There are some things you simply can’t account for when planning a poker festival.
This year’s horrific terrorist attack in Barcelona, which led to 14 fatalities, qualifies as something no one could have predicted.
The attack took place while PokerStars was holding its massive PSC Barcelona festival just a few kilometers away.
Despite the serious nature of the attack, PokerStars decided to move forward with the event and Team PokerStars Pro Liv Boeree believed it was the right decision.
We caught up with Boeree and talked to her about what it’s like to play cards while having to deal with an omnipresent threat in the back of your mind.
PokerListings: Do you remember where you were when you first heard about the terror attack that happened here in Barcelona last Thursday?
Liv Boeree: I was at the table, deep in the €10k High Roller event. My mom messaged me and then tried to call.
I was surprised at first. She asked if I was okay and I said, "sure, why?". Then she explained to me what had happened.
PL: What was your initial response?
LB: My initial response was to make sure Igor [Kurganov] was okay. And then… it’s difficult to put in words, and I don’t want to use the word desensitized but this has unfortunately become a part of life.
It’s not that I don’t realize what has happened, but there are 20,000 people dying every day for needless things, terrible things that are avoidable.
There are murders all the time, committed by horrible -- but also mentally ill people -- but they don’t get as much press, so they’re not even at the forefront of our minds.
The media coverage is a difficult subject to talk about here. Of course these terrorists have been brainwashed and believe stupid things but they also want the notoriety.
They see other attacks making the front pages, and that inspires them. It makes them want their own moment of “glory”.
The more we make of it the more we’re going to have it. Something’s gotta give there. We obviously need to try and minimize terror and remember the victims but we also can’t overhype it because it becomes a self-perpetuating thing.
These people want fame and they want it for really bad things. We shouldn’t give them that.
PL: Did you go to La Rambla where the attack happened?
LB: No. Not only because I was very busy but also… I’m sad enough about what happened. I don’t need to go there and make myself even sadder.
PL: What do you think about the way Barcelona is handling the situation?
LB: I’m very impressed with the city in general. I love how the next day there were people out on the beaches. People went to work.
There was a more sombre mood but people were getting on with their lives because that’s what we have to do!
If we don’t, the terrorists get what they want. They want fear, they want disruption and they want to be talked about. We have to carry on and not give them what they want.
PL: One question on everybody’s mind here was whether this poker event here should carry on.
LB: Of course it should! It’s not even close! What else would we do? Let the terrorists win? Cancelling the event can’t be an option unless there was a chance that it wasn’t secure, but security here has been the strongest I’ve ever seen at any event, which is reassuring.
There’s always a risk to anything that anyone of us is doing but it’s comparatively small. It was absolutely the right call to carry on.
In fact, now you can see the poker community being even nicer to each other. It has given everyone a bit of perspective. It shows that we’re all here for the same thing and we all want to live our peaceful lives. That was nice to see.
PL: Looking at bigger events, they didn’t stop either. The CF Barcelona played yesterday, almost as if to make a point.
LB: Exactly and good for the Spanish that they did this.
We should not forget that the chances of being hit by a terrorist attack are tiny, compared to almost anything else. We have to be aware that our minds are playing tricks on us, overvaluing some things and undervaluing others.
We’re getting bombarded by the media with some things but not others. Air pollution is much more likely to kill us but we don’t hear much about that all the time.
PL: Have you ever experienced that this religious conflict – if you can even call it a conflict – in the poker community?
LB: Never. Literally, no time. I highly doubt it ever will.
PL: Thank you, Liv Boeree.