By Simon Young
When the tournament bubble approaches, it normally takes time to burst as many players try and steer themselves to a money-paying position. We started with 33 players this afternoon, all hoping at least to make it to the prized 24th spot.
There was no pussy-footing around, however, as again everyone went at each others’ throats, and within two one-hour levels the bubble had burst and one extra had gone for good measure.
At dinner tonight, 23 players remain in the PartyPoker Million VI, each shooting for a prize of more than $350,000. Overnight chip leader Johannes Strassmann, a young hot-shot from Germany, is keeping his place at the top of the pile, although his domineering stack has been cut back to about 180,000.
Wide awake: Strassmann is not as tired as looks
Chasing hard are PartyPoker Late Night Poker 2008 winner Andreas Jorbeck (150,000), from Sweden, Germany’s Dominik Stopka (130,000), Alexander Jung (110,000) and the UK’s Raymond Estall (80,000).
The day began in dramatic, but not unexpected fashion, when overnight short-stack Philip Hulse, a retired maths teacher from the UK, pushed all in on the first hand for his 5,000. He had K-10 and wasn’t too unhappy to be called by Keith McGrath’s 3-3. But the dealer had other ideas – out popped 4-7-3-3-9 for quads. If you’re going to go out, it may as well be in style.
Hulse said: “This is the biggest tournament I have ever played, and I’ve had a great time. I had to push in that spot, so I can’t be too disappointed.”
McGrath, from Ireland, was short-stacked himself, and managed to remain in the hunt right until the last minute, when he went out on the dreaded bubble, just one place off the money.
Down to his last 3,000 or so, just enough for the next blinds, he pushed with K-8, got two callers and was quite confident on the 3-K-6-10-3 board – until he was shown K-J by his neighbour and it was all over.
All remaining players, therefore, had $11,280 guaranteed in their pockets, and were now preparing to dig in and strike for the big money at the final table.
Except, that is, Nick Bower, from the UK, who went out moments later when his 2-2 remained ahead of Strassmann’s 5-7 all the way until a 5 hit the river. He seems to have had fun, though, and now has some spending money with which to enjoy the rest of his cruise on board the MSC Poesia, which has left Izmir in Turkey and is now heading for Istanbul.
While Strassmann, who has made two decent cashes on the European Poker Tour this season, maintains his lead, it has not all been plain sailing. Dominik Stopka took one huge pot off him with pocket queens before he recovered to rebuild again.
Fin Mika Paasonen showed he had a big heart when he re-re-raised all in pre-flop against Christoph Niesert of Germany. Niesert dwelled for an age before folding – only for Paasonen to flash Q-9 for a well-timed bluff.
Notable fallers before the bubble included Australian George Dunst, knocked out by Alexander Jung, Christian Schafer (who ran his J-J into Raymond Estall’s K-K), Ralph Rudd (his Q-Q banged up against Jorbeck’s K-K), and most surprisingly Thomas Bihl, the WSOP bracelet winner from Germany, who fell to Sweden’s Samir Shakhtoor, who still has a healthy stack.
Once the bubble burst, the seats were redrawn. We’re now down to 23 players on three tables. When they come back from dinner they’ll be facing blinds of 1,200-2,400 with a running 400 ante.
We’ll report back later with their progress.
Leaving Izmir port behind us