PCA 2013: Open-Face Chinese heating up

"Woooh, straight flush!" said Eli Elezra, leaping to his feet like an excited kid on his birthday.

Open-Face Chinese poker will do that to a man, even one that was a regular on High Stakes Poker. And Elezra isn't alone. At last look there were 59 players in the first major Open-Face Poker tournament, many of whom are among that wave of big name poker players that have embraced the game. Think Shaun Deeb, Jason Mercier, Daniel Negreanu, Phill Hellmuth, and they all look excited. Put it this way, I've never seen so many people up out of their seats before, nor would you expect so many players that bought into the $100,000 Super High Roller to jump into a $2,150 event.

pca_2013_jason_mercier_chinese.jpg

Jason Mercier: Open-Face's biggest fan?

On the table next to a grinning Mercier (who is sat opposite Paul Newey, another player who entered the $100,000) sits Elezra who himself faces down Team PokerStars Pro Victor Ramdin - to whom he casually tossed $2,000 in casino chips that were owed from earlier. Elezra held a hand looking like this with two cards to come. It wasn't looking great.

T♠A♠6♠
A♦4♠3♦T♦K♦
9♣J♣8♣[x][x]

Elezra, looking a little despondent took his next card: Q♣. It brought draws. And the river: T♣ completed the best one. Straight flush. Unsurprisingly, that's when he leapt to his feet sporting a wide smile.

"That was pretty amazing. I was going to lose six and won 24 instead. That's a big swing," he said.

Great start, moving forward
We spoke to Neil Johnson, PokerStars' Live Poker Specialist yesterday about the transition of the game. He'd expected some hiccups, some of which may yet to have worked themselves up the tournament oesophagus yet.

"Feedback has been really positive but we will have to iron a couple of things out," said Johnson, looking understandably happy with the turnout.

Re-entries are going strong and we'll get you some more details later on.

pca_2013_shaun_deeb.jpg

Deeb causing some consternation

PokerStars Head of Blogging Brad Willis passed by the OFC floor a little earlier and couldn't resist railing Deeb for a few minutes, during which time the chortling grinder scooped all three opponents and binked two lines of royalties. That small bout of rubbernecking led to a Willis declaration that he wants to cover OFC tournaments exclusively from now on. While it's a bold vocational statement, you know, what with this being the first major Open-Face Chinese poker tournament to take place, it does show that this format must have some legs.

Jump through to the PCA Main Event coverage or sneak on through to the $100,000 Super High Roller here. Follow the @PokerStarsBlog Twitter account to keep up-to-date with all the PCA action.

is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.