LAPT Rio: Kumar's rise to contention

First through the door today as the trickle of players slowly became a torrent was Sumit Kumar, a PokerStars qualifier from Richmond, Virginia, whose name was already on my list of players to watch.

Kumar begins today with 41,050 in chips, ranked 26th overall and the seventh highest PokerStars qualifier in the field. That's an amazing turnaround from a disastrous start where a bluff gone awry resulted in Kumar slumping to just 2,100 in chips during level two. "It was a bad bluff," was his honest and economical assessment.

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But things progressed more encouragingly after that when Kumar began playing small-pot poker to edge ever upward, before two key hands catapulted his name into contention. He won a flip with sevens against ace-king, then flopped a set of fives against an opponent who had flopped two pair.

All in twice. Double up twice. That'll work.

Kumar has experience in these major tournaments. He qualified for the World Series in 2006 on PokerStars, made it to day two, but busted before the money. He returned to the online tables and won his seat here at the first attempt, in a Sunday night $200 qualifier. He's an analyst in a financial company by trade, and turning that couple a hundred bucks into three quarters of a million would be worth analysing.

Supported by his wife Sugandha in Rio, the couple spent yesterday morning on Ipanema beach to get into the right mindset. Today, they didn't quite make it that far after yesterday's late night, but Kumar was certainly fresh, ready and keen to make a splash in the tournament.

He's settled next to Team PokerStars Pro's Victor Ramdin, so it's not going to be easy. But we're playing to the money today, and Kumar has every chance of still being around.

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Things never quite went according to plan in Rio for Michael Naughton, the PokerStars qualifier from Ireland. Catching up with him yesterday morning, he insisted no one took his photo and no one talked to him for too long: it had been a long day and a heavy night of partying for Naughton and his friends, and he was feeling, well, he'd felt better, put it that way.

"I just want to get knocked out," he said, "and go to the beach."

That didn't work. Instead, he couldn't help but stay focused on his game and make it through to day two with slightly more than 16,000 in chips.

When he came back this morning, he was in double-up mode. He knew he had to push his short-ish stack and needed to be called to get back in the mix. He pushed once or twice and got it through, but then a big stacked big blind called with pocket sevens and Naughton's king-four never caught up.

Now he's definitely, defiantly off to the beach. Good game, unlucky.