this will be taken apart in a few hours and shipped off for hibernation in a warehouse in the south of England – all the tables, chips, equipment that has become part of the scenery over the past nine days.
Those who have worked the tour for the whole season have also become part of the scenery. In a few hours they too will pack up and go through the familiar routine of packing their bags, swiping everything that isn’t nailed down with a price tag from their hotel rooms, and heading for the airport and a flight back to civilian life.
Sorel Mizzi (left) and Jason Mercier
Three players remain in the Super High Roller, the last three of the season, to whom the EPT Grand Final is still alive and full of expectation. They and the €10,000 Turbo players, an event that is laid on to give the friends of the super high rollers something to do while they wait for Jason Mercier, Sorel Mizzi and Alex Altergott to get it all over with.
Someone has propped Barbero, Mercier and Pastor upright again. We’re hours away from the end of the season. They’ll serve as the rear-guard while the rest of us get ready to pack up for another year.
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.
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