APPT8 Manila Day 2: Bubble, toil and trouble

As far as I'm concerned, there's no better moment in poker than the bubble. Sure, everyone loves to win a tournament but the person finishing second is usually getting amply compensated. On the bubble the line between glorious success and catastrophic failure is thinner than a Jason Mercier value-bet.

With that being said, it often feels like forever in getting to the actual moment itself. Players get nervous, they slow down, they tighten up. Ranges get narrow and the level of action descends from "The Raid 2" to "Merchant-Ivory film".

Today, it has been slower than was predicted. The dinner break we had at the end of level 14 was not originally scheduled but APPT President Danny McDonagh felt that getting down to the final two tables would take more than eight levels and so gave all remaining players a 40-minute break, allowing them ample time to visit the foot court. Then it was back to serious business.

It wasn't until 30 players were left that people really started to get anxious.


Michael Guzzardi is the current chip leader

"How many out? Two? Two?" asked anxious short stack Elan Zak when he heard shouts over on table 15. However his asking of the question was more in hope than expectation. Zak was the shortest stack remaining at this point and when the answer was that no-one had been knocked out, Zak was forced to move all in during the next hand with Q♥T♠. Chip leader Michael Guzzardi gave him a spin with T♦9♦ but the board came A♠6♠2♠T♥6♥ for a chop, much to Zak's chagrin. Zak would become the "bubble-bubble" a couple of hands later, pushing with K♦6♣ but this time falling to Guzzardi's A♠3♣.

As the tournament went hand-for-hand, the players learned the hard way about the first card off the deck rule. With one hand still to be completed and a player moving all in, some of the shorter stacks were obviously interested in what the outcome would be. However as soon as the hand was completed the dealers began to deal the next hand, several players did not make it back to the table in time and their hands were declared dead.

The players did not need to be too anxious though as barely a couple of hands later Daniel Giang of Australia picked up red aces just as Renato Villanueva found red queens next to him. A blank board later and everyone else was in the money.


Daniel Giang (left) eliminates Renato Villanueva (right)

However, that wasn't the entire story. Two hands earlier Giang had picked up aces and shoved over a raise, another player had asked for a count but the dealer had thought he had said, "Call." With that, Giang exposed his aces and Danny McDonagh was about to give the Australian a round penalty until the entire table backed what Giang had done as an honest mistake that wasn't his fault and McDonagh relented. Needless to say, Giang's opponent folded that hand.

As for poor Villanueva, the Filipino player walked semi-dazed across to the bar with his phone in his hand, making a call to relay his bad news to someone else. With everyone else now in the money, expect the exits to thick and fast.