EPT11 Grand Final: Tension, time-wasting and tantrums on the bubble
When approaching the bubble it's important to demonstrate absolute confidence. Dario Sammartino knew exactly what to do.
Ten players from the money, and things getting tense, Sammartino ordered bananas. This was significant, for not only did it show how calm he was, but also his supreme confidence that he expected to cash, which he would have to if he wanted to cover the cost of the banana.
For others though the pre-bubble period was extended torture, an hour of all-ins and frustration as play slowed and the mood got antsy.
The field seemed divided. On the one side the well chipped, bemoaning the stalling of those less fortunate than themselves. Then on the other hand the stallers, bemoaning the moaning of the well chipped. Somewhere in between was the floor staff, forbidden from kicking people in the pants.
All this comes to the surface when a bubble takes longer to burst than expected, about a full level longer than usual. But then perhaps there's even more reason to hand on in an event this big.
Vanessa Selbst tried to stick around, and looked set to when she flopped two pair and got her chips in good. Then the river came along and helped the other guy. I even heard one of the TV people groan. For her part Selbst said nothing, at least not out loud. Her face said a lot though.
As Selbst left Andre Akkari extended his stay, moving all-in with pocket fours, which had made a set on the flop. The player opposite was thinking of the call. Leaning back, his t-shirt revealed the slogan "Drive Hard or Go Home". Well he did drive hard, calling with a losing hand, and was subsequently much closer to going home.
At this point the clock seemed stuck on 86 players (79 would be paid), as double ups continued and play slowed to a crawl.
David Peters departed, and Quon Zhou knocked out Noah Villancourt using the only English phrase he knows: "all-in". Actually that's not true. He also knows "No English", which he says only if he can stop grinning.
Jeff Hakim was forced to play an unnatural role of hanging on for dear life. But sometimes even when struggling there's a sense that things are going to go your way.
With his stack reduced to 19,000 (the big blind was 5,000), Hakim was looking at a raise. He called it with ace-six and was up against six-five. Hakim got his ace on the flop and another six on the turn saved Hakim, who then called for one more on the river... and got it.
"Cooler man," joked Hakim. "Boat over boat."
Fady Kamar would leave in 82nd place, marking the start of the slow spell before hand-for-hand. Johnny Lodden doubled up with pocket sevens, while Mustapha Kanit and Sergio Castellucio continue their personal spat, one that seemed to end with Kanit winning the pot and the pair of the laughing at the end of it.
It was round about now that the growing disquiet over stalling came to the surface. Fabrice Soulier was unhappy with the time hands were taking to play, so too his countryman Michel Abecassis, and Christopher Frank, who even when complaining seems to have a permanent grin on his face. At least one player got a warning, and floor staff, short of billy clubs, positioned themselves around the room on the look out for time wasters.
Ironically going from 82 to 81 players left seemed to take an age. But then hand for hand play took just a single hand.
Eric Sfez found pocket kings and, figuring it might not be worth waiting any longer, moved all in. Jason Mercier meanwhile found deuces. It would be enough
It was a tantalising flop, coming ace-three-five, giving Mercier more outs. He got it on the turn, a deuce making Sfez the unfortunately soul sent to the rail empty handed. Not that anyone seemed to mind that much.
Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.