2011 PCA Main Event: Day 1B, level 5 & 6 updates (blinds 200-400, 50 ante)

PCA-2010-thumbnail.jpg6.34: Dinner!
That's the end of the level - now for dinner. Players have been given a 75-minute break to run and try and grab a seat in the nearest restaurants. We wish them luck. -- SY

6.33pm: Prising another one open
Priyan de Mel is sat in seat five of his table and seems to be a man at ease. Someone raised to 1,125 - Rodolfo Awad to be precise - and de Mel casually tossed in a blue 5,000 chip to mark a raise to 3,625. Awad made the call and the pair went off to a 2♠8♥9♦ flop. A simple c-bet took the pot down as de Mel chipped up to 50,000. -- RD

6.32pm: ElkY snatches one away
Team PokerStars Pro Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier is up to 55,000 after getting an opponent to fold on the river of a J♠A♣2♣Q♦5♠ board. The Frenchman min-raised pre-flop and found four callers. ElkY checked the flop and called when his opponent in the cut-off bet 2,200. They were heads-up to the turn and both players checked before ElkY led for 3,325 on the river. Fold. -- MC

6.29pm: Coren not gone
Vicky Coren is still here, just, as the dinner break approaches. On a flop of A♠5♦8♦ George Grabe bet 3,000 from the small blind forcing out Coren on the button. It left her with 13,550 which she shoved in on the next hand. With cigarettes and mobile phone ready, Coren waited for a call, but none came. - SB

6.25pm: New man ticking over
Dag Palovic, our new Team PokerStars Pro from Slovakia, is going along rather well - up to 64,000 as they approach the dinner break.

He's still sporting a dyed red PokerStars spade logo on the back of his head after losing a prop bet at EPT Prague. -- SY

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Dag Palovic

6:15pm: How much for the hat?
Sorel Mizzi is bored. He is out of the main event and doesn't have much else to do right now. So he's decided to hustle up some cash around Antonio Esfandiari's table. It's a game a lot of the players here get into, the rules of which are simultaneously complicated and simple. In short, Mizzi proposed a scenario in which a random guy walked up and offered to by Esfandiari's black knit cap. The question was this: what is the lowest amount of money for which Maria Demetriou (sitting at the same table) thinks Esfandiari would sell the cap?

Demetriou wrote down an amount and then the guys in the game began bidding. After several rounds of bidding among Will Failla, Alexander Kostritsyn, Mizzi, and Esfandiari, Failla eventually bought the bid at $210. Then came the time for Mizzi et all to take their overs and unders, which was where even Kostritsyn seemed confused about what was happening. All that was clear was that Mizzi took the under, and Esfandiari called Mizzi "numbnuts."

Demetriou pulled the slip of paper from her lap and announced, "Numbnuts for the win." The under was good.

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The center of the side betting action

Keep in mind, this entire process took nearly 15 minutes, during which time Esfandiari played nearly every hand, three betting with abandon and generally being Antonio. In the end, Esfandiari picked up a few chips in the main event, but apparently owes Mizzi some money for the cap bet.

"Maybe if I stand around here long enough, I can grind my buy-in back," Mizzi said. --BW


6.18pm: For those about to rock
Liv Boeree, wearing an Iron Maiden t-shirt, just bet out on a 9♥[10d]3♠J♥ board to cause her opponent to run to the hills. Geddit? Sigh... watch this then. -- SY

6.14pm: Using them well
Jennifer Tilly has a nice stack. Around 115,000 in fact, and she's using it. There was a raise from the hi-jack to 1,025 before Guiseppe Panteleo made it 2,900 from the cut-off. It was round to Tilly on the button, and she five-bet to 10,000. The other two scarpered and Humberto Brenes gave a wry smile. He's seen it all before. -- SY

6.10pm: Table of imminent danger
We had the early table of complication, featuring the late arrivals to the ball, then there's the Jason Mercier table, featuring Jonathan Duhamel, Freedy Deeb, Mercier and Vivek Rajkumar.

But alongside them is a table that can boast all sorts of dynamics. There's the ongoing battle between Giuseppe Pantaleo and Jennifer Tilly, the youthful qualifiers at the far end opposite the elder statesman Humerto Brenes, and now Daniel Alaei has arrived.

Alaei may not have had success in the PCA main event before, but he did make one of the most memorable folds in the High Roller event in 2009, folding kings to aces pre-flop in an event in which he went on to finish seventh.

He's now tucked in next to Pantaleo. He'd just won another hand against Jennifer Tilly. On a flop of 4♣4♠2♥, and with 6,000 in the middle from some earlier work, Pantaleo checked to Tilly who bet 5,000. Pantaleo called for a K♠ turn card which both players checked for a 3♠ on the river. Check, check, and a pot won for Pantaleo, A♦3♦ against Tilly's A♥7♣.

Alaei's arrival could almost be unnoticed. His eyes dart around but so far his is a back seat, as Melanie Weisner took centre stage.

Giuseppe Pantaleo opened for 800 which Redmond Lee called on the button before Weisner raised to 3,350 from the small blind. Pantaleo folded but Lee called for a 2♥5♦9♣ flop.

Weisner bet another 3,825 which Hortin called for a 6♥ turn. She made it another 5,375, allowing her hair to hide her face as Jennifer Tilly got up to dance a bit while waiting and Humberto Brenes did the same to stretch his legs. After tanking for a while Lee passed, Weisner emerging from under the hair mask first to show 3♥ and then to look at Lee. Lee did not look back.

Weisner back up to 35,000. - SB

6pm: Chilli feels the heat
Maria "Chilli" Demetriou just felt the unrelenting force of Alexander Kostritsyn in a hand. He raised to 1,000 from early position and Benjamin Doran called from the button and the Brit defended her big blind. The flop came K♦T♦3♥ and Demetriou was the only caller to Kostritsyn's 1,550 c-bet. The turn came 3♠ and Kostritsyn bet 3,300 when the action was checked to him. Demetriou called to see the 8♦ river where she faced a 8,750 bet when she checked for a third time. She smiled in a defeated sort of way and slid her cards into the muck and drops to 23,350 chips. The Russian is up to 70,000 chips meanwhile. -- MC

5.47pm: Call and response: Tom Koral update
An update on Tom Koral was requested in the comments box a short while ago and like a good citizen I stepped up. Here is that update. Koral, who final tabled this event last year for $201,300 is up to 95,000, over twice the average chips at the moment, having just won a 15,000 pot against Anders Meli.

Koral had opened for 1,200 from the hijack and had been three-bet by Meli from the big blind to 3,425. Kathy Liebert had passed on the button. Both players checked through to the Q♠J♠8♣K♠ turn which Meli led into for 4,000. Koral made the call. Neither player fancied betting the 7♥ river and Meli was forced to show 2♥2♦. Koral's top pair with K♣9♥ scooped the pot. -- RD

5:33pm: Now, that's a good massage
Kristen Bicknell was in the middle of a really good massage. Her therapist was kneading on the neck muscles like a pizza dough full of rocks. The matter at hand, however was that board that had just run to its end and looked like this: T♥J♦6♠4♠5♠. On the other end of the hand was Chris Hunichen. At the start of the level, he'd been pretty short and started doing a lot of shoving. He'd built himself back up to a stake that didn't have to be shoved. Now, he'd checked the river and seen Bicknell bet 5,000.

"How's that massage?" Hunichen asked. Bicknell didn't moan under the pressure of the therapists hands, but she might as well have. "Good enough to bet 5,000, huh?" Hunchien followed up.

"Will you show me if I fold?" Hunchien queried. No answer.

"Will you show me if I show you if I fold?" he tried again.

Bicknell finally relented, sort of. "I'm not saying," she answered.

Bicknell finally plucked a blue 5,000 chip from his stack and topped it into the middle. Bicknell rolled over the nuts, A♠Q♠.

"Nice hand," Hunichen said. "I knew you had it."

My advice, Huni...get yourself a massage--BW


LEVEL UP: blinds 200-400, 50 ante

5.28pm: 'I would've done the same with a king!'
These were the words uttered from Antonio Esfandiari's mouth after he showed a bluff to a very (jokingly) frustrated Benjamin Doran. Esfandiari raised to 800 from the cut-off and Doran defended from the big blind to see the K♠K♥4♥ flop. He check-called a 1,400 bet here and a 3,600 bet on the 7♣ turn. The river came 3♠ and Esfandiari shoved for his last 18,500 when checked to him for a third time.

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Bluff magic


Doran tanked for a few minutes before folding. Esfandiari asked his now openly frustrated opponent, who wan venting that Esfandiari never has a king there, if they both wanted to show. Doran agreed and flipped up 9♦9♣ and was shown J♣9♠ for air by Esfandiari. "I would've done the same with a king" said Esfandiari and that caused Alexander Kostritsyn and Will Falia to burst out laughing. -- MC

5.25pm: The Russians aren't coming
It's not been a good day for the Russians. First there was a campaign to ban their language to avoid any suspicion of collusion, now two Russian Team PokerStars Pros find themselves on the rail. At least that's a place where you don't have to speak English.

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Max Lykov

First to go, and without detail, was Max Lykov, soon to be followed by Ivan Demidov.
Demidov opened for 750 in early position and was raised by George Grabe two seats along, who made it 2,350. The action was folded back to Demidov who did a little raising himself, 5,200 in total.

Grabe, hair slicked back, leg bouncing, pulled in his original bet and replaced it with a call for a flop of 9♣A♦T♣.

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Ivan Demidov, shortly before elimination

Demidov, with 18,500 to play with, bet 5,200 and in reply Grabe lobbed out a raise to 21,150. It was now all or nothing for Demidov. He closed up his iPad, leaned forward more for a better look, and then moved his chips into the middle. Grabe wasted no time in turning over T♥T♦ which Demidov appeared to find inevitable. He could only manage A♥K♥. No change on the 9♥J♥ turn and river. Demidov gone. - SB

5:23pm: A word on card cappers
There were days, and not too long ago that a walk through a field of this size would reveal dozens of card cappers, good luck charms, and trinkets in front of players. Those days apparently ended when I was out for a walk. After spotting Carter Phillips' ceramic multi-colored lizard, I started looking for doodads that could compete for most interesting. I found nothing more profound than a tin of chewing tobacco.

There are probably a good many reasons for this, not the least of which is that this crowd is largely made up of online grinders who don't really have to cap anything when they're playing. It could also be that the maturing poker public has realized that card cappers are largely unnecessary when a chip can do the same job. In any case, this field is nearly void of card cappers. There's probably same greater meaning, but this is no time for philosophy. --BW

5.22pm: Liv a little
We're never going to turn down the chance of watching a Liv Boeree video. Neither should you. -- SY

5:21pm--Champions from lands south
When not bouncing around the Bahamas, NAPT, or WSOP, I spent the rest of my time working my way through the LAPT. As it happens, every one of the LAPT Season 3 champions are here to play at the PCA. Jose "Nacho" Barbero (Punta del Este and Lima champion) made it though Day 1 yesterday. Amir Sulaiman (Playa Conchal) and Matthias Habernig are in the field today. If they should somehow win this thing, they would be the first champion of any PokerStars tour main event to also win a PCA. Yeah, that's a long way to go for a statistic, but it's also true. --BW

5.20pm: The World Champion report
There are five WSOP main event champions in the field, four of them PokerStars' finest. All are going along quite nicely as it happens:

Chris Moneymaker 95,000
Greg Raymer 54,000
Jonathan Duhamel 42,000
Joe Hachem 35,000

The fifth world champ, Carlos Mortensen, has around 30,000.

Hachem just picked up 2,500 more, calling a raise of 850 along with three others. He bet 2,250 on the 2♠8♣Q♥ flop and that was enough to send everyone else running for cover.

Mortensen, meanwhile, just three-bet the gentleman to his right to 2,500, then folded when the chap on his left four-bet to 10,000. The cheek of it. -- SY

5.15pm: The chark is not hhhuunngrrryy
The board was K♦7♠3♠7♣J♣ and there was about 14,000 in the pot already. On top of that, EPT Barcelona final table finisher Guiseppe Pantaleo had bet 9,400. The action was on Team PokerStars Pro Humberto Brenes who, after a quiet dwell, elected to muck.

Evidently the shark was not hungry this time and will be back for tea a little later. -- SY

5.12pm: Coren quiet
Vicky Coren has been quiet today, likely card dead judging by her posture. Either that or the bottle of wine she promised herself on Twitter last night. Anyway, she's down to 17,000. --SY

5.11pm: Taking on the bully
Alexander Kostritsyn is up to 57,000 after taking on and defeating "the uber-aggressive bully of the table" as Maria Demetriou described Ignat Liviu George. Kostritsyn opened to with a raise to 800 before the Romanian three-bet to 2,050. Kostritsyn's answer was to four-bet to 6,050 and this sent George into the tank for so long that a third party called the clock. The call prompted him into five-batting to 13,150 and calling when his Russian opponent went all-in for 28,325.

Kostritsyn: Q♣Q♠
George: J♣J♠

The board ran 5♣7♠3♣4♥5♠ to double the Russian. That almost takes care of the bully at the table but will their tablemates be happy that Kostritsyn was the one who got the chips? I doubt it. -- MC

5.02pm: Semi-bluffing for the win
Noah Schwartz is obviously the ostentatious sort. Not only does he sport a top that is covered in more sparkly diamante than any teenage girl should be allowed, but he loves to flash a bluff (of the semi variety in this case). Schwartz defended his big blind from a raise of 850 from Marcel Schreiner. Scott Lipshutz had also called on the button.

Schwartz led 1,600 into the T♥8♠3♦ flop, Schreiner passed and Lipshutz raised to 3,600. Schwartz made the call. The K♥ hit the turn and Schwartz slowly considered his actions before shoving in. Lipshutz had around 14,000 left and quickly decided to pass. Schwartz triumphantly, dare I say smugly, slammed his cards down on the table face up. His J♦Q♠ showing an open-ended semi-bluff. Lipshutz shrugged: "I had jack-nine." -- RD


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Bling-a-ling: Noah Schwartz is dazzling his opponents


4:55pm: New life for Cassidy
Joe Cassidy was down to around 12,000 and in need of a double up. He got it in bad with 9♦9♣ against Steve O'Dwyer's kings. It was bad for all of the few seconds it took for the dealer to put out the 9♥ on the flop. Color that a double-up and another chance for Cassidy. True to form, neither player showed a lick of emotion during the whole ordeal. --BW

4.52pm: Deeb up
On a flop of J♣3♥A♣ Zachary Clark bet 1,200 which was called by Freddy Deeb. On the 9♦ turn both players checked for a K♣ river. Clark checked to Deeb who bet another 4,000 to take the pot and move up to 38,000. - SB

4.42pm: Word from the Weisner
Melanie Weisner is up to 38,000 after hitting a set of threes. There was a raise to 800 that she called from the small blind along with Andrea Tringali in the big blind. The flop came 7♦A♦3♣ and all three checked to the 9♥ turn. Weisner led for 2,050 and only Tringali called to the 2♥ river. Weiser fired 3,575 at the pot and the Italian called again but mucked upon seeing Weiser's 3♥3♠. -- MC

4:32pm: The Newlywed Game, poker style
During the break, I ran into David Baker who was standing a safe distance from girlfriend Maria Mayrinck (she'd just busted set under set). She was also in the middle of a video interview. The couple has been together for about 18 months, and it's apparently very important that Bakes knows about all the whims and wishes of his Brazilian lady. Best I could understand, Baker had to go over to the cameras and answer questions about his girlfriend.

"Is there money on it?" I asked.

"There should be," Baker said. "Then I'd be more motivated."

I eavesdropped on the game for the first couple of questions. The first, "What is Maria's guilty pleasure?" He answered "Either gossip magazines or Snickers." Mayrinck exploded with her typical joy. "You are so good, baby!" I didn't listen to the rest, but I'm pretty sure it was rigged. I've been married for ten years and I wouldn't put myself in that position.

Meanwhile, Baker is headed back to his seat with 43,000 in chips. --BW

4.30pm: Back they come
After an all-too-quick break, the players are filing back into the room. If they had much sense they would have nipped outside for a spot of late afternoon sunshine. Unlike us, we remain in our windowless, dark Blog HQ bunker. We'll never leave here, never. Not even if the enemy get to within 100 yards.

So, when play restarts we'll be on blinds of 150-300 and the first ante of the day is in play, a green 25 chip.

Many big names remain and Jason Mercier, despite being only 12 letters long, is a big name. Here he is in the midst of a PokerStars branding explosion... -- SY

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Jason Mercier

PokerStars Blog reporting team (in order of today's old wives' tales): Brad Willis (stick your tongue on the roof of your mouth when you have brain freeze), Simon Young (burnt finger? Hold it on your earlobe), Rick Dacey, Marc Convey and Stephen Bartley (no old wives tales today), Alexander Villegas (best keep your old wives away from him)