The 2012 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure is underway at the Atlantis Casino and Resort in the Bahamas, with the $100,000 Super High Roller event drawing out some of the biggest (and deepest pocketed) poker professionals to the felt.
At the time the tournament started on Thursday afternoon, 24 players were arranged around the tables without a weak area in sight. Defending champion Eugene Katchalov faced off against defending PCA champion Galen Hall and 2011 $25,000 PCA High Roller champion Will Molson; Daniel Negreanu led a contingent of Canadian players (Mike McDonald and Shawn Buchanan) against Yevgeny Timoshenko and Erik Seidel; meanwhile, 2010 World Champion Jonathan Duhamel squared off against Isaac Haxton, Viktor ‘Isildur1’ Blom and Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier.
With the players starting with 250,000 in chips, there was still some jousting through the early action. Hall was able to pick off a bluff from Bill Perkins on a K-3-10-8-J to bump his stack over the 370K mark. At the same time, Negreanu picked up some chips from McDonald when his K-Q caught on the flop to outrun McDonald’s A-10.
Surprisingly, the tournament offered a late registration period – as well as a rebuy – and several players took advantage of both. Dan Shak, Sam Stein and Matt Glanz were some of the players who decided “better late than never,” while Duhamel, after being eliminated while holding Big Slick against Haxton’s pocket Queens, decided to donate antoher $100K to the cause. By the time the late registration/rebuy period had ended, 32 entries had been received to build a prize pool of $3.1 million. Unfortunately, only five men from this field will be walking away with something for their efforts:
Following the end of the late registration period, the first player to officially bust from the tournament was determined. After Katchalov made an opening raise, he was met with calls from Justin Smith, Masa Kagawa, Scott Seiver and Jason Mercier (remember, these are eight handed tables!). The men saw a 9-7-5 (two spade) flop, which brought an all-in move from Kagawa for around 80K in chips. After Seiver dropped his cards in the muck, Mercier made the call and Smith and Katchalov would exit.
Mercier tabled a 10-7 of spades for the middle pair and a small flush draw, while Kagawa displayed a 10-8 for an open ended straight draw. The turn King and river Ace didn’t bring any help for Kagawa, who walked away as the first player eliminated from the 2012 PCA. Masa would be joined throughout the day by players such as David Benefield, Philipp Gruissem, Justin Smith, Bryn Kenney, Katchalov, Buchanan and Glantz as the day’s action progressed.
Duhamel’s decision to buy back into the tournament proved to be the right one as he took his second stack of 250K in chips to drive into the Top Five in the tournament. He took a big pot in a battle with Shak to briefly move into the chip lead and would finish the day in fourth place with 729,000 in chips.
Erik Seidel continued to demonstrate his command of the “High Roller” events by playing steady poker throughout Thursday. He calmly cruised up to third place by the end of the day, holding 753,000 in chips, while seemingly never entering the spotlight. After his performance in 2011 in these “High Roller” tournamnets, Seidel looks to be a threat as play continues on Friday.
Duhamel and Seidel aren’t at the top of the heap, however. Here’s the Top Ten as play gets ready to start today:
1. Isaac Haxton, 1.24 million
2. Viktor ‘Isildur1’ Blom, 875,000
3. Erik Seidel, 753,000
4. Jonathan Duhamel, 729,000
5. Humberto Brenes, 609,000
6. Mike McDonald, 577,000
7. Jason Mercier, 514,000
8. Chance Kormuth, 444,000
9. Galen Hall, 380,000
10. Scott Seiver, 365,000
With 18 players remaining, the plans for Friday are to play down to the eight handed final table, but there are some rumblings that the players would like to play down to the money. Either way, one of the first major tournaments of 2012 will be decided by Saturday evening.