EPT10 Barcelona: Drama over every shoulder
For lovers of narrative, the inherent plotting of poker tournaments never fails to satisfy.
With the start of Day 3 we have reached the familiar "pre-bubble" stage of the story, a stage necessarily punctuated by a series of triumphs and tragedies as players' tourney journeys are ended or extended.
A brief tour between the tables during such a period necessarily exposes one to a series of minor dramas, then. And even if these plot twists are expected and even formulaic, they still, somehow, work.
Look over nearly any shoulder, and it seems another intriguing episode is about to unfold.
For example, halfway into today's first level we stopped to see Spain's Dominguez Pardo all in and at risk with K♣K♠ against Rens Feenstra's A♥K♥.
Standing a few feet away, one could almost hear Pardo's unspoken thoughts ("No ace, no ace!") as the community cards were about to arrive. Then following a flop containing two hearts, a rapid addendum ("No heart, no heart!").
Alas for Pardo, a third heart fell on the turn to give his Dutch opponent a flush. With no pair on board the river was of no further use to Pardo, and with a wince he stood and moved toward the exit.
About 210 players remained then. Just moments later we saw the UK's Paul Frost staring out of the big blind at a 4♥5♠K♣7♦ board with about 25,000 in the middle and around twice that behind.
He bet 18,500, then watched as Russia's Dmitry Yurasov raised to 40,000 from late position. Frost sat with his head bowed for a moment, announced an all-in reraise, and Yurasov quickly called.
Frost had 7♠4♦ for two pair -- a seeming big blind special -- but Yurasov held 5♦5♣ for a set and Frost's head dipped even lower. A queen on the river brought Frost out of his chair, and exhalingly he wished everyone luck before moving on, casting one last look back at Yurasov and what has now become a formidable-sized stack.
The field shrunk further to less than 200, and soon the American Russell Thomas was all in and at risk with A♦K♣ against an opponent's Q♠Q♦. Thomas leaned forward, his expression becoming less tense at the sight of the 8♠K♦4♠ flop. But the 5♠ on the turn reintroduced a wrinkle of worry.
"Ohh... he's got spades," said Thomas.
Luckily for him the river was a harmless 4♣, and Thomas allowed himself an expression of relief.
They have begun Level 16, and now just 186 remain. Only 183 of them will cash. The dramatic climax of the bubble bursting is imminent.
The all-in-and-calls have slowed for the moment. But the tension has increased. The story marches forward.
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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.