Friday, 2nd December 2022 18:47
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Earlier this afternoon, there was no doubt where the fun table was, featuring Shaun Deeb, Andrew Malott and a clutch of other big online players, who all seemed to know one another from their time around the virtual tables. The conversation was typical. On the one hand it was self deprecation (“Why do you think I bust so quick from live tournaments?” said Deeb after he was all in during the first level), on the other it was mutual insults. It was all punctuated by chatter of three-betting, ranges, “that time during the Sunday Million” and all the other babble that marks out the men who know their poker.

This happy family was broken at around level three, when Malott was moved one table along and found himself sitting opposite Dario Minieri. Then there was the blackout, then the Dario-out, and then Dragan Gallic arrived to fill Minieri’s former seat. Once again, Malott had found himself at the fun table.

Galic is the Croatian player who needs very little introduction to anyone who has played either the Austrian Poker Tour or was in San Remo for the EPT there this year. He made the final table in eight of the Austrian events he played before moving up in stakes and flaying all that came before him on his charge to the chip lead at the final table. Galic was at the top of the chip charts from day one to that final day, eventually succumbing in fourth.

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Dragan Galic

Malott and Galic have already begun their good-spirited verbal jousting, but only in the short periods that Malott is not chatting away to his new neighbour, the Canadian Anatoly Zharnitsky.

Zharnitsky is a new, if distinctive, name to the biggest poker tournaments, but he’s making hay in Kyiv today. He was the first player in the field to break through 100,000 chip barrier, and has accrued something close to 120,000 as we enter the last level of the day.

Galic has about 70,000; Malott about 60,000 and Darren Mould, the British PokerStars qualifier, is confidently playing a quiet game in seat one. He is up to about 50,000.

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DESPERATION OF THE LEVEL

“We are having a break after this level, aren’t we?” said a desperate Anatoly Zharnitsky, recalling that the intended break at the end of level four fell foul of the power cut. “My McDonalds in gonna be freezing. That’s it up there. [Points at solitary McDonalds bag sitting in stadium seating] It’s been there about 40 minutes.”

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