LAPT San Jose: Day 2 not as simple as it seems

There was an optimism in the ballroom of the Ramada Herradura events center this morning of a type that seems to pervade the small, tranquil nation of Costa Rica. The thirty eight players who assembled for Day 2 of LAPT San Jose were all keenly aware of a critical fact: twenty four players would make the money. That made cashing in this tournament sound deceptively simple. Don't bust before fourteen other players bust.

Anyone who's ever played a no-limit hold'em multi-table tournament will tell you that the truth is that making the money is a Herculean task. It takes unrelenting focus, an unending stream of excellent play and the ability to avoid (or at least minimize) the effects of bad luck. Beyond that, merely making the money was not the goal of any of the remaining thirty eight. They all wanted to win.


Play began just shortly after noon.

Yet math is math. The numbers are unbendable in multi-table tournaments. Only eight of the thirty eight remaining players would see the end of the day. Fourteen of them would never even taste the money. Still in the hunt were a husband-and-wife team of WSOP gold bracelet winners, a player who qualified for this $3,700 tournament with an investment of only $7 and some time, representatives of ten different countries and almost a score of online qualifiers.

The first two players eliminated for the day were out before the last player showed up to unbag his chips. Andrew Chen showed up thirty five minutes late for the start of play. By the time he finally arrived, Jose Contreras had already been busted by Jesse Macleod and Chase Chenoweth's top pair had run into Mark Hirleman's top pair, bigger kicker . So for Chen, at least, the math was different -- only twelve eliminations separated him from the money.

The big story of the early part of the day was the elimination of Abraham Rosenkrantz near the end of Level 11, the first level of play. Rosenkrantz was one of the overnight chip leaders, coming into Day 2 fourth in chips with 114,000. Yet when he ran his pocket kings into Brent Sheirbon's pocket aces, Rosenkrantz was out of the tournament and Sheirbon took over the chip lead from Robert Woodcock.


Abraham Rosenkrantz was eliminated early.

Woodcock wasn't slouching. He was using his stack as a weapon to bludgeon his opponents and send people to the rail. One-by-one players like Mark Ioli, William Valladeres and Jesse Macleod were eliminated. Tournament poker stops for no one; either get on the chip truck or hit the rail.

With twenty seven players remaining, two special stories were brewing. The first involved one of only two husband-and-wife teams to ever both win a WSOP gold bracelet: Max and Maria Stern. Both remained alive in the tournament as the money bubble approached. Maria had a healthy stack, but Max was very short. Everyone in the room that wasn't sitting at a poker table was pulling for Max to find a way to double up; everyone sitting at a poker table was rooting for him to bust. Max did finally get his chips into the middle holding ace-king against Carter Gill's pocket fives. An ace flopped, but Gill four-flushed Max in diamonds to eliminate the three-time WSOP champion.


Max and Maria Stern

It was towards the end of Level 12 when the money bubble finally burst. Someone always goes home the unhappiest of all the players who entered the tournament, having labored through all those hours of play to be the last one to go home empty-handed. Today that distinction belonged to Guillaume Noël, whose K-Q couldn't outrun Ryan Fee's A-2. Noël took his departure as good-naturedly as any bubble boy I've ever seen, smiling and shaking Fee's hand before retiring to the rail to wach the rest of the tournament unfold.

Noël's elimination meant the second of the two special stories that were on our radar came to fruition. It involved Aaron Kielesinski, a player who qualified for this tournament by playing qualifier satellites on PokerStars. Kielesinski's total monetary outlay for this $3,700 tournament was $7. When Noël busted, Kielesinski was guaranteed $9,770. We're no good with math, but we can guarantee that rate of return is unmatchable in the financial world, even before the markets all started to tank. caught up with Kielesinski earlier in the day, before he busted out of the tournament:

Watch LAPT San Jose 2008: Aaron Kielesinski on

As things tend to go in multi-table tournaments, the short stacks kept busting. Jason Frazee, Maurice Millares Molina, Aaron Kielesinski, Mike Gorodinsky, Mark Hirleman and Martin Clemmensen all made their exits. Some took brutal beats (Frazee in particular, who flopped trips but lost when Brent Sheirbon rivered a two-outer for a full house), but most got their short stacks in and just couldn't get there. Then came the first defining hand of the afternoon. Robert Woodcock and Brent Sheirbon somehow managed to put 110,000 chips into the pot before a flop came down. Sheirbon made a small 12,000-chip bet on an all-club flop that Woodcock raised to 37,000. The hand seemed destined to eliminate or cripple someone when Sheirbon shoved all in, but Woodcock folded. Even so, with that win Sheirbon eclipsed the 400,000-chip mark.


Brent Sheirbon

After that hand, normal order was restored and the short stacks went back to busting. Jon Van Fleet, Michael DeGilio, and Tark Abboud all slipped into the inky blackness of tournament elimination. Play consolidated to two short-handed tables. And that's when the tale of the day returned to late-comer Andrew Chen, the man who was thirty-five minutes late for the start of play. It might have been a sign of things to come that, as soon as he showed up, he eliminated Kevin MacPhee. Likely nobody would have predicted that Chen would even still be in the tournament with only two tables remaining. Yet there he was, tripling up with pocket queens against the ace-king of Joel Micka and the ace-king of Carter Gill. That hand knocked Gill out of the tournament in 14th place and sent Chen's chip count to more than 250,000. Michael Collins, Shawn Patrick Ryan, and Alan Milesky soon followed.


Andrew Chen

Ten players remained. The next elimination would result in another redraw to a single nine-handed table. Earl Burkland put his stack in the middle early in Level 16 with pocket sixes and knew he was in trouble when Robert Woodcock snap-called. It was aces for Woodcock, with a matching ace on the flop. Burkland's tenth place departure set us up for the final nine. One elimination remained before calling it a night.

If fourteen eliminations seemed like a simple order at the beginning of the day, then one last elimination seemed as easy as reciting the alphabet. Yet all of the chips were relatively evenly disbursed, and nobody wanted to be the person to bubble off of Day 3. Hand after hand went by with little change in the counts. Level 16 became Level 17; Level 17 became Level 18. Andrew Chen took a hit at the end of Level 17 when he called a river bet from Ryan Fee and couldn't beat pocket jacks, but it wasn't enough to knock Chen out of the tournament.

Robert Woodcock, the chip leader eight hours earlier at the start of Day 2, may have wished it was. A few hands later, Chen opened for 20,000 and Woodcock shoved all in over the top of him. When Chen called, the moment everyone had been waiting for arrived. It was Chen's pocket jacks against Woodcock's ace-king, and jacks were best on a Qd-7c-4s-Qs-7s board. Woodcock was unable to make it wire to wire. Andrew Chen showed up thirty five minutes late, but he personally made sure that he would make it to Day 3. We'll see if he shows up late again.

The remaining eight players will come back at noon tomorrow to battle it out and see who will walk away with the first place prize of more than $285,000. It appears that the overnight chip leader is Ryan Fee. Chip counts for tomorrow's final table will be available shortly on our LAPT Chip Counts page. The payouts for the final eight players are listed in the payout structure on our LAPT Prizes page. If you speak Spanish or Portuguese, have a gander at the PokerStars Spanish blog and the PokerStars Brazilian blog. Don't forget that video clips of all the action here in San Jose are available at

For a more comprehensive review of the Day 2 events, feel free to browse any of the posts linked below:

LAPT San Jose: Level 11 Updates
LAPT San Jose: Level 12 Updates
LAPT San Jose: Level 13 Updates
LAPT San Jose: Level 14 Updates
LAPT San Jose: Level 15 Updates
LAPT San Jose: Level 16 Updates
LAPT San Jose: Level 17 Updates
LAPT San Jose: Level 18 Updates

Photography by Joe Giron/IMPDI

Dave Behr
@PokerStars in Latin American Poker Tour