Early draws have thrown together a few familiar faces. Mel Judah starts alongside Magnus Petersson (EPT Season 3 Copenhagen winner) and London pro Joe Grech, whilst Team PokerStars Pro Dario Minieri lines up with Carl Hostrup and Rolf Slotboom. PokerStars qualifier Steve Jelinek will spend the first hours with Marcus Golser, Nick Gibson and Tommy Pavlicek, another PokerStars qualifier.
As players get tucked into level one PokerStars Passport winner Dustin Mele’s girlfriend Tracy sits outside in the shade looking out over Italy whilst her man is at the coal face. After getting over the unfavourable dollar exchange rate the two spent the morning exploring San Remo, walking along the narrow streets and open air markets where Tracy showed her own skills with a poker face, haggling down the prize of a necklace from €25 down to €5. “It was only worth five!” she said, a brutal negotiating stance that would serve Dustin well.
Whilst Tracey watches the sun make the sea sparkle Dustin sits opposite Team PokerStars Pro Tom McEvoy. Tom has none of the trappings that mark out the new generation of player – no sunglasses, no headphones or iPod, just the mark of truth that comes from wearing a WSOP winners gold bracelet – nothing discreet about that band of bling.
The table is a mixture of youth and experience, short hair, long hair, grey hair, with PokerStars qualifiers Ingo Mohr of Germany and Dypvik Borge of Norway at the table as well.
Dustin and Tom get stuck into an early hand after a period of calm in the first level. A bet of 150 pre-flop from Dustin in mid position called by Tom in the small blind. The flop 3-Q-9 gets a bet from Tom this time, 300, which Dustin calls as the players not in the hand lean in to see the first action in a while. The turn is a jack, seemingly putting the brakes on Tom’s plans. He checks leaving Dustin to bet out 550, enough to put Tom off and win the pot. Perhaps it was a lesson learned this morning after all?
Meanwhile a few tables along Team PokerStars Pro Katja Thater is on the sunny side of a double up, her pocket nines against A-Q with a queen and a nine on the board – an welcome early chip lead for Katja.
Photos © Neil Stoddart