Noting that among the final 24 in action to start today’s Day 5 was the Peruvian Diego Ventura, it seemed prudent perhaps to get a glimpse of him in action. In the flesh, as it were. He’s a player we’ve sorta-kinda known about for a while, albeit virtually (so to speak).
Hailing from the coastal city of Trujillo in northwest Peru, Ventura hasn’t a lot by way of live tourney scores on his résumé, but he’s considered one of the top online tournament players in the world and the most consistent performer from his native country. He’s amassed a large collection of significant scores on PokerStars as “Die Ventura” including a third-place in the Sunday Million in June 2013, a fifth in the Sunday Warm-Up in June 2014, and another seventh in the Sunday Million just a couple of months ago.
Following the progress of “Die Ventura” online, his skill at solving the myriad of mysteries presented by hold’em hands has been apparent to us for a good, long while. What would we witness after grabbing a spot tableside near him early today?
Perhaps unsurprisingly given his online background, there was little waiting.
The first hand saw Ventura opening from middle position and Maurice Hawkins defending his big blind with a call. A 3♠8♠3♥ flop went check-bet-call, then Hawkins led after the 4♦ turn and after pausing a half-minute Ventura slid out calling chips.
The 6♠ completed the board with a third spade, and after a quick check Hawkins and the rest of the table studied Ventura. Ventura, in turn, studied the board from behind dark shades. Dressed in his country’s colors of red-and-white with the Peruvian flag on his sleeve, he sat motionless for several beats, long enough for one observing to imagine a time bank clock ticking down around a PokerStars virtual table.
Almost startingly he broke into movement, sliding forward two towers of blues. As if to underscore the contrast between the gregarious Hawkins and his severely stoic opponent, Hawkins quickly and animatedly called.
“Oh, my my my,” said Hawkins upon seeing Ventura table two eights. “Eights full? Oh, my my my.”
Hawkins slid his cards away. “That was eights full, right?” he asked incredulously, explaining how he’d rivered an ace-high flush. “I didn’t muck a winner?”
Hawkins cut out the chips Ventura had earned, and while silently stacking the Peruvian raised again on Hand #2.
The Canadian Ratharam Sivagnanam stepped forward to challenge the Peruvian this time with a three-bet, but Ventura pushed back with another reraise. With some deliberation Sivagnanam then reraised again — to 560,000 — and after a few seconds Ventura leaned forward, ever-so-slightly, for a moment pointing a finger at Sivagnanam’s remaining stack like a private eye indicating something interesting with a magnifying glass.
“All in,” he said. His first words of the day.
Sivagnanam needed no more clues to know what to do next, and instantly backed down. Hand #3 saw Ventura raise again, Hawkins call once more, then a flop c-bet earn Ventura another pot.
We wanted action from Ventura and we got it, although the economy of his movements belied the productiveness of what they achieved. With remarkable efficiency he’s up over 2.4 million already, having doubled his starting stack within the first 10 minutes of play to challenge the Brazilian businessman Eugenio Mattar for the lead.
More mysteries remain for Ventura ahead. And for those playing against him.
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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.