Friday, September 06, 2013

Travel Report: EPT10 Barcelona, Main Event: Day 4 -- At Your Seat

Focusing more intently on poker here as the week progresses as the end draws near, with few (if any) opportunities left for sight-seeing and other extracurricular activity.

The €5,000+€300 European Poker Tour Main Event played down to 24 players, taking almost exactly five 90-minute levels to do so, with Tom “hitthehole” Middleton continuing to lead.

Meanwhile the three-day €10,000+€300 High Roller got rolling as well yesterday, a side event that might not have earned so much attention outside of Barcelona just yet if not for that brouhaha involving Daniel Negreanu and the so-called “first card rule” (or “At Your Seat” rule) to which he and some others object. (See Tournament Poker Rules, General Rules, Rule 32 in the European Poker Tour Rules and Regulations.)

I’m not going to tell the whole story of what happened yesterday here, as Josh did a fine job recounting the incident over in the PokerNews live updates. I, too, reported on it over on the PokerStars blog, although with a little less detail. Basically Negreanu had a hand killed when he wasn’t deemed to be “at” his seat when the first card of the hand was dealt, and he became incensed enough not only to argue about it for a while, but to push all in blind the next hand and bust from the event.

The all-in push came in the tourney’s second level, and in fact Negreanu had already slipped to less than half the starting stack when he did it. Also, the tourney allowed for one re-entry, and Negreanu did buy back in later in the day after dinner. Players can enter (or re-enter) up until the start of play today.

After expressing a lot of frustration both here in the hallways and online via Twitter and his Full Contact Poker forum, Negreanu did come back smooth things over again with the TDs. Later in the evening after he re-entered there was a funny moment when he was carrying his chair around on his shoulder in between hands as a joking interpretation of the “At Your Seat” provision.

While I didn’t spend time reading around too much yesterday, looking later on shows folks making a lot more of the whole incident (on poker sites, forums, Twitter, etc.) than was warranted. Looking for stories, many outlets took Josh’s report and Negreanu’s online comments and summarized the incident again with added commentary.

I guess it was kind of an interesting moment, even if in the larger scheme of things it was not all that significant here at the Casino Barcelona. While the situation provided an impetus for Negreanu and others to voice their displeasure with the new rule that players have to be at their seats when the first card is dealt (not the last) in order to avoid having their hand mucked, the issue of whether or not he was technically “at” his seat when standing behind it would have still been an issue regardless.

I haven’t written anything here about the rule or the discussions over it, mainly because I’m somewhat ambivalent about it. I personally like to stay in my seat and focus on poker when I play, so I have no problem at all being required to be there when the first card is dealt. Then again, I don’t play poker 12-plus hours a day every day, and perhaps I’d feel differently about the rule if I did.

As I mentioned before, the EPT Barcelona Main Event drew a record 1,234 players. The High Roller also attracted a very large field with 163 entries altogether yesterday (including 32 re-entries), 98 of whom made it through to today’s Day 2 with red hot Ole Schemion leading. Last year the same event only had 101 entries total, so I think it’s safe to say the EPT in general and Barcelona in particular is thriving, poker-wise.

Like I say, focusing more on poker now and the stories of how these two tourneys are ending. We did make it back out onto the boardwalk over at Port Olimpic for a late night dinner before heading back to the hotel last night. I then made myself stay up late enough to watch the kickoff of the NFL season, that Baltimore-Denver game being broadcast on one of the channels in my room.

Had a flashback to February when I stayed up all night to watch the Super Bowl while at EPT Deauville, especially during the weather delay that came at the start of the game (which I read was exactly as long -- 34 minutes -- as the power-related delay that happened at the start of the second half at SB XLVII). Heard French announcers then and Spanish ones last night, although I could only last through the first part of the first quarter.

Should be an interesting Day 5 at the Main Event today, during which we’ll likely get to know a little better some of the remaining players. Check over at the PokerStars blog for reports and of course you can dial up the EPTLive webcast all day, too, available in a variety of languages. (Photo of the TV table above via Neil Stoddart.)

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