PCA: Nick Schulman Leads Super High Roller Final Table

Schulman will be on the left of his friend Katchalov at Saturday's final table
Schulman will be on the left of his friend Katchalov at Saturday's final table

Playing in the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) Super High Roller is a pretty tough endeavor. Imagine how much tougher it would be if you had to deal with not only some of the best poker players in the world, but your best friend to boot.

For Nick Schulman, playing against your close friend is a problem he’s perfectly happy to deal with. He ended Day 2 of the event with a chip-leading 2,990,000 and a spot at the televised final table and his good friend Eugene Katchalov will make be making an appearance there as well. Schulman admitted to BLUFF that playing with a good friend has its perks and its drawbacks:

“It’s tough. He’s my closest friend. I’m happy we’re both doing well, but the minuses are we’d never soft play each other, but it is a bit awkward at times. Certainly he knows the most about my poker game and vice versa, so you have to make adjustments. We’re rooting for each other, but we have to compete.”

Schulman had a huge day at the tables, picking up aces twice to bust Jason Mercier in one hand and Vivek Rajkumar and Day 2 start of day chip leader Tobias Reinkemeier in the other.

Reinkemeier came into the day on top of the 23 remaining players, but the rapid-fire action and fast pace of the second day of play got the best of him, as he busted in 12th place. The eliminations came at a steady clip today, with Phil Laak, Justin Smith, and BLUFF Player of the Year Sorel Mizzi exiting within the first hour of play. Other Day 2 eliminations included Caio Pimenta, Brian Colin, Antonio Esfandiari, Michael McDonald, Andrew Robl, Matt Glantz, and David Benyamine. Benyamine’s exit in 15th place was particularly dramatic, as he got caught in the middle of a raising war between big stacks Katchalov and Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu. Negreanu’s kings ousted Benyamine and his nines, propelling Negreanu past the 2 million chip mark.

Negreanu is the other big stack at the final table, trailing Schulman with 2,166,000. He can pass Phil Ivey on the all-time money winners list with a first or second place finish here. The final table, which will be televised on ESPN2 later this year, will be starting with one less person than expected thanks to the simultaneous eliminations of Dan “jungleman12” Cates and James “ANDY McLEOD” Obst. They were all-in at the same time on separate tables and both busted to bring Day 2 to a close after just six hours of play.

Even though the final table is set, the money bubble is still looming. Of the seven final tablists, two will walk away empty-handed on the wrong side of one of the biggest bubbles in tournament poker history. Andrew “luckychewy” Lichtenberger and amateur Sandor Demjan are the two short stacks, but Schulman thinks that the money bubble may not play as big a role as one would expect.

“I think it won’t be that much of a factor,” Schulman admitted. “This is one of the biggest bubbles in history, if not the biggest, so of course that comes into play, but looking around the people that are left, I think they’ll be playing optimal tournament strategy. The middle stacks are the guys that might be a bit tighter, since they’re waiting for the short stacks to bust. It’s an interesting dynamic with the two big stacks.”

We’ll see just how that dynamic plays out Saturday. The final table will get underway at 1PM ET and continue until someone claims the $1.5 million first place prize. Saturday also marks the start of the PCA Main Event. Day 1A of that event gets underway at noon.

Here are the chip counts and seat assignments for the Super High Roller final table. When play resumes, blinds will be at 12,000/24,0000 ante 3,000:

Seat 1: Nick Schulman – 2,990,000
Seat 2: Sandor Denjan – 379,000
Seat 3: Andrew Lichtenberger – 373,000
Seat 4: Bryn Kenney – 1,390,000
Seat 5: Daniel Negreanu – 2,166,000
Seat 6: Humberto Brenes – 756,000
Seat 7: Eugene Katchalov – 1,476,000

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