We sometimes like to refer to the television screens displaying the tournament clock, current blinds/antes, payouts, and players remaining as the “big board.” When play began today on Day 3 at LAPT Punta del Este, the number on the lower right showed just 76 of the 375 who began our tourney journey remained with chips.
Looking over on the other side of the big board, we saw how pieces of the prize pool had been reserved for the final 56, meaning we were just 20 spots away from the money to start the day. Glances up from the tables toward those screens predictably became more frequent as the first hour progressed.
You might say as the cash bubble approaches, the “big board” becomes even bigger… figuratively speaking, anyway.
The big stacks seem even larger, too, as we move toward the endgame, especially from the perspective of those with less. Unsurprisingly, there have been more than a few skirmishes here in the early going between those with many and those with few, a.k.a. the have-lots and the have-nots.
In some cases the rich got richer, such as early on when Julian Martin Abal, one of the 11 Uruguayans left in field to start the day, got tangled in a hand with Season 4 LAPT Colombia champion Julian Menendez.
Abal started on the short side today with just over 50,000, the average being close to twice that. Meanwhile Menendez sported a top five stack of 270,300 at the outset. Not long after play began, Abal shoved what he had left — amounting to about 20 big blinds’ worth — with 4♥4♦, but Menendez was there waiting with 8♦8♣.
Five cards later we were down a man, and the big board reflected the news with a quiet ticking down of that number on the bottom right.
A short while after that it was another Uruguayan with a short stack — Nicolas Salvagno — tangling with a more prosperous (poker-wise) opponent in Ariel Celestino. As had been the case with Abal, Salvagno began the day with about 50,000, while Celestino started with 166,000 even, and had already pushed up close to the 200,000-chip mark when the following hand arose.
Celestino started with a button raise, called by Salvagno in the big blind, then both checked the 3♥A♦10♠ flop. The turn brought the K♦ and another check from Salvagno, to which Celestino responded with a delayed c-bet, called quickly by Salvagno.
The river brought the A♣, pairing the board, and Salvagno sprang to action, firing a bet worth half the pot with little hesitation. Celestino shrugged and called, Salvagno showed A♥2♦ for trip aces, and Celestino mucked.
In relative terms, Celestino lost little. The Brazilian remains in what appears comfortable shape to cash, and perhaps to make a run toward the bigger riches awaiting those who make the final eight.
Meanwhile, Salvagno’s gain was great, both in terms of percentage increase to his stack as well as in gaining an extra bit of comfort when he looks up and across the tables and spots the big board. Quietly looming.
With a number down on the right getting smaller. And bigger.