The 2012 edition of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Super High Roller event drew 32 entries at $100,000 a pop, and 14 of them were lost over the course of Day 1. Friday was moving day, Day 2, and the 18 survivors returned to the felt to play down to the final table. What promised to be an entertaining day of poker did not disappoint, and the eight survivors are led by none other than 2011 PCA Main Event champion Galen Hall. He bagged up 1.748 million chips at the end of the night to set the pace for Saturday's final table.
Chance Kornuth began play in the middle of the pack, but he was the first to fall after a crippling staight-over-straight encounter with Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu.
Tom Marchese was next to fall when his queen-jack fell to Viktor Blom's , and just like that, the field was reduced to two tables of eight. Before the redraw, though, Yevgeniy Timoshenko ran his ace-jack into David Sands' two red aces at one of the adjacent tables to shrink the group to the final 15 players.
The chip counts were getting a bit polarized by the midway point in the day, and Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier was one of the have-nots. He was very short on chips when his fell to Hall's on a board, and his exit left Jason Mecier as one of the shortest stacks in the room. Naturally, he got the rest of his chips in good with his dominating Sands' . Somehow, though, Mercier's perpetual good fortune let him down. The board ran out , and Mercier was out in 14th place.
Will Molson knows his way around the big-buy-in PCA events, finishing second, second, and first in the last three $25,000 High Roller Events, respectively. He was one of the donators in this $100,000, though, losing a flip with against Blom's . Blom's baby pair held strong again as the board ran to usher Molson to the exit.
As is the case with Mercier, it's almost front-page news when Erik Seidel busts an event before the final table. Seidel had just over 20 big blinds left when he three-bet shoved with behind a Negreanu open. Negreanu had , and the board sent Seidel off empty handed.
Isaac Haxton was still leading the 11 remaining players, but Negreanu was nipping on his heels after the knockout pot. Both Jonathan Duhamel and Blom had their names in the top five, too. Blom slipped just a bit, but he made up for his losses by taking all of Sands' chips.
In a two-hand series, Blom first took one half of Sands' stack, then the other. The final hand saw Sands flipping for his tournament life with against , but the board was unkind to his pocket pair. Finishing the deal, Blom sent his opponent off in 11th place and moved back over the million-chip mark once again.
Sam Stein had a frustrating day on the felt, too, punctuated by a big run-in with Dan Shak. Stein check-shoved when the turn gave his tens up, but Shak snapped him off with the overpair, , to all but end Stein's run in tenth place.
Nine-handed action left both tables playing short-handed, and Hall absolutely took command, more than tripling his stack during that period. Up to that point, things had been progressing at a frustrating pace for the young multimillionaire as he had to deal with the big-stacked Haxton on his direct left for nearly the entire tournament.
Haxton had been punishing Hall for 10 levels, but Level 11 turned the tides in a big way. Hall got two big barrels into the pot when he turned a flush with , and Haxton dropped a big chunk when he paid off the river bet with two mystery cards. Just a few minutes later, Hall got the rest of Haxton's once-mighty stack when his overcame the dominating . Haxton's hand fell into a big hole on the flop, and he could not catch up on the turn or river. Just like that, the man who'd been tournament captain for two days was out in ninth place, and the final table was set with Hall atop the counts.
The surviving eight players will return to the felt at 1700 GMT on Saturday to play to a winner. With five spots paying out and a quarter-million dollar bubble lurking over their heads, three of the finalists will be forced to go home empty handed. Here's how they'll stack up at the final table:
|5||Mike "Timex" McDonald||360,000|
|7||Viktor "Isildur1" Blom||1,228,000|
Our Live Reporting team has a ringside seat for the action on Saturday, so tune into the blog beginning at 1700 GMT to follow along. In the meantime, following us on Twitter is the best way to keep up with the rest of the news from the tournament circuit and beyond.