LAPT Rio: Making moves
During any poker tournament featuring any number of players, there comes a time when gears have to shift, contenders have to emerge and the field takes some kind of shape. In a three-day event, like we have here in Rio, that stage is roughly the whole of day two and, sure enough, there are some real forces coming to the fore.
One of those is 21-year-old Alex Fitzgerald, from Seattle. Known online as "Assassinato", he has been shocked to learn that he's pretty big here in Brazil, where the absence of a bricks and mortar casino means the superstars of the game ply their trade around the virtual tables. Assassinato has been tearing it up on PokerStars for quite some time, and he's found himself being approached in the halls of the Intercontinental Hotel from people he's never met, but who have heard all his game.
"I guess I've got a fan club," he said, with modesty and surprise.
He was significantly more confident when discussing his chances in this tournament. "I always see myself at the final table," he said. "I always think I can win any tournament I play."
Currently, he's going the right way. He has one of those stacks bigger than 120,000 and is on the same fierce-looking table as Julien Nuijten, yesterday's dangerman.
Also heading ever upward is Andrew Li, from Washington DC. The young American has been bouncing around the room today, on at least three tables, and now sitting next to Jose Severino and behind at least 160,000.
He's also sharing a table with Farhad Sinaei, also from the United States. Another PokerStars qualifier, Sinaei just found his ace-jack good against a king-queen push, earning him 120,000-odd. He's another challenger.
The man they are all chasing, however, is Juan Carlos Burguilles, from Venezuela. He just scooped the tournament's first 200,000+ pot when his aces were good against the multiple flush and straight draws of an opponent's 8-6. Spot him in the photo below.
There are 40 players remaining and we're just entering level 14, where the blinds will be 1500-3000 and a 400 ante. Thirty-two get paid, so the bubble will be bursting in an hour or so.
Selected chip counts can be found HERE
A reminder of what they're playing for can be found HERE
And full video coverage can be found over at PokerStars.tv