Anyone in any doubt that poker is now big news* should take a peek into the Oslo Room of the Casino Copenhagen. For the duration of the EPT, this is doubling as the press centre and there are more chip-counters in there than there are chips to count.
Photographers, reporters, writers and hangers-on are populating the pages and websites of hundreds of news organisations, all battling to be the first with the news of the eliminations, sparring for the best metaphor for a bad beat. What sets the EPT aside from all other tournaments is the range of languages being spoken. At least it sounds like a lot; I, shamefully, being one of those people for whom there are only two languages in the world: English and not English.
This, however, should be the right place to learn. Not only does it sound like a classroom, it looks like one too. The laptop-topped tables are lined in neat rows, behind each a sedulous student of poker tapping out their latest dispatch. Right now, the talk is about Xuyen “Bad Girl” Pham, who is now up to around 60,000 and must be near the summit. She’s just found Barny Boatman as her new neighbour, on a table that also includes Jan Molby, the former Liverpool footballer and erstwhile manager of Swansea City.
Next to Molby is this man, Jim “hawk22” Hagan.
He’s an FPP qualifier from Palm Bay, Florida, sitting behind 36,000. Not bad for a man who missed the first hour of the tournament having overslept. We’ll follow the hawk like, you guessed it, a hawk. No prizes on media row for that similie, but as long as he’s awake, we’ll be awake, and keeping our eyes peeled.
*not that there is any doubt, but it made a convenient opening