I qualified for EPT Barcelona largely by chance. After having a great time and cashing at the WSOP, I had the desire to play more big live tournaments and the bankroll to take some shots at them. Unfortunately Poker Stars runs most of their satellites on weekends, and I rarely have the opportunity to play weekend tournaments, as these are the only times my girlfriend is not working and I generally try to keep them free. But for whatever reason, there was one Saturday that I did have free, and so I decided to play all three of the EPT satellites running that afternoon (Barcelona, London, and Baden) at ~$500 each. Each was paying a seat to just over 1 out of every 20 participants, so between the 3 of them, I felt I had between a 33%-50% chance of winning something.
I didn’t make it too far in the London or Baden events (which would have been my top choices), but made it to the final two tables of the Barcelona one, with twelve spots to be paid out. Unfortunately, my stack was the shortest of the 18 remaining players, but I had the chipleader to my immediate left, and he was (correctly) playing very tight, so I was able to steal from him a few times, then won a coin flip, won another big pot with Aces, and suddenly I was in 3rd.
At this point there were 15 players left, and I felt I could probably fold my way to a seat, though I continued to pay close attention just in case. One player went out on the other table, but then the other two short stacks doubled up, and just like that I was down to 9th place. I was still comfortable, especially with the poor bubble play I was seeing, but far from a lock.
The most frustrating thing was that both and I and the big stack to my left were folding every hand, and the player to my right was raising every time that it folded to him, picking up the blinds and antes with no challenge at least once per orbit. It was a very sweet spot for him, and as much as I wanted to play back, I was nervous: I could probably fold my way to a seat, and for all I know this guy is some clown who would call an all in with A6 or 55 or something (this is the kind of play I was seeing from others), and even with a good hand that was more risk than I wanted. So I just kept folding, and eventually the short stacks at the other table did go out, and I won my seat.
I was so busy celebrating, at first, that I failed to notice that the tournament started in less than three weeks. At that point, I realized I had no passport and no knowledge of the Spanish language.
The passport thing proved easy enough: for a quite reasonable $60 fee, US citizens are able to get expedited passports within two weeks by bringing the necessary documents in person to one of twelve regional passport agencies, one of which, conveniently, was in Boston, about a 10 minute train ride from my apartment. I had my mother overnight my birth certificate to me, dropped off my documents on Tuesday, and picked up my passport on Friday. This is definitely the most efficient thing I have ever seen the US federal government do.
I never did get around to learning any Spanish, but I did learn that Spanish is actually not the preferred language in Barcelona, though most can speak it. They actually prefer a much more obscure language called Catalan, which of course was even more foreign to me. I begin this journey with the ability to say the following, and nothing more:
Finally, I should add that although my reports from the WSOP seemed generally popular, I did receive some complaints that they were occasionally a bit dull, so I’ve made an effort this time to interweave some fiction into this otherwise factual narrative. Rest assured, however, that I have done so in so masterful a way that the reader will likely not be able to spot the difference, and were it not for this note, would never be the wiser.