Gino Alacqua pinches his temples with his finger tips. This is the pose we saw on the final table in Prague; his concentration pose – his attack pose, primed as he is to demand that his chips unleash hell. No wait, not this time. He folds behind another pre-flop raise.

Gino is among the extravagant players on the tour, subtly so in Gino’s case, but none the less he’s a man capable of flashes of brilliant high drama. He re-adjusts his cuffs, realigns his chair with the table and is ready to give it another go.

Another Italian, Cristiano Blanco, wanders over to Gino, making gestures universally known around the world and in any language to mean the same thing – things aren’t going well.

Meanwhile news spreads that another Italian, Team PokerStars pro Dario Minieri, is out, his journey from on high to on low complete in level six, leaving Katja Thater as the remaining Team PokerStars Pro on day 1a.
The table next to Gino features Marc Goodwin. The Englishman has just seen a flop of 2-8-6 (two diamonds) and likes what he sees, or perhaps not. He checks blind and watches as Mark Hirleman makes it 1,000 to play. “I’m all-in.” says Goodwin,

Unable to hide his disappointment (“ahhh!”) Hirleman asks for a count, buying him the few seconds it takes his mind to re-boot. He asks Goodwin something but the wise old pro is giving nothing away, he just grins a little.

“I call.”

6-8 for Goodwin, and two pairs. A-7 of diamonds for Hirleman, the flush draw that is nowhere to be seen on the turn, and the same on the river. Goodwin doubles up with a welcome 7,300 from the Hirleman fund.

Back to Gino, who from out of nowhere claps three times taking everyone by surprise. You sense the claps were for himself; a reminder perhaps to stay focused, or a rallying cry to the rest of the table to stay chipper. After all the essential truth remains – there are worse ways to spend a Tuesday night.

We’re closing in on the last break of the day and level seven, with blinds at 200/400 with a 25 ante.

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