Strolling by way of the departure lounge in Barcelona Airport, a thirst came visiting me and I finished to get a Coke from the merchandising machine. I twisted open the bottle, took a slug, closed it and, with a bag on my shoulder and one other wheeling behind me, made my technique to my boarding gate and an space with plastic chairs. It was busy, however I discovered a seat. I put down the bottle, took the bag from my shoulders, took off my jacket and regarded round for a display displaying my flight standing. It was nonetheless ten minutes till boarding, loads of time.
I sat down, took out my telephone and commenced scrolling by way of Twitter. After a number of moments, the person within the seat subsequent to me leaned ahead and picked up my bottle of Coke from the bottom. I assumed it had fallen over and he was going handy it to me. I smiled, however he didn’t smile again. It was an odd interplay, made weirder by the truth that he didn’t give it again to me. As a substitute, he opened the bottle and took a number of slugs. I stared at him incredulously and he simply stared again. I assumed:
Who the f**okay does this man suppose he’s, ingesting MY Coke?”
He put the bottle again down on the bottom. I shook my head. “F**okay him,” I assumed, and I picked up the bottle, opened it and took a swig. He glowered at me and I shot him a baleful stare as I put the bottle down. Instantly, he grabbed it, opened it and drank deep from it, a number of glugs. There have been just a few mouthfuls left. He screwed again on the cap and burped, earlier than slamming the bottle again down on the bottom. “The f**king cheek of him,” I assumed.
It’s vital to level out that this occurred in 2011, on the absolute top of poker’s “click-wars.” So far as I used to be involved, he raised, I three-bet, he four-bet, and there was no means that I wasn’t going to get within the final wager. He eyeballed me. Eyeballing him again, I opened the bottle and unscrewed the cap. Bringing it to my lips, I assumed: “Yeah, that’s proper… I’m all-in,” and I gulp-gulp-gulped down each final drop.
He snarled at me, I exhaled at him in disgust, after which we sat there, silently, for 5 lengthy minutes, sometimes throwing the opposite a withering, trenchant glare.
This wasn’t my first heads-up contest in Barcelona. In September 2009, on my very first correct poker journey, I chopped the Important Occasion of the Full Tilt Espana Sequence, a consequence which gave my poker profession an early increase. Earlier to the consequence, I used to be grinding it out on the 45-man SNG circuit, having constructed a modest position from nearly scratch. After that contact, I used to be capable of tackle extra variance and play greater video games on-line, leading to three of my 4 largest on-line years.
In truth, I’ve a number of fond poker recollections from Barcelona. In 2011, I used to be again in Barcelona, attending my first Unibet Open. I didn’t understand it on the time, however Unibet Poker could be a giant a part of my poker future as I signed with them as a model ambassador in 2017. This September in Malta, I’ll play in my twenty sixth Unibet Open.
they chopped me up in a spot the place the pure triple up would have given me a giant stack and an actual shot
In 2014, I went deep at EPT Barcelona, busting out with pocket queens in opposition to two guys each holding Ace-King. A King within the flip meant that they chopped me up in a spot the place the pure triple up would have given me a giant stack and an actual shot. (I’m not nonetheless bitter about that, I swear.)
In 2016, my good friend and prime Irish poker participant Nick Newport had his largest ever consequence when he got here fourth within the then-record setting Estrellas Important. On the time, Nick was a member of “The Agency,” a collective of poker gamers staked on my own, Daragh Davey, and my fellow VSO Information contributor Dara O’Kearney. There have been 3,447 gamers battling it out within the Important Occasion that week and, together with his friends on the rail, Nick gained a whopping €202,420 ($205,768) for his efforts.
Final Sunday, I returned from one other document breaking Estrellas pageant and one other profitable, if slightly bittersweet, journey to the On line casino Barcelona. This time, six beginning flights meant entries galore and a brand new document subject of 6,313. I acquired by way of to Day 2 on my third bullet, survived Day 3, and made it midway by way of Day 4 to finally bust in twenty sixth place, simply when the €600,000 ($609,924) first prize was coming into view.
Those that did make it to the ultimate three tables redraw included Andy Wilson, a GTO prodigy from the UK who’s destined to grow to be one of many sport’s elite, and Jack Sinclair, WSOPE Important Occasion champion and former WSOP finalist. The 2 would conflict with 11 left, Sinclair coming off finest in a “basic” flip, his Ace-King spiking in opposition to the deuces of Wilson.
That put Sinclair firmly into pole place on the last desk, however he would in the end need to accept 2nd and a €377,000 ($383,236) payday. Taking dwelling the lion’s share was the Netherlands’ Rick Van Bruggen, who completed the job in medical trend.
This week is the European Poker Tour’s flip to interrupt information with 2,294 entries within the EPT Barcelona Important Occasion, 328 of whom made it to the cash yesterday after three gamers had been eradicated on the bubble. A winner can be topped on Sunday night and that individual will take dwelling an eye-watering prize of €1.7m ($1.73m).
On the shut of play on Day 2, notables nonetheless within the combine embrace Scott Margerson (993,000 chips), Artur Martirosian (814,000), Antonio Buonanno (622,000), Steve Warburton (575,000), Seth Davies (480,000) Gaelle Baumann (408,000), Paulina Loeliger (306,000), Stephen Kehoe (456,000), Timothy Adams (387,000), Baard Dahl (378,000) Xuan Liu (302,000), Mateusz Moolhuizen (359,000) Stephen Chidwick (148,000), Alex Kulev (238,000), Stefan Schillhabel (222,000), Jack Sinclair (208,000), Ben Spragg (144,000), Conor Bergin (96,000), David Peters (36,000) and Michael Wang (322,000).
The rise and fall of the EPT
The brainchild of John Duthie, the EPT started in Barcelona on September 18, 2004. The pageant sequence rapidly grew into the biggest poker occasion in Europe. In 2004, the Important Occasion had a €1,000 ($1,017) buy-in and a subject of 229. The following 12 months that swelled to €4,000 ($4,066) and 327. Between 2007 and 2009, the buy-in was €8,000 ($8,132), however in 2010, it settled into the acquainted €5,300 ($5,388) worth level the place it has remained since.
By way of the last decade, the sector sizes continued to develop, with 1,082 gamers in 2012, 1,496 in 2014, and 1,785 by 2016. By this time, PokerStars below Amaya was an altogether totally different animal than it had been below the Scheinbergs, and the EPT mirrored that, with worsening constructions and fewer consideration given to participant expertise.
failing to appreciate the knock-on impact of treating its loyal customer-base so poorly
On the time, Dara and I wrote a number of blogs criticizing the corporate’s pursuit of short-term acquire to the detriment of participant expertise. With rake will increase, decreased loyalty advantages, and a pointy drop off in buyer care, the corporate believed that it was doing the correct factor for its shareholders. Its company management had been short-sighted, nevertheless, failing to appreciate the knock-on impact of treating its loyal customer-base so poorly.
PokerStars leaked market share and for the primary time, attendance at dwell occasions started to dip. It scrapped the regional excursions after which, in 2017, retired the EPT, rebranding the tour because the PokerStars Championship. Numbers dropped once more, prompting PokerStars to reverse course. Like Bobby Ewing within the bathe, the EPT returned in 2018, however by then, numbers had fallen even additional to 1,474.
A squeaky wheel
In 2019, Flutter Leisure took the reins and it felt to the poker world that PokerStars and the EPT had been again in secure fingers. Worker bonuses at PokerStars had been now not linked to earnings, however quite to buyer satisfaction. Most, if not all, of the draconian Amaya-era insurance policies had been stricken and there was a real pleasure in regards to the 2020 season.
the EPT is delivering document numbers in any respect of its stops
Sadly, as everyone knows too nicely, dwell poker occasions had been despatched into hibernation throughout the COVID lockdowns. That led to even better anticipation for the 2022 season and, to be honest, the EPT is delivering document numbers in any respect of its stops.
Extra importantly, PokerStars is listening to the gamers once more, absorbing and seemingly reacting to buyer suggestions. Whereas there have been a number of minor hiccups alongside the way in which, I wish to give credit score the place it’s due. In the event you’re going to be a squeaky wheel when issues are dangerous, you must also be vocal when they’re good.
Coke wars revisited
“Flight EI1234 is boarding now at Gate 21,” rang out over the Tannoy and, with that, my Coke-guzzling nemesis stood up.
“That is sensible,” I assumed, “the man who steals one other man’s Coke is sure to be the identical man who boards first to ensure his bag will get a great spot within the overhead compartment.”
Bilious with rage, I sat and waited for the queue to abate, muttering expletives to myself.
“Last name for flight EI1234. May all remaining passengers please board now at Gate 21.”
I stood up and placed on my jacket. I picked up my shoulder bag, threw it over my shoulder and all of a sudden, my coronary heart sank. There it was: an nearly full Coke bottle on the bottom by my ft, MY nearly full Coke bottle sitting proper the place I had apparently left it.