THE ETIQUETTE OF CELEBRATION

Nernan Villa Mex 25may12

Vincenzo Gianelli (background) celebrates his double up through Nernan Villa (foreground)

Picture the scene; a man stands with his arms raised aloft, another looks shocked but amused, while a lady nearby looks disheartened, certainly not oblivious to the cheers and hollers of those standing a few feet away.

If you read the newspapers across Europe over the past week this image was one splashed across the front pages; the three people mentioned being British Prime Minister David Cameron (arms aloft), US President Barrack Obama (shocked but amused) and German Prime Minister Angela Merkel (disheartened), taking a break from high level talks about saving the world economy. They’d been watching the Champions League final and the British Prime Minister was showing his delight at Chelsea’s win, while his German counterpart’s face dropped as Bayern Munich missed out on penalties.

Some newspaper suggested that, while not intentional, Mr Cameron’s raised arms were an ungracious way to celebrate in front of his German counterpart, although later pictures showed the now smiling Mrs Merkel embracing Mr Cameron.

It’s a scene that will be mirrored countless times this summer as the World Series of Poker begins, the vanquishers celebrating in front of the vanquished, only later (if then) considering the feelings of the player now reduced to spectator status.

In the United Kingdom Debrett’s, the authority on all matters of manners and etiquette, made helpful suggestions, reminders you might say, of how best to handle your own success at the expense of others.

“All things in moderation especially if the other person can be offended,” suggested etiquette advisor at Debrett’s Jo Bryant. “You can celebrate and be happy but don’t rub their faces in it.”

Yet sometimes even this simple code is a request too far, particularly in a unique environment like a high stakes poker tournament where emotions can be turned over and then back again in a matter of seconds, usually on a showdown.

One player will find himself behind and needing miracle cards, and then get them, eliminating their opponent. It’s a scene that takes place dozens of times during any poker tournament and the natural reaction is to celebrate, hopes having gone from being crushed to reborn. The other guy? Well he just wants to run away and hide, and while some stay to graciously shake hands, others do just that.

But like with the emotions attached to football, poker too will keep its colourful antics. Players will still raise their arms aloft and shout, and a player nearby, not in the hand, will find this schadenfreude amusing, while the defeated will be crestfallen and doing their best to keep a brave face.

One final note, and as the BBC pointed out, the last time Cameron and Merkel watched a football match together, Germany trounced England 4-1. Feelings of revenge, however inconspicuous, will always prove hard to tame.

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