What a difference a six-handed table makes! Day 2 of the 2007 Caribbean Poker Classic saw 53 players return to the felty battleground, each with their own version of how things would play out, and although everyone gave 110%, only eight were able to go the distance.
In any tournament there is an ebb and flow of eliminations, a rhythm that speeds up and slows down, usually dictated by the differential between the size of the blinds and antes and the average stack. This was not the case here today.
From the announcement of "Shuffle up and deal" all the way to the final hand we saw pedal-to-the-metal, breakneck, ludicrous speed. If the bustications were coming quickly during the first portion of the day, when we were still playing nine-handed, the bursting of the money bubble and the switch to a six-handed structure only served to quicken the pace. Things were going quickly I guess would be the main bullet point of this presentation...
As the eliminations piled up and the PL.com team scrambled to bring you every morsel of action there was to be had, a few players began to emerge as the ones to keep an eye on, seemingly destined for a spot at this event's finale. While these predictions proved true for a few players who got their hands on chips early, there were even more who burned bright but fizzled before it was time for the chips to go in the bags.
A prime example of this dynamic was Sweden's Gustav Lundholm. Controlling the action while maintaining a seemingly harmless façade, Lundholm came into the day second in chips but quickly eclipsed start-of-day chip leader Paul Collins. The bulk of the Swede's newfound wealth came from a massive three-way all-in that saw two players sent to the rail and the biggest pot of the tournament shipped to Lundholm.
With one player all-in before the flop and the other getting the rest of his money in once the first three cards had hit the felt, Lundholm showed down the mortal nuts, top set, which would fade both players' draws, taking down the whole enchilada.
Meanwhile, at a table not far away, France's Nicolas Levi was quietly amassing chips as well. These two players played leapfrog with the chip lead for much of the afternoon, topping out at right around $300,000. Nicolas Levi was able to hold it together, putting himself in contention for the final table, but the same could not be said for Lundholm.
Playing an extremely aggressive game, one thing was for sure: Lundholm was determined to either take down this tournament or go out with guns blazing. Unfortunately for him it turned out to be the latter as he doubled-up a long series of short stacks before going bust.
Levi's day was not without its obstacles as well but, perhaps by virtue of a bit more experience, he made it into the top ten before being forced to part with his beloved chip stack. Levi has had good results here at the CPC, finishing seventh at the 2006 main event. In a conversation with PL.com earlier this evening he expressed the frustration he felt being in the same situation again this year. When it got down to the final two or three tables he was enjoying a healthy stack, only to see it dwindle before earning a seat at the final table.
It was easy to see that the majority of players in this event got their chops online. Furthermore, it was clear that many Northern Europeans were working hard to live up to their reputations. Much of the play was being done before the flop as it seemed calling was simply not an option for some. The level of play was impressive and could easily rival that of any $10,000 event Stateside. The fact that many among the field are still just tykes, not yet legal in American casinos, only makes it all the more impressive.
As the field continued to be chopped down to size with the short-handed tables stimulating the already frenetic tempo, we reached the final eight players by around 10 p.m. After a short period of playing four-handed on two tables, the tournament staff and players began to discuss the option of either merging to one patch of felt or calling it a night, returning to play an eight-handed final table tomorrow.
Since there are no television cameras, producers or corporate executives here to call the shots, the players' opinions are actually taken into account when making these decisions. I know it's hard to believe but it's true. So, after a consensus among the remaining eight had been reached, the decision was made to throw the chips in the bags and break for the evening.
All that was left was the seating draw, counting the chips and ordering a few Caribbean beers with which to celebrate the surviving eight's accomplishment. For all of this (minus the beer), click through to our live updates page. There you will also find detailed reports on everything we bore witness to today. Photographs are also available, taken by our intrepid PL.com photographer, as well as a full list of the players who cashed in this event.
The final table will be raring to go at 2 p.m. tomorrow so, as always, I suggest you do everything you can to make it to your computers and follow all the action as it happens. There are no television crews here. There aren't even any other live updaters! PL.com is the only place where you can get your vicarious fix of Caribbean Poker Classic goodness. We'll take your silence to mean you approve.