2008 PCA: Day two is done

by Howard Swains and Brad Willis

Day 2 is the day that the moves are made. Some slide out of contention, some come bludgeoning into view.

When they started at noon today, there were 478 without the knowledge of which way it would go. When they finished tonight, 159 knew that they had had a better day than most.

Of those, Eric "Rizen" Lynch rose the highest. The soft-spoken poker player's poker player spent the day building an admirable stack. Toward the end of the night, he had edged into the top ten in chips. With just minutes to go before the end of the night, Lynch sat looking at a 524/9 two-diamond board. His opponent had just pushed all-in--enough to cut well into Lynch's stack. Lynch pondered for a moment, but it seemed he already knew what he was going to do. He called and flipped two kings. The look on his opponent's face made it clear the call was a good one. His opponent held Ad6d. A non-diamond nine fell on the river and Lynch raked in enough chips to give him the tournament lead at 526,900.

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Had Lynch not won the last big pot of the day, the story would be different. Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier spent the day playing the style that has landed him at more than a few final tables. One of his biggest hands of the night came when he went racing for a 200,000 pot with AK vs. QQ. A king on the river put the one-time pro-gamer over the top of the 400,000 mark. The Team PokerStars Pro player sits second in chips at 435,000.

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ElkY was not the only Team PokerStars Pro member to finish well today. Hevad Khan, Barry Greenstein, Victor Ramdin, and Andre Akkari have all made it to Day 3.

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And also sleeping very soundly tonight will be Julian Thew, the EPT Baden champion, EPT multiple-casher, and all-round EPT hero. He started the day with just more than 16,000 in chips. He ended it with 372,500 and a weary grin. Thew has mastered the art of winning the coin flips at the right moment, finding the hands when he needs them. Or so it seems from the rail.

But the habit of winning at showdown masks an even keener ability to pick up pots without exposing his cards, and also to let them go when he knows he's behind. And he can also grind, which he did for the first three levels, never getting above 30,000. Then suddenly the explosion, and Thew could do no wrong.

Jon Friedberg also spent his day making the right moves at the right times. He was the face of Josh Arieh's demise, not to mention the bane of everone else who sent Friedberg up the ladder with 372,000 in chips.

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It wasn't all so happy for the likes of Ryan Collett, who led after day 1A, but perished late on tonight. After the flop, he had 19 outs with two cards to come -- a flush draw, an open-ended straight draw, and two overcards. He missed them all and was out.

Team PokerStars Pro also lost several of its finest. Daniel Negreanu and Isabelle Mercier both left it late, but hit the rail. Noah Boeken and Tom McEvoy, who had started on the same table, left it within about an hour of each other.

Steve Paul-Ambrose, who won here two years ago, also looked a hot prospect after day one. But he took a few wrong turns, and couldn't repeat his success. This wasn't Chris Moneymaker's day either: he was seen leaving the tournament room during the last two levels. Another good show from the 2003 champ, but no cash.

Play is due to start again at noon tomorrow, when the first thing on everyone's mind will be the money. That kicks in for the last 120 standing, which means the first 39 out tomorrow leave with nothing.

The full list of those trying to avoid that fate will be posted HERE as soon as we know it. In the meantime, click the same spot for our approximate counts.

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Here's a look back at all the Day 2 coverage.

Day two ready to roll
News in brief
Champions in the bullpen
Consolation prize
Quick hits from day two
A round with Daniel Negreanu
Warming up
Level 11 news
Level 12 news

All photos © Neil Stoddart