The bright neon discotheque setting of the Nightrooms nightclub PokerStars bade welcome to players on Monday night, arriving in town for the second EPT Dortmund. This was no ordinary welcome – up a flight of stairs from Street level guests were greeted by a woman in a close lace outfit swallowing fire as people shuffled in from the European cold. A few steps beyond fire woman was snake girl – a similarly clad young girl with a real snake looping around her arms and waist. the snake looked pale green under the burning lights of Nightrooms though admittedly few were brave enough to get close enough to double check.
With the night young and witness to such incredible sights, it was unfortunate there would be no pictures of the snake or the girl to prove it all. With club lights set to low it was too dark for conventional cameras and flash was forbidden in case it upset the serpent. None but the brave wanted to annoy it – not least the girl who for the time being had the beast under control.
Tomorrow Casino Hohensyburg, a few miles from here, plays host to its second EPT. Last year Norwegian Andreas Hoivold took honours in a slow but gripping final that saw him talk his way to a title and cheque for $880,572 This year a field equally considerable in number will be adorned by regular PokerStars qualifiers and Team PokerStars pros, among them a familiar face never before seen on the Poker circuit. A tennis legend of old now looking to smash his way onto the poker scene – Boris Becker makes his Team PokerStars debut.
But there would be plenty of time for the man nicknamed ‘Boom-Boom’ in his tennis heyday. First there was the party where the mildly weird circus theme continued after drinks and the buffet, the curtain coming up on Claudia, who arrived from stage left onto the dance floor… carrying five hula-hoops. Perhaps you managed to get a hula-hoop to stay around your waist a few times as a kid, but Claudia quickly demonstrated how she’d spent her spare time; swirling five hoops, then six, then ten, and finally 15 of the things wildly around her body, maintaining a professional smile as spectators clapped and cheered.
Then came the centrepiece act – a man, his head resting upside down on a glitter ball podium, first spinning, then juggling, balancing things on his legs, spinning them and then doing things most would think impossible. Marked clearly with the hallmarks of ‘Don’t try this at home’ players and PokerStars staff alike watched open mouthed as he went on, applauding the man as he added even more implausible elements to his act. It made any chocolate fountain look quite tame.
Among those moving their hips to the sound of loud music and with thoughts of hulas were local girl Katja Thater, PCA Champion Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier and Marcel Luske who looked ready to single-handedly lead everyone to the dance floor.
It was the midpoint of a night of cheer for some – a late night in Dortmund spent sampling the local ale. For others, well tomorrow there is work to do. That goes for close to 200 players who will get the EPT Dortmund underway at around 3pm local time tomorrow. Among them will be Dario Minieri and Katja and a cast of hundreds. That makes day 1a ‘Boris Eve’. Mr Becker plays on Wednesday, along with fellow Team PokerStars Pros ElkY, Noah Boeken, Daniel Negreanu and Luca Pagano.
All that is ahead of us. Will Boris Becker transform his powerful serve into its poker equivalent? Can Katja Thater win on home turf? Could ElkY pull off the incredible and make it two in a row? We’ll wait and see…