Nothing says fly to Europe to play in a poker tournament like being sick. So, I packed my antibiotics, cough drops, and the warmest clothes I own (note to self-yes, you've lived in LA your whole life, but get something heavier than that sweat suit jacket next time), and got on a plane to go to a coastal French resort town in winter time.
I promise I will get to the poker, but one quick very strange story from the plane. About 6 hours into the 8 hour flight, I feel something brush my leg, open my eyes, and I see a flash coming up toward me from the floor at my feet. I tense up, startled, and realized...a cat...had just jumped up into my lap, and was purring. I began to pet the cat, which made her meow, and her owner jump out of her seat, and look back at the cat and I, puzzled. The French woman who owned the cat apologized profusely, and I told her it was OK, and that I could tell the cat was hers, because it had purred in French. She was unamused, and took her cat back.
Upon my arrival in France, I went to the 'welcome lunch' held by the Pokerstars people, who sponsor the EPT. The lunch was lovely, and I was given a bag with no fewer than ten logoed items, each of which we were encouraged to wear.
Fast forward two hours to the actual tournament, which started fairly promptly at 3:00pm. Cards were in the air, and 248 participants who had either qualified online, or bought in direct were in their seats. Notables in the field included Marcel Luske, Devilfish, the oh-so-cute Isabel Mercier, David Benyamine, and all the top players from the Aviation Club De Paris.
The very notable Marcel Luske was one of the first casualties, as an opponent who had slow played pocket Aces allowed Marcel to flop two pair. The river was an Ace, and Marcel was to the felt, and out in a matter of a few more hands.
On to the play, as I was down to about 7,700 from the starting 10,000 as I flopped top two pair, and ran into a flopped set. To be frank, I should probably have been down more, but a small river bet smelled fishy (despite my stuffy nose), and I only called. Whew.
Several hands later, the player to my right (who had gone all in twice with very little money in the middle in the first 45 minutes) made a standard raise, I looked down at KK, and made a standard re-raise. My opponent fires all his chips into the pot again, and I think "great, fly to France and last 40 minutes, only to have KK run into AA, or worse, A6 and a flopped A". After 30 seconds, the appeal of doubling up was too great, and I called. I was afraid to look when my opponent turned over...pocket 5s. February 16th is now known as Christmas Day
For the next 7 hours...nothing really happened. I would love to tell you my stories of great steals, bold moves, and lucky flops. But for the next seven hours, I stayed in between 17,000, and 27,000 chips. In one stretch, I had AA, KK, and AK suited twice in the span of about 40 minutes. The bad news is I wound up with fewer chips than I started that period with. I lost a coin flip for about 7,000 chips when my opponent called my re-raise that put him all in, and turned over a pair of 4s.
Pretty much my entire day consisted of....I raise, they fold. They raise, I fold. I re- raise, they fold, etc.
One thing I would like to note about the tournament is that the dealers were excellent, top to bottom. As consistent a lot of dealers as any tournament I have played in. The Casino Barrier should be commended for their well run tournament, and spending the money to get good dealers from literally all over Europe, and the U.S. I for one took notice, and appreciate it.
At the end of the day, it was 2:30 am, and I was one of 104 people of the 248 starters to complete day one. My stack is a painfully average 22,100.
Still in of the notables are Ms Mercier, and Mr Devilfish himself, who is fairly healthy at about 40,000.
Play begins at 2pm today. The next report you read will either have a very happy ending, or a sad one. Tonight, we play "at least" eight more hours to get down to the final table, which is held Saturday, and being filmed for Eurosport Television over here. Wish me luck.