WSOP Main Event Day 2A: Qualifier seeks second, bigger final table
Two days before the start of the 2010 World Series Main Event, Juan Naranjo was playing some decidedly smaller action. He was deep in the Caesar's $225 Megastack event. He'd started at noon and, over the course of the next 14 hours, made his way to the final table. One of ten players remaining out of the original 169, Naranjo was guaranteed all of $700. The most he could make if he won the tournament? $7,500. Not even a WSOP Main Event buy-in.
Narajno had planned for a good night's rest, but it was cut short by a call from home. One of his businesses in Miami had been broken into and looted. He didn't sleep well and spent his morning dealing with police and insurance companies. Less than an hour into Sunday's final table, Naranjo's ace-eight failed to beat pocket kings and he was out in tenth place.
For most people at that final table, the money they pulled in from the little $225 was the last tournament action they'd see before they went home. For Naranjo, it was a trip back to the Palms, a bus ride over to the Rio the next morning, and a seat in the WSOP Main Event.
Naranjo is a PokerStars qualifier and Supernova from South Florida. The Cuban-American is volatile, unpredictable, and the very definition of extreme. When things happen to him--good or bad--they happen in a big way.
To wit: At the end of Day 1, Naranjo had worked his stack up very nicely and was set to have a way better than average stack going into Day 2.
"They were going to play five more hands," he said, "and I decided I didn't want to play them."
Narano got up and walked around the table a bit. He was stretching after a long day in his chair. All the while his opponents were giving him grief about not playing. And so, he sat back down and on the last hand of the night, looked down at two pocket aces. Still wary, but unable to let them out of his hand, Naranjo said, "I thought I would see what would happen."
So he played the hand straight. Facing a raise, he re-popped it, and then got a call. As Naranjo tells the story, The flop came down A♥2♥3♥. Naranjo had his opponent covered by 42,000 and got it all in only to see he was up against the unlikely 5♥6♥. He needed the board to pair, and pair it did with a deuce. Naranjo looked to finish the day with a giant stack. Instead, an unbelievable river...4♥ for the straight flush.
A lot of people might have just puked up their dinner and left the Rio in search of a shaman to exorcise the bad juju. Naranjo simply waited a couple of days and came back with a vengeance. After starting Day 2 with 42,000, Naranjo has turned into a card rack.
"I've had aces like seven times and they held up every time," he said. "I get aces that many times, it's like the people at the table want to throw up."
After hitting his peak a 185,000, Naranjo has lost a couple of pots and is down to 135,000...which is, by almost any standard, pretty damned awesome at this point.
CELEBRITY LOOKALIKE OF THE HOUR
We continue our series of poker players who like like people you know from the ranks of the famous. We found this one absolutely startling in its similarity.
MISSING AND PRESUMED ELIMINATED PLAYERS OF THE HOUR
OVERHEARD TELEPHONE CONVERSATION OF THE HOUR
"I just bluffed away 30k (pause). I said I just bluffed away 30k (pause). It was a really good bluff."
TWEET OF THE HOUR
Lex Veldhuis: "Lost 100k pot. I 3bet with As8c he checkcalls KJ8xss, turn 5s, he allin. He doesnt push K J or flush so I call. He has TsTd. #lolrandom 78k"
ANY EXCUSE TO USE A PICTURE OF SANDRA JOE GIRON PHOTO HOUR