Saturday, September 07, 2013

Travel Report: EPT10 Barcelona, Main Event: Day 5 -- Winding Down

One more day to go here in Barcelona, then a long travel day coming up tomorrow. Was another long one yesterday -- riding home my colleague Rick Dacey calculated we were wrapping up a 15-plus hour day of work -- and coming at the end of a week's worth of reporting everyone is starting to think about the soon-to-arrive conclusion of the festival and the trip back home.

For the third straight night, Tom Middleton of the U.K. ended with the chip lead in the EPT10 Barcelona Main Event yesterday after passing by the Dane Kresten Nielsen during the last hour of play. A few years back Nielsen picked up a nickname -- “Kresten the Killer” -- at an EPT, which was setting up a good end-of-night headline as play was winding down. But Middleton grabbed some pots near the end to claim the spotlight once again.

With a number of live scores and a whole lot of online success as “hitthehole,” Middleton is probably the most recognizable name at the final table among a certain small subset of poker players and fans. There are a couple of self-professed “recreational” players among the final eight with the others all serious players (i.e., “pros,” more or less). But none other than Middleton has achieved any serious fame as yet, and for all eight this final table will represent a career highlight by far.

That said, while there are no Spaniards among the group I’m hearing there might be a bit of the famed British rail developing in support of Middleton, so there may well be some excitement to witness today (apart from the poker, that is).

The High Roller reached its final table also yesterday, and that one will have a bit more star power as it plays out today and tonight, with Team PokerStars Pros Jonathan Duhamel and Daniel Negreanu (the latter coming back from that Day 1 “At Your Seat” rumpus), Ole Schemion, and Richard Yong among the group that’s left from the 180 total entries. November Niner David “Raptor” Benefield will be there, too, returning to a short stack and ninth of nine, just like his current situation in the WSOP Main Event.

Speaking of remaining in your seat, that was mostly the case for us yesterday as both tourneys moved toward their respective endgames, especially during the latter hours of play. Today likewise will find us mostly sticking behind the laptops as we follow and report on the action in both events.

Meanwhile, I have been following some of the buzz about the strange goings-on happening over at the Hotel Arts Barcelona, the tall, modern tower situated next to the Casino Barcelona where apparently a couple of pros have run into some security issues involving their laptops. In that pic to the left, the Hotel Arts is on the left, behind the huge Frank Gehry steel-lattice fish that sits atop the casino (also visible up top from another angle).

Before coming to Barcelona the two most frequent comments I’d heard from others who had been before was that (1) it was a beautiful city (and a favorite EPT stop) and (2) to be on the alert for pickpockets. Must have heard the latter warning a dozen times before my arrival.

As I was able to see earlier in the week on that boat excursion, Barcelona is most definitely a picturesque place, with striking architecture, accessible beaches, and a great deal to do as well (as Vera got to take advantage of when she was here). Have seen a few sketchy spots, too, including right around the casino. Indeed, last night as we left late even getting a cab required weaving through a dubious scene. It’s like any big city in certain respects, I suppose, with much to offer but reason to be wary, too.

I think I’ll sign off here and try perhaps to take in a few more of those sights before play begins today. The High Roller starts at noon CET and the Main Event an hour after that, with the EPTLive webcast cranking up on a one-hour delay at 2 p.m. Check in there as well as at the PokerStars blog to see how things play out.

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