EPT Barcelona: Ups and downs, ins and outs
There are few things less surprising in poker than the all-in fest that ensues early on day two.
Having spent much of their respective first days clinging on to however small a stack they might be left with, most of the players towards the lower end of the chip ladder decide that it's double-up or go to the beach time within the first couple of rounds.
This, of course, makes for some crazy plays and crazier results, as some well-known names will testify.
Out on table 23, there was always going to be fireworks with the short-stacked but hyper-aggressive Annette "annette_15" Obrestad sitting the right of the short-stacked but seriously talented Paul Wasicka. Making up a fascinating trio was Peter Toefting, a PokerStars player from Denmark, whose seat in Barcelona cost him precisely nothing, having bested a field of 3,000 to win a freeroll organised by a Danish newspaper, then taking first spot in a single-table final to claim his place here.
It was about half an hour into proceedings when I strolled to the table to see a load of chips in the middle and some furious calculating of pots and side-pots underway. Neither Wasicka nor Annette seemed to have any chips in front of them, while Toefting also seemed to have a hefty chunk in the centre of the table.
When all the chopping and stacking was done, it became clear that this was a three-way coup, with Obrestad and Wasicka's tournament life on the line and Toefting's pretty much in the balance as well. They each flipped their cards: Obrestad had K-K, Wasicka 8-8 and Toefting needing to catch up with A-10.
But, as is so often the case, the poker gods soon turned all that on its head. The flop brought an ace, and an eight, catapulting Wasicka into the lead and relegating Annette's kings to the bottom of the heap. Nothing changed on turn and river, tripling up Wasicka, the former World Series runner up, handing a decent side pot to Toefting, and sending Obrestad back to the online tables, where she'll no doubt soon be running amok with even more ruthless elan than usual.
Meanwhile, mixed news for other qualifiers. Bryn Kenney was "at it" again, he proudly confided to me a few moments ago, and ended up cracking aces when his 10-6 squeeze play hit the fop squarely on the head. He's up to 80,000.
However, Cort Kibler-Melby was on the rougher end of a beat: his Q-Q outdrawn by A-Q all-in pre-flop for 20,000 and change.
And Team PokerStars lost an ambassador a moment or so ago. Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier was seen departing the card-room, leaving Katja Thater, Noah Boeken and Daniel Negreanu to fight the good fight.