PCA 2014: Dan Shak inches in front of Vanessa Selbst ahead of Super High Roller final
To hear that Vanessa Selbst is in complete control of a high stakes poker tournament is hardly news these days.
It was a similar story here 12 months ago, when Selbst, who had become the first woman to play an event with a $100,000 buy in, had more than two million chips in the closing stages before she lost a pot to Antonio Esfandiari and then made a big move against the turned flush of David Sands. Irked and out, Selbst simply regrouped, and was crowned the PCA High Roller champion just days later.
Just missing out on the lead: Vanessa Selbst
Today Selbst has again proved herself to be formidable against top notch opposition. Today she got that, and was that, bagging up 3,645,000 at the close, almost taking the lead into the last eight. Almost.
Selbst had it made until a hand against Dan Shak that would change things, leaving Shak, himself a mighty foe, with the narrow advantage, bagging up 3,700,000 at the close.
Chip leader tonightL Dan Shak
It came after a tricky period of play, dominated by a series of all-ins by some micro-stacks, who somehow managed to hold on and on. So it was a little surprising to see the chips went in, Selbst with two pairs, against Shak's flush draw. He also had a pair of tens, which became a set on the river, doubling him up and sending Selbst off stage for a few moments to compose herself.
For while Shak leads it was largely Selbst's day, having sent the likes of Bryn Kenney, Philipp Gruissem and Igor Kurganov crashing out.
The latter two represented part of what is usually an unstoppable German force that regularly dominates events of this nature. But their efforts came to nothing, with the exception of Fabian Quoss, who had been one of the short stacks. He held on successfully for what was a $200,000 min-cash.
Selbst's stack tomorrow leaves her in prime spot, and a second PCA title within reach. But her job will be made harder by the line-up she'll be up against.
Seat 1 - Ole Schemion, Austria, 280,000
Seat 2 - Tony Gregg, United States, 410,000
Seat 3 - Antonio Esfandiari, United States, 2,830,000
Seat 4 - Matt Glantz, United States, 480,000
Seat 5 - Fabian Quoss, Germany, 2,650,000
Seat 6 - Vanessa Selbst, United States, 3,645,000
Seat 7 - Dan Shak, United States, 3,700,000
There are plenty of star attractions, not least in the likes of Esfandiari, as well as EPT London finalist Ole Schemion and a former PCA Main Event runner-up Anthony Gregg. The addition of Dan Shak, with whom Selbst has previous, also adds a little drama to the scene.
It was a combination of Paul Newey and Mike McDonald who brought the night to a close, several hours after it had been predicted it would.
Newey, who folded his way down to four antes, was all-in under-the-gun. McDonald, tired like everyone else as the clock inched towards 2am, had only 50,000, and after jettisoning all efforts to make sense of the situation, also shoved with king-queen, with Matt Glantz calling them both. Crucially Glantz had the ace, and found another on the board.
Selbst turned to McDonald. "Is this the biggest sweat you've ever had drawing dead?" she asked, which made everyone smile. For Newey it had been inevitable, but McDonald will feel he could have gone further.
(Almost) Bubble boy Mike McDonald banked $217,320
The result though will be a seven-handed final table when play resumes at 1pm tomorrow.
The day had begun with a field of 37, bolstered by the re-entries of Daniel Negreanu and John Juanda. Both were among the early fallers, Negreanu being the first, soon followed by Tobias Reinkemeier and Dan Smith.
This being a Super High Roller, the list of fallers could easily have been reversed to provide a list of likely finalists. Koon, O'Dwyer, Mercier, Duhamel, Haxton, Stern, Mizzi, Finger, Laliberté, Bonomo and Marchese -- all were rail-bound today, as was defending champion Scott Seiver. Find news of all today's big pots and eliminations in our live coverage.
They are gone but not forgotten for long. They'll be among the Main Event which gets under way tomorrow, alongside the several hundred players who arrived today to start that unmistakable bustle along the corridors of the Atlantis.
The Super High Roller trophy
We saw a temporary solution create a permanent problem on the tables, and introduced the typical Super High Roller, who we dubbed "Mr Average". Last year's winner Scott Seiver turned linebacker, while Brynn Kenney did his best to stay on his feet.
Outside polar vortexes were threatening what would be the busiest day in the hotel, while back inside a short stack was doing something similar for Noah Schwartz. But while we ask when will it end?, there's always Humberto Brenes to put a smile back on your face. Doc Jennings on the other hand may not do interviews, but he picked up a few new fans today.
We'll see you tomorrow for the final table, at the end of which someone will win a first prize of $1,629,940. For good measure coverage of the Main Event will begin in all it's glory.