Postcard From Berlin
Thursday, 4 March 2010
Yes, there I am at the Berlin EPT poker tournament, sitting comfortably in seat 10. But who’s that fellow in seat 1? Why, it’s the international tennis wunderkind, Boris Becker! Boris is now a member of PokerStars Team Pro Germany, a regular face at many tournaments.
945 people played this biggest-ever EPT. When 484 went back for day two, I was delighted to discover I’d be sharing the blinds with Boris. That was partly because he was lower in chips than me, and partly because I’m a big fan - I have been ever since I was a kid, but all the more so since meeting Boris outside the tournament room at the PCA where he sat in the sunshine, a vision of perfect physical fitness, smoking a cigarette and eating a doughnut. Hurray for Boom Boom Becker!
Unfortunately, he knocked me out of the tournament. It was all a bit unlucky… I moved all in with a rag ace against a serial raiser, knowing I’d be miles in front… and so I was, until Boris woke up in the big blind with AK of spades. Ah well. If anybody was going to get my chips, it might as well be him. Much better that than having to tap the table and say “Nice hand” to somebody horrible. Boris is a lovely man; we’d been chatting about his new baby, who I saw on the cover of a magazine here. A super-cute little fellow and, needless to say, the SPITTING IMAGE of Boris Becker.
“It is a shame”, sighed Boris. “His mother is much prettier than I am.”
Very gallant; nevertheless, the baby is gorgeous and everyone knows that Boris Becker has the strongest genes in the western world. He kissed me goodbye when he knocked me out, and I’m secretly hoping I might now be pregnant.
Meanwhile, this exit gave me some time to discover the beautiful city of Berlin. I went to Alexanderplatz and got an elevator to the top of the Fernsehrturm:
Isn’t that great? So Commie, so Sixties. I love that retro-futuristic look. It reminds me of those old TV shows which predicted that come the Millennium we’d all be consuming our meals in pill form and travelling by flying car. They must have imagined that every building would look like that, full of citizens dressed from head to foot in bacofoil.
I wandered back down the famous boulevard Under Den Linden to check out the Brandenburg Gate, and queued up for a while at this tourist attraction -
I liked the idea of getting my passport stamped; they never do it at airports any more. It’s a shame. After all this poker, I’d have a very cool stampy passport if it were still customary. So I queued up to do it, but then, just as I got to the front, I thought, “What am I actually doing? I’m queuing up voluntarily, eagerly, to have my documents inspected by a uniformed German official. As a holiday treat! Too soon, too soon…”
Is that terrible? It’s what I thought. This is a vibrant, artistic, fresh and optimistic city, full of friendly and charming people, but in that moment a goose walked over my grave. Wes Craven to Disney in two short generations; rightly or wrongly, I moved away without the stamp.
But I’ve loved this chance to visit Berlin and it’s been a great tournament. Okay, I was knocked out before the money, but at least I was knocked out by a national hero. And speaking of ‘national’: I’m not saying that German lady masseuses are any sterner or tougher than masseuses anywhere else in the world. I’m sure the massages in the tournament room are as gentle and relaxing as anyone would want while enjoying a game of cards. Nevertheless, if I were the proprietor of a company offering massage to players at the Berlin EPT, hoping to tempt customers with visions of a soothing rub at the table, I don’t think I would give it this name.