On a short Day 2 at the 2010 ANZPT Queenstown Main Event, there didn't expect to be many stories to write about. Three-and-a-half hours of play isn't long enough for sustained skirmishes between players. The short stacks will get it in, sure. Some will double, some will bust, and life will go on.
As things were winding down halfway through Level 9, the story of the day was the constant aggression of the resurgent Lee Nelson. Nelson had been down to 3,500 in chips at the start of Level 5 late on Day 1A, then finished Day 1A with more than 37,000. He poured the pressure onto his opponents during Day 2 and more than tripled his stack to 115,600. As the last hand was being dealt, Nelson seemed assured of being the overnight chip leader (not counting the 15 players from Auckland joining the field tomorrow).
Then the last hand was dealt and, as they often do in no-limit hold'em, things changed in a hurry.
Perhaps looking to take advantage of players all too happy to bag up their chips, Julian Cohen started with a raise from under the gun to 2,200. A player known as "Furniture" John (we believe to be John Apostilidis) was the only caller. Cohen continued for 4,000 on a 6♥K♣Q♣ flop and again Furniture John called. Cohen checked the J♣ turn.
If this were a movie, everything would start to go into super-slow-motion from there. There would be shots of Cohen's eyes and Furniture John's eyes, then the excruciatingly slow movement of Furniture John pushing all of his chips into the pot, with Cohen hanging on every move. As soon as they were in, things would speed up and slam back into real-time, with Cohen snap-calling and tabling A♣T♣ for a royal flush!
Furniture John had two sixes. He flopped a set and wound up rivering a full house with a board-pairing Q♥. No good, as it turned out.
That spectacular hand gave Cohen 116,000 chips to bag up. He edged Nelson by a nose (or 400 chips) at the wire to claim the overnight chip lead.
But don't forget those 15 players coming down from Auckland. They'll join the Day 3 field tomorrow, headed by Yannick Frenette's 167,700. Frenette, then, is the true overnight chip leader. What's more, he's had a week to rest up and start fresh tomorrow.
Fifty players will return at 12:15pm local time. They'll play at least until the money bubble bursts with 15 left. There's a lot of poker to be played between now and then. Most likely the picture at the end of the day tomorrow will look vastly different than it does today -- as is often the case with no-limit hold'em.