In older times, before lorries and 18-wheeled behemoths carried our goods and wares from town to town, people looked to carters, those muscled and hardy men who could lift the handles of a two-wheeled wagon and push or drag it from one place to another. Think “Bring out your dead!” with less ghoulish ramifications.
Like many of the names we know today, carters became carters, the French ones became Charretiers, and, by and by, those became a long line of people that, for our purposes, end right here in Prague with our Main Event chip leader Sam Chartier.
Chartier finished Day 1B last night looking like he’d seen enough of the room. With 211,500 in his bag, he ran from the tourney room like a man in a hurry. He had good reason. Today is going to be a long one.
Chartier finished Day 1B as the chip leader less than 24 hours after making the final table of the Eureka High Roller event. That all sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? The problem for our resident carter is that it means he will play all of Saturday in the Main Event and finish just in time to walk across the room at sit down at the final table of the Eureka High Roller.
For now, however, let’s not put the Chartier before the horse. The man has work to do. He’s arrived at his seat in the center of the tournament room in a pair of blue jeans, a light t-shirt, and a pair of high-top leather-laced shoes. The body heat from 500 players isn’t venting well, and Chartier has slung his jumper over the back of his chair. With the kind of action he’s about to push, he’s going to need the fresh air.
No sooner do we look to his spot on the button that Frederic Delval has come in for a raise that doesn’t make sense. It’s too big, and Chartier has taken to an uncharacteristically long think. He’s got position on Delval, and it looks like he smells something funny. Eventually, Chartier figures it out and isolates with a re-raise. He’s as right as he’s going to be in this spot. His A♥10♣ is up against Delval’s 4♦4♠, and it’s over in seconds on a K♥A♦A♣Q♣J♥ run-out. Delval is gone before Chartier is finished stacking his chips.
For a time, those chips are a mess. Chartier’s stacks are in towers of 20, 30, and maybe 40 in places. His count is uncountable, and for now, he doesn’t have time to do anything about it.
He mucks his next hand, but when it is folded to him one deal later, he opens for 1,800. Jesus Muriel Gracia calls from the big blind, and they see a flop of 2♦3♦Q♠. With a check in front of him, Chartier slides out 2,100 and almost immediately gets raised to 6,000. He doesn’t think long before folding, and if it were you or me, we’d probably be chastened. No more bullying this table with a big stack, right?
Well, no. Chartier’s cart has room for a lot more chips.
The dealer has only shuffled one more time before Chartier is opening again. Perhaps inspired by Gracia’s success, Jan Latka calls out of the big blind. The dealer slides out a Q♠8♦3♣ flop. Latka is ready for Chartier. You can see it in his eye. He checks and lets Chartier bet 2,100. Now it’s going to happen, just like it did in the previous hand.
Latka makes his move. Now it’s 7,500 to play.
Wait…what’s happening? Chartier has called the check-raise? That wasn’t the plan. That wasn’t how it went before.
Before there is enough time to think about how to proceed, the dealer puts out the 10♦. Latka, chastened, checks. Chartier, as if he were in the middle of some rope-a-dope duel, checks behind.
Now it’s the 9♠ on the river. It’s a scary card for anyone without a jack in his hand, and Latka knows it. He puts on the face of a man with a jack and bets 10,000.
He’s not had time to pull his hand away from his chips before Chartier has snap-called. The time elapsed between the bet and the call was roughly the same as the time it takes to hear a sound after pulling a trigger.
Latka’s face falls.
“Call?” he asks.
He knows the answer, and with the face of a man who certainly doesn’t have a jack, turns over 2♥2♣. He doesn’t have to look at Chartier’s cards to know he is beaten. It’s not a jack, but a runner-runner two pair with 10♥9♣.
Bring out your dead, indeed.
Chartier starts working to get his chips into stacks of 20, but he doesn’t have time to finish before opening the next hand. He gets action pre-flop, and on two streets, before forcing Jimmy Kebe to fold on a K♦9♣[7♣4♠3♥ board.
Chartier is now laughing. His stack is somewhere around 300,000 and he is opening another hand, now under the gun. This time, there is a three-bet and all-in ahead of him, so he folds and finishes arranging his stack.
It’s become pretty clear that playing light against Chartier is a bad idea, and no one is slow-playing their big hands. When it’s time for his big blind, there is a raise and three-bet before it gets to him. He wanders off to get a glass of water, not bothering to confirm he’s right. His opponents are eating themselves with a battle between kings and A♠Q♠. The queens flop trips, but it doesn’t matter to Chartier. He’ll get them eventually.
As a new dealer pushes in, Chartier finishes stacking his chips. He’s worked his 211,000 stack to more than 315,000 in the first hour of the day. Every time someone needs change for an ante, the dealer goes to Chartier, because, well, he has all the chips.
He slides down in his seat, checks his phone, and sees he has another six hours to play the Main Event, and then he has a final table to play in another tourney. As the dead fall around him, Chartier looks unconcerned, as if his will will determine his own fate.
No matter how much control he seems to have, he may still require some help. By the time this night is over, Sam Chartier might need a strong-backed carter of his own to carry the chip lead over to Day 3 and a Eureka High Roller trophy back to his room.
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Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging.