Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Travel Report: EPT13 Barcelona, Day 7 -- Knowing Where to Look

Moved over to help cover the Main Event today at the European Poker Tour Barcelona festival.

It was the very big Day 1b which ended up creating a total turnout of 1,785 players (a record for EPT Barcelona) and a €8,657,250 prize pool (also a record).

I’ve written here many times before about covering Day 1s of multi-day poker tournaments (i.e., three-day or longer), and how the big field events in particular make it both impractical and unfavorable (I think) to cover things the same way as you do later on in the event. That is to say, the individual hand reports and chip counts that are important later on -- say, after the money bubble bursts and (really) once the sucker is down to just a few tables -- simply don’t mean all that much in the grand scheme of things during a tournament’s initial stages.

In fact, I was thinking today when walking around the tournament how the reporter is often better off on a Day 1 looking up rather than down -- that is, at the faces rather than the chips and cards. See who’s there, listen to what they’re saying, get a sense for the “characters” (so to speak) that will begin rounding out the cast of the narrative you’re creating about the tournament.

Eventually you begin to move your gaze downward -- namely, to the chip stacks. Of course, you’re always counting chips, even from the start. But it really isn’t until play gets a few levels in and even into the late stages of Day 1 and the start of Day 2 that the stacks matter much at all -- except, of course, to the short stacks and endangered players sitting behind them.

Later you move your focus still further downward to the table -- specifically the cards and the chips that are going in the middle, which at some point take over the narrative as the most meaningful motivator of plot. Sure, “color” will crop up here and there, and adds greatly if noticed and shared, but you can’t avoid talking about hands anymore.

By the very end you’re looking at payout schedules and filling blanks showing where players end up. You could say you begin looking away from the table entirely, toward the cashier’s desk and that last transaction made by those participants who manage to be around for the story’s final scenes and denouement (not always a “climax” to the story, as sometimes -- even often -- that’ll happen earlier than the end).

Enough abstraction. Check out the reports on the PokerStars blog where some of these high-falutin’ ideas can be shown being put into practice.

Photo: courtesy Neil Stoddart/PokerStars blog.

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