World Cup heat 2 - all the action
2.45am: And there it is, we have a decision. Iceland and Ireland get it all in pre-flop, both behind ace-rag. But the rag of Iceland - an eight - wipes the floor with the rag of Ireland - a three - and that was decisive when both flopped (for a bit of TV excitement.) Halldor Sverrisson, of Iceland, beats Joe Connolly, of Ireland heads up to claim the 15 points and put Iceland back in it. Joe takes 12 points for Ireland.
2.40am: The first sizeable pot of the heads up battle goes to Iceland. Halldor bet pre-flop, bet on the flop and bet on the turn, the final one of those getting Joe Connolly to fold. Iceland has about a two-to-one chip lead in this battle.
2.30am: Down to two. This time Halldor Sverrisson, of Iceland, accounts for Florin Constantin, of Romania. Hand details are unknown at present, but Florin earns nine points for his country. Iceland and Ireland are heads up.
2.25am: And on the very next hand, Sasa Kojcinovic, of Germany, is out. He got it all in with J-7 and Joe Connolly, from Ireland, did the business with a K-10. Two kings flopped. Sasa takes seven points for fourth.
2.20am: Another one gone, and this time it's Otto Byrne, from Canada. Otto played a super-tight game, clearly intending to consolidate a position near to the overnight lead for his country after Michael Watson's victory in heat one. Eventually the blinds got him, and then his J-3 couldn't beat Halldor Sverrisson's Q-9. Otto takes five points for fifth.
2.00am: We've lost another one. Jonathan Stoker, from Mexico, moved his final 2,500 in pre-flop. He had deuces and was happy as he could be to be called by Florin Constantin's king-seven. But a king flopped and that was that. Stoker takes three points for sixth place.
1.30am: The players are taking another ten minute break, giving a chance for us to get a chip count. Here it is:
1 - Florin Constantin - Romania - 3,500
2 - John Kenlan - USA - OUT
3 - Jonathan Stoker - Mexico - 4,300
4 - Otto Byrne - Canada - 5,600
5 - Joao Nunes - Portugal - OUT
6 - Joe Connolly - Ireland - 11,200
7 - Sasa Kojcinovic - Germany - 6,500
8 - Halldor Sverrisson - Iceland - 8,900
They'll return to play level eight, where the blinds are 800-1,600. Expect a few all-ins.
1.25am: Moments ago, it was looking grim for the Irish. But now, the bleechers around the World Cup table are a sea of chirpy green. The reason? Joe Connolly has just knocked out another player: this time it was John Kenlan, of the United States taking the fall. John moved in for his last 4,200 and Joe moved over the top for another few thousand. That succeeded in isolating the American, and they tabled A-K versus A-Q, Joe with the Big Slick and John looking to improve. He didn't, and a king on the turn ended it all. John Kenlan, of the United States, is out in seventh and takes two points.
1.20am: Something had to give, and it was Portuguese. Joao Nunes moved his last 2,400 in and was called by Joe Connolly, of Ireland. Joe had A-2 but had made a good call: Joao had 6-5. Although a six flopped, an ace rivered and Joao was out. He takes one point for Portugal for his eighth place.
1.15am: It looked desperate for John Kenlan and the United States. He was all-in with ace-nine against Joe Connolly's ace-king. But the poker gods seem committed to keeping this eight-handed and rivered a straight for the American player (on a board of 10-7-6-K-8). We go on, but with blinds now at 400-800 there's bound to be an elimination, or three, or four, very soon.
1.05am: Amazingly, we're still eight handed here, with Sasa Kojcinovic, the short-stack, the latest player to double up. He's pushed a few times, then was finally called by John Kelan, of the United States. Kenlan had A-4, but Sasa had woken up with Q-Q and survived a flush draw to stay afloat.
12.40am: We might end up setting a peculiar precedent here: the first poker tournament where all the players are blinded away. There's still a marked lack of action, with the small stacks occasionally moving in but no one calling. However, as the blinds go up the fireworks are certain to go off any moment.
12.25am: The all-in fest continues, but the chorus of "pass" was temporarily interrupted by Sasa Kojcinovic's German-tinged "call." The all-in player was Florin Constantin, of Romania, and they went to the races: Sasa held 9-9, Florin Ad-Jd and the suits proved decisive. By the turn, there were three diamonds on the board and Florin made the flush to double up. Sasa is felted, but still in.
12.15am: They pass like the night. One round since the break and we haven't seen a flop. Sasa, from Germany, moved in three times in a row and picked up the blinds. Then Joao, the other small stack from Portugal, tried it with the same result.
11.45pm: Players are taking a ten minute break as smaller chips are coloured up. All eight are still in the tournament. They'll be returning to play level five, with blinds of 200-400, with the following stacks:
1 - Florin Constantin - Romania - 3,600
2 - John Kenlan - USA - 5,400
3 - Jonathan Stoker - Mexico - 6,600
4 - Otto Byrne - Canada - 7,100
5 - Joao Nunes - Portugal - 2,400
6 - Joe Connolly - Ireland - 5,300
7 - Sasa Kojcinovic - Germany - 2,200
8 - Halldor Sverrisson - Iceland - 7,300
11.30pm: It's still exceptionally slow here, but some of the more experienced players have noticed an opportunity. Halldor Sverrisson, from Iceland, who is a PokerStars EPT veteran, has a huge pile of the smaller denomination chips, a sure sign that he's been pinching the blinds whenever he can. No eliminations, though.
11.15pm: First major pot of the final goes to Otto Byrne, of Canada. He gets it all in, coming over the top of a turn bet by Sasa Kojcinovic, of Germany. Germany had bet 1,000 looking at Kd 7s 10d 8c. Canada's bet was 3,800 more, and Sasa laid it down.
10.45pm: We're still in the relatively early stages here where raises are a rare commodity. Anyone brave enough to toss one in usually picks it up, while a re-raise is seemingly a certain winner. Jonathan Stoker, of Mexico, just tried one of those and took a small pot off John Kember, of the United States.
10.30pm: It's still remarkably cagey in Barcelona, with few players prepared to make any moves and risk the scorn of their teammates. Only Joe Connolly, of Ireland, is really getting his chips in, often just picking up the blinds. We did see one river, Ireland and Mexico calling pre-flop. Mexico, represented by Jonathan Stoker, took it down when his A-9 hit a nine.
10.15pm: It's been exceptionally circumspect in the opening few orbits of heat two. There have been more nervous passes than 4am at an over-50s singles disco. We've seen two flops, both of which went no further when a bet of 300 took it down. Remember, players start with 5,000 in chips and we play 25 minute levels, starting at 50-100.
After an action packed heat one, in which Canada bested Romania to take the maximum points, we have now recovened around the red baize of the PokerStars.com World Cup of Poker for heat two.
Here are the runners for our second outing:
1 - Florin Constantin - Romania
2 - John Kenlan - USA
3 - Jonathan Stoker - Mexico
4 - Otto Byrne - Canada
5 - Joao Nunes - Portugal
6 - Joe Connolly - Ireland
7 - Sasa Kojcinovic - Germany
8 - Halldor Sverrisson - Iceland
And a little bit about them:
Constantin “alin111” Florin, Romania
For Florin Constantin, a 27-year-old hotel events organiser from Bucharest, playing in the PokerStars World Cup of Poker is not just the first time he’s ever played away from home, it’s also the first time he’s ever played in a live tournament. He and fellow Romanian team-mate Cristian Dragomir grew up together in the same building and have been best friends ever since childhood. He said: “Cristian took up poker first, and then he taught me how to play. I always play online but until today, I’d never even been in a casino. It’s just a hobby for me and I only ever play for small amounts.“
John “d-28” Kenlan, USA
John, 48, from North Carolina, entered the freeroll qualifier for the World Cup on a whim. He said: "I have played home games recreationally for 30 years but making it to the World Cup team is easily my biggest poker achievement. The World Cup of Poker experience is really just sinking in now. I seem to have some solid teammates, so I'm looking forward to meeting them and hopefully we can bring the cup home to the U.S." John lists the beach, fishing and golf amongst his other hobbies.
Jonathan “coronabeach” Stoker, Mexico
Although originally from Pennsylvania in the US, Jonathan Stoker, 33, has lived in Cancun, Mexico for the past 13 years and works as the manager of a time share resort in Neuvo Vallarta. He took up poker after seeing a regular in his local bar playing online a lot.
Jonathan said: “Making the finals of the World Cup of Poker in Barcelona is the highlight of my poker playing to date although I had a strong finish this year in the $30,000 $3 rebuy event on PokerStars. Also I went to Las Vegas recently and played daily at the Golden Nugget daily $100 tournament – making five final tables in seven entries. One of these was a first place finish for $1,800.”
Jonathan, whose son celebrated his first birthday the day he played in the World Cup, believes Mexico has a strong chance of winning the World Cup title. “We didn’t fly 22 hours to get here just for second place,” he said.
Otto “gummer2004” Byrne, Canada
Otto Byrne, 62, from Newfoundland, is part of a unique father-son team representing Canada at this year’s World Cup. When Otto’s son Ed won the first round qualifier for the World Cup, he encouraged his dad to have a go and – remarkably – his father qualified too. Otto, a semi retired-electrician, has playing poker for 50 years in home games but only started playing online about two years ago. Qualifying for the World Cup is by far Otto’s biggest poker achievement to date – he normally plays in play money games, or micro-stakes $1-$5 Sit N Gos.”
Sasa "kosa28" Kojcinovic, Germany
Sasa, a 21-year-old computer science student from Augsburg, Germany, has been playing poker for around 18 months but only in home games, and small online Sit N Go tournaments on PokerStars. He will be taking his seat in Heat two of the World Cup today in his first ever live tournament ever after winning a freeroll on PokerStars. He said: “During the first six months I just played for fun, so I've only been playing "seriously" for a year, though seriously doesn't mean lot in this context. It's just the fact that I'm trying to improve my game. I'm still a micro stakes donk. "
Playing at the World Cup of Poker is Sasa’s biggest poker achievement to date. He said: “I’m a little bit nervous but not too bad. I don’t know any of the other players at the table.”
Halldor “casinoice” Sverrisson, Iceland
Cashed in EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo in March. Played in Heat 4 of last year’s World Cup and came 7th... beaten then by Aces with KJ so looking to improve! Also looking to improve on his luck so far this year in Barcelona. Halldor lost his passport and laptop within hours of arriving in Spain.
Joe Connelly, Galway, Ireland
Joe is a freeroll qualifer on his first ever visit to Barcelona. Like his fellow team-mate Derek Murray (who went out in Heat 1) Joe is from Galway. The 20-year-old started with a small deposit on PokerStars and recently pushed his bankroll above $7,000.
João Nunes, Portugal
João Nunes, 31, is Portugal’s celebrity player. He is widely credited with introducing the game of poker to Portugal after he started the online player community PokerPT three years ago – it now has more than 5,000 members. Married with two children, the former professional basketball player is also the Portuguese commentator for the EPT.