On Monday, when the first players and officials began arriving to Monaco ahead of day 1a of the EPT Grand Final, the feted principality was shrouded in a dense thunderstorm. Clouds had swallowed the blocks of multi-million dollar apartments and driving rain ricocheted from the hairpins and straights of the world’s most recognisable Grand Prix circuit.
Yesterday, however, summer arrived. Monaco awoke to blazing sunshine and balmy temperatures, right at the point that all those players were burrowing into a darkened room to play nine straight hours of poker. But as they did so, the second wave of competitors arrived, those players who haven’t known anything but sun in Monte Carlo, and who today will contest day 1b with a radiated spring in their step.
Today’s buoyant field is, as ever, full to bursting with enviable talent. From Team PokerStars Pro, we welcome Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Noah Boeken, Joe Hachem, Alex Kravchenko, Ylon Schwartz, Ivan Demidov, Peter Eastgate, Vicky Coren, Gavin Griffin, Vanessa Rousso, Katja Thater and Leo Fernandez. I was originally of a mind to list the number of major titles and/or outrageous achievements of this bunch, but got only as far as ElkY’s world-record sit and go success of yesterday, and decided to give it up as a fool’s errand. Just think world titles, world records, EPT championships, millionaires, etc., etc., and so forth.
Also joining the fray are some major heavyweights from across the poker world: John Juanda was spotted at breakfast; Antonio Esfandiari and Phil Laak were rumoured to have jetted in last night; Marcel Luske has been warming up the vocal cords; and the EPT stalwart Julian Thew has also been noticed by the pool. And then there’s Boris Becker too.
That, really, is just the start of it. As the dealers, tournament officials and players go about their business in the half-hour before start of play — chip distributing, crisply-ironed officiating and anxious pacing, respectively — our spies are out and about scoping the background of any major stories that will develop today.
We have photographers, video-editors and even us