Friday, 23rd February 2024 03:17
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The day broke with bikinis and sunscreen. A peek outside into paradise promised another fine day of prettiness on the outside and poker on the inside. Little did anyone realize, a storm was fast approaching. As the tournament began, aces got cracked by kings, the entire island’s internet connection went down, and a near-typhoon blew across the resort.

Within minutes, bad beat stories bounced off the walls, the bikini-clad women ran in from the ever-chilling wind, and the PokerStars blog sat dormant. For the first time since I reached the island, I felt uneasy. The wind was blowing too hard and the bad beats were piling up too fast.

On the rail, one single image seemed to capture my mood.

A sleeper

And then…everything changed. The storm blew out, the internet came back, and the poker room took on a brand new energy. Two hours had passed and the cloud was gone. Suddenly, it was all fun again. If I needed any further proof that good things were again on the horizon, I found it on the far side of the poker room. A three-way all-in drew my attention. Aces, kings, and jacks appeared in front of the players. I saw the fear in the ace-holder’s eyes. He knew what was coming. He seemed sure a king and jack would flop. I steeled myself for the worst and watched…as an ace fell on the board. Justice, even though blind, could find her way to the poker table.

Watching aces hold up

It seemed everything was again falling into place. The payout structure emerged, revealing a monster $5.45 million prize pool. First place stands to receive a cool $1.36 million prize and a seat in he $25,000 WPT Championship.

And, so I again went face-hunting.

Jennicide holding her own on a stack of more than $20,000

BKLaw, Natan Wager, member of the PokerStars World Cup of Poker Team Costa Rica championship squad

#1PEN, third place finisher in the 2005 WCOOP Event #2

Chris Fargis of the popular poker blog, Twenty-One Outs Twice

2005 WSOP Champion Joe Hachem

Marco Traniello, who rocketed to more than $50,000 in chips at the beginning of the day and still sits on a formidable stack

Jim McManus, author of “Postively Fifth Street” and the New York Times poker column

The Takeover, still in the game

Spiro Mitrokostas, aka 55Lucky55. Just moments before this photograph was taken, Spiro said, “This is the only hand I’m going to show all day,” and then held 5-5 up to his head like mouse ears

Finally, after watching Wil Wheaton double his shortstack with TT vs. AQ, I saw PokerStars Group Marketing Director Chris Welch waving me over to another table.

“Greg is all in and Tiffany has been thinking about calling for nearly seven minutes,” he said.

Greg was Greg “Fossilman” Raymer. And Tiffany was none other than Tiffany Williamson of 2005 WSOP fame.

I looked at the flop. It was ten-high, rainbow.

Raymer (foreground in red) waits for Williamson (white sweater) to make a decision

The wait was agonizing, but a minute or so later, Williamson mumbled, “Call.”

Raymer flipped over AQ. Williamson turned over QQ. “I would’ve thought you’d call in a shot with that,” Raymer said. But he didn’t move. He waited for the turn.

Four seconds later, an ace fell, Raymer doubled through, and Williamson (still with a comfortable 18K in chips) took a walk.

Now, players are on their way back from dinner break. The forecast is looking good for the rest of the trip. By the end of the night, the field will be pared down to one room of players and we will begin again.

For now, I’m headed back to the tournament room. We’ll have more updates later.

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