That’s right -- Kyiv. We’re going with that spelling over “Kiev,” following the local custom. There is a bit of political context, actually, to the spelling issue, with “Kiev” connoting associations with the former Soviet Republic and “Kyiv” suggesting a break from the past. Getting a little bit of education here regarding the history and culture as we go.
The first day of the event went fairly well from the reporting side of things. There were a few challenges along the way, the biggest being some sketchy internet connectivity during the middle part of the day. Also, as might be expected, we were dealing with trying to identify a lot of relatively unknown Ukrainian and Russian players. There were just a small handful of “name” players among the 129 who came out for Day 1a (we expect quite a few more for Day 1b, including a lot of the PokerStars players). We did okay, though, and as the day wore on got to know quite a few players.
The day began with a nifty opening ceremony featuring a quartet of percussionists (a group called Ars Nova) and a Ukrainian dance troupe (Virskogo). Both put on raucous, exhilarating performances -- perfectly incongruous given the quiet, sober poker that followed, but pretty cool nonetheless.
That was followed by a message from Ukraine’s “Minister of Youth, Family, and Sport” in which reference was made to a recent court decision (on June 11, I believe) to include poker among Ukraine’s list of non-Olympic sports. Kind of interesting to hear that, given the fact that the whole reason the event is taking place here in Kyiv is because Russia decided to declassify poker’s status as a sport, thus subjecting it to recently enacted anti-gambling legislation. A few more remarks followed, then the cards were in the air.
Once the tourney started, it was relatively familiar territory for yr humble gumshoe. FerricRamsium and I gathered hands and reported, while John snapped photos and Gloria and Jeremy shot videos. The day was a bit arduous, as we pushed through seven levels without a dinner break. But we finished in time to grab a late dinner at the hotel restaurant and were back in our rooms before midnight.
Haven’t ventured much beyond the hotel and the Kyiv Sport Palace thus far. (Indeed, probably won’t be able to get out much at all this week, given that we’ll be working long days from now until we leave.) Have nevertheless already gotten to enjoy some fabulous eats here at the hotel. I mentioned the terrific breakfast spread yesterday. Got to enjoy another scrumptious meal last night, getting the Chicken Kiev -- spelled Kiev -- which was melt-in-yr-mouth awesome.
As I say, not a lot of time to write this morning, so I’m cutting it short. Did want to mention how cool it was to be working alongside not just my PokerNews colleagues, but the other reporters from the various sites who are here, too. Saw many of these folks over the summer at the WSOP, and it is fun to be part of the especially collegial, mutually supportive atmosphere these smart and friendly peoples help create.
Okay, off to work. Back tomorrow. Head over to PokerNews’ live reporting page for our updates today.