PokerStars Festival Rozvadov: Malec vs Staples
When PokerStars Team Online player Jaime Staples late registered into Day 1C of the main event, he pulled up a seat at one of the many tables here at the King's Casino. A normal seat among the field of 475 runners in Rozvadov.
As he sat and gave a cheerful hello to the table, he barely noticed the man directly to his left, who turned out to be none other than 2016 EPT Barcelona Main Event winner, Sebastian Malec.
You'd have thought with his bright green headphones, red tracksuit, and uncanny resemblance to Harry Potter that the young Pole would stick out like a sore thumb. But Malec does a surprisingly good job at blending in.
In fact, if you hadn't been watching the Barcelona Main Event coverage you might even be tricked into thinking this was his first major tournament. But it's Malec's unconventional bet-sizing and confident use of time at the table that hints at a hidden talent. His ability to both blend in and stand out at the same time makes for a fascinating watch - it's one of the things that made his heads-up victory in Barcelona last summer one of the most exciting in recent memory.
It's quite a contrast to Jaime whose sheer presence here in Rozvadov attracts a whole host of attention from players at nearby tables. When he sits down, one of the players close to him beams with delight - clearly happy with the arrival of the Twitch legend at his table.
Like Malec, Jaime takes his time on the table and is clearly a seasoned tournament pro. But unlike Malec, he's outwardly more confident. He throws his cards high in the air when folding and plays with his chips in between hands while carefully balancing his social media accounts, and smiling throughout play.
I decided to table-lurk at the start of Level 7 to find out how the two would get on.
Level 7 / Blinds - 300/600 / Ante - 75
37.25: When I arrive...
As I make my way to the table, the pair are below average in chips. Malec sits on around 28,000, with Jaime slightly below on 24,000. And it looked like it could be a case of whoever doubled up first would win the race.
23.20: Malec is the initial aggressor
After an uneventful start, Malec is the first aggressor. He has now opened up three hands in a row - and he's gotten three walks. Perhaps the table does know who he is after all...
16.56: Jaime all-in
Meanwhile Jaime is taking his time, patiently waiting for a hand. It's not until the middle of the level that we see him in action.
The hand comes in the form of a defend in the big blind from a 1,400 open from two players. The dealer lays out a flop of 8♦T♥7♣. It checks around before a slightly more juicy A♣ hits the board.
The initial opener checks, and the player in the middle of the two bets 3,800. After a long-tank, Jaime announces all-in.
This sees a quick fold from the initial opener and a pause. "Did you really flop the straight?" he asks a closed-off Jaime. The opponent eventually shows the A♠ before mucking his hand.
Jaime returns the favour by showing T♣, and scoops the pot.
14.12: Malec all-in
A few minutes later and it's Malec's turn to get all his chips in the middle.
Jaime opens to 1,500 on the button, which Malec calls before the big-blind ups the price to 4,000.
Jaime folds and Malec calls.
The flop is 2♣7♥5♠ - about as dry as a board can be. Unsurprisingly it sees two checks.
The turn is the 6♠ which prompts a bet from Malec, and a relatively fast call from the big blind.
The river is the 8♣ and Malec shoves.
It leads to a reluctant fold from the initial raiser as Malec chips up.
0.00: Onto Level 8
All things considered, it's been a good level for the pair.
Malec has clawed his way back up to the tournament average at just over 42k, and Jaime isn't far behind at 36k. But there's still a good few levels left in the day and work to be done.
Day 1C play comes to an end
As the day finishes both players have made it onto Day 2, but they'll both be looking for a double-up sharpish. Having lost half his stack shortly into Level 8, Jaime managed to double up just before the end when his pocket fives held against an AK shove. He now sits on 25,700 chips. Malec however was less fortunate, and will start Day 2 with just 16,200 chips - or 10 big blinds.
Stay tuned all day tomorrow to see how the two get on.
Follow live updates of the turbo Day 1D of the PokerStars Festival Rozvadov Main Event via our friends at PokerNews.