PokerStars Festival London: Mo' Money Mo' bubble
The bubble is always painful; of that, we can be certain. Although they come in many shapes and sizes there's always at least one player who's shunned by the Poker Gods. No one likes to leave empty handed and it hurts a hell of a lot more when you're the last to do so.
However, there were plenty of players feeling the pain during the protracted bubble in the £2,000 High Roller. It's the biggest buy-in event on the PokerStars Festival London schedule and the participants certainly got their money's worth. It was a bubble that spanned two levels, one break and 29 hands in total.
After almost two hours of play though it was Michel Abecassis who would make 34 other players very happy and £3,110 better off. In his exit hand, he shoved for 38,000 (7.5 big blinds) over a limp from Michel Chen, Valentin Frunze smooth called from the small blind, only for Neophytos Neophytou to shove all-in from the big blind. This squeezed out the middle two players and, when the action was completed at the other tables, it was time for a showdown. Abecassis had a genuine hand in the shape of 8♦8♠ but he'd run into thee hand as Neophytou was holding A♦A♠. Neither the flop, turn or river came down with any snow on it and Abecassis departed.
The crazy element to this bubble is that it could've started and finished on the same hand and if it had, then it would've been a different Frenchman leaving with nothing. After Philipp Gruissem (37th) and Dmitrii Shchepkin (36th) had departed hand for hand play was in effect and Nicolas Cardyn found himself as the shortest stacked of the 35 players remaining. The Frenchman, who's has a Sunday Million victory among his poker accolades, wasted little time in shooting for a double up. In the hand in question Franck Makaci opened to 11,000, Cardyn shoved for 39,500 (just under 10 big blinds) and Makaci called to put his compatriot at risk.
Cardyn then had to wait for play at the other tables to finish before he could learn his fate. The Poker Deck - where the tournament was taking place - isn't the most spacious and for once the players on the bubble followed the instructions of the Tournament Director. They remained in their seats instead of rushing to the table to see action that was announced over the microphone. The TD announced that Cardyn held K♣K♦ to Makaci's A♠K♠.
There was a near 34% chance that bubble would be a one and done affair then. The board came jack high though and Cardyn survived. There would be another 25 hands before another player would be at risk and while the action wasn't frantic, plenty happened.
Liv Boeree and James Akenhead were busy building stacks, denting the hopes of Harry Lodge and Matt Ashton respectively. While Joe Johnson, who'd taken delivery of a full English breakfast added some chips to it when he took a sizeable pot from Chris Moorman. Both had top pair, but Moorman was out kicked and he was, suddenly, in trouble with a stack of around 14 big blinds.
With Cardyn having doubled up it was now Tiago Da Silva Freitas Branco, Mikael Guenni and Makaci who were hugging the bubble. On the eleventh deal of the hand for hand bubble play - which was also the last before a scheduled 15-minute break - it looked as if the bubble might finally burst. In a limped blind on blind pot, Javier Zarco had set Mladen Ivanov all-in on the river of a K♥5♣3♦Q♠J♣ board. Ivanov had around 14 big blinds behind at this point. It was a good job that the break wasn't starting until the hand had finished as the Bulgarian may have tanked into the next level if the clock hadn't been paused.
As it is he folded and the bubble continued to the subsequent level. With the blinds now at 2,500/5,000/500 there were a few stacks who'd slipped into the danger zone, three of which were sat in a line. Mikael Guenni, Gabriel Carter and Da Silva Freitas Branco were all in need of a double, although it was Makaci, with just seven big blinds who was looking like finishing in the most unwanted position in poker. When he shoved with K♠K♣ and received no action, the blinds and antes he gathered meant he moved out of the basement and Guenni took his place.
Nine more hands, in which not a lot happened - save for a couple of uncalled shoves - then followed before Guenni could wait no longer to take his stand. Amusingly 'Rich Girl' by Gwen Stefani, which samples 'If I were a rich man' from Fiddler on the Roof was playing over the sound system at this point. Well, Guenni, who had just 25,500, wasn't going to get rich via a double up but he would hope to avoid dying.
In the hand in question action had folded to Eric Le Goff, with two short stacks behind he'd shoved all-in with Q♦3♦ and Guenni had called all-in with Q♣Q♠. The 3♣9♠6♣5♦T♦ board created a touch of drama, but Guenni survived.
Meanwhile, another important pot was playing out on the adjacent table. Michel Chen had been put to the test by Zarco. A complete board of 7♠6♥3♣7♦7♥ was on the felt and Zarco had moved in for an effective 175,000. Chen had a huge decision to make then as he was comfortably stacked. Ultimately he elected to fold Q♣Q♠ face-up.
Then came the last stand of Abecassis and the end of the bubble period. Unsurprisingly after all the inaction of nearly two levels of play plenty of exits followed with Chris Moorman and Matthew Ashton among the bust outs that have reduced the field to just 19 at the time of writing. Liv Boeree, James Akenhead and Day 1 chip leader Yuriy Boyko are among those who play on for the first prize of £67,290. The final table payouts can be seen below and the full payout structure can be found here.
You can follow live updates of Day 1A of the Main Event and Day 2 of the High Roller with our friends at PokerNews.