By Simon Young

Andy Hayes had been planning his road trip in the US with his wife, Kate, for some time. As part of their holiday, he expected to use his online bankroll to buy himself in to the WSOP Main Event. But his $10,000 remains safe in his account, as a few weeks ago he won a satellite on PartyPoker to get here for just $64.

“I got through to the satellite final and it gave the top three places seats and the package to Vegas,” said Andy. “We were down to four and I was the short-stack. I needed to double up, so pushed in the big blind with Q-10 and got called by the big blind with A-J. The flop was J-8-7 and I was about to say goodbye to the seat – when the turn came a 9 for my nut straight. A few hands later the same guy busted, and I was on my way to Vegas!”

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Andy Hayes enjoying the early levels of play

Andy, who runs his own IT consultancy in London, occasionally plays live in the famous London Victoria Casino, but admits to achieving “nothing significant”.

Things have improved since arriving in the scorching sunshine of Vegas. On Thursday he won a tournament at Caesers for $2,000, and then he and Kate – who has never played live before – played in a $65 sit and go, finishing 1st and 2nd. “We chopped,” joked Kate, who is here at the Rio today to cheer her man on.

After the first two levels, Andy, who plays online as hazey88, has worked his stack up to 24,000. “Realistically I just want to give it the best I can and hope to get into Day 2. That’s not to say I will tighten up at the end of the day, but just play my normal game and see what happens.”

And what does he think of Vegas? “It’s insane,” he said.

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Avtar Sidhu: still smiling despite cracked aces

Still going along very well is Ireland’s PartyPoker qualifier Stephen Kenna, now on over 50,000 and rising. But not such good news for Avtar Sidhu, 36, from Bradford in the UK, who busted a short while ago when his aces were cracked by K-Q. “Well, I guess that’s poker,” he said, before heading back to his hotel with his father, Sucha, who had been railing him.

As Avtar – who is studying to be a financial advisor – had got here for the cost of just $14 in a PartyPoker satellite, he has no grumbles. “It’s my first time to Vegas and it is a super experience,” he said.

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