PCA 2015: Heroes and villains on the bubble
With the departure of Roger Teska earlier this week there was a vacancy for a tournament villain. Luckily Dmitry Ivanov was prepared to step in.
The story of Ivanov was quite prominent in the run up to the bubble, and even for a short while after it burst. For Ivanov was a staller, a slow player with short stack trying to eke into the money. So as far as Ivanov was concerned, when the bubble burst it was a job well done.
The position of staller is perhaps the most loathed in poker, but it can elicit mixed reactions. Fury often sits alongside mirth, the latter perhaps fueled by the secret wish that you too could slow down the action and let someone else bust and leave you with a payday.
So when the floor person arrived for the fourth time the laughter was more incredulous than anything else.
"One-hundred per cent of the time he stalls!" said Scott Baumstein, pleading with tournament director Luca Vivaldi for retribution. Ivanov's clock was shortened - he had just 30 seconds to act, not 60 - but there was nothing else to do but sit tight.
Ivanov had his routine nailed down. First he would look at one card. Then he would look a the other card. Then he would look at them both together to see if there was any improvement. Then look at the ceiling. Then at the dealer. Then, reluctantly, he would push forward his cards.
He would do this again and again. And as is often the case with this most dishonourable player type, players quickly got bored of having to call the floor and let him do it. Or perhaps it was awe, for it takes an enormous level of confidence to sit wasting time while absorbing the bitterness of your rivals.
All the while the bubble was getting nearer, although it would take some time before Arne Kern would get his ace-king rivered by a pair of tens. During which Ivanov would sit typing into his phone and dancing between tables where an all-in was taking place.
Meanwhile, in between that, the bubble produced its usual televised roadshow, with a bundle of cameras and microphones scuttling from one table to another. At one point seven cameras and four boom microphones were positioned over one table, a kind of giant game of Kerplunk, short only some enormous balls.
But then perhaps that's where Ivanov came in.
With 7,000 chips left he had fewer than half a dozen hands worth of chips left. Then Arne did what he had to do, getting unlikely on the river when Ambrose Ng hit his ten.
Ivanov had been watching. So too Ronaldo, who scampered to each table with the dexterity of his good old days, and our colleague Howard Swains pointed out, perhaps the only time in his career that he was on the outside of an enormous phalanx of cameras and not the inside.
And so the bubble burst and Ivanov got his wish, giggling with his friends who marvelled at a fantastic escape rather than anything that might not strictly speaking be in the spirit of the game. He looked like he'd robbed a bank and made it safely to Havana.
Elsewhere there was good news for Elizabeth Bennett who survived an all-in earlier today and reached the money with the smallest of stacks to enjoy celebrations with her friends on the rail. She plays on.
She joined several Team Pros who reached the money, including Jason Mercier who "bubbled-up", as well as Liv Boeree Naoya Kihara, Jonathan Duhamel and PokerStars SportStar Ronaldo.
Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.