When I tweeted the photo earlier today, Remko Rinkema shot back that “Looks like they have a lot of skin in the game,” reminding me of one of my other favorite Remko quotes: “Imagine how much funnier I am in Dutch.”
They had a cup they used to shake up the dice, and one had drawn lines on a sheet of paper for tallying the score. Anyone know what game they might be playing? (Click the picture to embiggen.)
Speaking of not understanding games fully, I had a couple of funny things happen in short succession while helping cover Day 2 of the €10K High Roller at European Poker Tour Barcelona, both suggesting something similar -- and perhaps not so obvious when looking at these tournaments from the outside.
In order to get to the High Roller tables in the back right of the spacious tournament room one had to pass through a few dozen other tables in the front, and early on there was a pot-limit Omaha hi-lo tournament happening. It was a smallish side event with a 72-player cap and a €550 buy-in.
As I was passing through, that tournament was going on break and I noticed lingering at one of the tables two seated players, two more standing up, and the dealer engaged in an animated conversation while pointing to a set of community cards on the board. From the looks of things, one of the players had just lost the hand, but had questioned the result afterwards.
“You use three of these and two of these,” another player was saying, pointing first to the board cards then to the player’s hole cards. The player was nodding, and before I got out of earshot I heard him express his appreciation.
A little later I was back on the other side of the room with the High Roller, and noticed a couple of people near the edge of the playing area but didn’t pay them too much mind. Then someone came up behind me and after greeting me in Spanish had a question for me.
“What is the short stack?” he asked. Thinking initially he was one of the group I had seen observing the tournament, I asked him what he meant. Was he asking who was the shortest stack in the room at that moment with about 150 players left or what size stack at that point in the tournament qualified as “short”?
He clarified that he was asking the latter. The blinds were 2,000/4,000, and I’d just reported a couple of hands in which players with 10-12 big blinds had shoved all in. “About 40 or 50 thousand,” I said. “That’s when people are going all in,” I added, using my hands to mimic the gesture of pushing chips forward.
He nodded. “Good,” he said. “I have to wait.”
I watched him then proceed back over to the edge of the tournament area and take a seat behind a stack of about 110,000.
It wasn’t hard to figure out what was going on. They were about 30 eliminations off the money, and he was trying to gauge whether or not he could fold his way into the money. Indeed, over the next hour-plus he mostly did just that, but alas went out a few spots shy of the bubble bursting.
It had been amusing to see the player in the Omaha hi-lo event being confused about the rules. It was more surprising to encounter the one in the €10,300 high roller inquiring about short-stack strategy as the bubble approached.
All of it reminded me that the stakes for which players are playing don’t automatically suggest anything in particular about their skill level or experience. These were exceptions, of course, but I don’t think it’s that uncommon to find players in low buy-in non-hold’em events who aren’t completely clear about the games they’re playing. And when you have a €10K NLHE tourney with nearly 600 entries, there are probably going to be more than few less experienced folks among the field.
One more day of poker to go here in Barcelona, with the €10K playing down from 36 players to a winner and the Main Event final table also playing out. Check that PokerStars blog all day and night on Sunday to find out how things turn out.