2009 PCA: PokerStars Columbus
Last year the intrepid explorers hired by the European Poker Tour discovered a new part of their continent. It was here in the Bahamas, previously erroneously considered to be part of the Americas, but established now - and forever more - as a wonderful outcrop of Europe.
Making themselves at home this afternoon around the same table in the centre of the Imperial Ballroom are three stalwarts of the other wing of the EPT, the one that takes place in the land-mass more traditionally referred to as Europe.
They are Ludovic Lacay, from France, Juan Maceiras, the PokerStars sponsored player from Spain, and Sebastian Ruthenberg, the PokerStars ShootingStar from Germany. They each sat around a final table on the EPT in 2008: Lacay in Warsaw on season five, Maceiras in the same city in season four, and Ruthenberg in Barcelona, where he ended up with everyone else's chips for his first EPT crown.
Ruthenberg added that to a World Series bracelet won in Las Vegas last summer and Maceiras took down a weekly Bellagio $1,000 event in June, proving they can travel well.
Here it's Lacay making the most head-way, with about 114,000 going into the dinner break. Ruthenberg had been down to around 5,000 before he surged back to 25,000 and Maceiras tripled up with pocket fives, cracking queens and jacks in the same hand when he flopped a set.
It's a table worth watching, whatever part of Europe, on whichever side of the Atlantic, you come from.
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The Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu is out - choosing the wrong time to defend his small blind with a 5-7. It was folded round to the button, who made it 2,000 to go (blinds are 400-800 in level eight). Negreanu, sitting on only 7,000 or so, called from the small blind and the big blind came along for the ride. The flop came 4-5-9, two hearts, and Negreanu turned on the speech play. "What's the best way to play this?" he asked out loud. "That hit me. Err, I'm all in."
The big blind folded but the button, the original pre-flop raiser, called and showed pocket jacks that by the time the turn and river had come 9-J had become a full house. Negreanu had been hit by that flop, but his middle pair didn't improve that much.