For the first time in several years I missed an EPT event. It happened last month when jury duty kept me from attending EPT Deauville, a tournament which strictly speaking I hadn’t missed since season one. But then, I only joined the tour in season two.
Whilst casting an eye over the criminal (or not criminal) element of my corner of the world was surely fascinating, the absence of a six-day high stakes poker tournament in my life left a gap, one that couldn’t be filled simply by reading the updates, or at least scanning them for the pictures.
Not that I had time anyway. When not paid to be courtside real life tends to resume its usual role of priority. The bins were now mine to take out, evening meals mine to cook, and bedtime stories of talking animals with liberal dispositions, mine to read. News from EPT Deauville would be reduced to the emailed press release late at night, and the accompanying question “Who is that guy?” would now be spoken to my wife rather than my work colleagues.
For the same reasons I never get to watch as much cricket as I’d like throughout the summer. The five days of a test match are impossible to schedule into a regular day without pretending to be unwell or in some way unable to move from the sofa.
But with cricket there is at least an alternative. Radio provides a way to listen to the action while doing other things, like ironing or spying on the neighbours. Test Match Special has for decades proven popular for cricket fans, for the general company as much as anything else, even when play is washed out by summer storms.
Poker suits this imaginative sphere. I don’t have the time to watch the typically excellent EPT Live coverage, but I could have it playing the background while getting children to eat their vegetables. Just a few more reminders of the flop, a description of how intensely Mike McDonald is staring at someone and the odd roving reporter giving updates from the tournament floor and I wouldn’t need the pictures. Perhaps chip counts could be read by James Alexander Gordon.
Of course it may just be me. The internet has eliminated the need for some of this. For one thing you can just keep in earshot of James Hartigan on your laptop as he talks to himself, and if you miss anything just tweet him to ask, although if you’re doing that you may as well just look up the scores yourself.
But in my personal poker utopia, real life and a day long poker tournament could operate side by side, couldn’t they. With an image blackout I somehow wouldn’t feel quite so left in the dark.