LAPT Rio: Vultures circling

It's getting very close to bubble time here in Rio, and the big stacks know that this is happy hunting time.

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Table two is especially fearsome in that regard, where Julien Nuijten sits next to Andrew Li, who sits next to Jose Severino, who sits two away from Fahad Sinaei, none of them with less than 120,000. In fact, Julien has closer to 260,000 and the certain chip lead.

"To be honest, I'm just hoping to be moved," said Oliver Kugler, a PokerStars qualifier from Hamburg, Germany, who's also on this table of death.

I caught up with Oliver at the last break, nursing 60,000-odd, and he told me off the cut-throat business occuring on table two.

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"All four of these guys are good," he told me, in response to my query of the general standard of play in Rio. They are not just picking on the short stacks either and seem happy to mix it with one another. Julien, in particular, has found the accelerator and is just shoved in an 80,000 pre-flop re-raise as I passed moments ago.

As for Oliver, he's just playing his game in his adopted home. He moved to Rio four years ago, accepting a job offer to relocate from Europe. He's heard of the poker clubs in Sao Paulo, but mainly sticks it out online, where he qualified for this event.

Four players need to take a walk before we're in the money, and the volume inside the Intercontinental is beginning to resemble that of the Maracana stadium on the other side of the city. With plenty of locals going deep, it's only going to get louder.

We'll do our best to translate some of this flavour through cyberspace.

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