The moment when a player faces elimination is often a defining one. You can stand there and take it like a man, stand there and go to pieces, or stand there and do something in between.
Some though hope to avoid the situation entirely, bringing with them the instruments of divine inspiration to ward off any nastiness. Such as Jacques Torbey, who was conspicuous today for thumbing his rosary beads until he was promptly eliminated in 67th place.
Torbey wouldn’t be the first to rely on a little divine inspiration to avoid an early departure. As reported earlier this week Mario Adinolfi once tossed in a picture of Pope John Paul II when his opponent wrapped his chip stack in a rosary.
Rosary beads in action
Then there were the scenes in Campione two seasons ago during which at least one player insisted on looking up to the sky in the manner of a footballer from a hot country, to thank God personally for each player he managed to eliminate, or at least double through. He seemed firm of the belief that, not only was God happy to help him out in a poker game, but that he was also keen to spite the other guy.
Others though go through their own different kind of pain, riding out the fall of five community cards in perpetual terror.
Like Danny Covyn, the man who fell off the chair during bubble play yesterday. It’s been a bruising week for the Belgian, all-in again a short while ago. He stood, rigid, his body vibrating with adrenaline. He chanted something with his hands held together. It was as if he was watching someone about to flick a switch that would send an electric current through wires attached to his nipples. It was almost unbearable to watch.
He called out to something, evoking help from somewhere without realising where exactly, or that he cared. But if you need help you put out an APB for any passing deity to add a little influence to your situation. Luckily God had already finished with Torbey and was happy to help.
Whereas people used to wear crosses around their necks these have since been replaced by nicotine inhalers – children get asthma, adults get nicotine inhalers.
Dragan Kostic is one of them. The former EPT Barcelona runner-up disappears into a cloud of smoke every three or four minutes. During one all-in, not involving Kostic, a cloud of smoke drifted across the table from his direction, as if Raymond Chandler himself had moved all-in. A bet you could feel in your hip pocket.
Dragan Kostic is on fire
Thankfully, not all poker players are prone to emotional collapse in times of distress.
Mike Watson proved this as he braced himself for a crash landing against Martin Staszko, who limits himself to an energetic fist pump as his victory dance. As the cards turned against him Watson merely raised his eyebrows as his day ended. Calm peaceful and dignified.
Amen to that.
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Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.