Actually there’s a little more to it with Soika. A year ago I watched the high roller from start to finish. I wrote the report, I saw Soika lift the winner’s trophy, and come to think of it I even interviewed the guy. But Soika remains a mystery to me.
A short while ago I was asked by a colleague how Soika was doing in the high roller. I laughed this off, assuming it to be the continuation of a private joke that for Season 11 went something like this.
Them: “Who won the EPT11 Barcelona High Roller, that you watched and then wrote about?”
Me: “(pause) I can’t remember.”
That was shortly after Barcelona last season. By Prague I was at least making an “Oh” sound when guessing his first name, and an “Esss” sound when guessing his second. Finally in Malta I’d cracked it. Or so I thought. For all my efforts with his name, I’d forgotten one thing. His face.
So my colleagues were serious when they asked how he was doing. Apparently Soika was still in.
I’d like to say these occasions were rare in our business, but they’re not. Processing hundreds, maybe even thousands of names and faces means you’re bound to forget a few along the way. And you live constantly at risk of that dreaded moment, when you tap the shoulder of a WSOP Main Event finalist to ask his name. Yep, I did that once. Sorry Antoine.
So I can confirm that Ihar Soika, last year’s High Roller winner, is still in the frame for a famous repeat in Barcelona. He’s on table…wait, I’ll find him in a second…
But as we approach the dinner break there other players who are easier to identify. Players like Jason Mercier, Johnny Lodden, ElkY, and Isaac Haxton – the four members of Team PokerStars still in contention as the money, while not exactly in sight yet, is at least a dot on the horizon.
Then there’s the current chip leader, who also won a title last year. His victory is harder to forget.
Adrian Mateos, who won the EPT Grand Final three months ago, is playing out of his skin tonight, amassing chips at speed, or, as Vin Scully might have put it, like he’s double parked. He’s up to 1.3 million chips right now, some half a million ahead of the next guy, Mustapha Kanit on 790,000. It seems the summer did nothing to slow him down (he’s earned more than €70,000 in side events so far this week).
That’s the position going into the dinner break. Except to say that Ihar Soika is out of the High Roller. Turns out it wasn’t him after all.
* With sincerest apologies to Ihar Soika.
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Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.