I’ve been playing poker for about as long as I can remember. My dad taught me the game with a deck of Bicycle cards and some plastic Hoyle chips. The game is not just a part of my life. It’s a way of life.
What makes that a little spooky is that I’ve come to realize recently that I’m so incredibly, obliteratingly frightened of the game’s cruel, cruel ways that I can’t walk into a cardroom without wanting to crawl into a French maid’s arms and suck my thumb.
Perhaps, I’m overstating it a bit. Nonetheless, this can be a cruel, frustrating game. I think, maybe, Marcel Luske said it better and without invoking French maids. After getting dealt a string of rags, Luske beseeched a new dealer, “At least give me two good cards. I don’t have to play them. Just give me two good cards.”
He stopped for a moment, considering the possibility, his bright red tie still perfectly tied. “Give me king-queen suited,” he said. “I’ll be happy. At least I’ll have a picture to look at.”
Maybe it was late night delirium speaking, but I got his point. He’d been hovering on a medium to small stack all day long. Later, I stood watching over his shoulder. Facing having to call just half a bet in the small blind, he looked over his shoulder at me and jumped as if I were the ghost of his long-dead grandmother. He then promptly turned around and folded with force.
“Did I scare you out of it,” I asked.
“No,” he said, then paused. “I scared myself.”
That, folks, is how fear works in a cardroom. It comes out of nowhere. In one moment you can be leaning back in your chair, laughing it up with the fellas, and sipping on a cool Evian from a glass bottle. The next moment you can feel the sweat in the small of your back every time you move because something in the room shifted and half of your chips just slid to the other side of the table.
The greatest and saddest example came in the form of Andreas Harnemo, second place finisher at the EPT’s Vienna event.
I considered re-writing this, but I think this portion of an earlier post sums it up best.
Andreas Harnemo (above, second from the right) a quiet man from a little place on the Artic Circle, seemed to be the man to beat. Fresh off a second place finish in Vienna. Harnemo rolled into today and collected chips like wild tourists during a seedy Las Vegas casino brawl. Somehow over the course of two levels, Harnemo created a mountain of chips 90,000 high. Ever the quiet, affable Swede, Harnemo sat quietly, using his chips and re-raises as daggers.
And then the waiters walked in and quiety announced the dinner menu. Apparently everyone was hungry for some Harnemo. French Open winner Brandon Schaefer flopped the nut straight against Harnemo. Jan Heitmann got all in with aces versus Harenmo’s ace-king. It began a series of events that ultimately resulted in Harnemo breaking his silence, slamming his hand on the felt, and, yes, losing every one of his 90,000 in chips.
Now, Schaefer and Mikail Ustinov, who were both diners at the Cafe d’Andreas, have come together as chip leaders, each with more than 90,000. Schaefer cleansed his palate with a ripe grapefruit, which was apparently not an homage to Johnny Chan.
From there it seemed Brandon Schaefer would have more trouble getting the grapefruit juice off his hands than making it into the money. He stepped onto the featured table with around 90,000 in chips. Before he knew it, he got involved in a hand with one of the tightest players in the tournament, Steve Stolzmann. The exact details of the hand, in the end, are fairly irrelevant. Suffice it to say, Stolzmann got all in after the flop with Schaefer. By the river, Stolzmann had made a straight flush. He used Schaefer’s chips to cruise into Day 3.
Schaefer surived, but over the course of the next couple of hours ended up falling down below 40,000 in chips. When I left the cardroom, he was checking his e-mail on a laptop that features some beautiful French woman on the desktop. His computer got more attention than the game at some points.
The talk of the day, for a great while, were the people doing all the talking. Here’s another brief snippet from the dinner break post:
If silence is golden, the featured table is no precious metal. In Europe, table talk is not all that common. In some cases, it just doesn’t happen at all. So, at our new featured table, it’s amazing the European sensibilities haven’t combusted into something like the Sterno flames that keep the food warm.
The first ingredient is John Fanning, one of the Fannings behind the (in)famous music downloading service Napster. I feared for a few minutes Fanning may fall unconscious, as I didn’t think he was breathing between sentences. Funny, it seemed, because of majority of conversations took place with the second ingredient Robert “Merci, Mama!” Cohen, a man who speaks little English.
A Frenchman standing near his table remarked with a smirk, “He doesn’t speak French very well either.” I’m pretty sure he was kidding.
But Cohen is a good player who can hold on to his small stack for hours on end.
If you add a sprinkle of Nathan Kelly to that mix, you have the recipe for a table so loud and gregarious, the words rumble all the way down the French coastline.
Because the table was made for bitcoin blackjack, the EPT producers put the players on the featured table.
Steve Stolzmann, a Wisconsin firefighter who learned poker from his son, had fallen into a long run of folding. At one point Fanning looked up and said, “Steve, where are you from?”
“Wisconsin,” Stolzmann replied.
“Do they ever raise in Wisconsin?” Fanning smirked.
“No,” Stolzmann said dryly. “We only limp. And fold.”
Just about the time I was thinking Stolzmann should’ve said, “We only raise dairy cows,” Robert Cohen exclaimed, “Ssssssssh!”
The table looked up and Cohen nodded to Stolzmann. Cohen closed his eyes and rested his head on his hands in the international symbol for, “He’s sleeping.”
Who says you need to speak the same language to have a good laugh?
As I was recovering from my chortle, young Nathan Kelly jumped up and threw on his coat in disgust. He’d been steaming for the better part of an hour. Cohen had put him on tilt by raising and raising and raising.
Now, Kelly had pushed in the rest of his stack with a pair of sevens. Fanning had called with pocket eights.
The dealer laid out the turn as Kelly begged for a seven. It didn’t come.
On the verge of full implosion, Kelly watched as the dealer laid out the turn…a seven.
Kelly reversed his implosion and exploded into his wireless mircophone, removing his coat and getting ready to sit. Then someone pointed out the four diamonds on the board. Fanning had the eight of diamonds.
Kelly pulled his coat over his head and begged for a club. When the dealer laid out a black rag, Kelly again fell into his chair, exhausted. He had held on again.
The funny thing…someone had mucked a seven. Kelly had a one-outer and hit it.
Cohen didn’t make it to tomorrow. Kelly survived with just a little more than 6000 in chips. Fanning…well, Fanning had a bit of an issue on one of the last hands of the night.
I was away from his table monitoring another hand when a railbird ran up and said, “Did you see that? The Napster guy just pushed all in with pocket threes.” As it turned out, Fanning had done so after the flop with three overcards on the board. His opponent had the biggest overcards of all…two aces in the hole. Fanning who had spent the entire day building a stack fell back to average just before we broke for the night.
Fanning was not the only one to face aces. The vacant seat Fanning filled at one point belonged to a young man named Jan who labored forever over all all-in call from Rob Hollink. When Jan finally called the queen-high board for almost all his chips, Hollink turned up aces.
And then there was a Friend of Bloggers, Patrick “Curzdog” Curzio who battled all day long to keep his chipstack fresh. Twice in ten minutes he ran into Declan Barker. Twice in ten minutes Barker had aces. It’s not hard to figure out how Barker makes it into Day 3 and Curzdog will have to watch from the rail.
At the end of the day, several players had stormed toward the top. Robert Mizrachi won a huge hand at the end of the night to move him into third chip position. Kevin Seeger won several big hands to go into tomorrow with the lead. FPP qualifier Scott Bush battled steadily all day long to work his way toward the top. And there were others.
Thirty-eight players remain as we head into tomorrow’s Level 11 (750/1500/150). It is still anybody’s game. Play resumes at 2pm Monte Carlo time.
Day Two Chip Count
1-Kevin Seeger 147,100
2-Rob Hollink 139,500
3-Robert Mizrachi 117,500
4-Romain Ferilio 103,100
5-Julian Gardner 98,800
6-Scott Bush 95,800
7-Jani Sointula 79,900
8-Willie Tann 78,100
9-Martin Wendt 73,100
10-Mikhail Ustinov 70,900
11-Martin Knape 70,800
12-Isabelle Mercier 70,000
13-Alexander Stevic 66,500
14-Kevin O’Connell 63200
15-John Fanning 58,000
16-Anthony Lellouche 57,100
17-Martin DeKnijff 56,100
18-Eugene Katchalov 54,400
19-Micheael Luber 48,700
20-Markus Golser 45,400
21-Ben Sprengers 45,100
22-Eric Misterzegger 40,600
23-Abdulaziz Abdulaziz 40,100
24-Harry Fitzpatrick 38,900
25-Declan Barker 38,200
26-Ben Grundy 37,600
27-Brandon Schaefer 36,000
28-Barny Boatman 34,300
29-Jonathon Senn 32,700
30-Steve Stolzmann 27,800
31-Ryan Walters 26,400
32-Morten Jensen 26,100
33-Gus Hansen 23,000
34-Marcel Luske 19,300
35-Joseph Grech 14,000
36-Howard Chow 11,800
37-Henry Terranova 11,700
38-Nate Kelly 6,600