All Star Week: Pro's woes subside...a bit

allstarweek_thn.jpgIf the PokerStars All Star Week taught us anything on Day 1 it was to never count out the underdog. If Day 2 offered a lesson it was this: The Team PokerStars Pros aren't going to just roll over for the All Star Challengers.

No doubt, Day 1 proved to be disappointing for the Pros. Dennis Phillips' three hand loss in Match 5 left them trailing 4-1. Only Isabelle Mercier walked away with a win.

"I really enjoyed my match against PKerBL, especially since I knew he's a Sunday Million winner," Mercier said. "I tried my best to control the game from the start and put maximum pressure, to let him know that I would be the one leading this heads up. I took this challenge very seriously and I am very proud to report the win to my Captain Victor Ramdin."

The Pros could not rest on that one laurel, however. Day 2 loomed. Here's how it broke down.

Match 6: Katja Thater Vs oblowski512 (NLHE)

The opening match of the day began with a hint of caution. To wit: Both players opted to fold their first small blind.The conservative opening would have led some to believe another titanic struggle was getting underway. We wondered whether it would be another match like the 373-hand marathon between Victoria Coren and Sumpas on Day 1.

The thoughts of another slobber-knocker were soon dispelled as a steady trickle of chips made their way to Katja's side of the table. It wasn't the usual ebb and flow that you expect from a heads up match - there was a steady momentum that made you think oblowski512 would be making a stand before the deficit became too large.

That moment came in hand 37 where a succession of five pre-flop raises led to the Challenger being all-in. Katja's AQ wasn't in the best of shape against oblowski512's AK, but the flop favored the Pro with a queen.

With that, the Pros closed the gap to 4-2.

Match 7: Marcin Horecki Vs kAmIkAdZeEe (NLHE)

If you were to pick out some highlight matches prior to the All Star Week, this one would have to be among them. The all-Polish clash came about by special negotiation in the team selection tournaments. kAmIkAdZeEe was determined to step up against his countryman.

The early exchanges had the hallmarks of two players feeling each other out while not wishing to risk a significant portion of thier stacks. The small-ball jousting came to a crashing end in hand 25.

kAmIkAdZeEe called a routine pre-flop raise. The flop was all clubs. Horecki bet out and immediately faced a raise. The Pro opted to put the pressure back on, re-popped it, and got the call.

The turn brought some straight possibilities, but you had the feeling that neither player required much help. The rest of the money found its way into the pot and the trainwreck was revealed - Marcin's 3♣ 5♣ against kAmIkAdZeEe's K♣ 4♣. The aftermath was a chip lead for the Challenger of 9880 to 120.

Horecki fought on for twelve more hands, but the handicap was just too big.The Pro finally fell when his pockets nines were outrun by his opponent's suited K- J..

The Challengers took back the three-match lead. It was 5-2.

Match 8: Noah Boeken Vs Canuck (PLO8)

Despite the All Star Challenger's doubtless talent, most bookmakers would favor the Pros on a Vegas line. Match 8 may well have been the exception.

PokerStars player Canuck has emerged as the non-Hold'em specialist of the Challengers team and a little bit of research revealed an impressive pedigree. Most notable: Canuck was the very first WCOOP PLO8 champion in 2002.

As you'd expect in any form of Omaha, it wasn't long into the game before the pots started to build. However, the deep structures provided by the PokerStars Poker Room Management Team meant that neither player would be in any immediate danger.

After half an hour of play, the Challenger's class was apparent. He seldom relinquished control of the match. By hand 62, it was all over. Boeken started the hand with just 25% of the chips in play and he had them all in the middle by the turn with a nut low and nut flush draw. His hand failed to improve against Canuck's solitary pair of kings and the Challengers had locked up another match.

Match 9: Alex Kravchenko vs psimalive (NLHE)

There was no way the Pros were going to catch up on Day 2, but Russian Team PokerStars Pro Alex Kravchenoko was going to do his best to not let the team fall too far behind. He fought hard for the first 20 minutes and got out to an early lead against psimalive. Rather than erupt, psimalive ground his way back to the top. Forty minutes into the match, Kravchenko held a 1,800 chip lead. That's when the big hand hit.

After seeing a flop of K♣ 4♣ 8♦, Kravchenko picked a bad time to represent a big hand. After psimalive led into him, Kravchenko pushed all-in. It was an almost obscene overbet with 6♣ 8♣. A♠ K♦ was good for psimalive. It held.

Kravchenko never recovered and the Challengers moved up to a 7-2 advantage.

Match 10: J.C. Alvarado Vs 666 INRI (NLHE)

J.C. Alvarado is one of the newest Team PokerStars Pros and tonight he was also one of the most valuable. Last night's final match of the day ended in three hands. Tonight's final tournament went a bit longer, but was no marathon. Alvarado finished off 666 INRI in less than half an hour.

After 67 hands, the stacks were, for all practical purposes, even. Alvarado had 666 INRO out-chipped by abut 900. After 666 INRI limped in, Alvarado came in for a raise. He got the call the opponents saw a Q♣ 4♥ 9♥ flop. Both players checked to a see the 4♠ on the turn. Alvarado bet out and got the call.

The river was the 6♠. The screen exploded with bets, raises, all-ins, and calls. Why? You guessed it.

JC Alvarado: A♥ 4♣
666 INRI: 3♦ 4♦

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With that, Team PokerStars Pro finished down for the day, but with heads held high.

Stay tuned for Wednesday's matches.

Victor Ramdin Vs Aryamehr (NLHE)
William Thorson Vs Canuck (PLO)
Vanessa Rousso Vs PKerBL (NLHE)
Chris Moneymaker Vs bluffblocker (NLHE)

Good luck to all the players and both teams on Wednesday.

PokerStars HostBob contributed to this report.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in PokerStars news