This Central American locale is home terrain for Team right here.
Anyway, so on to that Brenes-on-Brenes action we promised you. Early in the day's second level, two players limped in to a pot pre-flop before Jose Brenes (son of Humberto) raised. Alex Brenes (brother of Humberto and uncle of Jose) made the call, as did both limpers. The flop came T-T-3 and Alex bet out. The limpers folded and Jose min-raised. His uncle three-bet and Jose flat-called.
The turn brought a queen and both players checked, but after a trey on the river put two pair on the board the fireworks began anew. Alex bet out and Jose moved all-in. Alex called off his stack with T-6 for tens-full, but his nephew turned up pocket queens for the better boat, thus eliminating his uncle and taking an early share of the chip lead.
With hour-long levels and $10,000 starting stacks (to say nothing of a field comprised mainly of online LAGs), the eliminations started early and continued throughout the day. Early victims of the no-chips disease included Negreanu, Wells, Williams and Nuijten, the latter of whom got all-in to the good holding a spade-flush on a J-J-3-6 board against an opponent with J-T and saw the river card bring another ten to fill up Player 2 and send him packing midway through the fourth level of play.
Sam Simon would be among the next wave of eliminatees, busting in a crowd that also included Christian "Charder" Harder and Orel Hershiser. Simon got it all-in good with jacks against an opponent with K-2, but saw the flop bring two kings to end his day in painful fashion early in the day's sixth level.
Plan was to play to Level 10 on Thursday and tournament director Ward stuck to the plan, with the action pausing for a brief respite at the buffet table after Level 6 and then continuing on until midnight.
In the later stages of Day 1 play, Isabelle Mercier contributed mightily to Gualter Salles' elimination, taking most of Speed Racer's chips when she flopped a set against Salles' turned top-two pair. The Brazilian was crippled on the play and busted shortly thereafter.
Also eliminated late were PokerStars pros Victor Ramdin and Humberto Brenes. Ramdin hit the road with A-Q against an opponent's A-J when his rival flopped a club flush, while Brenes was sent packing after getting his short stack all-in with K-Q against an adversary with pocket jacks and failing to improve.
Meanwhile, Steven Thompson was making a run at the top of the chip leaderboard, winning a massive pot in the late stages after flopping a set of sixes on a queen-high board and seeing two players willing to party with top pair. Thompson tripled up after outrunning both opponents (one with A-Q and the other with Q-J), taking down a $70,000 pot and launching his stock skyward.
At the end of the day only one Team PokerStars pro would remain after Isabelle Mercier busted on very nearly the last hand of the night. Mercier got all-in with pocket tens for the last of her stack and ran it into A-8 and A-J in the blinds. The flop brought an ace and that was all she wrote for the French Canadienne, who left only Andre Akkari as the sole representative of her team.
By last call, only 86 of the original 398 players remained, including Akkari, Rayan Nathan, Josh Prager, Gabriel Alarie and WSOP bracelet-winner Maria Stern as notables. Unofficial chip leaders at the final count were Andre Wagner with $122,000, followed by Andres Ojeda with about $115,000 and Peter Busch with $110,000. Official counts will be up tomorrow.
Action will resume at noon local time, which translates roughly into 2 p.m. Eastern and 11 a.m. Pacific. PokerListings.com will be on the scene throughout the day as we play down through the money bubble to the final table. Join us in the jungle or catch malaria of the mind; we're that damn good.