Caio Pessagno was talking rapidly, his words tumbling through a huge grin as he waved his hand toward the empty chair next to him.
His tablemates laughed and nodded in response. The jovial scene continued even after the next round of cards had been dealt before finally settling back into the familiar, balanced rhythms of play.
The bubble had just burst in the Latin American Poker Tour Grand Final Main Event. And Pessagno — sitting on a stack of a little over 20 big blinds — was clearly relieved.
The misfortune of missing the money in the Latin American Poker Tour by one had missed his seat by one.
Level 17 continued to tick along, then eventually Alex Saho of São Paulo went rushing in with his short stack behind a protective shield reading A♥Q♥, but alas he’d encountered an opponent armed with A♠K♥. The six-high board no help for Saho, he smilingly shrugged and stepped outside of the playing area.
A moment later the tournament director was announcing the start of hand-for-hand play, but even before the sentence had completed a small swell of onlookers was starting to form around a nearby table. Players, photographers, and pad-holding reporters filled in gaps all about, as the terms for another showdown had already been established.
Pablo Reis had open-shoved his stack — one resembling the size of Pessagno’s — and had gotten a caller in fellow Brazilian Yuri Martins. Reis tabled 10♦10♥, then was forced to brood for several anxious moments after Martins showed his Q♦Q♥.
6♦7♣2♠… K♣… Q♠.
By the time word of the outcome had circulated about the remaining tables and a small roar returned in response, the place where Reis stood was already abandoned.
Nothing but a chair remained. And an animated Pessagno, recounting the preceding hand from the perspective of a most interested bystander.
The plan now is to play on through the end of Level 20 tonight. We’ll keep tabs until then on which other players’ chairs are emptied, and the effect that will have on those who remain.
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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.