Two vinyl rails are all that separate several hundred poker-loving spectators and the 79 surviving players on Day 6 of the World Series main event. Beyond the circular tournament area and those watching is nothing but the vast carpeted no-mans land of the Amazon Room, transformed from the wall-to-wall tables of a few days ago into a vast space between the Rio and the outside world, and the even more insular environment of the last nine tables.

One of those tables is green three, tucked in between a small stage used by staff to get a better view of the battlefield, and a giant trash can. The scenery may not be as glitzy as the feature table, what with its lights and crowd packed bleachers, but none of that is required to make a big score. The only view that matters today is the one on the green felt in front of you.

That may well be the perspective of the four PokerStars players starting with varying degrees of chip stacks, as around them the spark of fortune bounces from player to player. Greg Byard sits in seat one with close to 1.2 million, next to Jonathan Plens on 1.87 million, whilst sitting opposite is qualifier Cristian Dragomir on just over 2.3 million.

Jonathan Plens.jpg
Jonathan Plens

Cristian won the first pot of the day, an unraised start that eased them into the next level with blinds now 15,000/30,000 with a 4,000 ante. It was one of four hands played before play was de-railed by something you don’t often see, particularly after a few hands – a different coloured card. It seems the ace of spades was in the deck but whilst the rest of the cards were backed with red, this one was backed in blue, which pained the player dealt it on the confessional hand.

Greg Byard.jpg
Greg Byard

The next hand sees Greg Byard in seat one move his chips into the middle. He slides his almost 800K sized stack into the pot but gets no takers, part of a pattern taking shape today as the progression of players to the cashier dries up.

All this is played out the soundtrack of the occasional “all-in and a call” but the more likely cry of emphatic celebration by those who have hit the unlikely or avoided the probable. One player jumps out of his seat, walks, then runs to a buxom lady on the rail, conceivably a relative, or jumps up and down with him. As the cameras retreat order is restored.

A few early fallers have landscaped the Amazon Room a little but it’s early days.


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