A brief look through the seat draw showed one immediate table of interest. Thrown together by the fate of the random number generator, or names on pieces of paper drawn from a hat (or whatever mechanism they use these days) were four members of Team PokerStars Pro. It was a stand-out table and so no surprise when it was moved to the feature table to become the day’s first under the glare of the TV lights and cameras.
Ville Wahlbeck, Ivan Demidov, Lex Veldhuis and Luca Pagano were the four sporting the Team PokerStars Pro patches. Wedged between them were PokerStars qualifier Joseph Gallagher, Sergei Serafimov, Byron Kaverman and Harry Touil. If being in a Team Pro sandwich was already tough enough, they now had to endure the intensity of being centre stage. A grilled sandwich, if you like.
The TV production team know their onions; this was going to be an action table for sure. Wahlbeck is a high stakes specialist, Demidov has final tabled the WSOP and is likely to let fly at any moment, Veldhuis plays with aggressive abandon, while Pagano tends to increase his stack at every turn and makes tournament cashes looks easy. He started today with 136,300, suggesting this year’s PCA will see yet another upshift to his stats.
As the cards went into the air at the start of Day 2 play, everything went to script straight off the bat. It was to prove fatal for Veldhuis, however.
Folded to him in the small blind, and with blinds at 500-1,000, the Dutchman raised to 2,500. Byron Kaverman was having none of it, bumping it up to 6,800, prompting an immediate all-in from Veldhuis for around 40,000. Call
Whoops! The board bricked 2♦2♥9♣Q♠3♠ and Veldhuis was out. But he was backing his play. “I am happy with my decision and would not have played it differently. I knew he was an aggressive player and there was every reason to believe I was ahead there,” he said.
Veldhuis was right about that; Kaverman has an impressive record that amounts to $840,000 in cashes, including winning the $5,000 No Limit Event event right here at Atlantis last year.
That scuffle left three Team Pros after only a few minutes. If Demidov wanted to sit tight, he showed no signs of it. Within hands of Veldhuis’ departure, he shoved on Kaverman, who had 3-bet just as he had done to the Dutchman. This time Kaverman gave it up.
Wahlbeck, meanwhile, has been sitting quietly, sizing up his moment to join the fun, while Pagano is still wearing the same black tracksuit bottoms he’s had on for days, a sure sign that his lost luggage is still stuck somewhere between Italy and the Bahamas.