PCA 2014: A Round With...Roger Teska and a round of drinks
Two members of the PCA Live commentary team swung by PokerStars Blog HQ during the last break and both, independently, bemoaned the relative calm of their feature table. It wasn't that the action there was uninteresting by any regular measure, it's just that Mike McDonald, Max Silver and Roger Teska were on the secondary table, and were mixing up a storm.
Silver and McDonald are well known and, well, brilliant. But Teska is the man making the headlines this week. He may well also be brilliant--he found the money to play the $1m One Drop in Las Vegas a couple of summers ago, after all, and has been in or around the chip lead for two day--but it's principally what can only be described as "antics" that have kept him in the news.
Teska likes to stay refreshed at the tables, and has chosen his poison. It's Bloody Mary, please, and a lot of them. He hasn't been without a cocktail for as long as anyone remembers seeing him in this tournament, and even if you can't see him, you can hear him a mile off. "Cocktails at table two!" he bellows, and over comes the dutiful server.
Teska has already served a couple of penalties, sitting out orbits after being accused (and found guilty) of abusing the television crew. He has been in regular conference with tournament staff, who have tended to take the kid glove approach to the baby-faced bad boy, placing a paternal arm around his shoulders and asking for the best of order.
His defence is that he has never been abusive to the dealers, fellow players nor tournament officials. "It's just the TV guys," he said. It's true, but you'll need to judge for yourself whether that lets him off any hooks.
Anyhow, with the PCA Live commentators envious of the outer table, it seemed like a perfect time to dust down our patented A Round With... formula. This is where we take a close-up examination of a single orbit on an interesting table and provide a warts-and-all, non-judgmental report on the action.
This one had it all.
Context: The tournament has just been on a 15-minute break and the field has shrunk to the final 24. There are three empty seats on table Teska and three new players arrive. Jeremy Wray gets the unenviable seat sandwiched between McDonald to his right and Teska to his left, while Anton Iaroslavskii sits in seat one and Adrian Bussman gets seat three.
The full line up looks like this, with approximate stacks:
Seat 1 - Anton Iaroslavskii, 380,000
Seat 2 - Max Silver - 2,300,000
Seat 3 - Adrian Bussman - 1,900,000
Seat 4 - Allon Allison - 1,020,000
Seat 5 - Mike McDonald - 2,950,000
Seat 6 - Jeremy Wray - 200,000
Seat 7 - Roger Teska - 1,950,000
Seat 8 - Grayson Ramage - 720,000
Before the dealer got the cards in the air, there was time for some introductions. Wray, the British businessman, turned to McDonald, on his right, and said, "Can you remember where it was we last played together? If you get this right, I'll be very impressed."
McDonald looked blank, but wasn't going to bluff. He said, "I don't recognise you, so I won't try to guess. Unibet Open?"
"No, it was Europe," Wray said. "I'll give you a clue: we ended up sharing a taxi."
McDonald didn't twig, so Wray put him out of his misery. "Dortmund."
"Really?" McDonald said. "That ended well. We should share another taxi. I'm Mike, nice to meet you again."
The old acquaintances shook hands and McDonald seemed to allow himself a moment's fond recollection of that day in January 2008 when he became the youngest EPT champion of all time.
Wray shook hands with everyone at the table, and then the cards came round. We are in level 23 where blinds are 10,000/20,000 (3,000 ante).
Hand 1 - button with Roger Teska
Max Silver opened to 40,000 under the gun and Mike McDonald called in the cut off. That persuaded Iaroslavskii to call from the big blind too and three players saw a J♥[10h][10d] flop.
Jeremy Weay continued his introductions to his neighbours, shaking hands with "Roger" and then "Grayson". "I'm Jeremy," he said.
Iaroslavskii and Silver checked and then McDonald bet 70,000. Only Silver called, taking them to a 6♥ turn. Silver checked, McDonald bet 200,000 and the Mutual Stare-ometer went "Boing!" The two of them glared so intently at one another that any plants in the vicinity wilted.
The 4♣ came on the river and Silver checked again. But he wasn't going to get a cheap showdown. McDonald bet 450,000, which prompted Silver to take a sip of water.
In the seven seat, Roger Teska took a glug of red liquid as Silver's single sip became several. He was perplexed. Eventually, after a hand lasting nine minutes, he tapped the table and folded.
"I'd show you a bluff for sure," McDonald said.
"Pretty sure you wouldn't show a bluff," Silver said.
"Flush," said Teska, pointing an accusatory finger at McDonald, who did not reply.
Hand 2 - button with Grayson Ramage
Roger Teska rubbed his hands in anticipation of receiving some cards. He seemed delighted at the prospect. Indeed, after action folded around to him, he put in the first bet, making it 40,000.
Silver called from the big blind and it was just those two to a flop of 9♣6♦[10s]. Check, check. The 6♥ turned and Silver bet 60,000. Teska spun some chips through his fingers, dropped one on the felt, and then called.
The Q♥ came on the river.
"That's probably one of the best shows of the past 20 years," said one of the camera operators to the make-up artist standing nearby. "They're all comedians. Saul is a comedian, Huell. The other bodyguard." No one at the table was distracted by the Breaking Bad chit chat as Silver bet 130,000.
Teska picked up some calling chips and flicked them through his fingers. He dropped one. Then he put them together again and called, and Silver exposed his J♥J♠, which won.
Hand 3 - button with Anton Iaroslavskii
Mike McDonald started things, opening to 40,000 from early position. Roger Teska took a long drain of his Bloody Mary. It was folded around to Anton Iaroslavskii on the button and he moved all in for about 350,000.
McDonald called instantly and the cards were on their backs. McDonald tabled A♥K♦ to Iaroslavskii's Q♠Q♣, and they were off to the races.
The board came 3♥K♣6♠2♥[10h] and McDonald won this one. Iaroslavskii was out, looking for $50,900 for finishing 24th. "Payout on table two," bellowed the dealer as the Breaking Bad chat was interrupted by the need to retrieve a microphone from the departed Russian.
Hand 4 - button with Max Silver
Grayson Ramage opened to 40,000 from the cut off and won. Remember that pattern because...
Hand 5 - button with Adrian Bussman
...Grayson Ramage opened to 40,000 from the hijack and won. Roget Teska took a glug of his red drink.
Hand 6 - Button with Allon Allison
Mike McDonald starting colouring up some of his many, many stacks of blue chips. He got rid of two full racks of them, worth 500,000 apiece. Roger Teska opened to 45,000 from under the gun and won the blinds and antes.
Hand 7 - Button with Mike McDonald
It was folded to Mike McDonald on the button and, with immaculate precision, he put out a bet of 40,000. Roger Teska threw out a call.
The two of them saw a flop of K♥4♦6♦ and both checked.
McDonald's stare burned a hole into Teska's soul. Teska's bleary stare back was from beneath the heavy eyelids of a man who needed his bed. He stuck his tongue out, turned to the tournament clock, and then bet 50,000 in two green chips.
The turn brought the J♥ and Teska bet 125,000. McDonald folded.
Hand 8 - Button with Jeremy Wray
Allon Allison opened to 40,000 from the hijack and Mike McDonald called to his left. Jeremy Wray, with an ever shortening short stack, thought this was his chance to get it in the middle. He moved all in for 187,000 total.
Allison folded but McDonald called and this was another flip. McDonald had 4♥4♣ to Wray's Q♦J♠ and after a blank flop, the 4♦ on the turn was the deal knell for Wray.
He made his way to payouts table, pursued by a television crew member who wanted his microphone. "Cocktails at table two!" shouted Teska, for whom a microphone was the last thing he needed.
And so concluded a very, very good round for Mike McDonald.
Our coverage of the 2014 PCA is comprehensive on PokerStars Blog, and it is simple to follow. The PCA 2014 Main Event page has a box at the top in which you'll find hand-by-hand coverage and chip counts after the action commences at noon. Below that are feature pieces, interviews and analysis updated throughout the day. The same applies for the $25,000 High Roller event, in which Akkari and Negreanu both play. You can also follow the action on PCA Live.