Thursday, February 16, 2006

WPT LA Poker Classic - Day 1

I've been in LA for less than two days and I've come to the conclusion that every other person you meet is an actor, writer, or pothead. In some instances, they are all three. You can add poker to that mix. It seems that everyone is playing poker in this town; studio execs, B-list celebrities, frat boys from USC, and wannabe screenwriters who daylight as a valets.

Southern California has always been the poker capital of the world. And if anyone thinks poker is on the decline, they have not been to a LA poker room recently. The rooms are immense, especially here at Commerce. And for the next week, the ballroom upstairs at the Commerce Casino will be the hotspot for all of poker as everyone waits to see who the next WPT champion will be.

Welcome to the coverage of the first day of action at the main event for the LA Poker Classic at Commerce Casino, located just outside of Los Angeles.

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

3:35pm PCT... Cards are in the air. Levels are 90 minutes. Players start wth 20K in chips.

3:40pm... Fellow blogger Ryan from Absinthe Troubles is playing attable 20. He'll be live blogging from the table! So stop by his site to see his progress.

3:45pm... The Poker Geek made a rare appearance in media row. He's here doing podcasts for Full Tilt. He has a new nickname... "Coco." Please refer to him as that in the future.

3:50pm... "We have a brat in the house," said Spaceman as he climbed back into press row. Indeed, Phil Hellmuth is here. Spaceman is covering this event over at Bluff. Take a peek at his photos and updates!

3:55pm... Bouncin Round the Room: A ton of big time pros are here including Phil Ivey, Johnny Chan, Marco Traniello, Jen Harman, Todd Brunson, Gavin Smith, Steve Brecher, John D'Agostino, Bill "The Stunning One" Edler, Allen Cunningham, Victor Ramdin, Carmel Petresco, Liz Lieu, Gentleman John Gale, Robert Varkonyi, Amir Vahedi, Alan Goehring, and Antonio Esfiandari.

4:00pm... Alan Goehring nearly doubled up when he busted a guy when he rivered a straight flush against his opponent's full boat.

4:10pm... Bouncin Round the Room: I took another quick walk through the crowd and I spotted Evelyn Ng, Erick Lindgren, Minh Ly, Paul Darden, Al Ardebili, Jen Tilly, Oliver Hudson, Chip Jett, Barry Greenstien, Mel Judah, John Duthie, David Singer, David Williams, David Plastik, Joanne Liu, Jerry Buss, Cyndy Violette, Mike Matusow, The Grinder, "My Main Man" Freddy Deeb, Gus Hansen, Tuan Le, Erik Seidel, Shannon Elizabeth, Men the Master, Kristy Gazes, Amnon Filippi, Lyle Berman, David "The Dragon" Pham, Chris Fargis, Harry Demetriou, and William Rockwell.

4:15pm... Straight Flush sighting: According to the Poker Geek, Gentleman Ben Roberts also hit a straight flush. David Plastik cracked Hung La's A-A with K-K.

4:20pm... Smoke break.

4:40pm... Antonio Esfiandari is down to about 11K in chips.

4:50pm... Prop Bet Bartabs: Gavin Smith and Bill Edler have a running prop bet. Whoever wins the most money in a set month gets his drinks paid for free for the next month. Gavin won January and all his drinks for this month are free. This is the crucial month for Gavin. He's currently down and needs a big score here if he wants to drink for free in March. That's when the Party Poker cruise runs and drinks are super-pricey on the boat.

5:00pm... Bouncin Round the Room: I spotted some more bigtime pros such as Dewey Tomko, Mike Gracz, Boston Rob from Survivor, James Woods, Bill Gazes, Humberto Brenes, Carlos Mortenson, Brett "Blunt" Jungblut, Tony G, David Levi, Huck Seed, Eskimo Clark, Chau Giang, Chris Bigler, Olga Varkonyi, Layne Flack, Kenna James, Jean Robert Bellande, Dutch "Tool" Boyd, Scott Fischman, Jason Lester, Patrik Antonius, Juha Helppi, and Action Dan Harrington. Ooppps, I forgot to mention... Mr. Kotter is in the house. Gabe Kaplan is here. Mike Matisow was spotted down in the lobby taking a nap on a couch as he gets blinded off.

5:01pm... It's official. There are 692 entries in today's event.

5:05pm... Recent Eliminations: Mimi Tran, Kristy Gazes, and Phil Hellmuth, and Johnny Chan are all out. Chan flopped two pair against David Chiu who flopped a se of Kings.

5:10pm... Players are curently on a break. When they return, we'll be on Level 2. I spotted Spaceman chatting with Max "The Italian Pirate" Pescatori. Also, one of my favorite pros Shirley Rosario aka Poker Babe stopped by media row to chat. She's got about 20K in chips and she's doing well.

5:15pm... Ryan has 19.9K in chips and counting.

5:30pm... In last year's event, won by The Grinder, there were 538 players. This year's number of particpants, 692, broke last year's record. Teh grinder won $1.85M last year. The winner of this year's event wins over $2.3M for first place. That's not a bad payday for five days of work. Here's a list of the total payouts with the top 45 getting paid:
1st: $2,391,550
2nd: $1,162,560
3rd: $571,315
4th: $338,803
5th: $265,728
6th: $199,296
7th: $166,080
8th: $132,864
9th: $99,648
10th-12th: $73,075
13th-15th: $59,789
16th-18th: $46,505
19th-27th: $38,849
28th-36th: $26,573
37th-45th: $19,930
6:00pm... Ryan took a hit according to Spaceman. He's down to 17.3K. David Chui has over $60K in chips.

6:15pm... Recent Elimiantion: Phil Ivey is out when he semi-bluffed with the Hammer and he was sent to the rail.

6:30pm... The Media Boom: With the poker boom, so too comes the media boom trailing behind the tournament circuit in a cloud of dust like Pig Pen, Charlie Brown's unkempt friend from Peanuts cartoons. At the WPT Borgata Open in September of 2005, there were five of us sitting in media row for the final table; Heather & Jen from Pokerwire, BJ from Card Player, one other person and myself. Today there are almost 20 media reps here on the first day. The WPT has 7-8 people covering it for them. Poker Wire added two more to their roster. BJ was replaced by three people at Card Player. At some point, there will be an oversaturation of media coverage of poker tournaments. With the WPT, WSOP, WSOP Cicuit, UPC, and EPT... there are just too mnay tournaments out there. Who's gonna burn out first... the players? The media? Or the readers?

The majority of people are running around in media row like it's the final table of the friggin' WSOP, like chickens on high-powered crystal meth who discovered that their heads have been cut off. The majority of these people are newbies to the tournament reporting world. The veterans like BJ or the Pokerwire girls are casually walking around at a steady pace. It's like soldiers in the field for the first time that hit the deck as soon as they hear the first sounds of incoming artillery file, while the war dogs simply carry on with focusing on the tasks in front of them.

"I gotta remember to bring drugs with me tomorrow," Spaceman joked.

6:52pm... Players are on a break. Shannon "Nadia from American Pie" Elizabeth busted Frank Kassela. She had Q-Q and he had A-K. Her Hiltons held up and she sent Kassela to the rail.

7:00pm... Daniel Negreanu has been moved to Ryan's table.

7:15pm... Power Table: Gabe Kaplan, William Rockwell, Amnon Filippi, Melissa Hayden, and Shirley Rosario are all at the same table. Melissa has 20K in chips. Shirley has 22K. The lovely Carmel Petresco has over 50K in chips. Eli Elizera apears to be the early chipleader.

Melissa Hayden and Shirley Rosario mugging for the camera.

7:30pm... Recent Eliminations: 70 players have been busted including Chris "Triple Draw" Fargis and Layne Flack.

8:00pm... Recent Eliminations: John D'Agostino, Josh Arieh, and John Juanda are both out.

8:05pm... Players are on a 45 minute dinner break. Ryan from Absinthe's Troubles has about 17K in chips.

8:45pm... Players have returned from their dinner break. I saw Young Phan eating icecream. Lyle Berman ate fruit salad. Jen from Pokerwire ate sushi. I expect a few players bust out right away. Usually there are several quick bustouts right after dinner. Either players get drunk during dinner or they decide to make a move. Regardless, there is a spike in eliminations within the first few minutes of the break.

9:00pm... Recent Eliminations: Shirley Rosario has been busted by Melissa Hayden. Shirley's K-K ran into Melissa's A-A. "I almost cried," said Melissa. "I didn't want to bust my table friend." Right now Hayden has over 47K in chips. Shirley felt she played the hand badly, but getting away from K-K is tough. "I'm a pro. I should be able to fold them," Shirley explained.

9:15pm... Recent Eliminations: David Williams and Gavin Smith are out. Looks like he'll be paying for his own drinks on the Party Poker cruise, as well as Bill Edler's.

9:22pm... We're now on Level 4. We will be playing through the completion of Level 6.

9:25pm... My Main Man Freddy Deeb took a hit when his straight flush lost to a higher staright flush. On a board of 6h-7h-8h-9h, Deeb had the 5h while his opponent had the Qh-10h. Too bad there wasn't a bad beat jackpot.

9:30pm... Ghost Tales: There's a ghost here at Commerce who keeps turning out the lights. They went out for a minute while players sat in the dark. A few yelled out asking for the clock to be stopped. The lights eventually came back on.

9:40pm... David Plastik likes the Hilton Sisters. He cracked K-K with them when he caught a set on the river. He has almost 60K in chips. There are about 569 players left on 570 tables. Also, Freddy Deeb doubled through Lyle Berman. Deeb had A-A and Berman had A-Q.

9:45pm... Recent Eliminations: Oliver Hudson is out. He moved all in with A-Q and he ended up losing to quad Jacks! If you don't know, Oliver Hudson got to make out with Katie Holmes in several episodes of Dawson's Creek when he played the townie bartender.

9:50pm... Recent Eliminations: Ryan Kallberg was just busted by Blair Rodman. His K-K lost to Rodman's A-K when Rodman flopped trip aces. This ends one helluva run for Ryan who won Event #1 and cashed in 5 events at the LA Poker Classic. WPT Bellagio Champion Patrik Antonius has been eliminated. Also busted were: Kenna James, Scott Fischman, Dan Alspach, Chau Giang, Liz Lieu, Carlos Mortensen, and Tuan Le

10:00pm... Spaceman saw a crazy hand involving Gabe Kaplan, who rivered a guy with K-Q. The guy slammed his fist on the table and stormed off.

10:05pm... Back by popular demand!
Last 5 Pros I Took a Piss Next To:
1. Jean Gaspard
2. Allen Cunningham
3. John Myung
4. John D'Agsotino
5. Shawn Sheikan
10:20pm... Recent Eliminations: My Main Man Freddy Deeb is out. He was busted bby former hockey pro Greg "FBT" Mueller. Deeb's A9s lost to Mueller's Q-Q.

11:01pm... Recent Eliminations: David Levi, Anthony Reategui, Jean Gaspard, Barry Shulman, and Harry Demetriou.

11:15pm... Players are back from a break.

11:30pm... Recent Eliminations: Robert Mizrachi, Evelyn Ng, Mike Gracz, and The Grinder are all out. Evelyn Ng's Hilton Sisters were cracked by J-J.

12:01am... Brian McCamm is the chipleader with $90K. Other notable chipcounts:
Eli Elezra $89K
Hassan Habib $88K
Edward Moncada $ 72K
Shawn Sheikhan $ 68K
Lyle Berman $62K
Melissa Hayden $55K
Marco Traniello $50K
Matt Matros $50K
Dutch Boyd $50K
Phil Laak $50K
Bill Gazes $48K
TJ Cloutier $47K
Chris Bigler $46K
Erick Lindgren $46K
John Gale $45K
Mike Matusow $45K
Paul Darden $40K
Jean-Robert Bellande $40K
Blair Rodman $38K
Jen Harman $36K
Chip Jett $36K
Barry Greenstein $34K
Chip Reese $34K
James Woods $34K
Dan Harrington $30K
Huckleberry Seed $28K
William Rockwell $26K
Rod Pardey Jr. $ 25,000
Captain Tom Franklin $25K
Arnold Spee $25K
Gus Hansen $25K
Todd Brunson $24K
Amir Vahedi $24K
David Benyamine $23K
Peter Costa $23K
Greg 'FBT' Mueller $22.5K
Thor Hansen $21K
David Grey $21K
Antonio Esfandiari $21K
Scott Lazar $21K
Steve Brecher $21K
Minneapolis Jim Meehan $21K
Minh Ly $20K
Allen Cunningham $20K
Miami John Cernuto $20K
An Tran $20K
Ted Forrest $19K
Amnon Filippi $18K
Harley Hall $18K
John Myung $17K
Carmel Petresco $15K
Erik Seidel $13K
Daniel Negreanu $13K
Gabe Kaplan $12K
Juha Helppi $11K
Scotty Nguyen $10K
David Singer $10K
Denis Ethier $10K
Jerry Buss $10K
Max Pescatori $9K
Humberto Brenes 9K
Shannon Elizabeth $9K
12:15am... Recent Eliminations: John Duthie, Jen Tilly, Tex Barch, Chad Layne, Martin de Knijff, Tony G, James Van Alstyne, Lee Watkinson, Cyndy Violette, David Wells, and Robert Varkonyi are all out. Once again Olga outlasts her husband.

12:35am... Players are on a break. There are about 449 players left.

1:00am... Recent Eliminations: Steve Zolotow, Amnon Filippi, Todd Brunson, Denis Ethier, Jerri Thomas, Victor Ramdin, and Dewey Tomko. Blogger Peter "Nordberg" Feldman is also out.

1:15am.... How abou a 1:15am picture dump? You can click on the photos to enlarge them.

The Unabomber loves referring to himself in the 3rd person

The always lovely Maria Ho

Gus Hansen charms the new girl from Poker Wire

Action at the LA Poker Classic

Barry Greenstien

1:20am... Time for a smoke break. It's 4:20 on the East Coast!

1:32am... Bill Gazes is on a tear. He flopped quads against Mike Matusow and won a $35K pot. He moved his stack up to 110K. Carmel Petresco has over 70K.

1:35am... Recent Eliminations: Daniel Negreanu, Dan Harrington, Eugene Todd, and Bill Edler who ran into Erick Lindgren's A-A.

1:55am... Recent Elimination: Time to fire one up for Gank! Bret Jungblutt was just smoked when his Hilton Sisters were snapped off by Huck Seed's A-K. In the immortal words of Ben Harper, "If you don't like my fire, then don't come around, 'cause I'm gonna burn one down."

2:15am... Recent Eliminations: Quinn Do and Ted Forrest are both gone. Quin Do's A-A were cracked by David Daneshgar's quad 4s. Ted Forrest's 9-9 lost to Mike Godman's A-J.

2:18am... Action has completed for today with 379 players remaining. Day 2 begins at 3:30pm on Friday.
End of Day 1 Chicpounts:

Top 10:
1 Michael Carroll $154,375
2 Alan Goehring $128,375
3 Bill Gazes $123,750
4 Ali Eslami $122,300
5 Brian McCann $119,875
6 Hasan Habib $113,550
7 Abraham Bergis $105,450
8 Jon Luu $102,200
9 Jeff Rine $100,375
10 Albert Alshamn $99,900

Eli Elezra 96,300
Erick Lindgren 88,000
Edward Moncada 85,400
Melissa Hayden 75,975
David Daneshgar 69,875
T.J. Cloutier 67,550
Lyle Berman 66,600
Chip Jett 66,250
Blair Rodman 59,450
Shawn Sheikhan 58,500
Dutch Boyd 55,975
Amir Vahedi 52,800
Chip Reese 51,925
Chris Bigler 50,950
Young Phan 50,525
Jennifer Harman50,300
Barry Greenstein 46,975
An Tran 46,750
Antonio Esfandiari 45,750
Scotty Nguyen 44,225
Max Pescatori 42,625
Minh Ly 42,600
Jean Robert Bellande 42,025
James Woods 41,975
Carl Olson 41,750
Huck Seed 40,600
John Gale 40,250
Donnacha O'Dea 33,575
Harley Hall 33,550
Mike Matusow 33,525
Capt. Tom Franklin 33,300
Mike Wattel 32,250
Miami John Cernuto 31,050
William Rockwell 30,600
Randy Holland 30,175
Juha Helppi 28,225
Phil Laak 28,150
Jerry Buss 27,000
Jason Lester 25,800
Peter Costa 25,325
Allen Cunningham 25,250
John Myung 24,225
Matt Matros 24,000
Gabe Kaplan 22,750
Keith Sexton 22,500
Olga Varkonyi 21,300
Minneapolis Jim Meehan 20,100
Shannon Elizabeth 18,250
Steve Brecher 17,925
Erik Seidel 17,450
Thor Hansen 16,525
Gus Hansen 15,800
David Singer 9,975
Davood Mehrmand 7,850
Men the Master 7,800
Joe Awada 4,900

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