LAPT Grand Final: And the turtles march on
It's hard to say what, if anything, can prepare a person to stone bubble a major poker tournament. There aren't many experiences like it, and those that are usually involve some sort of physical pain or participation in a masochistic subculture.
After the last break, 51 players remained in the LAPT Grand Final. That's when the brutality started.
The first player to go got queens in against Humberto Brenes' ace-king. The former flopped a set, but Brenes went runner-runner for a Broadway straight. Brenes, himself amazed at the brutality of it all, declared something that loosely translated to "What a stick I have!"
The next player fell to Daniel Negreanu, A♠T♣ versus Negreanu's Q♦Q♠, a battle that was never going to end any way other than with Kid Poker stacking the chips.
That left one man left to lose. Across the way, we heard Vincenzo Giannelli scream something that sounded like (but probably wasn't )"Mini-Me!" Nearby, Brazilian Felipe Ramos was crestfallen.
My partner Dave Behr watched what happened: on a board of 8♠6♣Q♥, Ramos bet 20,000 and Giannelli called. The river was the 7♠, and Ramos moved all-in for 140,000. Giannelli snap-called to show 4♥5♥.
We never saw Ramos' hand, but he later said via Twitter that he made the river-shove with air. Ramos figured that around 80% of the time the bluff would work, but in this case Giannelli had hit his draw, and Ramos, in his words, got caught "with his hand in the pan."
Left with only 6,500, Ramos was all-in on the next hand with pocket jacks. Giannelli, sitting on a massive stack, announced "All-in!"
The players who were still left to act looked angry. They wondered aloud why Giannelli would give Ramos such protection. The big blind even turned up A♣J♣ with a look that said, "There! Are you happy?"
Why would Giannelli do such a thing? Maybe because he had aces, yet another brutal kick in Ramos' ass on the way out the door. Giannelli ended up making aces full and Ramos was the bubble.
We've said it before, and we'll say it again: we like Felipe Ramos a great deal. He's been a good host to us here in Brazil, and we hope to see him more before we leave. That said, somebody had to go, and even being cool doesn't save you from poker's most brutal protocol.
Now Giannelli and his army of good luck turtles march on with the second-best chip stack in the room.