LAPT Rio: Victor's charge
Poker is relatively new to Brazil but the excitement among the marvellously vocal railbirds suggests that it'll be here for a few years yet.
Anyone who has only ever seen the game on television, however, might not appreciate some of the finer subtleties of these major events. The preliminary stages are rarely just the all-in queens-verus-ace-king slugfests that make it to the broadcasts.
The live audience here is gradually learning to appreciate what goes on on the outer tables; how the top pros combine grinding, with flair, with grinding again, until they're in the right position to take down the top prizes.
With this in mind, it also often makes good reading on the PokerStars blog for a reporter to stand behind one of the tables here for an entire orbit and bring you just about everything that happens.
The table I selected for the past nine hands featured the lone surviving Team PokerStars Pro member Victor Ramdin, as well PokerStars qualifier Sumit Kumar. It started fairly sedately, but certainly heated up as the orbit progressed. Stick with it -- a lot of this would actually have made pretty good TV.
A round with Victor Ramdin:
Some context: Victor Ramdin is the last remaining "name pro" in the field, as well as the final member of Team PokerStars Pro. His picture is on the posters on the wall, so even those who didn't know him before probably know him now.
He came into the day with 48,000 in chips, but lost more than half when a spectacular bluff with five high got picked off. That put him down to about 18,000 when the orbit began -- and his reputation was in tatters. Any (admitedly erroneous) thoughts that he was a tight player would certainly have already disappeared.
Here's how it went.
Hand one: Victor Ramdin in big blind of 1,600
Victor is given a walk. Out of curiosity, he checks what he would have been playing. It was ace-jack of hearts.
Hand two: Victor Ramdin in small blind of 800
Raise to 4,000 from player UTG+2. Folded around.
Hand three: Victor Ramdin on button; Sumit Kumar in big blind
Folded to Victor on the button. He makes it 4,500, pushing a tower of black chips into the pot. It's good, and he takes down the blinds and antes.
Hand four: Victor Ramdin in cut-off; Sumit Kumar in small blind
A raise to 4,800 from a player UTG+2 is called by Carlos Nadal. The flop comes nine high, with two spades, and Nadal moves all in. It's folded.
A slight commotion breaks out at this point when the player in the seven seat is due to be moved by the tournament staff. Problem being, he's gone AWOL. A search party is despatched to find him and tell him to rack his chips and get him move him elsewhere. He does.
Hand five: Victor Ramdin in hijack; Sumit Kumar on button
As the cards are being dealt, the player in seat five calls over a masseuse and she sets to work on his shoulders. By the time any money gets into the pot, this player has slipped off into that peculiar cross between nirvana and hell that usually attends a brutal massage.
Meanwhile, Vitaly Kovyazin, the PokerStars qualifier from New York, who is UTG+2, raises 3,600 pre-flop and Sumit Kumar is one of two players who call. At this point, a friend of Victor drops by to talk about the busted bluff earlier. The flop comes eight-high, one player checks, and the original raiser makes it 6,000. Sumit calls. The turn is the 4s and the original raiser now bets 10,000. Sumit takes a drink.
Eventually he mucks, but he then says, "I should have called," and all of a sudden conversation breaks out.
"He had aces."
"Kings or queens."
"I had a lot of outs," said Kumar.
"You want to know what I had?" said Kovyazin.
"I had 10-9," he said.
"I had 18k more. Would you have folded?"
"If I had your hand, I would have shoved," said Victor.
This is how poker table conversation goes, and no one ever knows who, if anyone, is telling what kind of truth.
Sumit Kumar raises pre-flop to 3,000 and Ale Braga, in the big blind reckons he's tilting. She pops it up to 10,000 and Kumar folds.
"You had a gutshot and a flush draw, right?" says Ramdin, still talking about the last hand.
"You think I should call?"
"You should shove." Etc, etc, etc.
Hand seven: Victor Ramdin under the gun
From UTG, Victor makes it 4,000 and almost immediately announces, "I've got 16,000 behind, so 20,000 total" when Carlos Nadal starts to go into the tank. Nadal eventually calls, as does Ale Braga in the small blind. The flop comes Kc-8c-7h and Braga checks. Victor moves all in. Carlos Nadal gets out of the way, but Braga tanks, then calls and shows 10-10. Victor has A-K.
The top pair top kicker stands up, and Victor goes from within a whisker of elimination to about 48,000.
Another two hands go by, and there's another huge commotion featuring the same three players. This time, Nadal has raised pre-flop, and Braga and Ramdin have called. The flop comes A-7-3 and it all kicks off. Nadal begs a small amount, but Braga moves her entire stack over the top. Ramdin, in his own words, gave it "the Hollywood. You know, the Hollywood" before smooth calling.
The Hollywood encouraged Nadal to get frisky, however, and he moved his more sizeable stack in as well. Victor snap called and flipped pocket threes for flopped bottom set, and he was way ahead of both the other players, who each had ace-queen. "Im playing every hand. They don't believe me," said the Team PokerStars Pro.
Within ten hands, Nadal and Braga are out and Victor is up to about 125,000.
They better start believing soon.