LAPT San Jose: Ender555 rising to the top
Earlier in the day, word reached us that Joe Ebanks was not happy. Well, that's a bit of an overstatement, he wasn't exactly unhappy, he was just a little disappointed that he we hadn't been using his PokerStars screen-name when we'd been featuring him in our coverage of the tournament so far.
Time to redress that deficiency, and to apologise to Mr Ebanks. The PokerStars qualifier from the United States is perhaps better known as Ender555 and he's been tearing it up online for quite some time.
I'm sure he also won't mind us mentioning that as we get close to the money in San Jose, he has risen to the summit of the chip ladder in this, an offline tournament. Checking in on him moments ago, Ebanks/Ender555 was up to 265,000 in chips, having, in his own words, "won quite a few big pots without a double up."
Players like Ender555, can now continue their bludgeoning through the field, wielding their huge stack with little mercy. But other invaluable skills in tournaments like this are timing and grinding, hanging in there when things are tough and gradually moving upwards when the opportunity presents itself.
Two of the finest in that respect in San Jose have been Carlos Lauro Mora Alvarez, from Mexico, who began with just 4,000 in chips and now has closer to 40,000, and Max Stern, the three-times World Series bracelet winner, who has been grinding and grinding and picking his spots perfectly, to rise from 17,000 to 34,000.
Stern, who is sponsored by PokerStars here along with his wife Maria, has seen all this before, of course, having been at the top of the game for many years. He'll continue to do what it takes to edge closer to the cash and give a masterclass to the young pretenders.
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Anguish, then hilarity, then anguish recently ensued on table four, where Josh Grommet and Richard Shtrax got involved in a nasty 9-9 v A-A encounter. The flop came 7s-3s-6c and the turn the 8s. That gave Grommet's nines an open-ended straight draw and when the 10s came on the river, Shtrax let out a yelp of anger and started pacing away from the table in fury. But, thanks to the eagle-eyes around the table, he was soon back with a grin on his face as other players noticed that one of his aces was a spade and that the 10s had made his flush. As you were.
More insanity is occuring wherever we turn at the moment. Josh Prager just cracked the aces of Alexander Soderlund, when he moved in pre-flop with kings and flopped another one. Then there was a huge bellowing from table six, where a queen-seven cracked ace-queen. That's the table, incidentally, where the two remaining female competitors have found themselves next to one another.
Maria Stern, the PokerStars sponsored player from Costa Rica, is on roughly the same chips as Natasha Ellis, the PokerStars qualifier from the United Kingdom.