PCA 2014: Get yourself followed, aka 'Why we're now railing Grayson Ramage'
You get a lot of players in a tournament when you slap a huge $10,000,000 guarantee on it. This is great for the spectacle and it's also great for those who manage a deep run. It does make things pretty tricky from a coverage point of view though. Who to follow? Who to hero?
There are only so players that can be covered effectively and, in these days of social media, we know that you'll be using the PokerStars Blog aside the PCA/EPTLive webcast, personal updates and tweets. Here's some of our criteria for who we decide to focus on:
1. Join Team PokerStars
If you've managed to get yourself sponsored by PokerStars then chances are you're the kind of player who's going to make a deep run. You've either proved yourself in live tournaments or by multi-tabling 48 tables of NL$1,000 online, or possibly both, at the same time. Yes, of course there's a little bit of company bias about it, but when you're the world's largest poker site what do you expect?
2. Get yourself a big stack - preferably a chip leading one
You can't win a PCA on Day 1, but you can get stacked up. Do that at the end of the day and you'll start pinging get on our radar. Sure, it helps if you're good buddies with Jason Mercier, but getting a table heaving amount of chips will do it.
3. Come loaded with great results
Have you ever won a big tournament? Do you have a PokerStars UKIPT, LAPT or APPT trophy gathering dust on your mantelpiece back home? Have you final tabled the World Series and a bunch of EPT High Rollers? Do you have a bunch of online results in any and all of the COOP series? If the answer is yes, then you can consider yourself a player of pedigree and, more importantly, we have a frame of reference in which to put you forward as a genuine contender.
If you combine a couple of these then all the better. Take a look at Mike "Timex" McDonald. Not only is he now near the chip lead and have big results on and off the felt, but McDonald can tell tales of playing one big blind in $100,000 tournaments and even goes to the trouble of locking himself in the bathroom to get attention.
Or maybe, you know, just go deep
Failing all else just outlast the competition, because we'll have to start zeroing in on other players once the bandstand names have busted. Someone like, for instance, WSOP bracelet winner Loni Harwood, UKIPT reg Tom Hall, Irish online whizz Jude Ainsworth or - and this is the one that we're going for - Grayson "gray31" Ramage.
Ramage has clocked up around $4m in online tournament winnings and scored a 21st place finish here in 2011, the year that Galen Hall won. Ramage didn't just eke into the money that year. He was in rude health when he bust out to resident wrecking ball Chris Oliver. Be prepared for one grim badbeat (courtesy of our live updates from back in the day):
12.25pm: Oliver does it again, takes lead busts Ramage
If you've been following our Main Event coverage for a few days you'll know that Chris Oliver has got a little lucky on several occasions, notably cracking A-K with very little, or hitting a set to overtake an overpair.
And he's just done it again to take a pot that sends him to the top of the leader board, and sends poor Grayson Ramage home in 21st place.
Grayson had opened with a raise to 110,000, which was called by Phillipe Plouffe in the small blind. Then Oliver re-raised to 305,000 from the big blind. Back to Grayson, who thought for a moment or two before raising once more, to 585,000. Plouffe had seen enough and got out of the way, but Oliver was still interested. He looked over at Ramage, looking for a moment as though he might fold. Instead, he announced he was all-in. Ramage, who had a little over 2million and was covered, called instantly:
It was a great spot for Ramage, but as we've seen Oliver can get the cards when he needs them. The flop went his way again, coming 2♥8♠Q♠. Ramage was devastated, and the 5♥ turn and 9♥ river did not save him.
With that, Oliver shoots up to around 5.8million chips and the runaway lead.
That was in 2011 and Ramage is again pushing hard towards the final table. He's currently packing around 465,000, which is about half average, Can he shake that monkey from his back? Thirty-two players remain.
Rick Dacey is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.