WSOP Main Event: One from there, one from here

wsop2009_thn.gif"If you need any information about one of the Spanish qualifiers, I have it," said Ivan Marti, the PokerStars blog writer from Spain, who is presently following all Spanish speakers over at PokerStars Blog.es.

This is the drill: while we at the .com wing of PokerStars blog keep a close eye on Team PokerStars Pro and the native English speakers of the qualifiers, our tangle-tongued cousins go in search of the umlauts, cedillas, shhhhhs and little circles on top of Nordic vowels. When one of the players in their crosshairs makes a charge, we hijack their reporting and introduce them to the proud monoglots of the United States of Engerland.

Such is the case now with Manuel Labandeira, who has been hotly pursued by Marti since the very early stages of this tournament. Labandeira was born in Spain but moved to California when he was 18, electing to stay in Long Beach when his family returned to Iberia.

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Manuel Labandeira


He is a school-teacher by day but has developed a neat line in winning poker in his spare time, progressing from limit stud, through limit hold 'em, to no limit hold 'em about two years ago. As is so often the case, he then discovered PokerStars and now plies his trade online, qualifying for an LAPT and an EPT event before ante-ing up $630 fee to enter a World Series satellite to land him in Las Vegas this week.

Labandeira reached a high water mark of about 1.5 million chips yesterday, and has slipped closed to half that this evening. But at time of writing, he remains in the thick of this tournament with fewer than 90 players left. He has already improved on his result from 2006, when he cashed in 331st place for $34,000.

Andrew Lichtenberger might sound like the kind of player who should be pursued by the blog's German speakers, but this PokerStars qualifier hails from upstate New York and should actually be being followed by anyone interested in the game of poker from wherever they are in the world.

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Andrew Lichtenberger


Known online as RunThisTable, he is currently sitting with more than four million in chips, and what's more has the pedigree to go further. He took second place in a $5,000 shootout event a couple of weeks ago, which was his fourth cash of the Series so far.

Lichetenberger is now on the secondary feature table, where he is sitting alongside Phil Ivey. Stories from there to follow as well, no doubt. It'll be one hell of a table to run.

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ELIMINATION OF THE HOUR

Wesley Ismay is out, in perhaps the most spectacular of fashions. "The kid bluffed him with queen high!" shouted Gabe Thaler, railing the Main Event. "He called with ace-king!" In this context, "the kid" was Ismay, the "he" was Antonio Esfandiari, who is now stacking about six million in chips. The full hand played out outside of our immediate view, but Ismay's rueful frown and Esfandiari's mugging for the television cameras certainly fitted Thaler's description of events.

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STATISTIC OF THE HOUR I

Number of PokerStars players remaining in field: 17/86

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STATISTIC OF THE HOUR II

Number of former World Champions on the rail: One (Robert Varkonyi)
Number of former World Champions still in the Main Event: One (Peter Eastgate)

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TOURNAMENT HOUSEKEEPING OF THE HOUR

Players will soon return from a 20-minute break and play the final two-hour level of the day. It's tournament level 25 where blinds are 20,000-40,000 (5,000 ante).

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CHIP COLOUR UP OF THE HOUR

The yellow 1,000 chips have been taken out of circulation.

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RAILBIRD OF THE HOUR

Barry Greenstein in the bleachers of the feature table, railing his son Joe Sebok.

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VIDEO BLOG OF THE HOUR

Daniel Negreanu on his World Series


Watch WSOP 2009: Daniel Negreanu on his WSOP on PokerStars.tv