Wednesday, 8th February 2023 16:15
Home / Poker / A Round at the PCA With… Spraggy

Playing more than one poker tournament at a time is difficult. As you probably know, it’s called “multi-tabling” when you do it online, and it’s a key skill for the online pros to develop.

But here’s something else that’s true: Playing only one tournament is pretty difficult too, especially if you’re a seasoned multi-tabler.

Live poker can be tortuous to anyone who usually has three or four online tournaments on the go at any one time — doubly so if you’re used to also monitoring various social media channels and reading a bombardment of messages from Twitch chat.

That’s the life that Spraggy “Benjamin” Spragg has chosen for himself, of course. The Team PokerStars Pro is best known as a Twitch streamer extraordinaire, firing up multiple tournaments every day, which he plays, all cards visible, for a devoted following.

WHAT’S DIFFERENCE ONLINE FOR SPRAGGY

And it’s not just his poker playing that draws the masses. It’s the chit chat, the patter, the sense of community. It is, in short, all the things that are often missing from the live game, which can be slow and silent and solitary.

All of this is by way of introduction to this blog post, the latest in an occasional series called “A Round With…” This is where we stand beside a poker table for a complete orbit, noting everything that happens (or more often does not happen), to give readers a true flavour of what live poker is really like.


MORE PCA/PSPC COVERAGE:
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Today’s leading attraction is that man Spraggy. You may be used to seeing him inside his little box on his Twitch stream, but he’s here, in the wild, in the Bahamas this week, playing Day 2 of the $10,000 Main Event of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA).

He built a stack of 63,100 through the opening day, booking him a spot on Day 2 on a table beside Kitty Kuo, Julien Martini and Brian Kim, among others. And here’s how his first orbit of the day went: the warts and all opening stages of Spraggy’s PCA Day 2.

It’s not a thriller. You have been warned.

THE LINE-UP

Spraggy was drawn on Table 37 alongside players from France, Canada, Portugal and Taiwan, and one empty seat. His 63,100 stack was more than double what he started with yesterday, and, more significantly, it was the biggest at his table.

The full line up was as follows:

Seat 1: Santiago Plante (Canada) – 31,900
Seat 2: Julien Martini (France) – 33,500
Seat 3: Adel Naoun (France) – 21,600
Seat 4: empty
Seat 5: Brian Kim (USA) – 45,800
Seat 6: Kitty Kuo (Taiwan) – 28,000
Seat 7: Spraggy “Ben” Spragg (UK) – 63,100
Seat 8: Eduardo Pereira (Portugal) – 58,000

The Table 37 line-up

Of Spraggy’s Day 2 opponents, three names leap out.

Julien Martini is a three-time WSOP bracelet winner, but it arguably best known for his exploits in the Bahamas in 2019, the last time PokerStars visited the island. Martini was beaten heads up by Ramon Colillas in the first running of the PSPC, but still took $2.9 million for his troubles.

Kitty Kuo, Spraggy’s immediate neighbour, is a well-travelled tournament pro, with $2.7 million in tournament winnings to her name. She is a vocal and active presence on social media, and a well-known poker personality. But it shouldn’t detract from her skills at the table. She has numerous six-figure tournament scores.

Bryan Kim, meanwhile, is another WSOP bracelet winner, and recently made the final table of the WPT Five Diamond in Las Vegas, finishing fourth for $377K. Kim is in good form and one to watch.

BEFORE THEY STARTED

You’re about to read details of the first hands they played on Table 37 today, but before they got going there was the expected degree of preparatory faff. Players arrived in their dribs and drabs, ripped open their bags, and made smalltalk.

“Hi Kitty, how are you?” our hero greeted his neighbour. They exchanged brief pleasantries, but not much more. Spraggy then chatted to Joe Stapleton, who was ambling past.

Kitty Kuo, Spraggy’s neighbour

The line of players seeking a seating allocation having registered late grew ever longer behind Spraggy’s table, with Maria Konnikova, Byron Kaverman and Isaac Haxton in it, all of whom were otherwise occupied yesterday. Christoph Vogelsang congratulated Haxton on his win in the Super High Roller event.

On a neighbouring table, Henrik Hecklen took a seat next to Stephen Chidwick. In case anyone needed reminding, this is a very tough tournament.

A few minutes after the scheduled noon start time, the first cards were in the air. We could begin.

Blinds are 600-1,200, with a 1,200 big blind ante.

HAND 1 – BUTTON WITH EDUARDO PEREIRA

On the first hand of the day, action folded around to Kitty Kuo in the hijack and she opened to 2,500. Eduardo Pereira, on the button, three-bet to 7,500. The blinds folded, as did Kuo after a minute or so in the tank.

“Seat open!” came a cry from a neighbouring table, accompanied by Ludovic Geilich standing up and wandering away. It was a short day for the Scotsman, although re-entries are available for the first two levels today.

HAND 2 – BUTTON WITH SANTIAGO PLANTE

Action folded all the way around to Pereira in the cutoff, and he rode the rush from the previous hand and opened to 2,500. He received no resistance this time and took down the blinds and antes.

Phil Nagy strolled into the tournament room and took his seat on the table with Hecklen and Chidwick. “I decided to dress as Spraggy today,” Nagy said, inviting people to admire what looked like a velour track suit.

Spraggy likes a track suit. That much is true. But his wardrobe may or may not include anything in velour. Spraggy himself looked over with an expression of bewilderment.

HAND 3 – BUTTON WITH JULIEN MARTINI

Kuo opened this pot too, raising to 2,500 from under the gun. Santiago Plante called on the button, which persuaded Brian Kim in from the big blind too, and we were going to the first flop of the day. It was three-handed.

The flop came 755 and Kim checked. Kuo bet 3,000 and Plante called. Kim let it go.

Santiago Plante beat Kuo in a small pot

The 2 came on the turn and Kuo slowed down to a check. Plante bet 4,000 and Kuo was forced to fold again. It hadn’t been the start to the day she was hoping for.

HAND 4 – BUTTON WITH ADEL NAOUN

“Can I borrow one of your Team Pro patches?” Phil Nagy bellowed over to Spraggy, now noticing that his fashion icon was actually seated on the next table.

“No, you cannot,” said good company man Spraggy. “Doesn’t sound like a good idea.”

Nagy invited Spraggy to admire his get-up, and Spraggy responded with good grace. Nagy then sat down and began stroking a small wooden toad he uses as a card protector. It has a small stick with it, and makes a thrumming noise, like a toad’s call. It can be quite hypnotic.

Meanwhile, Julien Martini opened to 2,500 from late position and picked up the blinds and antes.

HAND 5 – BUTTON WITH BRIAN KIM

Action folded all the way around to Kitty Kuo in the small blind and she announced that she was all in. He stack was much smaller now than the 28,000 she had to start the day, but even so it was too much for Spraggy.

“You’ve got it, Kitty,” he said. “I can’t call.”

HAND 6 – BUTTON WITH KITTY KUO

Julien Martini opened this one, raising to 2,500 from UTG+1. Bryan Kim called in the cutoff and Eduardo Pereira called in the big blind.

This meant we saw another three-way flop, which came 6310. Pereira checked, Martini bet 3,100 and both opponents folded. Remember, it’s not a thriller. You had been warned.

HAND 7 – BUTTON WITH SPRAGGY

This very quiet opening to proceedings concludes with Spraggy’s first action of the day. Although action is a relative term, because there’s not much to this one either.

Everyone folded around to Spraggy on the button, and he opened to 2,500. It just so happened that a roving film crew came over at this point, clearly with Spraggy on their list of targets.

Spraggy, left, with Eduardo Pereira

Their timing was fortunate as he was involved in a pot for the first time.

Only Pereira called in the small blind, and the neighbours saw a flop of J5K. Both players checked.

The 6 came on the turn, and both players checked. And the 4 completed the board. Pereira bet 2,200 and Spraggy tossed in a call, but then mucked after his opponent showed 77.

And that was the end of that.

CONCLUSION

That brought the orbit to its conclusion. There were no dramatic showdowns. No sick beats. Nothing that would even make the most generous edit on a TV broadcast. If it had happened on Twitch, none of it would have even been worth dragging the table onto the screen to be seen by the viewers.

But that’s live poker everybody. And it can only get more exciting from here…

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