2011 PCA Super High Roller: Day 1, level 2 updates (blinds 600-1,200, ante 200)


2.40pm: Break time

2.30pm: Folding from the blinds
Antonio Esfandiari has moved up to around 320,000 chips after a hand featuring Jason Mercier and Sandor Denjan.

On a flop of A♠J♣Q♦ Denjan checked the small blind and Mercier, who when clean shaven bears a striking resemblance to Karen Carpenter, checked the big. Esfandiari checked in early position for a 9♦ turn card.

Again the blinds checked, leaving it to Esfandiari to bet 4,300. Denjan checked, as did Mercier for a 7♠ river. More checking form the blinds who then folded to Esfandiari's bet of 15,000. - SB

2.20pm: Yes, Mrs Cunningham
Backing up the home game theme is the member of the tournament staff carrying around a tray filled with ice and cold drinks. Like the parent, hosting her son's poker tournament friends, she drifts from table to table offering cans of coke, and ginger ale and the players politely ask for one or the other. But she won't serve them beer. -- SB

2.15pm: Smiling Frenchman
There are few things in this life more infuriating than a smiling Frenchman*, as Caio Pimenta just found out.

After spending a good couple of minutes with his head tucked into the crook of his elbow Pimenta had pushed his cards away with the heel of a clenched fist check-folding to a large bet from Benyamine on a 4♦K♦J♠4♣J♣ board. The card Benyamine turned over, and the reason he was grinning, was the irrelevant 3♦.

"How many diamonds were on the flop?" asked Justin Smith, suddenly interested in the hand. "One? Two?" Benyamine shrugged and continued to smile. -- RD

*This is just a mildly xenophobic joke from a Englishman. We love the French. How can a nation of cheese and wine lovers be wrong?

2pm: In Bloom
The latest player to arrive is Viktor Blom who takes his place on table one to the left of Vivek Rajkumar.

"Good morning sir," said Daniel Negreanu before asking about Blom's trip to the Bahamas.

"Long travels," is how Blom described it, having just flown from London to New York, to Miami, to Nassau five hours late and without his baggage. He's now filling in waiver forms.

Negreanu looked over at Rajkumar who was disappointed the seat to his left was no longer empty. - SB

1.52pm: Unwanted rivers and fashionable late arrivals
Ashton Griffin opened from the button to 3,000 and was called by Negreanu in the small blind before Vivek Rajkumar three-bet to 16,000 from the big blind. Griffin quickly melted away. Negreanu decided to stay out in the sun a little longer.

Flop: 6♦T♥9♣

Both players checked.

Turn: 6♦T♥9♣2♥

Negreanu led 20,000 and Rajkumar nonchalantly flipped in a green 25,000 chip to call.

River: 6♦T♥9♣2♥A♠

This was obviously not the river Negreanu was hoping for and he check-folded to a 60,000 bet. -- RD

pca_super high rolller_vivek rajkumar.jpg

Vivek Rajkumar: On holiday as well as grinding

LEVEL UP: BLINDS 600-1,200, ANTE 200

1.40pm: Negreanu in action
As already mentioned, there's a distinct home game feel to the Super High Roller. Egos may be everywhere but they're all being good naturedly massaged. Some players are also being physically massaged, like Daniel Negreanu, whose iliac crests are being thumbed well, revealing Banana Republic underwear.

He was up against Ashton Griffin in the cut-off who, with a board of 3♥5♣8♣J♥, checked to Negreanu on the button who made it 35,000 to play. Griffin then raised to 83,000.

While Negreanu thought things through elsewhere players were being warned that no food was allowed in the tournament room. A hundred grand is one thing, but rules are rules. Justin Smith, busy eating a salad, didn't take this too well.

Negreanu called for a 3♠ river card. Griffin checked, as did Negreanu, turning over K♦K♠ to win the pot and move up to around 300,000. - SB

1.24pm: How much the price of water?
"Cocktails!" hollered Antonio Esfandiari. I was surprised that even a well known baller such as Esfandiari would want to start hitting the beers this early. It turns out that all he was after was some water. Not too much to ask for a $100k surely?

A tournament official indicated that someone had been dispatched to get some water. "Are they bringing it from the river?" asked Esfandiari with a smile.

"Maybe the desalination plant," Scott Seiver suggested.

You'd expect a $100,000 buy-in to bring added gravitas to an event. No sir, that is not the case. It's a little like a birthday home game at the moment, albeit one with a $4m prize pool. More tournaments should be like this one. -- RD

1.20pm: Welcome to the PCA, in moving pictures

1.12pm: One down
Koen Berendsen is out. No detail as yet but it's Nick Schulman who leaps into the lead with close to half a million chips. At least Berendsen has the rest of the day free.

Elsewhere Bryan Colin just took a pot from current World Champion Jonathan Duhamel. On a board of 5♥7♥7♦Q♣T♥, and with about 11,000 in the middle, Duhamel bet 8,700 from the cut off. Colin, who had just checked in the big blind, raised to 26,500. Duhamel laid it down. -- SB

1pm: Speaking volumes
In a tournament full of personalities (and by that we mean loud people) it is, perhaps unsurprisingly, Mr Phil Laak is the one that we can hear above all. It's all about the volume; number of words, not decibels.

"Each toe is individually wrapped," Laak told Mike 'Timex' McDonald. The young Canadian stuck his head under the table to look at, I believe, Scott Seiver's feet.

"He tells me that they help to make you live longer," Laak continued talking about shoes that have each toe sectioned off, a little like gloves. "There's a lot of science to it. I was reading this book called 'The brain that changes itself' by Dr Norman Doidge."

Seiver, if it was he, is no longer wearing said scientific shoes but that hasn't stopped Laak. He was still talking about the benefits of walking around barefoot as I wandered away in ill-fitting squeaking footwear. -- RD

pca_super high roller_jelly fish.jpg

The first player out will be dunked into the jellyfish tank (maybe)

12.55pm: All in and a call
No, not really, just the seat draw.

Table 1

Seat 1 - Caio Pimenta
Seat 2 - Justin Smith
Seat 3 - Bill Chen, Team PokerStars Pro
Seat 4 - Daniel Cates
Seat 5 - Humberto Brenes, Team PokerStars Pro
Seat 6 - Guy Laliberte
Seat 7 - David Benyamine
Seat 8 - empty

Table 2

Seat 1 - William Perkins
Seat 2 - Nick Schulman
Seat 3 - Sorel Mizzi
Seat 4 - Ashton Griffin
Seat 5 - Daniel Negreanu, Team PokerStars Pro
Seat 6 - Koen Berendsen
Seat 7 - Vivek Rajkumar
Seat 8 - empty

Table 3

Seat 1 - Antonio Esfandiari
Seat 2 - Shawn Buchanen
Seat 3 - Tobias Reinkemeier
Seat 4 - Eugene Katchalov
Seat 5 - Jason Somerville
Seat 6 - Sandor Denjan
Seat 7 - Jason Mercier, Team PokerStars Pro
Seat 8 - empty

Table 4

Seat 1 - Mike McDonald
Seat 2 - empty
Seat 3 - Phil Laak
Seat 4 - Masaaki Kagawa
Seat 5 - Andrew Robl
Seat 6 - Scott Seiver
Seat 7 - James Obst
Seat 8 - empty

Table 5

Seat 1 - Andrew Lichtenberger
Seat 2 - Bryan Colin
Seat 3 - Tom Marchese
Seat 4 - Matt Glantz
Seat 5 - Bertrand Grospellier, Team PokerStars Pro
Seat 6 - Hoyt Corkins
Seat 7 - Jonathan Duhamel, Team PokerStars Pro
Seat 8 - empty

12.45pm: And we're off...
Play has begun.

12.40pm: About to start
We'll be playing nine levels today, eight-max all the way, with a dinner break after level six. There seems to be a lot of jollity considering the size of the $100,000 buy-in. Come on, shove in your 250,000 starting stack blind on the first hand. -- RD

12.35pm: Sliding scale
Is there a direct correlation between the size of the buy-in and the length of time allowed by tournament directors for late starts? I believe so. €5,000 EPTs are regularly delayed by 20 minutes and your local £30/$50 freezeout waits for no man - hardly surprising given the five-minute levels. On that pay scale it may mean we're waiting around five hours for the shuffle up and deal*. -- RD

*It won't be that long.

12.25pm: All aboard
While the Super High Roller marks the start of our PCA live coverage it's not the first event of the festival. That started about four hours ago when a small band of men and women set sail and plotted a course for the Fish and Chips Showdown, a unique event that combined deep sea fishing, poker and the suspension of credibility. As Hemingway once wrote; "Anyone can be a fisherman in May." Let's see how they fair in January. -- SB

we're going to need a bigger boat_d1.jpg
We're going to need a bigger boat

12.17pm: A little perspective
The thought of spending $100,000 on entry into a poker tournament takes some getting used to. As Pete Latham, who works on the TV side of events like this, just pointed out to us, you can play a whole season of the European Poker Tour with today's buy-in, including the main high roller events, then stop by the World Series of Poker, before playing the entire Latin American Poker Tour. At the end of that you'd still have change for your flight home. - SB

12.15pm: Another short delay
All right, we're not going to be starting at the updated start time either. Players are still milling around outside. -- SB

12.02am: Short delay
It goes without saying we're not going to be starting on time. We're told we'll be under way at 12.15pm. -- SB

11.45am: First through the door
Daniel Negreanu is the first player to enter the tournament. Right now there are five tables, with dealers and chips, waiting for them. We're going to put out neck out and say we will not be starting on time. - SB

11.30am: Names on the list
We already know the identity of some of those registered to play today. They include the likes of Daniel Negreanu, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, Phil Laak, Antonio Esfandiari, Jason Mercier, Tom Marchese, Sorel Mizzi, James Obst and Nick Schulman. -- SB

11.20am: Weather report
Despite an even 26 degrees of sunshine outside (79 degrees in Fahrenheit to our American friends) we're been promised a storm today. Angry looking clouds were moving in over the Bahamas this morning, not enough to put off swimmers and drinkers looking for an early morning Bahama-Mama pick-me-up, but enough to rattle the palm trees and send the more hair conscious tourist running for cover. -- SB

11.10am: It's finally here
Well here we go. The first day of the 2011 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure at the beautiful Atlantis Resort, on Paradise Island, a mega-rich strip of real estate just a short swim away from the Nassau, principle town of the Bahamian Island of New Providence. And that's the last time I'll be typing out the full address.

As you'll know by now we're about to embark on a 10-day, 48-event festival of poker, the largest anywhere in the world outside of the World Series of Poker. By the end of it we'll have a new Main Event champion, a new World Cup of Poker champion, a new Bounty Shootout champion, a High Roller champion and a Super High Roller champion. And it's this last one we'll begin playing for today.

The marina at the Atlantis Resort. Our yacht is just out of shot

If, like my mother, you thought $100,000 was too much for anyone to pay to play a poker tournament you'd be wrong. With a refreshingly cavalier approach to life and the value of the dollar, more than 30 players have so far signed up for this opening Super High Roller barnstormer (pronounced in the same way that you'd sing Viva Las Vegas). That's a Bentley Continental, with a full tank of gas, to play.

As usual the PokerStars Blog will be on hand to cover every aspect of the event from start to finish, complete with irreverence, correct spelling and grammar. Not only that but can have your say via the comments box below. Today we have an opening day special offer on comments; we're allowing exclamation marks, text-speak and opinions based on nothing that would resemble fact. Let's have it, we're all ears.

Play starts at 12 noon. We've already been enjoying the magnificence of the Caribbean's coastlines, the pleasures of strolling along the beach, being offered everything from banana boat rides to sunstroke. We've also got over the fact that we've arrived with suitcases full of clothes entirely unsuited to 26 degree sunshine. It's now time for what we came here for and if you can't be here yourself the PokerStars Blog coverage is the next best thing. -- SB

PokerStars Blog reporting team in the Bahamas (in order of wins on the "Fast and Furious" video driving game in the Games Reef Arcade): Rick Dacey, 4 (he doesn't even have a drivers license), Stephen Bartley, 0 (but will always get you to your destination safely).