On the tournament poker circuit, there are the players you see at every stop. You know them, they know you, and even if you’ve never shared so much as a beer, friendly greetings are usually exchanged. If you do know them, warm handshakes, hugs and beers are definitely on tap during your five days at whichever stop is currently on tap.
Then there are the players you see only at one stop and then never again. Maybe they make a deep run and give you (and themselves) a great memory or maybe they bust out midway through Day 2. German Daniele Nestola qualified for the Grand Final in Season 4, won the whole thing for almost $150,000, and hasn’t been seen on the LAPT since. My memories of that event – which include an amazing block party in the Vila Madalena neighborhood during Carnival – are forever tied to Nestola’s win.
Then there are the guys that you only see at one stop every year. When I covered the APPT, we used to see Wing Cheong Chong and his “bold, aggressive style” only in Macau. Ron Kluber was a Seoul-based American who started out playing several of the APPT events but eventually settled into not straying from Seoul.
On the LAPT, the player I only seem to see at one stop each year is American Jason Sudol. Sudol, who has an identical twin brother, finished in 16th place in the inaugural edition of LAPT Colombia back in Season 4. He returned last year in Season 5 and he’s here again this year, playing on Day 1b. I’ve never seen him at any of the other LAPT stops.
The tournament poker circuit has its currents and its eddies, its rhythms and its syncopation. It’s a curious Venn diagram of overlapping regulars and one-time wonders. It can have long hours for players and staff alike, but the payoff in friends and relationships is worth it.
Of course, at certain stops, there are inconveniences that have to be tolerated. The worst I can say about the Allegre Casino is that whoever is in charge of the music has some bland tastes. I realize that a certain blandness is required in casino music, but so far today players have been treated to Even the Nights Are Better by Air Supply, Waiting for a Girl Like You by Foreigner, I’ve Been Thinking About You by Londonbeat, and a bizarre panpipe rendition of We Are the World.
It would be enough to drive any young poker player to drink (and indeed, several appear to be doing just that). Thankfully for them, the ambient noise from all the conversations of new friends, old friends and great friends is enough to drown out the music except for the players seated directly beneath the small, ceiling-mounted music speakers.
Tough break for those guys. We might be friends for years or only for the last few hours, but there’s no way I’m switching my seat with any of them. Some things are just asking too much.
Dave Behr is a freelance contributor to the PokerStars Blog.
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