PCA 2012: A change in atmosphere with 24 left
There is rain forecast today and perhaps that atmospheric pressure drop has filtered through to the main event. The air is thick with tension. Gone is the laughter of yesterday. There is no banter, no smiling for the cameras.
Twenty-four players remain and just eight will make it through to have a shot at the life-changing $2,000,000 first prize (and it's $1,275,000 for second, let's not forget that). The other sixteen will finish this day, 12 January 2012, with a large score, as much as $100,000, but will fall short of the TV final table. They'll be left with mixed feelings: a sense of achievement but a nagging ache that the cards, or perhaps their senses, betrayed them at the vital moment.
Three tables remain, one is the heavily rigged feature table, the other two are normal-sized kidney-shaped poker tables, but with camera crews and media in tight formation around them and three tiers of spectators also pressing in this must be the highest pressure poker moment must have been exposed to. Most.
One player that has been there before and is looking more calm than most is Xuan Liu. The Canadian finished third at EPT San Remo for €360,000 and will be keen to go further here. Another player used to this stage of tournaments is Martin Jacobson so perhaps it's little surprise that the pair are among the first to tangle. Jacobson opened under-the-gun for 40,000 and Liu three-bet to 102,000 from the cut-off. Jacobson considered his options and settled on passing. Liu raked in the pot.
Anthony Gregg opened the next hand to 43,000 and was three-bet by Mark Drover to 106,000 from the cut-off. Byron Kaverman sat silently in the next seat along and cold four-bet to 235,000, leveraging his button for all its worth, Gregg passed, Drover did not. Drover cut out chips, first enough to call, then more to raise. He pulled in some of his three-bet and pushed out a five-bet that totalled 505,000. Not a word had been spoken. Not Jacobson when raising, not Liu when raking in the pot, not Gregg, Drover or Kaverman during this hand.
Kaverman, still silent, pushed his cards forward, and Drover pulled in his winnings to stack up to 1,700,000. A solid start to the day, Drover is up from 1,383,000 and just a little bit closer to that final table. Kaverman drops below 2,000,000 and will have to fight the feeling that things are not going as planned. It's going to feel like a long day for some of these players.