All Star Week Day 2: Pros seek to restore battered pride
by Chris Edge
Following their disastrous start to All Star Week on Monday, PokerStars Team Pro lined up Tuesday determined to cut into the Challengers' overnight 4-1 lead in their quest to take home a 2nd successive title.
First out of the blocks for the Pros was 2003 WSOP Main Event winner, Chris Moneymaker. Once the champion of the underdog, Moneymaker nowadays finds himself sat on the Pros' side of the fence, here seeking to register only their 2nd win of the campaign.
Flying the flag for the Challengers in the NLHE event was seasoned online cash-cow, 'MOJOEX1'. Any hopes of a speedy turnaround in fortunes for the Pros were short-lived however, with the match consigned to history after only 8 minutes.
Much of the damage to Moneymaker's cause was done after raising a MOJOEX1 turn bet to 900 with the board reading 7♦K♠9♣3♥, only to then fold to an all-in 3-bet.
That left Money down to 1080 in chips, a near 4:1 deficit he was never able to recover from. Down to just 810, some pre-flop sparring saw the chips eventually find their way to the middle; 7♣A♠ for MOJOEX1, vs Moneymaker's Q♦A♦. The poker gods were with the Challenger on this one, as the board ran out 3♥6♠7♥T♠8♠ to felt the former WSOP Champ and lengthen the Challengers' overall lead.
Next up to enter the fray was popular UK journalist-come-pro, Vicky Coren. Her opponent: the Canadian, '72good'.
The match didn't go quite to Coren's expectations, immediately expressing her surprise at the game choice: "what? what are we playing? I was expecting holdem lol"
One might surmise Omaha Hi/Lo is not Coren's particular fortay, given her rather frank admission just moments later: "you should be alright, I haven't played this game in about 5 years lol"
The London-based pro's fears proved justified as 72good went on to exploit Coren's apparent rustiness and build a steady lead throughout the match, with a series of probing bets that caught the Pro off-guard.
The ever-gregarious Coren later commented "I just ate a bowl of cheerios too fast"; an apparent bout of indigestion accounting for several pots gone awry, with Coren seemingly content to perpetrate her own demise.
Fourteen minutes in and 72good's early work all came undone. A series of bets and raises on the 2♠3♦Q♠ flop saw Coren all-in with A♠3♥4♠A♣ to 72good's 4♦A♦K♣7♠, for Ace-high and a solitary straight draw to boot. The resulting T♥ turn and K♥ river slid the 2380 Coren's way and restored parity.
That particular dent to the Challenger's stack did little to reign in his aggression and he was soon back up to the heady heights of 4115 in chips to Coren's 885, displaying much of the same, probing formula that had served him well for much of the match.
Coren was afforded brief restbite for her troubles late on, earning a double up when her J♦A♣J♥7♣ was enough to see off 72good's K♥8♦A♥T♠ after an all-in tussle on the Q♥T♦5♦ flop and subsequent 5♠5♥.
However moments later and her efforts proved in vain; a pre-flop 5-bet all-in by the Pro holding J♦A♣2♦K♠ resulting in a board of a 8♥3♦A♠K♦T♠ - enough to hand 72good's 4♣A♦A♥7♦ victory and make it 2/2 on the Day for the Challengers.
It was next the turn of recently-signed PokerStars Pro and all round nice guy David Williams, to put a stop to the Pro's downfall. Standing in his way in Match 8 was Prague-based, 'Hurloon'.
The chip lead changed hands on several occasions throughout the opening skirmishes, with Williams eventually coming out on top at the half-way stage by just 690 in chips. Much of the frenetic NLHE matches we had seen hitherto in the series had displayed all of the blood-and-thunder, 'all-in poker' that separates NLHE from the rest; with matches often over after the 8 minute mark.
Williams' and Hurloons' affair was proving a much closer-run thing altogether, with small-ball, raise-and-take-it poker the order of the day.
It was the latter who was first able to gain real headway in the match, establishing a 3:2 lead after 20 minutes in when Williams called down a 250 river bet on a board of K♣8♠K♠T♦2♠, only to be shown K♥7♥ for a very deceptively played trip 3's.
Hurloon was able to capitalise on his newly-found riches, with a series of pre-flop and continuation bets building his stack up to a Match-high of 4550. With blinds at 25/50 Williams eventually shipped it all-in pre-flop holding A♥9♣, and was looked up by the dominating A♠T♥. Williams was to encounter kicker-trouble on the resultant 2♠6♣2♥5♦Q♠ board, to make it a remarkable 87.5% win rate for the Challengers.
A familiar face provided the competition for Match 9 of the series, as Monday's success story 'jimenezzzz' faced off against another former WSOP champ, Greg Raymer.
FossilMan managed to race into an early 3:2 lead after Hand #4 in the Limit Hold'Em round. The action went check, bet, raise, raise, call on the flop with Raymer holding A♣9♣ for the nut flush draw - which got there on the 4♣ river. jimenezzzz called Raymer's final 100 bet, only to muck upon seeing the bad news.
FossilMan capitalized on his early lead to build his stack up to 3421 a quarter of an hour in, with the Razz round responsible for much of Raymer's early dominance. Yet just 2 minutes later and a pivotal 7 Card Stud hand swung the chip lead jimenezzzz's way following some check-betting-calling all the way to 7th street.
FossilMan kept the pot small on 4th and 5th street with 2♣A♥ and 2♣A♥9♣ showing, calling all jimenezzzz had to throw at him. jimenezzzz's final 120 river bet proved decisive, revealing 6♣3♣J♣T♣9♥K♣5♦ for a King-high flush to relent Raymer's charge.
FossilMan went on to lose further ground throughout the 7 Card Stud round, with jimenezzzz taking his stack as high as 4779 after showing down 6♠T♣T♠A♥5♠T♦J♥ for 3 tens made on 6th street; enough to take down a 1312 pot.
Raymer's fate was eventually sealed after moving all in on a turn of A♣J♠7♠3♥. He was insta-called by jimenezzzz, understandably so when holding the powerhouse A♦A♥. Raymer sheepishly revealed Q♦6♦ for a bluff-gone-wrong. The irrelevant T♣ river compounded the Pro's misery to make it a bad day all round for former world champs.
2 hours later and all-eyes turned to Portuguese Pro Henrique Pinho, as the Pros faced the humiliating prospect of a Challenger whitewash for the 2nd consecutive day.
The Challengers' conqueror from before, 72good was back to do his part in the history-making and hammer a firm nail into the Pro's coffin.
72good was indeed proving too good for Pinho in the early running, amassing a 3:2 chip lead by the 10-minute stage. A series of check-folds from Pinho aiding 72good's cause, making for some nervous viewing for the onlooking Pros.
The Challenger was not only running good but also being paid off with marginal holdings. In one such hand and with 240 in the middle 72good induced a call from the thinnest of value-bets on a 5♥8♦T♠4♠4♣ board, showing Q♥8♥ for 8s and 4s.
Fate turned on 72good just minutes later, and a cold-deck soon signified the start of a recovery from Pinho. A well-timed flopped set of 9s bettered 72 good's riverred 2-pair, with the eventual 8♦3♥9♥5♥4♣ board earning the Portuguese Pro the double-up, and putting him right back into contention. Pinho then went on to make a great river-call in the latter stages holding just A♠J♥, for ace-high on a Q♣3♣9♦5♥8♣ board - enough to take the 1118 pot and the chip lead.
A♣J♣ again proved Pinho's lucky charm with the chips finding their way into the middle in the final hand. 72good's dominating A♥K♠ finding no favours on a nasty J♦ turn, following a safe 7♦Q♠Q♥ flop. The 2♦ river ended the match to finally salvage some much-needed pride and leave the Pros to lick their wounds overnight, leaving the scoreboard at a Challenger-dominant 8-2.