Dispatches from the Coral Bar, Vol. 2
Paradise Island, Bahamas
This post is gonna feel more like the 'Bouncin' round the room' section of Pauly's WSOP recaps. It's 3am here. Not the best time to form coherent thoughts. I just ended a double shift, covering the Main Event all day for Winamax, then providing commentary for the live webcast of the charity event for most of the night. Not complaining, though. I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to do both jobs.
There was much more to see inside the tournament room during the second starting day of the PokerStars Carribean Adventure Main Event -- more high profile players, more celebrities, and more chicks. Some were there because of their poker skills, like Liz Lieu, Annette Obrestad or Vanessa Rousso. Others were merely used as marketing ploys, such as 2008 Playmate model of the year Jayde Nicole. A tall, long-legged brunette with amazing fake boobs. Her table was swarmed by luscious railbirds all day, till she busted out just before play ended. Later I heard three separate rumors of her going out with three famous pros. "I saw her at the bar holding hands with [famous World Champion]," that kind of stuff. All bogus, if you ask me.
Model Joanna Krupa was also there. PokerStars held a press conference to announce their brand new tour in North America, the NAPT. Krupa will be the official host of the tournaments (rumored to be broadcast on a major sports network channel), and I got to see up close what all the Wicked Chops fuss was all about.
But all that eye-candy couldn't distract media and railbirds enough from the main attraction of Day 1B: Phil Ivey. Despite the PCA being an all PokerStars fest, tons of Full Tilt Pros couldn't miss the event, and Ivey was one of them. As usual, it was quite a sight observing not only the table, but the people around it. Devotees, not missing a single move, gesture, blink on an eye from their ever-indifferent idol. Ivey got moved several times during the day. Every time it happened, the cohort would simply follow him like an herd to his new table. Ivey, the silent prophet.
I had plenty of opportunities to observe Ivey the following day, as he got seated next to two of my favorite French players: Nicolas Levi first, then Ludovic Lacay during the later stages. Sadly, when play wrapped up for the day, my notebook was still empty of Ivey noteworthy hands, as my two friends did what any good player does when facing the legend -- avoiding him like plague.
As the first hands were being dealt on Day 1B, Tom Dwan was seen walking around the tables looking for Ivey. Durrrrr was desperate for action. Once he located his Big Game colleague, the two quickly settled on a 50% crossbook. In gamblers terms, it meant that whatever amount of money one would end up making during the tournament, half of it would have to be matched by the other. A bad bet on Dwan's part. Why would you want to cross with the biggest money making machine in tournament history ? As if it wasn't enough difficult to beat him in cash-games. When Dwan busted out after a couple of levels, Ivey had already amassed a big stack, leaving the former sweating. Ultimately, Ivey busted out during Day 3, earning a small five-figure sum. Disaster avoided for Dwan, who already had enough shit to eat over the past few months.
I bumped into Vanessa Rousso during breakfast before Day 1B started. She looked excited and ready to play. "I feel great!" she said, adding she had made a million dollars since April. "I haven't made as much," was my mumbled response. Later, Rousso proved this display of confidence wasn't all boasting by ending Day 1B with a big stack, as would Obrestad.
The first days saw huge waiting lines forming at the entrance of the men's bathroom. Once again, one couldn't help to be reminded of the WSOP. At one point, the lines were so long I couldn't see if I was waiting in the urinal's line, or the crapper's one. "Is it the line to take a piss, or to take a line?" I asked out loud, which drew a few chuckles. Some idiot tried to shake Daniel Negreanu's hand in front of the sinks, oblivious to KidPoker's famous fear of germs. "Are you kidding?" the Canadian exclaimed. "We're in the bathroom, for God's sake."
Marty from PokerListings conducted an hilarious interview with one of the Team PokerStars pros. Sadly, most of the pros' best quotes had to go unpublished, like this one... "I love PokerStars. This is my second favorite website next to LadyBoysOfBangkok.com."
Conveniently (sic) located next to the press office is the player's lounge, where drinks and entertainment are offered to off-duty poker players and their families. Among the toys available are pool and foosball tables, several video game systems, a Jenga board, and... sumo fight. No shit. Drunk players take turns all day sneaking into the inflatable sumo costumes, trying to knock each other to the ground. The scene gets crazier as the sun goes down. No wonder PokerStars has posted legal notices near the front door. "All persons attending a PokerStars event are solely and completely responsible for their own safety, well being, etc." They even had to ban kids from the place after 6pm. "The evenings are strictly for adults," chuckled a member of the media. Amidst the mess, one kid actually got lost this afternoon. A PokerStars employee had to take care of the creature for an hour until the parents were retrieved.
My favorite moment of Day 3? During hand for hand play, some guy went into the tank after facing a raise and a reraise from two opponents. After ten minutes of what seemed to be some serious dwelling, the guy simply realized it was his turn to act, and quickly folded his hand. Talk about pissing off 200 people at once, already made sweaty by the length of the overall process.
To kick off the live Internet broadcast of the PCA, PokerStars hosted a charity event. 36 players put up $5,000 to raise funds and awareness for amfAR, a foundation whose goal is to end the AIDS syndrome. Among the participants were celebrities such as former Guns'n Roses guitar player Slash, tennis legend Boris Becker, and R&B star Kelly Rowland. Entourage lead star Adrian Grenier was supposed to play, but walked out at the last minute. According to my sources, his agent dragged him out when he learned the event was only broadcast on the Internet, not on TV as he thought. Surreal. In a scene coming straight out of an Entourage script, Vincent Chase pulled a "I'm too famous for this shit" move. Someone needs a reality check. You're not James Gandolfini. Entourage sucks.
To conclude, some numbers... From a total field of 1,529 players, only 62 are still alive to play Day 4, which will begin on Sunday at noon, EST. Here are the top ten chip-counts, I'm sure you'll recognize more than a few names among them:
Harrison Gimbel (USA) 2,625,000And a handful of big names still in the hunt :
Mathtew Haugen (USA) 2,149,000
Ryan D'Angelo (USA) 2,092,000
Praz Bansi (UK) 2,003,000
Barry Shulman (USA) 1,655,000
Eric Froehlich (USA) 1,331,000
Amanda Baker (USA) 1,306,000
James Tolbert (USA) 1,284,000
John Duthie (UK) 1,210,000
Ken Emil Lundmark (Sweden) 1,158,000
Jeff Madsen (USA) 930,000Top prizes:
Robert Mizrachi (USA) 876,000
Liz Lieu (USA) 536,000
Soren Kongsgaard (Denmark) 473,000
Bill Gazes (USA) 288,000
Johnny Lodden (Norway) 286,000
Huck Seed (USA) 216,000
Winner : $2,200,000
Benjo is a writer originally from Lille, France. He has been living in London, but is relocating to Paris. If you understand French, you should check out his blog. You can also follow Benjo on Twitter, where he tweets in English.
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