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Ireland excel to lead at the halfway stage
As play ends on the first day of the 2013 European Nations Cup, Team Ireland has the provisional lead at the halfway stage, clocking up an impressive score of 972 points tonight.
Traditionally at this stage of a major poker tournament players would be bagging up chips ahead of their return tomorrow. Here things are a little different. When the teams return tomorrow everything will look exactly the same as before. However, Ireland, and the teams closest to them, will walk back into the tournament ball room with things feeling a little more serious – with a place at the Grand Final just hours away.
In short Ireland’s performance today was nothing short of outstanding. Counted among the favourites as play began, Ireland, a team made up of big names such as Dermot Blain, Eoghan O’Dea and Dara O’Kearney, got to work with gusto, their captain Padraig Parkinson looking on from a convenient seat alongside Jesse May in the commentary booth.
At the early check points they were perched some way down the scoreboard in 11th place, before an end of session surge moved them into sixth place at the break. But it was in Session 2 where they came to life, scoring 572 points. Their standings at various points showed a team working well: “fifth, third, second, fourth, first.” There is still plenty of play left, but there may be no stopping them.
That’s among the many factors that will be analysed in the coming hours and days. So too will be the current plight of Team Holland under the leadership of Rolf Slotboom.
“As you may have already noticed,” said Slotboom with a wry smile, “we’re not doing very well.”
Actually it’s hard to find a weak spot in the Dutch team, but as the scoreboard suggests something is not working, something that Slotboom and the entire Dutch team will be thinking about tonight.
For others there were good days and bad. The second session wasn’t earth moving for all teams — six of which held the same place they’d had at the half way stage – but others struggled to keep up their momentum. Serbia dropped four places in the second half of the day, down to sixth. Spain moved up three, as did Russia, who had a terrible start but seemed to rally late on. Hosts Cyprus had hoped to soar and had been as high as fourth this afternoon before they slumped to 13th place.
At times today it felt like there was more to talk about off the table than on it, with so much technology and the possibilities associated with it being too tempting not to discuss. But there was still time to catch sight of hands that will be the talking points in the coming days. Jasper Hougaard’s straight against Andrey Pateychuk’s flush for instance. Poring over that will be one of the resulting pleasures of the ENC.
Jesse May’s enthusiasm in the commentary booth was well-placed. The “Voice of Poker” even coined new terminology. Get used to the notion of “a 14-pointer,” a useful definition of a hand likely to score maximum points for one particular player, a potential game changer for their team.
Tomorrow we start again at 10am, with the live stream showing everything “as live” from 12 noon onwards. The two sessions of play will determine which six teams will advance to the grand final later this year.
We hope to have detailed statistics of Day 1, together with a highlight reel of the day. As I write technicians are pouring over the machinery to empty them of all relevant statistics, and possible a few that aren’t relevant at all. We’ll post those on this page as soon as we get them, so check back here for more details.
In the meantime it’s time to look ahead to tomorrow. It should prove essential viewing. See you then.
The final standings after Session 2
|Position||Nation||Score||2nd Session Points||Change|
|4th||Bosnia & Herzegovina||944.5||544||=|
Ireland leads at close of Day 1
Play ends after the second session with Ireland in provisional lead on 972 points. Officials are now double checking all the scores, which will be coming up shortly, along with a full recap of the day’s play.
Heads down, chins up as play continues
7.45pm: The hands tick by and with them the energy levels of the players. The tournament room itself, a glittering ballroom befitting an event that demands attention, is heating up after the air conditioning, previously capable of freezing burning coal, was shut off.
It makes for a dozy environment, with several players showing signs of fatigue, something that could prove disastrous where points are concerned. A bad decision now could ruin hours of hard work over more than 100 hands. Nobody wants to be the one to let down their teammates.
Cesar Garcia of Spain is among those struggling. He rests his head on the table between hands, arms wrapped around his neck, trying to catch what can only be 25 second power naps. Is that possible? He seems to think so.
When he plays a hand he does the opposite. Rather than leaning forward he leans back, looking at the phone in his hand to see his cards as if they’re stencilled on the ceiling. Then he falls forward again to either play or fold.
Everyone looks tired on table one, with heads resting on hands, while on the opposite side of the room Dutch pro Rob Hollink balances his forehead on the table edge, jolting upright as if hoping nobody had noticed. There’s certainly less noise in the room now, perfect for a few minutes shut eye.
Ironically one player not falling asleep is the one known to play high stakes poker in what appears to be a permanent state of exhaustion.
Ivan Demidov, who famously finished second to Peter Eastgate in the World Series of Poker main event in 2009, is alert and sharp as his table plays on. Team Russia is on the rise from their former position in the doldrums. This new look Demidov could be partly responsible.
The Russian is one of the big hitters at this year’s European Nations Cup and is the highest earning player of all those competing this weekend. Earlier today he talked to Felicia Field at the half way stage.
At the feature table
Who’s up, who’s down, who stays the same?
6.55pm: Looking through the latest standings and it is Team Ireland in the ascendant, led by Padraig Parkinson, who currently offers his expert insight from the commentary booth. They move into second place, up four spots having scored 281.5 points since the last count, the third best total. Lithuania is also up four places, into third place.
The best total belonged to Russia, who started rock bottom in 14th place but scored 307.5 points, moving up three places to 11th.
The Netherlands continue to struggle, being slightly more than 100 points off of sixth place. They are the new occupants of 14th place and in need or some major inspiration when play ends later tonight. Bosnia and Herzegovina, one of the underdog teams, doggedly hold on to a top six spot while neighbours Serbia slide down the standings.
Scores at 100
|4th||Bosnia & Herzegovina||668.5||268||=|
|5th||United Kingdom||663.5||241.5||▼ 2|
Play continues in Session number 2
5.45pm: Session two is now under way with France looking to shore up their lead. After 16 hands they have held on to that lead, with the top six places as follows:
1st. France – 563.5
2nd. United Kingdom – 547.5
3rd. Lithuania – 526.5
4th.Serbia – 524
5th. Ireland – 523.5
6th. Denmark – 505.5
As viewers watching the live stream will notice there are a new cast of players out in the sunshine, including three of the stand out players in this year’s European Nations Cup.
In seat three is Andrey Pateychuk. The Russian is one of the most exciting players on the tournament scene of late. In 2011 he won EPT Sanremo in impressive style, actually denying English captain Barny Boatman a first EPT title (Boatman went on to finish sixth).
Then a month later he did it again, winning a World Poker Tour event in Prague and cementing his name among the players of the year. Needless to say he also cleans up online, although right now his opposition is tough, with Jasper Hougaard from Denmark, and next to him Irishman Dermot Blain.
It’s a mouth-watering line-up well worth the attention of the cameras and all of which can be see on the live stream.
Anyone already watching will have just seen the type of hand perfect for this type of event that encourages analysis in great depth back in the club house.
Pateychuk found ace-jack of clubs while Hougaard got creative with jack-ten of hearts. The ace-high flop put Pateychuk way ahead. Hougaard might not have liked the flop too much but banked on showing strength and continued to raise on the turn, an eight. Pateychuk, still strong called and watched a queen hit the river.
As both Jesse May and Padraig Parkinson in the commentary booth said: “whoa.”
The queen made Hougaard a straight, but crucially it was the queen of clubs, giving Pateychuk the nut flush. Remarkably Hougaard didn’t lose the lot, but it was still a significant chunk, and it will be fun to see how other players in the same spot played the jack-ten.
Team meetings commence
5.05pm: Of the many scenes you’ll find at the poker tournament they’re not normally as colorful as those seen during lunch, between sessions at the Annabelle Hotel. It’s not every day that poker players look like a field of tulips. Here the Dutch and Lithuania teams take a break.
Coming up when play restarts shortly will be another session of 66 hands with the seat draw being identical to that of session one earlier this afternoon.
To recap the event is played in Match Poker, using a cumulative scoring system which rates each player’s performance in a hand, compares that to all the other teams and then awards points, 14 through to one, depending on position. For a more detailed analysis of that check out the scoring page on the Pokerfed.org website, while you can catch up on the events of Session one from earlier this afternoon by clicking here.
Coming up is another session of play lasting approximately three hours. The scores will continue to be tallied to those from the previous session. So far France lead Serbia by 40 points, while the United Kingdom trails Serbia in third by a single point.
By the close of play we should get an idea of who the teams will be challenging for a spot in the Grand Final. Can France extend their lead? Can Russia, the highest earning side when combined, find their way out of the basement?
And don’t forget you can follow all the action yourself on our live stream, featuring Jesse May in the commentary box.
Live updates from the 2013 European Nations Cup, written by Stephen Bartley.