A week is a long time in poker

The days of week

What harm could a week away from the poker circuit do? A recent holiday to a part of Europe which shows no favour to the holy game of poker proved a mixed blessing. On the one hand a chance to unwind while the game’s rock face moved to Paris and the World Series of Poker Europe. On the other, it left me with no clue what was going on. I didn’t even know who’d won the main event.

I know now of course, having scrambled to within range of a Wi-Fi signal to read of Adrian Mateos Diaz’s success, the culmination of what appeared to be a startling turn of foot in the months leading up to his bracelet win. But up until then I’d been oblivious. But I suspect this is what my brain needed.

Things have changed in nine years covering the EPT, and not just in the tour’s status as the most prestigious tour in the world.

For instance, up until about two seasons ago I could recall the name of every past winner, covering more than 80 events. Three seasons ago I could also tell you who finished second in most of them. Four seasons ago I could even name the obscure, usually Italian, man who finished fifth. Now I’m lucky if I can remember who won last month’s EPT London. I seem to recall he was a nice chap, with blond hair and a Swedish accent. But that’s as much as my memory allows.

The difficulty is in remembering the result of every tournament with status attached. Every year a new tour is born, filling the slightest gap in the calendar. The poker year was formerly dominated by the WSOP, and then the WPT and EPT, with few days spare for any new rival. That same calendar is no longer limited by how many days it has, but by how many combinations of letters can be placed in front of the initials “PT”. We must now surely be reaching the limit.

None of this would matter were it not for the sheer number of names you need to have familiarity with for fear they may win, or come close to winning something without you noticing it.

In a typical week you can miss all manner of titles being won, both live and online. But you must keep track. Miss just one of them and that player will be sure to cause you embarrassment in the future, either by winning something big or looking at you with utter contempt as you tap their shoulder and ask “what’s your name?”

And so with every passing day, each passing event, the game gets harder to keep on top of. As it should be, with new players, of solid pedigree, turning heads in all corners of the globe. Well apart from one corner, where I had my feet up, worrying about all of this.

So a week off may have done some good. It just doesn’t feel like it in the week after.

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