Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Bellagio Challenge Cup Day 2

Working at the Bellagio is a much needed change of pace for my exhausted soul. I was getting sick of the Rio and although Binion's was cool, it's was too damn crowded. The Bellagio on the other hand is a great place to work. The eye candy is blogworthy. And the poker room is next door to the Sports Book so I can keep my eye on the Yankees score.

The tournament was held in the remodeled poker room. 97 players bought in for $10K in the Bellagio Challenge Cup and Sam Grizzle found himself the chip leader at the beginning of Day 2. The first place cash prize of $364,200 and a seat in the WPT Championships at the Bellagio were at stake. Players started with $20K in chips.

In this tournament only the final table players are paid. Scotty Nguyen started Day 2 in third place. Only less than half the field survived Day 1. You can check out some of Flip Chip's photos of Day 1... here.

****** Live Blogging Updates ******

3:15pm... Recent Bustouts: Early on before I arrived, I was disppointed to discover that there were several notable bust outs: T.J. Cloutier, Tim Phan, Bob Stupak, Jean Gaspard, Carl "Bubble Boy Ygborn, Allen Cunningham, and Erik Seidel.

3:45pm... Recent Bustouts: Mike Wattel and Hasan Habib were both knocked out.

4:20pm.... Jeff Shulman sat at top of the chip lead out of 21 remaining players. Tobey Maguire was one of the short stacks. 2005 WSOP bracelet winner "The Mighty" Quinn Do was second in chips.

5:00pm... We're down to 18 players and the final two tables. Quinn Do was the chipleader.

5:15pm... TJ Cloutier was playing in a regular tournament.

5:55pm... I chatted with Ron Rose. He had some heart problems and that prevented him from playing in the WSOP. He joked that his health issues turned him into a cash game player because he's not well enough to play lengthy tournaments.

5:56pm... There was a Carmel Petresco sighting in the poker room. She looked like she had just been shopping.

6:00pm... I slacked off and found BJ covering the event. Eventually Steve Hall stopped by. We were the lone media. Flipchip got in trouble with the poker room manager. He's not authorized to take pictures which is bullshit because he was given the go ahead a month or two ago and was personally invited my tournamet director Jack McCleland. Some suit upstairs cock-blocked him and all other photographers. We suspect since Tobey Maguire is vehemently camera shy, that he demanded no photos be taken at all. Please note that this is just a hypothesis on our part and not a rumor, nor the actual truth. At any rate, the suits and the poker room manager gave me the "OK" to cover the event on the print side for Las Vegas and Poker Blog and Poker Player Newspaper.

6:10pm... I told Flipchip to head on home because he can't take pics so it's pointless to waste his time there. Hopefully he can get a winner's photo for tomorrow.

6:15pm... I ignored Tobey Maguire's table (which had both Fischman and Scotty Nguyen) and focused on "Table 1" because it featured a shitload of bracelet winners including Cyndy Violette, Quinn Do, David Chui, David "The Dragon" Pham, and Sam Grizzle who has no bracelets but made several WSOP final tables. Jeff Shulman was tere too and he was sporting flip flops and listened to music on his iPod.

6:20pm... I chatted with Minh Ly in the sportsbook while I kept my eye on the Yankees score. Minh was visibly pissed at Mike Matusow. "He's not a gentleman," he repeated several times during our conversation. Supposedly, Matusow was talking tons of shit with Minh during the Main Event. On Monday night, Matusow arrived at the Bellagio to cash his $1M WSOP check. Minh was playing $4K/$8K at the time. Matusow talked smack and said he'd play Minh for a $1M heads-up freeze out. Minh took him up on his offer and left to secure the money. When Minh came back 20 minutes later with a sufficient bankroll, Matusow bailed on him. "He's afraid to play me," Minh added. Mike Matusow is good, but Minh Ly would out play him for sure. Minh plays in the "big game" with Doyle and Chip Reese. He's one of the last guys I'd want to play heads up, especially for $1M.

6:30pm... I decided that I would scale back the coverage and play some poker instead. The $2/5 NL game was full, so I was seated right away at a $4/8 table. In the first orbit, the deck hit me in the face. I was dealt AQs, KK, and AA in exactly that order and won three big pots. A few hands later, I won two big pots with Q-J on the cutoff and 8-8 when I flopped a set and rivered a full house. Inside of an hour, I was up 32 big bets. I only played a few hands after that and spent time watching the final two tables.

6:45pm... I found everyone's favorite Bellagio dealer Linda and she gave me a big hug. She told me she had to deal "the big game" which is located in Bobby's Room. Off to the side of the Bellagio poker room is a glass room reserved for Bobby Baldwin and his friends. At first, I only saw Sammy Farha playing Gus Hansen heads up. Gus was scruffy and looked like he hadn't showered or changed his clothes in days. Sammy looked dapper and his trademark unlit cigarette hung off of his bottom lip. Later on all the big boys showed up.... Minh Ly, Chau Giang, Phil Ivey, and Bobby Baldwin. Linda told me they were playing $4K/$8K mixed games and she dealt Pot Limit Omaha with a $150K max bet per player. Yikes.

7:15pm... Recent Bustouts: Scott Fischman, David Chui, and David Pham.

8:26pm.... Cyndy Violette bubbled out. She was short stacked and moved all in with A6s. Scotty Nguyen called with A-K and flopped a King. Cyndy was elimianted by Scotty Nguyen in 10th place. Scotty felt bad and he ran over to give her a big hug. She wins nothing for 10th place and she left the table with extreme grace and a warm smile. On the inside she must have been pissed, but you would never know from her body language. And there were no cameras there filming her every move, so she wasn't faking it. After witnessing that moment and her excellent play during this year's WSOP, Cyndy's stock rose even more in my book. She's a classy player.

8:30pm... The final table will resume at Noon on Wednesday. Quinn Do is the chipleader. Here are seating assigmnets with chip counts courtesy of BJ:
Seat 1: Fuat Can $47,900
Seat 2: Tobey Maguire $68,500
Seat 3: Jeff Shulman $190,300
Seat 4: Quinn Do $494,000
Seat 5: Scotty Nguyen $377,000
Seat 6: Annon Filippi $362,100
Seat 7: Chad Layne $40,800
Seat 8: Sam Grizzle $214,200
Seat 9: Mimi Tran $146,900
For a full recap with photos (taken by Flipchip before he got in trouble) stop by and read my write up of day 2 on Las Vegas and Poker Blog.

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