2008 World Series: Giants
"There are some HUUUUGE stacks out there."
So came the latest observation from a reporter returning to media row from a jaunt across the tournament floor. He was right. After the early day carnage of the typical "double-up-or-bust-out" period, those players that profited from the pandemonium are now sitting pretty. The blinds in level 13, which we just entered, are $1,200 - $2,400 with a $300 ante, meaning the $100 chips can't yet be taken out of circulation. Many players need long arms to reach around towers spread wide and stacked tall just to retrieve their cards.
If Sigurd Eskeland, PokerStars player from Oslo, Norway, was any shorter than about seven foot tall, he would probably be in something of a fix. Eskeland has risen all the way to the top of the leaderboard with a monstrous stack of more than 620,000.
Eskeland has a chip stack to match his personal physique, as well as what seems to be a jolly giant persona as he chatted to members of the Scandinavian media, else discussed tennis or poker with table-mates.
The precise amount contained in his towers is unknown, even to Eskeland himself, and he was displaying some characteristic European humility when I ambled towards his table during the last level.
"What's your name?" asked a player in seat five.
"Sigurd Eskeland," said Sigurd Eskeland. So far, so truthful.
"You've got the chip lead," said seat five.
"No, I don't have the chip lead," said Eskeland.
"You do. You're number one," insisted his opponent, and pointed to one of the screens dangling from the ceiling of the Amazon Room on which Eskeland's name was displayed at the very top, next to a count of 640,000.
"That chip count is wrong," Eskeland said. "I only have about 620."
That, of course, would have been enough to keep him in No 1 spot as well, but no one was interested in continuing the argument. That's a wise policy when faced with someone close to seven foot tall, chipped up to the top of the board.
Among the other notable players in the field today, the Team PokerStars Pros have been staying focused and playing their games. Noah Boeken and Chris Moneymaker may have departed early, but ElkY, Vanessa Rousso, John Duthie and, in particular, Victor Ramdin, are here for the long haul.
Victor might have gambled for his whole stack at the mid-point of the last level when a pre-flop raising war ended with a player all in for about 245,000. Victor eventually passed and was shown A-J. Big move. Still, Ramdin is still the right side of 300,000 and probably closer to 400,000. ElkY is similarly strong. He had been right down to approximately nothing yesterday, but has continued a long rally and is up to 255,000 and going deep.
Hevad Khan and John Duthie continue to fight with a decent increase on their overnight totals. Khan doubled up to about 180,000 and is still around that level; Duthie is on approximately 100,000. Vanessa Rousso is still in, but only just. At latest break she had about 30,000. It's not much surrounded by those big stacks, but it's not a walk to the door just yet.
PokerStars sponsored players also remain firmly at the races. Kara Scott has more than 225,000 after taking down a sizeable pot late in the last level. She never showed her cards, but a wink to the rail suggested either a hero play or a monster hand. The railbirds just enjoyed the wink. The Russian duo of Kirill Gerasimov and Alexander Kravchenko battle on. Gerasimov has 140,000; Kravchenko about half that.
We've been here a long time, we've still got many hours left and many stories to tell.