The most recent poker festival to take place in this part of the world was the Brazilian Series of Poker event at Iguaçu that finished on Tuesday. Two players from that final table winged their way southwest to Viña del Mar almost as soon as they received their payouts. Ariel Celestino earned about $10,000 for finishing in 8th place there. He was treading water early in the day, sticking to a stack of about 150,000 for what seemed like hours, until he doubled up twice in twenty minutes to climb to 600,000 and the chip lead.
Since then Celestino has added another 150,000 chips to his stack. He’s in control at the feature table at the moment, looking to make his second final table in an $1100 event in less than a week.
And then there’s Sergio Braga. Primarily a cash game player, Braga plays tournaments infrequently. His decision at Iguaçu turned out to be great timing, as he went all the way to the heads-up portion of the tournament before ultimately falling in 2nd place. His three-day run earned him roughly $59,000, more than enough to hop on a flight and head over to Chile.
For a guy who doesn’t play tournaments, that’s turning into another good decision for Braga. He’s currently sitting behind about 700,000, directly to the left of Luis Jaikel, who has him covered with 750,000.
There are lots of other chips on the table for Braga to try to pilfer. All but one of Braga’s other opponents has more than the average stack of about 375,000. One of them tested Braga by flatting a raise to 25,000 from the button. Both players checked a 7♣7♦5♠ flop. Braga checked the 4♥ turn as well, then called a bet of 32,000. Braga’s opponent followed through one more time, for 42,000, on the Q♣ river. Braga thought for less than minute before calling with unimproved A♠K♠. It was the winner; his opponent flashed A♣6♣.
No, it’s no easy task stealing chips from Sergio Braga. With Braga, “online monster” Celestino and cagey veteran Jaikel all rocking big stacks, the last level of the night – and potentially all of Day 3 – are shaping up to be captivating poker.
MATH PROBLEM OF THE HOUR
The seven players at Braga’s table have a combined 3,425,000 among them. With one seat empty, that makes the average stack about 490,000, more than 100,000 chips more than the current average stack for the whole tournament.
UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE DAY WITHOUT KNOWING THE HALF OF IT
“Today has been a day of strange experiences.” – Tournament Director Mike Ward, whose had to deal with one player who never showed up to play his stack, another player who cashed before showing up, a third player who tried to play the wrong stack, and a lightning-strike on the bubble that eradicated the need for hand-for-hand play.
TOURNAMENT ADJUSTMENT OF THE HOUR
39 players remain as the tournament clock rolls over to Level 20, the last scheduled level of the night. Given the unlikelihood of 15 players busting out next level, Ward has determined that play will conclude at the end of the level or when 24 players remain, whichever comes first.
Dave Behr is a freelance contributor to the PokerStars Blog.
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