2009 PCA: Fossilman on the up

Even though he is only 44-years-old, Greg Raymer is among the more senior competitors lining up here at the PCA. But as has been documented on countless previous occasions, the extreme youth exhibited around the major poker tournament tables these days owes a large amount to Raymer, specifically his 2004 World Series victory, achieved as a PokerStars qualifier to the Main Event.

Greg Raymer

That success, coupled with Chris Moneymaker's the year before, was the inspiration for many of the new breed of players to take up the game. Among that clutch of youthful sensations is the likes of Mike "Timex" McDonald, who became the youngest European Poker Tour champion when he snaffled the title in Dortmund on season four, earning close to a million dollars as an 18-year-old.

And Greg Raymer with Mike McDonald

Today Timex sits beside the Fossilman in a neat quirk of the random draw. Also on the table is Evelyn Ng, among the best-known women players in the world game, and the three of them seem to be getting on famously.

Raymer, with platinum bracelet glistening on his right wrist, is happily chattering away to Ng, only pausing to receive an email on his palm pilot, then tapping out a quick reply. As he did so, Ng also went for her cell-phone and began writing to someone; it was as if the two of them were engaging in table-talk across the airwaves.

Whatever they were saying, and whoever they were saying it to, it had been Raymer whose poker skills had been speaking the loudest in the opening couple of hours. He rocketed close to the chip lead midway through level two after he got close to 10,000 in the middle pre-flop against a single opponent and then sighed "I have to call," after the player moved all in, for 14,500, on a ten-high flop.

Raymer tabled pocket jacks, his opponent flipped a suited A-K and the turn and river bricked out, giving the former world champ a stack of more than 55,000. That sent the PokerStars blog photographer Joe Giron over to shoot the dominant tournament force, and Giron skipped back moments after to report that Raymer's stack had swelled again, on the back of pocket aces.

It's been a while, but the Fossilman may be heading to the winner's enclosure again soon.